Serious questions are swirling around Jared Kushner’s security clearance — which is still pending more than a year after he entered the White House, even as Kushner reportedly requests more intelligence information than almost any other White House official.
According to new reports by the Washington Post, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly announced on February 16 that starting next week some people with interim security clearances will not be able to access top-secret information. This could include Trump’s son-in-law, whose clearance has been the subject of controversy for some time.
A great WaPo piece on Kushner making the most of his interim clearance to obtain sensitive security intel while appearing unlikely to ever get his five-year clearance https://t.co/XVHTBUAxVh
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 17, 2018
The news comes at the same time as Talking Points Memo reveals Kushner had to update his financial disclosure logs yet again — he has now had to make more than 40 changes since his original filing last March.
Kushner is a senior adviser to the president and has been tasked with leading efforts to bring peace to the Middle East, spearhead criminal justice reform, and tackle the opioid epidemic, among other things. His role has allowed him to meet with officials from China and Saudi Arabia. Kushner also reportedly receives a copy of the Presidential Daily Brief — a daily compilation of the country’s top intelligence information.
Kushner has been given an interim clearance allowing him to access this sensitive information and work in such a high-level position. Kushner, however, has yet to be granted full security clearance. As one official told the Washington Post, Kelly’s memo released on Friday puts a “bull’s eye” on Kushner.
While Kushner’s lawyer maintains he will not be affected by Kelly’s memo, other officials don’t expect Kushner to get permanent security clearance.
One of the main issues holding back Kushner’s clearance is the number of amendments he has had to make to a form detailing his contact with foreign officials. Last year he filed three updates to this form. These forms, filled out by those who require security clearance, are scrutinized to determine whether someone can be trusted with top-secret information, and whether that individual could be vulnerable to influence or blackmail by a foreign government.
According to experts, it is incredibly rare to hold interim security clearance for a long period of time; most last only 12 months. Kushner is now at more than 13 months.
Watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington this week called for Kushner’s clearance to be revoked. In a complaint addressed to Kelly, the group calls Kushner’s access to classified information “a security threat”.
“Failure to revoke Mr. Kushner’s temporary clearance would set a dangerous precedent for these other cases by signalling a willingness to tolerate unacceptable national security risks,” the letter continues.
Last summer also saw multiple attempts by House Democrats to revoke Kushner’s clearance after it was revealed he met with a Russian lawyer linked to the Kremlin in June 2016.
Kushner, however, isn’t the only one facing this problem. Issues over security clearances have plagued the White House in recent weeks. A report by CNN on February 9 claimed that 30 to 40 Trump administration appointees still did not have the full security clearance required to do their jobs.
This came shortly after former White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned his post following allegations of spousal abuse. Porter had been operating under an interim security clearance.
A recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office has called the current security clearance system “high risk” and warned it is in need of reform.