Over the weekend, the president received a controversial intelligence briefing on a public Mar-a-Lago terrace — and now, the House Oversight Committee wants to know whether the unusual setting resulted in a security breach. In a letter sent by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the House Oversight Committee today asked Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus for more information on possible security risks incurred by the public briefing.
Among other demands, the letter asks for more information about cellphones being used while the president was discussing the news.
An explanation of whether any classified information was discussed in common areas at Mar-a-Lago, including while any individuals were speaking or recording on cellular telephones
Even this may not be sufficient, since a phone compromised by malware could have recorded the proceedings without anyone purposefully activating the phone. The president has maintained an unsecured Android phone for personal use, which many are concerned could be a target of cyberattacks by foreign states.
The president was being briefed on an unexpected missile test by North Korea, a matter of vital importance to Japanese Prime Minister Abe, who was with Trump at the resort. According to one report, aides helped light the documents with cellphone flashlights, which would have also exposed the documents to the phones’ cameras.
Trump later received an additional briefing in a secure facility, according to press secretary Sean Spicer, but the committee still has concerns about the documents read on the Mar-a-Lago terrace. “Discussions with foreign leaders regarding international missile tests, and documents used to support those discussions, are presumptively sensitive,” the letter reads.
Priebus is instructed to respond to the questions as soon as possible, but no later than February 28th. The committee is Congress’ main investigative body, and has jurisdiction over all government misconduct.
Rep. Chaffetz most recently made headlines for being grilled on science policy by 10-year-old Hannah Bradshaw at a recent town hall meeting; it’s unclear whether Bradshaw’s questioning played a role in this decision.
The Mar-a-Lago meeting has also drawn an inquiry to the acting Director of National Intelligence. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) sent a letter to DNI Dempsey today asking for a number of details on recent security incidents, including the date of resigned National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s most recent polygraph test.
“These recent events have called into question whether the White House is taking adequate steps to protect classified information,” Heinrich writes in the letter.
5:07PM ET: Updated with Heinrich letter.