WASHINGTON ― House Republicans voted Thursday to block an effort aimed at revoking the security clearance of White House senior adviser Jared Kushner.
Several members of Congress have questioned the appropriateness of Kushner maintaining a security clearance following bombshell reports that he met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer who promised incriminating information about 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during last year’s campaign. The president’s son-in-law failed to disclose the meeting, as well as several other meetings with Russian officials, on the security clearance form he submitted before the Trump administration took office.
Knowingly omitting such information is a crime. Kushner’s lawyers, however, maintain the omissions were an error and have amended the form.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who chaired the Democratic National Committee during much of last year’s campaign cycle, proposed an amendment targeting Kushner during a House Appropriations Committee markup session Thursday. It was voted down, 22-30, along party lines.
The measure would have barred the government from issuing or maintaining a security clearance for any White House individual “under a criminal investigation by a Federal law enforcement agency for aiding a foreign government.”
Wasserman Schultz also attempted to introduce an amendment that would bar the government from issuing or maintaining a security clearance for White House staff who “deliberately fail” to disclose meetings with foreign nationals. It was voted down by the same margin.
In addition to the revelations from the past week, The New York Times reported in May that federal and congressional investigators are looking into a December meeting between Kushner and a Russian banker with ties to Russian intelligence. McClatchy also reported this week that investigators in Congress and the Justice Department are looking into whether the Trump campaign’s digital team, which was led by Kushner, directed Russian operatives to key U.S. states.
“This amendment is an important step in protecting the American people from the threat of hostile foreign interference. That is not a controversial or a political goal,” Wasserman Schultz said during the hearing.
“Revoking Jared Kushner’s security clearance would send a clear signal to anyone who would consider aiding and abetting a foreign enemy state to affect the outcome of a U.S. presidential election that they will not be entrusted with our nation’s most sensitive information,” she added.
Republicans called the move a stunt, arguing that it is unnecessary and unproductive under current federal regulations.
“This is already the law,” Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) said. “The use of funding prohibitions to deny or remove security clearances is simply a political stunt and utterly unnecessary because security clearances can already be revoked because of criminal conduct.”
Reports of Kushner’s failure to disclose meetings with Russian officials also drew the ire of Democrats in the Senate this week.
“There is a crisis of trust that the White House has to deal with,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Wednesday, adding that Kushner ought to resign.