First daughter Ivanka Trump seems to have lied about whether her father, President Donald Trump, gave her husband Jared Kushner special treatment and ordered for him to get top-secret security clearance, despite concerns from the intelligence community and the White House's own legal team.
The New York Times reports that the president ordered John Kelly, then his chief of staff, to give Kushner top-secret security clearance in 2018 — a highly unusual request. The order unsettled Kelly, leading him to write an internal memo about it. Don McGahn, then the White House's top lawyer, had also issued his own memo recommending against giving Kushner's clearance. (Both officials have since left the Trump administration.)
The memos, the Times report, contradict statements made by Trump, who in January told the outlet he didn't have a hand in Kushner receiving clearance. The report also directly contradicts Ivanka's claims in an interview with ABC's Abby Huntsman in early February. "There were anonymous leaks about there being issues [with our clearance]," she said in the interview. "But the president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband's clearance, zero."
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
"The president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband's clearance, zero.” https://t.co/88dUizY8Ht pic.twitter.com/MsanC4qzQC
When asked why the couple had a downgraded, temporary clearance for over a year after they joined the administration, Ivanka only said that there's a backlog in the process — an issue she claims also impacted the Obama and Clinton administrations. (There was no mention of the President George W. Bush's administration, however.) What Ivanka didn't say is that in Kushner's case, officials had concerns about the foreign ties of his family's real estate business and about how when he joined the administration, he failed to disclosed past contacts with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Huntsman pushed Ivanka and asked whether they've received special treatment to get their permanent security clearances in mid-2018, to which the first daughter only replied: "No."
But according to the Times, that's exactly what happened. Traditionally, the White House’s personnel security office chooses whether or not to grant clearance to individuals based on the background checks conducted by the FBI. (Ivanka herself faced one when waiting to obtain full security clearance.) If there's a dispute over whether to grant clearance, which rarely happens, the decision goes to the White House counsel. In Kushner's case, McGahn recommended in his memo against giving him clearance. In extraordinary cases, the president overrules that decision — and that's what Trump did to favour his son-in-law, security concerns be damned.