(February 28, 2018 / JNS) President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner had his security clearance downgraded on Friday due to alleged efforts by foreign countries to influence him, according to a report in The Washington Post.
Kushner’s interim “top secret/sensitive compartmented information” clearance has been downgraded to “secret,” a White House official told the Post.
The report revealed that officials in Israel, the United Arab Emirates, China and Mexico discussed ways to utilize Kushner’s business ties and foreign-policy naiveté to their advantage, though it is unclear if any of them acted on their discussions.
Kushner’s contacts with foreign officials are currently under investigation by U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller, who has been probing Russia’s interference in the last presidential election since May 2017.
At the same time, Kushner is the head of the Trump administration’s effort to broker a deal between Israelis and Palestinians. Kushner, who is Jewish, has personal ties to Israel and has visited several times, including with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is a friend of the Kushner family.
When Kushner joined his father-in-law’s administration, he stepped down as CEO of his family’s real estate company but is still seen as closely linked to the business, which has sought loans from foreign countries and banks to cover the company’s debt, potentially creating a several conflicts of interest and problematic entanglements for Kushner.
The report said that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was taken aback by some of Kushner’s foreign contacts.
“When he learned about it, it surprised him,” one official told The Washington Post. “He thought that was weird. … It was an unusual thing. I don’t know that any White House has done it this way before.”
In the wake of the report, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Kushner “a valued member of the team, and he will continue to do the important work that he’s been doing since he started in the administration.”
An attorney for Kushner stated that Kushner’s performance in his position would not be affected by the change to his clearance.