Early last year, then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a sycophantic ally of the White House, prepared a “memo” with classified information he wanted to release in order to help Donald Trump. The president, ignoring the concerns of his own FBI director, cleared the way for the document’s release.
Pressed for an explanation, Team Trump insisted at the time that it was part of the administration’s commitment to “transparency.”
In May 2018, when Trump ordered a highly sensitive intelligence briefing for some members of Congress, in which law enforcement officials were instructed to share information on a confidential human source, the president defended the move by saying, “What I want is I want total transparency…. You have to have transparency.”
In September 2018, Trump ordered the release of classified materials related to the Russia investigation. “All I want to do is be transparent,” he said at the time.
What the president meant, of course, was that he wanted to be transparent with information he thought might be able to help him politically. When it comes to disclosing information related to his work and background, Trump doesn’t much care for transparency at all.
Just yesterday, the president sued the chairman of the House Oversight Committee as part of a desperate attempt to keep his financial records secret, and soon after, as the Washington Post reported, Team Trump directed a White House official to ignore a subpoena as part of an investigation into security-clearance abuses.
A former White House personnel security director has been instructed by the White House not to show up Tuesday for questioning by the House Oversight Committee.
The move appears to be the latest effort by the Trump administration to push back against congressional inquiries targeting the White House, which have proliferated since Democrats took control of the House in January.
White House deputy counsel Michael M. Purpura wrote a letter Monday asking the former security director, Carl Kline, not to show up as the committee had requested.
Whatever happened to, “You have to have transparency”?
To recap for those new to this controversy, we’ve learned in recent months that U.S. officials have repeatedly balked at extending security clearances to members of Donald Trump’s team, only to have political appointees ignore the findings.
In several cases, staffers who were initially denied clearances for “very serious reasons,” but nevertheless ended up with access to sensitive information. Of particular interest was the process surrounding Jared Kushner, the president’s young son-in-law, who had too many “significant disqualifying factors” to receive a clearance, though that determination was overruled by Carl Kline, the political appointee who used to oversee the relevant White House office.
Trump, incidentally, is on record saying he was “never involved” in the security clearance process. There’s some compelling evidence to the contrary, specifically as it relates to Kushner.
Kline received a congressional subpoena to answer lawmakers’ questions about the security risks created by the Trump White House. Kline has now been told not to comply with that subpoena.
When Trump said, “All I want to do is be transparent,” the commitment apparently came with some fine print.