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President Trump: Looks Like Iran Was Behind Saudi Oil Attack; NY Prosecutors Subpoena Eight Years of President Trump's Tax Returns; New Allegations Against Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh Set Off President Trump, His Rivals. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired September 16, 2019 - 20:00   ET




There's breaking news tonight in the attacks on the oil fields in Saudi Arabia. The president today saying it appears that Iran is behind them. He also didn't rule out the possibility of retaliatory strike by the U.S., although it appears that some in the administration are trying to walk back the president's own language.

Take, for instance, whether we will attack Iran. The president sounded very war-like in his tweet last night. Quote, Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There's reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending upon verification, but are waiting to hear from the kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack and under what terms we would proceed.

Now, obviously, locked and loaded, which is what the president said, is a term we're all familiar with. It references our military posture. It's a direct reference to weaponry. It's pretty clear.

But then this morning, things got less clear. Vice President Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, was asked about the tweet and the term "locked and loaded." Here's what he said.


MARC SHORT, CHIEF OF STAFF FOR VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: I think that locked and loaded is a broad term that talks about the realities that we're also far safer and more secure domestically from energy independence.


COOPER: Locked and loaded, he's saying, is a broad term about energy independence. Has anyone ever actually used the term "locked and loaded" in that way? Our fossil fuels are locked and loaded? It doesn't really make sense. We're locked and loaded with natural gas and other fossil fuels, not to mention wind and solar.

Keeping them honest, we all know what the president meant by locked and loaded. Clearly, the vice president's office doesn't want to come out and say, just disregard the tweet sent out by the president last night. Instead, they're pretending it means something else.

It's not the only attempt in the midst of this crisis to walk back something the president has said. Now that the administration appears to be considering a strike against Iran, the president is claiming he never said he wanted to negotiate with the Iranian president without any preconditions. On Sunday he tweeted: The fake news is saying that I'm willing to meet with Iran no conditions. That is an incorrect statement, as usual.

Now, the problem with that, we should point out, is this president's tweet is just not true. In fact, not only has the president spoken about meeting with no preconditions, so have other members of the administration. And it's on tape.

Let's play it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You want to talk, good. Otherwise, you can have a bad economy for the next three years.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: No preconditions?

TRUMP: Not as far as I'm concerned. No preconditions.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, I think the president has made it very clear that he's more than prepared.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: With no preconditions?

PENCE: To have discussions with no preconditions with the Iranians.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Now, the president has made clear that he's happy to make a meeting with no preconditions.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The president has made it very clear. He's prepared to meet with no preconditions.

TRUMP: So, I believe in meeting. I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet.

REPORTER: Do you have preconditions for that meeting?

TRUMP: No preconditions, no. If they want to meet, I'll meet. Anytime they want. Anytime they want.

It's good for the country. Good for them, good for us, and good for the world. No preconditions.


COOPER: All right. Well, that seemed pretty clear and that last statement, by the way, that was from July of last year, so this has been a talking point for well over a year now. Suddenly, though, the president wants to pretend otherwise and is just

making stuff up. Today, he continued doing just that.


TRUMP: Well, you know, there were always conditions, because the conditions, if you look at it, the sanctions are not going to be taken off. So, if the sanctions, that's a condition. So, you know, that's why the press misreported it.


COOPER: OK, I'm not exactly sure what he's trying to say here, but I think it's that even though he said he would meet with no preconditions, and many people in his administration have verified that's what he believed, he's saying there are tough sanctions in place, and the president is now calling those conditions, and because those sanctioned conditions wouldn't be lifted to talk, any talk that took place wouldn't be a talk without preconditions.

Does that make sense? It doesn't.

For the latest, I want to go to CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez.

Boris, so the president is saying it's, quote, looking like Iran was behind this attack. He still is not definitively saying they did it, correct?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, Anderson. We pretty much know who it is. That's the closest that president Trump came to actually blaming Iran, far short of where he went on Twitter in terms of a response over the weekend.

We should note, his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, not apprehensive at all. He's squarely placing the blame on Iran. And the discrepancy is so glaring that today reporters asked Trump if Pompeo perhaps had information that the president had yet to see. Trump assured reporters that they were both on the same page, but that would lead you to ask why President Trump is suddenly playing coy, given all the bluster and all of the rhetoric that he's spewed in the past about Iran, specifically that locked and loaded tweet. Again, you played that sound from marc short, trying to walk that back.

We should point out, the president has used very similar language in the past, specifically speaking about military action in Iran.

