The Jared Kushner security clearance issue has had more than a few moments in the sun, especially after it was reported at the end of Feb. 2019 that President Donald Trump overruled the concerns of White House advisers and gave his son-in-law a top secret security clearance anyway. Trump reportedly ignored the advice of Don McGahn, his top White House lawyer at the time, and objections of CIA staff; he said he was “never involved” with the Kushner security clearance, while Kushner’s spouse Ivanka Trump said the same.
Speaking of “Javanka” and the “self-styled Prince and Princess of America,” Vicky Ward, New York Times bestselling author and author of the new book Kushner Inc., told Law&Crime that Kushner ignored other concerns during the Trump transition and, to his own detriment, ignored the advice of a colleague about attending “secret” meetings with foreign nationals without a lawyer present.
Ward said that Gary Cohn, formerly Trump’s chief economic adviser, warned Kushner “repeatedly” during the transition period that he shouldn’t be going to these meetings without a lawyer and that Kushner did not take these warnings seriously.
“[A]long with the Russians, Kushner met with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and certain Qataris ‘popped in to say hi,'” Ward said. “He also met secretly with Anbang, the Chinese insurance firm, in his Kushner Companies’ capacity – did not disclose this and soon afterwards met with senior Chinese officials in Kushner Companies’ offices.”
“He also met with Tony Blair who works with the UAE and Qatar in the Middle East,” Ward continued. Ward said that Kushner ‘did not put any of these meetings down on his Security Clearance forms” and were “marked ‘secret’ on his calendar.”
Ward said that Kushner’s assistant Avi Berkowitz “did not know where he was” and that Cohn, whose office was next to Jared’s, was “very concerned.”
“Cohn, unlike Jared, knew the importance of keeping a general counsel looped in from his days at Goldman Sachs,” she said. “[A]s we now know, the Kushners were desperate for foreign investment in their troubled building, 666 Fifth Avenue, so it’s not a great look to go meeting with foreigners on your own – and then not put those meetings on your security clearance forms.”
Ward said suggested that the main issue with not having a lawyer there is that this would make things “discoverable going forward.” What Ward meant is that rather than, for example, having a lawyer in the room and asserting attorney-client privilege, Kushner instead opened himself up to more questions, and possibly subpoenas.
Law&Crime asked national security lawyer for his thoughts on these claims, since it is related to the security clearance issue.
Bradley P. Moss, a national security lawyer, told Law&Crime that if these allegations are true, it confirms the CIA’s concerns about granting Kushner a security clearance.
“This is exactly why you don’t bring in your family to work in the government; when the security people refused to give Kushner a clearance given what appears to be legitimate concerns about exposure to foreign influence and failure to properly report foreign contacts where required, the President just overrode them and authorized the clearance anyway,” Moss said. “That is not how the security clearance adjudication process is supposed to work.”
[image via via Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images]