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Dems may subpoena White House for documents on Kushner's top security clearance

John Kelly was so taken aback by Trump's request that he documented it in a written contemporaneous memo

by David Gilbert
Mar 1 2019, 3:20pm

Democrats want to see the trail of documents that got the top-secret security clearance for Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings said late Thursday they may subpoena the White House for documents related to the clearance after it was reported that President Trump ordered his then-Chief of Staff John Kelly to give Kushner the top-level clearance, despite concerns from his own counsel and warnings from intelligence officials.

Trump ordered Kelly last May to give Kushner the clearance despite White House Counsel Don McGahn telling the president not to grant that clearance, according to four sources speaking to the New York Times, which first reported the story.

Kelly was so taken aback by the request that he documented it in a written contemporaneous memo, a detail since confirmed by the Washington Post.

Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, both pressured the president to grant the long-delayed clearance, according to a source speaking to the Post.

Kushner was a real estate developed before joining the White House team as a top adviser to the president, involving work on the opioid epidemic and boosting innovation. But it has been his work on the Middle East that’s attracted the most attention. This week Kushner was on a tour of Middle East working on a possible peace plan, including a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Following the publication of the reports, Cummings said he now “expects full compliance with its requests as soon as possible, or it may become necessary to consider alternative means to compel compliance.”

Kushner was granted clearance to view classified material last May, and a spokesperson for Kushner’s attorney Abbe Lowell said Thursday that the presidential adviser had received the clearance in “the regular process with no pressure from anyone.”

“That was conveyed to the media at the time, and new stories, if accurate, do not change what was affirmed at the time,” the spokesperson added.

When Kushner first entered the White House, he was operating on an “interim top secret” security clearance. That was downgraded to “interim secret” in February 2018 when Kelly imposed a Feb. 23, 2018, deadline for halting access to top-secret information for anyone whose applications had been pending since June 1, 2017, or earlier.

House Democrats last month called on acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to revoke Kushner’s clearance after an NBC report last month claimed that Kushner's application had been rejected by two White House security specialists before they were overruled by their supervisor Carl Kline. There’d been concern Kushner was a national security threat because foreign officials had privately discussed — in intercepted communications — how they could manipulate him.

Cover: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with Jared Kushner, left, U.S. President Donald Trump's adviser, prior to their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)