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“I would be in jail if…”: Team Trump & Media Colluding to Mislead re: Kushner Clearances (As Rep. Beyer and His Team Make Clear)

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During the 2016 campaign, with the falsely hyped focus on “Hillary Emails,” even passionate liberals with security clearances and/or sensitive government jobs had moments of ill-ease about the situation. I heard numerous conversations with phrases like “I would have been in jail if I’d done the same thing,” even though dispassionate analysis showed that “emailgate, like so many Clinton pseudo-scandals before it, is bullshit.”

While watching the Trump Kakistocracy (government by least ethical, least competent in society) in action, anyone – even passionate conservatives – with security clearances and/or sensitive government jobs should be having moments of ill-ease. They should also be engaging in conversations with phrases like, “I would be in jail if I were doing the same thing.” And, unlike the “Clinton pseudo-scandals”, these absolutely aren’t “bullshit.”

Like many others, I was shocked to learn that Jared Kushner – despite failing to complete his security clearance forms accurately and failing to include massive amounts of highly relevant material – received full security clearances.  Reading The Washington Post‘s reporting on this, it seemed that the past year’s questioning re: Kushner was unreasonable as — apparently — it was career specialists who made the call:

Kushner’s clearance was decided by career officials in the intelligence community and the FBI. “It happened the way it happens for thousands of people. There was nobody in the political process that had anything to do with it.”

So according to #AlternativeFacts Team Trump, it was the “evil” (in his view) “Deep State” intel services and FBI who made the decision — everything’s got to be okay and, well, perhaps we wouldn’t all be going to jail if we misled (more accurately, it seems, lied) on our security clearance forms (time after time after time…).

Thankfully, there are a few members of Congress who take their Oath of Office to uphold the Constitution seriously. One of those is Representative Don Beyer (D-VA08), who has been diligent and dogged in calling for serious Congressional oversight related to issues that so many of his constituents live through essentially every day, such as having a serious security clearance process even for members of the Team Trump Kakistocracy.

So, we have The Washington Post (and too much other media) reporting that suggests “never mind, nothing of concern here” read at the kitchen table.  On opening up the computer, a tweet from Representative Beyer:

“Claims are false or misleading” should be the opening assumption, sadly, for any reporter covering any statement from the #AlternativeFacts Trump White House. As made clear by the Don Beyer, the standard set is that the responsible adjudication office has the final decision on whether a clearance is rejected or granted. According to the FBI, what is that office for Kushner and White House political appointees? The White House.

Journalists, however, simply ran stories heavily (almost entirely) based on the claims and assertions from Kushner’s lawyer without — it seems — asking a basic question: “Given all that has happened, why would we trust the White House?”

Lying on security clearance forms — lying, to be clear, includes leaving out relevant information and signing the form as being truthful and complete — is a felony offense. As job seekers for clearance positions are bluntly advised

EXPECTATIONS AND THE SF86

The expectation is simple. Tell the truth. Or don’t apply. Or lie and face a felony. Many government forms plant warnings about falsifying information at the end of the documents, near where you sign to verify that all the information is true. For the SF-86, the warnings are right up front. First, “Follow instructions completely . . . .” Next, “All questions on this form must be answered completely and truthfully. Then, “Penalties for inaccurate or false statements are discussed below.”

PENALTIES FOR LYING ON THE SF86

The SF-86 explains: “The U.S. Criminal Code (title 18, section 1001) provides that knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact is a felony which may result in fines and/or up to five (5) years imprisonment.” Let’s unpack that a little. Remember, OPM is already suffering from a tremendous backlog in processing clearance requests. The last thing they need are people wasting government time and government money conducting background checks for clearance candidates who aren’t even serious enough about their clearance to simply tell the truth on a government form. More ominously, the last thing national security needs are people who are engaged in activities—nefarious, or otherwise—that they’d prefer the public not to know. That’s how foreign agents get leverage that can culminate in blackmail and espionage: “either do X for us, or we’ll tell Y about your Z.”

Let us be clear: there is clear evidence that Kushner lied — repeatedly — on his SF86 forms by “concealing material facts.”

The bottom line: unlike the “bullshit” that dominated 2016 corporate media election coverage, there seems much more reasonable basis today for saying, “If I did what he did, I would be in jail … or at least out of a job …”