tv At This Hour With Kate Bolduan CNN March 1, 2019 8:00am-9:00am PST
hello everyone. how did the president's son-in-law and senior adviser jared kushner get a top secret security clearance? so we have the clearance, why did the president lie about it? this is all after a new report in the "new york times." it says the president overruled the resistance from top intelligence officials even his chief of staff and white house counsel to kushner getting top secret clearance. this directly contradicts what the president, kushner's attorney and his wife have all said about the review process. listen. >> no. i don't think i have the authority to do that. i'm not sure i do. i wouldn't do it. >> the president had no involvement pertaining to my
clearance or my husband's clearance. >> what were the problems early on? >> there weren't any. >> so no special treatment? >> no. >> joining me now is "new york times" national security correspondent who contributed to this report. it's great to see you. what have you heard about the amount of resistance from white house staff and intelligence officials to kushner getting that top secret clearance? >> you know, kushner's security clearance was a problem from the get go. he filed first firms listing no foreign contacts when he had a lot. over the last two years the way the process works, you get an fbi investigation, the cia goes through intelligence. what they found were a lot of entanglements with foreign business men and foreign officials or business men who were tied to officials to their own countries and intelligence officials and that there was a
real question over whether kushner had the discretion and the judgment to be trusted with american secrets and that these entanglements can be sources of leverage that perhaps there was a deal or something that kushner's business wanted to do overseas that would be leveraged. for security clearances, this is pretty standard. there are a lot of easy ways to get disqualified from having a security clearance. financial problems are number one. >> with all of this in your reporting, john kelly, chief of staff, white house counsel wrote memos about it. how many memos do we know that kelly has written? i haven't heard of any others. that says something here. >> i think at least one of the former officials said kelly took copious notes. i think it probably safe to assume he wrote some memos. i assume don mcgan wrote a lot
of memos. they were both deeply concerned. we were told that kelly believed trump ordered him to do this. dpiv the guy security clearance. maybe the president sees it differently. i don't know. but general kelly certainly walked out of the oval office. and don mcgan laid out his concerns in another internal memo. i think there is the question why lie? that's the big question because the president has absolute authority to give the guys a security clearance if he wants them to have it. >> let me play you what abbe lowell told cnn back in may about this very issue. this has been going on since the beginning. listen to this. >> who made the decision to restore his security clearance? >> the intelligence community and the fbi. it happened in the normal course. it happened the way it happens for thousands of people.
there was nobody in the political process that had anything to do with it. there was nobody who pressured it. it was just done the normal regular way. >> now lowell gave a statement to you guys and says this. in 2018, white house and security clearance officials affirmed that mr. kushner's security clearance was handled in the regular process with no pressure from anyone. i'm trying to figure out if these statements from abbe lowell and your reporting can both be true. i don't really see a way. please correct me if i'm wrong. i don't get it. >> anything is possible. there is a world in which he is going to say that they told me it was normal so that is what i said. i don't know what went on between him and the white house and what he knows and what he doesn't know. i think there is a bigger question here too about the why lie or why not be straight about
this? >> the president has the authority to grant security clearance no matter what the concerns are or the concerns that are raised. that is one of the abilities that is unique in powers to the presidency. the fact that with that in mind, the president, gerud jared's at and ivanka. >> i do know that there are outstanding questions about why jared kushner and ivanka trump and what expertise do they bring to the white house beyond being the daughter and sister-in-lon- the president. a lot of presidential advisers, why two family members are
there, need this clearance and the white house doesn't feel comfortable telling the public we gave it to them despite red flags, there are a lot of questions the white house has to answer about this. >> for sure. there are only more questions today. great to see you. >> joining me now to discuss this democratic congressman of virginia. you have been asking questions about kushner's security clearance the entire time that they have been in office. what do you think of this new reporting? >> it just confirms what we have suspected. i didn't think it went all the way to the president. we were here on cnn last week pointing out that this guy cline who had been in charge of security clearance had granted 30 overrulings of security clearance professionals among them ivanka and jared. i like what adam schiff said that there should be no nepotism exception for national security clearances.
