Jared Kushner identified as White House security risk: report

Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner was flagged as a security risk but was cleared anyway at White House orders

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published April 4, 2019 4:16PM (EDT)

Jared Kushner (Getty/Saul Loeb)
Jared Kushner (Getty/Saul Loeb)

Jared Kushner, the son-in-law to President Donald Trump, has been identified as the senior White House official whose security clearance was rejected by career officials but was granted access to top secret information anyway.

Kushner was apparently "Senior White House Official 1" in a memo released by the House Oversight Committee on Monday. That memo detailed how whistleblower Tricia Newbold, a manager in the White House’s Personnel Security Office, was concerned that at least 25 individuals who had failed their security clearance evaluations were granted access to the White House anyway due to the direct orders of Trump's personnel.

The memo goes into considerable detail about the process in which Kushner was cleared, with Newbold arguing that the numerous concerns about whether or not he posed a risk were never addressed but instead simply ignored.

For example, in the case of one senior White House official (“Senior White House Official 1”), Ms. Newbold explained that both she and the first-line adjudicator issued denials after the background investigation revealed significant disqualifying factors, including foreign influence, outside activities (“employment outside or businesses external to what your position at the EOP entails”), and personal conduct.

However, in the case of Senior White House Official 1, the Director of the Personnel Security Office, Mr. Kline, overruled the determination by Ms. Newbold and the first-line adjudicator. Ms. Newbold informed Committee staff that if Mr. Kline wanted to favorably adjudicate the application, he should have noted in the file how he had considered and mitigated concerns with each of the disqualifying factors, but he merely noted in the file that “the activities occurred prior to Federal service.” According to Ms. Newbold, Mr. Kline failed to address all of the disqualifying concerns listed by Ms. Newbold and the first-line adjudicator.

"But I can say over the last two years that I’ve been here, I’ve been accused of all different types of things, and all of those things have turned out to be false," Kushner told Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham when discussing the accusations against him. In February, Kushner's legal team issued a statement claiming that "White House and security clearance officials affirmed that Mr. Kushner’s security clearance was handled in the regular process with no pressure from anyone."

Meanwhile David Kris, a senior Justice Department official who worked for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, told the Times that "it's a big deal" and added that "the kinds of concerns that she mentioned are very serious. Senior staff at the White House — and particularly relatives of the U.S. president — are incredibly attractive targets for our adversaries seeking to gather intelligence or exert covert influence."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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All Salon Donald Trump Jared Kushner John F. Kelly National Security News & Politics Secret Service