Trump: Chief of staff Kelly to settle
Kushner security dispute
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[February 24, 2018]
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Friday he will
leave it to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to settle a security
clearance dispute involving son-in-law and top aide Jared Kushner, but
left little doubt he wants the case settled in a way that allows Kushner
to keep his job.
Problems with security clearance for White House aides surfaced this
month in fallout over the abrupt resignation of White House staff
secretary Rob Porter over allegations of domestic abuse against two
Kushner is one of dozens of aides operating under an interim clearance,
not yet fully cleared due to complications in their backgrounds. In the
case of Kushner, a wealthy New York businessman, his financial links
have taken a long time to examine.
Kelly a week ago set Friday as the deadline for adjudicating the cases
of Kushner and others in clearance limbo. A source familiar with the
matter said earlier this week that the situation had caused tensions
between Kushner and Kelly.
Trump, at a joint news conference with visiting Australian Prime
Minister Malcolm Turnbull, said "General Kelly respects Jared a lot and
General Kelly will make that call" on how to resolve the issue.
With Kelly seated nearby, Trump said: "I have no doubt he will make the
Trump heaped praise on Kushner, a leader in the administration's
attempts to resurrect moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. He noted
that Kushner does not receive a salary.
White House officials have been trying to smooth over the dispute in a
way that would allow Kushner to continue his work, the source familiar
with the matter said.
[to top of second column]
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens as U.S. President
Donald Trump (background) holds a meeting on trade with members of
Congress at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2018.
The source said there were frustrations on both sides between
Kushner and Kelly and they wanted to find a solution.
Trump has the option of simply granting a security clearance to
Kushner but officials wanted to avoid that option. There was no
sense that Kushner would be leaving his job.
Options included giving Kushner a lesser clearance that would allow
him to keep doing his job.
Kelly said in a statement on Thursday that he would not comment one
anyone's specific security clearance situation.
"As I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to
continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio
including overseeing our Israeli-Palestinian peace effort and
serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico.
Everyone in the White House is grateful for these valuable
contributions to furthering the Presidentís agenda. There is no
truth to any suggestion otherwise," Kelly said.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and David
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