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Letter to General John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff - Fire Jared Kushner

Dear Chief of Staff Kelly,

We write to raise urgent concerns about national security related to Senior Adviser Jared Kushner's continued access to classified information and presence in the White House. In the wake of the scandal surrounding former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, little confidence remains about information security among White House staff. We believe Mr. Kushner should resign or be fired.

The Washington Post reported last week that Mr. Kushner is seen as a potential asset by foreign countries, including the United Arab Emirates, China, Mexico, and Israel[1]. That story cited current and former US officials as the source of an extraordinary allegation against a senior White House adviser:

"Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience…"

The same story went on to note that Kushner has had contacts with foreign officials of which the US national security establishment was unaware, at times without any other American officials present. We cannot overstate how concerning this is for someone simultaneously tasked with conducting US foreign policy and possessing myriad financial arrangements with foreign businesses.

A January report in the New Yorker identified Kushner as the focus of a concerted influence operation by Chinese officials[2]. The same story noted that Kushner discussed his own business interests and the foreign policy of the United States with respect to China in the same meeting with a Chinese official.

These reports follow Kushner's previous failures to faithfully and honestly declare his contacts, personal and professional, with agents of foreign governments. His omissions of meetings during the transition led to multiple required updates to his Standard Form 86 to declare different relationships and encounters with foreign officials[3], including one at which he was said to have discussed the creation of a secret backchannel to communicate with the Russian government[4].

Kushner's ethical and financial disclosures are similarly fraught. Even as he oversees aspects of US trade relations and receives the President's Daily Brief[5], Kushner retains direct control of a business empire possibly worth hundreds of millions of dollars[6]. He has been repeatedly fined for his failure to punctually file the ethics disclosures that disclose his business holdings[7]. He holds debts which run into the tens of millions of dollars[8], debts which he held while his business sought money from investors in Qatar[9] and China[10]. As you know, Kushner's portfolio includes the Middle East and China.

Jared Kushner's domestic conflicts of interest are equally concerning. The New York Times reported that Kushner's real estate business received large loans from Citigroup and Apollo Global Management after Kushner met with representatives of those companies at the White House[11]. That story states that Kushner discussed securing a position in the Administration for one of Apollo's founders months before Kushner Companies received an unusually large loan of $184 million from Apollo. Such interactions give the distinct impression that corruption is occurring at the White House, in plain sight and without consequence.

We appreciate that you recently revoked Kushner's access to top-secret intelligence, but this is not enough[12]. We do not see adequate safeguards to prevent him from continuing to consume such intelligence, and we feel that he does not merit access to any classified material. Furthermore, we believe that the inability to safely view US intelligence products renders him unfit to successfully fulfill the responsibilities delegated to him by President Trump.

It is grossly irresponsible to continue allowing Jared Kushner such direct influence over American foreign policy, given the many red flags. The possible leverage created by his debts, his failure to give accurate and punctual accounts of his foreign contacts and business holdings, and his inability after over a year to gain a permanent security clearance[13] would raise inescapable warning signs about the most junior staff, to say nothing of one of the closest people to the President.

It is impossible for the American people or their elected Representatives to have faith that Jared Kushner will put their interests above his own personal and financial interests. We have not forgotten your recent failure to take decisive action in a timely fashion with regard to Rob Porter. We hope that you will not make the same mistake again.

The only path forward is clear: Jared Kushner must resign immediately. If he will not, we believe it is your duty as White House Chief of Staff to fire him.

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