Does Donald Trump Jr. Have Security Clearance? He's Not A Government Employee
Donald Trump Jr. is expected to appear at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, after coming under fire for reportedly attending a meeting with at least two Russian individuals during his father's presidential campaign. At the time of the meeting, Trump Jr. worked closely with his father's campaign, but he has no official position in the Trump administration. As a result, Trump Jr. likely doesn't have a security clearance or access to classified information within his father's White House.
Trump Jr. confirmed earlier in July that he and other top campaign officials — namely, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort — met with a Russian lawyer in June 2016. Now, he'll answer questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, as the committee investigates the allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. Ultimately, though, Trump Jr. may have little at stake in the investigation. Surely, he has far less at stake than his brother-in-law and his father.
Trump Jr. is not an official member of the Trump administration. While his father, his sister, and his brother-in-law moved to the public sector, Trump Jr. has remained in the private sector, running the family businesses, along with his younger brother, Eric Trump. In other words, Trump Jr. doesn't have much official political capital to lose.
Kushner, on the other hand, has an official role and a security clearance at stake. Kushner serves as a senior advisor to President Trump. His role is amorphous, but one concrete responsibility of Kushner's is leading the newly established Office of American Innovation. For his role in the White House, Kushner has reportedly applied for security clearance and access to classified information. Although the president ultimately makes decisions about security clearances, and it's unlikely that Trump would take away his son-in-law's access, Kushner's connection to the meeting with Russian individuals raises concern over his access to classified information.
As an outsider to the administration, Trump Jr. doesn't officially qualify for a security clearance. Although the president has the final say, security clearances are typically attached to jobs and not to people. In other words, government employees can qualify for a clearance level based on the needs of their job. In order to advise the president, for instance, it seems reasonable that Kushner needs access to certain pieces of classified information. As the president's son and a business leader, Trump Jr. doesn't exactly demonstrate that same "need to know."
There's a lot on the line for the Trump administration in the ongoing investigation into the 2016 presidential election. But for the president's eldest son, as an individual, his distance from the administration may make him less of a liability. Nonetheless, all eyes and ears will be on him if he testifies publicly on Wednesday.