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samurai_sarah

Ivanka and Jared 2: Tarnished Gold

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GreyhoundFan

From Jennifer Rubin: "This is why Kushner’s gargantuan debt matters"

Spoiler

Politico reports:

Jared Kushner, a White House aide and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, appears to have drawn more money out of three separate lines of credit in the months after he joined the White House last year, a newly released document shows.

Recent revisions to the financial disclosure form filed by Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, bumped up each of those debts to a range of $5 million to $25 million.

Versions of the couple’s disclosures made public in July valued those debts at $1 million to $5 million apiece. The loans were extended by three banks: Bank of America, New York Community Bank and Signature Bank. . . . One debt did drop in value as Ivanka Trump’s form was revised: the amount owed on a Visa account went down to a range of $50,001 to $100,000, from $100,001 to $250,000.

(As an aside, who carries that much credit-card debt? Are the Kushners’ liquid assets so low that their lifestyle has to be paid for by borrowing at presumably outrageous rates?)

Kushner’s financial problems relating to his 2007 purchase of the 666 Fifth Ave. building for $1.8 billion have come up in the context of the Russia investigation. Last September the Wall Street Journal reported:

Some of President Donald Trump’s lawyers earlier this summer concluded that Jared Kushner should step down as senior White House adviser because of possible legal complications related to a probe of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election and aired concerns about him to the president, people familiar with the matter said.

Among their concerns was that Mr. Kushner was the adviser closest to the president who had the most dealings with Russian officials and businesspeople during the campaign and transition, some of which are currently being examined by federal investigators and congressional oversight panels. Mr. Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and confidant, has said he had four such meetings or interactions.

Another issue was Mr. Kushner’s initial omission of any contacts with foreign officials from the form required to obtain a security clearance. He later updated the form several times to include what he has said were more than 100 contacts with foreign officials.

Kushner met with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, to discuss a secret back-channel and with the head of a sanctioned Russian bank, Vnesheconombank (VEB). (“The conversation is curious not only because it represents a top Trump official secretly meeting with an arm of the Russian government, but also because accounts of the meeting differ in important ways,” the Atlantic’s David Graham noted at the time. “Kushner says he attended the meeting in his capacity as an adviser to President-elect Trump. But VEB says that the meeting concerned Kushner’s family real-estate business.”) And he was present at the now-infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by a Kremlin-connected lawyer.

Kushner’s financial problems make these contacts all the more troubling. As he was racking up debt, law professor Jed Shugerman tells me, Kushner “also just coincidentally was setting up secret lines to the Kremlin and was meeting with [Russian President Vladmir] Putin’s banker a month after the election. And he just coincidentally was meeting with Russians offering dirt in Trump Tower during the election.” He explains, “Kushner’s massive debts are an important piece of the entire Russia conspiracy on some of the parties’ motives (Kushner, Michael Flynn and Trump) for such inexplicable behavior and such risk-taking.”

In addition to the Russia investigation, prosecutors in Brooklyn have subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank, which has lent “hundreds of millions to the Kushner family real estate business.” (As the New York Times noted, “there is no indication that the subpoena is related to the investigation being conducted by Robert S. Mueller III.”) The Post has reported that a month before Election Day 2016, “Kushner’s real estate company finalized a $285 million loan as part of a refinancing package for its property near Times Square in Manhattan. The loan came at a critical moment. Kushner was playing a key role in the presidential campaign of his father-in-law, Donald Trump. The lender, Deutsche Bank, was negotiating to settle a federal mortgage fraud case and charges from New York state regulators that it aided a possible Russian money-laundering scheme. The cases were settled in December and January.”

In sum, Kushner has huge and growing debt, many suspicious Russian contacts and a close relationship (perhaps second only to Ivanka’s) with Trump. “The more money Kushner owes, especially to lenders or guarantors who do not have America’s best interests at heart, the more he and his father-in-law the President are subject to compromising pressures at best and outright blackmail at worst,” constitutional lawyer Larry Tribe tells me. “The fact that Kushner, without full security clearance, is permitted to peruse the President’s Daily Briefing, containing the most secret information that exists, makes all of Kushner’s financial obligations and debts urgent threats to our national security. This situation is unconscionable.”

Perhaps those Trump lawyers were right — the president would have been much better off without the Russian-entangled Kushner in his administration.

I think we'd all be better off if Jared was not part of this administration.

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fraurosena
7 hours ago, GreyhoundFan said:

I think we'd all be better off if Jared was not part of this administration.

Well, that's an understatement if ever there was one!

What I just don't get is this: there are checks and balances in place to prevent these kinds of situations. To prevent having potentially blackmailable (is that even a word?) people in positions of power. However, it is utterly contemptible that those who should employ those checks and balances, the reps on the Hill, are simply refusing to do so and choose to look the other way. 

These enablers should be tried for treason. I sincerely hope they are once they are ousted. They are just as guilty, if not more so, than those in the WH being blackmailed at the moment.

They are the worst of the worst. 

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fraurosena

Heh. I wonder how this news went down in the Kushner household this morning...

 

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GrumpyGran
59 minutes ago, fraurosena said:

Heh. I wonder how this news went down in the Kushner household this morning...

 

I'm waiting for the hilarious moment when Jared gets indicted by the NY AG and Dumpy pops up yelling about a pardon and some poor sap has to pull him aside and explain that that can't happen. It will be fun to watch Dump go ballistic.

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AmazonGrace

This is Jared. Jared has money. Jared does not want to tell you about his money.

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GrumpyGran
19 hours ago, AmazonGrace said:

This is Jared. Jared has money. Jared does not want to tell you about his money.

