Jared Kushner’s access top secret intelligence downgraded

Jared Kushner, the son-in-law to US president Donald Trump, had been operating with an interim clearance at the “top secret/sensitive compartmented information” level for more than a year.

world Updated: Feb 28, 2018 21:22 IST
Hindustan Times, Washington
Jared Kushner,US,White House
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner delivers remarks on the Trump administration's approach to the Middle East region at the Saban Forum in Washington, US.(Reuters File Photo)

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner has had his interim security clearance downgraded, a move that will deny him access to the highest level of government secrets he was privy to as a key member of the US administration, multiple media reports have stated.

Kushner — who is also President Donald Trump’s son-in-law — had been operating with an interim clearance at the “top secret/sensitive compartmented information” level for more than a year. He had been entrusted with some of the administration’s most significant assignments, including relationships with China and Japan, bringing about peace in the Middle East, and a host of domestic priorities, including infrastructure, trade and economic development.

The rash of responsibilities he was handed led to the nickname “Secretary of Everything”.

However, chief of staff John Kelly — who has been at odds with Kushner — ordered that officials with interim clearances be cut off if they hadn’t received permanent clearances by last Friday. Trump could have allowed Kushner to retain his clearance level, but deferred to Kelly. “I have no doubt he’ll make the right decision,” he had said.

The move has sparked off speculations that Kushner’s days in the White House might be numbered.

Even as the story about Kushner’s security clearance broke, The Washington Post reported that officials in at least four countries had privately discussed ways they could manipulate Trump’s son-in-law by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience.

The four nations were China, Israel, Mexico and the UAE, the Post reported, citing current and former US officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter. It was unclear if any of those countries had acted on the discussions, but said Kushner’s contacts with foreign government officials have previously raised concerns within the White House and were among the reasons he had been unable to obtain a permanent security clearance.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders refused to answer a question about Kushner on Tuesday. “We do not comment on individual security clearances … But we have commented on his ability to do his job, which he’s a valued member of the team, and he will continue to do the important work that he’s been doing since he started in the administration,” she said.

Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell said in a statement that the security downgrade will not affect his client’s ability to “continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the president”.

The White House’s handling of security clearances has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of revelations that former staff secretary Rob Porter — whose job gave him constant access to the most sensitive of documents — had worked for more than a year with only interim clearance.

First Published: Feb 28, 2018 09:12 IST