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Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is Interviewed About the Trump Impeachment Inquiry and Her Presidential Campaign; House Democrats Subpoena Giuliani For Ukraine Documents; Intelligence Inspector General Pushes Back Against Claims Whistleblower's Information Was Secondhand Or Hearsay; Trump Trying To Find Out About The Whistleblower. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 30, 2019 - 20:00   ET




There's new reporting tonight on nearly every aspect of the impeachment inquiry, including CNN polling that shows a big shift on the question of impeachment, itself. It was done before a whole string of developments, including enough late today to fill a week's worth of broadcasts.

Just about 90 minutes ago, the intelligence community inspector general refuted a key Republican talking point on the whistleblower complaint saying, yes, the whistleblower had, quote, direct knowledge of certain alleged conduct. In other words, it was not just hearsay, as the president's defenders have been saying.

The inspector general, who, by the way, was appointed by President Trump, is the person who initially investigated the whistleblower's complaint and determined it should be seen by Congress.

And according to new CNN reporting, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also had direct knowledge of certain alleged conduct because it turns out he was on the call in July in which President Trump pushed Ukraine's president to investigate the Bidens, as well as the long debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election -- a made-up conspiracy theory that President Trump's own former homeland security adviser over the weekend said was a running obsession of the president, despite being told repeatedly it was debunked.

According to other new reporting tonight, the president pushed Australia's prime minister to help Attorney General William Barr look into it and that follows the news late today that the House Intelligence Committee has just subpoenaed the president's TV lawyer and Ukraine fix it man, Rudy Giuliani, for documents relating to his efforts to lean on Ukrainian officials on the president's behalf.

On top of that, there's what the president, himself, said about his desire to, quote, find out about the whistleblower. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Mr. President, do you now know who the whistleblower is, sir?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we're trying to find out about a whistleblower. We have a whistleblower that reports things that were incorrect. As you know, and you probably now have figured it out, the statement I made to the president of Ukraine, a good man, a nice man, knew was perfect, it was perfect.

But the whistleblower reported a totally different statement, like, the statement, it was not even made. I guess statement you could say with call. I made a call. The call was perfect.

When the whistleblower reported it, he made it sound terrible. And then you had Adam Schiff who even worse made up my words, which I think is just a horrible --


COOPER: We're trying to find out about the whistleblower, the president said there, and all that stuff about what the whistleblower said not being what the call was is not true.

As the -- as to Congressman Schiff who chairs the house intelligence committee who you heard the president talk about there, he also tweeted that Congressman Schiff, and I quote, illegally made up a fake and terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian president and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore no relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for treason?

So, that is the president of the United States asking his Twitter followers if the head of the House Intelligence Committee should be arrested for treason. That's where we are tonight.

On top of that, the president invoking the civil war with this tweet, quoting conservative pastor Robert Jeffress.

Reading from it now, quote: If the Democrats are successful in removing the president from office, which they will never be, it will cause a civil war-like fracture in this nation from which our country will never heal. Pastor Robert Jeffress at Fox News.

It was that kind of news on that kind of day and it's not over yet.

CNN's Jim Acosta has yet more new reporting and joins us now.

So, Jim, I mean, how serious are the president and his advisers taking impeachment threat tonight?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I think a new reality is setting in over at the White House. It's a reality that you and I are accustom to, which the one that's attached to the real world.

I will tell you, talking to some sources who have been involved in some of these conversations over here at the White House over the last few days, there are aides and advisers who are now being upfront with the president, leveling with him, that he faces the real likelihood of impeachment at this point. We're not getting into whether or not he would be convicted and removed from office over in the Senate, but that he could be impeached in the House of Representatives.

And I tell you, Anderson, I got a very stark quote from a Republican congressional aide up on Capitol Hill just a short while ago who said we are entering a phase with a lot of unknowns, people are anxious about what else is out there. I think that goes directly to the anxiety that is being felt up on Capitol Hill.

This party has been with the president every step of the way, but you do get the sense that the ice is starting to break.

COOPER: Both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Giuliani have been issued subpoenas. Do we know what the strategy is going to be? Is there any indication the White House is going to let them comply?

