Jared Kushner’s temporary security clearance has officially been revoked by the White House today. We saw this move coming based on the events of the past few days, yet it’s still a rather stunning development. This means Kushner can no longer do much of his senior adviser job, and will be basically left to wander the halls. So why did Trump just sell out his own son-in-law in such ice cold fashion?
There are two different plausible explanations here, and you can pick which one you think served as Trump’s primary motivation for this move. The first explanation is that Trump has nearly zero political muscle remaining, and he’s becoming increasingly tepid as a result. The security clearance scandal was becoming increasingly troubling for him, and so he decided to make it go away by selfishly selling out his in-law. This is the most straightforward explanation, but it may not get to the heart of what’s really going on here.
The second explanation is that Trump has looked at how his own trusted people (Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Steve Bannon, apparently Hope Hicks, probably Paul Manafort before long) have been selling him out to save themselves in the Trump-Russia scandal, and he figures Kushner will be the next to sell him out. So this could be his way of having an excuse to shove Kushner out of the White House in a way that (at least in his deluded mind) might not cause Ivanka to blame him.
To be clear, Donald Trump could have simply granted permanent security clearance to Jared Kushner. The FBI and DOJ make recommendations, but they don’t have final say. Trump does. He wasn’t willing to stick his neck out even by an inch for Kushner on this. What’s notable is that if Trump were afraid Kushner might cut a deal, he’d probably be kissing up to him. Today’s move suggests that Trump thinks or fears Kushner is already past the point of no return when it comes to that plea deal.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report