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CNN TONIGHT

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) Is Interviewed About The Veracity Of A Whistleblower's Complaint; Rudy Giuliani's 180 Sounds Like His Boss; Whistleblower Knew Something About President Trump's Interaction With Ukraine; White House And Justice Department Advised DNI Not To Share Details Of Whistleblower Complaint. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 19, 2019 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[22:00:00]

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And not that you really care what I think, right?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Of course, I do.

LEMON: But, OK.

CUOMO: I love you. And I respect you.

LEMON: So, here's what I think. I thought it was substantive. I thought that he was, and I think that I'm right, trying to pull a Corey Lewandowski what Corey did the other day in Congress. Right? Distract, deflect, don't answer any questions, talk about, what do you think, what do you think, keep deflecting.

But in that, just as what happened with Corey Lewandowski, there were some actually substantive admissions in there. He admitted that he asked the Ukraine government to investigate Joe Biden in that interview. He didn't realize he did, just as Corey Lewandowski probably didn't realize he was going to admit that he lies to the media, or that the president committed obstruction of justice or asked him to do something that he was, you know -- that was not lawful.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: I think that it was -- but I think that that was -- it was important, the admissions that he -- his performance was important, and also what he ended up admitting, very important as well.

CUOMO: Yes, I --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It's a tactic. It's a tactic.

CUOMO: There's no question. I call those 'attack-tics.' They've become the new normal. It's very pronounced. Now people say, how do you keep your cool? I know what it is.

Now this one was a little different than others because I've known Rudy Giuliani most of my life. I have always respected him. I have a lot of questions about what he's decided to do for this president and what it will cost him ultimately.

But the kinds of personal insults, I didn't really expect that from him. Not to me. At the beginning he was saying, no, I'm just talking about the institution, I'm talking about the CNN, the media. But it wasn't, it was personal.

LEMON: But you know what that is, that's an audience of one.

CUOMO: Look, that's -- that's fine. I know what the president has told his followers to feel about me and what it's okay to do.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And I forgive all of that because I know how to do the job. And you're not going to get to me by coming at me personally, as long as my kids aren't around.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: And I want people to see it, Don. I want people to see that when faced with questions that any capable lawyer could deal with pretty easily. Do you know what the president said to the guy? No. All right, so we don't really know what he said.

But if he was saying anything about cleaning up your country, you're fine. What about that 250 that they released too soon? Well, you're going to have to show me a lot more than that. And the president didn't know what you were doing? No, not until afterwards.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: There are easier ways to get around it but they're using the attack mechanism because they think it works for them and I want people to see that. Because that's what this election is about. It's about what you accept and what you reject.

LEMON: He admitted he asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and said even if the president did it, it's allowed, in that interview. OK? That's what he said to you. So.

CUOMO: If the president did what? I think he was saying, if the president said clean up your country and corruption or you're not getting money from us, --

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: -- that's OK.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: If he tied it to a more personal interest, it could be a little suspicious, especially when we don't get any, you know, any readouts of any of these things. And obviously if it were so benign, unless that this complainer, this whistleblower, is completely incredible, which is hard to believe, because the I.G. had to assess it in order to find their own threshold finding, which Rudy Giuliani was way off about, denigrating the I.G., who by the way was picked by this president.

So that becomes relevant. Why did the person get so upset? Why did the I.G. believe the claim? Why did they think this rose to that level?

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: That's all relevant in the assessment.

LEMON: So, let's talk a little bit more about what he said about Joe Biden. OK. And I know you -- I know you did the fact check. I'm going to have you for a little bit. So, OK, I know you did the fact check.

CUOMO: Yes, I have it right here.

LEMON: But 20 minutes -- just a couple of it. And then you can talk. OK. This is -- this is -- I just want to read part of it --

CUOMO: Go ahead.