[20:05:02] After they downed a U.S. drone this summer in June, the president tweeted that the military was cocked and loaded, ready to strike at Iran, but that ultimately he called that off.

So, again, we don't know exactly why President Trump is walking this fine line, perhaps it's because he feels that playing coy could buy him a sort of meeting with the Iranian leadership, which we know he wants, Anderson.

COOPER: But with -- not without preconditions -- with no preconditions or with conditions.

I know the president talked about next steps in the investigation. What did he say?

SANCHEZ: Right. So he mentioned that Secretary of State Pompeo along with other senior administration officials would be traveling to Saudi Arabia, apparently, to assist in the investigation and potentially some kind of a response.

I want to be really specific here about what the president said, because he was not -- he said that the U.S. has all the materials that it needs to prove that Iran was behind this. He says he wants to look at final numbers, and I quote, you look at a vector and you look at -- there are lots of different things we can look at. Unclear what the president means, because as you know, Anderson, CNN had previously reported that a U.S. official had told CNN that American intelligence show that this attack originated in Iran and that it was communicating that to our allies in the region.

COOPER: All right. Boris Sanchez, appreciate it. Thank you.

The Sauds have also responded, saying in a statement that the kingdom affirms that it has the capability and resolve to defend its land and people and to forcefully respond to these aggressions. The question is, can they do that on their own?

For analysis of the situation, Thomas Friedman joins me. He's a "New York Times" columnist and author of "Thank You For Being Late."

How fragile do you think this situation is?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: I think it's extremely fragile, Anderson, in the sense that you almost feel there's got to be retaliation. And if it turns that Iran --

COOPER: By the U.S. or Saudi Arabia?

FRIEDMAN: By the U.S. or Saudi Arabia. It would almost certainly be both. I don't think Saudi Arabia is capable actually of mounting an independent attack on Iran, but if this does turn out to be an attack that was launched from Iranian territory by Iranians, on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure, then it's -- another shoe has to drop here, you think.

COOPER: The question is exactly, where this did launch from? I mean, right now, the allegation by Saudi Arabia initially was that this -- the weaponry or the technology came from Iran.


COOPER: Whether it was, in fact, rebels in Yemen or not. If it's just that Iran supplied the technology and the weaponry, is that enough for an attack, for a retaliatory attack?

FRIEDMAN: It may not be. And, you know, I think we should step back, Anderson, and see it from 30,000 feet for a minute. The Trump administration has chosen to take on, simultaneously, two of

the oldest civilizations on the planet, China and Persia at the same time. And one can say for some very legitimate reasons. So vis-a-vis China, they have created enormous leverage through tariffs. Vis-a- vis, Iran, they've created enormous through oil sanctions.

What you see in China is the Chinese pushing back with tariffs of their own to create counter-leverage.

And what may be going on here is the Iranians pushing back now to create counter-leverage on their part. To be able to say to the Trump administration, well, you want to take our oil supplies all the world market? Well, how about if we take off half of Saudi Arabia's? And our oil supplies come in much more demand and that gives us leverage.

I kind of see it in that context.

COOPER: It shows you the danger of an administration which repeatedly has a problem with the truth.

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, I've always said, we've probably talked about this once, if you look back in the footage that the danger for Trump was that at some point, when you tell 12,000 lies, there comes a crisis point where he has to look in the camera and say, ladies and gentlemen, this attack came from North Korea, fill in the blank, or from Iran. And there's a lot of people who are going to question that, you know, given the amount of misleading and false statements this president has made.

COOPER: But the president also immediately goes to Twitter and decides to send messages via Twitter and talks about being locked and loaded. And now you have the administration, I think the chief of staff of Vice President Pence said this morning that locked and loaded is a broad term that, quote, talks about the realities that we're all far safer and more secure domestically from energy independence.

FRIEDMAN: He could --

COOPER: I mean, the Lord knows --


FRIEDMAN: He could have said locked and loaded actually means peanut butter and jelly. I mean, it's just like -- that's just -- you know, I think one thing we know about Trump, he's risk averse in the sense of using military force, generally a good thing.

But I think again, go to 30,000 feet, because the parallels to China where I've just come from and Iran situation are similar. In both cases, they've created enormous leverage. But it's never clear to me that Trump can actually close a deal with them, ultimately, because closing a deal requires compromising, and compromising means saying to your base, I'm not going to actually get everything.

Well, every time we've seen that happen in the past, I remember on the immigration wall, and some right-wing blogger like Ann Coulter comes down and says, you're abandoning the base, Trump backs down. We've seen it on gun control, the same thing. What worries me now is we'll see the foreign policy equivalent.

