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White House Budget Official Will Testify If Subpoenaed; Next Witnesses In Impeachment Probe: Former Ambassador To Ukraine & Aide Who Overheard Trump-Sondland Call; Two Students Killed, Three Injured At California High School Shooting. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 14, 2019 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Chris Cuomo is off tonight. Welcome to a special hour of AC 360.

Tonight, there's breaking news in the impeachment inquiry, a new witness agrees to testify if subpoenaed, and he's from inside the White House, Budget Office attorney. Mark Sandy is his name, according to Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who I just spoke to in the last hour.

He's one of the officials who signed the hold on military assistance to Ukraine. And, of course, it is the withholding of that aid that lies at the center of the case against the President. Sandy may be equipped to speak to that. He'll testify behind closed doors on Saturday.

Tomorrow in public session will be the ousted Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who President Trump told Ukraine's President was "Bad news."

The most important witness may turn out to be Embassy staffer, David Holmes, on the phone call he allegedly overheard. Now, that came to light in surprise testimony yesterday from his boss, Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine. Here's what he said.


BILL TAYLOR, TOP U.S. DIPLOMAT IN UKRAINE: The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about "the investigations." Ambassador Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.

Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.


COOPER: Again, testimony in this will happen in Executive Session, meaning off-camera, which means we may have to wait for the transcript to learn what he said. It is clear he could say a lot, we simply don't know.

So, there's that. There's House Speaker Pelosi today, explicitly using the word "Bribery" to describe what the President allegedly engaged in, obviously a word that is in the Constitution, specified as an impeachable offense.

In all, plenty to talk about, joining us now, one of the questioners tomorrow, Democratic Congressman, Denny Heck.

Thanks for being with us, Congressman. The use of the term, bribery, is that because from just a messaging standpoint quid pro quo was sort of not easily understood, and bribery is, in the Constitution?

REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): I think it's because it's what he did, actually. You could call it bribery, you could call it extortion, you could call it a shakedown of a foreign country, soliciting their assistance in a campaign, a clear violation of federal law.

COOPER: How important is the testimony of Ambassador Yovanovitch tomorrow because the Republicans are already saying, well if she has no knowledge of any possible involvement by the President, is it about kind of laying out the whole story in writ large?

HECK: Yes, foundation, we're pulling on the string. So, look, here's what people are going to see tomorrow, Anderson. They're going to see the best of the best.

They're going to see one of America's top diplomats - diplomat, somebody who over a 33-year period of time increasingly rose in responsibility, not because she was just, just broadly respected within the Foreign Service Corps, but because she was beloved. That's the best America has to offer.

And the way that she was treated because - again, remember, the President didn't just say that she was a bad woman. He said ominously, threateningly, "She's going to go through some things." So, we're going to learn about why that what - is.

Interestingly, I think what we got going on here is a - is a potential confluence of both the political self-interest of the President, getting her out of the way, so he could do his deed in Ukraine, but also potentially, we don't know this yet, some financial or economic interests on the behalf - on - on the part of Mr. Giuliani and his two associates.

COOPER: Giuliani has, for years, had business interests in - in Ukraine. He's been trolling for business. He's had contracts there as well. He may still have eyes on Ukraine as potential business place.

Also now, this person from the OMB that's going to be on Saturday, if I'm not mistaken, do you know where that's going to lead? I mean, do - do you know much about that?

HECK: No. But we know what we want to find out, which is where did the direction come from to withhold the aid, and what were you told at the time that you were told to put a stop on it? That's what we hope to find out.

COOPER: Because Taylor, I believe, I think it was Taylor who was on a call with somebody from the OMB, and somebody on the call said, "Oh, this order came from the President that the aid has been stopped." That was when Taylor learned that the aid had been stopped.

That's important because you're not getting a Bolton, and you're not getting a - a Mulvaney as of now.


HECK: Right. He's prohibiting them from talking, as a matter of fact. I think what's happening here is we're beginning to let - line up the people that the President's going to throw under the bus.

I'm - I'm predicting that it - there's a good chance he's going to throw under the bus, Ambassador Sondland. He's going to throw under the bus, Acting Chief of Staff, Mulvaney. He's going to throw under the bus, potentially Rudy Giuliani. And the closer they get to him through those people, the more disposable, the more dispensable they will become to him.

COOPER: It is a common refrain from the President, you know, "Oh, I - I didn't really know that guy." I mean it was Michael Cohen.

HECK: Right. Evidently, he knows no one.

COOPER: The - the - the impeachment investigators are going to hear from the aide to Ambassador Taylor behind closed doors tomorrow. Will that transcript then very quickly be released? Will it has to go through--

HECK: Ander--

COOPER: --a review process?