>> the president, ivanka trump, jared kushner's attorney, they all said very specifically that there is no interference by the president. do you think they are all lying? >> i think it is clear that ivanka is lying, that the president is lying. on abbe lowell, the statement he put out was clearly untrue. he may have been aligning what the white house told him. the fact that both don mcgan and chief of staff john kelly took extraordinary measures to document their objections to the ruling. one of the things we have in congress, we have a bill that would remove white house security clearances to the fbi director to grant and to take them away and not leave it up to something that could be potentially nepotism. >> i wanted to ask you about that. you are putting together legislation to fix what went wrong here. would it have prevented if your fix would be in place, would it
have prevented jared kushner from getting security clearance? you want to take that power away from the president? >> i think it absolutely would. in fact, we see right now that jared doesn't have the highest level of clearance. and that's because under the law right now the cia grants that and the cia won't give that to jared kushner. we need to bring the whole thing including top secret back to the fbi. we don't expect that president trump would actually sign this legislation. we are creating a path for the years to come. >> i see what you're saying. but the president has this power to give security clearance where he wants to. >> he does. >> you do not like it. you might not like exactly what he is doing here or what he has done. you have been asking a lot of questions about it. unfortunately, it's not a crime to lie to the press. is there really anything you can do about it when it comes specifically to jared kushner, is there anything you can do about it now? >> i'm not on the oversight committee but i am pleased that
chairman elijah cummings and schiff will dive more deeply into the documents. perhaps there will be something there that gives us a legal hook. in the meantime, though, the president has the absolute right to do this, but he also took the sworn oath to protect the american people. it takes somebody like kushner with foreign entanglements and very complicated financial difficulties including the famous 666 fifth avenue and then with all the russians he met with during the campaign, this is just a disaster. >> i want to read for you what the "washington post" how they describe what is behind kushner's clearance problems that he has had. some foreign officials whose communications were intercepted by the u.s. intelligence privately discussed how they could manipulate kushner taking advantage of his lack of foreign
policy experience. do you have any sense of what exactly this was about? >> first of all, we just have to look at 666 fifth avenue and the dilemma that they had. it almost took the kushner family fortune under. following up on the government shutdown and i represent more federal plemployees. one real concern was they could get behind on their bills and mortgage and lose their security clearance and lose their job. the number one people don't get security clearances is because of financial difficulties. the isis exactly what jared kushner brings to the table, very complex financial entanglements. >> sounds like there are more questions than less. you are on the tax writing committee. michael cohen said in testimony this week that the reason the president hasn't released tax
returns is because the president fears being put under audit, not because he is currently under audit. your committee has been looking into getting the president's tax returns. how confident are you that you are going to get them? >> i am confident that we will ask for them and have strong legal arguments justifying our asking. i think all the things that cohen laid out this week, the inflation of assets to get bank loans, all the shenanigans with his foundation to avoid taxes, i'm less confident we will get that in the short run because i assume the white house will fight it to the supreme court. what we want to do is make it so bullet proof that the republican supreme court has to say these tax records need to be turned over to the american public. >> you are not frustrated that you have an issue. >> we want to make sure that we only get one chance so let's do it absolutely right. we know it is likely to go to
the supreme court. we have to create the bulk of the evidence with that in mind. >> thank you for coming in. appreciate it. coming up for us president trump says he believes kim jong-un didn't know about the treatment of otto warmbier in a north korean prison. now his parents are speaking out. another candidate is jumping into the race for 2020. he makes the case this campaign is only about one issue and it's not donald trump. i can't believe it.
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death after president trump's shocking statement that he takes kim jong-un's word for it that the dictator knew nothing of their son's condition. >> he felt badly about it. he tells me that he didn't know about it and i will take him at his word. >> and now otto warmbier's parents are having their say. brian todd is in washington with the latest. the family put out a statement. >> sharply worded statements from the warmbier family this morning, some heart felt rhetoric going back and forth between the white house and the family. first we will tell you what fred and cindy warmbier said. they said we have been respectful during this summit process. now we must speak out. kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son otto. they are responsible 41 imaginable cruelty. no excuss or praise can change that. so the white house quickly going into damage control operations here this morning.