These two spent too much time swanning around celebrating their new access to influence and power after the election. Not enough time creating their cover story about all that dirty money and shady contacts. Dumb criminals.

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AmazonGrace

 

Spoiler

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly announced Friday that beginning next week, the White House will no longer allow some employees with interim security clearances access to top-­secret information — a move that could threaten the standing of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law.

Kushner, a senior adviser to the president, has been able to see some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets even as his background investigation has dragged on for more than a year.

White House officials have privately discussed concerns that Kushner’s clearance faces obstacles, according to people familiar with internal conversations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private talks. Among the potential problems: repeated amendments that he had to make to a form detailing his contacts with foreign officials. Two U.S. officials said they do not expect Kushner to receive a permanent security clearance in the near future, The Washington Post reported last week.

In the meantime, Kushner has maintained an interim clearance that gives him access to top-secret and sensitive compartmented information — a rare level of access to hold for a long period of time, experts said. His elite position has allowed him to meet with foreign officials around the world and read the classified intelligence prepared daily for the president.

A senior administration official with knowledge of Kelly’s thinking said that the chief of staff has been frustrated with Kushner’s high level of access without a final clearance and that he was aware the new policies announced Friday could jeopardize Kushner’s ability to carry out his duties in the West Wing. The move puts a “bull’s eye” on Kushner, the official said.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has had access to top-secret information while his security clearance investigation is pending. (Jabin Botsford/Washington, D.C.)

A spokesman for Kushner did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Kushner, said Kelly’s directive “will not affect Mr. Kushner’s ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the president.” White House officials declined to comment on how the new policies would specifically affect Kushner.

Kushner’s ability to maintain his current portfolio, which includes classified briefings, could change next week. That’s when Kelly said he plans to discontinue high levels of access for White House employees whose security clearances have been pending since June 1 or longer, according to a memo obtained by The Post.

As part of the security clearance overhaul, Kelly said the White House has reviewed the status of outstanding background investigations with the FBI and encouraged their timely completion. And he laid out new policies to streamline the clearance process and better involve the White House Counsel’s Office.

Related: [Kelly makes changes to White House security clearance process following abuse allegations against top aide]

The changes were prompted by intense scrutiny that has followed domestic-abuse allegations against Rob Porter, the president’s former staff secretary, who was also working under an interim top-secret clearance. Dozens of other White House personnel also work under interim clearances, although not all of them are at the top-secret level.

“The events of the last ten days have focused immense attention on a clearance process that has been in place for multiple administrations,” Kelly wrote. “We should — and in the future, must — do better.”

Related: [As Jared Kushner’s security clearance is delayed, White House hesitates to act on others with possible problems]

It is not clear how Kushner could perform his job without a high-level security clearance.

He holds a broad range of responsibilities, from overseeing peace efforts in the Middle East to improving the efficiency of the federal government. And he is the administration’s interlocutor with key allies, including China and Saudi Arabia, where he has developed a personal relationship with the young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

Kushner has been present at meetings with the president where classified information was discussed and has access to the President’s Daily Brief, a digest of intelligence updates based on information from spies, satellites, and surveillance technology, according to people with knowledge of his access. 

And apart from staff on the National Security Council, he issues more requests for information to the intelligence community than any White House employee, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.

Experts said it is rare to have such a high level of interim security clearance for such a long period of time. It is particularly striking access for someone like Kushner, who has never served in government and has a complex history of financial transactions, business ownership and contacts and dealings with foreigners.

Most interim clearances are granted by the Defense Department, where they expire after 12 months, said Evan Lesser, president and founder of ClearanceJobs.com, which helps place cleared employees in government positions. Typically, other agencies follow that policy. “It’s very unusual” to have an interim clearance for longer than one year, Lesser said.

Kushner’s background investigation appears to have been prolonged after he filed three updates last year to a questionnaire that requires full disclosure of contacts with foreign officials reaching back several years.

Investigators scrutinize those activities to determine whether a person could be subject to influence or blackmail by a foreign government and to judge whether the person can be trusted to guard classified information. 

Ordinarily, experts said, the failure to completely disclose all contacts would jeopardize an applicant’s chances of obtaining final clearance.

Lowell, Kushner’s attorney, said Kushner had disclosed more information on his security forms than was required out of an abundance of caution.

“My inquiries to those involved again have confirmed that there are a dozen or more people at Mr. Kushner’s level whose process is delayed, that it is not uncommon for this process to take this long in a new administration, that the current backlogs are being addressed, and no concerns were raised about Mr. Kushner’s application,” he said in a statement.

The FBI declined to comment. 

Inside the White House, officials — including White House Counsel Donald McGahn — have privately discussed during the past six months the slow pace of Kushner’s background investigation, noting his amended disclosure as a possible factor.

In the fall, McGahn discussed the fact that Kushner was working on an interim clearance with Kelly and again raised the issue of his earlier incomplete disclosures, according to a senior administration official. McGahn and Kelly decided to wait for the FBI to complete its background investigation and took no action.

Kushner’s pending security clearance comes as his actions and business dealings have come under scrutiny from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is probing Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

 

In interviews with witnesses, Mueller’s investigators have asked about Kushner’s contacts with foreign officials, according to a person familiar with the sessions.

Lowell said Kushner’s job is “to talk with foreign officials, which he has done and continues to do properly.”

Kushner is only the most notable White House staffer working without a final clearance.

The White House appears to have issued more interim clearances than previous administrations, probably because of the larger number of people who have never been civil servants and gone through the clearance process, or who came to their jobs with complicated business and financial histories, according to Lesser.