HECK: Anderson, I don't know the timeline. But, at some point, it will be.

And interestingly, I think I read a news story today to the effect that there was actually a second aide sitting at that table. So, we really don't know the significance of it until we hear from him. We do know that he overheard the President make reference to investigations.

I actually think the news story for the time being is that an Ambassador of the United States actually sat in a public setting, in a restaurant, on an unsecured cell phone call with the President of the United States, violating every national security protocol.

COOPER: In Ukraine, not - yes.

HECK: Imaginable.

COOPER: Right.

HECK: I would bet a large sum of money were it legal that the Russians actually listed - listened in word-for-word on that call, it is a gross violation of national - national security protocol for him to have done that.

COOPER: An Ambassador would normally go to the Embassy to a secure location in order to talk to the President.

HECK: You know that.

COOPER: Yes. Congressman Heck, I appreciate your time. It's good--

HECK: You're welcome, Sir.

COOPER: Busy days. Thank you for coming in. Appreciate it.

We - our panel's back this hour, joined by CNN Legal Analyst, Ros Garber, who teaches impeachment law at Tulane University Law School, and all the regular folks are here as well, which we're very appreciative of.

Ros, do you think Democrats, I mean, are they boxing themselves in with labeling this as bribery that that's the charge?

ROS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, TEACHES IMPEACHMENT LAW AT TULANE LAW SCHOOL: So, on the one hand, it is true, bribery is right there in the Constitution.

Often in impeachments, one of the big debates is, you know, what is a high crime and misdemeanor? Does it reach that level? Bribery is in the Constitution. I was surprised to hear Speaker Pelosi go there--


GARBER: --because bribery is also the subject of lots and lots of technical case law. There are statutes, there's cases, it's a very legalistic term, number one.

And number two is I don't think bribery has yet been established. I'm - I'm keeping an open mind.

But bribery requires, among other things, corrupt intent. We - we have to know, for bribery, what is in the President's head. And so far, for some of the reasons that we talked about, we don't know that.


GARBER: And - and, remember, we're talking about impeachment. It's the political nuclear weapon. And so, the proof of all of those things has to be very high. So, I was surprised to hear Speaker Pelosi now say the word "Bribery."

COOPER: Without hearing from somebody, who talked directly to the President, can you ascertain intent?

GARBER: Well yes, you can - you can look at circumstantial evidence, and - and potentially see intent. But I think it's one of the reasons why the Republicans are pointing out, you know, they're - they're calling it hearsay.

I think what they're really getting to is that we're not yet seeing a lot of information about what the President was thinking, and what the President was saying.


COOPER: Right. And there's a reason, I mean, John Dean, there's - there's a reason for that that we are not seeing that because it's - we're talking about Bolton, we're talking about Mulvaney.


COOPER: And the White House isn't allowing.

DEAN: Apparently, they don't want to appear. I think somebody like Bolton, if he wanted to come up, and show, and testify, he could do it. There's nothing the President can do to stop him. He'd--

COOPER: I mean he's apparently going around making paid speeches so.

DEAN: He's making - if you have the - the right number of dollars, you can get him to appear, yes.


DEAN: But there is - he'd have to go to court, literally, and get an injunction to stop him.

On the bribery point, you know, bribery wasn't even the code when the Founders wrote the Constitution. There was no real case law at that point. I'm not sure all that case law follows an impeachment proceeding. And - and--

GARBER: Oh, yes, and - you're right about that. To be clear, impeachment is largely political. But - but we both know that once the word bribery is mentioned, we're going to hear a lot about all of those elements.

DEAN: But if - if - as a defense. It makes it technical.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And this is the problem of the Democrats really wanting to push this through, pretty quickly, before the election.


BORGER: Versus allowing the legal route to - to continue with Bolton, and if it's Mulvaney, and the - and the rest of them in court because they want to get this done before January.

If they want Bolton, and they want Mulvaney, chances are they're not going to be able to get it. So, it's kind of a bad choice for them.


GERGEN: Yes. But if you have evidence that the President directed most of this, he directed Giuliani, he directed Mulvaney on - on, you know, on - on a variety of issues, if you have that kind of information, even though you may not have obvious intent or obvious evidence, isn't that persuasive--


GERGEN: --of his intent?

GARBER: The question is going to be why.

And what - I think what we're going to start hearing more of is that the President was actually motivated by corruption issues in Ukraine, and that he believed, rightly or wrongly, that the Biden situation was emblematic of - of past corruption, and that he believed there was potentially issues of interference in the 2016 election.

True or not true, I think the question is did he believe it or not because the Framers thought about including maladministration in the impeachment provision. They decided not to do that.

BORGER: So, what does that have to do with holding up the money though? In - in - in other words, so say you can't prove what his intent was, in that sense, can't you just say "Well but he still held up the money?"


