WASHINGTON — White House staffers operating with interim security clearances — including President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner — were told in a memo Friday that they will no longer have access to highly classified information requiring the highest level of clearance, NBC News confirmed Tuesday.
Kushner himself no longer has access to highly classified information, multiple sources briefed on the memo told NBC News, but a spokesperson for Kushner said Tuesday that the new clearance policy will not affect his “ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the president.”
What does Jared Kushner really lose with his downgraded security clearance?
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He is not the only White House official whose clearance is impacted: Other senior staff, like Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, had also been operating on interim clearances for access to highly classified information marked SCI — or, sensitive compartmented information. The change in policy was first reported by Politico.
The change comes after Chief of Staff John Kelly announced an overhaul of security clearance processes in the West Wingafter domestic violence allegations against staff secretary Rob Porter led to his resignation in early February. Porter was operating on an interim security clearance, with his permanent clearance held up because of these flags.
An outside spokesperson for Kushner told NBC News Tuesday that it is “not uncommon for these clearance reviews to take this long in a new administration, and that the current backlogs are now being addressed. 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.”
Still, it is rare for a senior adviser to the president to have his or her clearance process unresolved after more than a year on the job.
Under the guidelines, which were issued two weeks ago and went into effect last Friday, dozens of senior White House officials had been poised to lose access to classified information, according to documents reviewed by NBC News.
Trump said last week he would leave the decision about Kushner’s clearance up to Kelly, and White House aides maintain Kushner will still be able to do his job.
Over the past year, Kushner has repeatedly submitted updates to his financial disclosure forms, which document business ties that have drawn increasing scrutiny. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that officials in China, Israel, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates have privately talked about ways to manipulate Kushner through his “complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience.”
Kushner’s role in the administration includes a mandate to negotiate on behalf of the the United States on the world stage, including the task of brokering peace in the Middle East and discussing the terms of trade deals with Mexico.
On Friday, President Trump praised his son-in-law’s performance, emphasizing the fact that Kushner’s work for the administration is unpaid.