Ten months into President Donald Trump’s administration, Jared Kushner continues to hold only an interim security clearance, according to internal sources.
White House officials and other unnamed sources with knowledge on the matter told Politico on Thursday that an application Kushner filed had not yet been cleared.
The top presidential adviser and first son-in-law joined the president for part of his Asia tour this month, and he continues to work on sensitive foreign policy issues and other matters, but his application for a permanent clearance remains under review, according to Politico.
On Thursday, Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein — who jointly oversee the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Russia probe — requested documents from Kushner, including “transcripts from other committee interviews, additional documents from previous requests, communications with (former national security adviser) Michael Flynn and documents related to his security clearance.”
Other senior White House officials have obtained a permanent security clearance, but interviews and paperwork continue for Kushner, despite the fact that he’s been with the administration from day one.
In the meantime, Kushner’s interim clearance allows him to view sensitive material.
The White House said the Kushner timeframe is “completely normal” and that the process can often take 300 or more days. Officials like Kushner need the very highest clearance, and it takes longer for those who have never held security clearances before.
“As a general rule, with respect to clearances, when you have people who have never had one before and they have massive financial and foreign connection and a staggering amount of business interests, like some of the people accompanying Trump, it wouldn’t be unheard of,” said Mark Zaid, a prominent security clearance lawyer.
Officials seeking security clearance must identify all foreign contacts, provide a robust financial history, and then go through extensive interviews in which their family members, friends and former colleagues and bosses are also contacted. The interviews often begin within weeks of the application being submitted. Kushner’s interviews began this summer.
Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband, holds complex financial transactions involving his family’s real estate business, and changes to his long form listing show many foreign contacts, which now include more than 100 meetings.
Leslie McAdoo Gordon, a lawyer who has worked on security clearance cases for years, explained that the length of time it takes can vary. “The goal has always been 90 days,” she said. “Some of them get resolved in 90 days, but many of them don’t. It can take months. It can occasionally take years. You just have to work the system.”
McAdoo Gordon said the president could eventually approve Kushner’s clearance. She also said there are waivers to expedite the process, and that those whom the president needs immediately are often moved to the front of the line.
“From everything you read, it’s apparent there are issues there,” she said. “It’s a labyrinthine process, but it’s usually pretty fair and transparent.”