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Democrats call for Jared Kushner to lose security clearance following FBI probe


Donald Trump and Jared Kushner
Donald Trump and Jared Kushner CREDIT: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law and top White House adviser,  is now a focus of an FBI investigation that will examine if the data analytics operation he led during the US election campaign was involved in Russia's alleged interference efforts, it has been reported, 
The news of the inclusion of Jared Kushner in the inquiry, which was leaked to media outlets by several US officials, marks a significant development in the probe that is so far known to have focused on already sacked advisers to Mr Trump.
It triggered calls from the Democrats for Mr Kushner's security clearance to be revoked.
Whilst Mr Kushner is said not to be main focus of the FBI inquiry, the scrutiny of his actions brings the criminal investigation squarely inside the White House; and inside the Trump family. 
Investigators are now expected to look into the Trump campaign's data analytics operation, which was supervised by Mr Kushner, and into his dealing with Russian government officials and businessmen.
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They will examine whether Russian operatives used people associated with the campaign's data wing -- wittingly or unwittingly -- in a sophisticated operation to use online tools to influence the election, according US officials cited by CNN.
The Kremlin has been accused of using computer bots - programmes that perform  repetitive functions like searches - to push negative information about Hillary Clinton, Mr Trump's then electoral rival. And of pushing stories on Facebook that favour Mr Trump.
Mr Kushner has boasted how, beginning last summer, he began testing the use of data targeting to sell Trump merchandise. That developed into an operation that helped the Trump campaign understand which of the candidate's messages played best in particular states.
"I called somebody who works for one of the technology companies that I work with, and I had them give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro-targeting," Mr Kushner told Forbes.
It has not been made clear if the FBI will speak directly with Mr Trump's son-in-law, who is said to be one of the few people the president trusts.
Mr Kushner had "previously volunteered" to testify before a separate congressional investigation into Russian interference in the US election, Jamie Gorelick, one of his lawyers said. "He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry."
The inquiry will also look at meetings that Mr Kushner had in December, shortly after the election, with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador in Washington. 
And into his encounter the same month with Sergey Gorkov, the head of Vnesheconombank, which has been the subject of US sanctions following Moscow's annexation of Crimea and its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.
As the foreign policy lead in Mr Trump’s transition team, this might have been routine. 
But Mr Kushner failed to disclose the meetings on his  application form to gain White House security clearance. His lawyers say that was a simple mistake.
Mr Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump, the president's eldest daughter,  and holds two degrees, including one from Harvard, was initially seen as a moderating influence in a  White House staffed with characters from the fringes of the American right.
His dislike for Steve Bannon, Mr Trump's chief strategist, the former Breitbart editor and popular figure for White nationalists has been much reported.
But it is Mr Kushner who has reportedly led the White House's, haphazard, response to the FBI investigation.
He is said, for example, to have pushed for the sacking of James Comey, the FBI director that had been leading the inquiry. 
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