A Trump administration personnel official overruled intelligence experts who had denied top-secret security clearance for Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, NBC reported Thursday.
Kushner’s clearance was denied twice by two White House security experts because of FBI concerns about foreign influence on Kushner, according to NBC. But they were overruled by Carl Kline when he was installed as the director of the personnel security office of the president, the network reported.
Kline also overruled security experts on 30 other people in the Trump administration, an unprecedented number, unnamed officials told NBC. Such a situation had occurred only once before in the previous three years.
Kushner is one of a number of high-level administration members whose security clearances are being investigated by the House Oversight Committee. House officials have accused the Trump administration of disregarding security clearance protocols and causing “grave breaches of national security at the highest levels,” according to a statement released Wednesday by committee chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
In response to the NBC report, Cummings issued a statement late Thursday saying the committee expects the White House to turn over all pertinent documents involving Kushner’s clearance.
“The system is supposed to be a nonpartisan determination of an individual’s fitness to hold a clearance, not an ad hoc approach that overrules career experts to give the President’s family members access to our nation’s most sensitive secrets,” said the statement.
The investigation seeks to determine why the White House and the presidential transition team “appear to have disregarded established procedures for safeguarding classified information [and] evaluate the extent to which the nation’s most highly guarded secrets were provided to officials who should not have had access to them,” Cummings wrote to White House counsel Pat Cipollone. It will also look into why the White House is “defying federal law” by failing to provide Congress information about its security clearance process, the letter states.
The committee is also seeking security clearance records on national security adviser John Bolton and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former White House staff secretary Rob Porter — who left the White House following accusations of abuse from two ex-wives — and Sebastian Gorka, the British-born deputy assistant to Trump who left after the press reported on links to far-right foreign political groups.
Kushner was stripped of his top-secret security clearance early last year. He reportedly failed to reveal “dozens” of meetings with foreign leaders, including Russians, on the security clearance form he submitted to the FBI, The New York Times reported. He was present at the controversial and mysterious 2016 huddle in Trump Tower involving the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., former campaign manager and convicted felon Paul Manafort and a Kremlin-connected attorney. Intelligence officials were also reportedly concerned about his international family businesses and travel.
Kushner was finally granted a permanent top-secret security clearance last May after Kline took over the personnel office.
CIA officials also raised concerns about Kushner’s clearance and have not granted him access to the most sensitive information, according to NBC.
The White House could not immediately be reached for comment.