A quartet of hotshot House progressives – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley (freshmen all), and Ro Khanna – were named a week ago to the House Oversight & Reform Committee (no Jersey members are on). All 4 are outspoken in criticism of the Trump administration. This now Dem-controlled committee under Chair Elijah Cummings is about to turn the heat way up on the White House. Here’s just one reason why:
Jared Kushner was the subject of some unusual and potentially dangerous maneuvering between the White House and the CIA. The result? We may have a security risk running around the world doing the nation’s business. Kushner got his top-secret clearance in May, giving him access to highly sensitive national security intelligence. But he didn’t qualify for it the usual way. His application snagged when an FBI background check raised concerns about potential foreign influence on him. FBI’s problem? It’s all the murky stuff you already know, without much detail: Kushner’s family’s business (which is tied up in Jersey too), his foreign contacts, his foreign travel and meetings he had for Trump during the campaign. His full clearance had been pulled months before, after it emerged that he had failed to disclose adequate information. Kushner’s application went to two career White House officials specializing in assessing individuals for their security risk. They rejected him.
But that was overruled by Trump appointee Carl Kline, a former Pentagon official running personnel security for the White House. Got it? The person politically responsible to Trump overruled the guys in the office whose job it is to do their job – no matter who’s president.
Kushner’s jobs: He’s Senior Adviser to the President; a role he shares with noted ghoul Stephen Miller. Kushner’s the classic clean-cut smart guy nevertheless elevated way past his station with a son-in-law job in Daddy’s Company. So he was also given the fancypants title of White House Director of American Innovation, which only sounds like a joke – and so far seems to do with selling arms to journalist-killing Saudi Arabia.
Unsettled yet? There’s more.
NBC News broke the story:
The White House office only determines eligibility for secret and top-secret clearances. As a very senior official, Kushner was seeking an even higher designation that would grant him access to what is known as “sensitive compartmented information,” or SCI. That material makes up the government’s most sensitive secrets, including transcripts of intercepted foreign communications, CIA source reporting and other intelligence seemingly important for Kushner, whose job portfolio covers the Mideast and Mexico.
Now it goes to the CIA. It’s their job to decide SCI clearance to White House officials. They do their own background check. And Kushner’s file snagged there too. In fact, as NBC reports, the CIA even called over to the White House asking how Kushner even got a top-secret clearance. Sources tell NBC that the CIA rejected Kushner for SCI access (nobody’s confirming). And thatmeans one of the president’s top advisers doesn’t have access to the most sensitive secret stuff that might be put in front of the president.
What could possibly go wrong? In this White House where the president doesn’t even read the daily intelligence briefings? Where this President hides his tax returns and thus his business entanglements with foreign governments that may be hostile? Where the president probably wouldn’t qualify for top-secret access either … if he wasn’t already the president?
That’s not even all of it.
Kushner is only one of at least 30 cases – in Trump’s first 18 months! – where Kline overruled career security experts and approved top-secret clearance for incoming Trump officials despite potentially disqualifying information, say NBC’s sources. Before Kline? It only happened once, in 3 years. Daniel Jacobson, White House lawyer under Obama, says this raises all kinds of red flags. Read this tweet thread. Just another day in what used to be America.
And so it goes.
PHOTO: Getty / Win McNamee