Senior White House adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner was not given the security clearance level he needs by the CIA to allow him to review the most sensitive secrets of the U.S. Government, the Washington Post reported last night.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 13, 2018
This new information about limitations on Kushner’s access to government intelligence secrets is just the latest twist in a prolonged saga that began after Donald Trump won the presidential election in 2016. The drawn-out effort to complete Kushner’s security review has been plagued by difficult and troubling questions about his foreign contacts and financial relationships with foreign government.
For the first year of the Trump presidency Kushner had nearly complete access to highly classified intelligence, even though he held only an interim security clearance. There was a significant delay in receiving a permanent clearance because of difficulties faced by the FBI in completing his in-depth background investigation.
White House security officials finally gave him his permanent security clearance in May, but he was granted only “top secret” status which is a level that does not allow him to see the country’s most closely guarded intelligence.
The most sensitive secrets are labelled as “sensitive compartmented information,” and are known as “SCI.” Kushner has not yet been approved to review SCI by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
It is the CIA that determines which individuals will be allowed to have access to the SCI information, which primarily involves highly classified U.S. intelligence “sources and surveillance methods.”
According to intelligence experts, if SCI is improperly revealed to a foreign government it can not only jeopardize current U.S. intelligence projects but will also threaten the lives of intelligence sources.
Because Kushner is not approved to review SCI he is unable to see some parts of the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) which the CIA and other intelligence agencies prepare for the president to review each morning. The PDB is a summary of world events and contains highly classified information that describes U.S. intelligence programs and operatives globally.
Kushner’s lack of SCI access is evidence that the CIA has not approved of him receiving that high level of sensitive intelligence information. Kushner was cleared for his current level because the White House security office has independent authority to grant a “top secret” clearance after reviewing an individual’s FBI background investigation.
The reasons for the limitations on Kushner’s intelligence access have not been made public, leading to speculation. For example it is possible that Kushner’s involvement in the investigations of special counsel Robert Mueller may have led to the limitations.
It has been widely reported that the Mueller probe is examining in great detail Kushner’s interactions with officials from foreign countries, and there are many unanswered questions. Until those questions are answered we can be thankful that the CIA will not be allowing Jared Kushner to see the nations’ most sensitive and highly-guarded secrets.