“You have two people, very close to [President Donald Trump] whose purpose is not the country. The purpose is the man. And that’s a problem, because this is about serving your country,” McCain, 63, said Wednesday on The View.
“I truly believe, in the White House, nepotism should not play a role.”
McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain, was appearing on the morning talk show alongside their daughter, co-host Meghan McCain, to address the president’s latest attacks on the Arizona Republican senator, who is battling brain cancer.
But the show’s “Hot Topics” also touched on the day’s bigger headline: that Kushner had his top-secret security clearance downgraded. Tasked by his father-in-law with, among other things, Middle East peace and relations with Mexico, Kushner had been working on delicate foreign-relations and national-security issues for more than a year with only a temporary clearance as questions about his contacts with Russia were investigated.
According to The New York Times, Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly is cutting down the number of people who work at the White House without permanent clearances.
The move prevents Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, from having access to the most-sensitive documents that were once available to him.
“Getting bumped down to having only secret clearance, he’s effectively in the same status as the people who mow the lawn or work in the White House kitchen,” former CIA and Defense Department chief of staff Jeremy Bash told NBC News.
While the president has the authority to grant Kushner a permanent clearance — with or without a complete FBI background investigation — Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump told NBC News over the weekend there would be no double standard for family. “We will be treated like everyone else will be treated.”
Kushner’s clearance level was downgraded to “secret” in a memo that was sent on Friday, Politico and several other outlets reported late Tuesday.
Kushner and former senior White House official Rob Porter, who was accused of physical and emotional abuse by past partners, both worked with interim security clearances for several months because of issues completing their FBI background checks, the Times reported.
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Trump told reporters last week he was leaving the decision to Kelly, according to the Associated Press.
“I will let General Kelly make that decision,” Trump said. “I have no doubt he’ll make the right decision.”
Kushner’s attorney, Abby Lowell, told the AP his ability to do his job will not be affected by the change in his clearance level.
Peter Mirijanian, a Kushner spokesman, told AP: “Those involved in the process again have confirmed that there are dozens of people at Mr. Kushner’s level whose process is delayed, that it is not uncommon for these clearance reviews to take this long in a new administration, and that the current backlogs are now being addressed.”
Dozens of other White House aides have also been working without permanent security clearances for more than a year.