It has become increasingly obvious that Republicans are about as interested in national security as they are raising taxes 90 percent on their wealthy donors. Oh sure they feigned interest in security when a Democrat was Secretary of State and used a private email server, but they pretended to be interested in a rash of issues because they weren’t in power. However, when a most senior advisor to a Republican in the White House deliberately lied and omitted over 100 contacts with foreign agents on a national security clearance form, including agents that waged cyber warfare against America, even questioning the perjury is a “political stunt.”
By now most Americans have at least heard that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, lied on the first two Standard Form 86 (SF-86) security clearance documents he submitted to earn a high-level security clearance to work in a place he doesn’t belong – the White House.
Kushner was even “inclined” to “revise” a third SF-86 to add over a hundred additional contacts with foreign agents he “forgot” to mention the second time he “revised” his SF-86 clearance. Of course just meeting with foreigners isn’t an issue, but Kushner met with Russian agents actively waging “cyber warfare” against an American institution, and he lied about those meetings at least twice and still has a high security clearance; something House Republicans do not have a problem with.
However, Democrats in the House do take a dim view of committing perjury on a security clearance document and although they are virtually impotent to do anything about it, they made an effort to get a risk to national security out of the Trump administration’s decision making chain.
One amendment introduced by Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) was to the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Bill that banned any funds from being used “to issue, renew, or maintain a security clearance for any individual in a position in the Executive Office of the President who is under a criminal investigation by a Federal law enforcement agency for aiding a foreign government.” Jared Kushner meets that standard of “being under criminal investigation” by a Federal law enforcement agency but Republicans don’t care; that Amendment failed along a party line vote 22-30.
The second amendment sought to revoke the security clearance of any White House staffers who deliberately fail to disclose (lie about) meetings with foreign nationals (agents) or foreign nations (Russia) on the SF-86 questionnaire for national security positions. That amendment, like the first one, was defeated along a party line vote and it is telling that all Republicans are protecting yet another Trump administration actor regardless the threat they pose to national security.
Ms. Wasserman Schulz argued that both amendments were crucial to “safeguard the country’s most sensitive national security information.” Most Americans would agree and likely add that it is just as crucial to safeguard the nation from an administration that knowingly employs several national security risks; and it is a security risk by Trump Sr. to bring in corrupt actors who lie to conceal their contacts with foreign agents.
While the Democrats were attempting to protect national security, Republicans said the amendments were political maneuvers and unnecessary. Texas Republican John Culbertson said both amendments were just political stunts because national security decisions should be left up to the security professionals appointed by Donald Trump. Culbertson said:
“The use of funding prohibitions to deny or remove security clearances is just simply a political stunt and unnecessary, because security clearances can already be denied or revoked because criminal conduct.”
No matter what Culbertson says, the national security “professionals” Trump appointed have already revealed they definitely are not “denying or revoking” security clearances for anyone in Trump’s administration despite that there is powerful evidence that there was “criminal conduct.”
According to SF-86 under the heading Penalties for Inaccurate or False Statements, it plainly states:
“The U.S. Criminal Code (title 18, section 1001) provides that knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact is a felony which may result in fines and/or up to five (5) years imprisonment. In addition, Federal agencies generally fire, do not grant a security clearance, or disqualify individuals who have materially and deliberately falsified these forms, and this remains a part of the permanent record for future placements. Your prospects of placement or security clearance are better if you answer all questions truthfully and completely. You will have adequate opportunity to explain any information you provide on this form and to make your comment.” (author bold)
It is noteworthy that under 18 U.S.C. § 1001 a fair number of “notable Americans” have been convicted for “making false statements” including Martha Stewart, Rod Blagojevich, Scooter Libby, Bernie Madoff, and Jeffrey Skilling to name a few. Republicans or anyone in the Trump administration can never claim that the law is archaic or obscure, or has never been enforced. It has, and it probably would be enforced today if the entire Trump administration wasn’t run by criminals like Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions is not going to prosecute Kushner or make any attempt to deny his security clearance because he also “knowingly falsified and concealed a material fact” on his SF 86 and during sworn testimony before the United States Senate.
These amendments by Democrats are a continuing effort to clear out known national security risks, and felonious “advisors” from the Trump White House and it is crystal clear Republicans are now, and have been, obstructing efforts to protect critical national security secrets. No small number of Democrats have been calling for Kushner’s security clearance to be revoked, or at least suspended. This is particularly true since the revelation that he was in attendance with Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort when they met with the Russian lawyer in a clandestine meeting at Trump Tower that Kushner failed to report on his security clearance form.
That latest “revelation” is in addition to Kushner’s meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and the CEO of a Russian state-run bank during the transition. If, as Republicans claim, criminal conduct is justification for denying or revoking security clearances, and Trump’s national security team or his attorney general refuse to do their jobs, then it is left to Congress to step in – something Democrats did attempt with the two separate amendments that only failed because like Trump, Sessions, Kushner, Trump Jr., and likely the majority of the Trump administration, Republicans are criminals for covering up a federal crime. It makes them co-conspirators in criminal conduct that should send the entire lot of them to a federal penitentiary for up to five (5) years.