GARBER: Well if you hold up the money--

BORGER: Then--

GARBER: --for - for the good of the American people, for the good of the - of - of the U.S. government, that's - that - that's a trade that happens all the time.

COOPER: I mean, Kirsten, that - the argument from Democrats certainly is that this had nothing to do with the national interests of the United States.

KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well I mean the - the - the only way that that could be true would be if there actually had been some sort of actions on the part of Joe Biden that were corrupt.

And it's just been debunked over and over and over again that the position that - that he took was in fact the position of the world community. So, it's - it is kind of crazy-making, honestly to--

COOPER: It's--

POWERS: --to have continually - continually hear about this because it's - it's something that has been so clearly debunked, and yet, they keep coming back to it. And what is - what is Trump's interest in Biden? Let's see! How hard do we have to really think about this?

COOPER: Right.

POWERS: Trump's interested in Biden is that he is a potential rival.

COOPER: Also Scott, I mean the - the people that Trump is using for this policy, this great concern about corruption is Rudy Giuliani.

And all the people that Rudy Giuliani is promoting have been let go because of corruption that Maria Yovanovitch was working against, and the diplomats at the Embassy wouldn't even allow them visa.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The - the worst fact that Trump has had in this entire ordeal is the insertion of Giuliani into the middle of it.

When you are dealing with an unappointed, unelected person, who is then affecting policy decisions that should be affected by, you know, appointed and Senate-confirmed Ambassadors and your own White House staff, it is from the beginning the absolute worst fact.

That is terrible judgment. Now, is it impeach - impeachable - impeachable to have terrible judgment when you insert, you know, idiots into a process? I don't think so. But it - it doesn't look great, when you have him in it. Take him out of it for a second.

And to your point about intent, you and I'll have a disagreement about this.

Trump will argue that the sitting Vice President of the United States has already essentially admitted that it was bad for Hunter Biden to be over there dealing because he's already promised not to do it again if he gets elected President. And Hunter Biden--

POWERS: But it's not illegal--

JENNINGS: --and--

POWERS: It's not corrupt.

JENNINGS: He - they don't have to argue - they don't have to argue it's illegal.

POWERS: It's not - no but - but the point--

JENNINGS: They just have to argue that it was--

POWERS: That you can hold up the--

JENNINGS: --bad judgment.

POWERS: --you can hold up aid to a country that they're using to defend themselves against Russia--


POWERS: --because something that happened in the past you didn't like? I mean that's the argument?



PSAKI: --Scott, the other - the other problem, Scott, with your - with you - what you're arguing here is that the timeline here.

There were two years when Donald Trump was not raising his concerns about Joe Biden and Hunter Biden. It wasn't an issue for him until Joe Biden announced he was going to run for President. So, that sort of makes you scratch your head--

JENNINGS: Well A, we don't know - we don't know when it became a concern for him yet.


JENNINGS: B, you just said you can hold up aid to a country for fill in the blank. You could ask that about any Administration. Ask the Obama Administration why they held up lethal aid to Ukraine for two years.

POWERS: You know, I'd like - I like--

PSAKI: No, no, no, no.

JENNINGS: There are many reasons why - why the United States--

POWERS: See this is - this is - this is also--

JENNINGS: --hold aid.

POWERS: --this is also getting really old, this one right here. The - you can criticize the Obama Administration for bad policy, if that's what you wanted to do.

JENNINGS: Yes, yes.

POWERS: If you want to say that's a bad policy. But it doesn't matter why you do things. And so, if - if Barack Obama had held up that aid for a corrupt reason, then he should be impeached.

BORGER: I also--

PSAKI: Because he wanted some dirt on Mitt Romney.


PSAKI: You would have been outraged. BORGER: Right. I also have a question here. You say insert, you know, inserting Rudy Giuliani. Do we think - does anybody here think that Rudy Giuliani was acting on his own?



BORGER: Does anybody here think--


BORGER: --that he didn't talk to the President of the United States--


BORGER: --about what he was doing?

JENNINGS: Well that - and one of my big questions about him is whatever the President told him to do then did Rudy Giuliani tell the President all of the other interests he has in this region?

BORGER: Maybe not, yes.

JENNINGS: Because I have a - I have a feeling he was into stuff that maybe the White House didn't know about, and the White House is going to have separate from him, yes.

BORGER: And when the President finds out that--

COOPER: Well--

BORGER: Rudy was making money off of him--


COOPER: Yes, although, I mean, Rudy--


COOPER: --Rudy Giuliani had like Turkish clients and then the President was like pushing his Turkish policy base, so we're going to talk about this. We're going to take a quick break.

