The palace intrigue is heating up in Trump’s White House as John Kelly turns up the heat on Jared Kushner in the wake of the Rob Porter scandal.
It came out last week that Chief of Staff John Kelly allowed Porter continued access to classified information despite knowing full well his security clearance was denied due to multiple allegations of domestic abuse. The fallout from that scandal hit Kelly hard, and so he’s trying to clean house with an announcement that the 130 people working in the Trump White House without officially security clearances would have their access to classified information revoked.
That includes the President’s son-in-law, but Kushner appears to be fighting back.
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It’s priming the White House for a serious intra-house fight. It pits Jared and Ivanka against John Kelly. The former were very close with Rob Porter and seem to take issue with Kelly’s handling of the situation.
Kelly, for his part, is working to rehab his image as a task master, brought in to bring order to an unruly White House. This is part of that effort and it’s not winning him any friend.
Kelly threw shade at Kushner in the press by stating publicly that Kushner would likely lose his security clearance, but that it should have no impact at all on him doing his job – which officially includes brokering the Israel/Palestine peace process, handling relations with Mexico, improving trade with China, and re-vamping NAFTA. It’s really unclear to anyone why he had access to the President’s daily briefings, which contain a wide array of classified information.
According to the New York Times, Jared and Ivanka have been critical of John Kelly in conversations with the President while at Mar-a-Lago. It sets things up for a heated duel between opposing forces, with the Trump clan likely rallying behind Jared and Kelly on his own defending order in the court.
All this comes full circle as the reasons for the denial of Kushner’s security clearance come to light. He hasn’t been fully truthful about the extent of his economic holdings and dealings abroad. And the ones he’s lied about may end up being of particular interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and possible collusion.
This fight has layers and it doesn’t look like it’s ending anytime soon.