A new counterintelligence probe looking into Ivanka Trump shows that national security has taken a back seat to nepotism in the Trump White House.
Just days after Jared Kushner was humiliated by having his security clearance downgraded due to fears that he could be blackmailed by foreign agents, Ivanka Trump may now be facing a similar fate.
CNN reported Thursday night that FBI counterintelligence officials are investigating Ivanka’s involvement in brokering a deal involving the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, Canada, which houses an Ivanka Trump-branded spa.
According to CNN, investigators are looking at whether the deal could make Ivanka “vulnerable to pressure from foreign agents, including China.”
The Vancouver property is owned by Joo Kim Tiah, an heir to one of the wealthiest families in Malaysia. However, that doesn’t mean the Trump family isn’t profiting from the venture. Trump’s financial disclosure forms reveal that the Trump Organization has taken in at least $5 million in royalties and over $21,000 in management fees from the hotel’s owner, according to CNN.
“It’s not clear why investigators are examining this particular deal,” CNN reported. “The timing of the deal — as one of the few Trump-branded properties to open since Trump took office — could be of interest. The flow of foreign money, either from the developer or international condo buyers, could also be sparking scrutiny.”
The revelation comes just as Ivanka, who serves as one of Trump’s senior advisers, is struggling to obtain a full security clearance, and just days after Jared Kushner’s clearance was downgraded.
The Washington Post reported this week that Kushner is considered an easy target for blackmail by foreign governments, mainly because of his financial background, which includes a $1.2 billion debt that will come due in January 2019. Officials in at least four countries, including China, have reportedly discussed ways to manipulate Kushner using his tangled web of business deals.
That’s why Kushner’s interim top secret security clearance was downgraded — and now, similar concerns are being raised about Ivanka’s potential to be blackmailed or otherwise manipulated by foreign governments.
As CNN noted, the FBI scrutiny “could be a hurdle for the first daughter as she tries to obtain a full security clearance in her role as adviser to [Trump].”
The FBI isn’t alone in raising these concerns. Congressional investigators are asking questions, too. Just after the news broke Thursday evening, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) asked, “Why does Ivanka Trump still have security clearance?”
The answer to that question is a pressing national security matter — and the fact that we don’t have an answer more than 13 months into Trump’s presidency is another reminder that national security takes a back seat when nepotism rules the day.