President Trump reportedly ordered his former White House chief of staff, John Kelly, to grant his son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner a security clearance, ignoring security concerns of top U.S. officials and the White House’s top lawyer.
The New York Times, who cited four people briefed on the matter, reported on Thursday that Trump ordered Kelly in May to override the security concerns of top U.S. officials and grant a top-secret clearance to Kushner, whose clearance had been downgraded from that level earlier in the year.
The Times notes that Trump’s decision so his White House chief of staff at the time that Kelly wrote a contemporaneous internal memo about how he had been “ordered” to give Kushner the top-secret clearance.
The report of Trump’s order contradicts statements Trump made to the newspaper just last month in which he claimed he had no role in the reinstatement of his son-in-law’s security clearance.
A spokesman for Abbe Lowell, Kushner’s attorney, told the Times that the White House conveyed to Kushner that his security clearance was handled under normal procedures.
“In 2018, White House and security clearance officials affirmed that Mr. Kushner’s security clearance was handled in the regular process with no pressure from anyone. That was conveyed to the media at the time, and new stories, if accurate, do not change what was affirmed at the time,” the spokesman said.
The White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told The Times, “we don’t comment on security clearances.”
“I was never involved with the security” clearances for Kushner, Trump was quoted as saying last month in a statement contradicted by memos disclosed to the Times by multiple officials. “I know that there was issues back and forth about security for numerous people, actually. But I don’t want to get involved in that stuff.”
The Times reports that Trump ordered Kushner be granted a top-secret clearance in May 2018 after the White House counsel’s office issued its final recommendation against Kushner receiving the clearance.
Kelly resigned as Trump’s chief of staff in December.