The ’90s were ‘a crazy time’: John Kelly suggests Larry Kudlow’s past cocaine addiction won’t bar him from obtaining security clearance

White House chief of staff John Kelly.

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White House chief of staff John Kelly.
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Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

  • White House chief of staff John Kelly suggested that Larry Kudlow’s past substance-abuse wouldn’t complicate his path to a security clearance once he’s officially installed as President Donald Trump’s new chief economic adviser.
  • Kudlow was fired from Bear Stearns in the mid 1990s as he struggled with cocaine addiction.
  • Kelly reportedly joked that the 1990s were “a crazy time.”

White House chief of staff John Kelly reportedly suggested that Larry Kudlow’s past substance-abuse wouldn’t complicate his path to a security clearance once he’s officially installed as President Donald Trump’s newest chief economic adviser.

Kudlow was fired from Bear Stearns in the mid 1990s as he struggled with cocaine addiction.

During the off-the-record meeting with reporters on Friday, Kelly reportedly joked that the 1990s were “a crazy time” and downplayed the effects of Kudlow’s history of substance-abuse, in part because that struggle was public knowledge, sources familiar with the meeting told Axios reporter Jonathan Swan.

Kudlow, a CNBC commentator, was rumored to have a hefty cocaine habit and faced “voluntary termination” before beginning a rehabilitation program.

“I went into drug rehab,” Kudlow told The New York Times in 1994. “I had an alcohol and substance-abuse problem that needed to be taken care of.”

Kudlow said he was sober for 23 years and that continuing his run was “my No. 1 job,” according to The Times.

Questions surrounding Kudlow’s ability to qualify for a security clearance come after Kelly overhauled the process – during which some senior administration officials saw their clearances get revoked or downgraded, including that of Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

Despite the speculation, Kudlow apparently has Trump’s vote. “I’ve known him a long time,” Trump said of Kudlow on Tuesday. “We don’t agree on everything but in this case I think that’s good. I want to have a divergent opinion – we agree on most.”