The security clearance battle intensifies with Report Trump helped by Jared Kushner: NPR



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The White House's senior advisor, Jared Kushner, has been at the center of a controversy over security clearances. The New York Times reports now that President Trump intervened to obtain Kushner's authorization against the opinion of his associates.

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The White House's senior advisor, Jared Kushner, has been at the center of a controversy over security clearances. The New York Times reports now that President Trump intervened to obtain Kushner's authorization against the opinion of his associates.

Win McNamee / Getty Images

Updated at 11:39 ET

The White House and the head of the House's oversight committee are fighting for what could become a royal battle over security clearances within the Trump administration.

President Elijah Cummings, D-MD, launched a survey in January on White House practices for clearing key collaborators. On Friday, he said he was intensifying his efforts following a report that President Trump would have personally intervened to allow access to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, despite the objections of his aides. .

Cummings said that the radio silence that he had made so far from the White House was unacceptable.

"To date, the White House has produced no document or scheduled a single interview," he said. "The committee expects its demands to be fully met as soon as possible, or it may be necessary to consider other means to compel them to comply."

Translation: Cummings and the majority of Democrats may try to force the administration to impose information describing Trump's customs clearance practices, particularly two key memos described Thursday in The New York Times.

On the record

Former chief of staff, John Kelly, and former White House lawyer Don McGahn, went so far as to describe in writing their objections to obtaining an award. security clearance for Kushner, but the newspaper said that Trump had been sidelined by other national security officials. .

NPR has not independently confirmed the TimeCummings said the story reinforced the case for his investigation. He set out his argument in a new letter to the White House on Friday:

"If true, these new reports raise serious questions about the derogatory information obtained by career managers about Mr. Kushner to urge him to deny him access to the most sensitive secrets of our country. Why did President Trump hide his role in canceling this? Both felt compelled to document these actions, and why your office continues to retain key documents and witnesses from this committee. "

Trump, Kushner's attorney, and Ivanka, Trump's daughter, said the president was not involved in organizing the releases.

A spokesman for Kushner's attorney said Friday that the explanations provided about Jared and Ivanka's clearances were accurate in light of information available at the time, suggesting that if Trump had intervened they did not know that when they had spoken to reporters.

"In 2018, the White House and security verification officials claimed that Mr. Kushner's security check was being handled in the usual process without any pressure from anyone," said Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for the security audit. Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell. "This was communicated to the media at the time, and the new stories, if true, do not change what was said at the time."

The White House said it would not comment on security clearance issues.

In the past, Trump had rejected the principle of Democratic investigations as "presidential harassment" and his administration should not cooperate in providing witnesses or documents.

In the event that Cummings tries to use a subpoena, Trump may also assert that the documents he wishes are protected by the privilege of the executive, which allows an administration to to keep some of its internal functioning in public view.

That would probably lead to a dispute in court.

Plenary power

National security authorities are investigating individuals in the White House who are designated to access classified information, but the President retains the power to authorize or not to obtain this information.

The issue of customs clearance has been a concern for Trump since the beginning of his mandate, in part because of a slow and slow investigation process, and partly because of suggestions that he would have overridden national security officials.

National Intelligence Director Dan Coats argued that only those who deserve access to sensitive information should get it.

Senator Martin Heinrich, MDN, questioned him about this during a hearing held in January following previous reports that Trump would have granted permissions to people against the notice of the national security.

"Would you still recommend minimal access to classified documents to these White House officials since the FBI experts have recommended not giving them these top secret permissions?" Heinrich asked.

Yes, Coats said: "I am in favor of providing all the necessary information not only to the White House, but also to all our branches regarding the provision of a security clearance," he said. -he declares. "They have the power to do it, we issue guidelines that say what needs to be done."

FBI director Christopher Wray was also questioned about the licensing process. He explained that the office merely serves as a supplier for his client – in this case, the White House – but that he has no authority to determine who should or should not have access to the secret information.

"What we do is gather information," he said. "We provide the factual information, we do not make recommendations in one way or another about the authorizations, and the decision as to what to do with these facts is left to the author. applicant entity by a long-standing process.We therefore provide the information, but then they make the call. "

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