WASHINGTON– Officials in the U.S. government and intelligence community are concerned that foreign governments, including the Israeli government, were trying to "manipulate" Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, according to a report published on Tuesday by the Washington Post. The report stated that officials from Israel, China, the UAE and Mexico had all discussed how they can use Kushner's business interests to influence his foreign policy work in the White House.
According to the report, Trump's National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster, "learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report." It also stated that "Officials in the White House were concerned that Kushner was 'naive and being tricked' in conversations with foreign officials - some of whom said they wanted to deal only with Kushner directly and not more experienced personnel".
Top secret downgrade
The report comes amidst tensions in the White House over the issue of Kushner's access to top secret intelligence. Politico reported on Tuesday that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has decided to strip Kushner of his access to certain areas of sensitive intelligence, in light of the fact that Kushner has failed to obtain permanent security clearance from the U.S. intelligence community.
The Washington Post report concerning foreign governments' alleged attempt to influence the senior White House aide could be seen as a possible explanation for Kushner's difficulties in receiving his security clearance.
A lawyer representing Kushner said in reply to the report: "We will not respond substantively to unnamed sources peddling second-hand hearsay with rank speculation that continue to leak inaccurate information."
A spokesperson for the White said that General McMaster has "the highest regard" for Kushner and that both of them work closely together on foreign policy issues.
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The Israeli Embassy in Washington refused to comment.
The report did not contain details about the alleged attempts by the foreign governments, including the Israeli government, to "manipulate" Kushner based on his business interests.
One of Kushner's main areas of responsibility in the White House is leading the administration's Middle East peace team, which is working on an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.