- Jared Kushner is reportedly pushing back on efforts to rein in the flow of information among White House staffers who do not have a full security clearance.
- The effort by White House chief of staff, John Kelly, is seen as a potential challenge to Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who has been the subject of an ongoing background investigation by the FBI.
- Despite this, Kushner has enjoyed access to the same classified information President Donald Trump receives.
Jared Kushner is resisting an internal push at the White House to clamp down on the flow of classified information among staffers who do not hold a full security clearance, The New York Times reported Tuesday night.
The effort, led by the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, is seen as a potential challenge to Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who has been working with an interim security clearance because of an ongoing background investigation by the FBI.
Despite the issues with his background check, Kushner has enjoyed access to some of the same classified information as Trump – much like the ousted staff secretary Rob Porter, who was shown the door earlier this month over accusations of domestic abuse. Porter also had a temporary security clearance.
Dozens of staffers in the White House are working without a full security clearance, according to multiple news reports. The matter has been a thorn in Kelly’s side, especially after the Porter incident, when Kelly gave conflicting answers about his knowledge of the red flags that the FBI raised in light of its background check of Porter.
The fallout from that prompted the overhaul, which Kelly signed off on last week. The matter reportedly led Trump and some of his close allies to privately question whether Kelly should keep his job. The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, insisted that Trump maintained full confidence in Kelly, but the apparent behind-the-scenes wrangling suggests that things are still in flux.
The Times reporters Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Maggie Haberman wrote that Kushner had been “frustrated about the security clearance issue” and felt as if Kelly had “targeted him personally.” Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, have reportedly floated possible replacements for Kelly.
The chief of staff has denied singling out Kushner, saying in a statement cited by The Times: “As I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign-policy portfolio.” Kelly added that Kushner would still have access to information with the new security-clearance process in place.
The matter is no less fraught in a Trump-led West Wing that is frequently jostled by internal conflict.
Even as Kelly seeks to restore a sense of order, the knives have been out for him among people who have Trump’s ear inside and outside the White House.