COOPER: Because there are certainly a lot of folks on the right that would not want U.S. involvement in this?

FRIEDMAN: Yes, exactly. And, by the way, one can say, he's created this leverage with Iran. If he can get a better nuclear deal out of Iran, I'm all for it, you know?


But it will require compromise. It's not going to be a 100 percent our way.

COOPER: He's also, though, said in the past that he would be willing to meet without any precondition with Iran. He said it twice. Now he's saying he never said that. And in fact, Steve Mnuchin, Pompeo, they all confirm that, yes, in fact, he would meet with them without preconditions.

FRIEDMAN: So I'll go back to the parallel with China. So when the president goes back and forth, back and forth, back and forth so many times, the counterparty basically says, can I possibly even do a deal with him? Will it even stick?

And I think this is hobbling us on China and that will hobble us on Iran, because there are internal debates in these countries, too. Hey, should we go with him? Should we not? Can we trust him? What's his ulterior motive?

And when the president is so back and forth all the time, it makes it very difficult to conclude a deal.

COOPER: Yes. And we also think of this just from a U.S. perspective of the president and what Americans think of him. The world also has been watching what he's doing and learning from it.

And his moves are quite obvious. I mean, it's no secret that he enjoys flattery. It's no secret that will get you somewhere with him. It's not secret that he thinks he can make a deal one on one.

And that's -- I mean, that can be an advantage, if you trust him, and it's not if you don't.

FRIEDMAN: And if you think he's all over the place all the time, you really do that I do a deal with him and his politics require squelching part or all of that deal. He can go the other way.

I always remember, Anderson, what General Mattis said. The enemy gets a vote. And the enemy, in the case of China and Iran, these are people not without resources.

COOPER: It's also interesting, just the technology of this attack. If it was -- and again, it's not clear yet, was it just drones, was it actually cruise missiles. But if drones were involved and actually dropping, you know, large-scale armaments, which the Houthi -- the rebels in Yemen actually do have that technology, they're kind of out in front on drone stuff, that's a whole other kind of new way of fighting that is a huge threat. I mean, people don't --


COOPER: We don't really know how to stop drones.

FRIEDMAN: We're now in this age where we have super powers versus super empowered, small groups and individuals. And I think it's very much a symbol of a kind of asymmetric warfare we're going to in the future.

COOPER: Right. And this kind of thing that in past, and again, we don't know exactly if it was drones or cruise missiles, but that you would need an air force for. But you don't need an air force now if you have the capabilities of flying a drone for hundreds of miles.

FRIEDMAN: You don't need a state. And I'll make a wild guess, Anderson. All in, all the cruise missiles and all of the drones in this attack, $2 million, maybe. OK? The damage they did, it starts with a "B", billions of dollars.

COOPER: Do -- if it turns out Iran provided the technology or provided the launch sites or oversaw the launches of this -- -- the launch of the attack, do you think it's inevitable that the U.S. would strike at Iran?

FRIEDMAN: Don't know, you know, they could also strike at Iranian forces in Syria, in Iraq. They may send to choose a message indirectly.

But this is -- this is a serious situation. I mean, Saudi Arabia also is exposed to be incredibly vulnerable here. Its infrastructure has been at its very core attacked.

So, not really sure. I mean, the Iranians -- these guys play for keeps. And I think what's going on inside Iran, I'm guessing here, I don't know, is that, you know, you've always got the Revolutionary Guards and you've got the regime, the so-called moderates versus the Revolutionary Guards.

I have a feeling what's going on here is the Revolutionary Guards, General Soleimani, saw Rouhani and Trump getting closer and closer to negotiations, and I think he drew one of two conclusions. One, I want to stop this by doing this. Or, two, I want to increase our leverage.

If Rouhani is going to negotiate with the Americans, then I want him to have real leverage by taking Saudi oil off the market.

COOPER: Tom Friedman, thank you.

FRIEDMAN: A pleasure. Thanks.

COOPER: And still to come tonight, new effort to obtain the president's tax returns, this one by prosecutors in New York City. The question is, will it meet the same fate of similar attempts by Congress or will this one actually work?

Also, the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Justice Brett Kavanaugh back in the spotlight. A new allegation along new outrage coming from President Trump and Democrats for different reasons, ahead.