LEMON: -- from CNN. It says, Giuliani's story is littered with holes. According to our report from Bloomberg the Ukraine's government -- government's case against Burisma had been dormant since 2014. Two years before Joe Biden successfully pushed to remove the prosecutorial -- the prosecutor general, Biden was also joined in his anti- corruption push against the prosecutor by numerous leaders in Europe as well as the International Monetary Fund, none of whom had any family ties to Burisma, which was the company that his son was --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Hunter Biden was on the board.

LEMON: Hunter Biden was on the board.

CUOMO: And that did create a conflict of interest --

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: -- for Joe, no question about it.

LEMON: And should be investigated. But there was nothing --

CUOMO: They did investigate it.

LEMON: Right. They did. And so, OK. Now let me read from the Washington Post. It says, Joe Biden traveled to the Ukraine, as you said. It was not a demand to stop Burisma prosecution and there's no evidence the prosecutor was after Hunter Biden. The current prosecutor general in Ukraine said he had no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden. OK?

PolitiFact. We found no evidence to support the idea that Joe Biden advocated with his son's interests in mind, as the message suggests. It's not even clear that the company was actually under investigation or that a change in prosecutors benefited it.

[22:05:10]

Three -- that's three. There are probably 20 more, but go on. You read one as well.

CUOMO: The missing piece of the analysis for Mr. Giuliani is that he makes it sound like Joe Biden was acting on his own, when he was acting as an agent of the United States as its vice president. So that would mean that the whole government was trying to protect Hunter Biden. And again, Hunter Biden was in a position --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And the European government as well.

CUOMO: -- that created a conflict for the father. That's right.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: That people were moving on this prosecutor, the timing doesn't set up just right. But this is the problem with a conflict of interest, and this is the problem with a conspiracist. Which is, conflict of evidence makes everything look a little stinky, that's why the standard is a semblance of impropriety, if smells bad, people are going to think it's bad.

And for a conspiracist you only need a little bit. So instead of dealing with what this president is going through right now, and what this whistleblower said, and what the DNI is obviously being told by someone to hold on to, is of no interest to Mr. Giuliani, he knows nothing about it. He's heard nothing about it.

The president doesn't understand what he would have been saying to the president of Ukraine. What are the chances that you're representing somebody, you're going through all this effort to do all these things in the Ukraine, and you tell them nothing about it until you do it and tell them after?

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Boy, is that convenient? And Mr. Giuliani has reconciled everything that's happened with this president in the light that is best to him even when the facts don't support it. But he was right about one thing, he didn't vindicate him, that's for damn sure.

LEMON: No.

CUOMO: But he kept him out of the chair across from Mueller.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And that made all the difference.

LEMON: I just kept saying to in the interview like, wait. Is this -- this isn't what -- that's not even the question that you asked. That's not why he came on.

CUOMO: He was coming from a place of intense anger.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: I know that place. I just wasn't in it during that interview. Because I don't need to be there when we're trying to just swap facts and understand a situation. I don't need to go at him personally. I don't know why he did that.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You made my crew laugh in here. I know that place too, I've seen it. I'm with you.

CUOMO: I just -- I'm just happy people saw it.

LEMON: You kept your cool.

CUOMO: The state of play on and off camera now.

LEMON: You kept your cool.

CUOMO: Anything that happens that the administration doesn't like, they will say anything about you, your family, personally --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And CNN.

CUOMO: -- to try to show where it's coming from, it's a sad statement.

LEMON: Yes. And they attacked the network and whatever, hey. Truth matters. Thank you, sir. Good to see you, great interview.

CUOMO: Always a pleasure.

LEMON: You as well. Thank you, sir.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Here's our breaking news tonight. We have some new revelations about the president's communication with a foreign leader. The communication that prompted a whistleblower complaint and a showdown with Congress.

Here's what the Washington Post is reporting tonight that the whistleblower's complaint involves Ukraine. We know that the president spoke with Ukraine's leader on July 25th, two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed.

