Jared Kushner is having a terrible day. First, it was reported that he may have violated a law designed to keep high-ranking government officials from using their position to influence elections. Then, the top secret security clearance he loved having so much was yanked from him.
The downgrading of Kushner’s clearance was initiated by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly as part of a push to revoke top-level privileges from people who were still working on interim clearances. Kushner’s father-in-law apparently had the right to overrule Kelly, but didn’t. It comes as the White House grapples with intense scrutiny over just who on the payroll is able to see the administration’s highest classified documents following the revelation that former top aide Rob Porter’s security clearance was held back over long-known allegations of domestic assault.
For Kushner, however, loss of access to the top secret “sensitive compartmentalized information” presents a potentially major impediment to his portfolio of bringing peace to the Middle East, solving the opioid crisis, and fixing the whole of the United States Government. But hey, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, he’s still a “valued member of the team.”
The potential violation of federal law came in a press release from President Trump’s 2020 team on Tuesday announcing that former digital media director Brad Parscale has been tapped to manage the upcoming Trump campaign, Kushner issued a glowing statement in support of the appointment. The problem is that in the campaign’s initial release, Kushner was explicitly identified as an “assistant to the president” and not simply as a “gangly ventriloquist’s dummy who failed upwards into wealth and power.” That may seem like a distinction without a difference, but using a government title in campaign literature is a no-no according to the Hatch Act, the law that blocks government officials influencing elections through their office.
Speaking with Market Watch, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Communications Director Jordan Libowitz claimed that Kushner’s statement, framed as it was, “appears to be a clear violation of the Hatch Act.”
And it seems as if someone in the Trump campaign might agree. When the Parscale announcement was posted to the campaign’s website, Kushner’s title was nowhere to be found. Instead, he’s identified simply as “President Trump’s son-in-law.”
Kushner isn’t necessarily to blame—it’s entirely possible that he simply said a few nice things about Parscale and someone else on the president’s reelection campaign made the mistake of briefly breaking the law on Jared’s behalf. (It’s also possible that that...didn’t happen.) What’s more, Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed on Tuesday that Kushner, along with “Cabinet and senior staff,” had explicitly been briefed on the do’s and don’t’s of being a White House employee during an election.
Fortunately for Jared, he’ll have a lot more time to consider the implications of his maybe-crime now that his clearance has been revoked. Bummer, J-Man!