White House adviser Jared Kushner was rejected for a security clearance by two White House security specialists after his FBI background check raised concerns, but their supervisor overruled them and approved Kushner’s top secret clearance, NBC News reported Thursday, citing two sources familiar with the matter.
CNN has not confirmed the report.
On Wednesday, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, launched an investigation into the White House’s security clearance process.
“My request letter to the White House explicitly covers Mr. Kushner, and we expect the White House to produce all of the documents and interviews we requested to determine if tonight’s breaking story is accurate,” Cummings said in a statement Thursday after the NBC report.
According to NBC, Kushner’s FBI background check “identified questions about his family’s business, his foreign contacts, his foreign travel and meetings he had during the campaign, the sources said, declining to be more specific.”
According to NBC, two career White House security specialists denied Kushner’s application for the top secret security clearance because of the red flags raised by the FBI background check about potential foreign influence, and their supervisor, Carl Kline, overruled that decision and approved the clearance. Kushner’s was “one of at least 30 cases” in which Kline did so, and they reported that the number of rejections overruled was “unprecedented.”
“It had only happened once in the three years preceding Kline’s arrival” in May 2017, NBC reported.
The White House office determines eligibility for secret and top secret clearance, but Kushner, as one of Trump’s top aides was seeking an even higher clearance known as “sensitive compartment information,” according to NBC. That clearance is granted by the CIA.
According to NBC, again citing two people familiar with the matter, the CIA officers reviewing Kushner’s information “balked” and “one called over to the White House security division, wondering how Kushner got even a top secret clearance.” NBC reported that the CIA has not granted Kushner that SCI clearance.
CNN has reached out to the White House, and to Kushner’s attorney Abbe Lowell, but have not received a comment.
“We don’t comment on security clearances,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told NBC.
Cummings launched his investigation into the White House’s security clearance process citing “grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump Administration.”
The Maryland Democrat sent a letter to the White House requesting requested a range of documents related to the security clearance process.