Welch, House Democrats Call For Suspension Of Jared Kushner’s Security Clearance For Failing To Disclose Meetings With Foreign Officials
April 12, 2017 (Washington, DC) – A group of House Democrats led by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) today wrote to the FBI and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) requesting that they suspend White House Senior Advisor and President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s security clearance, citing his admission that he “omitted” required details about meetings with foreign officials from an FBI questionnaire.
The letter was signed by Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Peter Welch (D-VT), who also issued the following statement:
“We were concerned last week that a story with significant national security implications – White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner’s ‘omission’ of meetings with foreign government officials – did not receive the scrutiny it deserved. Mr. Kushner must divulge the details of his meetings with foreign officials and explain why he did not reveal them when he was clearly required by to do so by law.
The fact that Kushner is President Trump’s son-in-law does not mean that he is above the law. Anyone else would face severe discipline for failing to disclose meetings with foreign officials, which potentially amounts to a criminal offense.
Furthermore, background checks for security clearances are in large part assessments of the judgment of the person being evaluated to hold a clearance. Mr. Kushner signed a legal document which withheld details on meetings with foreign officials, including meetings with allies of Vladimir Putin. This action severely undercuts our perception of his judgment.
Lastly, we are gravely concerned about the larger context within which this omission occurred. 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.”
Background: the New York Times’ reported on Kushner’s meetings with Russian officials and his subsequent omission of those meetings from the OPM form on Thursday, April 6, 2017.
The form in question was OPM’s SF-86, “Questionnaire for National Security Positions.” Instructions on page two of that form note the following:
“The U.S. Criminal Code (title 18, section 1001) provides that knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact is a felony which may result in fines and/or up to five (5) years imprisonment. In addition, Federal agencies generally fire, do not grant a security clearance, or disqualify individuals who have materially and deliberately falsified these forms, and this remains a part of the permanent record for future placements. Your prospects of placement or security clearance are better if you answer all questions truthfully and completely. You will have adequate opportunity to explain any information you provide on this form and to make your comments part of the record.”
Full text of the letter follows, and a copy with signatures may be viewed below.
The Honorable James Comey
Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
U.S. Department of Justice
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
Charles S. Phalen, Jr.
Director, National Background Investigations Bureau
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
1900 E Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20415
Dear Directors Comey and Phalen:
We are concerned about a story reported by The New York Times on April 6, 2017, alleging Jared Kushner, a senior advisor and son-in-law to the president, failed to disclose key meetings with foreign government officials during his application process for top-secret clearance. According to the report, Mr. Kushner omitted dozens of contacts with foreign leaders from his Standard Form-86 (SF-86), including with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Sergey Gorkov, a prominent Russian banker and a graduate of the Academy of [the] Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB).
Lack of candor, particularly regarding contacts with Russian officials, was a significant issue for the Trump Transition. The president fired his National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn, for lying about foreign contacts. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from matters related to the campaign and transition after he misled the Senate Judiciary Committee about contacts with Ambassador Kislyak during his confirmation hearing. We are concerned that Jared Kushner may have engaged in similar deception.
Knowingly falsifying or concealing information on a SF-86 questionnaire is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. Given the severity of the allegations and still unanswered questions about this administration’s recently uncovered covert dealings with Russian government and intelligence officials, we are requesting that Mr. Kushner’s interim top-secret security clearance be suspended pending a review of Mr. Kushner’s compliance with the laws and regulation governing security clearances. Additionally, we are requesting Mr. Kushner immediately make public all meetings he had with foreign government officials between June 16, 2015, the date Mr. Trump announced his candidacy for president of the United States, and January 20, 2017, the date the president was sworn in.