Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a senior adviser to the President, has yet to detail to the federal government all of his foreign contacts, a condition of receiving his top secret security clearance, CNN has learned.
Kushner, whom the President has given an expanded portfolio that includes high-level foreign policy matters, is required to complete a lengthy form with specifics about all of his foreign contacts and connections over the last seven years. Kushner’s initial form was submitted in error, according to his attorney.
When Kushner first submitted his forms to the FBI, he left the section about foreign contacts blank – despite the fact that he had met with a large number of foreign emissaries and leaders once Donald Trump became the president-elect and he became the point man for international contacts for the incoming Trump administration.
His attorney, Jamie Gorelick, said the “premature draft” was “mistakenly submitted” on January 18 without the proper review.
She explained that the next day – the day before the inauguration – Kushner submitted supplemental information to the FBI. That included a statement saying that, “during the campaign and transition period, I served as a point-of-contact for foreign officials trying to reach the President-Elect. I had numerous contacts with foreign officials in this capacity. … I would be happy to provide additional information about these contacts.”
Gorelick said that Kushner will review the information with the FBI as part of its “routine background investigation” when he is interviewed for his clearance. That meeting – including the full accounting of contacts – has not yet occurred. Kushner currently has an “interim” security clearance.
Kushner’s initial mistake, one knowledgeable source said, was due to the transition’s effort to get the forms done quickly. The form was initially handled by someone from Kushner’s business, then handed to the transition – and submitted without a review by Kushner.
The New York Times first reported on the incomplete form.
This lack of detail comes at a time when Kushner’s meetings with Russian officials have come under scrutiny. He has volunteered to testify before Congress about his two meetings with Russians during the transition that CNN has previously reported.
Kushner met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in an effort to find a backchannel for the administration to Vladimir Putin. At Kislyak’s suggestion, he then met with the Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov – whose bank Vnesheconombank is sanctioned by the US. A source with knowledge tells CNN that Kushner had no other Russian meetings.
Kushner, one source with knowledge tells CNN, had “lots of contacts” with foreign officials, since he was “the person to whom people from foreign nations were routed” during the Trump transition. Before the election, Kushner was also known to have had a longstanding relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which would also have been subject to reporting.
Mark Zaid, an attorney who specializes in security clearances and who holds a top secret security clearance himself, said that just a declaration of “numerous contacts” with foreign officials is not an acceptable way to complete the form, even with the promise of future detail. The foreign government official reporting requirement is strict enough, Zaid said, that even meeting officials in passing at one of Washington’s common embassy social events would technically warrant inclusion on the form.
One source close to Kushner said it was not his intent to hide his contacts, since he is disclosing them to the FBI and is willing to testify about them to Congress.
But the form clearly requires any contact with a foreign government official to be reported. In fact, the form warns that “a knowing and willful false statement” can be punished by fine or imprisonment.