John Kelly and Jared Kushner in fateful showdown over security clearance


Asked whether he would grant a waiver to Mr. Kushner, who holds an interim security clearance more than 13 months into his tenure in the administration, Mr. Trump said, "I'm going to let General Kelly make that decision, and he's going to do what's right for country". There is no known precedent for a president to make such a decision for anyone seeking a security clearance, according to security experts.

In a memo to the White House staff, Kelly said he would cut off high-level access to numerous aides who had been unable to get a permanent clearance.

Kelly said last week that officials who applied for security clearances before July, but still have not been granted permanent access, would have their temporary clearances taken away. If Kelly revokes Kushner's clearance, he will not have access to some of the classified information contained in the presidential briefing.

But in an interview with the Post last summer discussing this topic, Alan Dershowitz, a prominent scholar of constitutional and criminal law who knew Kushner when he was a student at Harvard, said the FBI's clearance process was a traditional procedural hurdle - not a legal one.

"He works for nothing".

The issues with granting such access on an interim basis came under scrutiny earlier this month after one of Trump's top aides, Rob Porter, was forced to step down amidst allegations of spousal abuse that were revealed in media reports. But he gets zero.

He complained about a "broken" system that has required "months and months" of waiting for people with unremarkable circumstances.

Given Kushner's multiple redactions to his security clearance forms as well as his financial disclosure forms, it's really anyone's guess what is keeping Kushner from getting a full security clearance.

Trump's chief of staff John Kelly will determine if Jared Kushner will be able to keep his interim security clearance

The Post, quoting unidentified people familiar with the conversations, reported that Kelly has told associates that he is uncomfortable with Kushner's unresolved security clearance status and his unique role as both a family member and staffer.

Earlier this week, the White House maintained that Kushner's work will be unaffected by the change.

Kushner, a second-generation real estate developer, is "working on peace in the Middle East and some other small and very easy deals".

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said on Friday that Rosenstein "has not referenced to the White House any specific concerns relating to this individual's security clearance process". General Kelly respects Jared a lot and General Kelly will make that call.

"So the more direct question is will Trump throw his son-in-law under the bus, and then the corollary to that is will his son-in-law throw his father-in-law under the bus?"

The White House has declined to say how many officials will be affected by the measure.

"It seems to me that he should have restricted access to highly classified material until the resolution of those issues", Bauer said.

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