We'll talk about the Republican efforts to turn the Senate impeachment trial into political punishment for Democrats.


Also, speaking of telling the President, more important, Sondland's cell phone call from Ukraine, Russia's backyard, was the conversation overheard? We'll be joined by someone who truly knows White House security, from his old job, running the Situation Room. And later, sadly, a student who was - there was a shooter opened fire

at her school.


COOPER: We're talking tonight about new witnesses, public and private in the impeachment inquiry, also hearsay, also bribery, and reporting in the Washington Post that a number of Republican Senators are discussing whether to pressure leadership to stage a lengthy impeachment trial, the reason being it would potentially keep six Democratic candidates, all Senators, pinned down in Washington, and off the campaign trail.

Also, in a few moments, a former Director of the White House Situation Room weighs in on the revelation that Gordon Sondland in Ukraine was talking to the President on what was potentially a non-secure cell phone.

Back now though with our own Situation Room.

Would it be smart, Gloria, politically for Republicans to drag out the Senate vote on this, the Senate hearings on this, because all the Senators--

BORGER: Half a dozen--

COOPER: --have to be there?


BORGER: Half a - yes, all of them have to be there. It's supposed to be six days a week. And you have six Senators running for President. So, it would keep them out of Iowa. I think Joe Biden might be happy about that.

COOPER: Right. Because I mean that is the counter-argument that if, you know--


COOPER: --if Joe Biden is supposedly your biggest adversary, depending on the poll--

BORGER: That's right.

COOPER: --you're listening.

BORGER: So, on the one hand, sure, I can see them trying to play that game.

On the other hand, if you don't have a really good case to make about the President of the United States, and you can't, as Scott pointed out earlier, say "You know, what he did was great, and fine," then do you want to spend all that time on the floor of the Senate.

And people would pay attention because it's a different arena than they're used to, and it's a very somber environment, and people would watch--

COOPER: Wow! That sounds like must-see TV. BORGER: Must-see.

COOPER: You are really selling it, Gloria.


BORGER: I know.

COOPER: Six days a week?

BORGER: Well we'll see.

COOPER: Count me in.

GERGEN: And so you can't get to Iowa.

BORGER: Well setting to meet--

COOPER: Right. Yes. Well that's the thing.


COOPER: They - they - they wouldn't be able to--

BORGER: They - right.

COOPER: Right.

BORGER: But - but, on the other hand, you know, if you don't have a great argument, you spend, and you drag it out--


BORGER: --then it could be a problem.

COOPER: David?

GERGEN: Yes, I just - I just - I just don't see what's in it for the Republicans to drag this out. It - it like - the issue would still be before the country. Is the guy a crook? Should he be knocked out of office? Look at all the other things he's done.

It seems to me they want to get past this pretty quickly. Now, they - they - they don't want - they need - need to have some formal proceedings. But I would think it's in their strong interest.

JENNINGS: The one thing to remember about this process, and I've - I've heard Senator McConnell talk about this, is that once it starts, he's not in control anymore.

You know, a lot of Conservatives that say, "Well can't you just broom this? Can't you get rid of it?" And a lot of Democrats have said, "Oh, he'll never let."

Once it starts, the - the Senators are jurors. They have to sit there. They can't talk. And the Senate Majority Leader, he said to me, "This is the thing I have the least control over, when it starts in the U.S. Senate."

The Chief Justice is in the chair. The Impeachment Managers get to make a case. The President's lawyers get to put on a defense. And it - it could take a while. And it's not like the Senators are up making arguments themselves.


COOPER: Jen, there's a - a report of the Washington Post citing Ukraine's Interfax news agency that quotes the Ukrainian Foreign Minister as saying that his conversations with Ambassador Sondland never included an explicit link between military aid and investigating the Bidens.

Some Republicans are pointing to this as proof, basically that there was no bribery/quid pro quo. Is that--

PSAKI: Look, I'd remind--

COOPER: --are they wrong?

PSAKI: --I'd remind people that the Ukrainians have their own audience, and their own objectives.

And, you know, this is a new Administration in Ukraine, a President who came in, who was a comedian doing imitations of the past President, just six months before he became elected, and they need to prove that they can deliver, and that they're not going to be manipulated by the big powerful United States.

So, I don't know that they're reliable narrators on this.

COOPER: Is that the argument you use because, you know, the President and many Republicans have pointed out, and just today, as well, saying, "Well, look, the President of Ukraine has said there was no problem with the call."

Is that the same argument you would use that he doesn't want to look weak in front of his - his electorate?

PSAKI: Yes. He just got elected. He is - there's skepticism about whether he can deliver on military assistance, it had gone through Congress. It hadn't been delivered. You know, he's somebody who needs to present himself as strong and prepared for the job.


