A week after his chief of staff ordered an overhaul of the process for granting White House security clearances, President Donald Trump on Friday blamed an overly rigorous background vetting process for holding up the approval of his son-in-law's permanent security clearance.
However, when asked about his temporary security clearance, he said: "That will be up to General Kelly".
"Gen. Kelly respects Jared a lot", Trump said. "I will not make that call", Trump said during a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the White House.
It was Kelly who mandated last week that officials who'd applied for security clearances before July, but haven't yet received permanent access, would be stripped of their interim clearances.
Kelly announced the change in a memo to White House counsel Don McGahn, after coming under criticism for his handling of domestic abuse allegations against former White House staff secretary Rob Porter. Most prominent among them is Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law, who has had access to some of the nation's most sensitive material for the past year while waiting for his background investigation to be completed.
Porter's two ex-wives told DailyMail.com harrowing stories of spousal abuse, information that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had more than a year ago.
He complained about a "broken" system that has required "months and months" of waiting for people with unremarkable circumstances. With that designation, he has been able to attend classified briefings, get access to the president's daily intelligence report and issue requests for information to the intelligence community. So that will be up to General Kelly'.
The fate of Kushner's security clearance was not the only uncertainty that hung in the White House in the wake of Kelly's memo last week.
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The White House has so far refused to clarify why Kushner is operating under an interim clearance.
"Jared has done an outstanding job", the president told reporters Friday. "There is no truth to any suggestion otherwise", Kelly said.
A White House spokesman declined to comment on the status of Kushner's clearance or on information relayed by Rosenstein to McGahn.
"Everyone in the White House is grateful for these valuable contributions to furthering the President's agenda", Kelly said.
Kushner has been forced to repeatedly correct omissions in his "SF-86", the government-wide form used to apply for clearances, as well as his financial disclosure forms, which experts said could delay or even nix his chances of earning a clearance through the normal process.
"I have definitely had cases over the years where there was a parallel criminal investigation ... that was happening at the same time as there was a clearance investigation", Zaid said.
"The hardest deal to make of any kind is between the Israelis and the Palestinians", he said.