Kushner And His Security Clearance

Ken AshfordTrump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

It took him dozens of tries to get his security form information correct, he was red-flagged by intelligence agencies, but he finally got his security clearances. How did that happen?

President Trump ordered his chief of staff to grant his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, a top-secret security clearance last year, overruling concerns flagged by intelligence officials and the White House’s top lawyer, four people briefed on the matter said.

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.

The disclosure of the memos contradicts statements made by the president, who told The New York Times in January in an Oval Office interview that he had no role in his son-in-law receiving his clearance.

Yup. That interview with the New York Times went like this:

HABERMAN: Can I switch gears for a second? There’s been a story in the news the last two weeks about your son-in-law’s security clearance.

TRUMP: Yeah.

HABERMAN: Did you tell General Kelly or anyone else in the White House to overrule security officials? The career veterans —

TRUMP: No. I don’t think I have the authority to do that. I’m not sure I do.

Haberman: You do have the authority to do it.

Trump: But I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t do it.


TRUMP: Um, Jared is a good —

HABERMAN: You never —

TRUMP: I was never involved with the security. I know that he — you know, just from reading — I know that there was issues back and forth about security for numerous people, actually. But I don’t want to get involved in that stuff.

HABERMAN: O.K. Why would you want to — why stay out? You do have the authority to —

TRUMP: I don’t know. I just don’t — I just, I never thought it was necessary. I also know him. He’s a very solid person, and I just can’t imagine he would have — I guess even, Ivanka, they, they, I heard that, uh, something with Jared and Ivanka —


TRUMP: But, uh, I don’t believe I’ve ever met any of the national security — of the people that would do clearances. Um, and there’d be nothing wrong, I don’t think, with me calling them up to the Oval Office and say, “Hey give these people, you know, clearances” —

HABERMAN: You just told me — [inaudible]

TRUMP: Yeah, yeah, so there, I, I mean, I take back the other — I didn’t, I was answering a little bit different question. Uh, I have the right to do it, but I never thought it was necessary, Maggie. I never thought it was necessary.

HABERMAN: And you didn’t direct General Kelly or anyone like that to do it?

TRUMP: No. And, and frankly, I never thought it was necessary to do so.

Yup… and this interview with Ivanka was only a few weeks ago…

In a report from a year ago, the Washington Post identified some of the concerns the intelligence community had in granting a security clearance to Kushner.

Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter.

Among those nations discussing ways to influence Kushner to their advantage were the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico, the current and former officials said.

It is unclear if any of those countries acted on the discussions, but Kushner’s contacts with certain foreign government officials have raised concerns inside the White House and are a reason he has been unable to obtain a permanent security clearance, the officials said.

It is very likely that intelligence officials were also concerned about several exchanges Kushner had with Russians. For example:

  1. In June 2016, Kushner was involved in the meeting Don, Jr. arranged with Russians at Trump Tower.
  2. In December 2016, Kushner met with Sergey Gorkov, the top executive of a Russian bank, who reported that they talked about “promising business lines and sectors.”
  3. In December 2016, Kushner met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who reported that they discussed setting up a secret communications channel with Moscow, using Russian diplomatic facilities in the U.S.

That only covers what we know about possible concerns the intelligence community had when it came to granting a security clearance to Kushner. But it gives you some idea why both Kelly and McGahn put their objections in writing. Nevertheless, Trump overruled them.

Kushner couldn’t respond to the new report…. he’s overseas in the Middle East probably spilling all our secrets.