A call already being investigated by House Democrats who want to know whether the president and Rudy Giuliani pressured Ukraine into pursuing politically motivated investigations to help the president's re-election effort. Rudy Giuliani, who frankly, let's just be honest, he sounded unhinged.

Bobbing, weaving, insulting, going on tangents, trying to distract with wild and free -- evidence-free claims about Joe Biden and saying this to Chris tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Will you finally answer my question now that we're 12 minutes in? Did the president --

(CROSSTALK)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: Do we really believe -- do we really believe he didn't know his son was under investigation?

CUOMO: Why don't you answer the question?

GIULIANI: What's the question? What's the question?

CUOMO: Thank you. Did the president talk to the Ukrainian president about what he wanted done with Joe Biden and what he wanted done with Paul Manafort?

GIULIANI: I have no idea, I never asked him that, I don't know if he did and I wouldn't care if he did, he had every right to do it as president of the United States. He had every right to say to the Ukrainian president, we have two outstanding allegations of massive corruption --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Did he asked you to do what you were doing?

GIULIANI: No, I did what I did on my own and then I told him about it afterwards --

CUOMO: Really?

GIULIANI: -- because I'm his lawyer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Believe me, we've got a whole lot more on the breaking news tonight. OK? But all of this is an example of the way the president uses power when he believes his word is law. He's using his power to try to bury that whistleblower's urgent complaint.

The White House and the DOJ advising the nation's top intelligence agency not to share that urgent complaint with Congress. Democrats are furious. Intel committee chairman Adam Schiff saying the system is broken.

[22:09:54]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): If in a matter within the jurisdiction of the Director of National Intelligence you have an employee of that community who follows the law and makes a complaint, and it is possible for the subject of that complaint to essentially quash the complaint or keep it from Congress, then this system is badly broken.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Congressman Mike Quigley, a Democrat on the committee, blasting the DOJ and the Attorney General, Bill Barr.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): Mr. Barr and the Department of Justice's job, in their mind, is to protect the president. And it doesn't matter, that violates the laws.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That gentleman right there, Congressman Quigley, is going to be here in just a moment. I'm going to speak with him.

The president tweeting this, this morning, that virtually anything he speaks on the phone to a foreign leader he understands there may be many people listening from agencies in this country and the other country.

Going on to tweet, "Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially heavily populated call? I would only do what is right anyway and only do good for the USA."

And going on to claim presidential harassment. The president asking whether anyone is, his words, "dumb enough to believe that he would say something inappropriate to a foreign leader." OK.

Let's review, shall we? This is the president who gave classified information to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister in the Oval Office the day after he fired James Comey in part for not stopping the Russia investigation, leading to a secret mission to extract one of the highest-level covert sources from inside the Russian government. That mission driven by fears over that Oval Office meeting.

This is the president who stood next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and took his word over our own intelligence committee, saying he did not see any reason to believe Russia was behind interference in our 2016 election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: This is the president who has gone to great lengths to hide details of what he's discussed in private talks with Putin and even shared a joke about Russia's continuing election meddling with the Russian president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election?

TRUMP: Yes, of course, I will. Don't meddle in the election, please. Don't -- don't -- meddle in the election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: This is how the president uses his power when he believes his word is law. Is anybody dumb enough? A lot more for you tonight on our breaking news. New revelations about that explosive whistleblower complaint, about the president's communication with a foreign leader, now reportedly involving Ukraine.

We're going to dig into all the latest details with Shane Harris who broke the story for "The Washington Post" and CNN's Evan Perez next.

[22:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We're back and here's our breaking news tonight. "The Washington Post" reporting the whistleblower complaint at the center of the showdown between Congress and the executive branch involves Ukraine.

Joining me is Shane Harris who broke the story for the Post. CNN's Evan Perez with us as well.

Gentlemen, good evening. Thank you so much for joining us. Shane, your reporting says the whistleblower complaint involves Ukraine. What do you -- what can you tell us?

