Trump: Kelly will handle Kushner security clearance decision

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By Ali Vitali

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Friday he would leave decisions about his son-in-law and senior White House aide Jared Kushner's security clearance up to chief of staff John Kelly.

"That’ll be up to General Kelly," Trump told reporters in the East Room of the White House during a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. "I won't make that call."

Trump praised Kushner for his "outstanding" work on Middle East peace and other "small deals" that he focuses on in his capacity as a senior adviser. The president reminded reporters several times that neither Kushner nor his daughter Ivanka Trump earn a salary for their work at the White House.

Trump said Friday that his administration had inherited a clearance "system that's broken," but that he trusted his chief of staff would make the "right call" in regard to his son-in-law's security status.

In the aftermath of a scandal regarding domestic abuse allegations against former staff secretary Rob Porter, Kelly ordered an overhaul of White House security clearances processes — including a discontinuance of any interim security clearances for staff in the Executive Office of the President whose permanent clearance requests have been pending since June 1, 2017.

According to documents reviewed by NBC News, dozens of senior White House officials could lose access to classified information under these new guidelines, which took effect Friday. Kushner is among those officials who could see his access to classified information revoked, though his attorney had earlier told NBC News that "the new policy announced by General Kelly will not affect Mr. Kushner's ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the president."

Earlier this week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed that sentiment, saying "no decision within the memo will impact anything that Jared Kushner is working on."