Jared Kushner finally gets his permanent security clearance (and what that means about the Mueller investigation)

Jared Kushner has been operating under a temporary security clearance for months. Back in February, his temporary clearance was downgraded, meaning that Kushner and others operating on similar temporary clearances would no longer have access to top secret information. Here’s how Politico reported it at the time:

Kushner is not alone. All White House aides working on the highest-level interim clearances — at the Top Secret/SCI-level — were informed in a memo sent Friday that their clearances would be downgraded to the Secret level, according to three people with knowledge of the situation…

The memo was not signed by chief of staff John Kelly, but it comes as the retired Marine general and other top White House aides are grappling with the fallout of a scandal involving former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, which revealed that dozens of White House aides had yet to receive permanent clearances but nonetheless had access to some of the country’s deepest secrets.

Kushner said he would not ask his father-in-law for special consideration and President Trump said he would not grant any but would instead leave the decision to Chief of Staff Kelly. Fast forward to today when Kushner has finally received his permanent clearance. As the NY Times points out, the granting of the clearance appears to suggest that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has not found anything that would disqualify Kushner during months of investigation:

Mr. Kushner’s F.B.I. background checks had dragged on for a year. White House officials were adamant that the lengthy process was not unusual for a government official who has a complicated financial history and many foreign contacts. But the delay became a distraction and, with the special counsel investigating some of Mr. Kushner’s meetings with Russian officials, it left open the question of whether investigators had uncovered evidence that made him a security threat…

The resolution of his clearances does not guarantee that Mr. Kushner faces no legal jeopardy. But Mark S. Zaid, a veteran Washington lawyer who handles security clearances, said it was highly unlikely that the special counsel would uncover evidence of improper foreign entanglements and not flag it for security officials.

“If I were Jared Kushner, I’d be sighing a breath of relief today,” Mr. Zaid said.

So the granting of Kushner’s clearance apparently signals that Mueller, who interviewed Kushner twice, once last year and once last month, is off the hook. Indeed, CNN’s report notes that someone close to Kushner is suggesting as much:

Kushner met with Mueller’s investigators a second time in April and answered questions for seven hours, according to his attorney, Abbe Lowell. He had previously sat for an interview last November that was largely focused on former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who soon after pleaded guilty to charges of making false statements to the FBI.

These developments come as the Mueller’s investigators appear to be trying to complete parts of their inquiry.

The Kushner team believes he is now finished with all ongoing inquiries, which also include the investigations by congressional committees, according to a person close to Kushner.

Is this belated grant of a clearance the result of improper influence by President Trump? Not according to the NY Times which reports Trump “was not involved in the process, according to the person briefed on the matter.”

So the bottom line is that there’s no scandal to be found here. Mueller didn’t find any (with regard to Kushner) and Trump kept his word and didn’t show special favoritism. And if the reporting is accurate, Mueller may be wrapping up this part of his inquiry. All of which does seem like a rare positive story for the White House.

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