kellyanne conway, an adviser to president trump just spoke out about this on fox news and tried to offer context. take a listen. >> of course, he holds north korea responsible. he has deep affection and shares the grief for the warmbier family. that will never end as will not the president agreeing. chairman kim did not know -- what the president is saying is there is no indication chairman kim knew what happened with otto warmbier when it happened. >> reporter: that is an important distinction to make whether kim jong-un knew what happened to warmbier at the time that warmbier went into a coma. we did a lot of reporting. he quickly went into a coma. by all accounts the north koreans panicked, got in touch with american counter parts and arranged for transfer back to the united states where warmbier died a couple of days after
getting to the united states. kellyanne conway saying it was unen k kim jong-un not knowing what happened at the time he fell ill quickly. clearly kim jong-un knew about the detention and arrest of otto warmbier. now they are throwing into doubt whether kim knew at the time that warmbier had gone into a coma so quickly and faded so quickly. >> it's one of those things where there seems to be a distinction that does not matter in the context of what is really said. much more to come there. joining me now is cnn national security analyst sean turner who served as a senior adviser and spokesperson for the director of national intelligence. you heard kellyanne conway trying to offer context that he holds north korea responsible but all he was saying was that kim jong-un didn't know about
otto warmbier's condition at that moment. what is happening here? >> anytime an american citizen is contained in north korea it is rarely about the alleged crime that they have committed. it is most often about north korea trying to force engagement with senior u.s. officials. to be clear, there are no scenarios in which kim jong-un would be unaware of the status of one of the very few american citizens to be held in north korea. when we hear the president provide cover for kim jong-un and to say these things that in my opinion are really reprehendable when you think about how they struck the family, i think this is just another example of the president unfortunately kowtowing to a ruthless dictator. >> i want to ask you about that in a second. along the lines of what you are saying, bill richardson was on my show yesterday. he has negotiated. he has been to north korea many times and negotiated with north
koreans many times. he said it is inconceivable that kim jong-un would not know about an american that is being held in one of his prisons because that is an important bargaining chip for north korea on any number of issues. so it is inconceivable that that would be the case. maybe we shouldn't get lost or let it be lost the fact that we should feel so horribly for the family. they don't want to have to be the arbiter -- they don't want tobe in the middle of this. >> kim jong-un rules his country with an iron fist. he had to know what was going on. we have tracked what happened in north korea enough to know that anytime something happens that is a surprise to kim jong-un, we know how he deals with those sorts of things. you are absolutely right that he had to have known. with regard to the family, i
heard the congressman suggesting that the president's motivation for saying the things that he said or to because he was trying to build a relationship with kim jong-un. we have to understand that the president has an obligation to the american people. he has an obligation to the warmbier family to make sure that they know, that the american people know that he understands the pain that they are going through and that he stands with them. and for the president to come out and say that he believes kim jong-un over what we know in the intelligence community and what is clear based on information we have, i believe he owes him an apology. it happened because of the way north koreans treated this american. >> i really appreciate the perspective today. a new candidate jumps into the 2020 race. will running oa single issue platform cut through the noise of the crowded pack and set him apart from the rest? okay, max...time to help mrs. tyler
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because i'm the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nation's number one priority. we can do this. join our movement. this is our moment. >> so how does inslee stir things up? joining me now, what does governor inslee bring to this race. >> reporter: he certainly brings an important issue to the race. you mentioned climate change. in that clip you just played, he goes on to talk about how he would bring clean energy jobs to the state here. he also talks about how this is going to be his marquis issue. as he moves into the next couple weeks he is going to be expanding upon some of those policies around climate change. he talks about the green new deal. he says he supports it but he says it doesn't go far enough. later today at this solar
company here in seattle he will be sort of laying out four key principles around climate change. we will hear from him a little bit later. we also know that he is entering a really crowded field so the question is whether or not a single issue candidate can really cut through the other candidates. we know kamala harris, bocory booker are running on multiple issues. he will be launching his climate mission tour stopping at local businesses just like this one here in seattle really trying to connect with voters to see if he is able to make climate change an issue that sort of sweeps voters on with him. so if you take a look at some of his platforms that he will be coming out with, you will see a couple others but climate change really being the most important one. we'll hear from him on what that is going to look like. >> that will be fascinating and interesting to hear his initial
pitch. thank you so much. joining me now for perspective on this is cnn political analyst. what do you think? is it a gamble to run on a single issue in the democratic primary? >> certainly it is particularly on something like climate change. while it is important to democratic voters no doubt about that, it still ranks behind things like the economy, health care, for example. >> he is going to try to link -- take issues like economy and health care and link it all back to climate change. >> but on the other hand, he is the first governor to throw his hat in the ring. with that comes the executive experience that voters tend to like. he has a record of executive achievements, things like passing a family leave bill in washington, bump stocks, banning bump stocks.
he did a huge transportation funding bill. those are important things to democrats and voters nationwide. so if he is going to focus solely on climate change, it will be interesting to see how that resonates beyond the progressive base and as a reporter said, this is a crowded field. there are other candidates with records on supporting tough climate change measures. >> and you point out as you are talking about him being governor and the executive experience, it's long forever the governor's mansion was seen as the stepping stone, training ground, jumping off for many presidential candidates. you got a list of them from george w. bush. i don't know if it is surprising. it is surprising to me that he is the only governor in the race. >> you hear whispers about former governor higgenlooper.
