Security Clearance Downgraded for Kushner, Other White House Aides

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner / Getty
February 27, 2018

President Donald Trump's son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner, along with additional White House staffers who also held interim clearances, have seen their security clearances downgraded this week.

A memo on Friday told every White House staffer with an interim clearance at the highest level that their clearance would be downgraded to the Secret level, Politico reports. Kushner previously held a Top Secret clearance, which gave him access to particularly sensitive documents, including the president’s daily brief.

Trump himself can give Kushner a permanent clearance, but on Friday, he told reporters he would leave that decision up to chief of staff and retired four-star Gen. John Kelly.

"I will let General Kelly make that decision," Trump said the day the memo went out. "I have no doubt he’ll make the right decision."

Politico’s sources said Kelly did not sign the memo, but it comes after Kelly drew scrutiny for his handling of White House staff secretary Rob Porter’s interim clearance after it came to light Porter's ex-wives had accused him of domestic abuse. Porter resigned that week, but he was reported to be among dozens of White House aides who had not yet received permanent clearance.

On Feb. 16, Kelly distributed another memo saying the White House had "shortcomings" in security processes that must be resolved.

"The American people deserve a White House staff that meets the highest standards and that has been carefully vetted -- especially those who work closely with the President or handle sensitive national security information," Kelly said. "We should -- and in the future, must -- do better."

Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement that the changes will "not affect Mr. Kushner’s ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the president."

Last week, Kelly issued a statement expressing confidence in Kushner’s ability to perform his duties.

"As I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio including overseeing our Israeli-Palestinian peace effort and serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico," Kelly said in the statement.