National Security: Classified 101

Who knew who Rob Porter was or, even, how important his job was? Porter’ job as White House Staff Secretary entailed handling the most classified information from the military, intelligence community, as well as, the Justice and State Departments. The job requires the highest of security clearances. Possibly, as long as a year ago White House counsel Don McGahn was informed by the FBI that Porter would probably not get a clearance. Chief of Staff John Kelly learned about it this past Fall. The allegations by his two ex-wives that Porter had physically and mentally abused them are serious enough to withhold it. This latest personnel incident exposes two problems for the White House. tolerance of domestic abusers and people viewing classified information who are not cleared to do so. The latter is a major national security problem: How many people are working in the White House without full security clearances?

Leaving aside that Donald Trump, if he were not president*, would not have been given a clearance due to his four bankruptcies, allegations of fraud and sexual misconduct, we already know that several former “advisors,” who were dismissed or resigned, could not clear the hurdles. We know that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has had to amend his application numerous times due to omissions about contacts with foreigners, travel and financial dealings. We also know that Steve Bannon could not get clearance due to past history of spousal abuse.

Security-clearance investigations aim to determine whether individuals pose a risk of revealing sensitive government information, based on a variety of factors, including their loyalty to the country, potential foreign influences in their lives or problems of a sexual, criminal, financial or psychological nature.

If such issues are found, federal guidelines say, they should be assessed in terms of how recently they occurred, how frequently and how likely they are to recur.

Law enforcement officials say the biggest red flags in clearance reviews tend to be when investigators catch a person lying — either on disclosure forms or in face-to-face interviews with agents.

The Trump administration’s failure to properly vet staff has led to scandals, resignations and security lapses, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow examines the high turnover of top officials in the Donald Trump administration that has become a symptom of the poor job Trump is doing vetting the people he hires to work for the American people.

Representative Sean Patrick Murphy, who held Porter’s position under President Barack Obama, joins Rachel to discuss the job of staff secretary, the White House’s lack of action despite knowing Porter’s issue and the possible legal ramifications.

This also begs to question why Kelly and McGahn still have jobs. How many more staffers are there with skeletons in their closets? Not only that, the silence from congressional Republicans is deafening. If this were a Democratic president, Rep. Trey Gowdy’s head would be exploding. There would have already been numerous hearings, investigations and calls for impeachment. Now, you can hear a pin drop in the House Oversight Committee room. National Security be damned.