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Kushner loses access to top secret information



Presidential son-in-law and counselor Jared Kushner's security weakness has been downgraded – a move that prevents him from seeing many of the sensitive documents he used to have unrestricted access to.

Kushner is not alone. All White House staff who worked on the highest-level interim clauses – at the top secret / SCI level – were informed in a memo on Friday that their releases would be lowered to the Secret Level, according to three people over knew the situation.

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The SCI acronym stands for Sensitive Subject Information, a category of information that comes from sensitive intelligence sources and needs to be sealed off.

The memo was not signed by John Kelly, the chief of staff. The retired naval general and other White House top officials are struggling with the effects of a scandal involving former White House secretary Rob Porter. Dozens of White House employees have not yet received final approvals from the country's deepest secrets

The President has the opportunity to grant Kushner a permanent permit, but Trump said Friday that same day the memo was sent that he would leave the decision to his Chief of Staff.

"I'll let General Kelly make that decision," Trump told reporters. "I have no doubt that he will make the right decision."

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the memo.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment on Kushner's clearance status at a briefing on Tuesday.

"We have not commented on Jared's problem, but we have commented on his ability to do his job, which says he is a valued member of the team and he will continue to do the important work he has done since he started in the administration

Kushner's lawyer Abbe Lowell said in a statement that Kushner "has done more than what is expected of him in this process."

Lowell added that the changes "would not affect Mr. Kushner's ability "To continue the very important work assigned to him by the President."

The decision of Friday is the first change to the clearance process initiated in the aftermath of the Porter debacle, which will directly affect Kushner, the senior executive Advisor to Trump acts and has until today access to the daily letter of the President had, the highest rated document that sees Trump. [196592002] Kelly made the rare move last week to make a public statement that Kushner could continue his work in the White House unhindered.

"As I told Jared days ago, I have every confidence in his graduation to continue to perform his duties in his foreign policy portfolio, including overseeing our Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and as an integral part of our relations with Mexico," Kelly said in the explanation.

It was unclear whether Kushner would need access to top secret information to further accomplish these tasks – and whether Kelly was personally willing to pursue a policy that could be perceived as a gossip to the president's son-in-law. However, the decision to downgrade the White House, which is still working on temporary clearances, shows that Kelly is prepared to impose the same discipline on the White House clearance process that he seeks to impose on the West Wing personnel People deserve a staff of the White House that meets the highest standards and has been carefully audited – especially those who work closely with the president or handle sensitive national security information, "Kelly said in a memo distributed on February 16. "We should – and in the future we have to do better."

Earlier this month, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats said on a Senate intelligence committee that people with temporary security clearance should have limited access to sensitive classified information. Coats did not mention specific people.

"Sometimes it is necessary to have some sort of preliminary clarification to fill a slot, but … the access must be limited in terms of the types of information in which they may be able to get a position or not received, "said Coats. "It has to be reformed." Since Kelly's arrival last July, Kushner has steadily curtailed his once-widespread West Wing role.

The new boss demanded immediately from Kushner and his wife, the first daughter Ivanka Trump, that she contact him and not the president directly.

The couple has seen their circle of trusted ally shrink in recent weeks. Reed Cordish, who entered the White House early as part of Kushner's Office of American Innovation, left the White House earlier this month.

Communications engineer Josh Raffel, who handles requests from Kushner and Ivanka Trump, also plans to leave in the next two months, according to two people familiar with his decision. Raffel did not respond to several requests for comment. The news of his departure was first reported by Axios.

Emily Stephenson and Annie Karni contributed to this report.


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