“We’re in uncharted territory here for a lot of people in the White House,” he said. 

The White House Security Office is tasked with making a final assessment of the findings of an FBI background investigation.

But the White House’s adjudication guidelines are different from those of other government agencies and departments and give wide latitude for awarding clearances. Ultimately, the president can give clearance to anyone he wants. 

 

Edited by AmazonGrace

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GreyhoundFan

"“This Is the New War”: Jared Kushner, Amid a Showdown with Kelly, Prepares for Battle with a Weekend in the Caribbean"

Spoiler

“You’re going to have a showdown on the 23rd,” one person close to the White House told me Monday afternoon, presaging a potential skirmish between John Kelly, Donald Trump’s chief of staff, and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior aide. Kelly has alienated supporters within the West Wing over his handling of the Rob Porter scandal. And last Friday, when Kelly issued a memo outlining changes to the White House security-clearance protocol in the post-Porter era, people around the White House wondered whether Kushner may be one of them. Effective this coming Friday, February 23, Kelly has announced that White House employees without a permanent security clearance, whose applications have been pending since June 1—a category that includes Kushner—will no longer be issued an interim clearance. (Abbe Lowell, Kushner’s attorney, has noted that it is “not uncommon for this process to take this long in a new administration” and said that “no concerns were raised” about his client’s application.)

Initially, some saw it as a calculated move. As The Washington Post reported last week, Kelly has been irked by Kushner’s access to high-level information without a permanent clearance, and was well aware of the fact that his new policy could put up a roadblock for the First Son-in-Law, who had been jokingly referred to as “the Secretary of Everything.” The person close to the White House described the interplay in all its delicacy: “You have Jared, who’s been floating ideas of who his father-in-law will replace Kelly with, on one side; and Kelly, who’s basically saying, ‘Fuck you, Jared.’” A source familiar with Kushner’s thinking said that he does not blame anyone for the memo and does not feel like he has been unfairly targeted. “Does he feel like it raises a lot of questions that need to be answered? Yes.” (The source disputed reports that Kushner and his wife, fellow White House aide Ivanka Trump, have pushed for Kelly’s ouster, saying the two have been privately supportive of the chief of staff and have vocally stood up to his critics.)

By Tuesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attempted to answer some of those questions at the press briefing. “No decision within the memo will impact anything that Jared Kushner is working on,” she said, adding that “nothing that has taken place will affect the valuable work Jared is doing.”

The memo is another setback for a White House again consumed by chaos. While Trump attempted to roll out his second so-called Infrastructure Week, last week, his administration was consumed by the ongoing Porter scandal, Scott Pruitt’s latest airline hijinks, and news that Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin had the government foot the bill for a personal travel concierge and his wife’s expenses on a 10-day Euro trip last summer, which included a stop at Wimbledon. The fallout from l’affaire Stormy Daniels also continued as The New Yorker published an account of another Playboy model who claims she had an affair with Trump around the same time. This was all subsumed, of course, by the tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people lost their lives, Trump’s refusal to mention guns in his speech after the massacre, and the students’ moving effort to petition lawmakers about gun violence. The week capped off with special counsel Robert Mueller indicting 13 Russians for interference in the 2016 presidential election, just as President Trump headed out for a three-day weekend at his private club in Palm Beach with his adult sons, Don Jr. and Eric.

So set off a weekend of hysterical tweeting, even by Trumpian standards. Trump stated that Russians were “laughing their asses off” because they so clearly succeeded in sowing the chaos they’d set out to create; he blamed Democrats and President Barack Obama for not doing enough to stop Russian interference; he referred to a member of Congress as a “monster”; and he accused the F.B.I. of “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign” that investigators missed signals that could have stopped the deadly school shooting. But as Trump melted down at Mar-a-Lago, and the administration reeled from one of the most dismal weeks in 13 months, Kushner and Ivanka weren’t in the country. According to two people familiar with their travel plans, the senior aides took a holiday in the sun, enjoying the long weekend in the Caribbean.

The Trump-Kushners have a history of skipping town during rough patches. When the Trump campaign languished in the summer of 2016, they jetted off to David Geffen’s yacht in Croatia with their friend Wendi Deng. Last March, as the administration’s first attempt at overhauling Obamacare fell apart, Ivanka, Kushner, and her siblings took a spring-break trip to Aspen. They attended the Allen & Co.’s so-called “summer camp for billionaires” in Sun Valley in July, just before Kushner answered questions from congressional investigators probing ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. A month later, they took a Trump Organization helicopter to Vermont, for a two-day getaway at a ritzy hotel in the midst of the Charlottesville debacle.

The optics of flying off for a holiday in the Caribbean come at a particularly tenuous time for Kushner. He returned from the sandy beaches as CNN broke the story that Mueller has been asking questions about his efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition. (Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, discarded the report, saying that in all of his client’s cooperation with inquirers, there has not been a single question asked or document sought about Kushner Co. deals.)

Sources close to both families have told me that before the couple decided to move to Washington, they warned Kushner and Ivanka that they would be putting themselves and their families’ companies under unnecessary scrutiny. “We wanted to protect them,” one person who advised them told me on Monday, “but you can’t protect people when they’re voluntarily sticking their head into the fucking guillotine.” Within Trump Tower, during the heady days of the presidential transition, everyone was blinded by a proximity to money and power, this person added. “It was a revolving door of sovereign funds and heads of state and mega-billionaires all coming to kiss the president’s ring, but the son-in-law was the one greeting them at the door.”

