House Democrats Have Questions About Jared Kushner's Security Clearance

Jun 21, 2017

Congressional Democrats sent a letter Wednesday to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus requesting information about the security clearances of White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The letter, sent by Rep. Elijah Cummings but signed by every Democrat on the Congressional Committee on Government and Oversight Reform, is a request for documents to show that the White House complied with procedures surrounding suspension of security clearances for employees under investigation.

The letter notes that Flynn, who resigned after offering conflicting information about his calls to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, retained his security clearance until he left the Trump administration, even after acting Attorney General Sally Yates told White House officials that she had concerns with the contact.

Cummings' letter says that "parallel concerns" have been raised about the status of Kushner's security clearance after reports that he failed to disclose two phone calls with Kislyak and an in-person meeting with Kislyak and Flynn. The Washington Post reported May 25 that investigators were looking into Kushner's contact with Russians as part of their investigation into Moscow's interference in the 2016 election.

Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law, spent Wednesday in Jerusalem meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He was then expected to travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah for meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He's in the region in a quest to jumpstart negotiations for a peace deal.

The Department of Justice ruled in May that members of the executive branch do not have to respond to requests of oversight from individual members of Congress who are not heads of a committee. Per this ruling, ranking minority members like Cummings can request information, but the administration has no obligation to respond.

Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy recently replaced Jason Chaffetz as head of the Oversight and Reform Committee. Gowdy was not among the signatories on the letter.

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