Jared Kushner was identified as the senior White House official granted security clearance despite an array of 'significant disqualifying factors.'
New information about the recent White House security clearance scandals has come to light showing just how far the Trump White House went to grant favors to members of Trump's family.
A report from the Washington Post Tuesday night revealed that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner was the senior adviser whose "security clearance was denied last year because of concerns about foreign influence, private business interests and personal conduct."
A Monday memo from House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings detailed allegations brought forward by a White House whistle-blower who worked with the security clearance process at the Trump White House, including details of a clearance granted to a senior White House official, labeled "Senior White House Official 1," who had "significant disqualifying factors, including foreign influence, outside activities, and personal conduct."
The Washington Post report reveals that Kushner is the "Senior White House Official 1." The White House ignored the concerns and granted Kushner security clearance anyway.
The fact that Trump ordered then-chief of staff John Kelly to grant Kushner security clearance had been previously reported, but the whistleblower's account provides additional details of why Kushner was initially flagged as a serious risk to national security.
In Cummings' memo detailing allegations from Tricia Newbold, the White House whistleblower, Newbold says her recommendation to deny Kushner security clearance was overruled by Carl Kline, who was the White House Director of the Personnel Security Office at the time. Newbold says Kline failed to address all the concerns she and her team raised.
Some time after her initial security clearance recommendation was overruled, another agency contacted Newbold about granting Kushner an even higher level of clearance. The agency was wondering how her office granted him clearance in the first place. Newbold says the conversation was an indication of this agency's "serious concern" about the initial security clearance approval.
The concerns raised by Newbold are "a big deal," David Kris, a senior Justice Department official during previous Republican and Democratic administrations, told the Post. "The kinds of concerns that she mentioned are very serious," Kris added. "Senior staff at the White House — and particularly relatives of the U.S. president — are incredibly attractive targets for our adversaries seeking to gather intelligence or exert covert influence."
Last year, during a separate security clearance scandal involving alleged domestic abuser Rob Porter, the White House tried to blame Newbold's office for failing to pass along relevant information. At the time, a former senior White House official said that the office of personnel security doesn't make decisions, but rather make recommendations based on information from other sources, such as the FBI or other intelligence agencies.
"If they get something, they gotta push it," one former senior official told NBC News about the responsibilities of Newbold's office. The ultimate decision, however, lies with political appointees within the White House.
In the case of Kushner, Newbold dutifully pushed the information along to top White House officials.
But despite concerns about Kushner's personal conduct, and the risk of foreign influence, the White House ignored those concerns.
In the end, Trump's White House handed a known security risk access to the highest levels of classified information in the United States government.
Published with permission of the American Independent.