Nations mulled exploiting Kushner: WashPost

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Washington, Feb 28 (IANS) Officials of four countries discussed ways they could use US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner’s intricate business ties, lack of experience and financial woes to manipulate him, The Washington Post said in a report.

The paper on Tuesday said that it was unclear, but based on current and former US officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter, these countries — Mexico, Israel, China and the United Arab Emirates — acted on the conversations.

Top White House officials were worried Kushner was “naive and being tricked” by foreign officials, a former White House official told the Washington Post.

The extensive network and debt from his own company, according to the Washington Post, was seen as a leverage the foreign officials talked about in efforts to manipulate Kushner.

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The revelation is the latest in a series that call into question Kushner’s ability to work in the White House given his complex business ties, the CNN said.

Earlier media reports said that Kushner has been stripped off his access to top US secrets after Chief of Staff John Kelly mandated changes to the security clearance system.

Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka Trump’s husband, Kushner, had been working on a temporary clearance, but, under the new system, aides who previously had “top secret” interim clearances saw their access downgraded to the less sensitive “secret” designation on Tuesday.

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesperson for Kushner’s attorney Abbe Lowell, declined to comment on the story.

“We will not respond substantively to unnamed sources peddling secondhand hearsay with rank speculation who continue to leak inaccurate information,” Mirijanian said.

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According to the Washington Post, national security adviser H.R. McMaster told his deputies in 2017 spring that he wanted all the intelligence reports on conversations where foreign leaders discussed interactions with senior Trump officials, including Kushner.

The order came after McMaster learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials without coordinating with the National Security Council.

Kushner, who was on Capitol Hill on Tuesday for a meeting on prison reform, declined to respond to repeated CNN questions about his security clearance and The Washington Post report.

Kushner’s meeting had been scheduled long before news about his security clearances broke, and according to a source in the room, the story did not come up during the meeting.

Before stepping into the White House, Kushner worked as the CEO of his family’s real estate and development company, Kushner Companies.

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Officials from the White House and National Security Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this story, the CNN said.

The news of foreign interest in Kushner’s business ties and financial woes comes after CNN reported special counsel Robert Mueller has expanded his probe beyond Kushner’s contacts with Russia into his efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition.

The CNN also reported that one reason Kushner has been unable to obtain full security clearance is because of Mueller’s ongoing investigation. Kushner would be unlikely to obtain full clearance as long as the special counsel’s probe is ongoing, the report said.

–IANS

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