Kushner security clearance downgraded, loses access to top-secret intelligence

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  1. SueEllenRules!

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    Kushner loses access to top-secret intelligence
    A memo sent Friday downgraded the presidential son-in-law and adviser and other White House aides who had been working on interim clearances.

    Presidential son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner has had his security clearance downgraded — a move that will prevent him from viewing many of the sensitive documents to which he once had unfettered access.

    Kushner is not alone. All White House aides working on the highest-level interim clearances — at the Top Secret/SCI-level — were informed in a memo sent Friday that their clearances would be downgraded to the Secret level, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

    The SCI acronym stands for sensitive compartmented information, a category of information that comes from sensitive intelligence sources and must be walled off.

    The memo was not signed by chief of staff John Kelly, but it comes as the retired Marine general and other top White House aides are grappling with the fallout of a scandal involving former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, which revealed that dozens of White House aides had yet to receive permanent clearances but nonetheless had access to some of the country’s deepest secrets.

    The president has the ability to grant Kushner a permanent clearance, but Trump said Friday — the same day the memo was sent — that he was leaving the decision to his chief of staff.

    “I will let General Kelly make that decision,” Trump told reporters. “I have no doubt he’ll make the right decision.”

    The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the memo.
    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment on Kushner’s clearance status at a briefing Tuesday.

    “We actually haven’t commented on Jared’s issue indicated, but we have commented on his ability to do his job. Which, he’s a valued member of the team and he will continue to do the important work that he’s been doing since he’s started in the administration.”
    Kushner’s attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement that Kushner “has done more than what is expected of him in this process.”

    Lowell added that the changes would “not affect Mr. Kushner’s ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the president.”

    Friday’s decision is the first change to the clearance process instituted in the wake of the Porter debacle that will directly affect Kushner, who serves as a senior adviser to Trump and until now has had access to the president’s daily brief, the most highly classified document that Trump sees.

    “He cannot see the PDB, not a chance,” said Bradley Moss, a lawyer who specializes in national security law and clearances. “He no longer has access to a range of intelligence information that ordinarily someone in his position and somebody with his responsibilities would normally be privy to in order to perform their functions.”

    Moss said Kushner and others will be debriefed by officials in the White House security office, an event scheduled to take place Thursday, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. “They’re going to give him a list, ‘Here’s what you’ve been debriefed from, you’ve been debriefed from this program and that compartment, you no longer have any access to it, and any breach of that would be a serious security violation and a possible criminal issue.’”

    Kelly took the rare step last week of issuing a public statement that Kushner would be able to continue his work in the White House unfettered.

    “As I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio including overseeing our Israeli-Palestinian peace effort and serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico,” Kelly said in the statement.

    It was unclear whether Kushner would need access to top secret information to continue performing those duties — and whether Kelly was personally prepared to enact a policy that could be perceived as a jab at the president’s son-in-law.

    The decision to downgrade White House aides still working on interim clearances, however, indicates that Kelly is prepared to impose the same sort of discipline on the White House clearance process that he has tried to impose on the West Wing staff more broadly.

    “The American people deserve a White House staff that meets the highest standards and that has been carefully vetted — especially those who work closely with the president or handle sensitive national security information,” Kelly told colleagues in a memo circulated on Feb. 16. “We should — and in the future, must — do better.”

    Earlier this month, director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that people with temporary security clearances should get only limited access to sensitive classified information. Coats did not mention any specific individuals.

    “Sometimes it is necessary to have some type of preliminary clearance in order to fill a slot, but … access has to be limited in terms of the kinds of information they can be in a position to receive or not receive,” Coats said. “It needs to be reformed.”

    Kushner has seen his once-expansive West Wing role steadily curtailed since Kelly’s arrival last July. The new chief immediately required Kushner and his wife, first daughter Ivanka Trump, to report through him rather than directly to the president.

    The pair have also seen their circle of trusted allies shrink in recent weeks. Reed Cordish, who joined the White House early on as part of Kushner’s Office of American Innovation, left the White House earlier this month.

    Communications staffer Josh Raffel, who handles requests involved Kushner and Ivanka Trump, also plans to leave in the next two months, according to two people familiar with his decision. Raffel did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The news of his departure was first reported by Axios.

    Kushner loses access to top-secret intelligence - POLITICO https://apple.news/AF3MP6M3QQq2lU4i2wxgmjA
     
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  2. SueEllenRules!

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    Foreign officials discussed manipulating Kushner, U.S. officials say
    White House adviser's business arrangements were considered

    Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter.

    Among those nations discussing ways to influence Kushner to their advantage were the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico, the current and former officials said.

    It is unclear if any of those countries acted on the discussions, but Kushner’s contacts with certain foreign government officials have raised concerns inside the White House and are a reason he has been unable to obtain a permanent security clearance, the officials said.

    Kushner’s interim security clearance was downgraded last week from the top-secret to the secret level, which should restrict the regular access he has had to highly classified information, according to administration officials.

    H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report. The issue of foreign officials talking about their meetings with Kushner and their perceptions of his vulnerabilities was a subject raised in McMaster’s daily intelligence briefings, according to the current and former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

    Within the White House, Kushner’s lack of government experience and his business debt were seen from the beginning of his tenure as potential points of leverage that foreign governments could use to influence him, the current and former officials said.

    They could also have legal implications. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has asked people about the protocols Kushner used when he set up conversations with foreign leaders, according to a former U.S. official.

