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Vox Sentences: Jared Kushner’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

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Jared Kushner has his security clearance downgraded; the UN released a report linking North Korea to Syria’s chemical weapons program.


The Price of Rejection

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • It’s been another bad day for White House aides, as senior adviser (and son-in-law to President Donald Trump) Jared Kushner got his high-level security clearance taken away. [Politico / Eliana Johnson and Andrew Restuccia]
  • Specifically, Kushner’s top-secret clearance was downgraded to secret. He’s also had some of his foreign policy-related duties reduced. [NYT / Katie Rogers and Michael Shear]
  • Kushner isn’t being singled out, however. All White House aides with the highest-level top-secret interim clearances were told they would be downgraded to secret. [Politico / Eliana Johnson and Andrew Restuccia]
  • This is continuing fallout from the White House’s Rob Porter scandal. Porter — the former White House staff secretary accused of domestic violence by his two ex-wives and an ex-girlfriend — held a senior position despite not having a permanent security clearance or a completed FBI background check. [Vox / Jane Coaston]
  • The revelations about Porter prompted the realization that a number of aides who hadn’t been properly vetted were still getting top-level security clearances. It’s unclear why these people still don’t have the proper clearances more than a year after Trump took office. [CBS News / Kathryn Watson]
  • But there also could be more to Kushner’s story specifically; Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly gave White House counsel Don McGahn new information that halted Kushner’s security clearance application. [Reuters / Mark Hosenball and Warren Strobel]
  • There’s also troubling news that officials in foreign countries including the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel, and Mexico have privately talked about ways they could manipulate Kushner by taking aim at his business entanglements, US intelligence officials told the Washington Post. [Washington Post / Shane Harris, Carol D. Leonnig, Greg Jaffe, and Josh Dawsey]

North Korea has been fueling Syria’s chemical weapons program

  • On February 2, the United Nations released a not yet publicly available report contending that North Korea has been shipping supplies to the Syrian government since 2012 that could be used in the production of chemical weapons. [NYT / Michael Schwirtz]
  • In an anonymous conversation with CNN, a UN diplomat said that North Korea had sent acid-resistant tiles, valves, and thermometers to Syria. While this news might be surprising to some, the close relationship between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and North Korea is nothing new. [CNN / Richard Roth and Angela Dewan]
  • One of the first demonstrations of North Korea’s solidarity with Assad occurred in the early stages of the Syrian civil war when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un released a statement praising Syria’s Baath Party takeover in 1970. Meanwhile, even as the country’s civil war has resulted in an economic collapse and a refugee crisis, North Korea’s praise for Assad’s leadership has remained constant. [The Diplomat / Samuel Ramani]
  • What’s in it for North Korea? In the face of increased sanctions by the international community, Pyongyang has relied on illicit trades like these to make money, according to a former senior Defense Intelligence Agency officer specializing in Northeast Asia. [Wall Street Journal / Ian Talley]

Miscellaneous

  • As rising housing costs have forced some people in Washington’s Puget Sound area out of their unaffordable apartments and onto the streets, one local university constructed an (orderly) tent city behind its bookstore. [NYT / Kirk Johnson]
  • In questions we didn’t ask and probably didn’t want to know: One-third of millennials would apparently break up with their significant others in exchange for a $37,000 raise. [CNBC / Abigail Hess]
  • In Tunisia’s Djebel Dahar region, locals have lived in underground homes for centuries. But more recently, as families have moved out, many of these historic dwellings have fallen into disrepair. [Atlantic / Alan Taylor]
  • Barbra Streisand cloned her dog. Twice. And we’re not sure how to feel about it. [Vanity Fair / Kenzie Bryant]

Verbatim

“The final days of pregnancy have felt like an impassioned tornado. I’ve been forced to hold multiple conflicting emotions in a single place and resolve them, one by one, as if necklaces tangled in knots.” [Man Repeller / Leandra Medine]


Watch this: Why ships used this camouflage in World War I

Dazzle camouflage was fantastically weird. It was also surprisingly smart. [YouTube / Phil Edwards]


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