None of the couple’s friends in New York expect Kelly’s memo, or the impending showdown over Kushner’s security clearance, to send the couple packing. Despite the media circus surrounding the Mueller probe, they are, generally speaking, happier than they were in the chaotic early days of the Trump administration, in part because of personnel decisions and management systems Kelly put in place to professionalize the West Wing. Those include ousting Reince Priebus, with whom Kushner and Ivanka feuded, and exiling Steve Bannon, the source of many of their headaches in the press. As such, some of the leaks trashing the couple have stopped or at least slowed, allowing both aides to stay focused on the narrower slate of issues within their remit.

That Kelly has made their lives easier does not mean Kushner is not frustrated by the way the memo played out. “This is the new war,” one person who spoke with Kushner said, though they didn’t expect the standoff would drag on. “Jared may have finally met his match,” the person close to the White House noted. “Who knows how this one goes?”

 

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GrumpyGran

Mental midgets, these two. They think they're winning because they've vanquished their enemies. An actual Barbie doll has more in its head than she does. And his undeserved arrogance is laughable. If he hadn't married her he'd end up in cement overshoes at the bottom of a river.

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Cartmann99

I think my brain is broken. Every time I see this thread on my notifications, George Jones and Tammy Wynette pop up in my head and start singing this song:

 

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GreyhoundFan

From Jennifer Rubin: "Jared Kushner encapsulates what’s wrong with the Trump administration"

Spoiler

Let’s face it: Jared Kushner shouldn’t be in the White House to begin with. A callow man with little experience outside the world of real estate, no policy depth and no credibility in government (or around the world) might be employable as an intern, but in any other administration would not be there. That he is there, that he has an enormous portfolio and that he has operated for more than a year without a permanent security clearance (we suspect for very, very good reasons) tell you plenty about the deficiencies of this presidency.

CNN (as other outlets have) reports:

White House chief of staff John Kelly has been locked in an internal struggle with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner over his access to highly classified information for weeks now, a confrontation that has escalated amid a recent policy overhaul and the resignation of a staff secretary who was accused of spousal abuse.

The dispute has deepened a growing rift between Kelly and Kushner, who initially welcomed the new system of rigor instituted by the chief of staff but has since grown frustrated by what he views as attempts to limit his access to the President.

Kelly distributed a five-page memo Friday announcing that the White House will no longer allow some employees with interim security clearances to access to top secret information if their background investigation has been pending since before last June — a category Kushner falls into.

Ironically, some in the White House considered this an “affront,” apparently to Kushner, rather than a long-overdue correction. To make matters worse, “Kushner is one of the few White House officials who regularly receives the President’s Daily Brief” and reportedly makes more requests for intelligence materials than any other non-National Security Council adviser. We would frankly like to know why this is — because he has responsibilities far outside his range of knowledge? Because he uses the material for nongovernmental purposes? Because he doesn’t appreciate the sensitivity of the information?

Several aspects to this situation are deeply troubling.

First, the reason that Kushner’s permanent clearance has not been approved may relate to his excessive number of revisions to his disclosure paperwork, his meetings during the transition with head of a sanctioned Russian bank and another with officials to discuss setting up a “back channel” outside the purview of American intelligence and/or his dependence on foreign funding for his real estate business. The real problem may not be the security clearance but his dealings with Russia, which reports suggest is becoming of greater interest to the special counsel.

Beyond that, indulging Kushner in this way makes a mockery of the classification system. “Permitting someone with unresolved security issues to continue to access our most sensitive intelligence makes a charade of our clearance process, sets a double standard, and presents a clear and present danger to sources and methods,” former FBI official Frank Figliuzzi tells me. Others in the administration see that the system means little and that there are no consequences for submitting incomplete or inaccurate material to apply for a clearance. Someone like Trump, who said Hillary Clinton was unfit for the presidency because of reckless handling of classified material, should be held to exactly the same standard. (Trump already showed himself to be far more reckless than Clinton in blabbing code-word intelligence to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in the Oval Office.)

Kushner is the perfect example of one transgression begetting more. Trump violates the norms against nepotism in the White House. (Anti-nepotism rules are there for a reason: You can rarely fire a relative.) Worse, he hires a relative who is totally unqualified (and incidentally goes on to render horrible advice, reportedly including encouragement for Trump to fire James B. Comey as FBI director. Still worse than that, he hires an unqualified relative with suspicious ties to the Russians and a pattern of failing to reveal those ties. And to top it all off, he gives the unqualified relative with inappropriate Russian contacts access to intelligence materials.

If the administration’s operation seems to be getting more chaotic and incompetent by the day, it is because decisions early in the presidency are now coming home to roost. And in the case of Kushner, the current debacle reflects Trump’s own refusal to grasp the responsibilities of his office.

She's right that things seem to be getting more chaotic daily. I shudder to think where and when the bottom will be hit.

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GreyhoundFan

Hmmm: "Trump says chief of staff Kelly will handle decisions about Jared Kushner's security clearance"

Spoiler

President Trump said Friday that he will leave any decisions regarding his son-in-law Jared Kushner's security clearance to his chief of staff, John F. Kelly.

“That will be up to Gen. Kelly,” Trump said during a news conference with Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday afternoon. “Gen. Kelly respects Jared a lot, and Gen. Kelly will make that call — I won't make that call. I will let the general, who's right here, make that call.”

Trump later added: “I will let Gen. Kelly make that decision, and he's going to do what's right for the country. And I have no doubt that he will make the right decision.”

Kelly has said that starting on Friday, the White House will no longer allow some employees with interim security clearances access to top-secret information — a move that could threaten Kushner, a senior adviser to the president whose background investigation has lasted for more than a year. Despite not having a final clearance, Kushner has had a high level of access in the White House and has seen some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets.

