The White House whistle-blower at the center of a controversy over security clearances for Trump administration officials grew up in the Aroostook County town of Madawaska and was remembered by a former teacher there for her courage and independence.

Tricia Newbold, a 1998 Madawaska High School graduate, has worked in the White House Personnel Security Office for more than 18 years, serving in four administrations dating to the Clinton White House in 2000.

Newbold’s story came to light Monday after Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, issued a statement that said a whistle-blower – identified in committee documents as Newbold – sat for “a confidential, on-the-record, daylong interview with Democratic and Republican Committee staff to relay grave concerns about the dysfunction she has witnessed over the past two years, highlight the dangers these actions present to national security, and implore the committee to immediately conduct independent oversight of these matters.”

Newbold, 39, told lawmakers that more than two dozen denials for security clearances have been overturned by Trump administration officials.

“I would not be doing a service to myself, my country, or my children if I sat back knowing that the issues that we have could impact national security,” Newbold told the committee, according to a summary of her allegations.

Newbold met with committee staffers on March 23.

“I’m glad that my colleagues on the Oversight and Reform Committee have heard from Ms. Newbold directly about her experiences processing security clearances from the White House and I thank her for coming forward. I share their concerns and will keep pushing for answers from the administration,” Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, said in a statement Monday night.

“It’s outrageous that after she reported these very serious issues she was retaliated against by her supervisor,” Pingree said.

Read the interview summary

Newbold’s Washington, D.C.-based attorney, Edward Passman, said Monday night that she did not want to be interviewed. Newbold, who was suspended for 14 days, worked as the adjudications manager for the Personnel Security Office before being moved to a position of senior adviser, Passman said.

“She just went back to work today,” he said in a telephone interview. “She really cares about protecting our national security. To her, this is not a political position.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Mark Warner, D-Virginia, introduced bipartisan legislation last month designed to “protect the integrity of the security clearance process and ensure that it cannot be abused for political purposes.”

In a release issued March 18, the senators, who serve on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said their bill would “ban agencies from using security clearances to punish whistleblowers or discriminate on the basis of sex, gender, religion, age, handicap or national origin.”

The bill does not mention Newbold or anyone else by name, and a member of Collins’ staff said Monday night that the bill wasn’t designed with a specific person in mind and was crafted to depoliticize the clearance process by ensuring that established guidelines are followed in every application for a security clearance.

“The security clearance system is critical to protecting our country from harm and safeguarding access to our secrets. Americans should have the utmost confidence in the integrity of our security clearance process,” Collins said in the release.

The New York Times reported that Newbold, who has a rare form of congenital dwarfism, filed a complaint against her supervisor with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing him of discriminating against her over her short stature.

Gisele Dionne, Newbold’s former teacher and now the superintendent of the Madawaska School Department, said her former student had always shown grit in the face of adversity.

“Tricia was a very motivated and can-do person,” Dionne said in an email Monday night. “Sometime after high school graduation I ran into her at a local store and was surprised by her new height and physique” after she underwent bone-lengthening surgery at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore.

“However, I was not surprised she had endured what must have been very painful procedures, so that she could gain more independence,” Dionne said.

Newbold isn’t the first Mainer to run afoul of the Trump White House. Scientist Joel Clement, a 1984 graduate of Falmouth High School, filed a whistle-blower complaint against the administration in October 2017, alleging that he was reassigned to an accounting job for speaking out about the dangers that climate change poses to Alaska Native communities.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

 

 

 

 


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