Somebody needs to explain to me why Jared Kushner — a veritable Russian mole, either by design or doltish incompetence — is still entrusted with access to any of America’s security secrets.
Yeah, I know, it’s because his feckless father-in-law continues to indulge him. Which by now is what we expect from an alleged president who huddles privately with Putin with no national security staffers or American translators to listen in.
But just for the sake of argument, imagine if Hillary Clinton was president and Marc Mezvinsky, her son-in-law, was a senior adviser with a security clearance; and that Mezvinsky had convinced her to fire James Comey in order to halt a scandal probe; and that Mezvinsky was targeted by investigators for having directed a campaign digital operation that may have steered Russian hackers to battleground states where Hillary needed help; and that Mezvinsky had joined a June ’16 meeting that promised Russian dirt on Hillary’s opponent, a meeting that also featured a Soviet-born money launderer; and that Mezvinsky had originally listed no foreign contacts on his security clearance disclosure form, and only when caught did he amend it three times to include 100 foreign contacts; and that Mezvinsky secretly sought to create a secure communications channel with the Russians, linking Hillary’s team and the Kremlin, using Russian equipment in order to elude U.S. government detection.
If all that was happening, Republicans would screaming treason and demanding that his security clearance be revoked. And Trump, the loser down in Mar-a-Lago, would be up at dawn tweeting froth.
Substitute Kushner for Mezvinsky, and you’ve got the Trump princeling’s track record. Ned Price, a former CIA officer, said on TV the other night that Kushner with a security clearance is “a slap in the face to our national security professionals.” I’ll take it a step further. Kushner with a clearance is a metaphor for Trump’s apparent mission – be it inadvertent or willful – to make America weaker.
In the words of Richard Painter, the ethics lawyer who served under George W. Bush, “Kushner’s security clearance should be revoked, and if not, we should just throw in the towel and give one to Vladimir Putin.”
At this stage of the game, Kushner’s clearance is actually temporary (officially “interim”), but don’t bet against it being made permament – despite the fact that “the security clearance process is designed to determine the trustworthiness of an individual prior to granting him or her access to classified national security information.” We live in Orwellian times, when “trustworthiness” is deemed synonymous with serial lying and concealing.
For evidence, look no further than Kushner’s SF-86, the security clearance disclosure form which requires that applicants list all contacts “with a foreign national within the last seven years.” The form warns that “willful false statements” may be “punishable by fine or imprisonment or both,” and that any failure to come clean “may have a negative effect on (the applicant’s) security clearance…including denial or revocation.”
Back in January, Kushner initially listed no contacts on his form. Then, after the free and independent press, unearthed contacts, Kushner’s lawyer said the form had been “mistakenly submitted,” and that there had been “numerous” contacts. Months went by, until finally Kushner amended the form for the second time to list roughly 100 contacts (all of which had apparently slipped his mind), but he somehow forgot to mention the now-infamous June ’16 meeting. He didn’t amend his form (for the third time) to list those Russian contacts until after the press exposed that meeting.
The spin from his lawyer has been thigh-slappingly hilarious. She initially insisted that Kushner had neglected to list the 100 contacts only because some staffer had hit the “send” button too soon. For those of you who know your Watergate history, that conjured memories of Nixon secretary Rose Mary Woods, who insisted that she’d mistakenly erased key Watergate tapes by contorting herself at her desk – answering the phone while working the tape machine, or whatever.
But because the ” send” button story sounded so stupid, his lawyer is gone to Plan B: lying. She says, “Mr. Kushner has tried to be fully transparent and responsive,” despite trying precisely the opposite.
As former CIA analyst Phil Mudd said earlier this week, speaking for his fellow intelligence officers, “If we had gone through the process for a clearance and this (contact info) had been disclosed later, would we have been given a clearance? The answer is no…You’re talking about meetings with a hostile foreign power…You’ve got to be kidding me, I don’t know how he even has clearance.”
But he has it because Trump will always protect the family business – even at the expense of America’s business. So it goes, at the six-month mark of a presidency that feels like six years.
Hat tip to my summer research assistant, Dominic Casciato.
Joke of the day:
A lawyer, a spy, a mob boss, and a money launderer walk into a bar. The bartender says: “You guys must be here to talk about adoption.”