In a joint press conference today with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Trump told reporters he would let his White House chief of staff John Kelly have the final say on First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner’s security clearance.
TRANSLATION: The President of the United States is no longer sure if he can trust his son-in-law. https://t.co/jpJFcTOypP
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) February 23, 2018
He has done an outstanding job I think he has been treated unfairly. He is a high-quality person. He works for nothing. Nobody ever reports that. He gets zero. He doesn’t get a salary . . . Gen. Kelly respects Jared a lot . . . I will let Gen. Kelly make that decision . . . And he’s going to do what’s right for the country. And I have no doubt he will make the right decision.
Trump saying that Kelly “respects Jared a lot” holds very little water, after Kelly lavished praise on White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who was recently forced out for a series of allegations of spousal abuse that had prevented him from attaining permanent security clearance.
Like Porter, Kushner and 128 other White House staffers, including First Daughter Ivanka, have not passed the FBI background checks necessary to obtain security clearance.
Nevertheless, Porter and Kushner have had daily access to the highest-level intelligence documents — in Kushner’s case, that includes the president’s daily intelligence briefing.
Under scrutiny for his shamefully lax enforcement of national security rules in the White House, former general Kelly has decided to crack down on the 130 uncleared White House staffers.
Kushner in particular has been under fire, considering his high-profile West Wing portfolio, that includes responsibility for bringing peace to the Middle East.
Despite hundreds of inconsistencies in his security clearance forms, Kushner has demanded access to more highly classified intel than any White House official.
His access to state secrets has sparked concern from ethics watchdogs who point out his billions in loans from foreign investors in China, Russia and Israel, to whose political behests he might cater, in order to work off his debts — much like indicted former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who also worked for free.
A feud has erupted between Kushner and Kelly over the security clearance issue, with Kelly purportedly saying, “It’s me or Jared.” Trump appears to have made his choice, putting the fate of his son-in-law in Kelly’s hands.
Just two weeks ago, deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein alerted White House counsel Don McGahn, who also has not yet obtained permanent security clearance, that “there are still issues” with Kushner’s background check that will hold up his clearance process.
If Trump lets Kelly tell Kushner, “You’re fired!”, his wife, Ivanka, may feel compelled to leave with him.
Will such a humiliating betrayal stand with his family members, who are already alleged to feel shaky in their loyalty to Daddy Trump?
Meanwhile, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is zeroing in on both Trump and Kushner, who attended the infamously “treasonous” Trump Tower meeting with Kremlin agents during the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and ran the campaign’s data program, through which Russia is reported to have accessed data used on to swing public opinion on social media.
The water is heating up on Trump and his family. An ouster of the “Princess Royal” and her hubby is bound to bring the temperature to boiling.
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