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February 21, 2018

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, stung by the Rob Porter scandal, moved Friday to revoke high-level access to classified information for White House employees whose background checks have been pending since before June 2017. Chief among the numerous White House officials with interim security clearances is Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, and Kushner "is resisting giving up his access to highly classified information," The New York Times reports.

Kushner is the elephant in the room when it comes to security clearance, The Washington Post reports, with White House Counsel Don McGahn's office feeling "they cannot take action on other people whose background checks have dragged on because they did not take similar steps with Kushner." Kushner is reportedly being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but his several amendments to his background application means he is actually safe from Kelly's directive, for now. Still, Kelly's push to tighten the loose White House security situation has put him at loggerheads with Kushner, the Times reports:

Mr. Kushner, frustrated about the security clearance issue and concerned that Mr. Kelly has targeted him personally with the directive, has told colleagues at the White House that he is reluctant to give up his high-level access, the officials said. In the talks, the officials say, Mr. Kushner has insisted that he maintain his current level of access, including the ability to review the [president's] daily intelligence briefing when he sees fit. But Mr. Kelly, who has been privately dismissive of Mr. Kushner since taking the post of chief of staff but has rarely taken him on directly, has made no guarantees. [The New York Times]

You can read more about Kushner-Kelly tensions at The New York Times, and watch reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis discuss her report on CNN. Peter Weber