Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Chief Of Staff Kelly To Settle Kushner Security Dispute

Arizona House Majority Leader Steve Montenegro R-Avondale speaks during a legislative session at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix. Two former Republican Arizona lawmakers who are leading candidates to fill a vacant Letter: Trump should face his accusers
Judith Alexander | 24 February, 2018, 11:48

Kushner is one of dozens of White House aides who have been working without permanent security clearances for the better part of a year.

A report from the New York Times earlier this week said that Kushner's "resisting" giving up his access in a clash with Chief of Staff John Kelly.

The source said there were frustrations on both sides between Kushner and Kelly and they wanted to find a solution. He's had to amend his security clearance questionnaire several times to include meetings he's had with foreign nationals, including Russian agents. But that access could soon be cut off - unless Trump steps in with a waiver.

US President Donald Trump has said that he will not decide on the future of Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, but he'll leave the matter to his chief of staff John Kelly.

As someone who meets regularly with foreign officials and reads classified intelligence, Kushner would typically have a fast-tracked background investigation, security-clearance experts said.

In the aftermath of the Rob Porter scandal, Kelly declared that White House staffers whose security clearances have been pending since June 1 would no longer be able to see classified information. That's because sharing such information could compromise the special counsel's probe. He also ordered access to highly classified information be limited for the remaining aides with interim clearances.

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Kushner has held an interim security clearance for more than a year, his attorney, Abbe Lowell, told The Associated Press last week.

White House officials had not ruled out the idea of Trump potentially using his executive authority to grant Kushner a permanent security clearance, which would circumvent the traditional process.

Porter resigned on February 7, the same week multiple news outlets ran stories in which both of his ex-wives accused him of physical abuse, including one who offered a photo of a black eye she says he gave her. Most prominent among them is Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law, who has had access to some of the nation's most sensitive material for the past year while waiting for his background investigation to be completed. Subsequently, dozens of senior officials - including Kushner - were acknowledged to be working with interim clearances as the Federal Bureau of Investigation completes background checks, delayed by undisclosed problems in some cases.

Kelly a week ago set Friday as the deadline for adjudicating the cases of Kushner and others in clearance limbo. But the president is the ultimate arbiter of access to classified information, and could legally overrule any decision to deny someone a clearance. "I have no doubt he will make the right decision".

Regardless of the security clearance, White House officials and Kushner's lawyers have expressed confidence that he would continue to serve in his father-in-law's administration.

Porter, whose job gave him constant access to the most sensitive of documents, had been accused of domestic abuse by his two ex-wives.

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