Trump: Kelly to make call on Kushner clearance

President Trump praised the work of son-in-law Jared Kushner saying he is "truly outstanding" and is working with Trump's chief of staff General Kelly on peace in the middle east.

Posted: Feb 27, 2018 12:18 AM
Updated: Feb 27, 2018 12:18 AM

President Donald Trump said Friday he will not decide himself whether to allow Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, to keep his temporary security clearance, telling reporters at the White House he'll leave the matter to his chief of staff John Kelly.

The disclosure marked the latest development in an ongoing drama over Kushner's clearance, which has been held up amid questions about his background check. It also provided another layer of intrigue to the acrimonious relationship between Kushner and Kelly, who have been at odds over access to the President and the classified materials he views.

It was Kelly who mandated last week that officials who'd applied for security clearances before July, but haven't yet received permanent access, would be stripped of their interim clearances. That includes Kushner, whose portfolio includes sensitive foreign policy matters like the Middle East and China.

The deadline for stripping officials of their interim clearances was Friday, though it wasn't clear by late in the day what specific action had been taken.

Kushner's security clearance has been the subject of intense speculation in the West Wing, where he holds a unique role as a senior adviser but also a member of Trump's immediate family. Kelly has told associates he wants the matter resolved, but problems have persisted in granting him a full clearance.

Kushner has been unable to obtain a full security clearance in part because of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN earlier this week. Kushner is unlikely to obtain the full clearance as long as the special counsel's probe is ongoing, one of the sources said.

Two weeks ago, White House counsel Donald McGahn and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed the status of Kushner's security clearance, according to a source familiar with the discussion. Rosenstein conveyed to McGahn that the clearance process was still ongoing, the source said.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said on Friday that Rosenstein "has not referenced to the White House any specific concerns relating to this individual's security clearance process." The phone call was first reported by The Washington Post.

The call came amid swirling questions over why former White House staff secretary Rob Porter was allowed to work with interim security clearance given his history of domestic abuse allegations. That episode also prompted Kelly's crackdown on interim clearances.

Officials at the White House have been working to devise a plan this week that would allow Kushner to continue in his role handling sensitive foreign policy matters without forcing Trump himself to personally intervene and grant him access to classified information, people familiar with the situation say.

As President, Trump himself could grant any clearance to Kushner. But the President's advisers have determined that taking that step would be drastic and cause deep rifts within the intelligence community and among Trump's top aides.

Kelly, a retired Marine general, has also made it known that Trump's personal intervention would pose a problem and possibly undercut his authority in the West Wing.

Instead, Trump on Friday declared he would leave the matter to his top aide.

"That will be up to General Kelly. General Kelly respects Jared a lot and General Kelly will make that call," Trump said at a news conference. "I won't make that call. I will let the general, who is right here, make that call."

Trump slammed the background check system on Friday, calling it a "broken system" and insisting "it shouldn't take this long."

But in placing responsibility for the matter with Kelly, Trump was handing the contentious issue to someone with a complicated, and increasingly caustic, relationship with Kushner.

Multiple White House officials have said the complications with Kushner's security clearance have only exacerbated his frustration with Kelly, who has privately disregarded Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, as unserious and meddling.

Trump, however, has given Kelly his full support in efforts to reform the White House's system of security clearances, and has told his chief of staff that changes need to be made to bring the system into order, according to a person who has spoken to him about the matter. Kelly has interpreted that as a wide-ranging mandate that would include Kushner, the person said.

After questions were raised whether the new clearance policy would affect Kushner, Kelly issued a statement this week saying he had "full confidence in (Kushner's) 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."

"Everyone in the White House is grateful for these valuable contributions to furthering the President's agenda," Kelly said. "There is no truth to any suggestion otherwise."

At his news conference Friday, Trump defended his son-in-law, who he noted does not draw a salary.

"Well, Jared has done an outstanding job, I think he has been treated very unfairly," Trump said. "He works for nothing."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 996341

Reported Deaths: 16245
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1343262101
Lake658231151
Allen57160791
Hamilton45963460
St. Joseph43954607
Elkhart35546503
Vanderburgh31975473
Tippecanoe27694256
Johnson24821440
Hendricks23647353
Porter22735362
Madison18538404
Clark18383248
Vigo17274300
Monroe15117197
LaPorte14987249
Delaware14931256
Howard14574286
Kosciusko12166147
Hancock11597175
Bartholomew11447179
Warrick11225188
Floyd10983214
Wayne10840248
Grant9898217
Morgan9361176
Boone8819115
Dubois8210129
Dearborn815492
Henry8107150
Noble7944106
Marshall7786134
Cass7462119
Lawrence7379168
Shelby7115114
Jackson691788
Gibson6480113
Harrison641591
Huntington630299
Knox6269105
DeKalb623796
Montgomery6184109
Miami586595
Putnam573477
Clinton567171
Whitley558055
Steuben550473
Wabash5250101
Jasper520475
Jefferson504695
Ripley492485
Adams472773
Daviess4596112
Scott433968
Greene421196
Wells419787
Clay418460
White414261
Decatur4118101
Fayette402186
Jennings383260
Posey374243
LaGrange352078
Washington352049
Randolph339999
Spencer336442
Fountain331858
Sullivan326652
Starke310868
Owen310169
Fulton304566
Orange290562
Jay278445
Perry264452
Franklin262742
Carroll258232
Rush257232
Vermillion254254
Parke229726
Pike227343
Tipton225659
Blackford187840
Pulaski181155
Crawford158122
Newton155648
Benton150117
Brown144047
Martin137319
Switzerland133911
Warren120116
Union106615
Ohio84012
Unassigned0532

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1490451

Reported Deaths: 23327
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1620041662
Cuyahoga1439412412
Hamilton1040301409
Montgomery727961240
Summit606541094
Lucas55296904
Butler50803707
Stark456401053
Lorain34875568
Warren32293369
Mahoning30057672
Clermont27811321
Lake26457434
Delaware23872162
Licking23361283
Trumbull22357552
Fairfield22081241
Greene21967311
Medina21624305
Clark19513349
Richland18225280
Portage17579247
Wood17122220
Allen15627269
Miami15259296
Muskingum14417174
Columbiana13587263
Wayne13494263
Tuscarawas12372298
Marion11742175
Scioto11313154
Pickaway11246141
Erie10586180
Ross10397196
Lawrence9630137
Hancock9476149
Ashtabula9370197
Belmont9059197
Geauga8766157
Jefferson8439191
Huron8172139
Union806256
Washington7995137
Sandusky7654145
Athens765372
Knox7539138
Darke7525151
Seneca7166144
Ashland6761125
Auglaize663396
Shelby6374111
Brown626282
Crawford6147130
Mercer605793
Defiance6043102
Fulton588596
Highland585899
Madison584976
Clinton573890
Logan566292
Guernsey564867
Preble5623121
Putnam5227108
Williams515384
Perry510661
Champaign500871
Jackson493470
Ottawa476686
Coshocton466382
Morrow448256
Pike428462
Fayette419960
Adams409287
Gallia408165
Hardin407176
Van Wert361578
Henry356671
Holmes3539122
Hocking349078
Wyandot315761
Carroll294559
Paulding274345
Meigs256849
Monroe210553
Noble195146
Morgan188132
Harrison177042
Vinton161124
Unassigned05
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