Kushner loses top-secret security status

Mr Jared Kushner's diminished security clearance is expected to hinder his foreign policy role.
Mr Jared Kushner's diminished security clearance is expected to hinder his foreign policy role.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • Mr Jared Kushner, United States President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, has been stripped of his top-secret security clearance after months of delays in completing his background check, a White House official and another person familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.

Mr Kushner will now be limited in his ability to view highly classified information, they added.

His clearance was reduced to the level of secret and his official portfolio inside the West Wing, especially with regard to his globe-trotting foreign affairs work on behalf of Mr Trump, is expected to be sharply reduced as well, the sources said.

Since the beginning of the Trump administration, both Mr Kushner, 37, and his wife, Ms Ivanka Trump, the President's eldest daughter, 36, have enjoyed a special status within the White House as both family members and assistants to the President.

But the complicated finances surrounding the Kushner family's vast real-estate empire and his qualifications for the foreign policy responsibilities given to him by his father-in-law invited scrutiny from the start.

Often seen by Mr Trump's side during key moments of international diplomacy and presidential announcements during much of 2017, Mr Kushner accompanied Mr Trump on trips to Asia, the Middle East and Europe, meeting with officials in each place. He also made his own trips abroad.

The decision to reduce his access to classified information was made after Mr John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, announced plans to overhaul the security clearance process at the White House.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that US officials had intercepted conversations among officials from at least four foreign governments - China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Mexico and Israel - about using business opportunities to seek leverage over Mr Kushner.

One US official with knowledge of US intelligence confirmed that one of the countries, the UAE, has seemed particularly interested in cultivating ties with Mr Kushner.

The diminished security clearance will hinder Mr Kushner's foreign policy role.

"It makes an already difficult situation all the more difficult," said Mr Aaron David Miller, a former State Department Middle East negotiator and now a vice-president at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars.

"Knowing stuff gave us an edge. He doesn't know what he doesn't know, and now he cannot find out. That is a real liability when intelligence services are driving a lot of the information."

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2018, with the headline 'Kushner loses top-secret security status'. Print Edition | Subscribe