The head of background checks in Washington says that he has never before seen the level of mistakes that have been found in top White House advisor Jared Kushner’s security clearance application.
I have “never seen that level of mistakes,” Charles Phalen, the director of the National Background Investigations Bureau, told the House oversight subcommittee, when asked if others before Mr Kushner had been able to keep their security clearances after similar omissions.
Mr Kushner has been forced to update his security clearance questionnaire multiple times since taking his role as a chief adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump. That includes four addenda to the form, with more than 100 errors.
“Can you recall if there has ever been an applicant having to submit four addenda detailing over 100 errors and omissions being able to maintain their security clearance once those errors and omissions have been identified?” Raja Krishnamoorthi, a representative from Illinois, asked Mr Phalen.
Democrats have called recently for the White House to rescind the security clearances granted to Mr Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, over revelations that they had used personal email accounts for official work, and for the multiple updates to Mr Kushner’s forms.
Mr Kushner’s initial filing did not mention any foreign contacts, and was shortly updated soon after it was filed to note that he planned on updating the information he had provided.
The updated form he provided in the spring listed about 100 contacts, however, omitted a June 2016 meeting he had with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Donald Trump Jr, and Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager.
The forms were then updated once that meeting became public. Mr Trump Jr had accepted the meeting, even though emails showed that the intent of the meeting was to be provided “very high level and sensitive information” that would “incriminate” Hillary Clinton. The updated form included disclosure of that meeting.
Mr Kushner’s forms have reportedly caught the eye of the Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any possible collusion that may have existed between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
Mr Trump’s son-in-law has said that the updates followed inadvertent mistakes, and his lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, has repeated that explanation.
“As we have previously stated, Mr Kushner’s SF-86 was prematurely submitted and, among other errors, did not list any contacts with foreign government officials,” Mr Gorelick said this week, referring to the technical name for the form. “The next day, Mr Kushner submitted supplemental information stating that he had had ‘numerous contacts with foreign officials’ about which he would be happy to provide additional information. He submitted that supplemental information to the FBI, and is cooperating fully with its background investigation.”
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