COOPER: The D.A.'s office here in New York has subpoenaed eight years of President Trump's tax returns from his longtime accounting firm. That accounting firm has said it will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations, but it's not clear what the deadline is for compliance. A lawyer for the Trump Organization said we are evaluating and will respond as appropriate. A source tells CNN the prosecutors are examining whether the Trump Organization filed false business records during its attempts to reimburse Michael Cohen for the hush money payments he made to Stormy Daniels.

Joining me with their takes, investigative reporter and the author of "The Making of Donald Trump," David Cay Johnston, and CNN chief legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeffrey, I mean, is this investigation, the state investigation different than -- I mean, does this -- is going to lead anywhere?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it might, because judges spend -- pay a lot of attention to grand jury subpoenas. I mean, that is considered the government's highest investigatory effort.

The other effort to get the president's tax returns comes from Congress. The House Ways and Means Committee has a right to these attacks returns tax returns, as well. I think that's a winning argument, as well.

You know, this process can take a long time. There can be appeals. But I do think, both of these committees are -- both the grand jury in New York and the committee in Washington are going to get them. Now, in both circumstances, it doesn't mean that they will ultimately be public. They will just be for the use of Cy Vance, the Manhattan district attorney --

COOPER: They can make it public?

TOOBIN: Well, if they file charges based on them, it will be evidence in the case. But they certainly can't just throw it open to the public, because the public is interested.


COOPER: And, David, how significant is it that the D.A. is looking to this? Because in the past, they have declined to investigate President Trump and his family. DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, indeed, Cy Vance

shut down what has been a very promising investigation of Donald's two oldest children, Ivanka and Donald Jr. And so, it is a good sign that he's decided to be serious about this case. I sort of wonder where's the state attorney general in this case, because she ran for office saying she was going to be very aggressive about Trump and the tax returns.

And the fact that she's going back to 2010 or '11, depending on how the subpoenas are worded, indicates this is a much broader scope than just hush money payments that were made to women.

COOPER: Jeff, if the president's accounting firm is saying that they will comply, you know, with any legal thing that they're supposed to, does that mean that the Trump Organization -- do they have any power over the accounting firm to stop them?

TOOBIN: Well, that's what's going to have to be determined by a court. The accounting firm, understandably, is being cautious here. They're not going to turn over the records until Donald Trump and his attorneys have the opportunity to go to court, but the same issue has come up in Washington, when Congress is trying to get the tax returns from the accountants, as well as from the Internal Revenue Service, the accounting firm is saying, look, we are going to abide by a court decision, but you have to tell us what to do. We're not -- you, the judge, not simply rely on the subpoena.

COOPER: And, David, what do you make of the fact that the D.A. is asking for the past eight years of returns, going back to 2011. Why do you think that date?

JOHNSTON: Well, there have been a lot of questions throughout Donald's career about whether he was laundering money for people. I and other people have taken apart some business transactions he did that make no sense from a normal business perspective, but will make a lot of sense if you were helping someone illicitly move money around. 2012, '11 and '12 is when Donald was trying with a group of Kazak oligarchs to do a failed Trump Tower deal on the Caspian Sea. And subsequently, of course, the Kazak government was looted of more than $10 billion, and the question has always been was some of that money funneled in one way or another through the Trump Organization?

The tax returns may or may not tell you something about that. Tax returns are the beginning point for investigating where things are. They're not the end point.

TOOBIN: I don't want to get too far ahead, but you know, it's worth pointing out that, you know, the famous Department of Justice policy that says a sitting president cannot be indicted, and that's, of course, you know, the very big figures prominently in the Mueller report, that does not apply to a district attorney in New York, who is governed by state law and there's no such policy.

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: There's no crime that I am aware of that the president committed that Cy Vance's office is investigating, but that policy, at least, is not a bar for Vance to do anything.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, thank you very much.

David Cay Johnston, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

A lot more ahead tonight. Up next, the high-stakes drama surrounding Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh back in the headlines. President Trump assailing new allegations about Kavanaugh's time as an undergraduate and "The New York Times" for their failure to mention something that we'll tell you about, ahead.



COOPER: A new book is raising another sexual harassment allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The book is by two reporters from "The New York Times."

Now, "The Times" first published the allegations that are contained in the book, but they failed to note that the woman at the center of the latest assertions declined to be interviewed for the book and told friends that she could not remember the alleged incident. "The Times" added that part of the story a full day later.

President Trump has seized on that, attacking the story and the credibility of the "New York Times." Many of the Democratic presidential candidates have chimed in as well for different reasons, several calling for Kavanaugh's impeachment.

We'll get to the politics of all of it first. But first, the backstory from 360's Randi Kaye, and we should note that some of Randi's reporting may be uncomfortable to hear.


BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: I am deeply honored to be nominated to fill his seat on the Supreme Court.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the job for less than a year and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is having to answer again for alleged sexual misconduct dating back to his college days at Yale University.

The previously unreported allegation is contained in a new book by two "New York Times" reporters. In the book, the author said former Yale student, Max Stier, relayed his re-elections to senators during the confirmation process and later made clear his willingness to share them with the FBI, but refused to speak about them publicly.

And then, yesterday, "The Times" published an editor's note to its original adapted essay from the book, saying the woman declined to be interviewed and her friends told the authors she does not recall the incident.

CNN is not reporting any details related to the allegation, because it has not been independently verified. Stier has declined to speak with us.

(on camera): The two "New York Times" reporters who wrote the book said they corroborated a prior sexual assault claim from a woman named Deborah Ramirez. The book's author says at least seven people told them they heard about the alleged Yale incident before Kavanaugh became a federal judge, including the woman's mother and two classmates.

[20:30:00] In that case which have first been made public around the same time as Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings, Ramirez claimed she and Kavanaugh were both freshman at Yale in the early '80s when Kavanaugh exposed himself after her at a dorm room party.

She told "The New Yorkers" she remembers Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Ramirez admitted that she was inebriated and there are gaps in her memory, but she said remembers Kavanaugh standing to her right laughing, pulling up his pants.

At the time, Kavanaugh called it a smear and denied it ever happened. Still, it's Kavanaugh's laughter that his original accuser remembers, too.

CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, ALLEGED ASSAULT VICTIM: Laughter, the uproarious laughter and the multiple attempts to escape and the final ability to do so.

KAYE: Christine Blasey Ford testified last year that when she was at Yale, Kavanaugh and a friend locked her in a bedroom during a party. She said Kavanaugh held her down on a bed.

BLASEY FORD: He began running his hands over my body and grinding into me. I believed he was going to rape me. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.

KAYE: Christine Blasey Ford says she was 100 percent sure it was Kavanaugh who attacked her decades ago, though Kavanaugh denies it all. Blasey Ford said she detailed the incident in 2012 in couples' therapy with her husband, who has said he remembers her using Kavanaugh's name and voicing concern about Kavanaugh already a federal judge going on to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Miami.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We reported that President Trump has been blistering in his attacks against the authors, who also reporters for "The New York Times" and against "The New York Times" for their failure to point out that the woman, according to her friends, does not remember the alleged incident, especially in the wake of that editor's note that Randi referenced which, again, said that the woman did not decline to be interviewed and told friends she doesn't have any memory of what took place.

The President certainly is not mincing any words in this tweet, "I call for the resignation of everybody at 'The New York Times' involved in the Kavanaugh smear story, and while you're at it, the Russian witch hunt hoax, which is just as phony. They've taken the old gray lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue, and ruined her reputation."

Perspective now from "USA Today" columnist and CNN Political Analyst Kirsten Powers, also Rich Lowry, editor of the "National Review" and a CNN Political Commentator.

Kirsten, is there any explanation -- I mean, it just -- does it seem incomprehensible to you that "The New York Times" would have dropped the ball like this?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I can't come up with a good explanation. I mean, people obviously make mistakes. This is a pretty big one. And I think that -- I don't think the fact that she doesn't remember it means that it didn't happen, because she may have been, you know, so inebriated that she doesn't remember it.

But it is something that you do need to include in the story, I think to have the full story, to make it clear that at least the person who it allegedly happened to doesn't remember it and I can't come up with any good reason of why they would --why they would keep that out.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, Rich, you're an editor of the "National Review." I mean, it seems hard to imagine a mistake like this being made on such a big story.

RICH LOWRY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I would think the editors, if it was someone they didn't like or someone they like more than Kavanaugh, there would be some more due diligence, but this is really on the authors. They knew this key fact that the alleged victim has no recollection of it and they should have alerted the editors and alerted their readers.

COOPER: Because it is in their book.

LOWRY: It's in the book.

COOPER: Right. It's not in "The New York Times".


COOPER: I mean, the fact -- Kirsten, it's understandable. I mean, this gives the President a very legitimate reason to go after this story, given this failure.

POWERS: Well, I mean, I don't know. I think that it's -- you have to believe, which I assume Rich, you know, based on what he just said, believes that this was a gender driven and that they did this intentionally. I don't really think that that's what happened. I think that this was a mistake.

