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Kushner Given Security Clearance       05/24 06:21

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has 
been granted a security clearance after a lengthy background check, a move that 
ensures the key White House adviser with a broad international portfolio can 
have access to some of the country's most closely held secrets.

   Kushner, who serves as a senior adviser on the Middle East and other issues, 
was among many White House advisers who had been operating without approval for 
full security clearances. That led to a White House policy overhaul in February 
that significantly downgraded access to sensitive information for Kushner and 
other Trump administration officials on interim clearances.

   "With respect to the news about his permanent security clearance, as we 
stated before, his application was properly submitted, reviewed by career 
officials, and went through the normal process," Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, 
said in a statement. "Having completed these processes, Mr. Kushner is looking 
forward to continuing the work the President has asked him to do."

   In addition, Kushner was interviewed for a second time last month by the 
office of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating potential ties 
between the Trump campaign and Russia.

   "In each occasion, he answered all questions asked and did whatever he could 
to expedite the conclusion of all the investigation," Lowell said.

   The first interview occurred last fall and the questions were limited to 
former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, who subsequently 
pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and began cooperating with Mueller.

   The second interview occurred in April and concerned potential influence by 
foreign governments, including Russia, and the firing of former FBI director 
James Comey, among other topics, Lowell said on CNN. The interview did not deal 
with Kushner's finances or his companies, Lowell said.

   Kushner was with Trump in New Jersey the weekend before Comey was fired, and 
he was among the attendees at a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian 
lawyer at which the president's oldest son was told he would negative 
information about Hillary Clinton.

   Kushner --- the point of contact for foreign officials during the campaign 
and transition ---  was also alluded to, though not by name, in Flynn's guilty 
plea as a transition team official who encouraged Flynn to contact foreign 
government officials, about a U.N. Security Council resolution against Israeli 
settlements.

   FBI background checks for security clearances routinely examine an 
applicant's financial holdings and foreign contacts. The delay in Kushner's 
case was caused by a backlog in the new administration and Kushner's extensive 
financial wealth, which required lengthy review, Lowell said.

   He said Kushner's clearance was decided by career officials in the 
intelligence community and the FBI. "It happened the way it happens for 
thousands of people," Lowell said, noting, "There was nobody in the political 
process that had anything to do with it."

   As the application process was pending, Kushner's "top secret/sensitive 
compartmented information" access was downgraded in February when White House 
Chief of Staff John Kelly ordered that officials with interim clearances be cut 
off if they hadn't received permanent clearances. That meant Kushner was able 
to see information only at the lower "secret" level, but not highly classified 
information.

   Mark Zaid, a Washington lawyer who specializes in security clearances, said 
that though it's hard to say with certainty whether Kushner's clearance means 
he's not facing legal jeopardy from Mueller, "At least looking at the facts as 
we know them today, it leads me to believe he is no longer in the crosshairs."


(KA)

 
 
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