Wednesday brought the news that Jared Kushner's security clearance was downgraded from interim Top Secret/SCI-level clearance—the highest level—to the Secret level, and the Washington Post is out with a report that suggests a reason why he had been unable to secure a permanent clearance at the highest level. It spoke with current and former US officials who referenced intelligence intercepts of discussions allegedly held in four countries about potential ways to "manipulate" Kushner by capitalizing on possible business or financial weak spots (the Post takes a deeper dive into a New York City office tower owned by his family's business and a $1.2 billion payment due on it in 10 months) or his limited foreign policy experience. The Post lists the countries as the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel, and Mexico.
The paper has no knowledge of whether those countries did anything more than discuss possible ways to gain leverage, but it reports his foreign contacts are among the reasons his security access was curtailed and says some officials feared he was "naive and being tricked" by foreign officials. Though White House chief of staff John Kelly, who made the decision, said Kushner would be able to continue performing his duties, the New York Times' sources anticipate his "globe-trotting foreign affairs work" will be pared down. Axios looks at the Kelly vs. Kushner angle, reporting that Wednesday night's mocking TV coverage of Kushner's situation—Stephen Colbert joked Kushner now has "access to only nine herbs and spices" in KFC's 11-ingredient secret recipe—irked the Trump family, with a source saying the family feels Kelly is throwing Kushner to the wolves. (Read more Jared Kushner stories.)