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Kushner's Downgraded Security Clearance Raises Questions About His White House Role

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First Lady Melania, joined by White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and Assistant to the President Ivanka Trump, participate in the arrival ceremonies at the Royal Court Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2017.
Courtesy of Shealah Craighead/The White House
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022818-julliet_kayyem.mp3

Jared Kushner, advisor and son-in-law of President Trump, had his security access downgraded on Friday, a move that’s contributed to further confusion about his role in the White House.

National security expert Juliette Kayyem joined Boston Public Radio to explain that the FBI is “giving up” on granting Kushner the highest access, and said his real estate dealings make him vulnerable to manipulation by foreign governments.

She explained White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was in charge of making a decision about whether to ask Kushner to leave or to find an alternative.

“John Kelly does the only thing that you can do when you’re dealing with the president’s son-in-law, which is that he no longer has his top secret security clearance,” said Kayyem.

She also explained a failed real estate purchase by Kushner has left him a billion dollars in debt, and said he has been looking for foreign investment.

American intelligence reports illustrate at least four nations have talked about using this financial trouble to sway Kushner’s foreign policy decisions. The Washington Post has identified those countries as Mexico, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and China.

“A son-in-law in the White House a billion dollars in debt, who’s seeking foreign funds to support the company — who would have thought he was susceptible to manipulation?” she said. “Those nations are acting totally rationally.”

Kayyem says Kushner’s vulnerability and his downgraded security clearance raise big questions about the extent of his influence in the White House and in American foreign policy.

“Those two pieces are part of a larger narrative about Kushner, which is, what’s he doing in the White House?” said Kayyem.

National Security analyst Juliette Kayyem joins Boston Public Radio every week. She’s a faculty member at Harvard’s Kennedy School, a CNN contributor and CEO of ZEMCAR. To listen to her interview in its entirety, click on the audio player above.

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