White House mum on Kushner security clearance issue

White House officials have so far remained silent after reports surfaced claiming President Trump ordered son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to have top-secret security clearance.
21:55 | 03/01/19

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Transcript for White House mum on Kushner security clearance issue
Happy Friday welcome to the briefing room coming due to the Washington bureau BBC news I'm John San Suu Kyi a long week. That's why DeVon took the day off he needed a break but I'm here with you for today we're gonna start with the story that everyone is talking about and that is the New York Times talking about Jared Kushner and a vodka trump their security clearances. And did the president override protocol. To give them a top level security clearance let's bring in EBC news contributor and former Homeland Security official John Colin. He's in breaking this down with us for the last couple hours here and John great to have you join us on a Friday and what you know where we're trying to understand here what exactly the times is reporting and now we know congress is looking into this is well but. Just to back up a little here John because this is it your area of expertise. What is the purpose. Of this security clearance process that's everyone in the government that needs this high level security has to go through. This page on. Yes an important question. The security clearance processes not just in an administrative exercise. The security foot clearance processes actually. A significant part. Our efforts to safeguard. Our most sensitive secrets. Are classified information to weigh our intelligence. Organizations operate the way they collect information. And it in almost every case in every case. Before somebody is granted a top secret clearance they are subjected to a rigorous background investigation. Investigators will want to see if there's anything in this person's history. That would though suggest that they will be unable or unwilling to safeguard the secret. War whether there's anything in their background which suggests that date. Our compromise a potentially be compromised by a foreign intelligence service. And John the president. What is his power here in this case so there's someone in the administration. That's been declined. By the folks there are tasked with reviewing this process he does have the ability to step in an overrule them. That's a typical day the president. Did not play a role in this process typically once they background investigation is complete. It goes to a senior career security official and that senior security official makes a determination whether. The person should be granted a security Clarence or whether the information uncovered by the investigators. Indicate that this percent of such a higher risk. That they should not be granted the clearance now the president has the hat chief executive of the executive branch. Does have the ability to override. The the EP decision made. By this senior security official. 08 typically it's not done. But he does practically have that authority and it president does have the authority to decide who works for him as well. I. Right and and the problem in this case John as you well know the president told the New York Times. About a month ago that he did not get involved. In Jared security clearance process ABC. ABC's Abby Huntsman actually spoke to a vodka trump just earlier this month. And last month from now Limbaugh hurts but what she said to Abby and believe we have a clip there is that her father took no. Special action for her or her husband Jared Kushner let's take a listen to that. There are a lot of people to question whether. You are given special treatment by the president's overriding other absolutely officials can you speak to that. There are anonymous leaks. About there being issues that. The president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance and my husband's Clarence zero. So John here's the question for EU. Now we know that house oversight chairman Elijah Cummings is launching an investigation he is been saying in light of these reports. And his team had been looking into this for quite some time that the White House was stonewalling him. Given that and the fact that we've now learned according to the times which ABC is not confirmed independently. That there are these memos from former chief of staff John Calley. What is the committee's ability here John. To actually. Have oversight to investigate what is happening here. Yes but the committee will look at several vicious. One issue is what the president and was or other people in the White House telling the truth. When they talk to the media when they reported to congress that the president played no role. A bigger issue however. That they're gonna look at it is. Why this decision was made and whether in making that decision. The president actually did something that he could be potentially harmful to national security. They're gonna look at whether. Indeed did it was a possibility that by providing somebody who it security official clearly claimed. That there was a higher risk and so they shouldn't get a clearance by the giving him that Clarence put information at risk their ultimate a look at whether by doing so. That actually served as a disincentive. For people in the intelligence community. In the end our foreign partners who share intelligence with a summit dated date basis. That we used to protect americans' whether by