Jared Kushner is finally granted ‘top secret’ US security clearance after painful process
The clearance, which allows Donald Trump’s senior adviser to see the US president’s daily security briefings, had previously been denied because of concerns about foreign influence on Kushner
Jared Kushner has been granted permanent security clearance, renewing his access to sensitive intelligence and potentially paving the way for his return to a more active role in the White House.
Donald Trump’s son-in-law is presumed to have been granted a level of clearance known as Top Secret/SCI that would allow him to see the president’s daily security briefing and other closely guarded documents. He was stripped of that ability in February amid concerns that foreign governments were planning to manipulate him by exploiting his complex web of business ties.
The granting of security clearance potentially brings to an end a troubled patch for Kushner. A month after his security status was downgraded, it was revealed that the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, Robert Mueller, had taken an interest in Kushner’s business affairs, including his attempts to gain refinancing of his family’s flagship property at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan from foreign entities.
But the FBI’s decision to award him permanent security clearance, first reported by The New York Times, suggests that Kushner may have turned a corner. Lawyers were agreed that such permission was unlikely to have been given were he still in legal peril.
As a sign of Kushner’s new-found confidence in his position, his attorney Abbe Lowell appeared on CNN and disclosed that Kushner had been questioned by Mueller’s investigative team for a second time last month. Lowell was adamant that no financial matters had been on the agenda.
Instead, the lawyer said, the investigators stuck closely to the script of the Mueller investigation: “The topics were the appropriate topics.”
Asked what those topics were, Lowell said they included what happened in the presidential campaign that might suggest there was Russia collusion; contacts with outside people, especially foreign individuals, during the transition period; and post-inauguration events in the White House relating to possible obstruction of justice, particularly the firing of the FBI director James Comey.
“Being under investigation for his finances, for his role in his companies, let me tell you, those were not the topics,” the lawyer said.
Lowell said Kushner was a witness of interest to Mueller because he had a unique vantage point on all those issues: “He was the point of contact for foreign officials in the campaign and in the transition, and he was around the circumstances in the firing of Comey.”
Kushner’s process of gaining security clearance has been unusually painful and drawn out. It began badly after it became clear that he had failed to disclose details of many of his financial holdings on the official forms.
He also failed to tell the FBI about meetings with foreign dignitaries including Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador in Washington, in the presidential transition period.
Kushner is proving to be one of the rare survivors in Trump’s White House, having held on to his job longer the likes of Steve Bannon and Rex Tillerson. His official role is as adviser to the president, with a special handle on innovation in government and Middle East diplomacy.
Last month he spoke at the highly controversial opening of the new American embassy in Jerusalem, while the Israeli army opened fire at the frontier with Gaza, killing 58 Palestinian protesters.