A prominent watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), today asked the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community to investigate Jared Kushner’s security clearance as a possible threat to national security. This request comes on the heels of reports that seasoned intelligence officials had recommended against Kushner receiving top secret security clearance, but President Trump reportedly had Carl Klein, who was director of the Executive Office of the President Personnel Security Office, overrule those recommendations in order to give Kushner the clearance anyway. Similar reports of President Trump’s intervention regarding Ivanka Trump‘s security clearance also emerged last week. While it is within Trump’s authority to give such security clearances, doing so for his family members opens up a slew of ethical issues, and, as CREW indicates, raises concerns that inappropriate clearances for these individuals could result in a threat to national security.
The reports of President Trump’s involvement in gaining security clearances for his family members is not the first scandal involving those clearances. CREW has been involved in questioning Kushner’s security clearance from the beginning of his tenure as senior adviser to the president, a position he gained solely through nepotism as the son-in-law of the president – Kushner had neither the qualifications nor the experience required for such a role. Kushner’s security clearance lingered in a temporary status for an unusually long period, amid his making dozens of amendments to his financial disclosure forms to detail foreign contacts and amid questions about his business links to foreign interests, all while he was still allowed access to top secret materials. Reports emerged then that Kushner’s lack of experience and diplomatic naivete made him a target for manipulation by foreign officials. According to Newsweek:
A watchdog group on Thursday demanded that the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community immediately open an investigation into how President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner received top security clearance and whether it “presents a threat to national security.” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed the request in light of reports this week indicating that Trump pressured then-Chief of Staff John Kelly to grant security clearance for Kushner, who serves as a senior White House adviser…“Even if President Trump, despite his denial of any involvement in Mr. Kushner’s security clearance, issued a Presidential order based on his authority as Commander-in-Chief that superseded the applicable legal requirements,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder wrote in a letter to Inspector General Michael Atkinson, “The ICIG should review whether Mr. Kushner’s top-secret clearance presents a threat to national security.” It is also unclear whether Kushner should have been granted clearance based on unresolved concerns about his “potential susceptibility to foreign influence,” the letter stated.
CREW posted a tweet regarding their demand for an investigation, writing, “BREAKING: CREW has requested an investigation into how Jared Kushner received a security clearance against the recommendation of career security specialists.”
BREAKING: CREW has requested an investigation into how Jared Kushner received a security clearance against the recommendation of career security specialistshttps://t.co/E3ECsTurWp
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) March 7, 2019
These security clearances for family members represent yet another scandal for President Trump. Of course Trump could have avoided this scandal by not hiring family members who were woefully unqualified for the positions they were given and who had conflicts of interest through their business interests. Yet Trump acts as if the rules do not apply to him, and then, surprised at being challenged on his actions, becomes angry and lashes out when he finds out that the rules actually do apply and have resulted in a forest of investigations against him, his family members, his businesses, his campaign, his inaugural committee, his transition team, his now-shuttered charity, and his decisions while in office.