Conway: Trump has ‘absolute right’ to order security clearances

President Trump has the “absolute right” to involve himself in the security clearance process for White House staffers, senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said Friday.

Conway would not confirm or deny media reports that Trump ordered officials to give a top secret clearance to his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner despite concerns from intelligence officials, but defended the president’s power to do so.

“We don’t discuss security clearances. I am not even going to discuss my own. But I will tell you that the president has the absolute right to do what was described,” Conway said in an interview with Fox News.

The revelation, first reported by The New York Times on Thursday, drew accusations of nepotism and impropriety from Democrats and contradicted statements made by the president and others that he had no role in Kushner receiving a clearance last year.{mosads}

“I wouldn’t do it,” Trump told the Times in January when asked if he overruled security officials. “I know that there was issues back and forth about security for numerous people, actually. But I don’t want to get involved in that stuff.”

Trump’s daughter and senior aide Ivanka Trump also denied last month that her father was involved in clearances for her or Kushner, who is her husband.

“There were anonymous leaks about there being issues,” Trump said on ABC’s “The View.” “But the president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband’s clearance, zero.”

Asked about Ivanka Trump’s remarks, Conway said “if Ivanka Trump chose to comment, then she probably has knowledge that some of us do not have so she has a right to do that.”

The president generally has the legal authority to grant clearances, but Trump reportedly arranged for his son-in-law to get one over objections from then-White House counsel Don McGahn and chief of staff John Kelly.

Career security personnel reportedly expressed concerns about Kushner’s family real estate business’ ties to foreign governments and his previously unreported contacts with foreign officials.

Kushner’s security clearance has come under scrutiny from House Democrats, who are investigating Trump’s administration and businesses.

Citing the Times report, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) wrote a letter on Friday demanding that White House counsel Pat Cipollone be in “full and immediate compliance” with the panel’s request for documents and witnesses related to the clearance process.

Tags Donald Trump Elijah Cummings Ivanka Trump Jared Kushner John Kelly Kellyanne Conway
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