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CNN Exclusive: U.S. Government Wiretapped Former Trump Campaign Chairman; Interview with Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 18, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:03] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

On top of the new category 5 hurricane now heading straight for U.S. territory in the Caribbean, we have a CNN exclusive. Sources say that U.S. investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under a warrant from a secret court before and after the election.

Joining us now with the latest is CNN's Evan Perez and Pamela Brown who broke the story and have the details about why the government was listening to someone so close to the president.

So, Evan, what did you learn?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, sources tell us that the FBI got permission from the secretive surveillance court to monitor Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman before and after the election. Now, this is an extraordinary step for the FBI to do surveillance on a high-ranking campaign official.

And, of course, Manafort is now at the center of the Russia meddling investigation. We're told that there are intercepted communications that raise concern about whether Manafort was encouraging Russians to help with the campaign. Now, other sources tell us that this intelligence was not conclusive enough. Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has been provided all of these communications, Anderson.

COOPER: And, Evan, what do you mean by encouraging?

PEREZ: Well, there's a lot we don't know about exactly what was said. But what we're told is that the FBI has communications between suspected Russian operatives relaying what they claimed were discussions with Manafort, as well as communications involving Manafort. Now, none of this has amounted to what people consider a smoking gun in this investigation. There's still more work to be done to determine whether there's a criminal violation here.

We didn't get a comment from Paul Manafort spokesman, but Manafort has previously denied that he ever knowingly communicated with Russian intelligence operatives during the election. And he's also denied helping Russia undermine U.S. interests -- Anderson.

COOPER: And, Pam, what's interesting -- I mean, they monitored him two separate occasions or two separate times, correct?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So, the secret order began after Manafort became the subject of an FBI investigation back in 2014. Now, that centered on work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine's former ruling party, our sources tell us. And the surveillance was discontinued at some point last year for lack of evidence, that's according to one of our sources.

And then the FBI at some point restarted this surveillance after obtaining a new FISA warrant that extended at least into early this year, we're told. Now, the sources say the second warrant was part of the FBI's efforts to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives. It's unclear when that new warrant started, but, Anderson, as part of the FISA warrant, we have learned that earlier this year, the FBI conducted a search of a storage facility belonging to Paul Manafort.

It's unclear what was taken after that search. And, of course, then fast-forward several months later and then there was a raid on his home this past July by the FBI under Robert Mueller.

COOPER: So, Evan, do we know whether President Trump spoke to Manafort while he was under surveillance? I mean, is the president, you know, being recorded?

PEREZ: Well, we don't know exact. But what we've been told by sources, Anderson, is that the president and Manafort were still talking into early this year, well after the campaign was over. And during that time, the FBI was listening to Paul Manafort's phone. So, it's possible that those conversations were collected.

COOPER: So, Evan, was the president right when he asserted in that tweet he said that --

PEREZ: Right.

COOPER: -- that -- I don't have the exact wording on me, but, you know, that Obama tapped his phone.

PEREZ: Right, that his wires were tapped. Well, the Justice Department has denied that the president's own lines were wiretapped, but as we said, it is possible that he was picked up on Manafort's surveillance.

And we should note that Manafort does have a residence in Trump Tower. It's not clear whether the FBI was doing actual surveillance on him in there, but I can see -- you can see the president's supporters coming out and saying that the president was right all along.

COOPER: Pam Brown, appreciate it, and Evan Perez.

A lot to dig into with his uniquely qualified panel tonight. CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, joins us, who happens to be a former federal prosecutor, CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein, who helped break Watergate wide open, former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, who was the center of it at the time, and CNN legal and national security analyst, Asha Rangappa, who is a former FBI special agent.

So, Jeff, how significant is this and how tough is it to get a FISA warrant?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It's -- it's very significant. First of all, you know, just to get a warrant like this, you have to persuade the court that there is probable cause to believe -- Asha used to do this kind of work -- that this was the agent of a foreign government.

Thanks to the Patriot Act, the law passed after 9/11, that information can be shared with criminal investigators. The wall between counterintelligence and criminal has been broken down. So, that's why this information can be passed to Mueller.

Obviously, what we don't know is what was the basis for the warrant. You know, what went into the statement that the FBI made to the judge to grant the warrant. And most importantly, you don't know what was said. We don't know what Manafort said, we don't know who he was speaking to.