During the news conference, a reporter asked Trump if he would be willing to grant a waiver for Kushner. The president responded by praising his son-in-law as being "a high-quality person" who has "done an outstanding job" at the White House and is not receiving any pay. Trump said that Kushner has been "treated very unfairly" and criticized the process by which people receive security clearances.

“We inherited a system that's broken,” Trump said, adding that it has taken "months and months and months" to get clearances for many of his staffers, even for those who do not have complicated finances. "It's a broken system, and it shouldn't take this long.”

White House officials have privately discussed concerns that Kushner’s clearance faces obstacles, according to people familiar with internal conversations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private talks. Among the potential problems: repeated amendments that he had to make to a form detailing his contacts with foreign officials.

A senior administration official with knowledge of Kelly’s thinking said that the chief of staff has been frustrated with Kushner’s high level of access without a final clearance and that he was aware the new policies could jeopardize Kushner’s ability to carry out his duties in the West Wing. The move puts a “bull’s eye” on Kushner, the official said.

 

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GreyhoundFan

Understatement of the day from Jennifer Rubin: "Don’t hire relatives: Kushner should have been gone long ago"

Spoiler

The Post reports:

A top Justice Department official alerted the White House two weeks ago that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay the security clearance process of senior adviser Jared Kushner, according to three people familiar with the discussion.

The Feb. 9 phone call from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to White House Counsel Donald McGahn came amid growing public scrutiny of a number of administration officials without final security clearances. Most prominent among them is Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, who has had access to some of the nation’s most sensitive material for over a year while waiting for his background investigation to be completed.

A week after the call from Rosenstein, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly announced that staffers whose clearances have not been finalized will no longer be able to view top-secret information — meaning that Kushner stood to lose his status as early as Friday.

We do not know for certain why Kushner’s security clearance has been held up. Suffice it to say, however, that if a senior staffer in any other administration had to repeatedly amend his disclosure statements, failed initially to disclose meetings with Russians during the transition (including one in which a back channel cutting out our intelligence services was discussed), ran up huge personal debts and consulted with a now-fired, indicted White House official, he would have been denied a clearance and shown the door. (“Kushner’s actions during the transition have been referenced in the guilty plea of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who admitted he lied to the FBI about contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak,” The Post reports. “Prosecutors said Flynn was acting in consultation with a senior Trump transition official, whom people familiar with the matter have identified as Kushner.”)

It isn’t surprising that Chief of Staff John F. Kelly would be happy to see Kushner go. (“Kelly has told associates that he is uncomfortable with Kushner’s uncertain security clearance status and his unique role as both a family member and staffer, according to people familiar with the conversations. He has said he would not be upset if the president’s son-in-law and his wife, Ivanka Trump, left their positions as full-time employees.”) Aside from whatever political backstabbing might be going on (Kushner’s wife Ivanka Trump is purportedly involved in trying to replace Kelly), Kushner now stands in violation of the deadline Kelly imposed to end all interim security clearances. If Kushner remains and gets special treatment, the message from the White House is clear: The Trump family doesn’t meet basic security requirements and gets special treatment. The mixed message to the rest of the White House staff undermines Kelly’s authority and ability to force compliance with essential security requirements.

Taking a step back, in any other White House a senior adviser whose job requires access to classified material would be obliged at the very least to step away from duties pertaining to national security. We have known since May 2017 that Kushner was under investigation. (The Post reported on May 19, 2017: “The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.” That person was later identified as Kushner.) “Under no circumstances should Kushner have maintained his security clearance this entire time, given the nature of the conduct that is under investigation,” says former Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller. “And without a security clearance, he couldn’t be in the job he’s been in.”

Norman L. Eisen, former ethics counsel for President Barack Obama, tells me: “Kushner should have been gone — and in Obama’s or any other White House, would have been gone — as soon as the red flags of his dozens of omissions on his security clearance and financial disclosure forms began to accumulate. That is because they signaled the trouble ahead. It is only because of nepotism (also a violation of federal law, by the way) that he is still there.” (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, of which Eisen is the board chair, sent a letter to Kelly on Feb. 15 demanding that Kushner’s temporary clearance be revoked, citing multiple factors — e.g. foreign influence, omission of information — that would trigger a denial of clearance under existing regulations and executive orders.)

Unless Kushner has been entirely cleared of wrongdoing, his continued presence in his current White House role is unprecedented and inexcusable. He is entitled to the legal presumption of innocence, but not to a high White House post with a top security clearance so long as there is credible information to believe he acted improperly with regard to the matters under investigation. If this were a corporate setting, a high-level executive would be put on “leave” pending conclusion of an investigation. Former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub tells me, “It’s ridiculous that Kushner still works in the White House, all the more so that he has access to classified information. Anybody else would be gone, but the Justice Department consigned us to this fate when it [condoned] nepotism in the White House.”

We raise this point about Kushner’s presence to underscore how entirely abnormal is the situation the country finds itself. His continuing role in the White House demonstrates just how far out of bounds is the conduct of this White House and the degree to which the administration now serves Trump’s personal and family interests rather than the nation’s. Unfortunately, as we have learned, the country at large begins to become accustomed to the inexcusable — if the inexcusable goes on long enough.

 

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GreyhoundFan

"President Trump's tweet praising daughter Ivanka totally backfires". I'm not going to quote here, because there are so many wonderful responses that are worth a read. I bet he had a hissy fit that people weren't fawning over Princess Ivanka as much as he was.

