Oversight chair reignites probe into controversial Trump aide
- By Lia Russell
- Feb 25, 2020
The rehiring of John McEntee to serve as head of the Office of Presidential Personnel is reigniting a push on Capitol Hill for more information about security clearance issues that led to McEntee's White House ouster in 2018.
The House Oversight Committee began an investigation into how the White House vetted candidates for security clearances after then-Chief of Staff John Kelly fired McEntee in March 2018 when his security clearance was denied.
Oversight Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney sought more information on the rehiring in a Feb. 25 letter to White House General Counsel Pat Cipollone.
"In his new role, Mr. McEntee oversees the recruiting, selection, and vetting of political appointees at the highest levels," Rep. Maloney wrote. "This responsibility requires sound judgment and the ability to assess whether an applicant's conduct poses any threat to the Office of the President. Reports of Mr. McEntee's return to the White House raise significant concerns about whether he is now suitable for such a sensitive position after he was escorted out of the White House and reportedly was unable to maintain a security clearance."
Maloney added that the news of McEntee's rehiring was particularly troubling due to a recent report that President Trump ordered Presidential staffers including McEntee to target political appointees deemed insufficiently loyal to him.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the termination was prompted when the Department of Homeland Security began investigating McEntee for "serious financial crimes." Between 2016 and 2018, McEntee was President Trump's personal assistant, which required him to maintain a top secret clearance.
In Jan. 2019, after he became Oversight Chairman, the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) sent a letter to the White House requesting access to documents concerning McEntee, which Rep. Maloney said went unanswered.
In her latest correspondence, Rep. Maloney gave Cipollone until March 10 to comply with requests to provide relevant documents, as well as brief members of Congress on the details of McEntee's rehiring and the security clearance process.
Lia Russell is a staff writer and associate editor at FCW covering the federal workforce. Before joining FCW, she worked as a freelance labor reporter in San Francisco for outlets such SF Weekly, The American Prospect and The Baffler. Russell graduated with a bachelor's degree from Bard College.
Contact Lia at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @LiaOffLeash.