But the fact that they got two warrants suggests that the first wasn't totally useless because it allowed them to get a second one.

[20:05:07] But --


COOPER: So, you have two FISA warrants?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. It sound -- based on Evan and Pamela's reporting, there were two separate warrants, one after the other.

COOPER: What do you make of that?

ASHA RANGAPPA, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: So, when you get a FISA order on a U.S. person, the standard is slightly higher than for a non-U.S. person. So, you have to show a court not only that the person is an agent of a foreign power but they're knowingly engaging in clandestine intelligence activities. They're basically knowingly being a spy.

And once you get that order, you have to go back to the court every 90 days and show the court that you are, in fact, getting foreign intelligence information. If in that 90-day period you have not gotten that information, just in that last 90 days, the surveillance has to cease.

So, as Jeffrey said, there could have been a gap where it ceased and then if they find there's other information that they're getting about his potential intelligence connections, they can use some of the intelligence they've gotten before, the new stuff and then putting it -- COOPER: How rare is it, though, that they would have surveillance

back to 2014 and then stop it because they didn't think they were getting anything and then restart it?

RANGAPPA: I don't think it's necessarily unusual. Again, this 90-day period is there to provide a check so that the government can't just sit there and listen and just wait until something happens. If they're not getting it for 90 days, they have to stop and until they can get something else, that can corroborate or beef up and in this case it sounds like what started off as his contacts with the Ukrainians turned into additional contacts with the Russians and that was able to restart the surveillance.

TOOBIN: If I can add just one point. The FISA court has often been accused of being a rubber stamp for prosecutors. They turn down a lot of warrants.

However, this is the real world here. This judge, and we don't know who the judge was, had to know that Paul Manafort was likely speaking to the president-elect or president of the United States and they were not going to just willy-nilly give any sort of warrant.

RANGAPPA: That's absolutely right.

TOOBIN: So, I think the FBI must have had something of considerable interest to grant -- to get the judge to grant this order.

COOPER: Carl, it certainly really seems like the big outstanding questions here are what exactly Manafort did that, quote, encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, according to reporting, and when exactly this second round of wiretapping began and then ended.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We don't know yet who the person is or persons, plural, who talked to Manafort, who were Russians or ethno Russians. What we do see here is that the FISA court found reasonable cause to have this surveillance under extraordinary circumstances. And it's part of a much larger pattern that we're seeing of events closing in on the president of the United States on his campaign, on his businesses, on his family.

And we're also watching with the people around him, their interaction with a raging president about all of this happening at this time. And what we know now is because Manafort has been heard on these wiretaps, that this gives prosecutors a great tool to ask Manafort and others about these discussions, why were you having them?

Now, Manafort has a Fifth Amendment right. He doesn't have to answer those questions. But why were you on the telephone with this gentleman or people in the first place? It's a huge investigative tool.

The fact that there have been raids on his house, on his storage facility -- look, Manafort has been in the cross-hairs of this from the beginning, and at the same time he has not even, I'm told, fully talked to his lawyers about many aspects of what he knows and what he might not know. There also is the whole question of, so far, no one in this investigation among the principles who are being looked at by Mueller, Mr. Flynn, Mr. Manafort, others, have so-called flipped and are talking to Mueller and spilling their guts about anything.

The one person that's being looked at is perhaps more favorable to get some information from, I'm told, is Rick Dearborn, who is the White House assistant to the president for legislative affairs. That's not to say he's done anything wrong, but he was witness to some of the discussions that went into the airplane discussion in which the president drafted a statement defending his son Donald Trump that now is the heart of part of Mueller's obstruction investigation.

So, what I'm getting at here in this roundabout way is things closing in. And when you have a FISA court enabling this, that makes the pressure on the president and those all around him even greater.

COOPER: John, I mean, how do you see this? I mean, as somebody who has seen this from the pointy end of the spear?



DEAN: I see unusual aggressiveness by this prosecutor. I must -- one of the things, first reactions I had, I recall when I was cooperating with the prosecutors, they asked me to wear a wire and to go meet with my colleagues. I refused to do that.

