On the heels of the story that President Donald Trump did order intelligence and legal staff to give his son-in-law Jared Kushner a high security clearance, CNN is reporting that he also intervened in his daughter’s security clearance despite both their denials of his playing such a role. The report is likely to deepen the growing rift with Congress over the House Oversight Committee demands for evidence on the controversy.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings has demanded the evidence and this would seem a legitimate matter for oversight investigation. If the President overrode security staff to benefit family members, the Congress has an obvious interest in the matter. There is no question that the President has the authority to order the granting of such clearances. However, that does not mean that the exercise of such authority cannot be an abuse of power, particularly when there are questions of nepotism or favoritism raised by the action.
In what is likely to be a pattern for the next two years, the White House has issued a categorical refusal and set up a fight over subpoenas.
On Tuesday, the White House White House counsel Pat Cipollone said the committee’s request for the information was “without legal support, clearly premature, and suggests a breach of the constitutionally required accommodation process.” I fail to see why the request is without legal support or premature. It is the type of demand that is likely to be upheld if a subpoena fight occurs, but that will take time and time is not on the side of Congress.