The New York Times recently reported that Donald Trump overruled national security personnel to grant his son-in-law Jared Kushner a top-secret security clearance, despite valid objections from White House counsel Don McGahn and the CIA. Turns out, Trump also overruled McGahn and former chief of staff John Kelly to grant a top-secret security clearance to his daughter, Ivanka, as well. From CNN:
While Trump has the legal authority to grant clearances, most instances are left up to the White House personnel security office, which determines whether a staffer should be granted one after the FBI has conducted a background check. But after concerns were raised by the personnel office, Trump pushed Kelly and McGahn to make the decision on his daughter and son-in-law’s clearances so it did not appear as if he was tainting the process to favor his family, sources told CNN. After both refused, Trump granted them their security clearances.
Good for McGahn and Kelly for holding their ground and refusing to give the green light on Ivanka and Jared. They forced this decision to come from Donald Trump himself. It’s nepotism at best, and a national security threat at worst. Watch Ivanka Trump lie with unsettling ease just last week as she tells Abby Huntsman of ABC News that she and her husband received no special treatment when it came to their security clearances.
EXCLUSIVE: Ivanka Trump says she and her husband Jared Kushner received no special treatment from her father when obtaining their top security clearances.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 8, 2019
Chilling. Evan McMullin, a vocal anti-Trump Republican and former CIA ops officer, explained why Kushner should never have been granted a security clearance—because he’s an easy mark.
A good foreign intel officer could own Kushner in months. His financial vulnerabilities, greed, situational ignorance, dubious foreign contacts, ethical disregard, self-importance and dismissal by more seasoned officials make it too easy. That’s why he shouldn’t have a clearance.
— Evan McMullin (@EvanMcMullin) March 1, 2019
Meanwhile, Democrats have asked the White House for documents relating to these clearances, and White House counsel Pat Cipollone indicated they would not willing give them up, calling the request “overly intrusive.” Democrats say they plan to fight for the documents.
In response, Cummings (D-Md.) said Cipollone “appears to be arguing that Congress has no authority to examine decisions by the Executive Branch that impact our national security.”
“The White House’s argument defies the constitutional separation of powers, decades of precedent before this committee, and just plain common sense,” the chairman added.
Cummings has accused the White House of stonewalling their demand for information, and of engaging in “repeated, significant, and ongoing abuses of the security clearance system.”
Donald Trump has put this country at risk and shattered norms when it comes to nepotism in the White House. He has essentially created a ruling family, as Jared and Ivanka are dispatched to meet with world leaders on behalf of the United States, despite being financially compromised, unelected, and unconfirmed for any such roles. This cannot stand.