So, prosecutors like wiretapped information or somebody who will go out and gather it for them. This is long before they knew Nixon had a taping system. So, that doesn't surprise me totally. But we now have a much higher standard with the FISA court, and that shows the seriousness with which they're treating this investigation, and that's what I find most striking at this point --

COOPER: So, John --

DEAN: Go ahead.

COOPER: So, John, when the president tweeted out before, terrible, just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This isn't McCarthyism.

Then he went on to say how long has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon, Watergate, bad or sick guy.

Does he now get to say that he was right?

DEAN: Well, it's a little closer, but it's not exactly right. I understand from the CNN's reporting that there was no evidence that Trump himself was wiretapped or that Manafort's apartment in the Trump towers was wiretapped. So, there is no evidence that the Trump towers as the president claimed, had been wiretapped. Also, the Justice Department and FBI I believe formally denied that charge.

So, it's a little closer, but not a horseshoe at this point. COOPER: Right. I mean, actually, it is significant that the FBI and

the Department of Justice said that Trump tweet was the case. Meaning that he was not --

RANGAPPA: Meaning that he was not a target. And even if Trump were picked up in this kind of FISA surveillance, he would normally be minimized, which means that they would screen out what he was saying and his name -- or his identity would be masked in the communication. And the only way that they would reveal to anyone looking at it who it was that Manafort was talking to is if they needed to know the identity of the person in order to make sense of the communication or it gave additional information.

TOOBIN: Well, it would be minimized if he was not involved in the investigation.

RANGAPPA: Absolutely. That's right.

TOOBIN: But if he was involved --

RANGAPPA: That's right.

TOOBIN: I mean --

COOPER: If he was just talking to Manafort about campaign strategy or about nothing to do with collusion or anything like that.

TOOBIN: Right. It would be minimized. But if they were talking about Russia --

RANGAPPA: That's right.

TOOBIN: -- Trump would be identified.

RANGAPPA: So, if it's relevant to getting the foreign intelligence information and the investigation, then they would. But he still wouldn't be considered a target. That's an incidental communication.

COOPER: So, we've got to take a break. Coming up next, more on the raid that Carl mentioned and the aggressiveness John Dean was talking about.

Plus, a former top CIA Russia expert into the conversation, and later, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Also, of course, Hurricane Maria. We are following closely now a category 5 storm, tracking toward Puerto Rico. It's hard to believe, another cat 5 storm. We'll tell you where it is and where it's heading.


[20:16:53] COOPER: Tonight, breaking news and a CNN exclusive. U.S. investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election. There's new reporting as well tonight in "The New York Times" on details, including how investigators executed the search warrant on Manafort's home. "The Times'" headline, Mueller inquiry sets tone with shock and awe approach.

The piece describes federal agents picking the lock on Manafort's home as he slept, taking binders full of documents and copying computer files. Afterwards, according to "The Times", special counsel Mueller issued him a warning through his prosecutors saying, we are planning to indict you. Quite a wake-up call.

Back with the panel and joining us as well is former CIA senior officer and Russia expert Steve Hall.

Steve, first of all, I'm just wondering what you make of this because part of the reporting from Evan and Pamela is that part of what the FBI is going on or what Mueller's team is going on are conversations among some Russians about what they had gotten from Mueller or basically conversations among Russians. Those, I imagined, would be kind of precarious to put a lot of faith in because people can be bragging about their access to an incoming president.

STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA SENIOR OFFICER, RUSSIA EXPERT: Well, first, Anderson, it's quite remarkable that the FBI, which is a group of patriotic, very professional and very nonpartisan folks had sufficient evidence to get not one but two FISA warrants to collect information, counterintelligence information on Mr. Manafort. So, that in and of itself -- who is the campaign manager at the time, of course -- and that's quite remarkable.

You know, what was going on in those conversations, there has been reporting that these were perhaps conversations with Russian operatives. That would be something that if they had a relationship with Mr. Manafort, they would have not wanted to have had on the telephone. They would have preferred to have been as discrete as possible, unless, of course, they were simply trying to bring him along and not cross that bridge into a more discrete type of relationships.

So, those are all investigations that are ongoing. But it is quite remarkable that they had the level of information needed to conduct this kind of surveillance to try to find Russian operations that touched Paul Manafort.

COOPER: Yes, he was campaign chairman was his official title.

And I guess, if it was 2014, that was before he was on the campaign.