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fraurosena
1 hour ago, GreyhoundFan said:

"President Trump's tweet praising daughter Ivanka totally backfires". I'm not going to quote here, because there are so many wonderful responses that are worth a read. I bet he had a hissy fit that people weren't fawning over Princess Ivanka as much as he was.

This one wasn't included in that article, but it gave me a good giggle:

 

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GreyhoundFan

Aw, Princess doesn't want to be questioned: "Ivanka Trump says it’s ‘inappropriate’ to ask her about her father’s alleged affairs. Here are 2 big reasons it’s not."

Spoiler

Back in November 2016, Ivanka Trump chased off a "60 Minutes” question about joining the White House staff by saying, “No, I'm going to be a daughter.” The implication: Being a daughter was different from being a presidential adviser.

Except, apparently, when it comes to talking about President Trump's alleged personal misdeeds.

NBC News's Peter Alexander asked Ivanka Trump in an interview airing Monday about accusations that her father engaged in multiple affairs a decade ago and that the women were effectively paid to keep quiet. Trump quickly played the Daughter Card. “I think it’s a pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter if she believes the accusers of her father when he’s affirmatively stated there’s no truth to it,” she said.

There has been plenty of chatter about whether the question was appropriate — whether there should be any exception made for a senior White House adviser who just happens to be working for her dad. Comparisons are being drawn to how then-first daughter Chelsea Clinton was treated when it came to President Bill Clinton's alleged misdeeds.

I think we can say a couple things about this episode.

The first is that Trump is asking for special treatment simply by virtue of who she is. There is no other way to read it. If she were any other presidential adviser, the question would not have seemed out of bounds to anybody. By installing his daughter and her husband in high-ranking positions in the White House, President Trump has created this uneasy balance — both for his advisers/family and for the media.

It's also hugely important to note that the interview was conducted while Ivanka Trump was on official business at the Olympics in South Korea — during a trip, no less, in which the White House emphasized that she was acting as a diplomat rather than a daughter. The Washington Post's Jenna Johnson sums it up well:

But the second — and I would argue more important — point is that there are just so many unanswered questions here, which makes the question fair game. Trump would probably argue that she was singled out for this question because she is the president's daughter in addition to being an adviser. But the staff who have been asked about the allegations haven't exactly provided many answers.

The president's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has confirmed that he was behind that $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. But he only confirmed it in the face of a campaign finance complaint against him — after he offered vague denials about the whole thing. And Cohen's apparently carefully phrased statement about the matter also led to plenty of questions that he has said he will not answer.

The White House also has been silent on this from the briefing room podium. Deputy press secretary Raj Shah was pressed Thursday on the matter but wouldn't commit to getting any answers:

Q: Last week, the president’s personal lawyer acknowledged giving a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. Is the president aware that his lawyer paid that kind of money to a porn star to buy her silence? Does he approve of that?

SHAH: I haven’t asked him about it, but that matter has been asked and answered in the past.

Q: No, not since he acknowledged this. He acknowledged this last week. This is the first time we’ve had a chance to ask about it. So can you go back — can we find out if the president approves of the fact that his personal —

SHAH: I haven’t asked him about that.

Q: Will you ask him about that?

SHAH: I haven’t asked him about it.

Q: But will you ask him about it, Raj?

SHAH: I’ll get back to you.

The president has also been unusually silent about this whole thing. Despite calling women who accused him of sexual harassment “liars” in the past, Trump has been quieter about allegations from Daniels and Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal. Even in a New Yorker story on McDougal, a White House spokesman offered an odd statement that attributed the denial directly to Trump — rather than simply denying it. Likewise, Trump's previous denials have been filtered through Cohen, who originally said of the alleged Daniels affair: “President Trump once again vehemently denies any such occurrence, as has Ms. Daniels.”

The whole thing is just weird. There are so many unanswered questions, not least of which is whether Trump had any knowledge of or involvement in the payments. And the people who are tasked with answering those questions haven't done so. So when NBC has a sit-down with presidential adviser Ivanka Trump, you can understand why they'd want to ask.

 

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candygirl200413

So basically she can switch hats, one said she's first daughter, another day she is a senior advisor. Such horse shit. This is not how it works and answer was such crap.

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GreyhoundFan

"Ivanka Trump’s chronic problem"

Spoiler

Ivanka Trump tells us — tells NBC’s Peter Alexander, to be precise — that it is a “pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter” whether she believes her father’s alleged, and denied, sexual abuse and harassment. “I know my father,” she added. “So I think I have that right as a daughter to believe my father.”

Okay, I’m a daughter, too, and a piece of me sympathizes with Trump. She’s not responsible for her father’s behavior — he is. Loyalty to family is a virtue. And if there is more than a bit of see-no-evil in Trump’s assessment of her father’s accusers — “he’s affirmatively stated that there’s no truth to it,” she gamely offered — it is not easy for any of us to accept, no less publicly denounce, the flaws of relatives we did not choose. How, really, is she supposed to answer these questions?

Not like this: “I don’t think that’s a question you would ask many other daughters,” Trump told Alexander, her anger clearly simmering beneath a calm smile. Well, no, it’s not. Other daughters’ fathers aren’t the president of the United States. Other daughters’ fathers haven’t been so credibly, repeatedly accused. And other daughters in this excruciatingly uncomfortable position aren’t demanding to have it both ways: simultaneously possessing the immunity of the loyal child and wielding the power of the senior White House aide.

If Alexander’s query was a “pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter,” it seems like a rather reasonable one to ask a daughter with the title of assistant to the president. Especially one whose specific, self-assigned portfolio is promoting the interests of women and girls.