doing it serves as a disincentive for disinformation to float to the White House. Jon Cohen appreciate your expertise on this thank you sir have a good weekend we're gonna switch gears here in the briefing room North Korea the second summit the president just returned home we have not seen. Present in trump since he came back late last night. But now questions about what actually happened during the second summit president saying no deal had to get up and walk away from the table. Your different story if you were in North Korea let's bring in ABC's Terry Moran ABC's Bob Woodruff. For this conversation. Both of whom have covered this extensively Bob has been. In North Korea many many times Terry let me start with you though all on this because you know is pretty rare as we know for this president. To come out and. Admit no deal it didn't work and we'll kind of see where this goes from here. Yeah did the ironic thing in this presidency which we call the new normal or nothing like it has ever happened before that what we saw on Hanoi. It weren't for of the fact that it was with North Korea is a pretty normal thing. The president is trying to negotiate a deal. He doesn't doesn't get what he wants some sort walks away from the table hoping to get more later that that basically as well or how what happened were watching. Donald Trump as a negotiator in real time. And we've been watching it from the beginning with north remember he came in and was told directly by his predecessor Barack Obama. The North Korea was most pressing urgent and dangerous problem he would face and so what he did. Was due to fire and fury. Low rhetoric and threatened and rattled the Saber. And then let that the opportunity to meet face to face with candies now established these very warm related personal relations with with Kim Jung on. And is trying to use that leverage both the tough stuff and the soft stuff to get Kennedy nuclear asked but it's not happening. Now it's certainly not and and Terry for those actually in North Korea this was the message they got from state TV there take a listener this. How busy W gated don't know needed to. While fathers away every child feels like they're waiting for him I really hope our respective Marshall will return in good health from far away. It's in June was removed my feeling is dismissing our respective Marshal Kim Jong Hoon and wanting to see him. And hoping that he's healthy. Different story over there ABC's Bob Woodruff let's bring you in on this Bob. You have been there many many times I mean just. For North Korea right now obviously these sanctions have been quite crippling on the country where does it go for them Bob I mean Diddy start revving up. That their nuclear arms for a project and we're do you think things actually stand for them it. Sport. I think everybody says that the really their own power to make these kinds of negotiations with the world outside is to have something sole powerful as nuclear weapons. So will they give that up before they get anything in return. Nothing they're gonna want a lot in fact during these. This this meeting this summit down there in Vietnam is the North Korea is asking for two things they're asking for the lifting of the sanctions or and they're asking for somehow the US forces to leave. Southeast Asia released from south. South South Korea where there's about more than 228000. American. Military there. So that's what they are asking for the US such as asking for them to start denuclearization. And no one's gonna do the first 11 so that the power of North Korea to demand things. Has never been strong stronger now there never was before because they can now reach the US coast probably with some kind a nuclear bomb. Leases that's what the tests are showing so far so they're demanding a lot and I don't think either size either side wants to give a much. And and Bob this thing when you here for a second obviously. What we saw. As a president. Was a defense. Chairman Kim Jung un. As it relates to the death of auto warm beer his family remain silent. Throughout the president's press conference shortly there after but we finally got a statement from them. No we were all reaction this earlier it reads we have been respectful during this summit. Now we must speak out Kim and his evil regime are responsible. For the death of our son auto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for. No excuses or lavish praise can change that bodily would we have cover the stories is it too often. Of the torture activities of the North Korean. Yeah I can only imagine that the family is just disgusted by what happened here but the fact that. The and really everybody within intelligence in the United States for anybody in terms of speculation that know anything about North Korea. Can only assume that. The the leader Kim Jong-un. Knew exactly what had it happen if if the president was only saying that he didn't know at that very moment when he went unconscious. About a year earlier before he came back to the United States and days before giving it where he'd where he died in the US after a few days after return. If if these baseless and he didn't know what that very moment when he went one. It was unconscious who knows. They certainly knew exactly what is going throw for that year while he was not speaking while he was unconscious there in the hospital over a North Korea. Saud the family must be just so furious about this idea and he didn't know anything about it and you finally hearing from them for the first time you know. No