Lawmakers knock White House for lackluster security clearance response

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Washington (CNN)A pair of bipartisan lawmakers faulted the White House for a lackluster response to a letter requesting information on security clearance procedures on Wednesday.

Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter in late February requesting that White House counsel Don McGahn and FBI Director Chris Wray provide a litany of information about security clearance procedures at the White House.
The questions stem from concerns around how former senior White House aide Rob Porter was allowed to hold a temporary security clearance for over a year even after two of his ex-wives accused him of domestic violence.
The lawmakers had asked for a response by Tuesday.
    Lindsay Walters, a White House spokeswoman, told CNN on Wednesday that the White House responded "last week" in a letter to Grassley and Blumenthal.
    But Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Grassley, described the letter as a "partial response" that did not provide "full responses to each of (Grassley's) questions."
    "The White House initially provided a partial response last week," Foy said. "We have yet to receive any response from the FBI. Sen. Grassley's oversight staff has made clear to the White House on no uncertain terms that the chairman expects to get full responses to each of the questions in his bipartisan oversight letter, as is the expectation for all outstanding oversight requests."
    Blumenthal, likewise, slammed the White House letter.
    "This response is plainly inadequate," the senator said.
    This is not the first time the White House has provided a powerful Capitol Hill committee with a response the panel viewed as less than adequate. Earlier this month, Marc Short, Trump's top legislative aide, ignored demands by Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican who's the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, to detail the circumstances around Porter's departure and sent a short letter that declined to provide specifics.
    The allegations against Porter, which he has denied, prevented him from obtaining a full clearance while working as Trump's staff secretary. Porter resigned from the White House last month.
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    In response to the Porter fallout, White House chief of staff John Kelly outlined new policies last month for how the administration would handle temporary security clearances, a policy change that affected the standing of dozens of White House officials, including Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser.
    Gowdy, in response to the short letter from the White House, would not rule out issuing a subpoena.
    "That's always been my mantra: If we are making progress, and I think it's in good faith, the deadlines can be extended," Gowdy told CNN in an interview. "It's only when they say 'no,' and it's not in good faith, do you have to resort to other measures."
    Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the Oversight Committee's top Democrat, slammed the letter as "unacceptable -- under any reasonable standard" and demanded that Gowdy subpoena the White House for answers. Gowdy's office declined to comment on the subpoena request.
    White House aides are frustrated over the Porter scandal, an issue the West Wing had hoped to move beyond weeks ago, as questions persist on how the top Trump aide left the White House. But the questions surrounding Porter have lingered because senior White House aides have been unable to explain how one of the President's top aides was allowed to work in the White House for so long without a full clearance.