The security clearance of White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has reportedly been downgraded.
Mr Kushner, who is Jewish, had been operating with an interim clearance at the “top secret/sensitive compartmented information” level for more than a year.
Now, a White House official and a person familiar with the decision say he is only authorised to access information at the lower “secret” level.
Chief of Staff John Kelly ordered that White House officials with interim clearances pending since before June 1, 2017, lose their access to the nation’s deepest secrets if they had not received permanent clearances by last Friday.
A White House official confirms that Mr Kelly’s order has been implemented.
Mr Trump could have reversed Mr Kelly’s decision and unilaterally offered Mr Kushner a clearance, but deferred to the chief of staff.
“I will let General Kelly make that decision and he’s going to do what’s right for the country and I have no doubt he’ll make the right decision,” Mr Trump said on Friday, when he addressed the security clearance issue for the first time.
Mr Kushner’s attorney told the Associated Press that his client’s ability to do his job would not be affected by any change to his clearance.
“Those involved in the process again have confirmed that there are dozens of people at Mr Kushner’s level whose process is delayed, that it is not uncommon for these clearance reviews to take this long in a new administration, and that the current backlogs are now being addressed,” said spokesman Peter Mirijanian.
Mr Kushner’s portfolio once included the US relationships with China and Japan and a host of domestic priorities, including infrastructure, trade and economic development.
But his freewheeling reach in the foreign policy space – which was viewed as undermining Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – had already been curtailed somewhat under Mr Kelly.
The news set off rampant speculation among Trump allies that Mr Kushner’s days in the White House might be numbered.
Tuesday saw the announcement of the departure of a top aide to Mr Kushner in the White House, deputy communications director Josh Raffel, the third departure of an ally of Mr Kushner in the West Wing in as many months.
And the selection of an ally of Mr Kushner, Brad Parscale, to serve as Mr Trump’s 2020 campaign manager appeared to some as a way to provide Mr Kushner with a convenient off-ramp from his White House duties.
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