Donald Trump Reportedly Ordered That Jared Kushner Be Given Top Secret Clearance, Despite Opposition From John Kelly, Top Intelligence Officials

A directive by President Donald Trump to give son-in-law Jared Kushner top secret security clearance didn't sit well with then-chief of staff General John Kelly, who went on to document it in an internal memo, according to The New York Times, which broke the story.

According to the report, Kelly and top intelligence officials opposed granting Kushner access to viewing sensitive materials pertaining to the nation's security. Though their defiance of the president's wish began sooner, Kushner was given top clearance in May 2018.

Abbe D. Lowell, Kushner's attorney, said Kushner went through a standard process for obtaining his clearance.

"In 2018, White House and security clearance officials affirmed that Mr. Kushner's security clearance was handled in the regular process with no pressure from anyone," Peter Mirijanian, a spokesperson for Lowell, told The Times on Thursday. "That was conveyed to the media at the time, and new stories, if accurate, do not change what was affirmed at the time."

When asked on Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, "We don't comment on security clearances."

Donald McGahn II, who was White House counsel at the time, wrote an internal memo that even the CIA had concerns about Kushner's potential top-secret clearance, according to The Washington Post.

Kushner's upgrade to top-secret security clearance from interim status raised flags among top intelligence officials because of his family's real estate ties to foreign countries and his reported involvement in meeting with officials from other countries, according to The Times. Kushner, during his background check for his security clearance, didn't convey his meetings with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign for his father-in-law, reported The Times.

Trump having more than one family member working for the White House was also a point of contention, The Times said.

Before obtaining clearance, Kushner had a note in his file written by Carl Kline of personnel security that read: "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 is out of an abundance of caution because the background investigation has not been completed."

Democrats, who now have a majority in the House, have been digging to find any compliance issues with Kushner's top secret approval.

Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, said the House Oversight and Reform Committee had already begun an investigation into the issuing of security clearances.

"The committee expects full compliance with its requests as soon as possible, or it may become necessary to consider alternative means to compel compliance," Cummings said.

Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democratic and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said investigating the security clearance review process would remain a priority for his committee.

"The revelation that President Trump personally intervened to overrule White House security officials and the intelligence community to grant a top secret security clearance to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is the latest indicator of the president's utter disregard for our national security and for the men and women who sacrifice so much every day to keep us safe," Schiff said. "There is no nepotism exception for background investigations."