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Lawmakers float review of Kushner's security clearance

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 6 days ago Bartholomew D Sullivan
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Of the Trump campaign officials who attended the controversial June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians, only Jared Kushner – Trump's son-in-law and senior aide – is known to hold a national security clearance.

Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, said on Sunday morning talk shows that Kushner’s lack of transparency in describing previous contacts with Russians may warrant a review of that status.

“With Mr. Kushner, we have not one, not two, but three examples where he forgot meetings with Russians and has had to go back and amend his disclosure forms,” Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN’s State of the Union. “I think, if I had a meeting that involved Russian government efforts to try to help candidate Trump and hurt [Hillary] Clinton, that I would remember that.”

Jared Kushner arrives for a meeting on Capitol Hill on Jan. 9, 2017. © Cliff Owen, AP Jared Kushner arrives for a meeting on Capitol Hill on Jan. 9, 2017. Asked by CNN's Jake Tapper if Kushner should have his clearance suspended, Warner said he was trying to give the Trump associates the "benefit of the doubt" until they are interviewed by the committee. 

Still, he lamented what he called a “pattern” of Trump officials not disclosing information until it has been revealed in the press, adding, “the level of credibility from senior levels of this administration really is suspect.”

Multiple congressional committees and a special counsel are investigating possible collusion between Trump associates and Russians who sought to influence the election in favor of Trump by hacking Democrats. 

The controversy intensified this week after revelations Donald Trump Jr., the president's oldest son, had a previously undisclosed meeting with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin. Trump Jr. said he took that meeting in the hopes of getting political dirt on Hillary Clinton, even after he was told it would come from the Russian government

Kushner, along with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, were also in the meeting. 

Collins, a moderate Republican, also said she had concerns about Kushner's security clearance, and that his inability to accurately record his contacts “is an issue we need to look at."

Still, she said, "we don’t have enough evidence" to make any decisions. 

"I don’t know who advised him on the forms. I don’t know how many meetings he had in total. I don’t know whether most of them were listed. So those are issues that we do need to review. And it’s one reason why the intelligences committees’ counterintelligence investigation needs to continue.”

Their comments follow a suggestion by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., that Kushner should be fired or resign from the White House. 

 

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