- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 3, 2019

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton said he’s not worried about President Trump’s senior adviser, Jared Kushner, having access to the nation’s top secrets amid reports the president ignored red flags and ordered a high-level security clearance for his son-in-law.

“I don’t have any concerns. I deal with Jared all the time on the Middle East peace process and a number of other issues. I trust him,” Mr. Bolton told “Fox News Sunday.”

Mr. Trump directed then-Chief of Staff John Kelly to grant a high-level clearance to Mr. Kushner in May despite concerns among intelligence officials about his web of business interests and contacts with foreign officials, The New York Times reported last week.

The report contradicted Mr. Trump’s own statement, made in January, that he had no part in Mr. Kushner’s security clearance process, enraging House Democrats who are investigating how the White House grants clearances.

“I have no idea what the story is on the security clearance, it’s not something that falls within my area of responsibility. But if asked, ‘Do I trust Jared Kushner?’ The answer is yes,” Mr. Bolton said.

“You do not think he is a security risk?” Fox News host Chris Wallace asked.

“I do not,” Mr. Bolton said.

Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat and vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said he still has concerns.

While Mr. Trump has the right to grant security clearances, the senator said the president’s reported decision to direct one to his son-in-law over the advice of top officials “bothers me a great deal.”

“This president has consistently been willing to override the advice of the intelligence community,” Mr. Warner told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This president seems to choose the word of dictators over the words of our intelligence community.”

Mr. Warner said he’s particularly galled by Mr. Trump’s push to grant clearances within his inner circle, while threatening to strip clearances from his biggest critics, such as former CIA Director John O. Brennan.

“Security clearances have not usually been used as political footballs,” Mr. Warner said.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Friday set a Monday deadline for the White House to release documents related to inquiries around the clearance process and schedule interviews with witnesses, saying news reports about Mr. Kushner gave new urgency to the effort.

The Times report said Mr. Kelly wrote two memos saying he had been “ordered” by the president to give Mr. Kushner his clearance and that the White House counsel at the time, Donald F. McGahn, wrote that both he and the CIA had concerns about giving Mr. Kushner this status.

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Mr. Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, responded to the Times report in a statement, saying: “In 2018, White House and security clearance officials affirmed that Mr. Kushner’s security clearance was handled in the regular process with no pressure from anyone. That was conveyed to the media at the time, and new stories, if accurate, do not change what was affirmed at the time.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that they “don’t comment on security clearances.”

Last month, NBC News reported that White House security specialists rejected Mr. Kushner twice before their supervisor, Carl Kline, overruled their decisions.

This prompted calls for acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to revoke Mr. Kusher’s status.

⦁ Bailey Vogt contributed to this report.

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