SHANE HARRIS, NATIONAL SECURITY WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right now, what we know is building on our reporting from yesterday, that there is an allegation of some kind of promise that the president made to a foreign leader. It would appear that does involve the country of Ukraine.

We don't know precisely the allegation that the whistleblower is making in terms of what it was that he saw with regards to the president's contacts or interactions with people in that country that led him to file this complaint with the inspector general.

But we do know some interesting things about the timing. This complaint was filed about two and a half weeks, so not very long after the president had a phone call with the president of Ukraine.

And there was a lot of activity going on in that period as well that eventually came to light about the administration's efforts to slow roll funding to Ukraine as part of a military aid package and then of course the whole issue around the Biden investigation.

LEMON: Yes.

HARRIS: There are a lot of dots that are kind of lining up here with this story.

LEMON: Ok. So, listen. All of this is happening, Shane, as the House Democrats are looking into whether President Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani were attempting to get the Ukrainian government to help the president's election campaign.

Now could that be connected into the promise that the president made to a foreign government?

HARRIS: We don't know but I think that's an important question to ask and certainly one that I think really driving into --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You say alleged promise, but, sorry, go on.

HARRIS; yes. Right. Right. Well, the question is when you talk about somebody making a promise to somebody, I mean, certainly at least in the context when you think about President Trump or maybe any president for that matter what you -- you're promising something in return for something we might speculate there.

So, there's a real question around is there some kind of negotiation or contact, conversation going on? But these are some of the -- these events that appear to be at least happening around the same time, whether they're coincidental, that's a lot of what's driving questions for us and I think for members of Congress as well now.

[22:20:09]

LEMON: OK, Evan, let's bring you in here. Did you see the Rudy Giuliani interview?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We saw it.

LEMON: All right. So, let's review here.

PEREZ: Yes.

LEMON: Rudy Giuliani just admitted to Chris that he did ask Ukraine's government to investigate Biden. Listen to the heated exchange, and then we'll talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Did you ask the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?

GIULIANI: No, actually, I didn't. I asked the Ukraine to investigate the allegations that there was interference in the election of 2016 by the Ukrainians for the benefit of Hillary Clinton for which there already --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You never asked anything about Hunter Biden, you never asked anything about Joe Biden --

GIULIANI: The only thing I asked about Joe Biden is to get to the bottom of how it was that Lutsenko, who was appointed --

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: -- dismissed the case against --

CUOMO: So, you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?

GIULIANI: Of course, I did.

CUOMO: You just said you didn't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Evan, he denied it, and then he admitted it.

PEREZ: Right, I mean -- that's how it goes with Rudy. I mean, Rudy has publicly said that he thought this was something the Ukrainians needed to look into. The idea that there was some kind of quid pro quo that happened on behalf -- on the part of Joe Biden, you know, during the time that he was vice president, that he was pushing to fire a prosecutor as some kind of a favor to try to essentially help his son and his own business dealings in Ukraine.

So, we've heard this, some of these public statements from Rudy. It was kind of interesting to see him sort of try to navigate that tonight. But he ended up exactly where he has before.

LEMON: So -- no, I know. Honestly, it reminds me of the -- it's weird but it does, this phony phone call on the Howard Stern show where the person will say to the radio person, whoever they're calling, you know your show is terrible but I love it, I get a lot out of it.

PEREZ: Right.

LEMON: You know you're a liar but you're telling the truth. And the person just kind of goes along with it. It's just -- it's unbelievable. Rudy Giuliani will say one thing in one sentence, in one breath, and then completely contradict what he says in the very next sentence, in the very next breath.

I want you to take a listen, Evan, to Rudy Giuliani's answer with Chris Cuomo when he asked if the president spoke with Ukraine's president about Joe Biden and Paul Manafort, watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Will you finally answer my question now that we're 12 minutes in? Did the president -- (CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: Do we really believe -- do we really he didn't know his son was under investigation?

CUOMO: Why don't you answer the question?

GIULIANI: What's the question? What's the question?