And I don't -- it was in the book, so it's not like it didn't exist. I think that this was a mistake that was made and that what Donald Trump and conservatives do is they latch on to, you know, any mistake that ever happens in the media to prove this agenda, to prove that people are acting in bad faith when, you know, 99 percent of journalists are not acting in bad faith.

And I think that if, you know -- yes, it happens sometimes, but for the most part, when people make mistakes, it's a mistake. And people take responsibility for it, that's the thing. There's never any responsibility from Donald Trump. And so I think that it's one of those things that could the media ever be so perfect that conservatives and Donald Trump won't accuse them of an agenda? No, it's not possible.

LOWRY: Again, you know, maybe it's just inattention on part of the editors and didn't have anything to do about their feelings about Kavanaugh. But the authors knew this key fact that any journalist, anyone in a first-year journalism program would know, that is the key fact to know about the story and they didn't include it.

[20:35:10] And I think that's completely indefensible and speaks to an agenda-driven piece and book.

POWERS: But you mean the authors of the book?

LOWRY: Yes, yes.

POWERS: But it's in their book.

LOWRY: They wrote the piece.

POWERS: But it's in their book.

LOWRY: They wrote the piece. They wrote the piece and they didn't include this key fact from the book. And then, you know, they can easily --

POWERS: But, you know, they can -- but, Rich --

LOWRY: There are other things in the book that are not highlighted. They easily could have done a story about how the main witness that Blasey Ford says would support her account and is a friend of hers and came under pressure from Blasey Ford's friends to support her account says she has no recollection of any such party that Blasey Ford alleges happening and she has no confidence in Blasey Ford's story. Why isn't that a big story? Why isn't that something in "The New York Times"?

POWERS: Is this -- this is a woman who by the way also has a framed picture, I think, of your magazine. That's a story that you wrote?

LOWRY: Well, that's not such a bad thing, is it?

POWERS: Well, I think that it's a little bit of a tell if you have a framed picture of the "National Review."

LOWRY: So you say you think she's lying because --

POWERS: I think -- no, I'm saying I think that there's -- you're making it out that this person is sort of the beginning and the end, if they say something we're supposed to just completely take it at face value.

If somebody has a framed picture of the "National Review" saying that they saved Brett Kavanaugh,it suggests that they have maybe an agenda, right? I mean, you're the one who's talking about an agenda. I mean, that sounds like somebody who seems kind of invested in one side.

LOWRY: Well, she has a long-term -- time friend of Blasey Ford. She's one of the few people supposedly at this party and she says she has no recollection.

POWERS: Well, that doesn't mean she doesn't have --

LOWRY: And the fact is all of these three incidents, there are no significant corroborating witnesses. And the supposedly seven people who are corroborating Deborah Ramirez, a number of them had no recollection of hearing about Kavanaugh. They heard about some event, but they didn't hear about Kavanaugh. So, I think that he's been smeared.


LOWRY: The standards of fairness have been turned on their head. It wouldn't have been applied to anyone else, except for Brett Kavanaugh. And, look, its people rights to oppose them, obviously, but they should submit. They hate him because they think he's going to overturn that.

POWERS: That's not -- I just disagree with you. That's not what happened. Look, there are people who should have been -- the FBI should have spoken to. And, you know, seven people that say that they were aware of this, they should -- the FBI should have spoken to them.

And the reason the FBI didn't speak to them is because the Republicans put, you know, put basically rules around what the investigation could cover and so they didn't. So I think if we were going to have a -- having a real investigation into these allegations isn't a smear.

COOPER: You think if there was a more thorough FBI investigation, without the time constraints, no limitations that were on it, that all of this would have come out, they made a difference?

POWERS: I think that we would know --we would have a better sense of what was true. And what I always said, I never said Brett Kavanaugh definitely did this. What I said was that these are serious allegations and we should have a serious investigation for his sake and for everybody else's sake, so that we can know it's a real investigation, not a sham investigation. And instead, we had a sham investigation.

LOWRY: Look, there's --

POWERS: And it was -- it's just -- and, you know, and we now have more information. We already knew it was a sham investigation, now we have more information that there were more people they could have talked to.

COOPER: Rich, do you --

LOWRY: These seven people, the Ramirez witnesses, are not witnesses. They're people for second or third hand stories. Again, you look at the book, a bunch of them don't even mentioned Brett Kavanaugh. And this latest allegation, what is there to investigate if the alleged victim is not accusing him of the crime?

You have Democrats out there saying he should be impeached and are assuming his guilt of an offense with the victim is not accusing him of. That is bizarre.

