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Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration's intelligence watchdog rejected Senate Democrats' request to investigate the White House's handling of security clearances for employees including senior advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, a letter obtained by NBC News Wednesday shows.

Details: In the July 22 letter, Michael Atkinson, inspector general of the intelligence community, told the Democrats he could only investigate the issue if the president requested it. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, and 3 other top Democrats sent President Trump a letter Wednesday, asking him to order a probe.

Why it matters: A White House security adviser told the House Oversight Committee in April that 25 denials for security clearance applications were overridden by the Trump administration.

  • Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, has had his security clearance come into question before as a result of his numerous foreign contacts and reports that he's used WhatsApp, an encrypted messaging app, to communicate with foreign leaders.

What they're saying: Congress would take a more direct role in legislating and overseeing White House security clearances unless such a review was conducted, warned the letter — signed by Warner and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), ranking member on the Judiciary Committee; Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee; and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), ranking member on Armed Services.

"Over the last two years, public reporting has raised serious concerns about irregularities and questionable decisions related to eligibility determinations for [White House] personnel access to classified information."
— Excerpt from the Democrats' letter to Trump

The other side: Kushner told Fox News when asked about the issue in April, "I can’t comment for the White House’s process, but what I can say is that over the last two years that I’ve been here, I’ve been accused of all different types of things, and all of those things have turned out to be false."

Go deeper: Cummings names subpoena targets for security clearance investigation

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The winners and losers of the pandemic holiday season

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has upended Thanksgiving and the shopping season that the holiday kicks off, creating a new crop of economic winners and losers.

The big picture: Just as it has exacerbated inequality in every other facet of American life, the coronavirus pandemic is deepening inequities in the business world, with the biggest and most powerful companies rapidly outpacing the smaller players.

Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

The daily rate of new coronavirus infections rose by about 10 percent in the final week before Thanksgiving, continuing a dismal trend that may get even worse in the weeks to come.

Why it matters: Travel and large holiday celebrations are most dangerous in places where the virus is spreading widely — and right now, that includes the entire U.S.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.