CUOMO: Thank you. Did the president talk to the Ukrainian president about what he wanted done with Joe Biden and what he wanted done with Paul Manafort?

GIULIANI: I have no idea, I never asked him that, I don't know if he did and I wouldn't care if he did, he had every right to do it as president of the United States. He had every right to say to the Ukrainian president, we have two outstanding allegations of massive corruption --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Did he asked you to do what you were doing?

GIULIANI: No, I did what I did on my own and then I told him about it afterwards --

CUOMO: Really?

GIULIANI: -- because I'm his lawyer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, there was a lawyer who said something similar and we know what happened. But listen. Evan, is that true? I mean, does he have the right to do that as president?

PEREZ: Well, I mean, he does have the right to tell the Ukrainians, look, if we're going to give you money, we want to make sure you are doing everything you can to fight corruption.

What I think is the question I think you're asking is whether it's an abuse of power by the president if he's essentially holding aid hostage, if he's using the purse of the U.S. government and taxpayers to get political gain from this foreign country.

And I think that is where I think, you know, voters are going to have to make that decision, perhaps members of Congress, who can investigate it and determine whether the president is abusing his power. I think that's where that will lie. I'm not sure that Rudy really is inviting that, but I think that's where this will go if this is indeed what the allegation is.

LEMON: Shane, thank you, we appreciate you and the reporting. Thank you for joining us and we'll see you next time. OK. Evan, we'll see you at the top of the next hour. I appreciate it. The House intel committee briefed behind closed doors today on this

whistleblower complaint. I'm going to speak to a member of that committee about what he heard and didn't hear, that Congressman Mike Quigley, next.

[22:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, here's our breaking news tonight. "The Washington Post" is reporting that the whistleblower complaint about President Trump made by an intelligence official involves Ukraine.

I want to bring in Congressman Mike Quigley, he's an Illinois Democrat who is a member of the intelligence committee. Congressman, good to see you as always. Thank you for coming in. I appreciate it.

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): Thank you.

LEMON: I want your reaction to the Washington Post's reporting that the whistleblower's complaint involves Ukraine. Is this new to you? Did any suggestion of this come up in today's meeting with the intel I.G.?

QUIGLEY: Not at all. I think the I.G., while a Trump appointee, is a very straight arrow. He was mannerly on point and stressed other things that are extremely important. But the issue of subject matter was not brought up or discussed.

LEMON: So, what you discussed was -- what's your concern level about what you heard?

QUIGLEY: Well, let's say this. He talked about the fact that it was urgent and credible, that it was corroborated, and it involved one of the most important functions that the DNI carries out, its responsibilities to the American people.

[22:30:06]

Well, that's scary enough and he stressed the fact that -- I guess I out it this way, in a democracy, we have an intelligence community that operates in secret and that is necessary, but that system only works in a democracy when there is a functioning oversight by the Congress. And when there is the opportunity for whistle blowing. What the I.G. stressed today is all that is at risk with the DNI's action blocking the law, blocking this complaint going to Congress as is prescribed.

LEMON: So then why would the president -- you saw him, I don't know if you saw him on Twitter today, but downplayed, called it fake news, also his acolytes as well, his apologized, i.e., Rudy Giuliani and others, conservative media -- why would they downplay this if his own I.G. is saying it is credible and corroborated?

QUIGLEY: The president doesn't care about the truth. The president has never in his life been held accountable for any of his actions. And one of the reasons he's successful is he is a bully and he can lie with an incredibly straight face, and his base will back him up no matter what he says. And if a law is allowed to be violated in this manner, he'll get away with it again.

LEMON: Do you think the White House and the Justice Department are trying to cover up wrongdoing on the part of the president?

QUIGLEY: I think that the Attorney General applied for this office by writing a memo attacking the special counsel's investigation of the president. He's done nothing since then, but be the lap dog of this president, protecting him, holding press conferences on his behalf. I think that in the end what the Russians did to this country, I think Mike Morell described as the political equivalent of 9/11.

