A week after his chief of staff ordered an overhaul of the process for granting White House security clearances, President Donald Trump on Friday blamed an overly rigorous background vetting process for holding up the approval of his son-in-law's permanent security clearance.
"This is Kelly's way of saying, 'it's me or Jared, '" a Republican close to the White House told VF's Gabriel Sherman.
Much, but not all, of Kushner's work on those issues is handled at the lower secret or confidential clearance levels, which are not affected by Kelly's memo, a White House official said. For a time, it looked like Kelly might have to follow him out the door, and Kushner and wife Ivanka Trump were urging President Trump to replace him with more of a pushover, Vanity Fair reports. "There is no truth to any suggestion otherwise".
Kushner has reportedly been operating under an interim clearance since assuming his duties at the White House, including his role as the administration's point man on Middle East peace. He also ordered access to highly classified information be limited for the remaining aides with interim clearances.
"The Deputy Attorney General has not referenced to the White House any specific concerns relating to this individual's security clearance process", spokesman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement.
"Everyone in the White House is grateful for these valuable contributions to furthering the President's agenda", Kelly said.
"To do this particular job without a security clearance is extraordinarily hard; just by definition, you're coming into contact with classified information every single day, and much of the material the U.S. team generates is classified material", one former senior USA official told The Jerusalem Post. The White House has repeatedly refused to comment on the clearances of senior staffers.
"I haven't spoken with the president about whether or not that would be necessary", Sanders said. According to several reports, White House officials were aware of both the allegations against Porter and the impact on his clearance. It also provided another layer of intrigue to the acrimonious relationship between Kushner and Kelly, who have been at odds over access to the President and the classified materials he views.
But in an interview with the Post last summer discussing this topic, Alan Dershowitz, a prominent scholar of constitutional and criminal law who knew Kushner when he was a student at Harvard, said the FBI's clearance process was a traditional procedural hurdle - not a legal one.
Ordinarily, security-clearance experts said, the failure to completely disclose all contacts would jeopardize an applicant's chances of obtaining final clearance.
Trump said he inherited a system that's broken.
In addition, Kushner's actions during the transition have been noted in the guilty plea of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who admitted he lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The phone call was first reported by The Washington Post.