On Tuesday, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly temporarily stripped all White House staffers with interim top level security clearance of that clearance, instead downgrading everyone to “secret” security clearance. One of those with interim top level security clearance was Trump son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner.
The media immediately ran with the story that this was somehow a rebuke to Kushner personally, or that fears that Kushner had been compromised on matters of security were well-founded and serious. Stephen Colbert, late night host on NBC, joked, “Kushner will have access to only nine herbs and spices.” Trevor Noah of Comedy Central, who has officially been named the most unfunny person on the planet, stated, “It has to be so humiliating for Kushner to have top-level clearance for a year and then you lose it. That never happens.”
Except, of course, that that isn’t true. In fact, the Obama administration allegedly obstructed formal efforts from lawmakers to find out why Obama White House deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes — one of the architects of the disastrous Iran deal — was initially denied FBI clearance, only to be cleared by the Obama administration under vague circumstances. Naturally, the media didn’t play up that controversy the way they’ve played up Kushner’s revised status. And in 2017, the Pentagon revoked interim security clearances granted to 165 contractors given that status by the Obama administration.
The FBI is still checking into Kushner after 15 months — and there’s no question that’s unusual. Certainly that’s tied to the Mueller investigation into supposed Trump-Russia contacts and collusion, and questions about Kushner’s foreign investments. CNN has reported that officials from Mexico, Israel, China, and the United Arab Emirates evaluated whether they could manipulate Kushner — which wouldn’t be particularly shocking, given the fact that foreign countries are always looking for ways to manipulate American officials.
There’s no doubt this is a snafu — and that it impacts Kushner’s ability to do his job to a certain extent. It also highlights the bureaucratic dangers of appointing non-career officials to top administration jobs. But the media’s suggestion that this is a slap by Kelly against Kushner are so far supported by little evidence, and their suggestion that this somehow proves Kushner’s involvement in criminal activity is supported by no evidence whatsoever.