ACOSTA: I mean, I think that's an excellent question. I think the news today the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the July 25th call makes what he has to say very important, because as we saw in an interview on ABC a couple weeks ago about all this, he was asked and he -- I guess acted as if he didn't really know what the question Martha Raddatz was asking him about.


And so, he might want to revise and extend those remarks.

As for Rudy Giuliani, that remains to be seen as well. But I will tell you, Anderson, talking to a couple sources close to this process, they're starting to, I guess, make the rumblings that, yes, the White House may decide to go ahead and invoke privilege to try to prevent both of these aides from telling all that they know.

But one caveat should be added to that, Anderson, and that is there is a general feeling inside the president's strategic team that Rudy Giuliani is helping more than he's hurting. And while that may cause some spit takes up on Capitol Hill, especially among Republicans who don't think Rudy Giuliani is helping, there's a feeling inside the president's team, the president feels this way, himself, that when Rudy Giuliani goes on TV, he releases such a fog of misinformation from time to time, that it does tend to throw people off the scent, and there's that feeling that Rudy Giuliani may be needed.

So, fasten your seat belts, we may see that kind of situation unfold if Giuliani testifies. He did put out a statement, though, we should point out earlier this evening, Anderson, saying, you know, don't count on it just yet -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Amazing that Rudy Giuliani's now biggest use is creating fog of misinformation. Quite a career turn for the guy.

Jim Acosta, thanks. Joining us now, Senator Kamala Harris, member of the Intelligence and

Judiciary Committees, Democratic presidential candidate and former California attorney general.

Senator Harris, a lot to ask. First of all, I guess what do you make of Jim Acosta's reporting that the president's allies are concerned he doesn't actually understand the gravity of this impeachment fight?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I mean, to be very candid, I don't think he has ever understood the gravity of the job, period. And this is serious. This is a very serious matter. We are talking about the fact, as confessed by the president, essentially, with plenty of evidence including a cover-up, and including clear evidence of consciousness of guilt that the president of the United States used American taxpayer dollars to -- and held them hostage with an expectation of favor from the head of a foreign government.

He should be concerned, but I don't know that he's ever demonstrated empathy on one end of the scale or consciousness of guilt in any real way on the other end. And so, but I think he's going have to confront the realities of this most latest conduct through the impeachment process.

COOPER: It's also. I mean, it's favor from a foreign government, not for the benefit of the United States on a policy basis.

HARRIS: Correct, right.

COPPER: It's favor from a --

HARRIS: Personal favor.

COOPER: Yes. I'm wondering what you make of the fact that the --

HARRIS: Right, personal favor.

COOPER: -- president had no problem tweeting a pastor's mention of civil war, that the country could sort of go through a civil war. For a president to be invoking the very notion of Americans fighting against Americans over this issue, is -- were you -- I guess -- I was going to say were you surprised, I assume --

HARRIS: Yes, we're all speechless.


HARRIS: So, no, we're all speechless.

Anderson, the last time our country endured a civil war was over America's original sin, slavery. And if Donald Trump thinks that this is a moment where he's actually being held accountable for his failures as president and his failure to uphold the oath to protect the Constitution of the United States and our democracy, if he's equating that with a war that took place between American people over slavery -- I mean, it is yet again evidence of the fact that he is delusional in that he has a very outsized sense of himself as compared to the history of our country, and all that we have been through and all that we are capable of.

So, you know, I just think what's most important is we not indulge his delusions and that we bring him back to reality. I think the impeachment process will do that.

COOPER: There are a lot of supporters, though, of the president out there who are good people who work hard and voted for him in good faith and believe in him --


COOPER: -- to this day. I'm wondering what you say to him, who look at this and say, well, look just, Democrats can't get him out of it by the ballot box, so now they're just trying to do it this way.

HARRIS: I -- listen, I will never fault anyone for a decision they made about who to vote for. Meaning that I don't believe that to be then the entire measure of who people are.

What I would say is this. To everyone, and I say it all the time, the framers of our Constitution, the founders of our nation, they imagined a moment such as this. They imagined a moment where one branch of government would abuse its power.

And so, they designed our beautiful system of de democracy, flawed though it may be, they designed it such that there would be checks and balances. And that's what's happening right now. And so, the check and balance is where there has been an abuse by the executive branch, Congress is acting and this is evidence of the fact that our democracy is intact and I think we all should support the fact that a democracy requires moments like this where there will be that check and balance, and that's part of what makes us proud to be Americans, which is that we truly are a democracy with those kinds of checks and balances in place that actually work.