RANGAPPA: That's right.

COOPER: It was really on the second time that he was deeply involved.

Jeff, the idea --

BERNSTEIN: The timing of these warrants is very tricky, and it does not establish that this was done at the time that he was the campaign chairman, from what I could see. COOPER: Yes. It seems unclear exactly when, because apparently that

meeting in -- that Donald Trump Jr. had which has also clearly been of interest, that apparently according to the reporting was not on there, the FBI was not monitoring that or listening in on that.

Jeff, what do you make of -- according to "The New York Times", that prosecutors have told Paul Manafort he's going to be indicted?

TOOBIN: I think it means he's going to be indicted.

COOPER: It's not a threat?

TOOBIN: No. See, my experience with federal prosecutors is they don't threaten indictments unless they're really prepared to do it.

[20:20:01] There's actually a formal process where you as -- if you were being investigated, you can ask for what's called a target letter asking for your status. Are you a witness? Which means you're not going to be indicted. Are you a subject? Which is someone they're looking at. Or are you a target?

Now, when you get a target letter, it's a virtual certainty that you're going to be indicted. It sounds like they either gave Manafort a target letter or told him orally that he is a target. And it's just not -- I mean, obviously, it's not out of the realm of possibility, but if in a high-profile environment like this prosecutors told Paul Manafort that he's going to be indicted, he's going to be indicted.

COOPER: Asha, do you agree with it?

RANGAPPA: I think that's --


BERNSTEIN: Let's be clear about one thing --

COOPER: Hold on. Let Asha finish, then we'll go to Carl.

RANGAPPA: I just think that's especially true for Robert Mueller. He's no nonsense and is going after everything he can. But I don't think he's going to gratuitously try to intimidate anybody in the investigation. I don't think he needs to. He's going to get the evidence that he needs to actually bring charges.


BERNSTEIN: Can I be a little clear about what he may or may not be indicted for? Because it's no surprise that he is going to be indicted. That it is very likely that the indictment will have to do with failure to register and follow procedures for failing to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, and that the idea behind an indictment is to try, as might happen with Flynn also, under the same provisions of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, is to try and get Manafort or Flynn and others in this position to talk. It's not at all clear that these indictments that might be forthcoming

would have anything directly to do with collusion with the Russians or even with a cover-up in regard to what's happened in the election with supposed events related to Russia. This too can be a tool to try and get more information. So, I think we need to not jump too far ahead.

TOOBIN: Let me just add one point that I think is -- we sometimes miss is, you know, collusion is a word we throw around a lot about this investigation.


TOOBIN: Was the government of Russia colluding with the Trump campaign? There is no federal crime called collusion.

It's not even clear that it's illegal for there to be some sort of coordination. It would be outrageous. It would be improper, it would be a violation of our traditions, but it is not clear that that's a federal crime. And I think that's one of the peculiarities of this federal investigation that it is aimed at disclosing something that may itself not be a federal crime.


COOPER: Go ahead.

RANGAPPA: And I think it might be a little bit more than -- I think there might be a little bit more than the Foreign Agent Registration Act, because we know that when Manafort's home was searched, they took out boxes of documents, financial documents. You mention that had they had taken photos of his expensive suits. They looked in the storage facility.

If the only indictment that Mueller potentially had was for the Foreign Agent Registration Act, that would be incredibly surprising. It wouldn't match up with what they're looking for. And far -- it is very weak. It only has a five-year penalty. So, I think there's got to be more on the table.

COOPER: John Dean, when you look at the tactics that Mueller and his team are using, I'm wondering what you make of them. Do you see them as being -- "The Times" referred to it as kind of a shock and awe, kind of an aggressive approach in some cases with some people, not necessarily with those in the White House now.

DEAN: Well, I've looked at most of the post-Watergate investigations, Anderson, and I must say this is much more aggressive than the norm. These are all high-profile investigations where the special counsel or the independent counsel under the former act knew they were in the spotlight during their investigation, that they were under certain scrutiny themselves and they proceeded accordingly given a lot of courtesies to the targets of their investigation.

That's not happening here. It appears in this investigation they're worried about maybe we have a spy in our midst is what I'm struck -- the fact that they've used the FISA court twice, and they're trying to root it out and not prevent any damage that sitting on their hands might cause.

