The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee is accusing White House of “showing a blatant disregard for national security.”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., pointed to the handling of the allegations leveled against now-former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who was allowed access to the White House with a temporary security clearance, and said that Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, has a similar kind of temporary security clearance.
“[Kushner] shouldn’t have the security clearance because obviously they’ve looked at it,” Nadler told ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast. “He is the president’s son-in-law and a top adviser to the president, one assumes that they’ve given some priority to examining this, and they haven’t given it to him. Which means they’re not, which means they can’t give it to him.”
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Sean Zanni/Getty ImagesJerrold Nadler participates in the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards – House Judiciary Hearing at Fordham Law School, Jan. 26, 2018 in New York City.
According to sources familiar with the matter, it’s not uncommon for some clearances to take several months, nor is it uncommon to have a backlog of individuals seeking clearances.
But in Porter’s case, Nadler said, the FBI’s timetable shows that the White House knew of domestic abuse allegations from Porter’s two ex-wives and continued to let him have access to the Oval Office and President Donald Trump via the temporary security clearance. Nadler told ABC News that could have created a potential risk for blackmail.
When asked if John Kelly, the president’s chief of staff, should be fired over the handling of Porter, Nadler replied, “Yes.”
“I have to believe that [Kelly] was ultimately responsible. There may have been others too, and they may have been under direct orders from the president, for that matter. If it turns out that he was executing the direct order of the president … then I would say that’s an excuse for him,” Nader said. “But other than that, if you can’t prove that, then yes, he should step aside and so should anyone else who participates in abusing the security trust of the country.
“When they close the case they refuse the security clearance. They had to tell the chief of staff at minimum. He had to know that,” he added.
Nadler is also calling for an investigation of Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, who admitted to using his private funds shortly before the 2016 election to pay $130,000 to a porn actress who had once claimed to have had an affair with Trump.
On Tuesday, FBI director Christopher Wray detailed a timeline of the Porter investigation to the Senate Intelligence Committee that contradicted the White House timeline.
According to Wray, the investigation concluded “in late July.” The FBI then responded to requests for follow-up information in November and finally “administratively closed the file in January.”
“Earlier this month, we received some additional information and we passed that along as well,” Wray added Tuesday.