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Should Jared Kushner keep his security clearance? Adam Schiff isn't sure

 (European Pressphoto Agency)
(European Pressphoto Agency)

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), says he’s not sure that President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner, should retain his security clearance.

The California Democrat, who has been a sharp critic of Trump, also said in an interview aired Sunday that national security advisor H.R. McMaster, a highly respected military officer, had been tarnished by his association with the White House.

Schiff’s comments, on ABC’s “This Week,” came amid growing questions about Kushner’s contacts with Russian officials before Trump took office. Trump has denounced the latest round of news reports, saying that some of them could be based on fabricated sources.

Top Trump aides, including John F. Kelly, the secretary of Homeland Security, pushed back Sunday against the suggestion that there was anything untoward about establishing “back channel” communications with the Russians during the presidential transition.

Schiff said he regretted that McMaster had done so as well, saying he believed the White House “used” the solid reputations of people like him to back up dubious actions.   

“Sadly, I think this is an administration that takes in people with good credibility and chews them out and spits out their credibility at the same time,” said Schiff, who acknowledged that what McMaster said about back channel communications was “true in the abstract.”

“I think anyone within the Trump orbit is at risk of being used,” he said.

Kelly, in separate talk-show appearances on Sunday, said there was nothing untoward about an incoming administration establishing communications with a foreign power in order to lay the groundwork for better relations.

Schiff declined to discuss the substance of the allegations regarding Kushner’s contact with Russian officials during the transition and whether Kushner had been forthcoming about them, but said enough questions had been raised that his access to top-secret intelligence should be scrutinized.

“I think we need to get to the bottom of these allegations,” Schiff said. “But I do think there ought to be a review of his security clearance to find out whether he was truthful, whether he was candid. If not, then there’s no way he can maintain that kind of a clearance.”

Schiff was also critical of continuing involvement in aspects of the Russia probe by fellow Californian Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who stepped aside from the probe earlier this year after the House Ethics Committee began investigating whether he had improperly revealed classified information. 

Nunes remains involved in decision-making about the issuance of subpoenas, Schiff said, adding: “I don’t think that he should, given that he has stepped aside or recused himself.”

The committee is investigating Russian entanglements by figures in Trump’s circle, including fired national security advisor Michael Flynn, who has been the target of multiple subpoenas.

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