President Trump pushed John Kelly, his former chief of staff, and Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, to grant his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump a security clearance, three people familiar with the matter told CNN.
While most security clearances are granted by the White House personnel security office, the president does have legal authority to approve them. After the FBI finished its background check on Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, the personnel office raised concerns over granting them security clearances, CNN reports, and Trump pressured Kelly and McGahn to make the decision so it didn't look like he was favoring his family. Kelly and McGahn both refused, CNN's sources said, so Trump granted the security clearances himself.
Last week, The New York Times reported Trump ordered Kelly to give Kushner a top security clearance, even though intelligence officials opposed the move. But earlier this year, Trump and Ivanka Trump said separately that the president was not involved with granting his daughter or son-in-law security clearances.
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Because Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are married, if a red flag appeared in one background check, that could have blocked the other person from getting a security clearance. However, one person told CNN officials had concerns about Ivanka Trump getting a clearance for reasons separate from the worries surrounding Kushner.
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