There is a deeply troubling story in the New York Times concerning the long fight over President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’ security clearance. After a long refusal to give him a top secret clearance, Kushner was finally cleared and President Trump indicated that he played no role in the decision and that it was made by the intelligence officials. There is now a report that intelligence officials refused to change their position and maintained that Kushner should not be given a clearance. Trump then reportedly overrode the opposition from both his national security and legal staffs in ordering that Kushner be given the clearance. The order was sufficiently alarming that both Trump Chief of Staff, (former Gen. and Homeland Security Secretary) John Kelly, and his White House Counsel Don McGahn, wrote internal memos on their objections as a record. As someone who has worked in the field with a top secret special intelligence clearance since the Reagan Administration, I find this report to be chilling. It is exceptionally rare and the further highlights the problems caused by nepotism in government. Congress has also objected that the White House has not cooperated into its oversight investigation into the matter.
The report indicates that the CIA also objected to Kushner seeing classified information. It does not explain why.
Trump told The New York Times in January in an Oval Office interview that he had no role Kushner receiving the clearance. If this story is true, the President lied. At the time, both Mr. Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe D. Lowell, and his wife, Ivanka Trump, said that at the time the clearance was granted through the standard process.
In a convoluted and impenetrable statement, Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Mr. Lowell, said on Thursday: “In 2018, White House and security clearance officials affirmed that Mr. Kushner’s security clearance was handled in the regular process with no pressure from anyone. That was conveyed to the media at the time, and new stories, if accurate, do not change what was affirmed at the time.”
I am not sure what “new stories, if accurate, do not change what was affirmed at the time” means. What is clear is that this is a very serious matter if our intelligence officials were overridden on the clearance of a high ranking adviser and then the public falsely informed about the decision.