For months, numerous Democrats have asked the question: Why does Jared Kushner have a security clearance? According to a new report, however, the White House advisor and son-in-law of President Donald Trump doesn't have a security clearance at all, at least not a permanent one. Kushner, Ivanka Trump's husband, has instead been granted an interim security clearance.
Kushner's application for permanent clearance remains under review, Politico reports, but Kushner has still been allowed to continue his work on matters of national security and foreign policy. A security clearance allows a person access to classified information pertaining to those subjects.
According to the U.S. State Department, the background check required to obtain a security clearance vets a person's loyalty to the United States as well as an applicant's trustworthiness, among other things.
"The most important thing that a security clearance is aiming to determine is whether you are blackmailable by a foreign power," a former senior Obama White House official reportedly told The New Yorker in July. "The reason why it’s important for you to include that information is that if you don’t, then you’re blackmailable because someone could say, ‘Well, I know this guy used to do X and Y and Z.’"
The official also told The New Yorker that application process includes extensive interviews with the FBI.
Kushner was interviewed in the summer, as part of his clearance process, sources told Politico. The publication also says the White House claims there is a backlog of Trump administration officials who have not previously served in government waiting to be granted a permanent security clearance and that Kushner's wait time is "completely normal."
"As a general rule, with respect to clearances, when you have people who have never had one before and they have massive financial and foreign connection and a staggering amount of business interests, like some of the people accompanying Trump, it wouldn’t be unheard of," a security clearance lawyer told Politico.
However, multiple inconsistencies and errors on Kushner's security clearance form have been reported during the year, making his status a subject of political debate, with some Democrats arguing that Kushner's access to classified information is a danger.
Kushner had initially had an aide fill out his security clearance form — known as a SF-86, in January, according to The New Yorker. "It had many errors on it," a source told the magazine.
The form didn't detail any correspondence with foreign contacts at first. In the spring, Kushner updated the SF-86, this time detailing around 100 contacts, according to CNN. Still, the White House advisor did not detail a certain controversial meeting with a foreign contact.
That meeting occurred in 2016 between Kushner, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer who had been introduced to Trump Jr. as a Russian government source who could provide compromising information on Hillary Clinton.
Kushner would later update his form another time to reflect the meeting, which had become the subject of widespread attention. The initial omission of that information, however, prompted three Democratic senators to call for Kushner's security clearance to be revoked.
"Mr. Kushner attended a meeting which was held with the stated purpose to receive Russian government information intended to influence a U.S. election." a joint letter from Sens. Al Franken (MN), Richard Blunmenthal (CT), and Mazie Hirono (HI) read. "Mr. Kushner omitted this fact on his security clearance form. Most disturbingly, Mr. Kushner sought a secret channel to communicate with the Kremlin. Given the enormity of the outstanding national security concerns regarding his conduct, Mr. Kushner should not retain access to our nation's most critical secrets."
Months later, it appears Kushner's permanent access to those secrets are still in question.