Jared Kushner was hammered today on Morning Joe for using his personal phone to conduct foreign affairs, which may have compromised the national security of the United States.
On the show a former FBI agent explained how easily the White House adviser and presidential son-in-law could be hacked by Russia and other hostile foreign nations.
The attorney for Kushner and wife Ivanka Trump have admitted that the Washington power couple used personal email accounts to conduct government business. They have also acknowledged that Kushner used the Facebook-owned encryption application “WhatsApp” to communicate with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and other foreign nationals.
Yesterday we reported that House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) is looking into whether Jared Kushner leaked classified information to foreign leaders through WhatsApp.
Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough pointed out how bad Kushner’s actions were compared to Donald Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election, saying:
“Let’s go back to Hillary Clinton. What did we talk about, what did the New York Times talk about, what did the Washington Post talk about for a year and a half during the campaign? The fact that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t step up to the plate and explain how she communicated as secretary of state with foreign leaders using this home-brewed server.”
Scarborough then explained that Kushner would undoubtedly have been very aware of the problem with his actions because Clinton’s emails were a major theme in President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
And, he said, that makes this situation much, much worse.
“The big question was, was there malice of forethought, was she doing it specifically to hide communications from Americans to get around the regulations, to get around the laws, that the FBI were investigating?” Scarborough said, before adding:
“We don’t have those questions here. Jared Kushner knew what had happened to Hillary Clinton. There was clearly malice of forethought. He was clearly intentionally hiding communications between himself and the murderer who now runs Saudi Arabia.”
“If the FBI launched an investigation against Hillary Clinton, why in the hell would they not be launching an investigation in this case against Jared Kushner for doing something far worse?”
Former FBI agent Clint Watts, a cybersecurity expert, added that Kushner’s communications were highly vulnerable to hackers — and he suggested they had probably been intercepted by foreign intelligence operatives.
“It’s totally irresponsible,” Watts said, adding:
“I think for U.S. government, if you work in the intelligence agencies of the FBI or if you’re a diplomat, you have to ask yourself why does Erdogan or MBS or Putin or Kim Jong-un all know more about what the White House is saying than I do?”
“We are blinded to the communications, but we have people running around with iPhones just firing off messages. It’s completely irresponsible.”
“This cannot be secured by sending through WhatsApp, a Facebook company, which came out yesterday — maybe we left everyone’s passwords out on the internet,” Watts added. “This is ridiculous. It breaks security protocols and it’s vulnerable. Foreign dictators, authoritarians, know more about the communications in the White House than we do in our own country.”
Jared Kushner is a Threat to National Security
Clint Watts is right that Kushner’s actions are irresponsible, and that he should be investigated by the FBI. He also should not have a national security clearance.
Jared Kushner actions, in using an unsecured app that eliminates his messages, were criminal. But it’s not the first time he has taken steps to weaken national security by keeping his government communications secret.
After the 2016 election, Kushner tried to set up a secret back-channel with the Kremlin so American intelligence agencies wouldn’t know what he was doing.
Steps should be taken immediately to investigate Jared Kushner for violations of federal law, and also to remove him from his position in the U.S. government.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.