POWERS: Yes. But they're also --

LOWRY: That's a brave new world. And again, it's a standard that wouldn't be accepted for anyone else, except for Brett Kavanaugh.

POWERS: That's not true. There are a lot of Democrats who don't want to impeach him. I mean, Dick Durbin has come out and said that. So I mean, yes, there are a couple of people who have said that. But it's not --

LOWRY: I mean, they're major presidential candidates.

POWERS: Fine, but it's not the position of every single person who thinks that this should have been investigated. And so I think that, you know, this is a serious issue. I think that if it had been anybody, I would be saying the same thing. I think that we should have real investigations and get real facts.

COOPER: All right, let's leave it there. Kristen Powers, appreciate it, Rich Lowry as well. Appreciate it.

LOWRY: Thanks very much.

COOPER: Well, one note, Randi's piece said that Christine Blasey Ford alleged Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her while at Yale, that's not right. She alleges that the assault occurred when they were high school.

Coming up, I'll talk with the White House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff about a subpoena he's issued surrounding a whistleblower complaint at one of the nation's most secret agencies.


[20:43:18] COOPER: The office of the Director of National Intelligence has until tomorrow to respond to a subpoena issued by the House Intelligence Committee. It's all shrouded in mystery. It's having to do with a whistleblower complaint that the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff calls of "urgent concern." The committee plans to call the Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire for a hearing later this week. I spoke to the Congressman just before air time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: So in both letters that you sent to the DNI, you said that the whistleblower complaint involved a serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law or executive order. Do you know what the alleged violation is?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We have not been presented with a complaint, so we don't know precisely what it has to say. But we do know the inspector general did a preliminary investigation, found that those conditions were met, those are the conditions required by the statute that it be an urgent concern that it go to a flagrant or serious abuse. And the whistleblower -- the inspector general found that needs to be provided to Congress.

The process allows him to provide it first to the Director of National Intelligence and then the DNI has seven days to give it to us. There's no discretion. It says, they shall give it to us. They can add their comments to it. They can say, we didn't find it credible. We didn't find it urgent or whatever. But there's no discretion to withhold it. But we would later find out from the inspector general that they had never presented this to us.

COOPER: How long ago did this happen, do you know?

SCHIFF: I think three or four weeks ago the complaint was filed. The inspector general then had two weeks to do the investigation, which he did. He found it credible, probably because he was able to corroborate at least some portion of it. And then it was given to the DNI. And you know, we sat down and confronted over the phone the DNI on this and frankly, the conversation was not very encouraging.

[20:45:06] I asked the director, does this involve something that our committee is investigating? And initially, the answer was no. And then his legal counsel had to correct him and say, actually, we can't say that.

COOPER: So, do you know if it does involve something that your committee is investigating?

SCHIFF: Well, that was, I think, the strong implication of our conversation. It's also the case that the DNI acknowledged that this involves someone, apparently outside of the authority of the DNI, someone above the DNI. There aren't that many in that category.

And they also suggested that there may be privilege issues here, which means that it would have to involve communications of the President or people around him. So this is, I think, just another of a series of efforts to cover up misconduct, conceal it from the Congress, conceal it from the American people.

COOPER: But you don't -- just to be clear, you don't know who this alleged whistleblower is or what they are alleging?

SCHIFF: I don't know the identity of the whistleblower. And I don't have --

COOPER: And they haven't contacted you or their legal representation hasn't contacted you?

SCHIFF: I don't want to get into any particulars. I want to make sure that there's nothing that I do that jeopardizes the whistleblower in any way. But here's the other thing. The Director of National Intelligence is supposed to not only forward the complaint to us, they're supposed to instruct the whistleblower how they can communicate with Congress. They're unwilling to do that. They don't want the whistleblower talking to Congress. They don't want us to know the substance of this complaint.

COOPER: Right. And they've put out a statement, the office of DNI send a statement today saying, "We are currently reviewing the request and will respond appropriately. The Office of Director of National Intelligence and the Acting DNI Maguire are committed to fully complying with the law and upholding whistleblower protections and have done so here." You're saying that's really not accurate.

SCHIFF: They haven't done so here. If they had, if they'd follow the law, they would have provided the materials to our committee. They brought in outsiders to this process. Now, whether they were imposed on the DNI or the DNI sought a justification to withhold this from Congress, we don't know.

COOPER: I want to ask you about something your -- that Congressman Eric Swalwell, your colleague on the intelligence committee tweeted today responding to President's attack in the Mueller report. He wrote, "That's cute. You think we're done with the Mueller report, stay tuned." Is the intelligence committee not done with the Mueller report?