COOPER: In the introduction to the broadcast, we played the president saying in the Oval Office that they're trying to find out about the whistleblower, learn about the whistle-blower. Are you confident that Congress will be able to protect the whistleblower's identity? Because, I mean, and I'm wondering, do you believe that this person's, not just job is in jeopardy, but I mean -- they're very -- I mean, their life -- are they in jeopardy, physically?

HARRIS: You know, I have to believe that -- and I do believe -- that the United States Congress, the leaders of the United States Congress, will do everything that is necessary to support and protect the whistleblower. The president's tweets and his behaviors about this are just further evidence of the fact that he uses his power in a way that is designed to beat people down instead of lift people up. Frankly, when you look at what he's been tweeting today, directed at the whistleblower, directed at so many people -- you know, I, frankly, think that based on this and all we've seen him do before, including attacking members of Congress, that he, frankly, should be -- his Twitter account should be suspended. I think there's plenty of now evidence to suggest that he is

irresponsible with his words in a way that could result in harm to other people. And so, the privilege of using those words in that way should probably be taken from him.

COOPER: But doesn't that, I mean, play into certainly the hands of, you know, his -- I don't know how many Twitter followers he has, I think it's in the range of 60 million, who say, well, look, OK, now, you know, the rich folks in Silicon Valley are just trying to silence me and taking me off Twitter.

HARRIS: I'm sure that that will be said, but we have to also agree that when the president of the United States speaks, her words are very powerful and should be used in a way that is not about belittling, much less harming, anyone. And this president has, I think, never fully appreciated that responsibility. And so, what we see continuously, including in the last 24 hours, is a use of his words, Donald Trump using his words in a way that could subject someone to harm.

And if he's not going to exercise self-restraint, then, perhaps, there should be other mechanisms in place to make sure that his words do not, in fact, harm anyone. And that's my point. What we want to make sure is that his words do not actually result in harm to anyone.

COOPER: Just lastly --

HARRIS: Understanding the potential for that.

COOPER: Right.

Just lastly, a political question here. "Politico" is reporting tonight that you're shaking up the top level of your presidential campaign staff, specifically you're bringing your Senate chief of staff into the campaign, elevating another campaign adviser. I'm wondering, can you confirm whether that's true? And if so, what that says about the state of your candidacy, how you see yourself in the race right now?

HARRIS: Well, I don't know if you heard, but I'm kind of moving to Iowa, and our campaign is proceeding in a way that is about putting all of our resources into the task at hand. I will be spending an incredible amount of time in Iowa. I'm very proud of our team which has been on the ground in all the primary states.

COOPER: Have you made those staffing changes?

HARRIS: The most talented people in the business. We are in the process of making sure that all the folks who need to be on the ground are on the ground. And we are moving full steam ahead, and I'm proud of the work we're doing.

COOPER: All right. Just one more time, you won't confirm whether those specific staffing changes have been made?

HARRIS: I haven't read the article, Anderson. So, I can't tell -- I can't tell you what the article says. But I would tell you that I'm very proud of our team. And we have accomplished a great amount of work thus far, which makes me a top-tier candidate and by many accounts within the top four, maybe five, but top four in a field of over 20 people.

And so, something's been going right. And we're going to continue moving ahead.

COOPER: Senator Harris, appreciate your time. Thank you.

HARRIS: Thank you. Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, is the whistleblower's life in danger? I'm going to ask former White House chief of staff, defense secretary, and CIA director, Leon Panetta.

Later, our legal team weighs in on the potential legal jeopardy now ahead for Rudy Giuliani.



COOPER: We touched on one of the many pieces of breaking news at the top. But before we get deeper into it, it's worth remembering that the weekend began with a stunning report in "The Washington Post" that President Trump back in 2017, the day after firing James Comey told Russia's foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S. that he was not concerned about Russian interference in 2016 presidential election.

Well, that set the tone for the last several days and bears repeating because it's cut from the same cloth as the breaking news tonight about the president's behavior on phone calls with world leaders. According to a source familiar with calls the president had with foreign leaders dating through December of last year, he was so often so -- so often unprepared that he was coached by several staff members and advisers as the calls took place to avoid veering off track.

