White House official resigns after being denied full security clearance

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Senior White House official George David Banks has resigned after being told that his security clearance had been denied over his past use of marijuana. It makes him the third White House official to resign in just one week.

Banks, who served as Special Assistant to the President for International Energy and Environment for nearly a year, told Politico on Wednesday that his application for a permanent security clearance had been denied.

According to Banks, his security clearance had been denied because he admitted to smoking marijuana in 2013, which is illegal under federal law. Under the administration of former President Barack Obama, however, a clearance was only denied if someone tried to hide their past drug use.

“It was an honor to serve the president at the White House and I look forward to supporting the president in the future,” Banks, whose portfolio included the Paris climate deal, told Politico. He also played a key role in leading U.S. engagement at climate talks in Germany last year.

Prior to joining the Trump administration, Banks worked as a senior adviser on international climate at the Council on Environmental Quality under President George W. Bush. He also worked as an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and as a diplomat for the U.S. State Department.

The news comes just a week after White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter resigned over allegations of domestic abuse by his two ex-wives. White House speechwriter David Sorensen resigned last Friday, also over an allegation of domestic abuse. Both men have denied the allegations.

The White House has been under scrutiny for its handling of security clearances after it was revealed that Porter and other officials were still using interim clearances after more than a year. The White House has also been under fire for its handling of the allegations against Porter.

One White House official told Politico that the row over security clearances was “demoralizing,” arguing that Banks was a victim of the Porter controversy. The official and others said they were being left in the dark about how Chief of Staff John Kelly intends to handle the issue.

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