It’s good being the son-in-law to the president. You can get plum assignments like making peace in the Middle East, feel secure that your past crimes will probably be overlooked, and even get that sweet, sweet security clearance that your high-profile job demands, even when multiple security officials question whether you might be a security risk.
According to the New York Times, this was exactly how Jared Kushner’s security clearance was granted—via a presidential hissy fit. Four sources told the paper that Trump ordered his former chief of staff John Kelly to give Kushner his security clearance despite concerns held by intelligence officials and the White House counsel.
From the Times:
Mr. Trump’s decision in May so troubled senior administration officials that at least one, the White House chief of staff at the time, John F. Kelly, wrote a contemporaneous internal memo about how he had been “ordered” to give Mr. Kushner the top-secret clearance.
The White House counsel at the time, Donald F. McGahn II, also wrote an internal memo outlining the concerns that had been raised about Mr. Kushner — including by the C.I.A. — and how Mr. McGahn had recommended that he not be given a top-secret clearance.
This isn’t the first time that we’ve heard rumors that Kushner’s clearance was recommended against by officials. But this new information contradicts previous statements by the president. Last month, Trump told the Times that he had no role in pushing for Kushner’s clearance to be approved.
This was also the line from Kushner’s lawyer Abbe D. Lowell and his wife Ivanka Trump.
“We don’t comment on security clearances,” is all White House press secretary Sarah Sanders would say in response to these contradictory claims.
“In 2018, White House and security clearance officials affirmed that Mr. Kushner’s security clearance was handled in the regular process with no pressure from anyone. That was conveyed to the media at the time, and new stories, if accurate, do not change what was affirmed at the time,” Lowell’s spokesman Peter Mirijanian told the Times.
So, why was it so anathema to officials to give Kushner a security clearance to begin with? Officials said his real estate business’ relationships to foreign governments and his own unreported relationships with foreigners were concerning.
There’s also the matter of the meeting that Kushner attended at Trump Tower in order to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton from a Russian lawyer. Kushner initially withheld information about that meeting from his application.
House Democrats have begun investigating how Kushner and several other Trump Administration officials obtained their security clearances. This looks like it might be yet another instance of the president and his staff not following protocol and violating norms, if not straight up committing crimes.