Trump Wants His Kids (Who Are Running His Businesses) to Have Top Secret Security Clearances . . . Why? (UPDATE: Denied by Unnamed Trump Official) (UPDATE: Denial Reversed)
Donald Trump wants to give Top Secret security clearances to his kids, who will be running his businesses. Nothing to see here, folks!
President-elect Donald Trump is potentially seeking top secret security clearances for his children, sources tell CBS News.
The Trump team has asked the White House to explore the possibility of getting his children the top secret security clearances. Logistically, the children would need to be designated by the current White House as national security advisers to their father to receive top secret clearances. However, once Mr. Trump becomes president, he would be able to put in the request himself.
It’s nice that the children want to advise Daddy, but they’re also running Daddy’s businesses. If they learn Top Secret information that could affect the profitability of one of those businesses, they will have the ultimate insider information. The potential for conflicts of interest is already high. With the kids having Top Secret clearance, the potential becomes almost an inevitability.
What’s more, the request is inconsistent with assurances we were given just days ago that the kiddies will not be involved in government. As Jim Jamitis noted recently, Junior assured us of this in no uncertain terms:
Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. has insisted that Trump’s holdings would go into a blind trust managed by him and his siblings Eric and Ivanka Trump.
“We’re not going to be involved in government,” Trump Jr. said in September on “Good Morning America.” “He wants nothing to do with [the company]. He wants to fix this country.”
When pressed over the potential of Trump and his family still discussing the business while Trump is in office, Trump Jr. said, “We’re not going to discuss those things. … Trust me. As you know, it’s a very full-time job. He doesn’t need to worry about the business. The business is in good hands. He trusts us with that, 100 percent.”
If they’re not going to be involved in government, why do they need Top Secret clearances? Can someone explain this to me?
But the potential for conflicts of interest does not end even if the kids have no Top Secret clearance, and are not involved in government. It’s already a huge problem that they are running the businesses — whether they talk to Daddy Trump or not — because of the nature of influence.
Imagine you are the head of a foreign company seeking a deal with a hotel chain. The logical competitors end up being Marriott International and the Trump Organization. Marriott’s terms are a little better . . . but you have other deals with the U.S. government. Because your company is foreign, President Trump could cancel those deals with the stroke of a pen.
Better go with the Trump Organization.
Trump’s actions in putting his kids in charge of his companies vastly increases the potential for selling of access. And his actions in asking for Top Secret clearance for his kids vastly increases the potential for abuse of that information. And, given his history of self-dealing, I don’t trust the matter to his personal sense of ethics.
Republicans used to care about stuff like this when it was Hillary Clinton selling access for money. Now that Trump’s own moves are making it almost inevitable he will be doing the same, if Republicans are to be consistent, they will care about this too.
Do you think they will?
. . . he asked, knowing that the question was rhetorical.
UPDATE 11-14-16 8:56 p.m. PST: According to this report, a Trump transition team official is denying the CBS News report:
A Trump transition team official denied the claims in an email forwarded to Mic, saying the president-elect did not request the clearances and that the paperwork to do so has not been filed.
“That’s not something I’m expecting right now,” they added.
Either CBS News made it up, or the Trump team is walking it back in the face of criticism. At this point, I’d believe either.
UPDATE x2: The Trump campaign has now admitted the request for security clearances for the kids was made. They are blaming a low-level staffer and claiming Trump didn’t know. Translation: they got caught and knifed a sacrificial lamb.