TOOBIN: John makes a really good point here. Search warrants are unusual in white collar cases. Not unprecedented, but the fact that they would go search someone's house at 6:00 in the morning, it's unusual.

COOPER: All right. We got to take break. When we come back, more on Paul Manafort, the wiretapping, a member of the House Intelligence Community weighs in on our exclusive reporting, ahead.


[20:28:15] COOPER: Well, we don't yet fully know how tonight's CNN exclusive reporting on the investigation of Paul Manafort ties or fits the larger puzzle, only that it seems to be a significant piece of it. To better weigh how important it could be, we're joined now by a member of the House Intelligence Committee, California Congressman Eric Swalwell.

Congressman, thanks for being with us.

So, first of all, what is your reaction to news that Paul Manafort had been wiretapped under secret court orders out of concern that he had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE (via telephone): Good evening, Anderson. The Russians were determined and sophisticated in the way that they interfered with our elections and we want our investigators to be just as determined and sophisticated in the way that they unravel what the Russians did. If they are not, the Russians will get away with it.

So, if this is in fact true, that's encouraging. They're using every legal means available to understand what the relationships were between Donald Trump's campaign chairman and other associates and even perhaps candidate Trump at the time himself and the Russians.

COOPER: Did you or anyone on the Intel Committee know that he had been wire-tapped?

SWALWELL: Anderson, can't say yes or no to that. But, you know, we are also seeking to bring in Mr. Manafort as well as Roger Stone, Carter Ppage, everyone who was included on the June 9th e-mail, and we've already as you know had our first round of interviews with Jared Kushner and expect to bring him back.

COOPER: So, Robert Mueller and his team of investigators have provided details of the wiretap with the Intel Committee. Will they try to get that information as well?

SWALWELL: Again, Anderson, can't go into the class fight nature of our investigation, but I'll tell you that Manafort is important because he presided over a time of intense activity by the Russians, the summer of 2016. You know, that's when the June 9th meeting took place. That's when the convention occurred, when the platform change happened in the Republican Party that was pro-Russia, that's when Carter Page travelled over to Moscow with permission on the campaign and of course that's when Roger Stone intimated that John Podesta was going to spend this time and that there are all a good chunk of the time that Manafort was there. So he was a central figure when Russia's interfering campaign was at peak performance.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There is this reporting in "New York Times" that when FBI raid of Manafort's home, they picked his lock and that Mueller's team told Manafort they are planning to indict him. I'm wondering what your reaction to that is? Do believe there was a pending indictment against Manafort?

SWALWELL: No, that would be -- it happened to be under seal, if it hasn't, you know, of course, Mueller, the grand jury and the investigators would know. But you hope that he would -- for the sake of the country cooperate. And if he know something about other U.S. person to work with the Russian that he would be forthcoming about that, that's something we haven't seen yet.

And what's so frustrating is that, we've seen so many denials from the President and his family and the campaign about their prior personal political and financial tied to Russia and had only acknowledge them when they've been confronted by either the press or House and Senate investigation.

And so time to just be straight with the American people and we would get to the bottom of this much faster.

COOPER: Congressman Swalwell, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

COOPER: CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen, joins us now. David, I mean, as a long time Washington veteran I'm wondering how big a deal is this, is the news to Manafort was wiretapped?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Listen, this is significant story, we're still in preliminary stages of understanding of -- but when -- you do need a -- the top justice department officials to sign off on this. And it was started before Mueller got there. I think both those facts are very significant. It does raise the question of whether trying to flip Manafort or not, was he knows enough now? That certainly indicates that he's in great legal jeopardy.

They had the wiretap and basically they weren't able to come up with evidence but then they were able to got a second time around, and get it approved. That suggests there is something here, there's something incriminating and his going to be under a lot of pressure now to flip. And he may well face indictment or he may face some combination thereof.

COOPER: Do you think that they could be using -- I mean, as it was suggested before the charge of him working as a foreign agent without registering, use that as a method to get him to flip if he has other information? GERGEN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, the more they can pile up on him, you know, the multiple charges then the incentive to cooperate goes way up as you will know. I do emphasize we're still in the early stages. There's a lot we don't know about this. It's just breaking but it's -- yet another dark cloud and I think they get darker with regard to Manafort. He's clear, you know, he and General Flynn appear to be two of the principal players. They're investigating very, very thoroughly. And to the point when, you know, when you raid somebody's home, that signals your, A, you're serious and B, you're going to take him down unless he cooperates.

