Mark S. Zaid Profile picture
Feb 14, 2018 56 tweets 13 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
(1) THREAD: #RobPorter , #SecurityClearances & SERIOUS #Trump #WhiteHouse PROBLEMS

When did the White House know of the serious domestic abuse concerns regarding Rob Porter, the now fallen White House Staff Secretary?
(2) This question is crucial to determining whether those in the White House deliberately ignored security warnings and instead politically decided to retain Porter.
(3) As I told @JudyWoodruff on @NewsHour tonight there were at least 3-4 opportunities where WH had enough info to realize there were serious problems w/Porter obtaining a clearance and they could have, and perhaps should have, taken action.….
(4) And it is more than just that because the WH also needed to render a separate suitability determination that was handled out of the WH Counsel’s Office.
(5) The WH Office of Personnel Security, which I have dealt with over the years, adjudicates Secret & Top Secret clearances for WH personnel. Sensitive Compartmented Information, or SCI, is handled by the Intelligence Community, usually the CIA.
(6) The FBI handles the background investigation ONLY. It does not adjudicate, analyze or offer any recommendations. It is merely a fact finder.
(7) Before I dive into the details of Porter’s situation, let me first provide some education to clear up frequent misconceptions about security clearances and the process. Frankly, it is driving me CRAZY to hear how many reporters & commentators misstate the terms & process.
(8) First, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with having an interim security clearance. It is an important part of the security clearance process and allows our government to properly function at a time when background investigations and adjudications are backlogged.
(9) Second, the media and general public are repeatedly misunderstanding the system and using improper terminology. Interim clearances ARE security clearances. There simply has not been an adjudication based on a full completed background investigation.
(10) Third, someone holding an interim security clearance has the same access at whatever approved level they are at as someone whose clearance has been favorably adjudicated.
(11) Fourth, there is NO such thing as “permanent” security clearance. Please, oh please, stop using that term. No clearances are permanent. They all expire & are subject to continuous evaluation. They can be lost at any time, esp based on new derogatory facts that come to light.
(12) Fifth, interim clearances are primarily utilized w/i DoD community. The National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, or NISPOM (…), Section 2-211 notes:
(13) individuals “may be routinely granted interim PCLs [Personal Security Clearance], as appropriate, provided there is no evidence of adverse information of material significance.” Note the term “material significance”.
(14) The provision further states that “When an interim PCL has been granted and derogatory information is subsequently developed, the [authority] may withdraw the interim pending completion of the processing that is a prerequisite to the granting of a final PCL.”
(15) Sixth, withdrawal of an interim clearance is not an adverse action, and therefore has no appeal process. Indeed, many, and perhaps most, people eventually still favorably receive a clearance after full completion and adjudication of their background investigation.
(16) Seventh, unlike what has been publicly reported, there is NO time limitation on holding an interim security clearance. It doesn’t matter where in the USGOVT one works. Please STOP reporting that there is any such thing.
(17) There is NO 180 day period that has been reported. There is No WH renewal certification. Neither Porter nor the WH was in violation of any provision by keeping him in an interim clearance status. STOP reporting otherwise.
(18) The only place 180 days is listed is in Executive Order 12,968 in Section 2.3 (…) and that provision does NOT apply to Porter’s case. It applies to situations where the individual already has received a full favorable adjudication.
(19) Back to NISPOM which states “The interim status will cease if results are favorable following completion of full investigative requirements.” Usually 2-3 months is enough time to develop sufficient info but interim clearances can last more than one year. I've seen it.
(20) Interim clearances are usually only for SECRET or TOP SECRET but access to Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) and Special Access Programs (SAP) can occur when there is “a determination made by the granting authority.”
(21) In Intelligence Community, the term “interim” clearance is not really used because it is frowned upon given most positions require SCI eligibility but it exists there too. ICPG 704.1 Section L addresses temporary access approval in a manner similar to “interim” clearances.
(22) BTW, for sense of type of investigative actions the FBI would have taken, you can read Intelligence Community Policy Guidance 704.1 (although this governs the IC and not the WH it still gives you a good description of the investigative process).…
(23) Ok, that was my security clearance primer. Let's specifically talk Porter. From all the press reports and media interviews of those involved, a troubling timeline has emerged.
