POLITICS
28/02/2018 11:50 AM AEDT | Updated 01/03/2018 5:51 AM AEDT

Officials Worried 'Naive' Kushner Could Be Manipulated By Foreigners: Report

Jared Kushner also lost his top-secret security clearance.

Jared Kushner’s complicated financial holdings, business debt and political inexperience have prompted foreign officials in several countries to discuss ways they can manipulate the president’s son-in-law and close adviser, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The report capped a complicated day for Kushner. Politico reported on Tuesday that he had his top-secret security clearance downgraded after months of working with an interim clearance due to ongoing issues with his FBI background check. And Axios said that deputy communications director and Kushner point man Josh Raffel will leave the White House after handling many news crises over the past year.

Officials from at least four countries ― China, Israel, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates ― have discussed ways to influence Kushner, although it’s unclear if they acted on such plans, The Washington Post wrote, citing current and former officials familiar with the intelligence reports.

Some of these sources said that administration officials were worried Kushner was “naive and being tricked” during his dealings with foreigners, and that people occasionally asked to meet with him in lieu of more experienced staff. Trump’s second national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, was initially “surprised” by some of Kushner’s foreign contacts and “wanted an explanation,” a source told the Post.

A spokesman for Kushner’s lawyer called the news account “second-hand hearsay” in a statement to the Post.

“We will not respond substantively to unnamed sources peddling second-hand hearsay with rank speculation that continue to leak inaccurate information,” spokesman Peter Mirijanian said. 

Until last Friday, Kushner had been working in the White House with an interim security clearance that afforded him access to top-secret documents, including the president’s daily intelligence briefing. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said earlier this month that he would overhaul the interim clearance situation after critics noted that former staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned over allegations that he had abused two of his ex-wives, had also been working for months with a temporary clearance. 

Kushner reportedly resisted efforts to give up his top-secret access and said he felt personally targeted by Kelly. 

But nonetheless he was officially downgraded from the SCI (sensitive compartmented information) level to the Secret level on Friday, according to Politico, and no longer receives the president’s intelligence briefing. It’s expected that his large portfolio of duties, many of which revolve around complicated foreign affairs issues, will also be reduced.

“It really undermines his ability to do the work he’s supposed to be doing and makes him into more of a figurehead,” Brad Moss, a national security lawyer, told HuffPost earlier on Tuesday.