Trump Leaves Kelly Twisting Over Kushner Clearance
The President's fecklessness here is incredible. Either take these people out of sensitive posts or take the responsibility for granting them waivers.
President Trump has created an awkward situation regarding his son-in-law’s access to classified information.
President Donald Trump’s decision to punt the issue of whether Jared Kushner can keep his access to sensitive government secrets without a full security clearance to his chief of staff, John Kelly, has put him in a tricky position, stuck between the rules on one side and the president’s family on the other.
Trump’s ad hoc decision not to intervene in the clearance process on behalf of his son-in-law and senior adviser in effect left both Kelly and Kushner in limbo, prolonging an uncomfortable situation that White House aides say is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.
Kelly does not plan to recommend to the president that he grant Kushner a waiver, but he is unlikely to resign if Trump ultimately decides to do so, according to a person familiar with his thinking.
Trump has a better understanding of the wide-ranging extent of his power over the clearance process, aides say, which is virtually absolute. Through his executive power, he could solve Kushner’s clearance headache with the stroke of a pen.
The president is hesitant to intervene in the process due to the potential blowback he would suffer in the news media if he gives Kushner a pass, according to one White House aide, and on Friday, he officially passed the baton to Kelly.
“That’ll be up to General Kelly. General Kelly respects Jared a lot and General Kelly will make that call,” Trump said at a news conference last week. “I won’t make that call. I will let the general…make that call.”
I’m less concerned than many Trump critics over Kushner’s access. While I happen to think he’s unqualified for a senior post in the White House, it’s well within the authority of the President to make that call. And, to my knowledge, he hasn’t been so much deemed a security risk—at least, not any more than the President himself—as much as his complex overseas business dealings make it next to impossible to clear him.
Trump’s fecklessness here, though, is incredible. Either take these people out of sensitive posts or take the responsibility for granting them waivers.