White House security specialists denied Jared Kushner’s security clearance because of “significant disqualifying factors,” including potential foreign influence and Kushner’s private business interests — but the recommendation was overturned by a Trump appointee, The Washington Post reported.
The report, published Wednesday, follows the testimony of veteran White House employee Tricia Newbold before the House oversight committee. The whistleblower told the panel last month that senior Trump administration officials had disregarded the recommendations of career staffers to deny the security clearance requests of at least 25 people, including two current senior White House officials.
Newbold, a manager in the White House Personnel Security Office, said these officials and contractors had been granted clearances despite her and her colleagues’ concerns about “a wide range of serious disqualifying issues involving foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct.”
Details of her testimony were outlined in a memo made public by the oversight committee on Monday. The 25 people Newbold mentioned were not identified by name in the document.
But according to the Post ― citing people familiar with Newbold’s testimony ― the person dubbed “Senior White House Official 1” in the memo is Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.
Newbold said she and a colleague denied this senior official’s request for clearance after a “background investigation revealed significant disqualifying factors, including foreign influence, outside activities ... and personal conduct,” per the memo.
But Carl Kline, then the director of the Personnel Security Office, later overturned the decision ― without adequately explaining why, Newbold alleged.
The Post’s report corroborates a January NBC News story that said Kushner’s clearance application had been rejected by “two career White House security specialists after an FBI background check raised concerns about potential foreign influence on him.” NBC said at the time that Kline, who was appointed by Trump, had “overruled” that decision.
The New York Times reported on Monday that one of the two senior White House officials identified by Newbold in her testimony “appears to be Jared Kushner.”
It’s unclear who the second official is. Newbold described the person as “very senior.” That official’s clearance request was also denied because of “multiple disqualifiers, including foreign influence and outside activities,” Newbold said, but Kline allegedly ignored the recommendation and instructed her to “not touch” the case.
Kushner’s security clearance has been under public scrutiny for months. Previous news reports said Trump directed former chief of staff John Kelly to grant Kushner top-secret security clearance after Kelly downgraded it last year.
Speaking with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Monday, Kushner said he couldn’t comment on the security clearance process, but said that “over the last few 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.”
Asked specifically whether he posed “a grave national security concern to the country,” Kushner laughed ― before saying that thanks to Trump and his administration, “the world is safer today.”