Political opponents of President Donald Trump have "weaponized" the security-clearance process against him in an undemocratic "power grab," stalling his nominations and systematically impeding White House operations, the lawyer for a top Defense Department official wrote Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal.
The charge comes less than a month after U.S. Sen. Rand Paul revealed that two romantically involved FBI officials who were removed from special counsel Robert Mueller's team over a series of anti-Trump text messages still have Top Secret security clearances.
National security attorney Sean Bigley wrote that his client, Adam Lovinger, is just one example of the ongoing war against Trump appointees. Lovinger served for more than a decade as a Pentagon strategist before being tapped to become an analyst for the National Security Council.
"Unelected partisans are quietly usurping presidential prerogatives ..."
But shortly after Lovinger turned whistleblower -- by raising concerns about the possible misuse of contractors to perform government functions -- his security clearance was suspended and he lost the NSC post, Bigley wrote.
According to Bigley, the Pentagon cited only "[s]pecious, and constantly evolving, claims of misconduct" against his client to justify the punishment. Government officials failed to provide any specific evidence for their claims, and Lovinger remains on administrative leave, the attorney wrote.
"One of Mr. Lovinger’s alleged transgressions was that Pentagon officials had improperly marked an academic report he took aboard an airplane for reading," Bigley wrote.
The root of the problem, according to Bigley, is systemic partisan bias among career government bureaucrats who have openly expressed their contempt for President Trump.
"In Mr. Lovinger’s case, those weaponizing the security-clearance process include a senior official who remains on the job despite publicly disparaging President Trump as 'unfit' to lead, a Pentagon attorney who instructed colleagues on the importance of concealing retaliatory motives behind their actions, and the Defense Department’s security adjudications chief, who persists in advancing false allegations," Bigley wrote.
"They and other unelected partisans are quietly usurping presidential prerogatives through a litany of seemingly small but slowly compounding abuses of bureaucratic power," he said.
The White House's handling of security clearances came under fire earlier this year, in the wake of revelations that former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter had worked for more than a year with only interim clearance.
Porter, whose job gave him constant access to the most sensitive of documents, had been accused of domestic abuse by his two ex-wives. The White House repeatedly adjusted its timeline about who knew what and when about the allegations.