WASHINGTON - A group of US House of Representatives Democrats are calling on federal authorities to suspend President Donal Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner’s security clearance amid a wide-ranging probe into Trump associates’ contacts with Russian officials.
Khushner failed to disclose numerous foreign contacts when he applied for top secret clearance, including at least two meetings with high-profile Russians during Trump’s transition to the White House, according to a New York Times report cited by the lawmakers. It is, they noted, a felony to intentionally conceal such meetings on a national security form.
“Mr. Kushner’s lack of candor about meetings with Russian officials appears to be part of a larger pattern of dissembling and deception on Russian contacts from the Trump team, and we believe the public deserves the truth about what connection, if any, exists between these incidents,” five House Democrats said in a statement accompanying their letter.
The letter, led by Congressman, a Democrat, , is an attempt to keep public attention on Trump’s ties to Russia, despite a week in which tension between the president and Russian leaders flared over a U.S. military strike in Syria. Democratic Congressmen Ted Lieu of California, Jerrold Nadler of New York, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Peter Welch of Vermont also signed the letter.
Lawmakers said in their statement that the article “did not receive the scrutiny it deserved.” The story broke just hours after the military launched 59 missiles at a Syrian air base, which dominated the news in Washington over the weekend.
The Times reported that Kushner left out dozens of foreign contacts from his national security form, but two stood out: a meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and a meeting with Sergey Gorkov, an FSB-trained leader of a bank subject to U.S. sanctions. In the report, Kushner’s lawyer indicated that the omissions were inadvertent and that Kushner would provide additional details to the FBI.
The Democratic lawmakers said they want Kushner’s clearance suspended pending a review of his “compliance with the laws and regulation governing security clearances.” The federal form for national security positions emphasizes that making false statements or concealing information could be punishable by up to five years in prison. And those found to have made false statements may be denied security clearance.
Security clearance can provide access to classified government information and secure communications technology, as well as knowledge to White House-related travel schedules.
James Comey, the FBI director, confirmed to US Congress last month that his agency was probing Russia’s alleged interference in the November presidential election and the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
A report by US intelligence agencies in early January accused Putin of personally ordering his government to help Trump win the presidential election. The report claimed that Russia “sought to help” Trump by running a smear campaign against Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival, but the report has not concluded that the Russian interference tipped the scales to the Republican candidate.