SCHIFF: We are still investigating some of the issues raised in the Mueller report. For example, in bringing Michael Cohen before our committee, he lied about the Moscow Trump Tower project that President Trump was pursuing, even as he was saying he had no business dealings with Russia. We're trying to determine were others involved in the creation of that lie.

COOPER: Just lastly, President Trump suggested today that instead of continuing to investigate him, the House Judiciary Committee should instead spend its time investigating -- looking into President Obama -- and the President tweeted, "I have a better idea -- I have a better idea. Look at the Obama book deal or the ridiculous Netflix deal." Do you have any idea what he's talking about?

SCHIFF: No, it's just gibberish. It's don't investigate me, there's no conflict of interest here, never mind that I'm enriching myself through my properties and, you know, that the military jets are going to airports that don't make any sense or staying at my resorts that don't make sense, look at Obama. I mean, this is just a variation, frankly --

COOPER: At a book deal and a Netflix deal -- I mean, it's not even something that happened during his presidency.

SCHIFF: Exactly, exactly. Yes. I'm surprised he didn't throw Hillary Clinton in there. That's a famous talking point for him. You should be investigating Hillary. Hillary is really the one who colluded. Obama colluded. Everybody colludes, except me. This is sort of fifth grade logic.

COOPER: Congressman Schiff, appreciate it. Thank you.

SCHIFF: Thank you.


COOPER: Up next, why "Saturday Night Live" has fired one of its newest hires. We'll be right back.


[20:52:59] COOPER: "Saturday Night Live" has fired one of its newest hires, Shane Gillis. This comes just days after a video surfaced the comedian's defamatory comments about Chinese-Americans and gays during a podcast.

After his firing, Gillis wrote on Twitter, "I'm a comedian who was funny enough to get on 'SNL,' that can't be taken away." He added, "But I understand it would be too much of a distraction. I respect the decision they made."

I want to check in with Chris to see what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time" at the top of the hour. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: How you doing, bud? We're going to take a look at this. I'm going to debate it with D. Lemon. We have a leader of a conservative movement here to take on what this president, his best defense is to not turning over his taxes and his best defense for why he keeps attacking President Obama the way he does.

COOPER: Right. And there's the Netflix deal and book deal.

CUOMO: Yes, yes, which -- as if all of a sudden this man is averse to people in public making money. He hasn't stopped since he got elected. So, we're going to talk about that. We're going to talk about how big a deal is that Warren just took a huge endorsement for the working families party, which is who --they had back Bernie Sanders before.

But on the Gillis thing, Anderson, I was just looking at what Andrew Yang said, really interesting. Andrew Yang said that he thinks he should have gotten a second chance to keep his job, and he says because we've become unduly punitive and vindictive. And he wanted to show that even as the aggrieved class, right, because he's Asian, that we have the power to forgive.

COOPER: It does -- yes. I don't know. What do you think?

CUOMO: I think that Andrew Yang can say that because he is of the class of people that was found to be offensive. And I think my argument against D. Lemon, without giving him too much of a head start, although he's probably sleep right now, is that what is your line. What is your line that you don't allow comedy to play with? And we have a long history with that in this country. We've tested it at different times. What is our line?

COOPER: Interesting. All right, I look forward to that. Chris, we'll see you in about five minutes from now.

Up next, last week, we told you about CNN Contributor Wajahat Ali who's asking for help for his daughter, she needs a lifesaving transplant. We'll have an update in a moment.


[20:59:11] COOPER: On Friday night, we told you about the help a little girl needs. Her name is Nusayba. She is 3 years old. She needs a liver donor. He father is Wajahat Ali. He's a CNN Contributor. Nusayba has stage four cancer and the family is looking for someone, 18 to 55 years old, in good health and who's 0 positive or 0 negative.

Wajahat tells us today that the doctors have gotten a number of strong candidates and that they've begun testing hoping for an exact match. They're hopeful and certainly so are we, but we want to bring some attention it again.

So, again, the criteria, 18 to 55 years old, in good health, and either 0 positive or 0 negative. The family is hoping for surgery for Nusayba by the end of next week and say there's an expected four to six week recovery for the donor. They also note that thanks to social media they have the funds to pay for the donor's travel or pay for the donor to take work off if they need it.

If you want to help, go to Put down Nusayba Ali as the name under recipient. One more note, there were more than 113,000 people in America on transplant lists as of January of this year according to government statistics. So Wajahat wants to encourage everyone to register as a donor because clearly it could save a life.

The news continues right now. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?