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Jared Kushner still lacks highest security clearance

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with Jared Kushner (L) in Jerusalem on 21 June 2017 [Handout / Amos Ben Gershom / GPO]

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, still does not have top-level security clearance, according to two unnamed officials contacted by the Washington Post.

Kushner was appointed by Trump as his senior adviser on the Middle East and is the point man for what the US president boasts will be the “deal of the century” to describe his efforts to bring the conflict between Israel and Palestine to an end.

Given the sensitivity of the post such a senior position is normally only granted to officials with the highest security clearance. Kushner, nearly a year and half into his position, still does not have the required clearance. The revelation has raised concerns over his ability to do the job properly.

Kushner had been operating without full security clearances for the first year of the Trump administration. The White House overcame this hurdle with a policy overhaul in February that significantly downgraded access to sensitive information for Kushner and other Trump administration officials on interim clearances.

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The permanent security clearance that was subsequently granted in May was only for information classified as “top secret”, according to the officials cited by the Post. He is still unable to access information that is known as “sensitive compartmented information”, or SCI, which includes some of the information contained in the president’s daily intelligence briefing about ongoing operations.

It’s suspected that the White House may have granted “top secret” clearance to Kushner as it has authority to internally carry this out without the usual background checks by the FBI or the special CIA approval required for SCI access. Kushner may have received his clearance in this way they said.

Two experts cited by the Post said the lack of SCI access could limit Kushner’s ability to do his job. Mark Zaid, a Washington lawyer who specialises in security clearances, said: “I think it would severely hamper his ability to do his job.”

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Leslie McAdoo Gordon, also a security clearance attorney, concurred saying: “Of course it’s an impediment,” adding, “Whether practically it is hampering him, it’s hard to say in each case. In extreme cases, the president can override things and say, ‘I want him here for this meeting’.”

Kushner’s security clearance has been beset by concerns among CIA and FBI officials over the his role in Russian interference into US elections. He is the subject of a criminal investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into the affair.

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