PSAKI: And that doesn't help you do that.

POWERS: --isn't there also a chance he's doing it for Trump? I mean, the point is like he - they can't afford to have their--

PSAKI: They need--

COOPER: I mean, Scott, there has been the report--

PSAKI: --their aid--

COOPER: --the - a lot of reporting by The New York Times, talking to unnamed Ukrainian officials who were essentially saying, "Look, they came close to giving in, to caving on this, and launching some investigations because they were so desperate for the aid."

JENNINGS: Now, look, it seems like everybody who says something that helps exonerate Trump, in this case, there's a reason why they have to do a, "We can't believe them." And everybody who comes forward and says "We got to impeach Trump," well they've been imbued with super powers of truth and honesty.

Look, we've got the two top people in the Ukraine saying, "I wasn't pressured on the call," and now, "Sondland never - never hassled me about this, and didn't make this explicit link."

I mean you can - you can say what you want about their motives. But these are their public statements, on the record, and they actually did talk to American officials, the President, and our Ambassador over there so.

PSAKI: And - and Scott, as you know, we've all seen the transcript, where he was pressured, so I mean that's the evidence enough, I think--

JENNINGS: But you can't substitute your opinion for his publicly- stated state of mind.

PSAKI: Well but - but we saw the transcript where it showed "I - I want you to do me a favor though," after he brought up military assistance. So, if that's not being pressured, I'm not sure what is. And also, he has told other officials he felt pressured, who have testified.

BORGER: Do you want to listen to the President of Ukraine on this, who stands to lose everything if Donald Trump hates him, or do you want to listen to everybody else, who's testifying in this country, diplomats, potential--

COOPER: But it's not like President Trump would use that against the President of Ukraine moving forward.

BORGER: No. Well, you know, you never know.

COOPER: Just--


COOPER: So, David, I mean, it - so far, have there been any - I mean I know people say with the - the testimony by Taylor was a bombshell about this phone call. Do you think the Democrats should feel confident in how things are going if - if the impeachment--


COOPER: --is what they want. [21:25:00]

GERGEN: I don't think they should feel confident. I think we need to see this further developed. I, for example, I'm curious what - what the ratings were yesterday.

How many people watched? I think 13.5 million peoples lasted between 10:00 and 4:00. That's a respectable number, but it's nowhere near what the Mueller audience looked like. It's nowhere near what happened in Nixon's case. It was a gigantic interest in that.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: I - I - I think that their - their persuasion is yet to be done, I think.

COOPER: All right, everybody, thank you.

I'm going to speak to a former top-level White House Intelligence official about why, in his words, that call between President Trump and Gordon Sondland was "Insane." We'll be right back.



COOPER: What has raised a lot of eyebrows about the reports of President Trump discussing the Bidens in Ukraine or just investigations with his Ambassador to the EU isn't just the potentially incriminating things that may have been said.

Again, we don't know what exactly was said to Gordon Sondland. We will hear next week.

It is also the manner in which the phone call reportedly occurred. The phone call between the President of the United States and a top diplomat didn't occur in a secure setting, according to the testimony so far.

It was in the open, at a restaurant, in a country teeming with Russian Intelligence, and it could potentially be heard by anyone around, at least other people at the table heard it, apparently.

My next guest has called the security ramifications "Insane." Larry Pfeiffer is a former Director of the White House Situation Room. He also served as Chief of Staff to former CIA Director Michael Hayden.

Larry, thanks so much for being with us.

When you first heard that Gordon Sondland, Ambassador to the UA - EU, had had a phone conversation with the President, apparently on a cell phone, at a restaurant, in Ukraine, were you surprised?

LARRY PFEIFFER, FORMER DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE SITUATION ROOM, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO CIA DIRECTOR MICHAEL HAYDEN: Yes, and no. I mean you - you saw my reaction. I - I - I described it as "Insane" to a certain extent.

COOPER: Insane because why?

PFEIFFER: Well an individual in a position like Ambassador Sondland was in, operating in and out of Ukraine, would have and should have been given briefings about the counterintelligence threat that exists in that region, and in that country, in particular.

And so, you know, one of three things happened. Either he - he didn't get briefed, he got briefed but forgot, or he got briefing and he didn't care, and none of those are very good answers.

COOPER: So, he should not have had a phone conversation with the President of the United States, in a restaurant, in Ukraine, on a cell phone point-blank?

PFEIFFER: That - that would definitely not be my advice, yes.

COOPER: How would he normally have a conversation, if he was to have one with the President?

PFEIFFER: So, normally, he'd go to the Embassy. There - you know, I can't imagine he was far from the Embassy at the time.

COOPER: A secure room or a location.

