July 25, 2017

Kushner Should Lose His Security Clearance, Groups Say

Groups Push White House Management Office to Review and Rescind Adviser’s Clearance Because of His Failure to Report or Remember Meetings With Foreign Agents

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Jared Kushner, White House adviser and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, should lose his national security clearance for filing an inaccurate and misleading application in January, advocacy groups and two former White House ethics lawyers said in a letter (PDF) to the White House Management and Office of Administration.

Kushner failed to disclose that during the campaign and transition, he had more than 100 calls or meetings with representatives of more than 20 countries. And it was only as the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between Russian agents and the 2016 Trump presidential campaign progressed that Kushner divulged that he met last December with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Kushner’s lawyers told the public that the omission of the meeting with Russian officials was “inadvertent” and said a Kushner staffer had prematurely hit the “send” button on the clearance application form before it had been completed.

“Jared Kushner’s failure to remember and report literally hundreds of meetings with individuals who might have compromised his security clearance shows a layer of carelessness that is not consistent with the responsibility inherent in this level of access. Whether a faulty memory, a bungling assistant or deliberate deceptive action, providing Mr. Kushner with security clearance is no longer appropriate,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen.

Signing the letter were Public Citizen, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Common Cause, Credo Action, Daily Kos, Democracy 21, MoveOn.org, Norman Eisen (former chief White House ethics lawyer), People For the American Way, Richard Painter (former chief White House ethics lawyer) and Stand Up America.

The security clearance form for Kushner was amended twice, and the amended versions differ substantially from his original filing, the groups wrote. The second amended clearance form appears to have been submitted solely because journalists discovered and publicized a high-level meeting between Trump’s campaign team and a Russian operative.

It is not unusual for a security clearance applicant to be denied security clearance for filing false or incomplete information, even if the omissions were accidental. And there is no reason to believe that Kushner’s extensive omissions were inadvertent or accidental. In fact, quite the opposite seems to be the case, the groups wrote in the letter. The complexity and seriousness of these forms warrant attention to detail and honesty from a candidate. Kushner either did not value their seriousness on multiple occasions or he willingly ignored their requirements.

“Mr. Kushner has had numerous chances to be honest about his meetings with the American people and has consistently failed to do so,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “His omissions have raised the ire of groups and public officials on both sides of the aisle, and the information shared today with the Intelligence Committee is not sufficient. His national security clearance is no longer a risk the American people can afford.”

Read the letter (PDF).

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