“There were anonymous leaks about there being issues,” Ms Trump said. “But the president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband’s clearance, zero.”
Asked what had delayed her security clearance, as well as the clearance for Mr Kushner, Ms Trump replied, “There weren’t any, other than a backlog that exists of close to a million clearances across government.”
Her comments marked the first time that she has spoken about the clearance issue that dogged both her and her husband for the first year of the administration. She described the delays – which lasted into May 2018 – as part of a normal course of business.
Mark Zaid, a lawyer who specialises in security clearances, said Ms Trump was citing a backlog that does not apply to her or her husband, given their special status as presidential family members and the ability of the White House to ask for expedited clearances for high-ranking advisers.
“Her comment is not as black and white as she portends it to be,” Mr Zaid said.
She and Mr Kushner, who has a broad portfolio including Middle East policy, received clearances last year, after what multiple officials within government described as delays caused by concerns that the FBI and the CIA flagged about their foreign contacts and private business.
The questions surrounding their clearances lingered for many months. But when Kushner received a clearance in 2018, his lawyer, Abbe Lowell, described it as a normal process.
“With respect to the news about his clearances, as we stated before, his application was properly submitted, reviewed by numerous career officials and underwent the normal process,” Lowell said at the time. “Having completed all of these processes, he’s looking forward to continuing to do the work the president has asked him to do.”
A report by NBC recently revealed that career White House security specialists had rejected Kushner’s clearance twice but were overruled by their supervisor. A senior administration official confirmed that account to The New York Times.
In a recent interview with The Times, Donald Trump said he had no role in getting officials to give his son-in-law a clearance.
The New York Times