I was wrong. A while back I wrote an article entitled “Kushner 1, Kelly 0,” saying, based on statements Trump made, that Jared Kushner was going to hold on to his precious Top Secret clearance despite his failure to secure permanent clearance.
I concluded this meant Chief of Staff John Kelly had lost his battle to control the White House. I underestimated Kelly.
Today Politico reported that Kushner had lost his access to top-secret intelligence. A memo issued Friday, albeit not over Kelly’s signature, restrict Kushner’s (and others not holding permanent clearances) access to Top Secret material, which apparently affects his previous access to the President’s Daily Brief, which Trump reportedly does not read himself.
The president has the ability to grant Kushner a permanent clearance, but Trump said Friday — the same day the memo was sent — that he was leaving the decision to his chief of staff.
“I will let General Kelly make that decision,” Trump told reporters. “I have no doubt he’ll make the right decision.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the memo.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment on Kushner’s clearance status at a briefing Tuesday.
“We actually haven’t commented on Jared’s issue indicated, but we have commented on his ability to do his job. Which, he’s a valued member of the team and he will continue to do the important work that he’s been doing since he’s started in the administration.”
Kushner’s attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement that Kushner “has done more than what is expected of him in this process.”
Lowell added that the changes would “not affect Mr. Kushner’s ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the president.”
Apparently, Kushner will be able to keep working on the Israeli-Palestinian peace effort, which seems to be going nowhere, and on relations with Mexico, which fell apart when the Mexican president canceled his visit to the U.S.
Last week Kelly said,
“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,” Kelly said in the statement.
It is generally thought that Jared and Ivanka are losing power. For one thing, they now report to Kelly, not directly to the President.
The security clearance issue has caused a rift between Kushner and Kelly, multiple source familiar with the matter say. The President is aware of the tensions between the two men over the matter, a person familiar with his thinking said.
CNN also reported that the FBI and the White House Personnel Security Office were under pressure to speed up the background investigations.
Twitter weighs in
As usual, Twitter had something to say:
The Kushner saga would be so bizarre – the president putting a vastly underqualified relative in charge of making Mideast peace, solving the opioid crisis and dealing with China – even if he could get a security clearance and didn't revise his disclosure forms 40-plus times.
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) February 27, 2018
Can't believe they're treating Jared Kushner like this after all that peace he brought to the Middle East
— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) February 27, 2018
Jared Kushner's security clearance being downgraded isn't enough. He lied about 100+ foreign contacts during his background check, lied about meetings with the Russian Ambassador & a Russian bank, etc. He's a traitor who shouldn't have a clearance & should be thrown in prison.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) February 27, 2018