As Trump Eyes Re-Election, Kushner Loses Some Access

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Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, lost his top-secret clearance in a White House crackdown on security after prolonged delays in completing his FBI background checks.

That means he can no longer attend certain National Security Council meetings or see highly classified intelligence. Whether it will undermine his role as Trump’s Middle East peace negotiator is unclear.

Kushner, husband of Trump’s daughter Ivanka, has been a key figure in questions about the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia in 2016 that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating.

The White House decision follows a barrage of criticism over the handling of security clearances after former Staff Secretary Rob Porter kept his for months despite an FBI report detailing allegations of domestic violence from his ex-wives.

This latest controversy apparently hasn’t dented Trump’s appetite for office. He sent a strong signal that he’s not planning on going anywhere anytime soon by naming his 2020 campaign manager — 980 days before the election.

Global Headlines

May boxed in | Theresa May is in a tight spot between pro-European Conservatives and hardline Brexit backers. The prime minister is preparing to rebuff the European Union's draft Brexit agreement that includes European Court of Justice oversight of the deal and an option for Northern Ireland to have different trading rules to the rest of the U.K. But pressure to compromise is mounting. The EU has already rejected outlines of her plans, and some of her party's lawmakers want closer ties to the EU than she’s proposed.

Trump open to TPP | Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday he's having “very high-level conversations” on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and that Trump is willing to negotiate a return to the regional trade pact he quit last year. Akira Amari, a former Japanese trade minister, warned in an interview that if the U.S. fails to embrace TPP, China could set the global rules on trade and investment.

North Korea skirts sanctions | Kim Jong Un’s regime keeps finding ways to evade sanctions aimed at curtailing its nuclear program. As Kambiz Foroohar reports, a confidential United Nations report details how North Korea shipped coal to ports from Vietnam to China and Russia using false paperwork and front companies. In one example, it outlines how two North Korean cargo ships repeatedly changed names and owners to avoid detection while smuggling banned commodities. 

Friendly skies | When it comes to filling a position in his administration, Trump is once again looking close to home. The president's personal pilot, John Dunkin, is among the finalists to head the Federal Aviation Administration. Trump has talked up Dunkin at White House meetings, but some senior Republican lawmakers have questioned whether he’s qualified to run an agency with over 45,000 employees and a budget of more than $16 billion. 

Afghan peace gambit | President Ashraf Ghani today presented his most comprehensive plan to the Taliban to entice them to negotiate an end to the nation’s near 17-year war. He's offering to recognize the Taliban as a political group and initiate talks if they agree to a cease-fire. Ghani’s proposal comes after the Taliban recently urged the U.S. to enter peace talks following bloody attacks in January that killed and wounded hundreds.

And finally ... “No cash accepted” signs are popping up in more shops and eateries across Sweden as payments go digital and mobile, but the pace at which cash is vanishing has authorities worried. As Hanna Hoikkala and Amanda Billner report, Sweden’s sparsely populated northern areas are most at risk, with residents potentially unable to buy the basics needed to survive in the event of natural disaster or a technological breakdown.

 

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