(24) On Jan. 20, Porter became White House staff secretary and assistant to the president for policy coordination. It would have been customary for Porter to have already submitted his SF-86 National Security Questionnaire beforehand.….
(25) Section 28 would have required Porter to have revealed that his second ex-wife obtained a Protective Order against him in Arlington, Virginia, in 2010. That question requires individuals to go back ten full years.
(26) Porter would have had to have detailed what the action was about, who filed it, where and when. We do not know at this time, nor frankly should we given privacy concerns, whether Porter included this court proceeding on his SF-86.
(27) But if he did not reveal it the Govt would consider that he falsified his form and committed a felony under 18 U.S.C. 1001, i.e., False Statement (ala Flynn and Papadopoulos). Subject to up to five years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
(28) In light of this SF-86 question, and the fact no doubt Porter knew the FBI would interview his two ex-wives, he reportedly told Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, that he was concerned about his ex wives' potentially damaging accusations.
(29) Despite that conversation, the White House granted him an interim security. Later that month, the FBI interviewed Porter’s ex-wives and learned more details about the domestic abuse allegations.
(30) There is no doubt that the FBI would have also gone to the Arlington Courthouse and pulled all the available records surrounding the Protective Order.
(31) According to a CNN timeline (…) Porter did not sit down for an interview with the FBI until the fall of 2017 but that cannot be correct.
(32) FBI Director Christopher Wray testified today before SSCI that FBI completed its investigative report by July 2017. This report would have been provided to WH Security which in turn would have shared it with Counsel’s Office. Both offices would rely upon same report.
(33) It is after July 2017 that it is most likely when McGahn learned more details, & which apparently contradicted what he had been told earlier. The CNN report of a Fall 2017 FBI interview with Porter may have been part of the supplemental investigation the FBI was asked to do.
(34) Another helpful timeline was compiled by @nytimes…
(35) In response to what was frankly a completely inappropriate question from Senator @RonWyden (because he knew this was privacy protected information) about Porter, @FBI Director Wray testified:
(36) “What I can tell you is that the FBI submitted a partial report on the investigation in question in March. And then a completed background investigation in late July. ......
(37) ....That soon thereafter, we received request for follow-up inquiry and we did the follow-up and provided that information in November and that we administratively closed the file in January."
(38) This testimony is devastating to WH timeline. Just 3 simple sentences. Was this payback from an agency that has been unfairly targeted & tainted by this WH. Possibly. Let's examine why it is a problem.
(39) Last Thursday, Deputy Press Secretary #RajShah said the FBI's investigation into Porter was "ongoing." #FALSE
(40) This past Sunday White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short claimed FBI officials "have not completed that investigation." #FALSE…
(41) Just yesterday WH Press Secretary Sarah Sanders @PressSec claimed that Porter’s background investigation was still ongoing when the allegations became public and he resigned. #FALSE
(42) And finally today, @PressSec claimed that although WH Office of Personnel Security had received the FBI’s information it was conducting additional investigatory work before adjudicating Porter's security clearance. #FALSE
(43) Sanders has been anything but helpful to WH. Her attempts to respond to reporter’s inquiries about Porter & his clearance has revealed either she is willfully ignorant of WH security clearance process or facts surrounding Porter himself or, alternatively, outright lying.
(43) So I turn again to when did the WH know? Yesterday Sanders claimed the WH did not learn "of the extent of the situation involving Rob Porter" until last Tuesday, when the allegations became public. #FALSE
(44) They had a warning in January 2017 based on Porter’s SF-86 (unless he falsified it).
(45) They had more of an inkling in January 2017 based on Porter’s conversation with McGahan (but obviously he spun it).
(46) But they definitely knew in March 2017 when the FBI provided an initial report after having interviewed both ex-wives.
(47) NEW: In fact, one of my sources who had authorized access informed me that the WH ABSOLUTELY knew in March 2017 that Porter had domestic problems and people were starting to wonder why he was still operating under an interim security clearance.
(48) NEW: That included Joe Hagen, Deputy White House Chief of Staff for Operations, and Lt. General H.R. McMasters, National Security Advisor.
(49) They knew in July 2017 when they received the FBI’s final investigative report.
(50) They knew in November 2017 when they received the FBI’s supplemental report.
(51) They knew in February 2018 when even additional information was learned, particularly when the media caught wind.
(52) Trump’s Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testified today that the security clearance process is broken.…. There are indeed many reforms I could suggest to strengthen the system, especially with respect to the appeal process.
(END) But the #Porter case is NOT an example of a broken security clearance system.