    Officials in the White House were concerned that Kushner was “naive and being tricked” in conversations with foreign officials, some of whom said they wanted to deal only with Kushner directly and not more experienced personnel, said one former White House official.

    Kushner has an unusually complex set of business arrangements and foreign entanglements for a senior White House aide, experts have said. But his behavior while in office has drawn more scrutiny and raised concerns that he would be unable to obtain a final security clearance, which he needs to perform the many jobs Trump has entrusted to him, from negotiating foreign trade deals to overseeing a Middle East peace process.

    “We will not respond substantively to unnamed sources peddling second-hand hearsay with rank speculation that continue to leak inaccurate information,” said Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Kushner’s lawyer.

    White House officials said McMaster was taken aback by some of Kushner’s foreign contacts.

    “When he learned about it, it surprised him,” one official said. “He thought that was weird. . . . It was an unusual thing. I don’t know that any White House has done it this way before.”

    The official said that McMaster was “not concerned but wanted an explanation. It seemed unusual to him.”

    In the months since, McMaster and Kushner have worked to coordinate so that the National Security Council is aware of Kushner’s contacts with foreign officials and so Kushner has access to the council’s country experts to prepare for meetings.

    “General McMaster has the highest regard for Mr. Kushner, and the two work well together,” said council spokesman Michael Anton. “Everything they do is integrated . . . it’s seamless.”

    Foreign governments routinely discuss ways they can influence senior officials in all administrations.

    “Every country will seek to find their point of leverage,” said one person familiar with intelligence intercepts of foreign officials discussing Kushner.

    But Kushner came to his position with an unusually complex set of business holdings and a family company facing significant debt issues.

    A Mexican diplomatic source said that Kushner “has remained strictly professional” in his dealings with the country, “with both sides looking after their interests but trying to find common ground.”

    Officials from the UAE identified Kushner as early as the spring of 2017 as particularly manipulable because of his family’s search for investors in their real estate company, current and former officials said.

    Officials at the embassies of China, Israel and the UAE did not respond to requests for comment.

    Kushner’s lack of a final security clearance has drawn scrutiny in recent weeks. He had an interim clearance that gave him access to information at the top-secret level, as well as more highly classified information, such as the president’s daily intelligence briefing. But the application for his final clearance dragged on for more than a year. The downgrading of his interim clearance from top secret to secret was first reported by Politico.

    On Feb. 9, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein alerted White House Counsel Don McGahn that significant issues would further delay Kushner’s security clearance process, according to four people familiar with their discussions.

    Kushner has repeatedly amended a form detailing his contacts with foreign persons. Not fully disclosing foreign contacts ordinarily would result in a clearance being denied, experts said.

    On Friday, Trump said White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly would make a final decision on whether Kushner would continue to have a security clearance.

    In 2016, Kushner was simultaneously running his family business, Kushner Cos., and helping to oversee Trump’s campaign. One of his top business concerns was what to do with his family’s investment in 666 Fifth Ave. in New York, which the company bought under his direction for $1.8 billion in 2007, the highest price paid at the time for a U.S. office tower. The purchase became troubled as the Great Recession hit, and Kushner refinanced it, leaving the company with a $1.2 billion debt that comes due in January 2019.

    The Manhattan property has been a particularly nettlesome problem inside the government because Kushner’s company has sought foreign money on the project.

    Kushner and his company had proposed a redevelopment plan that would double the building’s size, requiring major new investment. Before Trump took office, Kushner and other company officials explored several options for the financing. They met with an executive of a Chinese-run insurance company, Anbang, which had bought the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. They also discussed a possible investment by the former finance minister of Qatar, who oversaw an investment fund. But after Kushner served as Trump’s senior adviser for a few months in the White House, questions arose about potential conflicts of interest, the financing talks ended, and neither Anbang nor the Qatari fund signed on.

    Thomas Barrack, a close Trump friend who asked the Qataris to consider investing in the Fifth Avenue property, has told The Washington Post that the refinancing efforts were “crushed” because Kushner’s move to the White House “just about completely chilled the market, and [potential investors] just said, ‘No way — can’t be associated with any appearances of conflict of interest,’ even though there was none.”

    Questions have also been raised about whether Kushner discussed financing with a Russian banker. He met in December 2016 with Sergey Gorkov, the top executive of Vnesheconombank. The bank has said they talked about “promising business lines and sectors,” but Kushner told Congress that the meeting did not involve any discussion about his family’s company.

    Kushner, upon entering the White House, divested his stake, which is now controlled by family members. With the deadline for the $1.2 billion debt looming, the company has continued to search for a lender. The redevelopment plan appears to be on hold after the company’s main partner, Vornado, run by Trump friend Steve Roth, deemed it “not feasible.”

    Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, who plays a major role at the company, told The Post in a recent interview that he and the firm have not been contacted by Mueller. The company, which is privately held, has stressed that the Fifth Avenue property is a small fraction of its assets and that it is doing well financially.

    Foreign officials discussed manipulating Kushner, U.S. officials say - The Washington Post https://apple.news/ARBxU_imxTravnblw9PR07g
     
  3. Gabriel Maxwell

    Gabriel Maxwell Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    How humiliating for squeaky-voiced Kush-Kush.

    That fittingly numbered 666 property he spent $1.8 billion on that he'll never retrieve will burn his family business to the ground when those multiple investigations into his and his jailbird father's filthy practices are done.

    And daddy-in-law can't pardon any charges pressed by the state of New York.
     
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