COOPER: I'm wondering -- I mean, you know as someone who has worked in the White House is what President Trump must be thinking about this or reacting to this. And on the one hand, he had sent out those tweets long ago saying that, he just had learned that Obama was tapping his wires in Trump Tower, something that Justice Department and FBI have said there's -- didn't happen, no evidence of. I assume he could now say, well, look there was some wiretapping going on.

GERGEN: Well, there was wiretapping under a federal court order, I mean, federal court of approval. And with top justice department officials and his own justice department it appears maybe it's just the Obama team, but that OK, we'll have to wait and see.

But, you know, this is -- there's an additional questions, Anderson, which I just don't know the answer to, but I would think it would be driving the President nuts is, how did he ever get past the screen, I mean, he made chairman of the campaign. If there was enough going on legally in the background that somebody should have gotten notice that there was something really questionable, if not fishy about his background why did they put him in there. President Trump must be really angry at his handlers for letting him have the reigns because obviously the optics of having your campaign chairman while he's serving under FBI wiretap --

COOPER: But at the time it was a pretty bear bones campaign. I mean, you know, it was sort of free will. I mean (INAUDIBLE) you know, you'd go to doing interview with them and they're be (INAUDIBLE) and that was sort of -- that was the inner circle. So --

[20:35:06] GERGEN: Well, that's true.

COOPER: I'm wondering how much vetting actually was done on anyone.

GERGEN: Well, that's a very, very good question. But typically a more establishment figure would pick up a lot of rumors and gossip and know that there's something out there. And I think this was a vulnerability that Trump had, because he wasn't counter fighting a system. So he didn't have the powerful inner circle of people who really knew what was going on in Washington advising him.

So I do think he's got a right to be frustrated about that, I'm sure he's very frustrated. Just when he thinks he may be turning the corner, working to the Democrats, we'll have to see what happen to the U.N. tomorrow but I think this is a blow to the President. It really -- it does send a signal, at least a couple people in the inner circle. And Paul Manafort was in the inner circle as a chairman for a period of time. They just can't deny that.


GERGEN: That they've brought in the guy who is under this much of investigation sort of -- it's pretty stunning. I've never heard of anybody being hired in a major campaign or a White House position, who was under investigation this way. And frankly, why the hell didn't Manafort tell them? It was totally unfair of him to walk in there if it was not known under those circumstances.

COOPER: Yes, lot of questions. David Gergen I appreciate it.


COOPER: Thanks. There are also new details about how President Trump's own attorney is reacting to the special counsel of investigation. A "New York Times" reporter overheard a conversation the attorney had at a popular Washington lunch. What he said in a moment.


[20:40:09] COOPER: We have yet another Russia related headlines tonight, beyond tonight's big breaking news. White House lawyers are reportedly disagreeing over how much to cooperate with the Russian probe.

But how we know this is almost as interesting as what we know. According to "New York Times" one of the reporters overheard President Trump's lawyers, Ty Cobb talking openly and casually about White House Counsel Don McGahn to another lawyer while they rid at Washington steakhouse and fully ear shoot of anyone walking by.

I want to bring back in Jeff Toobin, Carl Bernstein, and John Dean.

I mean, Jeff, these are high power attorneys, doesn't make any sense that -- I mean, you hear people in an airport, you hear doctors like talking about patients, things that you shouldn't hear, but lawyer at this level talking in a restaurant like this.

JEFF TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I ride the Asilah a lot between New York and Washington. The train, people are talking loud. I mean, you often think to yourself, people couldn't do the dump things that they do, but they do. And he -- and apparently that these are very experienced lawyers. This is a very conspicuous place. This is right by the office of the "New York Times." Ken Vogel is a reporter of the New York Time, he did the good alert journalistic thing when people are loudly talking newsworthy topic, he listened. And he found out that what they're -- the controversy here is actually a familiar one for everyone. You know, for this White House investigation, the issue of how much you want to cooperate.

