The recent controversy over former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter brought a series of issues to the fore, including the West Wing’s unfortunate habits involving security clearances.With this in mind, on Feb. 16, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly announced – in writing – that those who lack permanent security clearances will no longer have access to top-secret information. This was no small directive, since Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has been relying on an interim security clearance.
It set the stage for a potential crisis of authority in the West Wing. Is Kelly running the White House or isn’t he? Would his policy be honored and implemented or wouldn’t it? If the president gave Kushner a waiver, wouldn’t that create conditions that would lead to Kelly’s resignation?
Politico reports this afternoon on the resolution of this exceedingly awkward dynamic.
Presidential son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner has had his security clearance downgraded — a move that will prevent him from viewing many of the sensitive documents to which he once had unfettered access.
Kushner is not alone. All White House aides working on the highest-level interim clearances – at the Top Secret/SCI-level – were informed in a memo sent Friday that their clearances would be downgraded to the Secret level, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.
The impact on Kushner’s work will almost certainly be significant.
It’s been a running joke across much of the political world that Trump kept expanding Kushner’s policy portfolio to comical lengths, including overseeing the administration’s effort to negotiate peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It wasn’t long into Trump’s presidency that his inexperienced, 37-year-old son-in-law had an expansive reach over much of the executive branch.
Without a security clearance, Kushner’s wings are effectively clipped.