Tillerson declines to answer question on Kushners security clearance issues

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson looks on during a press conference on March 9, 2018 in Nairobi, following his arrival to Kenya from Ethiopia, on his four-nation tour of Africa.

During a tour of Africa, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sidestepped a question on Trump son-in-law Jared Kushners diplomatic portfolio and security clearance Monday. As Tillerson took reporters questions during a joint press conference with Nigerias Foreign Minister during his overseas trip to Africa, one reporter asked him about Kushner and the fact that he had met with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto last week without inviting the U.S. ambassador, who announced her resignation recently.

The secret meetings, including one in the Seychelles that garnered public attention last week, involved George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who served as an adviser to the UAE; Elliott Broidy, a Republican donor; and people with ties to Trump like the private-security entrepreneur Erik Prince. The purpose of the Seychelles meeting was apparently to set up a communication back channel between the US and Russia.

“While weve been here in Africa, Jared Kushner met with the Mexican president without inviting your ambassador to Mexico.  Hes trying to broker Mideast peace despite losing his top security clearance,” the reporter asked. “And hes under mounting scrutiny over widespread reporting that his business ties to the UAE led him to push the administration side against Qatar. Can you tell us, is he an asset to your diplomacy?”

Muellers team is reportedly looking into how Kushners business ties in Qatar, Russia, China, Turkey, and the UAE may have influenced Trumps foreign policy. About two weeks ago, The Washington Post reported that several countries, including the UAE, had identified Kushner as a senior administration official they could easily influence.

Tillerson declined to weigh in, saying only, “As to this trip to Africa has been really important for the administration and thats what Ive been focused on this past week as you know. I think with respect to Mr. Kushners portfolio of assignments that the president has given him, I think its best to leave any comment on that to either himself or the White House.”

The Qataris decided not to reveal this information to the special counsel Robert Muellers team after they met with the Trump administration in Washington, DC, in January and February of this year, NBC News reported, because those meetings seemed productive and they didnt want to spoil any of their gains.

Kushners interim security clearance was recently downgraded after White House chief of staff John Kelly announced that all top-level interim security clearances would be dropped for White House staffers whose permanent security clearance had been pending since before June 1. Despite his public role in the Trump White House as a key aide in brokering a potential peace deal in the Middle East, Kushner has so far failed to obtain a permanent security clearance. 

It is not clear what specifically held up Kushners permanent security clearance. However, officials in the White House have been concerned that Kushner was “naive and being tricked” in conversations with foreign officials, some of whom said they only wanted to deal with Kushner directly and not more experienced personnel, CBS News Margaret Brennan reported.

The nationwide March for Our Lives gun-violence protest is happening on March 24 and was organized by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida — many of whom have been critical of Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and other Republicans for not backing gun control.

Team Coup is very eager to discuss Russian interference in our political affairs. But as I asked last week, wheres the discussion of Qatari interference?

But the already small office, which has about five or six people, some of whom also have other White House responsibilities, is already losing key staff. Chris Liddell, the former chief financial officer at Microsoft who had been working on several of the offices key projects, is a top contender to replace Gary Cohn as the presidents top economic adviser. Liddells partner at the office, Reed Cordish, a close personal friend of Kushners, already left the office this month and was replaced by a former political aide from Texas, Brooke Rollins. Another staffer, Josh Raffel, who served as the spokesperson for the office, will be leaving the White House in the coming weeks. And the status of Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, and how long they will remain in Washington, DC, is also unclear.

Qatars influence operations took an ominous turn when Elliott Broidy, a top Trump donor, had his emails hacked by individuals he alleges were Qatari agents. The leaked emails play into Qatars conflict with the UAE. The emails have predictably popped up on Al Jazeera and Broidy had previously been targeted by The Intercept for a panel at which Steve Bannon had criticized Qatar.

Kushners idea, according to a source, was to allow business leaders to offer up ideas for policies and take the ones that were actionable and add them to the administrations agenda. A White House statement announcing the creation of the office said it would establish task forces to focus on initiatives such as modernizing Government services and information technology, improving services to veterans, creating transformational infrastructure projects, implementing regulatory and process reforms, creating manufacturing jobs, addressing the drug and opioid epidemic, and developing workforce of the future programs.

Jared Kushners Brother Reportedly Donated $50000 to Gun-Violence Protest

“We have reason to believe this hack was sponsored and carried out by registered and unregistered agents of Qatar seeking to punish Mr Broidy for his strong opposition to state-sponsored terrorism,” Broidys spokesman said.

When Trump was sworn in in early 2017, a core group of his top advisers sought to build an internal think tank led by then–chief strategist Steve Bannon and Kushner, who started out on good terms early on. Both of them — along with their closest allies — would all gather together first in Bannons office and later in the Roosevelt Room to map out long-term policy ideas. The group, which came to be known as the Strategic Innovation Group, or SIG, ultimately drew attention from chief of staff Reince Priebus, who at the time was paranoid about losing power in the West Wing and started sending his own allies to the gatherings.

These two incidents of alleged Qatari espionage against Americans in order to influence our foreign policy raise serious questions. Yet the same media that obsessively searches for Russian bots on Reddit and Facebook seems entirely disinterested in discussing the subject. Skeptics of Russian influence have been told to put country ahead of party, but when will the left finally put country ahead of Qatar?

Qatari officials gathered evidence of what they claim is illicit influence by the United Arab Emirates on Jared Kushner and other Trump associates, including details of secret meetings, but decided not to give the information to special counsel Robert Mueller for fear of harming relations with the Trump administration, say three sources familiar with the Qatari discussions.

It is unknown whether Qatari officials were the source of the recent news stories detailing activities by Nader and Broidy published by The New York Times and CNN.

Reading between the lies, Qatar spied on Trumps people. Pondered passing the products of their spying to Team Coup, but instead decided to pipeline it through the media, who then passed it to Mueller.

This is quite similar to what the Clintons pulled with the Steele dossier. Except Qatar is an enemy state. Qatar passed damaging information produced by espionage to Mueller through the media.

Mueller needs to make it clear that he wont be colluding with Qatar. If he employs material produced by Qatari espionage on Americans as part of their plot to interfere in our domestic affairs, hes the one who needs to be investigated for collusion.

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