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Kushner gets permanent security clearance, meets with Mueller team second time

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Kushner gets permanent security clearance, meets with Mueller team second time

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Jabin Botsford The Washington Post/Getty Images
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Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a White House senior adviser, has received a permanent security clearance and was recently interviewed for hours by the special counsel's office for a second time, a source familiar with the matter told NBC News on Wednesday.

Kushner operated with an interim security clearance for more than a year inside the administration, giving him access to highly classified information while he underwent an FBI background check. His contacts with foreign government officials had raised concerns inside the administrationand drew scrutiny during the process.

HIs clearance was downgraded in February after procedures were revamped followingcontroversyover why former Trump staff secretary Rob Porterhad access to the nation's most sensitive information despite red flags raised during an FBI investigation.

Abbe Lowell, Kushner's attorney, told NBC News that Kushner's permanent security clearance "went through the normal process."

"Having completed these processes, Mr. Kushner is looking forward to continuing the work the President has asked him to do," Lowell said in a statement.

Mark Zaid, a lawyer who regularly practices before government agencies in security clearance adjudications, told NBC News: "When agencies are aware of pending criminal investigations, they generally delay adjudication until that individual is cleared. It is not dispositive, but it is reasonable to conclude for now that the special counsel's office has not expressed concerns to the intelligence community that would jeopardize Kushner's access to classified information."

Kushner also recently met with special counsel Robert Mueller's team for a second time, according to a source. The interview lasted more than six hours and focused on the campaign, transition and some activities post-Inauguration, including the firing of former FBI director James Comey. The source said issues related to Kushner's businesses and Kushner finances did not come up.

Mueller's team is looking into whether business talks thatKushner had with foreigners during the presidential transition ended up influenced White House policies, NBC News has previously reported. The investigators are believed to be focusing on Kushner's discussions with officials from Qatar and Turkey, along with individuals from Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates.

Kushner was first interviewed by Mueller's team in November 2017, which focused largely on activities related to former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who has pleaded guilty in the special counsel's probe. That interview lasted roughly three hours.

"A year ago, Jared was one of the first to voluntarily cooperate with any investigation into the 2017 campaign and related topics," Lowell said.

"Since then, he has continued this complete cooperation, providing a large number of documents and sitting for hours of interview with congressional committees and providing numerous documents and sitting for two interviews with the Office of Special Counsel. In each occasion, he answered all questions asked and did whatever he could to expedite the conclusion of all the investigations."