Washington, United States | AFP | Donald Trump’s eldest son Don Jr may be in the media spotlight over his notorious Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.
But the latest revelation in the burgeoning scandal has added to the pressure on another family member who was at the meeting and is already in the crosshairs of investigators — Jared Kushner, the president’s influential son-in-law.
Democrats are up in arms, demanding that the 36-year-old Kushner — a senior adviser to the president with an office in the White House — be stripped of his security clearance.
“There doesn’t seem to be any ethical standard in the White House,” Democratic House minority leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted on Thursday.
“Jared Kushner’s security clearance must be immediately revoked.”
Even some from Trump’s Republican Party are not so sure that Kushner — who is married to the president’s eldest daughter Ivanka — should remain in the West Wing.
“I’m going out on a limb here — but I would say I think it would be in the president’s best interest if he removed all of his children from the White House,” Texas Representative Bill Flores told local television Thursday.
“Not only Donald Trump (Jr.), but Ivanka and Jared Kushner.”
– Omissions on security clearance forms –
While Donald Jr has no role in his father’s administration — he is helping run his corporate empire — Kushner is one of Trump’s closest advisors.
The Harvard graduate is also the progeny of a powerful New York real estate family, and has long been in Trump’s inner circle.
It was actually an omission on a government security clearance application filed by Kushner that led to the revelation of the meeting between himself, Donald Jr, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and the Russian lawyer.
It also led Donald Jr to release an email chain about the planning of that meeting — which is now being cited as the most serious evidence yet of alleged collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.
In the June 2016 emails, Donald Jr eagerly agrees to a meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer who is said to possess incriminating information about Clinton and invites Kushner and Manafort to come along.
Kushner, filing a security clearance document known as an SF-86, initially neglected to mention that he attended the meeting with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya — as well as contacts he had with several other Russians, including Moscow’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.
The meeting with Veselnitskaya came to light only after Kushner filed an amended SF-86 form.
Veselnitskaya confirmed to CNN and MSNBC that Kushner attended the meeting but said he was there for only “seven to 10 minutes” and she had never intended to hand over damaging information about Clinton anyway.