President Donald Trump says he'll leave it up to chief of staff John Kelly to decide whether Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will keep his interim security clearance. "So that will be up to General Kelly..."
"General Kelly respects Jared a lot", Trump said, adding, "I have no doubt he'll do the right thing".
Mr Trump made the remarks during a press conference with the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Kelly's change only applies to clearances for access to the apex of the classification pyramid - top secret and sensitive compartmented information - not to lower-level clearances required to handle secret or confidential information.
The White House's handling of security clearances has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of revelations that former White House staff secretary Rob Porter had worked for more than a year with only interim clearance. For a time, it looked like Kelly might have to follow him out the door, and Kushner and wife Ivanka Trump were urging President Trump to replace him with more of a pushover, Vanity Fair reports. Most prominent among them is Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law, who has had access to some of the nation's most sensitive material for the past year while waiting for his background investigation to be completed.
The policy change came amid an uproar over ousted White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who allegedly was allowed to handle classified information despite an Federal Bureau of Investigation background check that found credible accusations of domestic abuse.More news: Global evangelist Billy Graham's life lived for Christ
Jared Kushner's path to a full security clearance may have just gotten more complicated. Kelly has interpreted that as a wide-ranging mandate that would include Kushner, the person said. But the president is the ultimate arbiter of access to classified information, and could legally overrule any decision to deny someone a clearance.
Kelly, who threatened to resign after the scandal as not to tarnished his image as a man of order and discipline, is working to renew the process of security clearance, and one of his first steps is to revoke the provisional access permits to some high officials. "There is no truth to any suggestion otherwise".
"Everyone in the White House is grateful for these valuable contributions to furthering the President's agenda", Kelly said.
"I haven't spoken with the president about whether or not that would be necessary", Sanders said.
In a statement about Kushner issued earlier this week, Kelly said he had "full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign-policy portfolio including overseeing our Israeli-Palestinian peace effort and serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico".
On Friday, at the White House news conference, Trump complained that the vetting process takes "months and months and months" even for people who don't have complex financial issues.