Gage Skidmore / Flickr John Bolton...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Top Democrats are requesting information from the White House on the security clearance of Trump national security adviser John Bolton, who crossed paths with an indicted Russian spy while serving on the National Rifle Association’s international affairs subcommittee.

The ranking members of the House Oversight and Subcommittee on National Security, Reps. Elijah Cummings and Stephen Lynch, wrote to White House chief of staff John Kelly Monday:

We are writing regarding recent reports that National Security Advisor John Bolton, in his former capacity as a top official with the National Rifle Association (NRA), worked directly with a Russian citizen who has now been charged by federal prosecutors with infiltrating that organization and spying against the United States for years,” the Ranking Members wrote.

Given the alarming and unprecedented nature of these revelations—and the high-level position of trust Mr. Bolton now holds—we request that you produce documents relating to whether Mr. Bolton reported his previous work with this alleged Russian spy on his security clearance forms or other White House vetting materials prior to President Trump appointing him to his current position,” they wrote.

The White House now has a storied history of abusing security clearances—both granting them to people who are under scrutiny, like Trump aide/son-in-law Jared Kushner, and revoking them from people who criticize Trump, like former CIA director John Brennan.

The White House has already demonstrated pathetic judgment when it comes to granting security clearances to its national security advisers, the highest  and most sensitive national security post at the White House. Trump’s first national security adviser Michael Flynn, resigned due to lying about his contacts with Russians, and it was later revealed he had worked as an unregistered foreign agent of Turkey.

The Russian citizen referenced in the letter is Maria Butina, who was arrested for acting as a Russian agent in July.

As the Democrats write:

Butina reportedly acted as an agent of Alexander Torshin, a “lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia.”  According to an affidavit by an FBI agent, Butina and Torshin “planned to advance Moscow’s long-term strategic objectives in the United States, in part, by establishing relationships with American political organizations, including the GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION [the NRA].”

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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