White House officials, though, go through a slightly different process, according to sources familiar with it. For new White House employees who don’t already have a clearance sponsored by another agency, background investigations are typically conducted by the FBI, with possible involvement from the CIA. The FBI then forwards its recommendations to the White House.
The security clearance process is ultimately rooted in executive authority, not law, meaning the president himself is the ultimate arbiter. It is extremely rare for a president to wade into such an issue, experts said, but Trump does have the power, if he wanted to, to demand that Kushner keep his clearance.
“If the president wants someone to have a clearance and access to classified information, there’s no one to tell him no,” said Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy expert with the Federation of American Scientists.