James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, sounded the alarm after a report that President Donald Trump ordered a top-secret security clearance for son-in-law Jared Kushner, calling it “dangerous” to overrule intelligence concerns.
“It is, as they say in the security business, a practice dangerous to security to do that,” Clapper, now a CNN national security analyst, told the network’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday. “When there is the potential for leverage to be exerted by a foreign power or a foreign adversary, that is a dangerous practice, and it sets a very bad example.”
Clapper’s remarks followed a New York Times report, citing four unnamed sources, that Trump himself dismissed intelligence concerns about Kushner and ordered the top-secret clearance.
Clapper denounced the apparent show of nepotism as “a risky practice” that sets “a terrible example for the rest of the security community.”
Trump previously denied a role in Kushner’s clearance. Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, claimed last month that neither she nor her husband received preferential treatment from the president in obtaining their clearances.
“There were anonymous leaks about there being issues, but the president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband’s clearance, zero,” Ivanka Trump told Abby Huntsman in an ABC News interview.
The president’s reported favoritism has sparked outrage from Democrats, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.) and House intelligence committee Chair Adam Schiff (Calif.) who publicly denounced Trump’s action.