Feb 23, 2018, 3:32 PM ET

Trump says Kushner security clearance up to chief of staff Kelly

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President Donald Trump indicated Friday he would not intervene if chief of staff John Kelly were to revoke the temporary top secret security clearance for his senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose background check is still open after more than a year.

After Trump was asked whether he would grant a waiver to Kushner, he said the decision would be Kelly's.

“That will be up to General Kelly. General Kelly respects Jared a lot. I will let the general, who’s right here, make that call," he said during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, pointing to Kelly standing nearby.

"I will let general Kelly make that decision, " Trump said again. "And he's going to do what's right for the country. And I have no doubt he will make the right decision."

PHOTO: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in the Oval office as President Donald Trump signed the tax reform bill into law, December 22, 2017 in Washington, DC.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in the Oval office as President Donald Trump signed the tax reform bill into law, December 22, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Trump, speaking alongside Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, said: "We inherited a system that's broken."

PHOTO: President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 23, 2018. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 23, 2018.

Kelly issued a memo earlier this month saying anyone whose background check has been pending since June 1 would have their security clearance revoked by Friday. Kushner has been operating under a temporary clearance, the same designation that former staff secretary Rob Porter had before domestic violence allegations from his two ex-wives against him surfaced. Kelly announced the new clearance policy after the Porter scandal. Porter has denied the allegations.

Despite his leaving Kushner’s status in Kelly’s hands, Trump did offer effusive praise of his son-in-law.

“Jared’s done an outstanding job. I think he’s been treated very unfairly,” he said. “Jared is truly outstanding. He was very successful when he worked in the private sector, he’s working on peace in the Middle East and several other small and very easy deals.”

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  • jon rhodes

    Of course he should have security clearance. He's be a perfect fit in the White House swamp.

  • kritikosman

    This'll put some more clanks in that fine-tuned machine. #bestpeople.

  • jon rhodes

    Trump puts his daughter, Ivanka, a handbag specialist, in a key position regarding Korean foreign policy. So, it makes perfect sense to put his son-in-law, a house salesman, in charge of making peace in the Middle East. I mean, it makes more sense than bringing in all the non-family members who end up either under indictment, fleeing the premises, or getting fired.

  • j tennum

    Unfortunately Kelly has been proven to be a Liar, like everyone else in the Administration from the top on down, and a boot licker. He can't be trusted to do the right anything.

  • Swamp Hippy

    Trump is backing away from lil' Jared rather quickly, isn't he? Looks like we know who will be in the next round of indictments.

  • TexasVulcan

    Here's a question. Whose job is it to investigate members of any administration and grant (or not grant) security clearance. I would have thought it was the FBI. And why does it take so long?

  • klaude_NYC

    Jared is extremely dangerous to america given that he is closely advising trump, while being the most blackmailable with all his financial skeletons.

    When is GOP going to stop pretending that treasonous traitors trump family are loyal to / good for america and not obliterating our democracy?

  • Lucky8

    We know why, how come they dont?

  • Lucky8

    So now he wants Kelly to make a move, so he can fire him. What a joke, the world laughs at a nation that elects a president who filed bankruptcy 6 times.

  • BD70

    "I will let general Kelly make that decision, " Trump said again. "And he's going to do what's right for the country. And I have no doubt he will make the right decision."
    Guess who gets to stay? That comment from Trump, to me, signals to Kelly he has no choice but to clear Kushner. That and Trumps comment shortly there after about what a great job Jared is doing.

  • inonepeice

    Trump says Kushner security clearance up to chief of staff Kelly
    +++++++++++++++
    Trump is also saying that gun control is up to the NRA.

  • inonepeice

    Trump says Kushner security clearance up to chief of staff Kelly
    +++++++++++
    Who is in charge?

  • ImWhiteWolf

    “My inquiries to those involved again have confirmed that there are a dozen or more people at Mr. Kushner’s level whose process is delayed, that it is not uncommon for this process to take this long in a new administration, that the current backlogs are being addressed, and no concerns were raised about Mr. Kushner’s application,” Lowell said in a statement on Feb. 16.----------------------------------

    if you believe this I have some ocean front property in North Dakota I'll sell you. they've been investigating Kushner's security clearance for well over a year and there are still issues.

  • Michael M.

    Oh man it's gut check time (again) for General Kelly and conservatives.
    The General, as WH Chief of Staff, has been doing his best to serve his duties faithfully. But he keeps being put on the spot like this by Pres. Trump and every time it's been Trump dumping his own responsibilities on General Kelly.

    Jared and Ivanka are Daddy Don's picks - not General Kelly's, he doesn't have a say in who the President chooses for his staff. Choosing family members and staff with shady dealings. That is President Trump's choice.

    Seriously...filling cabinet positions with family members and donors?
    That was a big Red Flag.

    I think Gen. Kelly is going to walk.
    He might let Trump claim it was a mutual decision, he might not. But I cannot imagine an honorable man letting himself continue to be abused like this by a draft-dodging schmuck like Trump.

  • dmp

    Geez, the man can't answer a serious question without whipping out his well-polished family horn. Rooty-toot-toot. A real president wouldn't keep a top aide who can't fill out vital forms, much less brag about him being a high quality person. Oh, and Junior's in India selling condos, Ivanka in Korea being the best representative the United States has ever seen, and Melania...I forgot what Melania's doing. Best. Government. Ever.

  • Former Earthling

    Much more likely he'll be indicted before he gets a security clearance.

