July 17, 2017

Hirono, Blumenthal, Franken Lead Call to Demand Suspension of Kushner’s Security Clearance Due to Russia Actions

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Senators Mazie K. Hirono, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Al Franken (D-Minn.) demanded the security clearance of White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner be immediately suspended, pending a review of newly revealed information about Kushner’s contacts with Russian lobbyists and government-linked agents.

Following the revelation of a meeting Kushner, along with Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, held with Russian government-linked agents, Kushner’s very presence in the White House – including his significant access to some of our nation’s most highly classified information – may pose a danger to this country.

“Mr. Kushner attended a meeting which was held with the stated purpose to receive Russian government information intended to influence a U.S. election. Mr. Kushner omitted this fact on his security clearance reform. Most disturbingly, Mr. Kushner sought a secret channel to communicate with the Kremlin,” wrote the Senators. “Given the enormity of the outstanding national security concerns regarding his conduct, Mr. Kushner should not retain access to our nation’s most critical secrets.”

 The letter follows a June request made by Senators Blumenthal, Franken, and Hirono for a review of Kushner’s security clearance after troubling allegations Kushner had concealed meetings with Russian officials – among them Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and VEB Chairman Sergey Gorkov – on his security clearance application.

The full letter is available here, and copied below.

 

July 13, 2017

Marcia Lee Kelly

Deputy Assistant to the President

Director of White House Management and Office of Administration

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest

Washington, D.C.  20500

 

Dear Director Kelly:

We write to follow up on our June 21, 2017 request that you initiate an immediate review of the suitability of Jared Kushner, Senior Adviser to the President, for continued access to highly classified national security information. We also request that you suspend Mr. Kushner’s clearance pending completion of that review.

We are disappointed that we have not yet received a response to our request made over three weeks ago. Since we made our request, troubling new reports have emerged that Mr. Kushner attended a meeting at Trump Tower with Russian government-linked Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, alongside Donald Trump Jr. and Paul J. Manafort, in June 2016. It appears that Mr. Kushner received emails prior to this meeting suggesting that its purpose was to provide the Trump campaign with information harmful to Hillary Clinton on behalf of the Russian government. Additionally, it appears that Ms. Veselnitskaya may have conveyed a message on behalf of the Russian government about a quid pro quo regarding Russia’s adoption ban and U.S. sanctions under the Magnitsky Act during this meeting. At the time of the meeting, Ms. Veselnitskaya was working as a counsel for Russian real estate magnate Denis Katsyv, owner of Prevezon Holdings, who was facing U.S. federal money laundering charges in the Southern District of New York. Facts underlying the Prevezon case led to the passage of the Magnitsky Act in 2012.

There are conflicting reports about when Mr. Kushner amended his security clearance paperwork to include information about his attendance of the June 2016 meeting with Ms. Veselnitskaya but it appears he did not do so prior to April 2017.

We remain concerned by earlier reports – discussed in our June 21, 2017 request – about Mr. Kushner’s contacts with other Russian officials that he did not disclose when he applied for a security clearance. This includes Mr. Kushner’s meeting with Sergey Gorkov, chairman of the Russian government-owned Vnesheconombank, upon the request of Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in December 2016.  We are also troubled by the revelation that Mr. Kushner sought to establish a secretive communications channel to the Russian government using Russian diplomatic facilities during the presidential transition.  It is still unclear whether he notified background investigators about this.

Such ongoing disclosures raise serious questions concerning Mr. Kushner’s suitability for continued access to classified information. The New York Times further has just reported that sources close to Mr. Kushner say he amended his list of foreign contacts for his security clearance three times, adding more than 100 names. Given Mr. Kushner’s pattern of delay in reporting contacts, we are deeply concerned that he may not have disclosed additional contacts with foreign individuals or had other inappropriate Russian contacts.

In summary: Mr. Kushner attended a meeting which was held with the stated purpose to receive Russian government information intended to influence a U.S. election. Mr. Kushner omitted this fact on his security clearance reform. Most disturbingly, Mr. Kushner sought a secret channel to communicate with the Kremlin. Given the enormity of the outstanding national security concerns regarding his conduct, Mr. Kushner should not retain access to our nation’s most critical secrets.

 An immediate review of the security clearance provided to Mr. Kushner is necessary to ensure the continued integrity of your respective clearance adjudication standards. Please keep us apprised of any decision regarding the status of Mr. Kushner’s security clearance.  We look forward to your timely response and thank you in advance for your compliance with this request. 

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