DNI Suggests That Kushner Should Have Limited Access To Intelligence

Screengrab/Bloomberg Politics/YouTube

Jared Kushner has been awaiting approval for his security clearance for 15 months, an unusually long time for his post.

While giving testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats suggested that President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner should not have full access to classified intelligence.

At a hearing, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) asked Coats about a Washington Post report that dozens of White House staff still have only interim security clearances. Heinrich mentioned Kushner and now-departed White House staff secretary Rob Porter by name and asked whether staff whose background investigations turned up red flags should be allowed unfettered access to classified information.

Coats essentially answered no:

I might just say that I think sometimes it is necessary to have some type of preliminary clearance in order to fill a slot. But I have publicly stated if that is the case, the access has to be limited in terms of the kind of information they can be in a position to receive or not receive. So I think that’s something that we have to do as a part of our security clearance review. The process is broken; it needs to be reformed. As Sen. [Mark] Warner [D-Va.] has previously said, it is not evolution; it is revolution. We have 700,000 backups. So we have situations where we need people in places, but they don’t yet have that.

Kushner has been floating under the radar with temporary clearance for 15 months, which the Post notes is an unusually long time for a top White House official.

In that time, he has enjoyed access to the President's Daily Brief, which includes highly classified intelligence from around the world.

With Porter's domestic abuse scandal bringing security clearance issues into the light, it is likely that Kushner will face growing scrutiny regarding his own situation.

It's not clear why Kushner hasn't been given permanent clearance, but he has been a key figure in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's Russia investigation, and his shoddy personal financial disclosures and complicated finances could also be part of the reason. Given that the process usually takes a matter of months — and often less for high-level staffers like Kushner — it seems possible some red flags have turned up for Kushner, as they did for Porter.