How the 38-year-old senior White House adviser managed to obtain the coveted status has been a question among security experts and attorneys specialising in security clearance law ever since he joined the administration.
After having his application rejected by two White House security specialists, the report says Mr Kushner’s clearance was approved by Carl Kline, a man appointed by Donald Trump to serve as the head of the personnel security office at the White House.
The newly Democratic-controlled House Oversight Committee has launched an investigation into how the White House has handled security clearances under Mr Trump. Meanwhile, the NBC News report published on Thursday night provides a glimpse into how the administration has gone about the approval process for senior officials or members of the first family, with Mr Trump’s appointee reportedly overruling the counsel of the White House specialists and approving the pass for Mr Kushner.
Mr Kushner’s clearance level provided him access to some of the nation’s top secrets at a time when investigators and clearance experts warned his family’s massive international business debts and the senior adviser’s previously unreported contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election could make him a security risk embedded in the West Wing.
The president’s son-in-law wasn’t the only one in the White House who raised red flags among security officials.
Mr Trump’s appointees without typical political backgrounds and the president’s family members who joined his administration — a rarity in American politics — raised red flags among security clearance investigators due to their “complicated financial and personal histories,” the report states.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity.
They said Mr Kushner was “one of at least 30 cases in which Kline overruled career security experts and approved a top secret one of at least 30 cases in which Kline overruled career security experts and approved a top secret clearance for incoming Trump officials despite unfavourable information.”
Mr Kushner has reportedly been prevented from receiving an “SCI” clearance, however, which would have provided him access to “sensitive compartmented information,” which includes the most sensitive government intelligence.
That’s because the CIA is ultimately responsible for providing SCI clearances to White House officials.
According to the report, officials “balked” at Mr Kushner’s application and called the White House to understand how the president’s son-in-law received the clearance in the first place.