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Dem Asks White House Counsel to Revoke Kushner’s Clearance

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, May 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and 51 other lawmakers sent a letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn on Thursday asking that senior advisor Jared Kushner’s security clearance be revoked until the FBI completes its Trump-Russia investigation.

Lieu in a statement Thursday accused Trump’s son-in-law of repeatedly lying about his Russian contacts on a security clearance form. The congressman also criticized Kushner for not disclosing correspondence with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, considered a Russian spymaster in the U.S., and Russian banker Sergey Gorkov, and failing to report multiple conversations with Russians during and after the campaign. According to reports, Kushner and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn discussed with Kislyak the possibility of opening a secret line of communication between the Kremlin and Trump’s transition team.

“If this were anyone but the president’s son-in-law, he would be out on the street – or in jail,” Lieu said in a statement. “Simply put, Jared Kushner is compromised and must resign immediately.” The letter adds that Kushner committed illegal actions subject to a felony charge and up to five years in prison.

Lauren Wright, a board member for the White House Transition Project and politics instructor at Princeton University, said in a recent interview that while the alleged request for a secret channel was unusual, nothing Kushner has been accused of amounts to illegal activity.

“Most experts have said that [his actions were legal], but it’s definitely unusual,” Wright said. “I don’t know why you wouldn’t want those phone calls, meetings, any communication to be recorded, monitored, shared, and the lack of disclosure. Those are the two things that are questionable, but we really just don’t have enough information yet.”

The request to McGahn was sent the same day that three Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to the president of Kushner Companies asking for information on the company’s involvement in the EB-5 visa program. The EB-5 program provides pathways to permanent residence for foreigners who invest at least $1 million in a U.S.-based business.

Suspicions of fraud have plagued the program, and Thursday’s letter raises concerns about the company’s reliance on foreign investment and recruitment. Senate Judiciary Committee member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) and House Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) on Thursday accused Kushner Companies of improperly using the Kushner family’s connections inside the White House.

“(Reports) suggest that luxury developers have aggressively lobbied Congress to prevent reforms to the EB-5 program,” the letter reads. “Such lobbying appears intended to benefit luxury development projects like those built by Kushner Companies, and thus presents the appearance of a conflict of interest given Mr. Kushner’s new position in the administration.”

The lawmakers raised issues about activities carried out under Kushner Companies’ EB-5 project, One Journal Square. The letter cites Kushner’s retention of 220 assets worth $167 million at Kushner Companies. In the letter, the lawmakers ask for information on Kushner’s financial ties to EB-5, the company’s marketing of Kushner and his role at the White House and lobbying efforts concerning EB-5. The trio also suggests the company engaged in improper use of development incentives that are intended as resources for lower-income entities and other potential program violations.

“Even though Jared Kushner has stepped away from a leadership position within Kushner Companies for the time being, we understand that he may step back into a leadership or more prominent ownership role once he leaves his White House position,” the letter reads. “This raises the question of what steps Mr. Kushner would have to take to regain any ownership interests from which he has divested.”

The lawmakers requested a response to their query by June 16.