PFEIFFER: There could be a secure room, secure telephones, you know, the - the sense I have, from the reporting so far, is he was using just a normal cell phone. Some people have said to me, "Ah, well maybe he was using Signal or WhatsApp, and that's secure."

Well, as a government official, I'm going to want to trust secure communications provided by the U.S. government, not - but not a secure communication provided by a company, number one.

Number two, your call is only secure as the - as the space you're sitting in. So, you're sitting in a Ukrainian restaurant, talking at, you know, at a voice loud enough for people around the table to hear.

COOPER: Right.

PFEIFFER: Well who knows who else is listening? I mean, clearly, you're being targeted by Foreign Intelligence Services while you're in country.

COOPER: Right. These are all U.S. officials at the table. They would all pretty much be on the radar of--

PFEIFFER: Oh, absolutely.

COOPER: --Intelligence Services.

PFEIFFER: And so, you don't know who else is in the restaurant. You don't know who is being paid by the Russian government, or some other government, to keep tabs, and listen in. And then there's technical means, you know, pretty exotic technical means where, you know, somebody across the room, you know, their voice can be listened to, and maybe even the sound coming out of the earpiece of the telephone he's talking to.

So, and that's above and beyond just the potential of, you know, signals Intelligence intercept being done by - by the Russians or other governments.

COOPER: Does the - I mean the - the President using a cell phone that - I mean, there's been a lot of reporting on President Trump, and - and his sort of interest in just having his own phone that he can just--


COOPER: --use and call, would that be a secure phone, and therefore, even if you're calling to a non-secure phone, does - does it - I mean, does that matter?

PFEIFFER: Well, again, you could have the most secure communication from this phone to this phone. But if you're talking in a Ukrainian restaurant--


PFEIFFER: --you - you - you've - you've negated all that great wonderful exquisite technology that perhaps you have. But the sense I have is he was not talking on any kind of secure device. And - and even if the President was on a secure device that would not - that would not work.

COOPER: And this is something which - I mean anybody - certainly, I mean, he is a political appointee, you know, he was a donor to - to the President's Inaugural. That's how he got the position. He's also a businessman, I guess, before that. But even somebody like that would have been briefed and should have known better.

PFEIFFER: Absolutely, should have been briefed, should have known better. And - and, as I said before, he either ignored it, or didn't care, or - or - or - or he wasn't briefed in that that somebody should be in trouble for - for that.

What I will say though is working in a place like the White House, you know, people who come to government around an administration, you know, you have - you have people like me who spent 30 years in an Intel business, who come with all cut - you know, steeped in security knowledge.

But then, you have people who come from academia, they coming from the corporate world.

COOPER: Right.

PFEIFFER: They come from political world. And those folks arrive, day one, they're going to get all these briefings. They're going to get - hear all this stuff about security. And then, they're being told by the President to run 150 miles an hour to - to - to meet his objectives.

And so, one of the constant challenges for a guy like me, running the Situation Room, or for our Security Officer on the staff, is just to be constantly reminding these people. And I'm - and I'm sure the same happens at State Department, where you have these political appointees coming in from outside, they need to be constantly reminded--

COOPER: Reminded.

PFEIFFER: --about the need to maintain this security hygiene.

COOPER: Yes. It's fascinating. Larry Pfeiffer, really appreciate it.

PFEIFFER: Well thank you very much.

COOPER: The other big story that we are watching tonight, the deadly school shooting in California. Up next, I'll talk to the Sheriff leading the investigation, also a student forced to hide during the incident. We'll be right back.



COOPER: Tonight, surveillance video of the deadly High School shooting in Southern California is being looked at by authorities. They say it clearly shows the moment that a student pulled a hand gun from his backpack and opened fire.

A 16-year old girl, 14-year old boy were killed. Three other students were wounded. The accused gunman shot himself, is listed in grave condition. The attack began before class at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, outside Los Angeles.

Just before airtime, I spoke with Sheriff Alex Villanueva.


COOPER: Sheriff, you're standing in front of the hospital where - where some of the students who were wounded were - were - today, were taken. First of all, what can you tell us about how they are doing tonight?

ALEX VILLANUEVA, SHERIFF OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Well we had - there were six students that were injured, you know, and four of them were - were transported to this hospital.

Two that were in critical condition has since passed away. We have the third that is in critical condition, currently, still at this hospital. The other one has been treated and released.

COOPER: And, at this point, what are you able to tell us about exactly what happened today? Obviously, it's an ongoing investigation.


VILLANUEVA: The - the suspect, he was a student at the school, walked into the center of the - the quad area, where the - the juniors typically are at, and he was just standing in the middle of the quad, really not saying or doing anything. He had a backpack on.

