Jared Kushner, who has worn dueling hats for more than a year as President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, has been stripped of his access to the nation’s top secrets, officials said Tuesday after his security clearance was downgraded.
Kushner, along with other White House officials who had been operating on interim clearances, had their access altered last week after chief of staff John Kelly stipulated new changes to the security clearance system.
Aides who previously operated on “top secret/sensitive compartmented information” interim clearances saw their access changed to “secret,” a classification for less sensitive material. The lesser “secret” clearance allows access to far fewer government secrets. It would prevent Kushner from accessing the Presidential Daily Brief, the collection of top secret material prepared for the commander in chief every day.
Dozens of White House officials have operated on interim clearances since Trump took office more than a year ago. Kelly had grown frustrated with the high number of aides without permanent access and has worked to shrink the number of temporary clearances. He issued a memo last week spelling out changes to the system, which gained new scrutiny after domestic abuse allegations against former aide Rob Porter surfaced this month.
In the February 16 memo, Kelly stated that White House officials who have been operating on interim clearances since last June would have their temporary clearances discontinued. That included Kushner, who has taken on a wide portfolio as senior adviser, including sensitive foreign policy matters. Asked on Friday whether he would grant Kushner an exemption from the new mandate, Trump said it would be Kelly’s decision.
The White House has refused to detail the status of Kushner’s clearance. In a statement, Kushner’s attorney Abbe Lowell wrote: “Mr. Kushner has done more than what is expected of him in this process.”
“Those involved in the process again have confirmed that there are dozens of people at Mr. Kushner’s level whose process is delayed,” Lowell wrote. “No concerns were raised about Mr. Kushner’s application. As General Kelly himself said, the new clearance policy will not affect Mr. Kushner’s ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the President.”
Kushner is accepting the decision about his security clearance and “will not ask for special permission” from the President, one person familiar with the situation says.
Politico first reported the security clearance downgrade. At the White House on Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Sanders said Kushner’s work would continue apace.
“He is a valued member of the team and will continue to do the important work he has been doing since he started in the administration,” Sanders said.