Jared Kushner

  • May 31, 2017

    by Dan Froomkin and Caroline Fredrickson

    As the reported connections between Jared Kushner and the Russian government become more suspicious -- and the possibility that he simply forgot to report those contacts on his security clearance application becomes more remote -- calls are mounting for Kushner's access to the U.S.'s top secrets be suspended.

    But who would do that? The granting and revocation of security clearances is the exclusive prerogative of the executive branch, currently headed by Kushner's father-in-law.

    So is there anything at all the legislative or judicial branches can do to overrule him?

    Do any of the executive-branch entities with control over security clearances have enough quasi-independence to defy the commander in chief's wishes?

    Essentially, no. When it comes to security clearances, there is no legal check on a president's power at all. The legislative and judicial branches have no role -- other than possibly creating political pressure to act.

    It turns out that many executive-branch powers that most people until recently considered unlikely to be abused are now looking awfully unilateral in the context of a Trump presidency. Control over security clearances is certainly one.

    "That is understood to be purely an executive function," said Steven Aftergood, who runs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington and writes the Secrecy News blog.