COOPER: Right, because the President's own lawyer apparently, you know, apparently wants to cooperate more by the White House Counsel, Don McGahn, has concerns about protecting the presidency and ramification long beyond the Trump administration. TOOBIN: That's right. And there's nothing sinister about that kind of debate. I mean, those are good debates that lawyers have. The question that is particularly compelling is a reference apparent that Ken Vogel overheard to the documents that Don McGahn have in his safe that have not been disclosed. That certainly will be of interest to congressional investigators into the Mueller case.

COOPER: John Dean, I mean, the idea that the President's outside counsel sitting at that restaurant complaining about the White House Counsel Don McGahn having something lock in the safe, another whispering lawyer, "a spy" from McGahn. Is this -- I mean, does this seem crazy to you?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it -- you know, given the current rules of professional conduct it raises some interesting questions. First of all, Dowd the outside lawyer, he represents the President personally. The special counsel, Ty Cobb, as well as McGahn both represent the office of the President, that's who their client is. The only one who really has attorney-client privilege is Dowd. So he is the one that apparently is asking for more to be withheld as is --


DEAN: Ty Cobb and McGahn as one who's withholding. So it's a very interesting set of conflicts there given who they're client is.

COOPER: So -- I mean, that's interesting John that -- and Jeff, this is right, Ty Cobb represents the presidency --

TOOBIN: He works for the government.

COOPER: So President Trump doesn't have the same kind of attorney- client privilege with him?

TOOBIN: That's right, actually, one of the unresolved questions in is what kind of attorney-client privilege government lawyers have with their clients, within the government. It's quite clear that John Dowd who is an outside lawyer has an attorney-client privilege with Donald Trump as a human being. But how much can be protected in conversation within the government between Don McGahn and the President, between Ty Cobb and the President, among those lawyers who work for the government, that's a complicated and unresolved question. And I think John Dean is right, that when the two lawyers speak, it's not exactly clear what the privilege is. What is clear is if you're talking loudly in a restaurant anyone with listen.

COOPER: Carl, would breaking watergate have been easier if John Dean and other members of President Nixon's inner circle would blurting stuff out during lunch near the "The Washington Post?"

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that would be really nice if they are there for breakfast and we were right there next to them. But I think this is something very important that happening here and what we are seeing in these arguments among lawyers, is they are concerned about the vulnerability of the president and the United States. And what these lawyers know, and incidentally Dowd is the one who really counts because he is Trump's lawyer, the others are not -- Trump also has a real estate lawyer, Alan Garten, who is absolutely central to this because the prosecutors are looking at Trump's real estate and tax records and they are closing in on that aspect of Trump and his organization, despite the fact that Trump has said this is a red line, what we're seeing here is first of all, it is now definite, definitive and I can say this with some authority that what intelligence community and under Donald Trump, not under Obama has found is, that the evidence of Russian interference on behalf of Hillary Clinton was much more effective and farther advanced than had been thought earlier. So that dynamic is driving a healthy -- what we're seeing in these investigations.

[20:45:33] DEAN: Wait a second, helping Hillary Clinton --

COOPER: Carl, helping Hillary Clinton, you're saying?

BERNSTEIN: That the Russians interference -- I'm sorry, pardon me. You're exactly right. Pardon me -- was intended to hurt Hillary Clinton. I got it exactly backwards there. But yes, that, that evidence is much stronger since Donald Trump has become president, developed by the intelligence community and that's part of the dynamic here of the fact that they were trying to hurt her campaign here and get Donald Trump farther toward the White House.


BERNSTEIN: And then you also have one more element here and that is this question of obstruction of justice and possible pardons which is under discussion among people in the White House now.

COOPER: Carl Bernstein, Jeff Toobin, John Dean thank you very much.

Up next, the last thing this part of the world need is hurricane Maria now a category five heading towards the same islands that were devastated by hurricane Irma. What happens after that? Still a question mark. We'll get the latest forecast. We speak to someone who's riding out the hurricane in the Caribbean.


[20:50:31] COOPER: The governor of Puerto Rico is warning residents that hurricane Maria is unlike anything the island has seen before, and the only focus now is saving lives. Hurricane Maria is now strengthened to a category five. And it is the same island in these sides, which just got devastated by Irma.

Meteorologist, Allison Chinchar joins us from the Weather Center with the latest. What do we know about this? Where is going to heading?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's really within about an hour we expect this to make landfall over Dominica.

