Nevertheless, the president’s authority to give Kushner — or anyone else — a security clearance is clear. It wastes time and energy to argue otherwise. Instead, Trump should be, and will be, held accountable by the Congress and ultimately the people for what is the good and proper use of his powers. Our political system provides remedies even for firm constitutional prerogatives of chief executives.
First among these is congressional oversight, derived from its legislative function under Article I of the Constitution. It has been appropriate for the White House not to disclose Kushner’s security clearance information casually; it represents the very kind of privacy-protected information that many Americans fear the U.S. government misuses in other contexts.
But now, there are numerous legitimate questions for Congress to pursue. Why couldn’t Kushner get favorable approval through a system that millions of others have gone through? Does he have specific counterintelligence vulnerabilities for foreign manipulation? Did the president actually overrule career advice given to him — and, if so, why? Demanding information with subpoenas or with power-of-the-purse tactics about the president’s decision-making — not his inherent underlying authority — is how oversight should work in this case.