Fred will warm beer the father went to the Olympics with. The vice president states that's right and then he also both he and his wife for their for the state of the union back in 2018 so. You know they were backed by the by the president some suddenly out of nowhere the family hears this message that's why they've spoken out for the first time and along. It and now it tears your point Bob actually for I remembered Bulent disaster forgot about the state of the union is it's it. It is pretty stunning and you know honestly who could blame them for reacting when they did I'm but real quick just just to close this out carry as when it come back to you. Who takes the lead here Terry and where this goes is obviously John Bolton. At. At had been doing what a big piece it is clear that Mike Pompeo as secretary of state has made several trips on his own trying to facilitator relationship with the north. Koreans what looks like Bolton a hardliner and Pompeo hardliners well. Have managed to corral president truck remember the one of the concerns that people have is the trump would make a bad deal. That he believed that anything for that Nobel Peace Prize while he didn't he walked away. And are now in some ways though the ball is really Kim Jong runs scored as it always has been he has played a weak hand. Very very well when he took. Power after the death of his father they had over a rather desultory nuclear and missile plan almost their stuff blew up or didn't work and then. Now they've got as Bob pointed out the capacity to strike the continental United States with a nuclear tipped warhead we believe that. So if he starts up again some kind of test. Even just a regional test. He'll be he'll be rattling the chains and we'll demand a response I think president trump has made clear he wants to continue talking. He wants to get to yes he's just not there. We'll see where this goes Terry Moran thank you Bob Woodruff in New York thank you as well great to have you both join us on this topic much appreciated coming back inside the briefing room we're joined by the commander in chief of art Capitol Hill unit Trish turner for. Our next segment here I think I got out I got to build you up when I dragging screaming and crying to do this but because you know we we're all still trying to cut. Think about everything that happens this week with Michael Cohen that big hearing on Capitol Hill Trish. What's next in the there's a big gender for members of congress and all these hearings calling Michael Cohen coming back next week NASA. We could none of us could believe that when Nash he exited the hearing and he told us I'm coming back next week on March sex. Joy pet. And snowy. So we had three long days and and Cohen really laid out a road map. Force to home many different committees I mean Democrats rarity newer ramping up their investigations in this only added a lot of fuel to the fire. Tax returns in the house Ways and Means Committee with we think that did the case that was made in that hearing room with by Michael Cohen with a number of Democrats questioning him. Buttress the case for house ways and means to grab. You know at the tax returns possibly sooner and on we're on the cost of hearing from House Judiciary Committee Ager Jerrold Nadler. We think he's going after on the obstruction of justice peace there there's a lot of what telling said that could be used in a hearing like that and then we know as you know I've Felix Ater is. Yeah coming a mile and telegraph present here because now we saw and we were watching that hearing all of us together here. And the team up on Capitol Hill he. We're seeing can't really you a lot of bread crumbs two we're ready and go next but. Felix either really gets into one of the hearts of this which is the Tacoma power Moscow project. Yes it's a really big deal we thought we weren't going to be talking about Russia and all or any of the substance of the special counsel's investigation of the southern district's investigation and lo and behold that's what we're left with the biggest bread crumb of all what's gonna happen on up front so. Felix haters going back on the fourteenth. He seems to be an excellent that in public right that's in public yeah selling usual sales never happens in the House Intelligence Committee and then we know I'll also did very soon on in you know land the CFO ally so our what's very clear he's going to be very seen coming in to help. Don't know what he does about an immunity agreement payouts of the southern district so they have to work. Yet and I don't and amp M for those of us this is your means that the CFO of the Trump Organization has been with the trump family forever accidental various employee was there when Donald Trump's father was running the truck ran groups so a lot to impact there are trees that before what you runaway and your noxious think the last segment reminding you. In everything that we're tracking and we know our our team up on Capitol Hill it is like the Ninja's up and down every hallway tracker what's going front. What do you think. Or what's that one hearing that you are looking forward to you think is going to be interest I'd have to say heightened security. I don't know how they might without any bigger than my guy down by Abu like evenly but security clearance is now we were and that's going to be a whole new program drew. Literally and I really in one of the chronicle some of the crowns of the roadmap that Cohen left. Really left us wondering because it one of their chairman Elijah Cummings are