White House clearance procedure tightened

Looming changes to White House security clearance for staffers could affect the job of President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner who is currently operating with interim clearance

"The events of the last 10 days have focused huge attention on a clearance process that has been in place for multiple administrations", Kelly said in the memo to White House staff.

He is one of reportedly dozens of White House officials who have been operating with temporary clearances during Trump's first year in office, and his clearance could be in jeopardy following chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE's changes to the clearance process, the Post said.

Kelly, who prizes his reputation for order, veers throughout the document from talking up his efforts to bring order to the White House while also stating that reforms must be implemented, reflecting his desire inside of the White House to stay on as President Donald Trump's top aide rather than step away following Porter's resignation.

Although the FBI completed its background investigation last summer, FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers this week they did a follow-up in November and closed the file in January.

The issue has been in the spotlight for two weeks since it was revealed that former staff secretary Rob Porter had an interim clearance that allowed him access to classified material despite allegations of spousal abuse from two ex-wives. "We should - and in the future, must - do better", he wrote.

Kelly also said he has already ended the granting of new interim security clearances, absent any "extraordinary circumstances" with his "explicit approval".

"The American people deserve a White House staff that meets the highest standards and that has been carefully vetted", read the Kelly memo that emphasized the importance of this in regard to staff working closely with the President or handling "sensitive national security information".

Chief of Staff John Kelly has ordered changes to the way staff gain access to America's most closely guarded secrets in the wake of the Rob Porter scandal. Jared Kushner has been operating in the White House with interim clearance
White House clearance procedure tightened

But in a statement to the Post, Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said Kelly's memo "will not affect Mr. Kushner's ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the president".

The memo said the FBI and Justice Department had offered increased cooperation and, going forward, all background investigations of top officers "should be flagged for the FBI at the outset and then hand-delivered to the White House Counsel personally upon completion".

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said earlier this week that the Federal Bureau of Investigation provided the updates to the White House Personnel Security Office, but declined to say whether West Wing officials knew of the allegations of domestic abuse.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly attends a meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC.

The time frame laid out in the memo between derogatory information being found in a background check and it being reported to the White House is 48 hours.

The Trump administration has said Porter's security-clearance investigation remained open because the White House Personnel Security Office, which approves clearances, had not finished its work. Porter's two ex-wives, and provided additional information regarding them four months later.

In his memo, Kelly noted that others, including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, have said the security clearance process "is broken" across the government and needs to be overhauled. But Kelly writes he is still not sure whether this is achievable.

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