Two congressmen, Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Don Beyer (D-VA), have formally sent a criminal referral to the Department of Justice to investigate President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner over his security clearance and how it was obtained. Especially troublesome are reports that came out recently alleging that Trump ordered his staff to override concerns about Kushner and grant him the highest security clearance.
Reps. Lieu and Beyer wrote in a letter that was sent to Attorney General William Barr that they are “deeply disturbed” over reports that Trump overruled the objections of career security experts as well as members of his own team like then-Chief of Staff John Kelly, and pushed through Kushner’s top clearance anyway. Kushner is alleged to have omitted numerous foreign contacts and made other grievous errors on the documents one is required to fill out in order to gain top security clearances. The presidential son-in-law reportedly made so many errors on his forms that he had three “do-overs” to revise the documents.
The letter alleges that Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump have both “apparently lied” repeatedly in public interviews in which they denied that the president had directed Kelly and others to give Kushner a pass. And though the congressmen concede that lying in a television interview is not in itself necessarily a crime, they point out that some lies do in fact carry potential criminal liability – like lying on the Questionnaire for National Security Positions, which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.
“Taken together with previous reports that Mr. Kushner omitted contacts with more than one hundred foreign persons on his clearance forms — including the Russian Ambassador — we request that the Department of Justice open an immediate investigation to determine if Mr. Kushner is criminally liable for his false statements.”
Among the foreign contacts Kushner is said to have omitted are those that came about during the infamous 2016 meeting in Trump Tower during which Russian operatives offered the Trump campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton. They also note that Kushner forgot to mention his meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak and the head of a Russian bank around the same time.
In closing, the congressmen accuse Trump and Kushner of having made a “mockery of the security clearance process.” In so doing, the White House has put the country’s national security at risk, as well as offending the “dedicated career officials who…receive clearances the correct way.”
The letter and growing sense of alarm imparted by Reps. Lieu and Beyer about the risks posed by Kushner’s access to national secrets could prove tricky to deal with for newly confirmed Attorney General William Barr. Just this week Barr announced he would not be recusing himself from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into the president’s Russian connections and business dealings, breaking with the precedent set by former A.G. Jeff Sessions.
Reps. Lieu and Beyer not-so-gently reminded Barr where they believe his duty lies.
“As Attorney General, your loyalty is to the United States, not Mr. Kushner or even the President,” they wrote. “We look forward to a prompt response and thank you for your attention to this serious matter.”