House Democrats threaten subpoenas over White House lie about Jared Kushner's security clearance

House Democrats threaten subpoenas over White House lie about Jared Kushner's security clearance
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News & Politics

The news that Donald Trump personally ordered his top aides to overrule career intelligence officials and give his son-in-law a security clearance is a big deal—or should be. There’s a lot of evidence that Team Trump knows it should be a big deal. They’ve denied and denied and denied that Trump involved himself in getting Jared Kushner his top-secret security clearance, only to have the news come out that then-chief of staff John Kelly had written a memo at the time saying Trump had “ordered” him to make it happen. House Democrats are treating it as a big deal, threatening to subpoena the White House to find out just what happened.


“The security clearance process is supposed to function in an even-handed and neutral manner based on the national security interests of the United States,” House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings said in a statement. “This latest report indicates that President Trump may have granted access to our country’s most sensitive classified information to his son-in-law against the advice of career staff—directly contradicting the President’s public denials that he played any role.” House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff also indicated keen interest in the matter, saying, “There is no nepotism exception for background investigations,” but “Worse still was the White House’s oft-repeated lie that Kushner had been granted the clearance at the conclusion of a normal process.”

But what about the media? As Steve Benen points out, “Americans were told in 2016 that Hillary Clinton’s handling of sensitive information was one of the most important issues on the national landscape, worthy of more front-page coverage than every other issue combined.” So one would think that a president insisting on a top-secret clearance for a family member when intelligence officials said it was a bad idea would be not just a big story but a huge one, one that would dominate the headlines and cable news chatter for weeks or months. One would think that … if the president was a Democrat. Unfortunately, there’s every reason to believe that the news will move quickly on from this news about Trump specifically—because that’s how it works. Despite all his wailing about fake news—or because of it—Trump’s legitimate scandals get less play than highly questionable Democratic ones.

So let’s take a minute to be crystal clear: It is a big deal that the sitting president of the United States ordered his chief of staff to overrule the judgment of the career professionals who vet candidates for security clearances in order to grant his son-in-law—someone with no government experience and huge debts of the kind that foreign actors might find to be useful leverage—a top-secret clearance. Donald Trump is undermining U.S. national security at every turn, and whether that’s intentional or just something he doesn’t care enough about to avoid, it’s a huge problem that deserves endless attention. And when House Democrats look into this, let there be no media figures outside of Fox News both-sidesing the inevitable Republican howls of partisanship.

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