Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser, has had his security clearance downgraded, Politico reports.
He has been downgraded from SCI (sensitive compartmented information) access to Secret level, according to the publication.
All other White House aides working on high-level interim clearances also had their access downgraded, according to a memo reportedly sent to staffers on Friday. Earlier that same day, Trump said he would leave it up to his chief of staff, John Kelly, to decide what access Kushner should have.
“General Kelly respects Jared a lot and General Kelly will make that call,” Trump said at a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the time.
Kushner no longer receives the President’s Daily Brief, a top-secret roundup of global issues compiled by intelligence officials. His access to the highly classified intelligence briefing has been cut off in the past few weeks, sources told Reuters.
Kushner is reportedly accepting the decision and “will not ask for special permission” from the president, according to CNN.
Kusher has the vague title of senior adviser. Throughout his career at the White House, he has been assigned a wide-ranging portfolio on an array of highly sensitive issues ― solving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, keeping the U.S.-Mexico relationship afloat, and heading up diplomacy with China, for example.
“This action will definitely impact Kushner’s ability to cure the world of all ills but not necessarily prevent him from doing aspects of his job,” Mark Zaid, a lawyer who specializes in national security law told HuffPost in an email. One of the most significant effects of Kushner’s clearance downgrade is no longer having access to the President’s Daily Brief, according to Zaid.
Government officials who perform the type of high-level diplomacy Kushner is tasked with doing typically get access to highly sensitive raw data about the players involved in the negotiations. Without the highest-level security clearance, Kushner will have to get a “reduced and more limited version” of those background briefings, said Brad Moss, also a national security lawyer.
“It really undermines his ability to do the work he’s supposed to be doing and makes him into more of a figurehead,” Moss said.
Kushner will also lose access to the National Security Agency’s intercepted communications, Ned Price, a former White House and CIA official, wrote on Twitter.
“Whether or not he could’ve been successful before, he no longer can be an effective Middle East mediator,” Price wrote.
The government officials who typically hold Secret clearances are in charge of the “nuts and bolts” of running the national security apparatus, Moss said. They do things like submit paperwork so that the CIA can get resources and equipment to a particular area and make sure that policymakers have the relevant information to give a briefing.
Kushner’s colleagues have an incentive to block off Kushner’s access to highly classified information. If they aren’t careful, they could lose their own clearances — or even face criminal charges, said Moss.
Ultimately, Kushner’s ability to do his job will depend on how strictly people around him restrict his access to sensitive meetings, calls or documents, Zaid wrote.
Questions of security clearance for White House staff members were raised after the resignation of staff secretary Rob Porter, who was accused by his two ex-wives of mental, emotional and physical abuse. Top officials, including Kelly, allegedly knew of the complaints of abuse against Porter but still gave him temporary security clearance.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to answer questions regarding Kushner’s security clearance during a press briefing earlier Tuesday. Last week, Sanders said Kushner would continue the work he has been doing whether or not he has full security clearance.
This post has been updated with more details about Kushner’s clearance and job.