President Trump pushed John Kelly, his former chief of staff, and Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, to grant his daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, a security clearance, three people familiar with the matter told CNN.
While most security clearances are granted by the White House personnel security office, the president does have legal authority to approve them. CNN reports that after the FBI finished its background check on Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, the personnel office raised concerns over granting them security clearances, and Trump pressured Kelly and McGahn to make the decision so it didn’t look like he was favoring his family. Kelly and McGahn both said they wouldn’t do this, and Trump granted the security clearances, the people told CNN.
Last week, The New York Times reported that Trump ordered Kelly to give Kushner a top security clearance, even though intelligence officials voiced their concerns; Trump has denied being involved with granting Kushner a security clearance. Due to the fact that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are married, if a red flag appears in one background check, that could keep the other person from getting a security clearance. One person told CNN that officials had concerns about Ivanka Trump getting a clearance for reasons separate from the worries about Kushner.