White House Knew Kushner Security Clearance Was Very Uncool, Very Unlegal
In today's episode of Shit They All Knew Was Crazy and Illegal But They Went Along With Anyway, we're going all the way back to the beginning of this nightmare, when the Beverly Hillbillies decamped for the White House in 2017 and prepared to feast on the crown jewels of American intelligence.
The presidential son-in-law took advantage of his temporary security clearance and began devouring the highly classified President's Daily Brief (PDB), unlike his illiterate capo, who's never read a book in his life, allegedly. The problem was that Jared Kushner had one or two thousand little issues with his security clearance application, which caused the CIA to shout "OMG! NFW! AYFKMRNWTS?" Or words to that effect.
Could it be all those contacts with hostile foreign governments and ongoing family relationships with cool dudes like Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman and Qatar's sovereign wealth fund and China's Anbang bank and his refusal to properly disclose them all in his security clearance application, causing him to have to amend it literally 40 times? It's a mystery!
None of which is news, since we covered it at the time. When the Democrats took back the House, they tried to do their damn jobs and investigate it, only to be told that actually oversight is UNLEGAL by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. (Rest in power, Congressman Cummings!)
But tomorrow is drop day for New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt's book Donald Trump v. The United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President, and Axios is releasing some of the juicier details, including the reaction inside the White House to the Boy Wonder's failure to pass his clearance exam.
Apparently, then-White House Counsel Don McGahn and then-Chief of Staff John Kelly were very hair on fire about Kush's little clearance problem.
"The information you were briefed on one week ago and subsequently relayed to me, raises serious additional concerns about whether this individual ought to retain a top security clearance until such issues can be investigated and resolved," McGahn wrote Kelly in a memo that has yet to be disclosed to Congress, concluding that "Interim secret is the highest clearance that I can concur until further information is received."
Kelly concurred, downgrading Kush's clearance access to Top Secret only, not Sensitive Compartmented Information, locking him out of the PDB. But as McGahn noted, Trump could declassify any classified item piecemeal, and could simply overrule career officials and grant Kush the access he so dearly desired. Which is exactly what happened, of course, despite Jared and Vanky and their superlawyer Abbe Lowell and even Trump waging a media campaign to pretend that they got their clearances without interference by the president.
Trump handed the keys to the kingdom over to Kush based on his amazing resume of being That Dude Who Bumps Bits With Vanky on the regular. And what better qualification to run the country, right?
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.