In addition, the source tells us the president often had to be reeled in by White House staff, adding that -- then-chief of staff John Kelly would sometimes mute the call so staffers in the room could give the president guidance or advise him against saying something he should not say.

More perspective now on that as well as the day's other fast-moving events from Leon Panetta, President Obama's CIA director, defense secretary, and White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration.

Secretary Panetta, what do you make of the news that Secretary Pompeo was on the phone call with President Trump and the president of Ukraine? How problematic could that be?

LEON PANETTA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF, CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: I think it's very problematic, particularly for Secretary Pompeo who at least up to this point has not acknowledged that he was on the call. And if he was on the call, and then did not say something about the contents of that call, I think that can raise issues regarding his credibility as well.

COOPER: Well, the only comment Pompeo has made so far in this was last week when he said that he hadn't yet read the rough transcript, which is obviously, you know, disingenuous since he was on the call, according to all the reporting. It's hard to imagine secretary of state attempting to brush away the gravity of this, at least under normal circumstances I would think.

PANETTA: Yes, no, it raises -- it raises some serious concerns. About whether Secretary Pompeo has been forthright about what was involved here. Look, we heard Tom Bossert who was homeland security adviser to the president, indicate that this whole conspiracy idea that Giuliani was pitching, you know, had been debunked a long time ago and was frustrated that the president kept somehow grabbing onto that conspiracy theory.

If Tom Bossert knew about that, then there's no question in my mind that Secretary Pompeo knew about that phony conspiracy as well. So, it raises concerns about whether the secretary took steps to really try to prevent the president from making the mistake he made on that phone call or whether, frankly, he was an enabler, and that -- that raises serious questions then about just exactly what kind of role that he played with regards to this whole issue.

COOPER: I'm wondering when you hear the president and his allies, not just attacking the credibility and the motive of the whistleblower, but also suggesting that, you know, the person's identity needs to be revealed -- I mean, that goes against everything that a whistle- blower, you know, protection is supposed to accomplish.

PANETTA: The purpose of that whistleblower law is to be able to protect someone who sees something illegal going on or some kind of fraud taking place and reports that and is protected from any retaliation as a result of that. This particular whistleblower, having revealed what that individual found to be the case, now is the target of the president of the United States. So, the real test is going to be whether or not this whistleblower, in fact, can be protected in presenting his complaint.

Is he ultimately really going be protected? Or is he going to have to, frankly, reveal himself which is against everything that the whistleblower act was meant to protect?

COOPER: Do you think the whistle-blower is actually in danger?

PANETTA: I don't think there's any question but that targeting the whistleblower really does jeopardize the life of that individual. And it's for that reason, I think, that we have to take this very -- very seriously when it comes to the whistleblower law. If we want that law to have any strength, if we want to encourage others to abide by the whistle-blower law, we are going to damn well have to protect this individual.

COOPER: I mean, that's an extraordinary statement that it's not just their career that they need be concerned about. It's their actual physical safety.

PANETTA: No, I don't think there's any question. Your life suddenly becomes in jeopardy. And there are those that have no qualms about going after somebody who revealed something that impacts on the presidency of the United States.

But, again, the whole point of our democracy is to encourage people to be able to reveal crimes that they're aware of and not be punished for revealing those crimes. Not be punished for revealing something they thought violated the Constitution, violated our laws.

COOPER: Secretary Panetta, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

PANETTA: Thank you.

COOPER: Just ahead, Rudy Giuliani subpoenaed. The question is, will he actually comply? And does he have to? That's next.



COOPER: Rudy Giuliani appears to be suggesting he may not comply with the subpoena issued earlier today from three house committees for documents related to the impeachment inquiry. A short time ago, he wrote, quote: I have received a subpoena signed only by Democrat chairs who have prejudged this case. It raises significant issues concerning legitimacy and constitutional legal issues, including inter alia, attorney/client and other privileges. It will be given appropriate consideration.

In their subpoena, the committee chairs wrote, and I quote: Our inquiry includes an investigation of credible allegations that you acted as an agent to the president and scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the office of the president.

