Sanders: Security clearance process was 'ongoing' when staffer resigned amid domestic abuse allegations

FBI director Christopher Wray testified that the bureau submitted a completed background investigation last July.
14:26 | 02/13/18

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Transcript for Sanders: Security clearance process was 'ongoing' when staffer resigned amid domestic abuse allegations
Hi there are welcome to. The briefing room if they eight Bob quarter. I'm ABC news political director Rick Klein doing by burial sparked our political team Johnny drove it. Also little the at a special yesterday Pierre Thomas our senior Justice Department correspondent and the PR when it's our view because the focus today really was the the pretty explosive testimony this morning by Christopher rate directorate via the I would per from the White House. That got a background check about Porter had not been completed Chris Wright had something very different to say today about that in particular. He made clear the FBI completed this investigation sometime ago and pass that information along to. Various components of the White House and has basically it was their call as to what happened. And indeed for the White House event say it hurts our Sanders earlier these are career officials they. Personnel security office White House officials are talking about this was at the FBI's his entire. Right exactly in terms of the final dispensation in terms of the exact security clearance that would be a whimsical but. Clearly the FBI had turned up as evidence of domestic routes and pass along to White House and key question is. What did White House officials do once again it. And don't have a good answer for either possibility either today didn't ask questions they didn't might actually did have security Clarence need to do. Follow up which looks at. Or are they did know exactly why he didn't have security clearance and the cover up and she doesn't have a good answer and those the only two possible. The answer is essentially this is a clear color this went on offense and you know that office made a determination and you know that information but somewhere but. At the end of decade of is this the fact that it's been eight days in the White House is still having to answer questions on this is very telling about how they respond. Here this isn't the first time that Chris Rea has handled the White House back is asked about the the memo in today's testimony as well. The Chris Carrino he's doing here today in defending the bureau defending his own agents out of any efforts for the White House to deflect responsibility. This is it a bit different and the memo issue where. It is something extremely unusual. Put out a statement on the day when no one was calling for a statement and basically said it grave concerns about the release of the memo. He was going alliance in terms of his own independence from this warehouse because he knew the president wanted. This memo to come out today he's at a hearing. He's asked a question and I signed him as clarifying exactly what's in for the bureau did and didn't do and letting it sit. Simply is that. Yeah I clarity of course a comfortable for the White House that you what. The other big headlines at today's hearing was out with about Russia's role but the big story this is all connected to all the Mueller best visionary meals here. But the idea that that all of the nation's top intelligence officials say they see it today happens is something the president himself is not. Rick I think that'll start being about today's here. Was this clarion call from all the top intelligence officials that 2018. Upcoming mid term elections are at risk from questions to try to do something. Two. Impact democracy in our country. We had every officials say and over and over again is CIA director. Pompeo say there's evidence the dresses are trying right now to target 2008. Let's check I acted if you had all his intelligence agents talking about physical threats saying that they believe. Russians are planning. To bring the Hobbs or guns or something that's real and tangible and physical like fat. You would imagine a unified country. You'd imagine people coming together across the aisle to develop the plan. Fear and wanting to unite her hand in hand like you do it kind of war and an act. We now have the opposite so often we talk to voters are more divided on this issue some just flat out don't believe it aren't listening to intelligence officials. And it feels like this is an issue driving a wedge in the country not pretty but. But he cares whether politics played out. Yet Democrats making case worst they want to see the president speak out. Forcefully. On this issue and make for an inner agency attack on what's company. They want to hear more from president and they feel that because of his concerns about. The ongoing -- probe the special counsel probe he's not doing that. Republicans today when it to the fact that they think. That while this is an issue one. Of the senators talked about the fact that he thinks that Americans are becoming we're of this social media rent in particular from the Russians. But I get. When you have officials that scene all stating that upcoming election in 2008. And 22 point. Are at risk for the Russians to do mentally. And at what point director of the national intelligence division and a direct coats that. Straight up he said I don't want some question. And he said that's exactly what they're contending with possibly happen. And I have a deeper sort of used it to the president sort of playing this issue you're. Well little corner of batteries not hearing Hinske spurred partly about but I don't think we should still to say that's. Because this is something that's going to be an ongoing issue it's clearly an accomplice hears them and both these topics we're talking about something the president is this thing is older people and on in the White House staff and administration are our partners think yes the Russians are are trying to -- us yes this was a bad thing and that supporting supporting victims and I think bountiful case president not a aren't worth itself. Everett when it could quick point. We're not talking about 2016. Were talking about an upcoming election in which millions of Americans when you go out and vote. And determine who's in control of the house who's in Toulouse. And the notion foreign power is looming out here potentially play a role. In that election is really stunned. And he really is like -- thank you for being here of the briefing room it back you worked for Walt thing or two years where in a little bit. I want to turn to Alan Rogan on Capitol Hill because one other thing we heard from the White House they for the president to start today is this thought the deadline. He says is for real it's march 5 worst. That isn't exactly. The way it works in terms of the deadline but are people like capitals has given any kind of renewed optimism or pessimism around the immigration debate it's not one on the senate. Started in earnest today in the senate but it got to a bit of a rocky start. Because there is a bit have a disagreement between the two leaders McConnell and humor. Over which bill to begin voting on as we've been talking about this is an open process. Where senators are just going to bring their proposals to the floor and see if they get enough votes she added to the ultimate bill but they couldn't agree on which it. Bill to actually start running on about doesn't bode well for the notion that they get an agreement on on what to you the vote and get in an underlying bill. And the big question now though Rick is is this debate