House Democrats target Jared Kushner’s security clearance

White House adviser Jared Kushner, center, and his attorney Abbe Lowell, left, arrive on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 25, 2017, to be interviewed behind closed doors by the House Intelligence Committee. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

On Thursday, House Democrats introduced new legislation aimed at Jared Kushner’s security clearance. The Security Clearance Review Act would authorize the F.B.I Director to revoke the security clearance of senior White House staff, should the Director decide it poses a national security risk. The bill, spearheaded by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, has 18 additional cosponsors.

“Donald Trump’s refusal to hold his senior staff accountable for their deceptions on Russia have sadly made this legislation necessary,” said Beyer in a statement on the bill. “Despite all we have learned about his secret meetings with Russians, Jared Kushner apparently continues to hold his clearance. Kushner’s case and that of disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn make it clear that we need further protections when it comes to security clearances for the President’s family and closest advisers.”

This legislation is the latest attempt by House Democrats to hold Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, accountable for his SF-86 security clearance form that previously omitted his contacts with several foreign leaders, including Russian officials and nationals with links to the Kremlin.

After reports of Kushner’s undisclosed meetings with Russians were made public in April, Beyer, along with four other House representatives, wrote a letter to then-F.B.I Director James Comey, urging the agency to suspend Kushner’s security clearance. In response, the F.B.I. said that only the president has that power. This bill would give the F.B.I Director the ability to “revoke, or prohibit the renewal of a security clearance.”

In early June, Beyer led over 50 members of Congress calling for the revocation of Kushner’s clearance after Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller was looking into his meetings as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

The following month, two dozen representatives called upon the F.B.I to see if Ivanka Trump omitted any details on her SF-86. The security clearance form requires the applicant’s spouse and/or sibling to disclose any foreign contacts, meetings, and business interests. This means she would have had to disclose Kushner and Donald Trump, Jr.’s meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer in Trump Tower on June 9, 2016.

This legislation comes the same week Kushner testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of their investigation. In his 11-page opening statement, Kushner doesn’t deny the four meetings with Russian foreign nationals, but maintains that he “did not collude.” Testimony given behind closed doors is not under oath.

Kushner currently has an interim clearance as he gathers information for the F.B.I in order to seek top-secret security clearance. Higher clearance would give Kushner even more access to classified, sensitive information.