And, at one point, he took off the backpack. He retrieved a .45 semi- auto pistol, shot one round, and fired at one student, injured that student, and then appeared to clear some sort of jam in the weapon, and then fired an additional four rounds at four other students before turning the gun on himself. And that ended it all in 16 seconds.

COOPER: And just in terms of - of police response, I mean 16 seconds, from - from start to finish, obviously, no way law enforcement can respond that quickly. What - what was response like?

VILLANUEVA: Well the response, fortunately, was extremely quickly. It was a matter of seconds.

We had three off-duty law enforcement officers who had just deliver - dropped off their kids at the school, and one Deputy, a Detective from our department, witnessed the students running away from the scene, and he circled back, and he entered the scene.

In fact, let me give you their names. I have them here. It's going to be Detective Daniel Finn, from the Santa - Santa Clarita Sheriff's Station, the Detective Bureau, Officer Sean Yanez from Inglewood Police Department, and Officer Gus Ramirez from the Los Angeles Police Department.

All three of them were the very first Peace Officers who entered the campus, went to the scene, found the six students, who were injured with bullet wounds, and they immediately began life-saving measures.

They saw a weapon there. And within a - a minute of that, then the first responders from the station arrived on scene as well.

COOPER: It's a testimony to - to those officers and to their - their training that they were dropping off their own children at this school, realized something was going on, and immediately went toward it. Do you have a sense of motive, at this point?

VILLANUEVA: Well we do know that today is the - the suspect's birthday. He turned 16 today. Father's deceased in 2017. We don't know what kind of inner turmoil is going on.

All of the evidence, we're doing search warrants right now at the residence of the suspect. We have a very large crime scene at the school that's going to take from today till tomorrow to process thoroughly, so a lot of information we're going to have to go through, his social media, his footprint, to see what we can scrub, and exploit out of that.

COOPER: Yes. You said in your press conference, earlier today, that you "Hate to have Saugus be added to the names of Columbine, Parkland, Sandy Hook, but it's a reality that affects us throughout the nation, something we're going to have to deal with."

I mean wonder what message you have for the community there tonight.

VILLANUEVA: If you see something, say something. If you have your own inner demons, and turmoil you're going through, seek help.

And people that are, you know, 24/7, they're on social media monitoring what everybody's saying, and uttering, and every thought, you have to take them seriously.

When something outrageous is posted on social media, take action. Let somebody know so we can do a thorough threat assessment. And we've been able to prevent some of these catastrophes from happening because we intervened, and we're able to stop a threat before it became realized.

COOPER: Yes. Sheriff Villanueva, appreciate talking to you tonight. Thank you so much.

VILLANUEVA: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Well Trinity Mercurio is a junior at Saugus High School. She was on campus during this morning's attacks. She joins us now.

Trinity, thanks for being with us. I'm glad you're - you're OK. Can you - can you just walk us through what you - what you heard, what you saw, what happened this morning?

TRINITY MERCURIO, SAUGUS HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Yes. So, this morning, it started out like any other normal morning.

We decided not to practice this morning, for some reason, and I couldn't be more thankful for that. But this morning went by, and we just - we heard running and screaming out of nowhere. And--

COOPER: Were you - were you in a classroom?

MERCURIO: No. I was in the band room and--

COOPER: You were in the band room? And so there were - and there were other students there--


COOPER: --as well?


COOPER: And when you heard running and stuff, did you know right away what was going on, or how did you find out what was going on?

MERCURIO: We found out by well the first gunshot that went off and the screaming. At first, we thought it was a really big joke. We were all in shock. And, by the time, I actually looked into the

practice room, the lights were off, and there was nobody around. And so, that's when we all ducked down behind speakers, and closets, and anything that we could find really.

COOPER: And how long were you inside before you were able to get out of the school?


MERCURIO: Probably about like I'd say a good two hours maybe.

COOPER: Obviously, is this something that - I know there had been like drills at the school. Is - are those drills you had participated in?

MERCURIO: Yes. These drills happen almost every - every month. We have them about one to two times a month.

COOPER: Wow! That's a lot.


COOPER: How are you holding up?

MERCURIO: It's still really shaky. I would say there is a lot of emotions that I know that I can speak on behalf of all of my peers that we're all kind of going through that. It - it's going to take a really long time to process everything.

COOPER: Well, Trinity, I - I - I - I - I mean, I know it's difficult to talk about, and I really appreciate you - you taking the time to - to talk to us, and I - I hope you and your friends are - are doing well, and - and getting - just taking the time you need, and I hope you get some sleep tonight.

MERCURIO: Thank you.

COOPER: All right, you take care, Trinity. Trinity Mercurio.

Up next, someone that I've come to know over the years, to admire her, knows - she knows firsthand, the loss of a child after a mass shooting.

