In the aftermath of the director of National Intelligence saying that staffers with interim security clearance–such as former White House aide Rob Porter who is facing accusations of domestic abuse–should not have access to classified information, a member of the Florida delegation introduced a bill to remove that access.
This week, after National Intelligence Director Dan Coats said that Porter and other staffers with interim clearance should not have access to highly classified information, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., filed a bill to ensure staffers with that level clearance would not get access to “highly sensitive” information.
Murphy, who handled national security issues at the Pentagon and sits on the House Armed Service Committee, made her case on Wednesday for her “Protect America’s Secrets Act” proposal.
“As our country faces unprecedented cyber and intelligence threats, protecting our most sensitive information must be one of our top national security priorities,” said Murphy who helps lead the House Democratic Caucus’ National Security Task Force. “The ‘Coats Rule’ is simple: individuals in the White House and throughout the federal government who receive interim security clearances should have limited access to highly sensitive classified information. As a former national security specialist, I know America’s adversaries won’t hesitate to exploit an employee’s undisclosed vulnerabilities through whatever means necessary, including blackmail.
“As someone who has previously obtained one of the highest security clearances while working on special operations at the Department of Defense, I know that protecting this kind of sensitive information is necessary to keeping our troops, our intelligence officers, and our nation safe,” Murphy added. “My bill does not prevent a president from selecting advisors of their choice; however, it does require that these White House aides pass a background investigation and achieve a permanent security clearance before accessing our nation’s most sensitive information, including the Presidential Daily Brief. My bill will allow the appropriate clearance process to run its course without undue political influence or partisan interference so that damaging information does not fall into the wrong hands.”
Murphy pointed to reports showing the FBI and other agencies did not want Porter to receive as much access as he did to highly sensitive information as he did as part of the White House staff.