I think what we're continuing to witness is the fact that the president's reaction to what the Russians did will have a longer-term, more negative impact on our democracy, the independence and the integrity of the Justice Department and the intelligence community, it will take years to recover.

LEMON: Let me ask you this. Because we mentioned Rudy Giuliani. The post reports that Democrats are already examining whether Trump and Rudy Giuliani sought to manipulate Ukrainian government into helping Trump's re-election campaign. Giuliani just told Chris that he did ask Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden after first denying that. What's your reaction?

QUIGLEY: My reaction is, what is Rudy's role? He says he does something and then tells the president. As an attorney for 10 years, I absolutely never did that. Is he acting in his official capacity or unofficial capacity?

Obviously he isn't in any official position where he had to be approved by the Senate. What acts are he carrying out? How much of it is for his personal gain? How much of it is to protect the president of the United States? Carry out methods that can only be described as byzantine and bizarre.

LEMON: Congressman, the acting DNI, Joseph Maguire, will appear before your committee next week. How do you get him to change his mind and release this complaint to you?

QUIGLEY: I don't know that we will. I think we can educate and inform the American public that the law is being violated, pointing out that the statutes say he shall turn this information over, pointing out the attack on the Democratic process, and why it matters to the integrity of the intelligence community and the work that it does.

The fact that it really challenges our national security. So I don't know that we're going to convince him. I think it begins with the Justice Department, changing their opinion about the law. An opinion which is obviously in violation of that same law.

LEMON: Congressman Quigley, it's always a pleasure to have you on, we appreciate you joining us, thank you so much.

QUIGLEY: Any time, thank you.

LEMON: Much more on our breaking news tonight, the whistle-blower complaint about President Trump reportedly involves Ukraine. That as Rudy Giuliani tries to distract and defend his boss tonight on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:35:00]

LEMON: Here's our breaking news. The explosive whistleblower complaint about President Trump's communication with a foreign leader reportedly involves Ukraine. That has a very, very, very combative Rudy Giuliani tries to defend his boss, the president, right here on CNN.

So let's discuss. Samantha Vinograd is here, she is a senior adviser at the Biden Institute, which is part of the University of Delaware. Also with us, Mr. Evan McMullin and Mr. Shawn Turner. Good evening, one and all.

Sam, I've got to ask you, you heard Rudy Giuliani with Chris earlier in that fiery interview. First Giuliani denied asking Ukraine to investigate Biden, and then he admitted he did. Give me -- well, do we want to play this or do we want to get over it? OK. Give me your reaction.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: My reaction is that I feel like we're watching Vladimir Putin's best fantasy play out in real-time. We have the president of the United States sending his personal lawyer to do business that is personal in nature, it does not represent the interests of the United States.

And what we're seeing is some kind of quid pro quo potentially play out whereby the president is trying to solicit help in the 2020 campaign by getting dirt on a political opponent, and at the same time, Don, the president put very significant security assistance to Ukraine on hold while Rudy Giuliani was on this political smear campaign.

So the interests of the United States are a secondary priority, seemingly, to President Trump's desire to get dirt on a political opponent. That impacts every American's national security.

[22:40:00]

If the president's personal or political agenda, as represented by Rudy Giuliani comes first, and we're withholding, let's say, security assistance to Ukraine, which is used by the way to deter Russian aggression. That means that the best interests of the United States come after the president's personal needs.

LEMON: Shawn, a few things here. First, when he says that the president has every right to do it, does he?

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it depends, Don. Look, you know, the challenge we find ourselves in is one in which the president's staunchest supporters, people like Rudy Giuliani, truly believe that there's absolutely nothing that the president can do to violate the law, but that is not true, as we all know now, because the president -- because we've seen the Mueller report.

Look, you know, the president has wide authority when it comes to national security, when it comes to national security information. As we know, he can -- if he utters classified information, it is declassified simply by his utterance. However, in this case, we may not be talking about a matter of whether or not this is legal or illegal.