they over second is a look. Did and his aides are saying will give you heard their names a lot. He heard Michael Cohen dropping names quite a bit why so Burgos one of them facilitator another. But Yvonne could trump yes Jared Kushner in it conjured up Vieira and he's what is normally could suddenly be hauled up before capital Helen I don't believe we see anything like that so. Who knows or discuss but we know it's going far and it's going deep and nine and and certainly the tax returns requests will be a really big deal because we are waiting for that for for so long sound. Coming to a theater and nutrition and you tell movement pop not move don't move stay keep I need you here Elmer yet exactly probably get there in the second but we're gonna go to Seattle first. ABC's Johnny her whole Vick is out there for us because we are on 20/20 watched. Another candidate entered the race today Washington State governor Jay in place before you to Johnny let's take a look at ends Lee's announcement. It is time for our nation. To set a new priority. So I am announcing today. That I'm a candidate to become the next president of the United States. It is our moment to solve America's most daunting challenge and make it the first. For most and Paramount duty of the United States and that is to defeat climate change. And we destroy his announcement there Johnny were hoping bring you into this conversation now one of our road warriors there we'll little lighting issues there but that's what happens or on the road trying to trying to join us whenever I appreciate us we appreciate it we appreciate Johnny don't worry but you know. The break this down for us because Jay in sleep has entered this race on a very different platform compared to anyone else in the twenties when he. Field so far. That's right and John you don't normally see presidential candidates just running on one singular issue but. Climate change is that issue for governor James Lee is needed a clarion call a call to action across the United States. He connects that issue climate change to every other policy issue that he views the United States is facing connects it to national security. Next to the economy and he talks about it again and again you heard there. This is a call to action across ten states he's not the most well known politician in the country but he's betting that if he just focuses on this one issue. And really breaks through across the democratic base that no he could surprise a lot of people. Yes and and. Talk about it also because you know what he's unique. In this role so far for all the candidates that are coming out here Johnny. We have not seen anybody out of the beltway yet we have all senators members of congress this is the first governor that's declare. That's exactly right this is the first government has actually gotten into the democratic race and it's. As you well know it's a very crowded field you've got six United States senators you gotta you've got mayor you've got a former cabinet secretary. And Tinsley really is pitching himself on his record as the count of accomplishment as Washington's governor both. On climate change his past education reform he talked about legalizing marijuana which voters in this state my home state. Did in 2012 and so he's really pitching himself on that list of accomplishments as well as that singular issue of climate change which is just comes up again and again when he talked government. Johnny -- vacancy adult Johnny I would say have a nice writing go get a drink but it seems lately I do is spin around and heard the yeah John I'm telling producers I promised them I promise that I will not take entering during this broadcast that well you're free and clear bottoms up look appreciated it. I think coming back inside the briefing room. On and I got you to stand well look I'm so proud of myself cancers in their prayers here and it really Kilmeny leader who anyway. You know one of the things that we often joke about is in our jobs how it can be kind of greasy covering these hearings up on Capitol Hill go all days. A long hearings that we. Adding punishing right now. And appear well early her name and Good Morning America. And doesn't happen to be 6 o'clock when you're talking about yes very long day we didn't you know we didn't inhale light Michael Collins eyes outside the during a rehearsal and almost six Natalie how he keeps going punishing yeah sometimes can't yet but some Nielsen net and convention yourself some more than one flag I guess since a younger member of the staff was running our breaking hearing. Dug into this pizza I'm. He's getting the nickname and pizza kit but because he was just trying has snack gets caught on camera and her colleagues over at CBS news and running again. He'll aren't keen here actually got into this and as well ABC's and Allie took Warren who's going to. You'll need right now I do not there are no longer there she is a job. They get hot slice it pizza. In the long we that we fall had since. I think get plenty of people here I'm guessing we're in trouble now yes I am I'm gonna have a little that's buyers' eyes in his is a long islanders here yeah adorable he has. Mom and I think the families like the clientele that tennis parent. Anyway thanks so much for joining us this week a big week ahead you can log on abcnews.com. For all the latest for Trish turner I'm Jan San teaching in Washington who are watching. ABC news.

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

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