Subpoena also cites this moment from Giuliani's interview with my colleague, Chris Cuomo, which he eventually admits he asked Ukraine to look into Joe Biden.



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Did you ask the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?


CUOMO: You never asked anything about Hunter Biden, you never asked anything about Joe Biden to go with the prosecute --

GIULIANI: The only thing I asked about Joe Biden is to get to the bottom of how it was that Lutsenko, who was appointed, dismissed the case against anti -- CUOMO: So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden.

GIULIANI: Of course, I did.

CUOMO: You just said you didn't.


COOPER: The subpoena also demands Giuliani turn over all the tax phone records and other communications, he cited repeatedly in TV interviews as proof he was working for the administration in his dealings at the direction of the State Department with Ukraine.

Joining us now, former FBI General Counsel James Baker and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Elliot Williams, both are CNN Legal Analysts.

James, how big of a development is this? Because Giuliani from the whistleblower's account and by his own admission seems to be at the center of the investigation, can he not cooperate?

JAMES BAKER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he cannot cooperate to a certain degree, yes. I mean, I think all Americans should cooperate fully with a lawful subpoena from Congress that seems straightforward. Unless you have a valid privilege you can assert.

So I would expect that the mayor at the end of the day if he gets good legal advice, which I hope he does from somebody else, that he would comply at least in part, would be my guess, provide some documents and claim that he is provided documents.

My guess is, he will try to assert attorney/client privilege over a lot of material. Not comply with that part of it, and then you're going to end up in court and Congress will try to enforce the subpoena. And it will take months and, you know, we'll see how that goes.

But I think it's a logical step for Congress to do, and he should comply, but he doesn't have to comply if he has a legitimate privilege he can assert.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, Elliot, just let alone, you know, putting aside even presidential, you know, executive privilege, just attorney/client privilege, any conversations he has with his client, President Trump, I assume that he can legitimately argue is attorney/client privilege. Conversations with people of the state department, if he is doing something at the behest of the President or for the benefit of his client, does -- is that privileged through attorney/client privilege?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. What I think is incredibly complicated here is, we don't quite know what Rudy Giuliani's role is and that's going to affect what kind of privilege he can assert, is he acting as an agent of the President? Is he acting as the President's personal lawyer, which would allow him to assert attorney/client privilege. If that's the case, that means we -- it's almost an acknowledgement that the President is acting to his own benefit, right? So-- and he's not an employee of the executive branch, I think. And so that gets in the way of his ability to claim -- for the president's ability to claim executive privilege.

So who exactly is Rudy Giuliani? The thing is he's sort of all over the place and I think by being all over the place and acting both as a personal lawyer to the president and apparently as an arm of the State Department, he's jeopardizing the privileges that he can claim.

So I just don't see how he wins a privilege claim here and I think this ultimately ends exactly as Jim had said, Congress suing him, and either holding him in contempt of, you know, duly executed congressional subpoena, and if it really comes to it an obstruction of justice charge because we now van open impeachment proceeding. So it just remains to be seen.

COOPER: Although, James, I mean, you said, you know, it goes, of course, that takes months. You know, if the Democrats are hoping, you know, if folks in Congress are hoping to, you know, try to kind of streamline this and just focus on this one issue and get it done by the end of October, that seems unlikely, then, there would be any resolution on whether Giuliani would cooperate or not.

BAKER: Well, you're not going to get -- yes, I think you're right, Anderson. You're not going to get a resolution on that particular part of it. And so, if congress is building his whole case around what they're going to get from Rudy Giuliani, that's a big mistake, but I doubt that they are.

I would suspect that they, you know, they've figured out whether the former mayor will comply, probably not. I'm sure they're factoring that into their decision, but it's a logical thing to do and I think they would be remiss if they didn't at least try to subpoena the -- Mayor Giuliani. They have to do that.

I mean, look, he's going to try to assert these privileges but he's talked so much in the media and publicly about what it is that he did that at the end of the day, he -- I think he's probably waived on behalf of his client, you know, presumably with the support of his client, because the privilege belongs to the client.

But he's just made so many statements. I doubt it's going to hold up in court at the end of the day. But as I said, it's going to take a while to sort out.