Sandy Phillips has a message on grief that she uses to help support those who loved ones - whose loved ones are killed in mass shootings like the one today. We'll talk to her ahead.



COOPER: We've been talking about the latest mass shooting in America, this time, a high school just north of Los Angeles. It is a scene all too familiar to my next guest.

Not only did Sandy Phillips, and her husband, lose their daughter during a mass shooting, Lonnie is the husband, seven years ago at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, they've used that experience to help others in the aftermath of their loss as well.

I'm pleased Sandy Phillips could join me. She and Lonnie Phillips are also Co-Authors of "Tragedy in Aurora: The Culture of Mass Shootings in America," the book out just now.

Sandy, again, I mean I've talked to you, obviously, in always in the worst of circumstances, but I hope something good can be learned tonight for - for folks out there. You were just - you were just in Santa Clarita, weren't you?

SANDY PHILLIPS, MOTHER OF AURORA SHOOTING VICTIM JESSICA GHAWI: Yes. We were there for the Borderline Trageversary (ph), the anniversary date, to support the community, and to the survivors out there, and left there to fly to Parkland, to help some of the survivors here in Parkland prepare for the trial.

So, now it's - it's happening so frequently, we can't cover them all. But we do have volunteers that are up in Saugus to - to help.

COOPER: In that - for people who don't know that's what you and - and Lonnie are - are doing. You - you're trying to build kind of a network of survivors, who can essentially respond to other survivors in - in the wake of a shooting like this.

There - it is a particular kind of grief that that's hard to understand unless - I mean, unless you have gone through it.

PHILLIPS: It's impossible to understand it unless you've gone through it.

And listening to the young people that were on your show earlier, the trauma that they're suffering, and they don't even realize they're suffering from trauma. And we know, from our own experience, that this trauma is a form of PTSD, and it stays with you for a lifetime, so early intervention is incredibly important.

So, we're actually putting together Rapid Response Teams that would include survivors, trauma therapists, police, first responders, so they can go into these communities when it happens.

They're prepared to go into these communities and offer assistance, and survivor support, immediately, so that they can start having the help that they need.

COOPER: Trauma therapy is something that - that you talk about a lot, and I know you recommend it for - for a lot of people who have been through something like this. Can you just talk a little about it?

You know, you and I have talked about how there's no timeline for grief that people, you know, who - who - who haven't lost somebody often think, "OK, you go through those five stages, and then, you know, you're - you get back to work, and your life moves on." It doesn't work that way PHILLIPS: No, it doesn't, and especially with a trauma like they've gone through, trauma not treated eventually will catch up to you. So, these young people often think that "Oh, I'm OK. I've got my friends around me. I'll be fine. I'll be fine."

Parents want to make it OK for the kids, so they don't dig deep enough to really get the - the kind of trauma therapy they need, and they often settle for counseling, instead of therapy.

And what ends up happening is, years later, it hits them full force, and they don't have the skill sets to deal with it. So, it is a form of PTSD, and we have seen that with our military coming home. It's the same for these young people. And it's the same for any victim, survivor of gun violence.

COOPER: Your organization,, we have that up on the screen. You - you also--

PHILLIPS: Thank you.

COOPER: --make the point often about that this is - this is not just a, you know, something you - that you go through for a few months. This is a lifetime of healing.


PHILLIPS: Oh, yes. This is something you don't get over. You move on from, but you don't move through it, and you don't ever leave it totally behind you. It - it changes your DNA. Trauma changes your DNA and--

COOPER: You move with - you move with it.

PHILLIPS: Yes. You move with it. That's a very good way of putting it. And sometimes, it's just a - a slight wave. And, other times, it's a tsunami.

And knowing how to deal with those moments, and have the skill sets to deal with that, are - it's just incredibly important to their welfare, long-term welfare, and redefining their lives that have been changed today.

COOPER: And - and talking about it, I mean, it's - is it beyond - it's beyond talk therapy.

PHILLIPS: It is way beyond talk therapy. Yes, and I'm not - I'm not a counselor. I'm not a therapist. But I've - I've learned through this journey that we've been on. Quite often, talk therapy can actually hurt trauma survivors.

So, learning EMDR, mindfulness, deep breathing, tapping skills, they're all things that help folks when they all of a sudden are in a situation where they can tell that their PTSD has been triggered.


PHILLIPS: We talked to one survivor who--


PHILLIPS: --who had to pull over the side of the road because she got triggered about something, and had to just sit there, and do some tapping for a while until she was OK to move forward.

COOPER: Yes. Well Sandy Phillips, I so appreciate what you and - and Lonnie are doing, again, the Organization, It's good to talk to you, though. I'm sorry it's under these circumstances. We'll be right back.

PHILLIPS: Me too. But thank you for having me.