Oversight chair asks WH for security details of Mar-a-Lago meeting

Oversight chair asks WH for security details of Mar-a-Lago meeting
© Greg Nash
House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzOvernight Finance: Trump pitches massive tax cuts | Freedom Caucus endorses plan | Dems slam framework | House GOP to move B border wall bill | Officials under fire for private jet use GOP lawmaker pushes to end sports leagues' tax-exempt status Republicans predict Senate ObamaCare repeal would pass House MORE (R-Utah) has asked the White House to detail its handling of classified information at President Trump’s winter vacation home in Florida, amid concerns that sensitive information may have been exposed in public.

In a letter sent to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus on Tuesday, Chaffetz asked for information about the administration’s security protocols at Trump’s Mar-a-lago resort, including what documents were present at a Saturday powwow and how the administration vets club guests and employees to ensure they are not spies.

The unusual request came after it was revealed that Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a meeting in plain sight on Saturday to discuss North Korea’s most recent missile test.

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Media reports of the meeting said that Trump and Abe strategized and took phone calls at the dinner table in a dining area at the club while guests looked on. White House staff also reviewed documents in the common area, according to reports, using cellphones to illuminate the paperwork.

“Discussions with foreign leaders regarding international missile tests, and documents used to support those discussions, are presumptively sensitive,” Chaffetz wrote.

“While the President is always on duty, and cannot dictate the timing of when he needs to receive sensitive information about urgent matters, we hope the White House will cooperate in providing the Committee with additional information.”

At the White House briefing on Tuesday, press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump was briefed before the dinner with Abe about the situation in North Korea in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF).
 
“Subsequently he had a dinner, which was attended exclusively by U.S. and Japanese delegation members,” Spicer said. “At that time, apparently there was a photo taken, which everyone jumped to nefarious conclusions about what or may not be discussed."
 
He said the leaders were simply having a discussion about logistics and where to hold a press conference. 
 
He went on to accuse the media of accusing the president and his team of recklessly handling sensitive material based on a photo. 

Spicer said Trump was briefed on the situation in North Korea in the SCIF for a second time after dinner.

“I'm not really sure where people jump to conclusions,” Spicer said. “There is a SCIF there; it was utilized on two occasions that evening to convey to the President by his national security team, the situation in North Korea and then the President subsequently stood shoulder to shoulder with the Japanese President to make sure that our commitment to their security and stand against North Korea was fully made aware.”

Chaffetz is asking for an explanation of security protocols at Mar-a-lago and who put them in place; for the White House to identify documents viewed in the common areas and whether they were sensitive; and for an explanation of how guests and employees at the resort are "vetted to ensure they are not foreign agents or spies on behalf of a foreign government.”