father knows best?
March 1, 2019

Early last year, President Trump overruled intelligence officials and then-White House Counsel Donald McGahn and ordered Chief of Staff John Kelly to give senior adviser Jared Kushner top-secret security clearance, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported Thursday evening, citing current and former administration officials. Kelly, who resigned in January, was so concerned about the directive, the Times reports, he "wrote a contemporaneous internal memo about how he had been 'ordered' to give Mr. Kushner the top-secret clearance."

It isn't clear what language Trump used in directing Kelly to give Kushner top-secret clearance — something presidents have the legal authority to do — but both Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump, Kushner's wife, said earlier this year that Trump played no role in upgrading Kushner's security clearance level. You can hear both these details starting at the 1-minute mark in Erin Burnett's report at CNN:

The FBI, CIA, and other intelligence agencies had concerns about Kushner from Day 1, for reasons that aren't entirely clear. Kushner, currently touring the Middle East, was originally granted temporary clearance to see both top secret and sensitive compartmented information (SCI), the highest designation, but Kelly downgraded him to secret clearance in February 2018.

At that time, Trump said in a news conference he would let Kelly decide about Kushner's clearance level, "and I have no doubt that he will make the right decision." But Kushner and Ivanka Trump complained to the president, and Kushner's low clearance was an embarrassment for the White House, the Post and the Times report, and Trump ordered Kelly to take care of it.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment, and a spokesman for Kushner lawyer Abbe Lowell pointed to 2018 statements attributed to the White House and security clearance officials affirming that "Kushner's security clearance was handled in the regular process with no pressure from anyone." The day Lowell made that statement, "Kushner had asked White House officials to deliver a statement from Mr. Kelly supporting what Mr. Lowell had said," the Times reports. "But Mr. Kelly refused to do so." Peter Weber

July 30, 2017

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were "blindsided" by President Trump's tweet last week about banning transgender people from serving in the military, several White House aides told Politico Sunday.

The aides said Ivanka Trump learned about Trump's decision the same way nearly everyone else did — when he posted it on Twitter — and she was surprised because he has supported gay rights in the past. While disappointed, she is now focused on getting a child care tax credit passed as part of tax reform and having paid family leave part of the budget, and is reading Eleanor Roosevelt's biography for "guidance and inspiration," Politico reports.

Ivanka Trump is said to be trying to lower expectations of what she can convince her father to do — or not do — but that's not enough to please some people, including a "well-known socialite" who was once friendly with her. "Everyone knew that Jared's father was a felon and her father was a buffoon, but you looked past that because they stood on their own two feet and were sophisticated and presentable," the socialite told Politico. "They were accepted despite their parents. Now, there's no separating the two." Catherine Garcia

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