President Donald Trump’s advisor Jared Kushner’s application for top security clearance was rejected twice by White House security specialists, only to be overruled by the head of the President’s personnel security office, The Hill reports.
Carl Kline, director of the personnel security office in the Executive Office, reportedly overruled security experts in the office regarding Kushner. According to two people familiar with the matter, he did so with Trump officials at least 30 times.
Kushner’s application was rejected after an FBI background check raised concerns about potential foreign influence on him, NBC News informs. The two sources also said the overall number of rejections was unprecedented.
They added that the Trump White House included a number of people with untraditional backgrounds who had complicated financial and personal histories, some of which raised red flags. Among the questions included in Kushner’s background check were such about his family’s business, his foreign contacts, his foreign travel and meetings he had during the campaign.
Kushner is already a very senior official, the sources said, but he was seeking an even higher security clearance that would have granted him access to very sensitive information, including intercepted foreign communications.
The “sensitive compartment information” clearance is given by the CIA. After receiving Kushner’s file, the CIA expressed amazement at how he even got a top-secret clearance. Top secret information is defined as material that would cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security if disclosed to adversaries.
The CIA did not grant clearance to Kushner to review CSI material. The President can override the rules, otherwise Kushner would lack access to key intelligence.
Both the CIA and the White House declined to comment.
Following the NBC News report, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings said he opened an investigation into the matter in hopes of having certain questions answered.
“The system is supposed to be a nonpartisan determination of an individual’s fitness to hold a clearance, not an ad hoc approach that overrules career experts to give the president’s family members access to our nation’s most sensitive secrets,” he noted.
The White House’s security clearance processes have long caused controversies, leading to an investigation into what Democrats have said was a disregard for established protocols that has resulted in “grave breaches of national security.”