Look, if the president, is, as the reporting suggests, saying to the Ukrainian president that if he helps out with this Biden investigation, that he may, as Sam was pointing out, that he may release funds to support their fight against -- you know, the push in the fight against Russia, then what the president is doing is he's using that, his position, he's using his authority to basically circumvent our national security interests.

Now is there a law that says that the president can't do that? No, it's open to interpretation, but certainly the president is behaving in a way that is inconsistent with his most important responsibility, and that is to safeguard and protect U.S. National Security.

LEMON: Yes. So Evan, you know, Chris Cuomo tried to ask about the Washington Post's reporting. I want you to watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GUILIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: I can tell you is if what is reported is true, it doesn't make a damn -- it doesn't make any difference. If the president of the United States said to the president of Ukraine, investigate the corruption in your country that has a bearing on our 2016 election, isn't that what he is supposed to do? What if -- unless you assume that the president's guilty, as opposed to the fact that those people in the Ukraine were trying to frame the president, which is exactly what they were doing.

CUOMO: What if he said, I have $250 million that you want --

GUILIANI: If he said that?

CUOMO: Why don't you investigate what's happening with Joe Biden?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I mean, Chris tried to get what promise reported in the Washington Post may have been, that promised may had been, but Giuliani dodged, what do you make of it?

EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Well, look, I think what he's dodging is what could have been a quid pro quo here, which is that the president may have been pursuing foreign assistant to help his re- election, and at the same time, offering this aid, money, or other help that he is able to offer by leveraging U.S. power, which he has a great deal of control over. And I think he may want to -- may have wanted to avoid talking about

that promise, if that is what it was, but in the question Don, about whether the president has done something here that is actually illegal, if that is what happened. I mean, look, to me this sounds like the pursuit of a foreign campaign contribution. It's pursuing foreign assistance for your campaign.

And just as Sam was saying, using federal resources, federal power, in order to secure that campaign contribution. And that is illegal. You can't get foreign help like that. And if the president is so concerned that Joe Biden and his son committed some kind of crime, he could easily go to the authorities, to the FBI, and say, look, I think there may be something here, let's look into it. You don't go to the Ukrainian government with your personal attorney to do that. If you think something was wrong, go to the FBI.

LEMON: Would he be criticized for that as well, do you think?

MCMULLIN: He might and be he should be. Because there's such an opportunity for corruption in that area, he should be criticized perhaps or scrutinized. But the point is, if you're going to do that, we have mechanisms for the investigation of criminal activities.

These facts have been looked into and checked by the way and I think there probably was a conflict of interest there, but it doesn't mean a crime was committed, but that is what the president will do and Giuliani will do. They will look for any crack or sign of malfeasance and they'll try to turn it into something that it isn't.

LEMON: I got to get to a break, but Sam, as you are watching Rudy Giuliani, you were shaking your head, because?

VINOGRAD: Rudy Giuliani is the president's personal lawyer. We have established legal mechanisms if there is an issue between United States, a legal one, an official one, between the United States and Ukraine. Rudy Giuliani does not work for the U.S. Government, he works for President Trump.

[22:45:03]

And Don, I just have to say it, the hypocrisy of President Trump and Rudy Giuliani talking about a familial conflict of interest is just overwhelming at this point. That is the elephant in the room. Not to mention the policy and legal implications.

LEMON: All right. Stick around everyone. Stay with me. I want to talk about just what sort of promise the president could have made to a foreign leader that would alarm the intelligence community so much.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We're back now with Sam Vinograd, Evan McMullin and Shawn Turner. So, listen, Shawn, I just want to -- I want to read part of the intel inspector general's letter to the House Intelligence Committee. Responding to the DNI saying that the complaint is not in our jurisdiction. [22:50:02]

Michael Atkinson writes, and he says, I never the less respectfully disagree with the determination particularly DOJ's inclusion and the acting DNI's apparent agreement with the inclusion. That the disclosure in this case does not concern any intelligence activity within the DNI's authority and that the disclosure therefor need not be transmitted to the congressional intelligence committees. So, what Atkinson is saying, I mean, this does concern intelligence activity. He disagrees with the DOJ and the DNI. What do you think about how this is handled?

