In an attempt to bring some order into the chaos that is the Trump White House, and perhaps get some of the mud off his reputation, Chief of Staff John Kelly announced that staff without permanent security clearances would no longer have access to classified information.
The highest ranking staffer in that position is none other than President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who a year after going to work for the administration still does not have a permanent security clearance.
Kelly said his orders would go into effect today.
They didn’t. According to Politico,
The White House said on Tuesday that the work status of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, would not change because of upcoming changes to the security clearance process.
“I haven’t spoken to the president about whether or not that would be necessary, but again, as I said, Mr. Kushner’s work that he has done will not be impacted and he’s going to continue to do the work that he’s done over the last year,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said during the daily briefing.
Yesterday the New York Times had reported,
Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is resisting giving up his access to highly classified information, prompting an internal struggle with John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, over who should be allowed to see some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets, according to White House officials and others briefed on the matter.
It’s been reported that Kushner has access to the President’s Daily Briefing, which apparently Trump refuses to read. It seems highly likely Kushner is summarizing the briefing and giving it to Trump orally.
Kelly suggested Kushner’s access would be much more limited.
As I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio including overseeing our Israeli-Palestinian peace effort and serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico,” Mr. Kelly said in a statement the White House released on Tuesday in which he refused to address Mr. Kushner’s security clearance or elaborate on his memo.
But as today’s news reveals, Kelly lost the battle (and maybe the war) and Jared will retain his full powers and his access to such top-secret material.
At first, I thought this was a disaster in the making, and of course, it certainly is as far as Kelly’s attempts to turn the disastrous Trump White House into anything resembling a professional operation. But after watching Trump yesterday, clutching the pathetic little talking points that someone had written out for him (“I hear you”) it seems clear the man needs all the help he can get.
Maybe Jared and Ivanka are in fact a force for good, a thread between humanity and Trump.
Maybe I’m just an optimist.