If Trump didn’t want to be asked questions like this, she didn’t have to take the job. She didn’t have to open the door to questions like this with her tweet last month cheering on Oprah Winfrey: “Let’s all come together, women & men, & say #TIMESUP.”

This is the chronic, insoluble problem posed by the Trump children. They want the assorted benefits that go with being a Trump without the accountability or other downside.

Look, Ivanka Trump made her choice. She could have — should have — stayed in New York and gone about her business. But she decided to join the administration, becoming, along with her husband, Jared Kushner, a staffer distinguished for being distinctly unqualified, resolutely oblivious to that lack of preparedness and insulated, by virtue of family ties, from ordinary consequences.

Her interview with Alexander came while she was on an official, taxpayer-funded trip to South Korea for the Olympics. She briefed the South Korean president on the new sanctions imposed on North Korea. Is she a daughter or a government official?

When questioned about Kushner’s security-clearance limbo in his news conference Friday with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, President Trump suggested that we should all be thankful for the services of his daughter and son-in-law, mentioning twice in the course of a single answer that they get “paid zero.” Of course, working for free is the ultimate sacrifice in the Trump universe.

“She gave up a very good and very strong, solid big business in order to come to Washington, because she wanted to help families and she wanted to help women,” Trump said. Ivanka Trump, he added, ignored his warnings that “Washington’s a mean place.”

She didn’t heed that advice, so there’s no reason to expect she’ll listen to this, either, but here goes. Ivanka, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the West Wing.

I agree, Ivanka (and Jared) should get out.

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Waffle Time
JMarie

Things that make you say hmmm

http://www.newsweek.com/ivanka-suite-trump-international-hotel-goes-2134-night-781136

Quote

The price of the “Ivanka suite” at the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. has more than doubled since Donald Trump became president, and a watchdog group says this is just the latest evidence of the first family cashing in on its time in the White House.

The suite, named after Trump’s oldest daughter and adviser, now goes for $2,134 per night, compared to just $914 at the same time in 2017, according to a new post by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which is led by former Obama ethics attorney Norm Eisen. A Newsweek review of the hotel’s listings on Sunday showed the room going for $2,054 for a one-night stay.

It used to be one of the hotel’s cheapest suites and now it is the most expensive, a chart detailing the prices of each of the swanky lodge’s multi-room offerings shows. During the same period of time, the price of an executive one-bedroom suite has been almost sliced in half.

But the reason behind the sharp increase is unclear. A year later, the suite hasn’t been upgraded and still has a similar description.

“At 860 sq. ft., this luxurious two level suite, with an internal staircase, has an upstairs private sitting area. Sophisticated and classically furnished decor with signature blues complement the rich wood and fabrics. The ground floor features a king size bed, custom luxurious bed and bath linens including plush robes, 55” high definition television with enhanced sound system, complimentary VOIP phone calls, refreshment center, bedside charging for all smartphones, executive desk, dressing closet, and spacious marble bath with separate deep soaking tub and shower and luxurious toiletries,” reads the description currently on the hotel’s website.

In fact, the only thing that really seems to have changed with the price jumped was the removal of a Nespresso machine, CREW said.

“So other than an attempt to profit off of Ivanka’s raised profile, what reason could they possibly have for drastically raising the price of the room while changing nothing about it?” the group wrote.

Critics have accused the Trump family of using its role in the White House for financial gain. Some experts have argued that the president’s retention of his business empire violates the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits the federal government from receiving gifts from foreign states.

Since becoming president, business at the Trump International Hotel has been booming and there have been several reports of foreign dignitaries choosing to stay there in a bid to curry favor with the president. 

Ivanka’s name has also been at the center of these arguments. She was found to be wearing items her Ivanka brand sells in more than two-thirds of her social media postings about official appearances, The Wall Street Journal found. And last year, adviser Kellyanne Conway urged television viewers to go buy the first daughter’s clothing from Nordstrom— a move that drew fierce criticism for using an official stage to promote Trump. 

So, more than twice the cost AND no Nespresso?

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AmazonGrace
6 hours ago, JMarie said:

Things that make you say hmmm

http://www.newsweek.com/ivanka-suite-trump-international-hotel-goes-2134-night-781136

So, more than twice the cost AND no Nespresso?

Well if you're going to pay more than 2K per night for a hotel stay you're not going to stoop as low as making your own coffee.

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GreyhoundFan

I so agree: "In the Ivanka Trump-John Kelly power struggle, I want both of them to lose"

Spoiler

(CNN)CNN has reported that there is a pitched White House battle underway between John Kelly, the Chief of Staff, and Ivanka Trump, whose position shifts between Advisor to the President and Daughter of the President, depending on the question she's being asked to answer.

It's hard to know which craven, power-hungry character to root for. Is it the trust-fund daughter who is apparently willing to use anything from feminism to daddy's connections to the White House to grow her fame and financial power, and offers batting eyelashes and a simpering smile to avoid having to play by the same rules as everyone else?

Or is it the hyper-masculine military man who built his reputation on service and order, only to look away from allegations of domestic violence and sexual harassment leveled at a member of his staff? A man who uses what is a largely apolitical role to push a punishing immigration policy and spend whatever bipartisan credit he had defending a President who makes a mockery of the office?

Can't they both lose?

The pair are reportedly in a cold war over the hazy roles held by Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, and over Kelly's attempts to impose order on a White House full of chaos monkeys.

The favorite Trump daughter embarked on a high-profile and high-stakes trip to South Korea last week while simultaneously positioning herself as "just a daughter" and refusing to answer totally in-bounds questions about her decision to work for an alleged serial harasser and assaulter of women.

