Published: Sat, February 24, 2018
Medical | By Jackie Banks

White House: Role of Kushner unaffected by security clearance

White House: Role of Kushner unaffected by security clearance

WASHINGTON-President Donald Trump on Friday said he would leave to his chief of staff the decision of whether to grant a security-clearance waiver to Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser and his son-in-law.

However, when asked about his temporary security clearance, he said: "That will be up to General Kelly". Gen. Kelly respects Jared a lot. There is no known precedent for a president to make such a decision for anyone seeking a security clearance, according to security experts.

Mr Trump made the remarks during a press conference with the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Porter was likewise operating under an interim security clearance, and the ordeal exposed serious flaws and shortcomings in the White House's handling of those allegations and security clearance process.

On Friday Trump said the clearance process is "broken" and that his son-in-law has "been treated very unfairly".

The federal inquiry into Kushner's background has been ongoing since a year ago.

In the call, Rosenstein did not say whether the information that had come to the attention of the Justice Department was learned by the FBI in its standard background clearance investigation of White House staff members.

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White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah said during Thursday's briefing that he "can't get into specifics regarding individuals' security clearances or numbers". Kelly has interpreted that as a wide-ranging mandate that would include Kushner, the person said.

The Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein called the White House earlier this month to inform general counsel Donald McGahn that new, "significant information" related to Kushner needed further investigation.

The policy change is also set to hit at least two dozen other White House officials, according to a senior administration official briefed on the change but not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. But the president is the ultimate arbiter of access to classified information, and could legally overrule any decision to deny someone a clearance.

Much, but not all, of Kushner's work on those issues is handled at the lower secret or confidential clearance levels, which are not affected by Kelly's memo, a White House official said.

Trump defended his elder daughter's husband on Friday, saying that 'Jared's done an outstanding job. Issuing exemptions to Kushner "would create a political problem-the White House would have to explain why the president granted an exception to his family. There is no truth to any suggestion otherwise", he said. It's a system where taken months to get security clearance even for people who that do not have the complex financial system.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on the status of Kushner's clearance or on information relayed by Rosenstein to McGahn.

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