On Friday, the New York Times reported that President Donald Trump had pressured top security officials to give his son-in-law Jared Kushner top security clearance-despite objections from his former Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House counsel Donald McGahn.
House Democrats vowed to step up their investigation of White House security clearances amid reports that President Trump demanded a top-secret security clearance for son-in-law Jared Kushner.
"Citing four people who were briefed on the matter, the Times report said that senior administration officials including Kelly were "troubled" by the president's decision, so much so that Kelly wrote a memo at the time saying that he had been "'ordered'" to give Kushner the clearance.
A spokesman for Kushner's lawyer told the paper that in 2018, "White House and security clearance officials affirmed that Mr. Kushner's security clearance was handled in the regular process with no pressure from anyone".
Meanwhile when asked on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, "We don't comment on security clearances".
He then said, "I was never involved in the security." Ivanka Trump also said her father had no role in this. McGahn wrote a memo in which he advised against such clearance.
The Times notes that only in "highly unusual cases" does the president weigh in to grant a topsecret security clearance.
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US President Donald Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner, right, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 22, 2018.
"The Committee expects full compliance with its requests as soon as possible, or it may become necessary to consider alternative means to compel compliance", said House Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings. But in February 2018, White House staffers with such clearances received a downgrade, after the Rob Porter abuse scandal broke. Kushner was granted permanent security clearance in May after a year of background checks. "That was conveyed to the media at the time, and new stories, if accurate, do not change what was affirmed at the time".
NPR has not independently confirmed The Times' report, but Cummings said the story strengthens the case for his inquiry. "I ask that you begin producing all responsive documents immediately, and I request that you begin scheduling transcribed interviews with each witness identified by the Committee".
Kushner's lack of SCI access suggests that the CIA has not signed off on his receiving that level of intelligence, security experts said.
However, Brennan reported that officials in the White House had been concerned that Kushner was "naive and being tricked" in conversations with foreign officials, some of whom said they only wanted to deal with Kushner directly and not more experienced personnel.
Kushner's foreign entanglements caused anxiety among USA intelligence officials who are ultimately responsible for deciding whether he should have SCI clearances, that step above top secret, according to US officials with knowledge of internal deliberations.