GOP lawmakers say Sam Brinton episode raises questions about hiring, vetting

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Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming wants the Department of Energy to launch an internal review of its security clearance process after the firing of Sam Brinton, a nonbinary nuclear waste official who faces charges of stealing airport luggage.

Mr. Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he needs to learn more from Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm about the vetting processes.

“It is clear as day that felons should not hold security clearances,” Mr. Barrasso told Fox News Digital. “For months, I’ve been demanding answers from the Department of Energy on their failed security clearance process. Secretary Granholm has provided none.”

“When people are appointed to critical positions with important national security responsibilities, Americans must be confident they can be trusted,” he said. “The department must launch a thorough investigation into the vetting process.”

Brinton, who served as deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition, is accused of taking luggage from a carousel at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) in September.

The investigation sparked a breakthrough into a separate incident from July, resulting in charges related to the theft of luggage from Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas.

Authorities relied on security camera footage in both instances.

Police said the Las Vegas suspect was wearing a T-shirt with “a large rainbow-colored atomic nuclear symbol design on the front.”

The stolen bag and its contents were estimated to be worth more than $3,000.

The Energy Department said Brinton is no longer employed at the agency but it cannot comment further on personnel matters.

As Brinton faces court proceedings, Republicans in Congress are suggesting that the Biden administration put its push for diversity over proper vetting.

“I hope this entire debacle reminds the Biden administration that prioritizing wokeness over competence will inevitably lead to embarrassment and failure,” Rep. Andrew Clyde, Georgia Republican, told “I urge the President to abandon his ill-fated scheme of fulfilling woke milestones and to instead focus on ensuring only qualified, dedicated individuals influence policy and serve the American people.”

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