CBS This Morning journalists on Tuesday pestered Tom Cotton, wondering why the Republican Senator wasn’t offering up an immigration bill more to their liking. Co-host John Dickerson talked to the conservative and noted that his proposed legislation “calls for $25 billion for a wall and border security, limits to family-based immigration, and an end to the diversity visa lottery program.”
Dickerson wondered, “Can it get 60 votes, which is the threshold there in the Senate?” After the Senator didn’t give him the answer he was looking for, the journalist lectured, “But you can't get any Democratic votes for your bill to get it out of the Senate. So you're focused on passing a law, but it's not going to get out of the Senate, which means it won't be a law.”
Again, Dickerson complained, “But there are other bills that could get 60 votes, aren’t there?” Cotton reminded, “I'm doubtful because many senators know it can't pass the House of Representatives and that the President will veto them.”
Co-host Gayle King asked:
Are you concerned that some of the officials in the White House that don't have security clearance, like Jared Kushner, for instance, are dealing with some of the top-secret materials? Does that concern you? Is that okay with you?
Later in the show, CBS brought on Leon Panetta, the chief of staff to Bill Clinton, to opine about the Trump administration:
I want to ask about the role of chief of staff because you have been a White House chief of staff. It's our understanding, CBS News is reporting that the FBI finished their background check on Rob Porter in the summer and gave that information to the White House. And one official is saying that Rob Porter's interim clearance would have expired last month.... Do you think that this White House is allowing someone without the proper clearance to handle some of the nation's top secrets, and is Kelly culpable?
A partial transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more:
CBS This Morning
8:04:08 to 8:10:03
JOHN DICKERSON: The Senate continues its immigration debate today, hoping to find a compromise before DACA protections end in March. One of the bills that lawmakers are considering is the Secure and Succeed Act, which closely mirrors the White House plan. It offers a pathway to citizenship for nearly two million immigrants. In return, the bill calls for $25 billion for a wall and border security, limits to family-based immigration, and an end to the diversity visa lottery program. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas is one of the lawmakers who introduced the bill. He's also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and joins us from Capitol Hill. Good morning, Senator. Let me start with your immigration bill. Can it get 60 votes which is the threshold there in the Senate?
SENATOR TOM COTTON: I hope so. We'll see when we have votes in the Senate this week.
DICKERSON: But you can't get any Democratic votes for your bill to get it out of the Senate. So you're focused on passing a law, but it's not going to get out of the Senate which means it won't be a law.
COTTON: Well, John, we won’t know until we put it on the floor and we have those votes.
DICKERSON: But there are other bills that could get 60 votes, aren’t there?
COTTON: I'm doubtful because many senators know it can't pass the House of Representatives and that the President will veto them. Again, if we're focused on what we can actually turn into a law, what will solve the problem, give legal protections for these young illegal immigrants but also secure our border and end the practice of extended family chain migration, this President — the president's framework bill is the one bill that can do that.
NORAH O’DONNELL: Senator, let me ask about how some of our nations important secrets are being handled at the White House the president's former staff secretary, do you know what type of security clearance he had?
O’DONNELL: Let me ask you this. According to a former National Security Council staffer, if an employee receives an interim security clearance, they cannot be given a special, sensitive job. That requires a whole different level of clearance. Top secret, special compartmentalized information or code word. The fact that Rob Porter did not have the special clearance and yet handled the nation's top secrets every single day, almost every hour, did the White House mishandle our top secrets?
GAYLE KING: Are you concerned that some of the officials in the White House that don't have security clearance, like Jared Kushner, for instance, are dealing with some of the top-secret materials? Does that concern you? Is that okay with you?
COTTON: Well, again, I'm not familiar with the background checks for all of these individuals or where they stand.
KING: We're not talking about the background checks. We're asking are you okay with that process? Let's stick with that. Are you okay with the process?
O’DONNELL: CBS and other organizations are reporting that the FBI handed over their background checks on Rob Porter this summer. It was at least eight months ago. The White House has known about these domestic abuse allegations. Did it turn a blind eye?
KING: Some of the Democrats are calling for an investigation into the matter. Do you think it's necessary?