COOPER: And, Elliot, I mean, the Intelligence Community inspector general pushed back on assertions by the President, some Republicans about that the whistleblower didn't have firsthand knowledge. And the rules regarding how these kind of whistleblower complaints are processed. Were you surprised that he came out and did that?

WILLIAMS: That the inspector general --

COOPER: The inspector general -- WILLIAMS: -- push back?


COOPER: Yes, publicly.

WILLIAMS: Look, what we've seen countless times now is a very, very, very broad notion of what privilege is from the President and the attorneys around him. And so, certainly, I mean, I think these are quite thin assertions. We've seen it -- we saw it throughout the entire Special Counsel investigation some months ago, and as we've been talking about tonight, here again.

And so, no, I'm not surprised these are pushed back on just because they're not, they're legally quite thin. And I just, you know, say it again, I just don't see how he's able to sustain these assertions of privilege if he is, in fact, to make them.

COOPER: Elliot Williams, James Baker, appreciate it. Thanks.

Up next, how the President's backers in Congress are defending or trying to defend what the President said on that phone call.


COOPER: Again, part of our breaking news tonight, the Intelligence Community inspector general has refuted a popular claim among President Trump's defenders that the whistleblower has no firsthand knowledge of the accusations against the President.

The role has been tough in the past few days for the President's defenders. White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller dodged questions and concise a law that Biden broke in one interview. Congressman Jim Jordan was repeatedly fact checked on air on CNN and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy had his own highly publicized fact check on "60 Minutes."


SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS HOST: President Zelensky says, we are almost ready to buy more javelins from the United States for defense purposes and President Trump replies, "I would like you to do us a favor, though."


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (D-CA): You just added another word.

PELLEY: No, it's in the transcript.

MCCARTHY: You said, "I'd like you to do a favor, though?"

PELLEY: Yes, it's in the White House transcript.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, for more in the republican defense strategy, we have former Trump White House Lawyer and CNN Legal Commentator, Jim Schultz, also Republican Strategist and CNN Political Commentator Ana Navarro.

Ana, you heard the President's allies, you know, defending him, casting aspersions on the whistleblower. Do you think this is a dangerous time? I mean, how seriously -- I'm wondering what you make of the President's defenders' reactions to this.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If it wasn't so serious, it would be funny because what we are seeing is a theater of the absurd. You've got the top Republican in the House of Representatives who goes on "60 Minutes" without knowing what the transcript said, without having read it and gets fact checked in real-time.

You've got Jim Jordan who goes out there and tries to act indignant and horrified, he's scandalized by Hunter Biden at the same time that he is defending an administration where there's all sorts of profiteering from the presidency. And then, you know, you've got my old friend, Lindsey Graham, who really crosses the Rubicon of hypocrisy. And there's so much video, so many clips of Lindsey saying during Clinton exactly the opposite of what he is saying now.

You've got Rudy Giuliani who used to be the top US attorney in New York. He was the law. Now seeming absolutely lawless and crazy, and just making the most unsubstantiated claims.

And so, when I look at it, you know, some of these people I've known for many, many, many years, Rudy and Lindsey. It feels like I'm watching the invasion of the body snatchers. Who are these people? They're unrecognizable to me. It's like, they have lost all conscience and all moral compass in order to defend the indefensible.

COOPER: Jim, the President's former Homeland Security adviser, I think you know, Tom Bossert told ABC that not only is the substance of the President's phone call with the Ukrainian president problematic but the President has to get over his debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election involving Ukraine. Do you agree with what Bossert is saying?

JIM SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Look, Bossert's a credible guy, I said that on TV last night, and I respect his opinion. But let's not -- what he was talking about relating to DNC servers, not relating to the -- as it relate, the debunked theory related to the DNC servers, and not relating to the phone call with the president of Ukraine.

That being said, I agree. There is some hysteria --

COOPER: The phone call with the president of Ukraine was asking, I mean, of the two asks, it was look into investigate the debunked theory, the "made-up theory" about Ukraine and the servers. I mean, that was the first ask. The second was, you know, do me a favor on -- well, do me a favor on that, and then the other ask was, you know, was about Biden. SCHULTZ: Looking into the Biden issue, yes. Look, it's the President's prerogative to ask folks to look into corruption as he sees it. And there's been, I don't believe there's anything unlawful here or criminal here as it relates to the President's conduct.

