Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, now has a permanent security clearance and recently sat for six to seven hours of questioning by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on a wide range of topics including Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, according to a person briefed on the matter.
The FBI’s background check into Kushner’s financial history and foreign contacts took more than a year, and his clearance level was downgraded in February, becoming a source of uncertainty for the West Wing aide and blocking him from approved access to some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets.
But Kushner’s permanent clearance was granted after career officials completed the FBI background check process, according to the person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Abbe Lowell, a personal attorney for Kushner, said in a statement: “With respect to the news about his clearances, as we stated before, his application was properly submitted, reviewed by numerous career officials and underwent the normal process. Having completed all of these processes, he’s looking forward to continuing to do the work the president has asked him to do.”
The New York Times was first to report Kushner’s permanent clearance.
Lowell said Kushner has been voluntarily cooperating with Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Kushner has had two interview sessions with the special counsel’s team. The first set of questions in November centered largely around former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to the person familiar with the matter. Then, in mid-April, Kushner sat for six to seven hours of questions that covered many topics, including his work on the Trump campaign, the transition and in the White House and about Trump’s decision in May 2017 to fire Comey, the person said.
Lowell said that Kushner last year became “one of the first to voluntarily cooperate with any investigation into the 2016 campaign and related topics.”
“Since then, he has continued this complete cooperation, providing a large number of documents and sitting for hours of interviews with congressional committees and providing numerous documents and sitting for two interviews with the office of special counsel,” Lowell said. “In each occasion, he answered all questions asked and did whatever he could to expedite the conclusion of all the investigations.”
In February, Kushner’s interim security clearance was downgraded from top secret to the far less sensitive “secret” level amid reports that foreign governments had been overheard discussing how easily they felt they could manipulate him.
Mark Zaid, a national security attorney, said people who lose their interim security clearances are often able to get their clearances restored after a fuller investigation of the issues that caused concern for security officers. He said career staff at the White House and in an intelligence agency, typically the CIA, generally make the decisions about restoring a clearance.
Zaid said he presumed Kushner received a permanent top-secret clearance with access to secure compartmented information – the clearance access usually needed to review the highly classified intelligence presented each day in the President’s Daily Brief.
“For that job, he would normally need top secret and SCI,” Zaid said.
The person familiar with the matter confirmed that Kushner was granted a top-secret clearance.