Contradicting what the president’s daughter told the ladies of The View, it seems POTUS did play a role in how Ivanka Trump reportedly got her security clearance. CNN reported Wednesday that the president pressured former Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn to give Trump her security clearance. The White House said in a statement to Bustle that it does not comment on security clearances.
This comes on the heels of a February report in The New York Times that said Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, similarly received a security clearance after the president insisted. His reported insistence came in spite of objections from intelligence officials.
Before The Times‘ report came out, Trump sat down with The View’s Abby Huntsman and said there was "zero involvement" from the president on the matter. "There were anonymous leaks about there being issues [with our clearance]. But the president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband’s clearance, zero," Trump said.
The CNN report directly contradicts that statement, based on three interviews with "people familiar with the matter." One possibility CNN mentions is that Trump didn’t know her father was involved in securing her and Kushner’s clearances. She may not have been told she was flagged, as she was reportedly notified of her approval by longtime officials.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNN, "We don’t comment on security clearances … We cannot respond to every anonymous source." What was holding up the couple’s approval was not made clear, save that Trump’s issues were separate from her husband’s — it was not the same concern for both, according to CNN.
Kushner’s claim was largely held up because of his family real estate business’ foreign investors and ties to governments, as well as foreign contacts that initially went unreported, The New York Times noted. However, the president was reportedly more worried about Kushner’s clearance than Trump’s given his role in negotiating issues like a peace process in the Middle East.
Peter Mirijanian, spokesperson of Kushner’s personal lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement to The Times that there was no part of the process that occurred outside of the normal process:
All of this may be reviewed by House Democrats, who have asked the White House for documents related to the security clearance granting procedure through the House Oversight Committee. The White House denied the request made by Chairman Elijah Cummings, saying it was "without legal support, clearly premature, and suggests a breach of the constitutionally required accommodation process."
The president has the authority to grant a security clearance himself, but that’s not normally not how it works, The New York Times reports. It would usually be based off findings of an FBI background check. Any discrepancies would normally be decided by White House counsel.
The president’s reported involvement, while allowed, is unusual.
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