According to a landmark discovery by news outlet Axios, a source inside the White House has leaked precisely the information about the timeline of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s security clearances that the Trump administration had refused to provide for the House Oversight Committee.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to the Oversight Committee rejecting Chairman Elijah Cummings’ request for documents relating to the process by which Jared and Ivanka were granted clearances. In a stunning display of legalese nonsense, Cipollone told the Committee,
Although we are prepared to continue negotiations in good faith, the Committee seeks unilateral concessions without any offer of accommodation on its part, and then complains that the White House has refused to simply turn over everything the Committee inappropriately seeks. These actions suggest that the Committee is not interested in proper oversight, but rather seeks information that it knows cannot be provided consistent with applicable law. We will not concede the Executive’s constitutional prerogatives or allow the Committee to jeopardize the individual privacy rights of current and former Executive Branch employees.”
Basically, “he’s the President and the letter of the law says he doesn’t have to tell you anything.”
But according to a Democratic Committee aide who handled the documents, it was revealed that a source inside the White House that is so far unknown to the President delivered the necessary documents to the Committee in early February — meaning that the “final request before issuing subpoenas” from Rep. Cummings was almost like an opportunity for President Trump to either voluntarily hand over documents or prove that he intended to obstruct the Committee.
Clearly, the administration had always intended to obstruct, not knowing that Cummings and his team already had the information.
The timeline documents that the Committee received from the unnamed source inside Trump’s circle detail the entire process of Jared and Ivanka’s clearance access, including an explanation as to why Kushner’s clearance was placed on “Interim” Top Secret, then ultimately downgraded to Interim Secret (one step below his initial clearance:
Per conversation with WH counsel the clearance was changed to interim Top Secret until we can confirm that the DOJ or someone else actually granted a final clearance. This action was taken out of an abundance of caution because the background investigation has not been completed.”
That means that Trump ordered Kushner be granted the ultimate security clearance available to non-military personnel without even completing a background check by intelligence services. The February 2018 downgrade to plain Secret clearance — in the documents referred to as “Clearance downgraded to Interim Secret per COS direction” — happened on the orders of Chief of Staff (COS) John Kelly, a former Marine General who was put in charge of White House policy on clearances until he was ordered to grant them over law enforcement and intelligence objections.
At the time of their news release, no parties involved — neither the White House nor House Oversight — had agreed to comment on the bombshell leak.
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