Democrats seek suspension of Kushner’s security clearance over Russia
Story Code : 627803
Democratic lawmakers in the US House of Representatives called on the federal government to suspend Kushner’s security clearance over his failure to disclose meetings with Russian authorities prior to Trump’s inauguration, according to a press release by the New York Times on Thursday.
Security clearance can provide access to classified government information and secure communications technology, as well as knowledge to White House-related travel schedules.
"Kushner signed a legal document that withheld details about significant meetings with foreign officials, including meetings with allies and emissaries of [Russian President] Vladimir Putin," the release stated.
In a letter signed by five lawmakers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was requested to revoke the White House senior adviser's security clearance for failing to divulge “dozens” of foreign contacts in recent months, including a December meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and one with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank.
"Given the severity of the allegations and still unanswered questions about this administration's recently uncovered covert dealings with Russian government and intelligence officials, we are requesting that Mr. Kushner's interim top-secret security clearance be suspended pending a review of Mr. Kushner's compliance with the laws and regulation governing security clearances," the letter noted.
"The fact that Kushner is President [Donald] Trump’s son-in-law does not place him above the law and anyone else would face severe discipline for failing to disclose meetings with foreign officials, a material omission which potentially amounts to a criminal offense," it added.
Kushner's lawyer has argued that the White House senior adviser's failure to disclose the meetings were inadvertent and that Kushner would provide additional details to the FBI.
In a statement accompanying the letter, the lawmakers also mentioned that, "Mr. Kushner’s lack of candor about meetings with Russian officials appears to be part of a larger pattern of dissembling and deception on Russian contacts from the Trump team, and we believe the public deserves the truth about what connection, if any, exists between these incidents.”
James Comey, the FBI director, confirmed to US Congress last month that his agency was probing Russia’s alleged interference in the November presidential election and the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
A report by US intelligence agencies in early January accused Putin of personally ordering his government to help Trump win the presidential election.
The report claimed that Russia "sought to help" Trump by running a smear campaign against Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival, but the report has not concluded that the Russian interference tipped the scales to the Republican candidate.