POLITICS

‘I Don’t Give A Damn': Secret Service Agent Blocks Reporter From Questioning Kushner

An irked agent on a commercial flight with the White House adviser and wife Ivanka told CBS' Errol Barnett there was a “time and a place” for such queries.

A Secret Service agent blocked the phone of a CBS reporter who was attempting to ask White House senior adviser Jared Kushner a question on Tuesday and told the journalist he didn’t “give a damn” who he was.

CBS correspondent Errol Barnett wrote Tuesday that both Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump, were on board his commercial flight from Washington, D.C., to New York City. Barnett said he planned to ask the couple some questions, but his recorded attempt later was thwarted by an irked Secret Service agent who told him there was a “time and a place” for such queries.

When Barnett tried to identify himself as a reporter, showing his credentials, the agent replied, “I don’t give a damn who you are.”

Recounting the incident on Wednesday morning, Barnett said that he wanted to ask Kushner about his relationship with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and “what do you make of the Saudi denials” that the country’s officials were involved in the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Kushner has allied himself with Saudi leadership and is close with the crown prince. Saudis are suspected of having the U.S. resident killed on Oct. 2 at a consulate in Turkey.

Criticizing the Secret Service’s response that it wasn’t the proper time and place to ask Kushner a question, Barnett said his approach was justified, given how rarely Kushner speaks publicly.

“What’s key about this is, what is the time and place to ask Jared Kushner a question? He does not make himself available, and there are so many more questions,” Barnett said on “CBS This Morning.”

“There is an open invitation to speak with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump about this incident and what the U.S. should do next,” Barnett said of his willingness to talk to the two anytime.

The Secret Service said late Tuesday it was reviewing the incident and would take “appropriate action” if necessary.

“The circumstances surrounding the incident are under review,” the Secret Service said in a statement to CBS News coordinating producer Arden Farhi. “Pending receipt of additional facts, details and full circumstances surrounding the incident, appropriate action will be taken if necessary.”

Kushner’s camp isn’t the first to be involved in a kerfuffle in recent days. Last weekend, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) appeared to grab a cellphone from a university student who was asking the lawmaker about voter suppression in the state. His team later characterized it as a misunderstanding.

Many Republican lawmakers and members of the Trump administration have been approached and criticized in public in recent months, including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

This article has been updated with more information from Barnett.

Marina Fang contributed reporting.

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