TURNER: Well a couple things. First, it doesn't matter that he disagrees -- that the acting DNI thinks this is not urgent. It doesn't matter, because the statute gives the Inspector General the authority and the responsibility to pass this information onto members of Congress.

Look, you know, the problem is that there's only half of the question being answered here. If this information does not fall under the jurisdiction of the inspector general, then it has to full under a different jurisdiction if there was violation of law. In which that happened in that case, and it should be referred to the appropriate authority.

If on the other hand this doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of the DNI and it's also not legal, then there's absolutely no reason to withhold these information from members of Congress and the American public. So in this case, what the acting DNI needs to do and what the Justice Department do, they need to answer the rest of the question. Who does this belong to? And if it belongs to no one and it is not illegal then why not share the information.

LEMON: Interesting. Evan, the other Evan, our Evan Perez is reporting the alleged whistleblowers are concerns arise in part from learning information, bit obtain obtained during the course of their work. That they didn't have direct knowledge of the communication. So who is the pool of people we are talking about here?

MCMULLIN: Who could have known about the conversation? Well, you know, it could have been somebody at the National Security Council. Somebody at the White House who saw a read out of the call. If it was a call. We don't know for sure. If that happened on which phone it happened. Was it a personal phone or was it an official phone. Other people have access potentially to those calls. Even if the president uses an unexpected phone.

For example, were collecting on a foreign leader and the president calls that foreign leader. We may collect that call. We may collect to contents of that call. Some (inaudible), relatively junior people at the national security agency might see that. More senior officials than might also see that.

But in either case it's a very limited group of people. And I personally, I am worried about this whistleblower. There just aren't that many people who would likely have access to this information. And I worry and I hope this person maybe isn't watching right now. Because I worry over time that, you know, that they could be discovered. Their identity could be learned publicly.

LEMON: Yes. Sam, what do you think about the Dan Coats and his deputy the involvement or lack of this time?

VINOGRAD: Sue Gordon? Sue Gordon is gone now. She was passed over --

LEMON: They left around the time that this --

VINOGRAD: Sue Gordon was passed over for the acting Director of national intelligence job. And one thing that we do know, Don, separate from this whistleblower complaint that is really been bolstered by it. Is that the president likes to install people in acting positions and senior positions that serve his personal interest.

And so at this point based upon the history that we have with President Trump, and really choosing lieutenants to implement his personal agenda, Maguire status here of the acting Director of National Intelligence is really in question. Based upon the letter of the interest read in that Shawn reacted to, the I.C. inspector general is saying that the acting Director of National Intelligence actions don't follow past precedence.

So there are a lot of questions as to why Maguire is choosing to take this course of action. Rather than listening to his inspector general. There may be valid legal arguments more, but we haven't really seen them yet.

LEMON: But it's, I mean, right now, it's like well, why not transparency. That is what everyone is asking. Why not be transparent about it. Listen, I just want to read this tweet.

This is from CNN national security analyst, Susan, she said, I think it's important to know that it would almost certainly not be a crime for either the I.G. of the whistleblower to communicate the substances of the complaint to a gang of eight member in a secured space. They wouldn't be prosecuted. They've just be fired.

Interesting. OK. Thank you all. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.

TURNER: Thanks, Don.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:55:00]

LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. We have got five big headlines in the hour ahead. And we begin with our breaking news. That whistleblower complaint about President Trump communication with a foreign leader reportedly involves Ukraine. All the new revelations coming up.

The president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani admitting tonight right here on CNN that he did ask Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. After first denying that he did.

And Attorney General Bill Barr under fire for advising the acting DNI not to share the whistleblowers complaint.