An Ex-Ethics Lawyer Laments That We Might As Well Give Putin Security Clearance
Donald Trump, Jr. has been taking a ton of flack for his infamous emails regarding his meeting with a Russia-linked lawyer — arguably the first piece of evidence that reveals there was collusion, or at least the hope of collusion, between the Trump camp and Russia.
However, there were other people in the room with Trump Jr. He was joined by as many as seven other individuals in the meeting, one who currently works in the White House. (That would be Jared Kushner.) Now one former ethics lawyer says the United States might as well give Putin security clearance if Kushner gets to keep his.
Richard Painter, a former chief ethics lawyer under George W. Bush, took to Twitter to denounce the state of affairs. "Jared Kushner's security clearance should be revoked. If not, we should just throw in the towel and give one to Vladimir Putin himself," Painter tweeted Sunday.
The news that Kushner was in the meeting came as a surprise to many; he initially had to give a list of foreign contacts to the feds for approval, but it was incomplete. Since first applying for his clearance, he has updated the list three times, adding as many as 100 additional people, The New York Times reported last week.
Painter has criticized Trump's team several times. He said on MSNBC a week ago that the email exchange "borders on treason":
This was an effort to get opposition research on an opponent in an American political campaign from the Russians, who were known to be engaged in spying inside the United States. We do not get our opposition research from spies, we do not collaborate with Russian spies, unless we want to be accused of treason.
The Bush administration never would have tolerated this, and if this story is true, we'd have one of them if not both of them in custody by now, and we'd be asking them a lot of questions, because this is unacceptable. This borders on treason, if it is not itself treason.
But Painter is far from the only one criticizing Kushner getting to keep his security clearance. Ned Price, who served as a special assistant to President Obama for National Security affairs, was once a CIA analyst. He explained how for career public servants in the security agencies would have their clearances revoked for far less.
Price explains that he nearly had his revoked for having a discussion with a "renowned American scholar" for his master's thesis. Kushner's contact with potentially worrisome foreign actors seems to Price like a far bigger concern. So the fact he gets to keep the clearance is curious, Price explains:
These are the facts: Jared Kushner held suspicious meetings with Russian officials and operatives that he failed to disclose when he applied for a security clearance. If he weren't the president's son in law, he'd have been frogmarched out of the White House long ago. Why does he still have access to America's biggest secrets?
That's a very good question, and it proves Painter's point. For a security clearance to mean anything, you can't go handing them out willy-nilly. Perhaps it's time that Kushner's is reevaluated.