State Dept. expects Kushner to continue work on Middle East peace initiatives

The State Department expects President TrumpDonald John TrumpScarborough mocks 'Deflection Don' over transgender troop ban Pelosi condemns Trump's 'cowardly, disgusting' ban on transgender troops Trump moves to ban most transgender people from serving in military MORE's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerJim Carrey paints Kushner as 'self-unmade man' The Daily Show jokes Trump’s new legal counsel is a TV Mueller investigates, Peters quits Fox, White House leaks abound MORE to continue his work on a peace plan for the Middle East even after losing his top-secret security clearance, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

"In terms of security clearances, that's something I can't comment on from this position at the State Department," Heather Nauert said on "America's Newsroom" on Fox News. "But overall, I can tell you that the State Department works very closely with Mr. Kushner and others at the White House to advance one of the president's top priorities, and that is Middle East peace." 

"That's a top priority for us and we expect Mr. Kushner to continue his work on that," she added. "It's something very important to the president."


Kushner was stripped of his top-secret security clearance and downgraded to a secret clearance after months-long delays in his background-check process.

The Trump administration had previously come under fire after it was revealed that dozens of officials had been allowed to work in the White House for more than a year without obtaining full security clearances.

The news emerged amid the ouster of staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned earlier this month after reports surfaced that he had physically abused both of his ex-wives. The FBI reportedly brought up the claims against Porter during his background check, but he was allowed to continue working at the White House for months.

The decision to downgrade Kushner's security clearance came after White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE launched a broad crackdown on officials who had been working on interim clearances.

Trump said last week that, while he believed the scrutiny of Kushner was unfair, the status of his clearance would be "up to" Kelly.

Kushner, who is married to Trump's elder daughter Ivanka, was given a broad portfolio of responsibilities when he entered the White House, including brokering a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. He also worked on trade issues with Mexico and China.

But Kushner has faced scrutiny since his earliest days in office over financial entanglements stemming from his family's real estate company.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that officials in at least four countries — Mexico, China, Israel and the United Arab Emirates — had discussed ways to manipulate Kushner using his business arrangements as leverage.