He works in the White House with a vaguely defined portfolio, the title “Assistant to the President and Senior Adviser,” and an interim security clearance.
Kushner’s role in this administration has been coming under a good deal of public scrutiny of late, in part because of the Rob Porter scandal. Porter, who quit his job as White House staff secretary due to allegations of domestic violence at the expense of both of his ex-wives, never had permanent security clearance, but had handled classified documents on the basis of his interim clearance. After his departure, people became curious about the difference between “interim” and “permanent” clearance, how long an official can get along being “interim,” and related questions.
The matter of Kushner’s interim clearance, more than a year into this administration, feeds this post-Porter story line. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D – NY) says that Kushner should lose the degree of clearance that he has.
Michael Wolff’s View
Wolff’s notorious book, Fire and Fury, portrays Kushner as at the center of factional intrigue in the White House, and some of that intrigue involved delicate foreign policy issues. Kushner has “family status” in the Trump circle, of course, but he also has “billionaire status,” Wolff writes, and in that capacity it was and is important that he has “cultivated a wide range of New York and international money people.”
His connections have had consequences. For example, Kushner, a personal friend of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, persuaded President Trump to side with the Saudis in their dispute with Qatar.
Right Wing View
Susan Wright, at the conservative blog Red State, describes the dealings of the Kushner family business as “shady” and “opportunistic” and added that recent litigation over some of his real estate holdings “sounds like a slumlord situation.”
The National Review sees Kushner’s security clearance issues as just one part of a broader disarray within the Trump administration, a disarray caused by the Trumpets’ tendency to “impede themselves” unnecessarily.
Chris Christie, the former New Jersey Governor who was a major Trump supporter during the last Presidential campaign, said that the President needs to have people around him “who know how to play the inside game” in Washington. He has been “ill-served by a number of the people around him” who don’t.
Generally: While the left wants to make Kushner a paradigm, the right wants to make him a pariah. While the left wants to say that Kushner embodies everything wrong with this administration, the right wants to treat him as a quirk, although unfortunately a well-placed one.
Left Wing View
Joseph M. Azam, an Afghan-American lawyer who has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, tweets: “Jared Kushner’s financial disclosure paperwork – critical for permanent security clearance, which he still doesn’t have even though he has access to our most sensitive information – has been amended more times than our Constitution. Think about that.”
Citizens for Ethics has expounded on that point, too. It asks: “How many mistakes on Jared Kushner’s security form is too many? How is he still allowed to handle sensitive information at the White House?”
Politico reports that the White House imposed a ban on the issuance of new ‘interim’ security clearance for Executive Office positions last fall, but said Kushner was grandfathered in – existing employees with interim clearances are unaffected.
In reference to that report, singer-songwriter Ricky Davila tweeted, “These people belong in prison.”