GOP-Led Senate Panel Wants White House Responses on Kushner’s Security Clearance

The Senate judiciary committee is calling on the White House to provide new details about President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s security clearance application, including whether his initial failure to list meetings with Russian officials influenced the administration’s ability to trust him with sensitive information.

White House Senior Adviser to the President Jared Kushner arrives to address Congressional interns at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center July 31, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

White House Senior Adviser to the President Jared Kushner arrives to address Congressional interns at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center July 31, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

The committee, led by Republican Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, sent a letter in June to the White House and the FBI asking for a detailed list of questions about Kushner’s security clearance form, which he has had to amend multiple times because of his initial failure to disclose meetings with foreign officials. In response, Kushner’s outside attorney sent the panel a letter, but the White House has not yet responded to the panel’s queries despite a July 6 deadline set by a bipartisan group of senators.

The committee’s spokesman, George Hartmann, told CNN Friday that the response from Kushner’s attorney does not satisfy the panel’s request for information from the White House.

“The committee is appreciative of the response we have gotten so far from Mr. Kushner’s attorney,” Hartmann said. “But the committee still does expect the White House to reply to its questions about Mr. Kushner’s security clearance, and to provide answers to the requested questions of the SF-86,” referring to the questionnaire applicants fill out for security clearances.

A White House spokesman declined to comment.

The spotlight over Kushner’s security clearance form has become a focus in the Russia investigation as congressional committees try to determine whether any inappropriate meetings or contacts occurred between Russian officials and Trump associates during the campaign season.

Kushner was asked about his security clearance form on Capitol Hill during two separate classified appearances last month, and said that the initial failure to detail his meetings was an inadvertent mistake that has since been corrected. Kushner told Congress he had more than 100 contacts with representatives from over 20 countries during the campaign season and transition period, according to a prepared statement he made public.

But Democrats have called for a suspension of Kushner’s security clearance over his repeated failures to list meetings with foreign nationals, including the recently revealed June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower where Donald Trump Jr. had been promised campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton from a Russian lawyer. Kushner said the meeting turned out to be so insignificant that he accidentally left it off his form.

In the letter from the Senate judiciary committee, the leaders asked for information about the status of the security clearance, including the dates when “major decisions” about the form were made. The panel also asks whether Trump or any White House official intervened during the background check process on Kushner’s behalf. Moreover, the committee leaders also ask the White House and FBI to produce key sections of the SF-86 form, including Kushner’s answers about whether he had any “continuing contact” with a foreign national or offered any advice or support to a foreign government official and his list of all contacts he had with a foreign official over the past seven years.

Also, the committee leaders asked specifically about Kushner’s meetings with the former Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak and the Russian banker Sergey Gorkov, who met with Kushner in December.

“Would the omission of information describing the number or purpose of Mr. Kushner’s publicly reported meetings with Ambassador Kislyak and/or Mr. Gorkov have materially affected your assessment of his ability to safeguard sensitive information, or otherwise influence your determination of his eligibility for a security clearance?” asked the bipartisan letter, which was signed by Grassley, the committee’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California, as well as Sens. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, and Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat.

In his statement to Congress last month, Kushner downplayed the significance of those meetings, saying they occurred during the normal course of a campaign and transition period.

“With respect to my contacts with Russia or Russian representatives during the campaign, there were hardly any,” Kushner said.