Transcript for Trump ordered top clearance for Kushner: Report
We go to the white house and president trump now back from Vietnam facing new questions about his son-in-law Jared Kushner. “The New York Times” reports that trump ordered his chief of staff to give Kushner a top secret security clearance over the objections of intelligence officials and his white house counsel contradicting public denials from the president and Ivanka Trump. Our chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas has the story. Good morning, Pierre. Reporter: George, good morning. In an intense reaction house Democrats are crying foul claiming that nepotism and favoritism are impacting national security. This morning, new congressional investigations targeting the white house after that “The new York Times” report alleging that president trump ordered his former chief of staff John Kelly to give his son-in-law Jared Kushner a top secret security the paper claiming that Kelly wrote a memo saying the president had, quote, ordered him to clear Kushner’s path. This after the times says both the CIA and former white house counsel don mcgahn recommended that Kushner be denied it in the early days of the administration. A move some experts say if true would be highly unusual for a president. It’s highly unusual. While the president has the authority to override the decision of security officials, it’s very uncommon for him to actually do so and just because he can do it doesn’t mean that it’s in the best interest of our national security. Reporter: In an interview with the times just last month the president denied intervening on behalf of his son-in-law who’s been involved in a number of domestic policy and diplomatic efforts including Middle East peace. Did you tell general Kelly or anyone else in the white house to overrule security officials — No, I don’t think I have the authority to do that. I’m sure I do. But I wouldn’t — I wouldn’t do it. Jared Kushner’s a good — I was — I was never involved with his security. Reporter: And Ivanka Trump recently told ABC news there were no strings pulled for her or her husband. There are a lot of people that question whether you were given special treatment by the president overriding other — Absolutely not. — Officials. Can you speak to that? There were anonymous leaks about there being issues, but the president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband’s clearance, zero. Reporter: Democrats now vowing to investigate. House intelligence chairman Adam Schiff fired off a statement last night saying, there’s no nepotism exception for background investigations. A spokesman for abbe Lowell, Kushner’s attorney says it was handled in regular process with no pressure from anyone. Sarah Sanders received a statement saying we don’t comment on security clearances, George. The investigations continue. Michael Cohen, another day on capitol hill yesterday behind closed doors at the house intelligence committee and they’re not done with him yet. Reporter: That’s right. Congress is not done with Cohen. He is due back for grilling next Wednesday and Felix Sater will be coming in. They want to talk about his role in pursuing a trump tower project during the campaign when the candidate was denying having any deals in Russia. And worked with president trump before that for many years. Let’s bring in Dan Abrams for more on this and, Dan, we should separate out the issues here. No question that the president has the legal authority to order a security clearance. The question is was it done in the right way? Right, he’s got the right to do it but was it the right thing to do? And, you know, you heard Sarah Sanders saying we don’t talk about security clearances. The president does. That’s what I was going to say. The president talked about it and ivanka talked about it and now Sarah Sanders doesn’t seem to want to talk about it. So, the process is a very thorough one and a very rigorous one but in the end, the president has the final call. No one disputes that the president can make a decision in his single opinion whether someone should get clearance. And, you know, clearly there are problems for the president and ivanka, with their denials. Interesting the response from Jared Kushner’s lawyer, much more nuanced. Right, his application was properly submitted, true, reviewed by numerous career official, true, underwent the normal process, true for the beginning of the process and then they say there were no outside pressure. Well, the bottom line is that all may be true and the president in the end may have simply said, I don’t care what the process was, I don’t care what the decision was. I want Jared Kushner to have this security clearance. No reason for prosecutors to look at this but clearly the congress is going to be because of that process. You want to know why. What were the concerns? Why did they have concerns about Jared Kushner? Why did he have to keep amending his forms again and again? Why were there over 100 omissions and changes? Those are the questions that I think a lot of people would like answered and that’s what we don’t know right now, which is what were the fundamental problems and issues that led the career officials to say, wait a sec, we should have some concern. Meantime, one of the things we’re seeing coming out of the Cohen hearing many more investigations now spawned on capitol hill. Really heading into a new phase here. Michael Cohen’s testimony created a road map. Now, I think that they knew that this was going to happen, right? This isn’t some shock that, oh, my goodness, Michael Cohen came in and suddenly there’s this road map but as you listen to him you see the tentacles of the investigations and see what was just a state New York investigation now becoming — Foundation. A congressional investigation and you see federal investigations with regard to Mueller and the southern district of New York now becoming congressional but, again, they need to be careful. The last thing congress would want to do for those who want this investigation to continue is to step on the criminal investigations, because there’s going to be real concern on the part of federal authorizes please don’t investigate this exactly at the same time as we are. Those continue as well. Dan Abrams, thanks very much.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.