Published: Sat, February 24, 2018
Medical | By Josefina Yates

Rosenstein alerted White House two weeks ago on Kushner clearance issues

Rosenstein alerted White House two weeks ago on Kushner clearance issues

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.

"This is Kelly's way of saying, 'it's me or Jared, '" a Republican close to the White House told VF's Gabriel Sherman.

The fate of Kushner's security clearance was not the only uncertainty that hung in the White House in the wake of Kelly's memo last week.

"Well, Jared has done an outstanding job, I think he has been treated very unfairly", Trump said. "There is no truth to any suggestion otherwise".

Problems with security clearance for White House aides surfaced this month in fallout over the abrupt resignation of White House staff secretary Rob Porter over allegations of domestic abuse against two former wives. The official said many staffers holding interim top secret or SCI clearances would lose them - but most don't need them for their day-to-day jobs. "The new policy announced by General Kelly will not affect Mr. Kushner's ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the president", Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said this week.

Bob Bauer, who served as White House counsel in President Barack Obama's administration, said administration officials should view Rosenstein's alert as a strong reason to revoke Kushner's interim top-secret access.

Jared Kushner's path to a full security clearance may have just gotten more complicated.

Trump made the comments during a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House with the Australian prime minister.

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"I have definitely had cases over the years where there was a parallel criminal investigation ... that was happening at the same time as there was a clearance investigation", Zaid said.

The White House has so far refused to clarify why Kushner is operating under an interim clearance.

Kelly's change only applies to clearances for access to the apex of the classification pyramid - top secret and sensitive compartmented information - not to lower-level clearances required to handle secret or confidential information.

On Friday, at the White House news conference, Trump complained that the vetting process takes "months and months and months" even for people who don't have complex financial issues.

As of November, White House counsel Don McGahn - who has also been interviewed by Mueller's team - had received a Top Secret clearance, but was still working off interim access to SCI.

He also said that peace between the Palestinians and Israel is the toughest deal of any deal there is the hardest deal to make of any kind is between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Kushner failed to report some of those contacts to U.S. officials.

Ordinarily, security-clearance experts said, the failure to completely disclose all contacts would jeopardize an applicant's chances of obtaining final clearance.

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