usually governors are the ones who step up and say i have led this state, now let me lead the country. but as we have seen, senators, most of the senate it feels like has raised their hands. >> and if you look what the pedigree or the resume of a president has been changed. it's completely blown up in the last cycle. i am hearing more and more people talk about the need for executive experience on the democratic side. >> could that end up being a running mate rather than the top of the ticket? we'll have to see. >> that's interesting. >> someone who is not a governor, joe biden is in an traes sp interesting spot. >> followed on by the guy is a decent guy, our vice president, who stood before this group of allies and leaders and said i'm
here on behalf of president trump. and there was dead silence. >> decent guy is what got him in trouble. almost immediately he received back lash and within an hour biden's team was on twitter cleaning it up explaining it and trying to offer context. i have a million questions that that brings. i think centrally, if he gets into the race, the question would be, he said he can work across the aisle. that is how he positions himself. is that not okay now? >> biden is really old school. he is from that era where senators worked across the aisle. you didn't deeminize your opponent based on their politics. we have seen colonels of that still happening but it certainly
doesn't extend to someone so polarizing on the left like mike pence because of his record on things like gay rights, because of his filiation with president trump. he has become radio active on the left. it is sad that politics are so polarized. >> you are not a decent girl. we are done here. fall in line or face consequences. that is the message to. what does it mean for the party now. hey, how ya doing? uh, phil. are you guys good with brakes? we're ok. just ok? we got a saying here. if the brakes don't stop it, something will. that's not a real saying. it is around here. i wrote it.
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divisions within the new democratic house majorities are well known. look no further than the republican majority from way back in 2018 when the caucus was fractured. the new reports overnight are laying out just how dramatically the democratic divisions are coming to a head. multimal reports say nancy pelosi lashed out at moderates for voting with republicans on a key gun measure. we are either a team or we are not and we have to make that decision. on top of that freshman congresswoman alexandria ocasio-cortez threatened to put her democratic colleagues on a list to be primaried, something he her spokesperson confirmed. what is going on here? >> it's what you said. too much of a good thing isn't always wonderful. this is true of both parties.
democrats won the house on the backs of lots of members running in swing districts, freshmen members running in districts that some voted for donald trump. those members want to come back in two years and so they are doing things like this was a provision about whether i.c.e. needed to report when undocumented immigrants applied for a gun. they added that into the larger bill. they want to be for some of those things because they believe it reflects the constituents. alexandria ocasio-cortez represents a hugely democratic district in the bronx. nancy pelosi represents a huge district in california. so those thrks difference of opinion there that is not new but is also not going to go away. >> nancy pelosi knows this. as you said, the reason in large part the democrats have a majority is because a lot of democrats beat republicans in
moderate districts. in some cases republicans held the seats for a very long time. what are the moderates supposed to do? >> well, i think it's tough because what's interesting about this one is normally what we have seen is nancy pelosi on one side, alexandria ocasio-cortez on the other. so green new deal, for example. nancy pelosi was like the green bargain or whatever, i have heard of it. couldn't be more dismissive of it. in this case you have them both on the same team. i think what pelosi is more about, she understands from a political perspective beyond the shadow of a doubt that members have to vote their districts. she has always helped recruit candidates but i think she does not like losing on procedural measures in the house. she wants party unity on those sorts of things so that on the bigger votes she can give 10, 15, a dozen democrats leave to vote more their district.
i think this is more just about sort of trying to get everyone blae basically in line. she gets why they would vote for or against these things. >> is there any indication if message was received from the moderate lane? >> i mean, i'm sure they have heard it. i would tell you alexandria ocasio-cortez saying i would put you on a list and give the list to people who want to primary you guys. that would go over like a lead balloon among moderate members. that is her brand. we need to embrace being liberals. i don't think it will change behavior because we are talking about people many of whom beat republican incumbents and won in districts donald trump carried and donald trump will be on the ballot in 2020 and will presumably drive out all of his supporters. >> i don't have an answer to
this so i'm going to put you on the spot. divisions within parties that get power is not new. ask john boehner how fun that is. is this a growing pain or is this something different to you? >> i think it is reflective of sort of a fight that has been brewing in the democratic party for a while that was sort of put on hold with hillary clinton in 2016. we saw elements of the fight in 2016. clinton sort of the establishment and sanders not that. but no one thought sanders could win so it wasn't a fair fight. it wasn't on the one hand 50/50. it was 95/5. it wound up being 60/40. this fight will be mirrored in the democratic fight for the nomination. you will have the joe bidens, amy klobuchars on one half of the divide.
and then elizabeth warren, bernie sanders, kirsten gillibrand and a lot of others on the much more unapologetic liberal sense. this fight in congress is part of the broader fight. this is what does the party look like post barack obama? >> all right. let's see it play out in a very big way. good to see you. >> we'll be right back. ♪ ♪ t-mobile will do the math for you. right now, when you join t-mobile, you get two lines of unlimited with two of the latest phones included for just one hundred bucks a month.
first on cnn, more than a month after the longest government shutdown in u.s. history came to an end, more than a thousand transportation security administration employees, more than a thousand tsa employees still have not received all of the back pay that they are owed. cnn's rene marsh has these details for us. rene, what is going on here?
