Kushner gets permanent clearance
An indication he’s no longer a focus of Mueller The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was notified Wednesday that he has been granted a permanent security clearance to view top-secret material — an indication that he may no longer be under scrutiny by the special counsel, who had been investigating his foreign contacts and other activities.
Last month, Kushner sat for about six hours of questioning by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team on a wide range of topics, including his meetings with foreign officials during Trump’s transition and Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, according to Abbe Lowell, Kushner’s attorney.
The interview — his second session with the special counsel — came nearly a year after
- ington Post reported that investigators were examining contacts Kushner had with high-level Russians during the presidential transition.
Kushner’s permanent clearance was granted by career White House and intelligence officials after the completion of his FBI background check, according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. This person confirmed that Kushner was granted a top-secret clearance, a level he had previously held on an interim basis.
Current and former law enforcement officials said it would be very unusual for someone to get a full security clearance if there were an ongoing criminal investigation that had the potential to result in charges for that person.
Mark Zaid, a lawyer who specializes in security clearance issues for government employees, said the decision — absent any new facts coming out — “is a very positive sign for Kushner that he is substantively in the clear with the special counsel’s office.”
“Theoretically, there could be something so sensitive that the special counsel’s office is not sharing it with other agencies, but I think that’s less likely,” he added.
A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.
Government officials and investigators doing background security checks seek and share information with those doing criminal investigations so they are aware of any probes that could embroil or raise concerns about a federal employee seeking a clearance.
Clearance experts said government officials want to avoid giving a clearance to anyone who might be suspected of a crime or face charges.
The FBI’s background check into Kushner’s financial history and foreign contacts took more than a year, and his clearance level was downgraded in February, becoming a source of uncertainty for the West Wing aide and blocking him from approved access to some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets.
“With respect to the news about his clearances, as we stated before, his application was properly submitted, reviewed by numerous career officials and underwent the normal process,” Lowell said in a statement. “Having completed all of these processes, he’s looking forward to continuing to do the work the president has asked him to do.”
The New York Times was first to report Kushner’s permanent clearance.
Lowell said Kushner has been voluntarily cooperating with Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Kushner has had two interview sessions with the special counsel’s team.