Washington, March 1 (IANS) US President Donald Trump commanded his then-Chief of Staff John Kelly to grant his son-in-law Jared Kushner, a top-secret security clearance, despite intelligence concerns, informed sources told The New York Times.
Trump’s command to Kelly came in May 2018, the day after the White House Counsel’s Office urged him not to grant the senior presidential adviser the clearance, the report said citing four people briefed on the matter.
The directive prompted two internal memos — one from Kelly on being “ordered” to grant Kushner the clearance, and another from then-White House counsel Don McGahn listing issues raised against Kushner, including from the CIA, and advising against the clearance, according to the paper.
Kelly did not respond to the New York Times request for comment.
Kushner’s attorney Abbe Lowell has disputed the NYT report on Thursday.
“In 2018, the White House affirmed that Kushner’s security clearance was handled in the regular process with no pressure from anyone,” Lowell’s spokesperson Peter Mirijanian told CNN in a statement.
Lowell told CNN in May 2018 that “there was… nobody in the political process that had anything to do with” Kushner’s security clearance, adding that “there was nobody who pressured it. It was just done the normal, regular way.”
White House Press sSecretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement to CNN on Thursday: “We don’t comment on security clearances.”
The report contradicts previous assertions by Trump and his daughter Ivanka that the President did not direct White House officials to coordinate for Kushner to acquire a clearance.
The NBC reported in January that Kushner’s application was rejected by two White House security specialists before they were overruled by their supervisor Carl Kline, prompting House Democrats to call for Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to revoke Kushner’s access.
House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings said the report “indicates that President Trump may have granted access to our country’s most sensitive classified information to his son-in-law against the advice of career staff — directly contradicting the President’s public denials that he played any role”.
Cummings has written to the White House asking for specific documents and interviews relating to Kushner clearance.
“The Committee expects full compliance with its requests as soon as possible, or it may become necessary to consider alternative means to compel compliance,” he added.
Eric Swalwell, who is the chair of the panel’s Intelligence Modernisation and Readiness Subcommittee, said it will ensure “our deepest secrets are protected, we will work to ensure clearances are granted based on trust, not by blood or bond”.