John Kelly overhauls White House security clearances

Eric Trump said his father President Donald Trump takes allegations of domestic abuse'very seriously in an interview with WABC on Tuesday after former White House staff have been accused. Eric Trump is seen here with his wife Lara Trump on January

The new rules would also discontinue any top secret or higher-level interim clearances for individuals whose background investigations have been pending since June 1, 2017, or before.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly announced Friday that beginning next week, the White House will no longer allow some employees with interim security clearances access to top-secret information - a move that could threaten the standing of Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law.

But Kelly's memo also sought to pin much of the blame on processes that predated his tenure as chief of staff and President Donald Trump's inauguration, noting that the Porter saga "focused enormous attention on a clearance process that has been in place for multiple administrations".

"Kelly has no credibility left with the staff", said one Trump confidant from outside the White House who asked not to be identified. As one official told the Washington Post, Kelly's memo released on Friday puts a "bull's eye" on Kushner.

The White House was mired in scandal over its security-clearance procedures after former staff secretary Rob Porter faced allegations of domestic and emotional abuse. Porter during their marriages.

"The American people deserve a White House staff that meets the highest standards and that has been carefully vetted".

Kelly's memo, which was released by the White House, also amounted to the chief of staff's most public pushback yet of criticism he has faced over revelations that Porter remained on staff for months in spite of the Federal Bureau of Investigation flagging the allegations of domestic abuse to the White House. The memo does not do that.

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"Failure to revoke Jared Kushner's temporary clearance would set a risky precedent by signaling a willingness to tolerate unacceptable national security risks", said CREW director Noah Bookbinder. But recent events have exposed some remaining shortcomings, ' he stated, making a read-between-the-lines reference to Porter, the disgraced Trump aide whose alleged pattern of domestic abuse has been at the center of a 10-day White House saga. If any derogatory information turns up, no interim clearance is issued and the worker must wait until the full investigation is finished, said the official, who wasn't authorized to discuss the clearance process and demanded anonymity.

'We should - and in the future, must -- do better'.

But White House officials had known for months of at least the broad charges of abuse against Porter by his ex-wives, as revealed Tuesday by FBI Director Christopher Wray.

The new rules come in the wake of Rob Porters' departure last week after reports that he had abused his two former wives.

Kelly was among the aides seen boarding Air Force One. It also seeks to reduce the "tie lag" between discovery of derogatory information to disclosure to the White House.

Kelly's response to the allegations raised suspicion after he made statements that appeared to conflict with the White House's comments on when it became aware of the allegations.

"Failure to revoke Mr. Kushner's temporary clearance would set a unsafe precedent for these other cases by signalling a willingness to tolerate unacceptable national security risks", the letter continues. The staff secretary, who had access to classified documents delivered to the president, maintained his interim clearance until he resigned last week. And he is ushering in a "temporary clearance for a period of 180 days, with an option to extend the interim clearance for another 90 days if no significant derogatory information ... has been discovered".

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