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Politics FBI director to face questions on security clearances and agents’ independence

16:21  13 february  2018
16:21  13 february  2018 Source:   msn.com

Dem senators want list of White House officials with interim security clearances

  Dem senators want list of White House officials with interim security clearances Six Democratic senators on Wednesday wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for a full list of White House staffers working without a full security clearance.Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tom Udall (N.M.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) noted recent reports that indicated dozens of White House officials and appointees have been working in the Trump administration with interim security clearances.The letter asks for a list of those with interim clearances, as well as the status of FBI background investigations into those individuals.

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said the bureau is undertaking “a lot of specific activities” to counter Russian meddling but was “not specifically directed by the president.” Reed pressed on his question : “Passing on relevant intelligence is not actively disrupting the operations of an opponent.

FBI Director To Face Questions On Security Clearances And Agents ’ Independence . For National Security Agency Director Michael S. Rogers, who will be retiring this spring, this may be his final threat hearing.

a man wearing a suit and tie: In this file photo taken on July 12, 2017 Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on his nomination to be the FBI director. © Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images In this file photo taken on July 12, 2017 Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on his nomination to be the FBI director.

FBI Director Christopher Wray will appear before a Senate panel Tuesday morning, where he is expected to field questions on security clearances for White House personnel and whether he remains confident in the independence of his agents.

Wray will be one of six top intelligence agency heads to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee for its annual worldwide threats hearing. It comes as the White House is seeking to deflect criticism over its handling of a security clearance for a senior aide accused of spousal abuse by saying it relies on law enforcement and intelligence agencies to run the process.

Trump aides are asked if they are vulnerable to blackmail

  Trump aides are asked if they are vulnerable to blackmail Some officials seeking security clearances were asked to provide any info that could be a "source of embarrassment, or be used to coerce or blackmail you."In the wake of Wednesday's report by NBC News that more than 130 White House officials lacked full security clearances as of November, the supplemental questions — which are not part of the standard questionnaire filled out by other government officials — shed light on the sort of information that could raise flags in a background investigation.

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The hearing also comes as the bureau is under fire from President Trump and his GOP allies for its handling of investigations related to Russian meddling in the 2016 election and Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Though the Russia probe is now led by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, he is using FBI agents and federal prosecutors to conduct the investigation, which began under Wray’s predecessor in July 2016.

Democrats are expected to ask whether Wray, who in December defended his agency’s independence and integrity before the House Judiciary Committee, is still confident that his agents are acting in an impartial manner in the Russia probe. House Republicans have said in a recently released memo that political bias at the FBI led to the use of Democratic Party-funded material in an application for a surveillance warrant on a former Trump campaign adviser; the release of a rebuttal memo by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee has so far been blocked by the White House, citing the need to remove classified information form it.

At least 100 White House officials served with 'interim' security clearances until November

  At least 100 White House officials served with 'interim' security clearances until November Nearly a year into President Donald Trump's administration, senior-level staffers -- including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Rob Porter -- remained on interim clearances even as other senior advisers were granted full security access, according to information obtained by CNN from a US government official. Having interim clearance can hamper a staffer's ability to perform essential functions of the job, a former administration official said. It requires those with full permanent clearances to remain vigilant about what information is shared with those still operating on an interim basis.

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Mueller is examining, among other things, whether Trump or his associates coordinated with Russian officials to undermine Clinton’s White House bid, and whether the president sought to obstruct the investigation.

There also will be questions, however, for CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and other spy chiefs about whether they see signs of Russian activities aimed at undermining U.S. democracy or the upcoming midterm elections, and what the government is doing to deter them.

For National Security Agency Director Michael S. Rogers, who will be retiring this spring, this may be his final threat hearing. The House Intelligence Committee has not yet scheduled its annual hearing this year, an intelligence official said.

Also testifying will be the Defense Intelligence Agency Director Robert P. Ashley Jr., and the head of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Robert Cardillo.

Kushner Resists Losing Access as Kelly Tackles Security Clearance Issues .
Jared Kushner, frustrated about the issue and concerned that Mr. Kelly has targeted him personally with the directive, has told colleagues that he is reluctant to give up his high-level access.Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is resisting giving up his access to highly classified information, prompting an internal struggle with John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, over who should be allowed to see some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets, according to White House officials and others briefed on the matter.

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