COOPER: But you legitimately believe he was ask -- you legitimately believe he was asking the president of Ukraine to look into corruption writ large but just only happened to mention Biden, that that was the only --

SCHULTZ: Well, I think he was pretty specific about what he was asking, no. Anderson, I make the --

COOPER: No, he was specifically asking about the Bidens.

SCHULTZ: I make a mistake, he was asking about the Biden, as it related to Biden. And, look, but again, I don't believe there's any criminality in making that ask, you're going to be hard pressed to find any lawyers that would say differently as it relates to criminality. That doesn't mean Congress can't hold hearings and do what they're doing.

Congress -- but I also think as it relates to the kind of the hypocrisy that you're talking about, yes, members of Congress saying to impeach, we need to impeach them after. You have members of Congress making stuff up, you have members of Congress saying we have to impeach because, you know, we can't win in 2020.

COOPER: So the hypocrisy is from members of Congress.

SCHULTZ: I mean, time and time again, the hypocrisy here is going all around on this one.

COOPER: Right. So you're taking a brave stand in calling --

SCHULTZ: That the White House staff -- let me finish, to say that the White House staff is the only folks who need to be criticized in this --

COOPER: But you're not criticizing them at all, so right now, all you're saying is that members of Congress, Democrats are hypocrites.

SCHULTZ: Folks need to get their facts straight. And look, you know, as it relates to this -- to the letter that we got from the Inspector General's office today, sounds like a lot of bureaucracy to me. I don't much care what the form said. At the end of the day, the transcript was released. The facts are in front of us, and Congress has got to make a determination.

COOPER: So what facts on the Bidens are there?

SCHULTZ: What the whistleblower said of didn't say, I could really care less because we have the actual transcript of what was said in the conversation.

COOPER: But you only know about it because of the whistleblower. So you're saying, you could careless about the -- if the whistleblower


COOPER: It seems like there's an awful lot of people including the Secretary of State who was in on this call and knew about what the President had said --


SCHULTZ: Right. But that release the facts that we're looking at now, you're looking at -- they are secondhand facts that are coming across. We have the firsthand facts. We have the transcript.

So, again, the whistleblowers, they come forward, that's what they do. And the fact that they made a complaint, well, who cares. The fact of the matter is, it was brought to the attention of United States people. That's a good thing that things are brought to the attention of the United States people, well, we have the transcript. There's no criminality there. I'm not concerned about it.

COOPER: OK. Ana, it --

NAVARRO: Two things, number one, the reason we saw the transcript is because Nancy Pelosi finally agreed to an impeachment inquiry. And that forced the hand of the administration to release the transcript. Before that, we would have not seen the transcript which matches what the whistleblower complaint is.

SCHULTZ: I don't know.

NAVARRO: Of course, you know about that. You think they would have done it? They had all this time to do it. They did it because Nancy Pelosi force their hand.

SCHULTZ: No, there's plenty of reports that Barr and others were urging with that transcript.

NAVARRO: And I can also tell you -- listen. I can also tell you


NAVARRO: OK, listen, I didn't interrupt you, so let me just respond without you interrupting me, if you don't mind.

SCHULTZ: Sorry, I'll let you go. My apologies.

NAVARRO: Here's the criminality. Here's the criminality I see. The criminality I see is asking a foreign government for something of value for a campaign.

Biden isn't just any regular citizen. He is the top Democrat contender that's going to be running against Trump. This is in the midst of a presidential campaign. That is criminal behavior. Abuse of power by the president of the United States is criminal behavior.

And we know now that the whistleblower's complaint matches the transcript and we know because of what came out today --


NAVARRO: -- that it is not hearsay, that he had firsthand knowledge.

COOPER: I'm out of time, but to be continued.

SCHULTZ: Let me make a point there.

COOPER: No, we're -- I got to go. I'm sorry. James Schultz, Ana Navarro, thank you.

Schultz: All right, no problem.

COOPER: Just ahead in the wake of the whistleblower complaint and impeachment inquiry, I'll talk to one of the most storied whistleblowers in recent American history, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon papers.



COOPER: Tonight, we've been talking about a whistleblower inside the US government who alleges wrong doing at the highest level, who has been pardon by the President and his allies after coming forward. A person many people believed has done what he or she feels is their patriotic duty to alert the public to conduct, they believe, undermines the United States.

