Jared Kushner’s Security Clearance Took Forever To Sort Out & Now It's Finally Done
After months of waiting in limbo, Jared Kushner's security clearance reportedly came through on Wednesday. The president's son-in-law and senior advisor had his clearance downgraded in February because of delays in completing his FBI background check. Since then, Kushner's been working in the West Wing without access to highly classified information.
Kushner finally graduated to a permanent security clearance after a second interview with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators, CNN reports. He reportedly sat for a 7-hour interview in April, after an initial interview last November that centered around former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn.
"A year ago, Jared was one of the first to voluntarily cooperate with any investigation into the 2016 campaign and related topics," Abbe Lowell, Kushner's attorney, said in a statement to CNN. "Since then, he has continued this complete cooperation."
Kushner has been a key player in Mueller's investigation into whether or not the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 campaign. A meeting Kushner took with a Russian operative ahead of the election raised new questions about his relationship to the country earlier this month, when congressional testimony from the man who helped arrange the meeting was released. Rob Goldstone told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kushner was "infuriate[d]" and "agitated" when he wasn't given incriminating information on Hillary Clinton, as the Russian operative had promised.
Another problem that arose for Kushner in his long road to get permanent White House clearance was the fact that he had to update his list of foreign contacts three times, by The New York Times' count. He ultimately added more than 100 names that he initially left off the disclosure form, including some Russian contacts.
Lowell told CNN this week that with respect to Kushner's clearance being restored, "as we stated before, his application was properly submitted, reviewed by numerous career officials and went through the normal process." He added:
"Throughout the process, Mr. Kushner has continued to work on a number of foreign policy and domestic issues with no interruption. Having completed all of these processes, he is looking to continue to do the work the President has asked him to do."
White House officials have blamed Kushner's lack of security clearance on a backlog in the process, not his foreign contacts.
Kushner was affected by White House chief of staff John Kelly's decision to overhaul security clearances in February. The move came after former Trump aide Rob Porter resigned amid allegations that he abused two ex-wives. The Daily Mail reported at the time that Porter was denied White House security clearance because the FBI knew about this alleged "dark past," yet he remained on staff.
Around the same time, multiple outlets reported that more than 100 White House staffers didn't have the proper clearance. The scrutiny reportedly prompted Kelly to issue a memo outlining new security standards, and Kushner's clearance was downgraded.
But even with his interim security clearance, Kushner was able to access "secret" level documents — just not information classified as "secure compartmentalized information," according to CBS News. Kushner has also continued representing the president among foreign nations, including efforts to mend the White House's relationship with Mexico.
Some nations reportedly see him a vulnerable link to President Trump, however. The Washington Post reported in February that officials in at least four countries have discussed ways they could manipulate Jared Kushner "by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties, and lack of foreign policy experience."
Although Kushner now has permanent clearance to view classified information, questions still remain about why it took so long for the FBI to grant Kushner total access — and whether or not he'll continue to play a role in the Mueller investigation.