Winds right now, 160 miles per hour as an edges closer to the island but we got the latest information that has just come to us from the hurricane centers. They had their last mission that they sent out, the Reconnaissance Flight. And this is where we got that wind measurement of 160 miles per hour. And by the way, a huge pressure dropped down to 928 millibars. Again, I know that may not necessarily mean anything in terms of the number of itself but that's a good sign that the storm is continuing to strengthen.

This is the truck again, going to cross over Dominica. Here with within the hour then makes its way toward the Virgin Islands, then toward Puerto Rico, then off to Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos. The thing is, it is expected to remain a category five as it hit Puerto Rico.

COOPER: And the trajectory of Maria, I mean, how does it compare to the path that hurricane Irma took?

CHINCHAR: Yes, it is a good question they're similar but not exactly the same. Here is a look, this yellow line right here that was Irma's path. The red is Maria. So you can see it's starting off initially a little bit further south. They will line up close to the Dominican Republic and then Maria will actually end up pushing a little bit farther north. The models are in pretty good at green right now that Maria is going to hit over Puerto Rico but it's after that they really start to separate.

The blue is the European model that you can see spins out to the Atlantic. The GFS and the American model heads back towards the U.S. but not in the same way that Irma did.

This high pressure here is what's steering Maria. If it holds where it is, it will back around in a clockwise motion around that high out over open water. The American model is banking, Anderson, that that high begins to shift to the west. That's what would veer it over towards the U.S.

The thing at this point as you're talking still seven days out, and a lot can change in that time frame.

COOPER: Allison, we'll keep watching. Thanks very much. The underscore Dominica, is about to get hit just before air time. I spoke with a man, John Thottungal, who is riding it out to the island.


COOPER: John, first of all, where are you when -- and what are conditions like right now?

JOHN THOTTUNGAL, RIDING OUT STORM ON DOMINICA (via telephone): It's actually unsafe to step out of the door. There are things flying about in the air. There are debris kind of in the air, you know small pieces of paper and I guess, small rocks. We lost power about 40 minutes ago. There are buildings that have their own backup generators, but for most of the native here, that's really an option. The winds are howling and mostly you can see that in the back, kind of heavy, heavy rain.

COOPER: Are you in your own house?

THOTTUNGAL: I'm in my own apartment, yes. With all a bunch of almost 500 medical students attending the -- watching what the -- Ross Medical University here on the island. Predominantly all of them basically American or Canadians, they're a little of, you know, international students but, you know, Ross got their own but you know we're a bit close to campus.

COOPER: Do you have supplies for the next couple days?

THOTTUNGAL: We don't think we'll have power for the next couple days. The campus will have power, but I don't think the rest of the city or possibly the rest of the island may not have power for the next couple days.

COOPER: But do you have food and water stored up?

THOTTUNGAL: Yes. The university warned us well in advance, so I've completely stocked up. Everyone stocked up on water, nonperishable food items --

COOPER: Have you seen just in preparation for this, have you seen people boarding up their houses, businesses boarding up and does it seem like the island is ready for this?

THOTTUNGAL: Well, yes, because they had a tough time two years ago when Erica hit them they didn't have -- that was supposed to be a tropical storm but actually hit like a hurricane and they didn't have power for almost two weeks and no running water. So, yes, the businesses have shut down. They have boarded up everything, and they're waiting to see what happens tonight.

[20:55:07] COOPER: And how do you feel?

THOTTUNGAL: I'm OK. I'm just sitting at home reading my lectures, waiting for the wind to die down.

COOPER: Well, you've got a couple of hour had, no doubt, John Thottungal, I appreciate you talking to us and we'll check in with you later. Thank you.

THOTTUNGAL: No problem. Have a good day.

COOPER: We'll going to keep an eye obviously in the track of hurricane Maria. Update you throughout the next hour. When we come back, exclusive new reporting on the Russia investigation, sources telling CNN that U.S. investigators wiretapped former trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election. Details on that next.


COOPER: Breaking news, top of the hour to CNN exclusive, sources say U.S. investigators wire tapped former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort under a warrant from a secret court before and after the election.

Joining us is CNN's Pamela Brown, and Shimon Prokupecz who broke the story and have the details about why the government was listening to someone so close to the President. So Pam, first of all what have you learned?