Report: Jared Kushner to Lose Access to Sensitive Gov't Intel After Struggling to Obtain Security Clearance

President Trump's son-in-law and senior aide is reportedly facing another big setback: his spokesman Josh Raffel, who covered White House Mideast peace plans, is vacating his post

Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon
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Jared Kushner listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting at the White House, Washington, September 12, 2017.
Jared Kushner listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting at the White House, Washington, September 12, 2017.Credit: Alex Brandon/AP
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon

WASHINGTON – Jared Kushner, U.S. President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, will lose his access to top-secret U.S. Government intelligence, as a result of his difficulties in acquiring a long-term security clearance from the intelligence community. Politico reported on Tuesday that Kushner and other White House aides who have been operating since last year with interim security clearances, will lose access to certain sensitive types of intelligence.

A decision on the matter was reached by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly over the weekend, the report stated. Kelly has expressed frustration over the last months with the fact that Kushner and others in the White House who did not, for undisclosed reasons, pass the intelligence community's clearance process, were still receiving access to some of the U.S. Government's most sensitive intelligence secrets.
Kelley, a retired four-star Marine general, decided to put an end to that situation, and Kushner will be one of those who will lose access as a result of that decision.

The report about Kushner's loss of access came out just hours after Axios broke the news that Kushner's trusted spokesperson, Josh Raffel, will be leaving the White House within the next two months. Raffel, a former public relations consultant, was an influential figure in the White House's media operation, and was the leading spokesperson on the Trump administration's efforts to renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The report did not explain why he is leaving his post.

As the news about Kushner's alleged loss of the security clearance broke, the White House continues its preparations to finalize a plan to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace, a plan which Kushner has been working on since last February.

Trump's ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, said last week that Kushner and his peace team were getting closer to finishing their work on the issue, although she did not state a clear deadline for the plan's release.

Former U.S. officials expressed doubt on whether a member of the administration can successfully mediate between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab world without having full access to the most sensitive intelligence information about current events in the Middle East.

"What does losing a top secret clearance mean in the context of Arab-Israeli negotiations?" wrote Aaron David Miller, who worked on the Israeli-Palestinian file under Democratic and Republican presidents. "You don't know what you don't know and even if you were in a hurry to find out, you can't."
Martin Indyk, who was the ambassador to Israel under the Clinton administration and led the Obama administration's peace team in 2013-2014, charged that "Kushner can’t do his peace process job effectively without access to highly classified material."

Also on Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that several countries, Israel among them, are trying to use Kushner's business interests to promote their own. While Kushner's lawyer vehemently denied the allegations, such claims could shed further light on the fact that his access to a long-term security clearance has now been reportedly blocked.

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