Kushner-Kelly divide deepens over security clearance overhaul
- Author: Rogelio Becker Feb 23, 2018,
Feb 23, 2018, 1:50
One White House official speculated that the security clearance restriction could also serve as a way for Kelly to limit Kushner's access to the President, because he would be restricted from attending certain briefings or participating in sensitive conversations.
Almost a year into the Trump administration, some senior-level staffers - including daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Kushner - remained on interim clearances even as other senior advisers were granted full security access, according to information obtained by CNN from a United States government official.
Kelly's new process for granting security clearances comes a little over a week after former staff secretary Rob Porter resigned when abuse allegations against him became public.
The White House said Tuesday that Kushner's work will not be impacted by Kelly's changes to the security clearance process but did not acknowledge whether Kushner's interim clearance would be revoked.
The Times had asked Kelly about reports that he is rolling back security access for staffers whose security clearance is still pending.
The White House maintains that Kushner's work will be unaffected by the change, but won't explain why.
Special counsel Robert Mueller's office is investigating efforts by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner to raise foreign financing for his family's company's real-estate project during the presidential transition, CNN reported Monday.
But Mr. Kelly, who has been privately dismissive of Mr. Kushner since taking the post of chief of staff but has rarely taken him on directly, has made no guarantees, saying only that the president's son-in-law will still have all the access he needs to do his job under the new system... "There is no truth to any suggestion otherwise", Kelly's statement said. Much, but not all, of Kushner's work on the two issues singled out by Kelly are handled at those lower levels, an official said.
Despite this, Kushner has enjoyed access to the same classified information President Donald Trump receives.
Jared Kushner takes a phone call before a Security Council meeting on the situation in Middle East, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 at United Nations headquarters.
One White House official said that, although unspoken, it was clear that other staffers were anxious about raising questions about Porter's clearance issues because they were concerned it would resurrect scrutiny surrounding Kushner's own issues.
People praising Kushner said that the man has worked rigorously in the White House after Trump's elect. Moreover, he further added, "The new policy that has been announced by General Kelly will not, in any way, affect the ability of Kushner to continue doing what he has been doing and work that has been designated specifically by the President himself". "He continues and will continue to be a valued member of the team. He'll continue to do the important work that he's been focused on for the a year ago".