Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
White House Senior adviser Jared Kushner sits behind U.S. President Donald Trump during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 1, 2017.
WASHINGTON — A crackdown on security clearances at the White House won’t have any impact on the work of Jared Kushner, the presidential son-in-law and senior adviser who’s been working on an interim security clearance for more than a year, the White House said Tuesday.
“I can tell you that nothing that has taken place will affect the valuable work that Jared is doing,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday. “He continues, and will continue, to be a valued member of the team.”
Attention focused on Kushner’s security clearance after White House Chief of Staff John Kelly announced changes to the security clearance process last Friday. That move followed revelations that former White House staff secretary Rob Porter — whose job gave him access to classified presidential paperwork — was allowed to work with an interim security clearance despite allegations of domestic violence.
There have been no similar allegations against Kushner. But he has had to amend a national security questionnaire after failing to disclose contacts with Russian nationals and others. One official overseeing security clearances for the Office of Personnel Management told Congress last week he had “never seen that level of mistakes.”
Sanders said Tuesday that doesn’t mean that there are necessarily any problems with his FBI background check.
“First of all, I’m not aware of any red flags, and I think it’s irresponsible to suggest that without having seen any individual’s file,” she said. She declined to say whether President Trump would overrule any determination by the White House Personnel Security Office denying Kushner — or anyone else — a permanent clearance.
Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, said he’s been told there are at least a dozen other senior White House officials also working on interim clearances, and that no specific concerns had been raised about Kushner’s application.
“Mr. Kushner has done more than what is expected of him in this process,” Lowell said in a statement. “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 national security portfolio includes the Middle East peace process.
Late Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Kushner and Kelly clashed over the security clearance and that Kushner believed that Kelly had targeted him personally.