More than 30 White House staffers have had their security clearances downgraded

Chief among them is the President's son-in-law Jared Kushner 

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Thursday 01 March 2018 04:40 GMT
More than 30 White House staffers have been stripped of their Top Secret security clearance
More than 30 White House staffers have been stripped of their Top Secret security clearance (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 30 White House staffers had their Top Secret security clearance downgraded along with President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

All White House aides who had been working on an interim clearance were informed of the change via an internal memo, Politico reported. The document was not signed by Chief of Staff John Kelly, however.

The staffers, all operating on a Top Secret/Secret Compartmentalised Information (SCI) clearance, were taken down to the Secret designation but none have been asked to leave the White House while their background checks are processed.

The aides' identities have not been made public at this time.

The SCI designation meant staffers had access to information that came from sensitive intelligence sources and had to be “walled off”, according to the news outlet.

The memo appeared to be in response to facts unveiled during the scandal involving former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter.

Background check chief has 'never seen' mistakes and omissions at level of Jared Kushner forms

Mr Porter resigned from his position earlier this month after it was revealed that his two former wives were accusing him of alleged physical abuse and that was why Mr Porter’s permanent security clearance had not gone through as yet.

He was one of several White House staff who had not received their permanent clearance but who still had fairly unfettered access to secret information.

In the wake of the scandal with Mr Porter, Chief of Staff John Kelly issued a separate five-page memo which detailed changes like limiting the number of interim clearances given and limiting access to classified information for those on interim clearances.

Mr Trump actually has the right to grant Mr Kushner permanent clearance and it remains unclear why he has not done so yet.

It is unclear whether Mr Kushner needs Top Secret/SCI clearance in order to work on the Middle East peace process or the US relationship with Mexico, his two main tasks as senior adviser to the President.

Mr Kushner had repeatedly hit roadblocks on his way to obtaining the permanent security clearance – the former New York real estate broker had to refile his paperwork multiple times.

The chief of the National Investigations Bureau Charles Phalen told a House committee back in October 2017 that he had “never seen that level of mistakes” made on the form before.

Altogether the form included four addenda and well over 100 errors – whether by omission or mistakenly entered information.

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