If this hasn’t been the worst week of Jared Kushner’s life so far, it’s definitely a contender. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint Thursday against Kushner, in the form of a 13 page letter to John Kelly which alleged, among other things, “Failure to revoke Mr. Kushner’s temporary clearance would set a dangerous precedent for these other cases by signaling a willingness to tolerate unacceptable national security risks.” Newsweek:
“We have for months been looking into Kushner’s finances and further into the unprecedented situation where someone without security clearance is given access to the president’s daily intelligence briefings and highly classified information. And the more we’ve learned, the bigger a problem it seems to be,” CREW spokesman Jordan Libowitz told Newsweek.
“There have been reports that he’s being targeted by China and potentially other countries using his business interests potentially to influence him,” Libowitz said of Kushner. “And the fact that all of this is happening while he has not passed the background check to gain access is a pretty significant security risk.”
Then two nonprofits, Democracy Forward and Food & Water Watch filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Office of American Innovation, headed by Kushner, for “attempting to skirt transparency laws as they help shape Trump’s infrastructure plan.” The OAI refused to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests and the two groups believe the infrastructure plan is “ripe for cronyism.”
BREAKING: We sued to force Jared Kushner's Office of American Innovation to follow federal transparency laws & reveal its role in shaping Trump's infrastructure plan—a shameless handout to developers. We're working w/ @foodandwater to find out why. https://t.co/u4iyQpNE1j
— Democracy Forward (@DemocracyFwd) February 15, 2018
“How it was developed, some critical aspects of the plan such as the fact that funding will be available to private entities, that large amounts of discretion will be given to the Trump administration to choose projects they will award,” [Policy Director] Ciorciari said as examples. “So the plan itself is concerning.”
The plan appears to be a “big grab bag for private companies that want to make a buck out of the American people and their water bill,” Corrigan added…..”We think it’s important that the American people are able to, as legally required, have some light on what’s going on in an office that is operating behind closed doors,” Ciorciari said.
Attorney Karianne Jones, who is representing both groups, told Newsweek that the office is obligated to comply with the Freedom of Information Act because it is engaging in “agency-type work.”
Another concern, Ciorciari said, is that Kushner has been allowed to work with only interim security clearance.
The fact that “American Innovation Chief” Reed Cordish quit today, in honor of Infrastructure Week, probably has not not made Kushner’s life any easier. But the real capstone on the pyramid is the five-page document John Kelly signed today, mandating immediate changes to the White House security clearance policy. “Now is the time to take a hard look at the way the White House processes clearance requests,” Kelly stated. No s*it. Washington Post:
The document, titled “Improvements to the clearance process,” is addressed to McGahn and national security adviser H.R. McMaster. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray are copied.
The memo says the FBI and Justice Department have offered their cooperation with Kelly’s requests in recent days, and that “going forward, all [background investigations] of potential Commissioned Officers should be flagged for the FBI at the outset and then hand-delivered to the White House Counsel personally upon completion. The FBI official who delivers these files should verbally brief the White House Counsel on any information in those files they deem to be significantly derogatory.”
“Effective one week today, discontinue any Top Secret or SCI-level interim clearances for individuals whose investigations or adjudications have been pending since June 1, 2017 or before,” the memo states as one of the White House’s new guidelines.
That may cook Jared’s goose right there. He was hired immediately after the election as part of the transition team and it’s well known that his security clearance has been in process for a longer period than anyone else’s. This may well be the end of Jared’s White House tenure, which is a good news, bad news scenario. The good news is that it’s an unpaid position anyhow, so what’s the biggy? The bad news is that Jared will no longer be able to fly all over the world at taxpayer expense and attempt to solve his personal financial problems, with the calling card of offering access to the president of the United States. And of course he’ll lose access to the information contained in the daily intelligence briefs, which is probably what Kelly had in mind. So Kushner can’t leverage any of that information. The son-in-law rises and the son-in-law sets.
This should be interesting.