going to proceed past this week we're already happening here Tuesday. And the senate usually doesn't stick around on Friday is that we're all really look like we have another cute is left to debate this. And leader McConnell is saying that after this week he is prepared and poised to move on because as he says we have other things to do. We don't exactly know what those other things our Rick and as you mentioned that march 5 deadline is certainly heating up. If you know that we heard if they permit McConnell slightly shell the secretary of transportation some other things in terms of infrastructure. But the Mary Alice he did it get my knees at your Connell also by the president. What's your sense that he hurt these are issues that the decades old well there's been no sense of corporate. But people help felt good about going into this week so it's hard to imagine everything also parks. We some lawmakers on both sides of the island senate. Feel confident that they would get something through with sixty notes. So I'm not quite ready to give up on the process I was surprised at how many Democrats were even optimistic. Eight dean were banking on this week and they had a lot riding on this week so I think it's still possible but -- threat to point out all of via tough very. And I think it's important to realize that that throughout all the negotiations on this issue. Immigration was one of the outcomes key campaign issues when student with sixteen he happens is things that he wants he wants the wall. He wants imminence of the certain policies and at the end of the day I mean. He really still is a wild card no matter what happens on the hill when everybody's for the exact opposite rivers. I sending out here what's interesting is that among the proposals that are being circulated that McConnell accurate debated very into the floor. They're actually in a lot of ways they're quite similar they both contain funding for border while they both talk about a Catholic citizenship for dreamers. The big differences are actually let me sort of range not friends but not the big issues the ones we don't talk about as much that bees and diversity diversity. Lottery where do those vis those ago. The issue of family based migration cutting down an immigrant's a bill to bring in other family members. It seems like actually the big differences are on the margins that it once they actually begin voting on these things they might read the big stuff it's a small staff. That's really going to potentially trip this up or extend the debate. Thank White House decided they're willing to some of those pillars it. Two. Pillars paths I asked the tonight he's only one out the so to pasta summit you're ready for today because of pretty extraordinary scene pulling on Capitol Hill. I like that he and his. We're gonna have some fun with it backs courses that up workers and the Tennessee announced earlier a guerrilla announced Lester that he would run for another term. Lot of reports that it is reconsidering your dragon dances request that look. They're cornered at its. We'll. You think. I don't have anything to combat I got out of. I don't like are you having conversations about running again. It's a. Talk about you W want it or not that I don't. I had a long history and solid track record of chasing down senators and I think you mean there's a difference. Between say thank Andy turned their back in each call. When Hitler with a camera he exactly Adidas. He's larger question Easter answered in part I'm having conversation my job he knows he's keeping this conversation now. Yet it's what we call it non denial denial great season. He's dancing around the question. He's not giving us an outright yes or no and he's stepped really keeping his options open south. While I can't say based on his answers set us that yes he is actually looking at running again and not retiring it's certainly strikes me is something that. He might be throwing around. And guys you know exactly like it's serious are marked Blackburn goes running for the theme is an ounce can and Ali's deserted pastor at. These groups are freaked out by this prophet of sticking in the are being asked harsh in their condemnation. Of the incumbents and that is absolutely and our colleague Chris not a sense of humor went on the streets and that statement out from leopards can he today anyone who thinks Marsha Blackburn when general elections just plain sexist pig I mean I would. Russell. This is gonna. Patents and it cut network will mean they are doubling down their support her that they feeling Tennessee and from her. As their senate having her as a senator but I think that it. There's a lot to read between the lines here it is our earth concerts leading game back in this race because he thinks Republicans can really lose this seat remember Democrats act hop. Tier candidate a former governor in south running for Nazi says Parker worried about his party using Nazi in the majority. Altogether or is it the opposite is TEU say it then it's just more the -- for him that he doesn't mind at home as much anymore. Well interesting to see the first time that president front on this yesterday he took a pass with the president tweet something. On any that's all right Ali let's wrap things up here in final thoughts from you tonight from Capitol Hill. Well it's. Three point oh what infrastructure wreak right I would say that. That stuff landed with the bit of a here in Capitol Hill and again today we heard from. The Senate Leadership for the first time in the only time all week that they're continually press availability. Neither have anything to my. My recollection about infrastructure so. The conversation here is still about doc and it's also about rob Porter and what to do with the White House clearance front process. So in the in this sense it this infrastructure proposal sort of fell in at night. I would say that I don't know when the next time members of congress are really going to bring it back up again. Before. Let's block it or outside the beltway and I minute talk about Pennsylvania. That is a key deadline midnight on Thursday if you're up at midnight yesterday. There's a battle going on over redraw the congressional district and that's been used a major impact on the bounces aren't Nazis house Democrats department captured three seats there but. They're Republicans in the democratic governor and a tough time theory. Oh a I was struck by the fact that serious senators continued to not only deflect blame but not expressed any upset or outraged that. There is some on working on her staff accused of domestic violence was kept from getting security Clarence and she did not. If you would imagine that she would seem upset about or talk like she loses regretful about that fact and it was not expect. I learned that taking on the FBI is it dangerous Chris Ray in exactly what he's supposed to do well there is that he he just answered questions but even with. Exactly what he was doing his answers that you that was under the White House slide exit. And untenable position of White House obviously some bureaucrats White House when. This information or up order was sitting there in that building whether and you want defend he wanted to defend his team. His department. And I think we've seen that Titanic and that's exactly correct that does it for this edition of freaking her thank you to Alley Rogen thanks appear comes for joining us earlier. For died Republican Mary Alice parks I'm Rick Klein please download the ABC news. We will catch it next time right here. On the briefing.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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