Ivanka Trump, who still does not have a permanent security clearance, also engaged in private talks with the South Korean president, allegedly discussing her father's announcement of new North Korea sanctions and "the continued effort on the joint maximum pressure campaign against North Korea," according to the statement of a senior administration official.

Here, Kelly is right: Members of the administration need to have formal roles, and they should be qualified, trustworthy, and accountable to the public. A person with no experience in government or foreign affairs -- who doesn't even have experience getting a job on her own -- and who still has not been deemed appropriately trustworthy to handle high-level secrets has no business liaising with the leader of a nation that may be the last safeguard against the world's most significant nuclear threat.

But neither is Kelly the hero in this scenario. His misogyny sits below the surface of his man's-man military persona, and it compromises his judgment. This is a guy, after all, who defended Rob Porter — a top staffer to Kelly who stepped down after allegations that he physically and emotionally abused his wives (he denies the allegations) -- despite the fact that Porter's alleged history of abuse could have been used to compromise him and threaten American national security.

Kelly is correct that Ivanka Trump is doing little more than "playing government," (his comment, one source told CNN reporters), but he is also notably dismissive of her underwhelming attempts to improve conditions for working mothers via her child tax-credit initiative.

A "pet project," Kelly is said to have called it — but let's recall here that he himself has made draconian immigration laws his own "pet project."

Despite a reputation as a thoughtful public servant, Kelly is proving he is just as grasping and power-crazed as the Trump family and the rest of the current administration. He has cannily positioned himself as the adult in the room, only to provide cover while the bullies and the class clowns run around unobstructed.

If the latest White House feud really is John vs. Ivanka, the inevitable loser won't be the chief of staff or the first daughter -- yet again, it will be the American people.

 

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Waffle Time
JMarie

Jared's security clearance has been downgraded.  Boo hoo.

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fraurosena
27 minutes ago, JMarie said:

Jared's security clearance has been downgraded.  Boo hoo.

Oh, goodie! :thumbsup:

Kushner loses access to top-secret intelligence

Quote

Presidential son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner has had his security clearance downgraded — a move that will prevent him from viewing many of the sensitive documents to which he once had unfettered access.

Kushner is not alone. All White House aides working on the highest-level interim clearances — at the Top Secret/SCI-level — were informed in a memo sent Friday that their clearances would be downgraded to the Secret level, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

The SCI acronym stands for sensitive compartmented information, a category of information that comes from sensitive intelligence sources and must be walled off.

The memo was not signed by chief of staff John Kelly, but it comes as the retired Marine general and other top White House aides are grappling with the fallout of a scandal involving former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, which revealed that dozens of White House aides had yet to receive permanent clearances but nonetheless had access to some of the country’s deepest secrets.

The president has the ability to grant Kushner a permanent clearance, but Trump said Friday — the same day the memo was sent — that he was leaving the decision to his chief of staff.

“I will let General Kelly make that decision,” Trump told reporters. “I have no doubt he’ll make the right decision.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the memo.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment on Kushner’s clearance status at a briefing Tuesday.

“We actually haven’t commented on Jared’s issue indicated, but we have commented on his ability to do his job. Which, he’s a valued member of the team and he will continue to do the important work that he’s been doing since he’s started in the administration.”

Kushner’s attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement that Kushner “has done more than what is expected of him in this process.”

Lowell added that the changes would “not affect Mr. Kushner’s ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the president.”

Friday’s decision is the first change to the clearance process instituted in the wake of the Porter debacle that will directly affect Kushner, who serves as a senior adviser to Trump and has until now had access to the president’s daily brief, the most highly-classified document that Trump sees.

Kelly took the rare step last week of issuing a public statement that Kushner would be able to continue his work in the White House unfettered.

“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,” Kelly said in the statement.

It was unclear whether Kushner would need access to top secret information to continue performing those duties — and whether Kelly was personally prepared to enact a policy that could be perceived as a jab at the president’s son-in-law.

The decision to downgrade White House still working on interim clearances, however, indicates that Kelly is prepared to impose the same sort of discipline on the White House clearance process that he has tried to impose on the West Wing staff more broadly.

“The American people deserve a White House staff that meets the highest standards and that has been carefully vetted — especially those who work closely with the president or handle sensitive national security information,” Kelly told colleagues in a memo circulated on Feb. 16. “We should — and in the future, must — do better.”

Earlier this month, director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that people with temporary security clearance should get only limited access to sensitive classified information. Coats did not mention any specific individuals.

“Sometimes it is necessary to have some type of preliminary clearance in order to fill a slot, but ... access has to be limited in terms of the kinds of information they can be in a position to receive or not receive,” Coats said. “It needs to be reformed.”

Kushner has seen his once-expansive West Wing role steadily curtailed since Kelly’s arrival last July. The new chief immediately required Kushner and his wife, first daughter Ivanka Trump, to report through him rather than directly to the president.

The pair have seen their circle of trusted allies shrink in recent weeks. Reed Cordish, who joined the White House early on as part of Kushner's Office of American Innovation, left the White House earlier this month.

Communications staffer Josh Raffel, who handles requests involved Kushner and Ivanka Trump, also plans to leave in the next two months, according to two people familiar with his decision. Raffel did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The news of his departure was first reported by Axios.

I wonder if his downgraded security clearance will really means something, because I wouldn't put it past this administration that he will still be privy to Top Secret/ SCI-level documents regardless. Nobody is making use of those checks and balances after all.

Also:

 

Edited by fraurosena
added tweet

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