Well, tonight it's an unknown person. Almost 50 years ago, it was Daniel Ellsberg and America's long secret history in Vietnam. In 1971, Ellsberg, a military analyst, leaked the Pentagon papers, 7,000 pages of top-secret documents revealing three presidents knew the Vietnam War was unwinnable and that government lied to Congress and the public about the progress of the war.

Mr. Ellsberg is with us to talk about what he experienced and how he believes it compares to the current controversy with President Trump.

Dan, you're in a unique position to assess what's happening right now. I wondering what you make of it, what you've seen so far?

DANIEL ELLSBERG, LEAKED THE PENTAGON PAPERS IN 1971: Well, I'm in an unusually good position in a sense, since half of my life ago, 45 years ago, President Nixon was facing impeachment in considerable part for crimes he took against me as a whistleblower.

I was in court, I was facing charges, not treason by the way, but essentially charges for copying classified information and giving them to the New York Times and to 18 other newspapers at that time. But it was also was also saying about Nixon that he didn't want the public to hear about threats he was making, nuclear threats to North Vietnam, threats of escalation. And in particular, in May of 1972, I was saying he was about to unleash B-52s against North Vietnam for the first time. And he had 12 CIA assets, people from the Bay of Pigs, brought up from Miami with orders to incapacitate me totally. And I must say, I asked their prosecutor later what did that mean? Kill me? And he said the records were, incapacitate you totally. He said you have to understand these guys, CIA people, never use the word kill. They use neutralize.

I'm saying that to say that I think that the lawyers of this whistleblower who feel that he's in personal danger having been threatened quite openly by this president are not exaggerating. I would say he is in personal danger.

COOPER: What's your advice to this whistleblower?

ELLSBERG: My advice would be to do what I wish I had done in 1964 and didn't do when I had -- when I knew that the President Johnson, my president, was lying us into a hopeless war, but in particular lying to Congress, violating his oath to the constitution, and by keeping my mouth shut as I did then like everybody else who knew that, I was violating my oath to the constitution.

So I would tell them do what it took me five years to do and don't wait that long, until bombs are falling on Iran or another war has started, thousands have died, or you understand that the constitution is being violated , as Ed Snowden realized with the mass surveillance that the NSA was doing.

And at personal risks, face the possible personal consequences, which could be very severe of telling the truth to Congress, and to the press. And don't wait.

COOPER: This whistleblower obviously has gone about it in a different way that you did. This whistleblower did not go to the press. They went through the official channels.


COOPER: Does it surprise you they chose that way and that it seems to certainly have gotten attention?

ELLSBERG: By the way, the channels that he's using, the Whistleblower Protection Act for intelligence agents, didn't exist in my day. I wasn't an intelligence agent to begin with. But there was no federal protection of whistleblowers at that time, no real medium for me to go.


Now, even in these days with this law, that route rarely works. It gets bottled up and people who make the complaint are simply identified of their superiors as a troublemaker, as a unwelcome truth- teller, and they are fired, or a great retaliation is taken against them.

In this particular case, the system worked, so I have to congratulate not only the whistleblower but the Intelligence Community inspector general who, although he was not required to tell Congress, did choose to do that. And the defector of National Intelligence, MaGuire, also OKed that. So I congratulate both of them. They made the system work as it's supposed to do.

COOPER: There are certainly people who are going to be watching very closely what happens to this whistleblower to see if they're willing to come forward.

ELLSBERG: That's true. The act is intended to protect whistleblowers from retaliation. It rarely does that and we'll see whether it does this time.

As for the President's words, if that isn't intimidation of a witness, I don't know what would be. But what I started out by telling you, Anderson, is the little-known story that when he says what we used to do to spies and traitors, I think he must be talking about under George III when telling unwelcome truths about misbehavior or any other thing about the monarch was treason. And the punishment for that was drawing and quartering, so that may be what he was thinking to get back to.

COOPER: Dan Ellsberg, thank you for talking to us tonight.

ELLSBERG: Thank you for the opportunity.

COOPER: A lot more ahead tonight, including what the mood is like at the White House tonight with all the breaking news developments. We'll be right back.