Officials in China, Israel, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates have discussed the possibility of manipulating Jared Kushner by exploiting his complicated financial holdings, business debt and political inexperience, according to a new report.
It is not known if any of the countries have acted on discussions.
Kushner, who has been operating under an interim security clearance for about a year, had his access to the most valued US intelligence report, the President’s Daily Brief, revoked in the past few weeks.
A third official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recently passed new information to White House Counsel Don McGahn that led to the slowing or stopping of Kushner’s pending clearance application.
The President’s Daily Brief is distributed to a small number of top-level US officials. It includes highly classified intelligence analysis, information about CIA covert operations and reports from the most sensitive US sources or those shared by allied intelligence agencies.
Kushner had no previous political or diplomatic experience before being thrust into one of the most powerful positions in global politics after the election victory of his father-in-law.
Trump gave him an astounding number of jobs and he is currently responsible for trade, Middle East policy in general and securing an Israel-Palestine peace deal. He also received an entirely new office with the “sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfil key campaign promises - such as reforming care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction”.
New security clearance policies announced by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly “will not affect Kushner’s ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the President,” Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell said.
Kushner, a wealthy New York businessman married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, has not received his full security clearance because of his extensive financial links, which have taken a long time to examine, reports Reuters.
He has revised his security clearance form, called an SF-86, several times.
A White House spokesman for Kushner did not immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment. Trump ignored reporters’ shouted questions about Kushner and his clearance at an event on Tuesday afternoon.
Lowell, said in a statement: “Mr Kushner has done more than what is expected of him in this process.
“My inquiries ... have confirmed that there are a dozen or more people at Mr Kushner’s level whose process is delayed, that it is not uncommon for this process to take this long in a new administration, that the current backlogs are being addressed, and no concerns were raised about Mr Kushner’s application”.
A source familiar with the matter said the situation had caused tensions between Kushner and Kelly as the latter seeks to impose greater discipline on access to secrets.
On Friday, Trump said he would leave it to Kelly to settle the security clearance dispute with Kushner, but left little doubt he wanted the case settled in a way that allowed Kushner to keep his job. As president, Trump could grant Kushner a full security clearance on his own authority.
White House spokesman Sarah Sanders would not comment on whether Kushner’s security clearance issues had been resolved.
“He’s a valued member of the team and he will continue to do the important work that he’s been doing since he started in the administration,” she told a briefing.
A top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote to McGahn and FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday asking for more information on the number of White House officials with interim clearances.
The letter by Senator Chuck Grassley, the committee’s Republican chairman, and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, suggested bipartisan concern over the issue.
Citing reports that dozens of officials are operating with interim clearances, the two lawmakers wrote: “If true, this raises significant concerns that ineligible individuals, who hold positions of public trust, may have access to sensitive or classified information.”