Kelly to decide Kushner security clearance

Senior adviser Jared Kushner attends a roundtable in the Roosevelt Room of the White House

US President Donald Trump said on Friday he will leave it to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to settle a security clearance dispute involving son-in-law and top aide Jared Kushner, but left little doubt he wants the case settled in a way that allows Kushner to keep his job.

Rosenstein allegedly spoke with White House counsel Don McGahn on February 9, telling him that additional information was required from Kushner that would cause further delays for President Trump's son-in-law, who has been using a temporary security clearance since joining the White House.

"I will let General Kelly make that decision", Trump said at a joint press conference at the White House with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. "And [Kelly's] going to do what's right for the country". "I have no doubt he'll make the right decision".

The debate over security clearance has also heightened existing tensions between Kushner and Kelly. That includes Kushner, whose portfolio includes sensitive foreign policy matters like the Middle East and China.

"He is a high-quality person". Most prominent among them is Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law, who has had access to some of the nation's most sensitive material for the past year while waiting for his background investigation to be completed. "He gets zero. He doesn't get a salary".

Journalist Michael Wolff, who published Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House in January, raised the possibility of Mr Kushner throwing his father-in-law "under the bus" as he faces probes over contacts with Russians. Rosenstein conveyed to McGahn that the clearance process was still ongoing, the source said.

The White House's handling of security clearances has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of revelations that former White House staff secretary Rob Porter had worked for more than a year with only interim clearance.

The information was discovered in the course of Kushner's background check, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

Kelly set a policy discontinuing high-level "interim" clearances for White House employees whose applications have been pending since at least June.

Trump slammed the background check system on Friday, calling it a "broken system" and insisting "it shouldn't take this long".

Bob Bauer, who served as White House counsel in President Barack Obama's administration, said administration officials should view Rosenstein's alert as a strong reason to revoke Kushner's interim top-secret access.

Much, but not all, of Kushner's work on those issues is handled at the lower secret or confidential clearance levels, which are not affected by Kelly's memo, a White House official said.

The White House has so far declined to answer questions about how the new rule would affect Kushner. "He works for nothing".

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