It is an example of a system that was politicized and abused by this WH.
(16.1) Let me make one clarification that somehow I missed. For SCI eligibility within Intelligence Community, per ICPG 704.1 Section L, which I cite below in (21), there is a one year stated limitation. That raises question HOW or WHO allowed anyone's SCI to go past one year. 🤔
An interview I gave a few days ago to @voxdotcom about the White House security clearance situation:…

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More from @MarkSZaidEsq

Jul 13, 2018
@TheJusticeDept indicts against Russian intel officers for DNC hack. Says GRU officers hacked info & released info "on the internet under the names 'DCLeaks' and 'Guccifer 2.0' and through another entity."

Would that other entity be you @wikileaks? 🤔…
And if it is Wikileaks, why not finally publicly name them?
Read 4 tweets
Jul 6, 2018
(1) THREAD on #SecurityClearances & #WhiteSupremacists. @PBS/@ProPublica issued a story today abt #MichaelMiselis — a UCLA PhD student who works for #NorthropGrumman w/security clearance. He participated in Charlottesville as a violent White Supremacist.…
(2) Miselis allegedly "pushed an African-American protester to the ground and began pounding on him," and "fought alongside RAM members, wrestling one protester to the ground and punching others" in Berkeley at a #Trump rally.
(3) RAM is Rise Above Movement, a Southern California group that expresses contempt for Muslims, Jews, and immigrants. A very typical #Trump supporting organization that President has never condemned. Pretty horrible group of Nazis basially. For info, read…
Read 11 tweets
Jan 30, 2018
THREAD - What does #HPSCI release of GOP classified memo mean?

In a partisan vote led by Chairman @DevinNunes, the HPSI voted to release a four page classified memo that details alleged surveillance abuses by @FBI & @TheJusticeDept.…
HPSCI, which along with Senate counterpart (#SSCI), was formed 40 years ago in wake of #ChurchCommittee, #PikeCommittee& #RockefellerCommission, which dealt with a variety of abuses by the Intelligence Community, acted in an unprecedented manner by invoking Rule X, clause 11(f)
(3) That provision actually talks abt preventing disclosure, without consent of each person concerned, of info in possession of HPSCI "that unduly infringes
on the privacy or that violates the constitutional rights of such person."
Read 23 tweets
Nov 23, 2017
(1) REVENGE PORN THREAD: Earlier today Texas Tribune posted a story concerning Rep. Joe Barton (R-Ennis) that he issued an apology statement after it was learned a graphic image of him nude (apparently showing his penis), was circulating via social media.…
(2) Was this revenge porn? Should there not be an outcry or does Barton being a man negate outrage? I take these situations very seriously, especially since I have represented women (pro bono in fact) who have suffered as victims of revenge porn,…
(3) In my opinion, I don’t believe there should be a double standard based on gender. Were the gender roles reversed, I daresay, especially in the current climate, all hell would be breaking loose. So let’s take a moment to examine the legal issues in this case thus far.
Read 34 tweets
Oct 27, 2017
(1) THREAD: #JFKFiles #Assassination UPDATE - What happened that allowed 300 documents comprising thousands of pages to be held back? Legal?
(2) JFK Assassination Records Collection Act required every record identified as "assassination record" (which I helped define in 1994) ...
(3) SHALL be publicly disclosed in full after 25 years (Oct 26, 2017), unless President affirmatively certifies:
Read 29 tweets

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