White House senior adviser Jared Kushner enjoyed full security clearance for his first full year in the White House, an unusually long interim basis. In February, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly cracked down, downgrading Kushner's security clearance to "secret" from the all-access "sensitive compartmented information" (SCI) clearance, but Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law, got a boost to permanent "top secret" clearance in late May. That level falls short of SCI, and it "does not allow him to see some of the country's most closely guarded intelligence," including parts of the President's Daily Brief, two people familiar with Kushner's access tell The Washington Post.
The Central Intelligence Agency determines who has SCI access, "which primarily involves U.S. intelligence sources and surveillance methods," the Post reports, while "the White House security office has authority to independently grant a 'top secret' clearance after reviewing a staffer's FBI background investigation." The fact that Kushner lacks SCI access "suggests that the CIA has not signed off on his receiving that level of intelligence," the Post adds, and "the reasons for the constraints on Kushner's intelligence access are unclear, including whether they are related to the ongoing special counsel investigation, which has examined his interactions with foreign officials."
Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell tells the Post that his client "has access to all the materials and information he needs to do the domestic and international work the president has asked him to do," but security clearance experts have their doubts. "I think it would severely hamper his ability to do his job," said one expert, Mark Zaid. "I could go play softball without my glove, but I would be hampered and not performing my best as an outfielder" — though in this case, he added, "softball" would be negotiating Middle East peace. Peter Weber