  • DougNJ

    Trump should just clear Jared on account that nepotism trumps National Security process and standards. After all, nepotism is biblical. If it was not for Noah's three sons and their four wives wearing "I'M WITH THE BAND" t-shirts, none of us would be here today!

  • Lee Thompson

    Sure it is, wink, wink . . .Trump and Kelly have discussed this and it's a done deal for Kelly to not require Jared to have a security clearance. Trump thinks we are too stupid to figure this out. Then, the Republican congress will allow this to be.

  • Truthfully

    Don't fret ivanka is giving a briefing to South Korea....
    What could go WRONG??

  • jake

    If Trump was a leader, he could make this decision himself quite easily. Unfortunately, he has picked so many to be on his team that are unqualified for their positions. Maybe it's because he is unqualified for his position.

  • (((Rocket Cat)))

    Current president: we inherited a broken system for vetting top secret security clearance.
    All previous presidents: none of us hired spies! You hired enemy spies!

  • Voyce Richards

    General Kelly No security clearance for Jared Kushner Period.

  • Lee Thompson

    this should be interesting.

  • Oak Kay

    Kushner is literally the tip of the iceberg of WHY people who Mad King Donald selected to run key departments and agencies have either been denied clearances and jobs and have been forced to withdraw their nominations as they are LITERALLY UNQUALIFIED to the point where they could not be confirmed in a Rubber Stamp Republican controled Senate!

  • DEM-Castballot

    Trump-"OK Kelly,I'm giving you complete control on what to do about Jareds clearance in the W.H...Just tell me when you get him unlimited clearence so I can go over tomorrows classified briefing with him.Now go away..Chop,chop."

  • unusual

    Trump doesn't seem to understand that there are reasons why Kushner doesn't have a security clearance. I'm hoping those reasons will be made clear to him very soon.

  • Arlene

    Of all of Trump's idiotic comments, the one about Jared just maybe bringing about peace in the middle east is the most hilarious to me.

  • MauiOhana808

    Money laundering, tax evasion, tax fraud, and Crimes, conspiracy against the United States will bring down the Trump
    family along with many in the administration!
    Make America Happy Again!..................one indictment, subpoena, plea deal at a time!!!
    Thank you Special Prosecutor Mueller and Grand Jury!!!
    Aloha : D

  • Don'tBotherMe

    . . . And I have no doubt he will make the right decision."

    The 'right decision' to Trump means give my son-in-law clearance.

  • Jack25

    Why would you give him clearance when he is about to be indicted?

  • BLW51

    And if Kelly doesn't give Kushner the clearance, Trump will be saying "You're Fired!" to him (Kelly).

  • tatertaut

    Sure. Right after trump told Kelly he better let Jared's clearance stand.

  • Sonora Nomad

    I wonder if Kelly even knows there were American generals with real stature...Eisenhower, Bradley, Marshall, Waller? Would these men have tolerated a bogus little dude like Kushner sneeking around the edges of government? Nope. My opinion.

  • katerant

    He soooo was not very successful when in private business. He made a mess of 666 5th Avenue and that is part of the bigger mess and his vulnerability. He is not worthy of security clearance and should not be working in The People's White House.

  • Marine Dad05

    Kushner doesn't have clearance, nor does his wife. She loves the Olympics, and so she's off to S.Korea, to represent the US.

    These people have no international diplomacy experience, or a track record (unless they took lessons from Trump himself), and yet a country is being fooled into thinking the Middle-East issues will be brokered by this neophyte.

    It's a surprise as to why the Israelis and the Palestinians aren't feeling insulted that the US would send someone as inexperienced as Kushner to broker a peace.

  • Mikhail

    If Kelly's smart, then he should be taking contemporaneous notes like Comey did.

  • Nichols

    This Administration gets more screwed up everyday.

  • lookingahead

    No pressure on Kelly since Trump's sure he'll make the right decision. If it's not the right decision, Trump will let Kelly know by backstabbing him on Twitter.

  • B-K KnightRider

    Isn't it amazing how all those "lock her up" lemmings are so silent about how Trump's WH is permitting dozens and dozens of people who do not have a full security clearance, some of whom cannot get a full clearance, to have access to classified material. Their shameful hypocrisy is laughably pathetic.

  • mike

    News flash, trumpfilth. Your son-in-law didn't get cleared and it wasn't Kelly who stopped it. The FBI (thank god) doesn't want Soviet operatives with top secret clearance either.

  • B-K KnightRider

    Yeah, right, as if Trump didn't make his preference crystal clear during that press conference. He all but said what he wants Kelly to do.

  • kms

    Can you even imagine what was going through Turnbull’s mind as he listened to this idiot?

  • Diana Morgan

    So is Idiot-in-chief saying that because his son-in-law is working for free he has the right to have a top secret security clearance even though he can not pass a FBI criminal check. This screwed illogical thinking makes as much sense as what the dummy said this morning in front of CPAC reptiles who were already bleeding from the mouth from eating all that red meat thrown at them by the NRA. The premise is that only teachers love their children enough to carry a gun and shoot anyone attempting to hurt them. And this will now become the radical right charge that 'any teacher that does not want to carry a gun in school does not love their students'. Watch Fox news for the next 'let us shame teachers that do not want to carry a gun in the classroom' campaign. Just makes me sick.

  • Bill S

    Question since when has peace in the middle east been small job? I don't think Jarred is getting sensitive intelligence materials. Through this administration actions and public rants I think the intelligence agencies may not fully give this idiot and his son in law sensitive documents.