President Donald Trump indicated Friday he would not intervene if chief of staff John Kelly were to revoke the temporary top secret security clearance for his senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose background check is still open after more than a year.
After Trump was asked whether he would grant a waiver to Kushner, he said the decision would be Kelly’s.
“That will be up to General Kelly. General Kelly respects Jared a lot. I will let the general, who’s right here, make that call,” he said during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, pointing to Kelly standing nearby.
“I will let general Kelly make that decision, ” Trump said again. “And he’s going to do what’s right for the country. And I have no doubt he will make the right decision.”
Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesWhite House Chief of Staff John Kelly in the Oval office as President Donald Trump signed the tax reform bill into law, December 22, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Trump, speaking alongside Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, said: “We inherited a system that’s broken.”
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 23, 2018.
Kelly issued a memo earlier this month saying anyone whose background check has been pending since June 1 would have their security clearance revoked by Friday. Kushner has been operating under a temporary clearance, the same designation that former staff secretary Rob Porter had before domestic violence allegations from his two ex-wives against him surfaced. Kelly announced the new clearance policy after the Porter scandal. Porter has denied the allegations.
Despite his leaving Kushner’s status in Kelly’s hands, Trump did offer effusive praise of his son-in-law.
“Jared’s done an outstanding job. I think he’s been treated very unfairly,” he said. “Jared is truly outstanding. He was very successful when he worked in the private sector, he’s working on peace in the Middle East and several other small and very easy deals.”