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How does Jared Kushner’s downgraded security clearance affect his White House role?

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, has been stripped of his top security clearance. That move comes after revelations about Kushner and other top officials at the White House working without permanent clearances. Judy Woodruff learns more from Washington Week host and Washington Post reporter Robert Costa.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, has been stripped, as we reported, of his top security clearance. The move follows revelations that a number of top officials at the White House, including Kushner, were working without permanent clearances.

    To walk us through these latest developments is Robert Costa, host of Washington Week and reporter for The Washington Post.

    So, Robert, what does this mean? What clearance does Jared Kushner lose?

  • Robert Costa:

    He has been having access for over a year in the White House to classified materials. Now he will just have a secret designation. That’s a downgrade from his current designation.

    He’s been going with this interim clearance for a year, but General John Kelly, the chief of staff, has moved to try to tighten up this whole process inside of the West Wing.

  • Judy Woodruff:

     So, do we know what that means in terms of what he can still see and what he can no longer see?

  • Robert Costa:

    The White House maintains that Kushner will be able to work on Mexico relations with the United States, will continue to work on Middle East peace.

    But this will be narrower scope of his clearance inside of the White House. He will not have access to top-secret classified information in the same way that the president will in the coming months.

  • Judy Woodruff:

     So how do the folks you’re talking to think that affects his job, the work he’s able to do?

  • Robert Costa:

    It was a rough day for Jared Kushner. His top aide, Josh Raffel, inside of the White House has announced that he’s going to be stepping away. He lost his top-secret clearance, the classified access inside of the White House to many of the materials he’s currently had access to up to this point.

    And, as you recall, just in the last few weeks, his clearance has been under the microscope. Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, has talked to the White House about ongoing concerns with Kushner’s status. All of this is swirling around his job tonight.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we heard the president say when he was asked about all this the other day that he expected the White House chief of staff, who was supposed to be making this decision about security clearances, would do the right thing.

    We assume this decision came from John Kelly, the chief of staff?

  • Robert Costa:

    It did. It was circulated in a memo throughout the White House late last week about how, if you currently have an interim security clearance and it’s not moving toward a full security clearance, you will see a downgrade in your status.

    But this is a fragile moment for the chief of staff. He’s navigating not only political dynamics inside of the White House, but a family, a family that counts Jared Kushner as a son-in-law, the husband of Ivanka Trump, also a senior adviser.

    You see Kelly with his public statement saying Kushner is still a valuable member of the White House, but if you look at the facts and all the things that are happening, he’s certainly having a tough time to maintain that high status he’s had since day one.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, meantime, Robert, your newspaper, The Washington Post, reporting late today that there is now information coming into the U.S. government that foreign officials who Kushner, Jared Kushner has been dealing with have some indication that they think they can take advantage of him. What’s that all about?

  • Robert Costa:

    It’s a complicated story, but an important story. And it puts the focus back on the presidential transition and conversations that Jared Kushner had during that time with foreign officials.

    As you recall, during the presidential transition last year, he was still dealing with some financial projects in New York City, on a 666 project, a Fifth Avenue project there — Park Avenue, excuse me — and you see him trying to talk to financial allies at the same time he’s trying the work as a transition official.

    It was a complicated moment for him during that time. And all of that is coming under scrutiny of these various investigations. But it also came up in conversation by foreign officials as they discussed the incoming administration.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So that sounds like a story we are going to be hearing more about.

    All right, Robert Costa reporting for us in The Washington Post, thank you, Robert.

  • Robert Costa:

    Thank you.

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