>> yeah, many of the employees we talked about during the shutdown live paycheck to paycheck. they depended on food banks. some got eviction notices. so it was really unbelievable that cnn learned more than a month after the shutdown ended, more than a thousand employees are still owed back pay. the delay stems in part from an unusual move during the shutdown to pay a partial paycheck to workers in order to help keep them on the job. remember, hundreds of workers were calling out from work during the shutdown. we do know from our reporting that this current problem with the back pay and the delay was a subject of a money call that tsa headquarters held with their field offices across the country on wednesday. according to this partial transcript of the call obtained by cnn, the agency said their partial payment to employees, it
coincided with the end of the shutdown when the funding got restor restored, and i'm quoting from the call now that says, our timing could not have been poorer in terms of when we executed the partial pay. so really, kate, what happened here is an mif mess. now the agency is working to make corrections in its system to reflect that some employees had already received a partial payment so that the balance that they are owed are accurate. in talking to one tsa official, you know, he's pretty frustrated with all of this. he says, look, the agency, first of all, cheated the purpose of the shutdown because shutdowns are not supposed to be comfortable. people don't get paid because it's a way to ensure that the shutdown does not go on for too long. because they did this, now you have this administrative mess that they're trying to clean up. >> total mess. despite all of our heads exploding at how ridiculous it
is, do people have an answer as to when they'll be paid? >> there is still no clear timeline of when all of these employees will get their complete back pay, which is disturbing, because we know many of these employees were in a financial crunch because they hadn't received paychecks. so that part is unclear. we did reach out to the agency and they told us in a statement of tsa's 60,000 employees, approximately 1,000 throughout the country require some sort of pay correction, and the agency says they're still working through all of this. so the short answer is we don't know when everyone will get all the back pay they're owed, kate. >> i hope they're not saying it's not that bad because it's only a thousand people. if it's one person, it's ridiculous, but regardless, thank god you're bringing the reporting. rene, thank you. u.s. debt is now over 22 trillion, and come tomorrow the nation is hitting the debt ceiling and that's legally how much congress allows it to
borrow to pay its bills. no surprise for any of us who have lived through the debt ceiling fight of 2011, this is setting up another potential fight, a new potential fight on capitol hill. cnn's alison kosik is here with details on this. why are we doing this again? what's happening? >> when we bump up against the debt ceiling tomorrow, the government's deadline to borrow money basically expires, but it's going to be another few months that the government runs out of money. so the budget department is saying the government could keep the country running another couple months. what this means is the government cannot borrow any more money without getting permission from congress. in the meantime, they'll have to use wiggle room to buy another six months to raise the debt level to prevent a budget
default. this is one of america's crises. the debt is sitting at $22 trillion. that's up since president trump took office. they knew within a year that we would hit this debt ceiling tomorrow, so it's all about kicking the can down the road. >> absolutely. when the money runs out, is that when the real fight is going to be? or is the fight now? i have not heard much about it. >> if you thought the shutdown fight in january was bitter, get dr ready for early fall that you see bat-- that's when the clock starts ticking. if president trump is looking to have that debt ceiling raised, he's not going to have enough votes in the house. so guess where he's going to have to go? he's going to have to go across the aisle to nancy pelosi and say, give me some votes, and there will be a bargaining chip and that could be the border wall, so we could see a real impasse here. >> deja vu all over again.
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say it and see it with the x1voice remote. from netflix, prime video,youtube and even movie tickets. just say get "dragon tickets". welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. thank you for sharing your day with us. another big white house lie. the president on record saying he had nothing to do with his son-in-law getting a top security clear answer. the "new york times" reports he did and that his chief of staff and top lawyer wrote memos detailing their concerns. plus a strong rebuke from the parents of otto warmbier. they are horrified. the president says he accepts kim jong-un's word that he had nothing to do with their son's brutal treatment in north korea prisons. the crowded democratic presidential field now has its firs