A Defense Department report obtained by NBC News found that 165 defense contractors had their initial security clearances revoked last year after further investigation linked the recipients to problematic or illicit activity, including questionable financial transactions, influence by foreign governments and even felonies like pedophilia.
The report captured data from 200,000 applications for secret or top secret clearance by defense contractors over the past three years, many of which were not fully adjudicated until 2017. It found that 486 applicants had their clearances denied or revoked. Of those applicants, 165 had slipped through the initial round of vetting and been allowed access to sensitive information.
The report, which was to be released Wednesday, shows how it is possible for people who have been compromised or who have criminal backgrounds to slip through the cracks of the preliminary background investigation and obtain access to sensitive national security-related information.
The process for obtaining an interim clearance is the same for defense contractors as for senior White House aides. The FBI is responsible for reviewing the criminal history, financial records and foreign contacts of applicants for the White House, the Department of Defense and other agencies with employees that require clearance.
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As of last week, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, had been operating with an interim security clearance rather than a permanent clearance for almost a year, according to media reports.