OPINION | Treat Kushner like any American — revoke his security clearance
© Greg Nash

White House advisor Jared Kushner should have his security clearance revoked.

First, some background: When I worked for Democratic leaders in Congress I received a security clearance, filled out the paperwork to receive the clearance and was interviewed before my clearance was approved. 

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For those who have not had a security clearance, when filling out the form and answering the questions that are asked, there is absolutely no misunderstanding about the importance of meetings with foreign individuals and foreign agents — and the grave implications (under penalty of perjury) of failing to properly disclose them.

 

The recent case of Jared Kushner joining Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE Jr. and Paul Manafort for a meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 is the earliest known example of questionable conduct that should call his security clearance into question. These events, and the failure to appropriately disclose them, make the case for revocation of his clearance compelling.

Republicans should step across the aisle to join Democrats, who introduced amendments today that call for this action. 

The June 2016 meeting was billed in advance to participants as a meeting designed for Team Russia to give Team Trump negative information about Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJordan calls Pelosi accusing Trump of bribery 'ridiculous' DOJ watchdog won't let witnesses submit written feedback on investigation into Russia probe: report What are Republicans going to do after Donald Trump leaves office? MORE, part of the Russian objective to destroy Clinton and elect Trump.

The explicit purpose of the meeting was to provide Russian-sourced information to attack Clinton in support of Trump. The clear statement in emails prior to the meeting that the information allegedly to be provided was both sensitive and tied to the Russian government initiative to intervene in our election is all we need to know to understand what Kushner and the others who attended should have done.

Donald Jr., Kushner and Paul Manafort should have immediately contacted the FBI and disclosed the full details of the request for the meeting. They did not do this. In fact, for many months after the meeting, they did exactly the opposite and withheld information about the meeting from the FBI.

Then, when Kushner filled out the form for his security clearance, he should have included this meeting with these Russians and other meetings with other Russians in the form from the very beginning. Had Kushner not included them in his first form, but amended that form within a few days, that would have been wrong but minimally acceptable.

The fact that Kushner did not disclose this in his clearance form for a prolonged period of time is unconscionable and grounds for revocation of his clearance.

When Kushner met with a Russian banker with known close ties to Russian intelligence, he should have disclosed this meeting from the very beginning on his security clearance form. He failed to do so. 

When Kushner proposed to the Russians that they establish a communications network that was Russian-only, to keep all conversations that occurred on this network secret from American intelligence, American law enforcement and American military and diplomatic personnel, he provided yet another reason to revoke his clearance.

Kushner should never have proposed this Russian-only communications network. But he did. He should have disclosed his intent to propose this communications network to American authorities and sought their approval in advance.  But he did not. He should have immediately disclosed this dealing with Russians on his security clearance form the first time he completed it. Again, he did not.

Kushner should have promptly disclosed every meeting with every Russian on his security clearance forms, yet, time and time again, he did not. This failure to appropriately disclose these meetings with Russians began in June 2016 and continued until they were all properly disclosed on his security clearance forms as federal law requires.

If any Americans who are not the son-in-law of the president had done this, they would never have gotten their security clearance in the first place, and it would be revoked once the fact of their failure to disclose was known. If anyone who served in the military had behaved this way and violated their obligations to disclose sensitive meetings with foreign agents on their clearance forms, they would probably face a court martial.

The special counsel, the FBI and congressional investigating committees are almost certainly looking carefully at this and related matters regarding what actually happened at these meetings. There is a very real chance that the events discussed here gave the Feds cause to seek warrants to monitor all three of these Trump associates, among other Trump associates, which if true could provide explosive information to be revealed in the future.

When the emails before the June 2016 meeting stated that the meeting was part of the Russian plan to influence our elections, one huge question will clearly be investigated. Does the fact that the three Trump associates who attended the meeting never asked about the other parts of the Russian plan suggest they knew about this Russian plan before the meeting?

Also: When Donald Jr. said he was glad the Russians were doing this, especially later in the summer. Could this suggest he knew about Russian-sourced materials published by Wikileaks later last summer?

There is high probability that the failure of Kushner and other Trump associates to disclose these meetings on a timely basis creates significant legal liability. Time will tell.

For now, the case is clear that anyone who failed to disclose these kinds of meetings with foreign agents, who reasonable people would know were acting against America, should not be granted a security clearance.

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then-chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics.


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