28 Feb 2018

Jared Kushner loses access to top-secret briefings

12:42 pm on 28 February 2018

President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has had his White House security clearance downgraded, US media are reporting.

White House Senior adviser Jared Kushner.

White House Senior adviser Jared Kushner. Photo: AFP

Mr Kushner - a senior adviser to the president - had been receiving top-secret security briefings.

However, background checks into Mr Kushner had still not been completed, so he had interim clearance only.

He and other White House aides who have yet to receive permanent clearance will not now get top-secret briefings.

Mr Kushner, who is married to Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka, had access to the President's Daily Brief, a secret intelligence report.

The moves were confirmed by Mr Kushner's lawyer to Politico, and by two unnamed officials to the Reuters news agency.

Politico reported that the 37-year-old was informed of the decision on Friday.

Politico quoted Mr Kushner's lawyer Abbe Lowell as saying that it would "not affect Mr Kushner's ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the president".

It comes as the White House moves to impose greater discipline on access to secrets.

General John Kelly, Mr Trump's chief of staff, said earlier this month that he would be limiting the number of people with top-level security clearance. It emerged that the president's former staff secretary, Rob Porter, had been able to work with interim security clearance despite allegations of domestic abuse.

The news of the change in Mr Kushner's status followed the announcement hours earlier that his spokesman Josh Raffel was to leave the White House.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that Mr Kushner's contacts with certain foreign government officials have raised concerns with the White House.

The newspaper, citing current and former US officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter, reported that officials in the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico have privately discussed ways in which they could take advantage of Mr Kushner and his business arrangements.

Mr Kushner was given a wide brief in his role as a White House adviser despite a lack of political experience.

He was tasked with brokering a Middle East peace deal and liaising with Mexico.

But he had faced problems with his background checks as he sought to obtain permanent security clearance.

The wealthy New York real estate developer had to refile the national security questionnaire required of all prospective White House employees after making a number of omissions.

Last October, the head of the National Background Investigations Bureau told Congress he has "never seen that level of mistakes" on any security clearance application.

And last week, it was reported that a senior Justice Department official had told the White House that their investigations would further delay Mr Kushner's security clearance.

The information was reportedly passed on to the White House by Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who is overseeing the special counsel investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Two weeks ago, US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said that presidential aides with interim security clearances should have only "limited" access to secret information.


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