WASHINGTON ― As questions swirl about how a top aide could work at the White House for a year despite his inability to qualify for a security clearance, critics point to what they believe is the root problem: Neither could his boss, President Donald Trump.
All eyes are on former staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned after reports detailed domestic violence accusations by his ex-wives, and White House chief of staff John Kelly, whose credibility is now under question after his defenses of his key aide shifted. The accusations of the two former wives likely blocked Porter’s security clearance application.
Yet lost in the latest controversy of the Trump presidency is the near certainty that Trump himself would fail a security clearance application. As the elected president, he is not required to possess one to have access to the nation’s most closely held information.
Without that exemption, though, a financial history that includes four business bankruptcies and allegations of fraud as well as sexual misconduct accusations by nearly two dozen women would raise multiple “red flags,” said a former Defense Department official who once held a top-secret clearance himself.
“If Donald Trump were not president, he wouldn’t be able to get within 100 miles of a security clearance,” the former official said on condition of anonymity to discuss security clearance matters.