Sunday, 22 July, 2018

Kushner security clearance limits his access to some US secrets

GettyIvanka Trump She goes to exercise classes in the dark GettyIvanka Trump She goes to exercise classes in the dark
Jeannette Daniel | 14 July, 2018, 12:38

White House chief of staff John Kelly demoted him to "secret" level in February after outcry about the nonchalant way Trump administration members who lacked proper clearance were able to access classified files and a report that foreign governments planned to manipulate Kushner through his worldwide businesses.

The lower status has occasionally cut Kushner off from viewing parts of the president's Daily Brief when it includes the highly sensitive information. Investigators have looked at Kushner's interactions with foreign officials. The White House overcame this hurdle with a policy overhaul in February that significantly downgraded access to sensitive information for Kushner and other Trump administration officials on interim clearances.

Mark Zaid, a Washington lawyer who specializes in security clearances, said, "I think it would severely hamper his ability to do his job". But that clearance was only for information classified as "top secret", the Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing two unnamed officials.

He was then granted permanent clearance in May.

It's suspected that the White House may have granted "top secret" clearance to Kushner as it has authority to internally carry this out without the usual background checks by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the special Central Intelligence Agency approval required for SCI access.

"Of course it's an impediment", said Leslie McAdoo Gordon, another security clearance lawyer and expert.

In this June 21, 2017, photo, special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington.

More news: Schumer Calls On Trump To Cancel Putin Summit After Russian Indictments

Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kushner has been interviewed twice by Mueller's team - including in April, when he sat for six hours of questioning about a wide range of topics, including his meetings with foreign officials during Trump's transition and Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Given the sensitivity of the post such a senior position is normally only granted to officials with the highest security clearance.

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The White House had defended Kushner over the length of time it took for him to receive a permanent clearance, noting his business dealings.

"I could go play softball without my glove, but I would be hampered and not performing my best as an outfielder", Zaid said, adding that trying to negotiate Middle East peace would be extremely hard.

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