Return to Transcripts main page


White House Released Transcript of President Trump's Conversation; Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) Was Interviewed About the Whistleblower's Complaint That Lawmakers Have Read on Capitol Hill's SCIF; Democrats Who Have Seen Whistleblower Complaint Say's It's Troubling And Disturbing; Whistleblower Complaint Has Been Declassified. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 25, 2019 - 22:00   ET



PREET BHARARA, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: -- our time going to drug traffickers, but saying specifically investigate a particular person who might be a particular harm to me. That's ordinary. If that's the argument that lawyers who support the president are going to be making I think we're in a lot of trouble.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Well, let's do this. Let's see where the facts lead us. Let's see what the right questions are -- look at that. Preet really had to go. And then we will see what choices the Democrats make.

Preet, wherever are, thank you for doing it. Robert Ray, thank you.

ROBERT RAY, LAWYER: Thanks very much. Yes, thanks for having me.

CUOMO: I appreciate it. We'll be doing it again for sure.

All right. That's all for us tonight. It is a big night. Let's get to CNN Tonight with Don Lemon right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Preet knows how busy a news night it is so he's trying to make room for me so that I can get all my stuff in.

You know, Chris, I've heard people say all day two things that have bothered me. One, this is a political Rorschach test or it's just a Rorschach test. And then the other thing is there's no quid pro quo. OK.

If you read this thing, this isn't a Rorschach test. It's all in there. He says, do me a favor. Do me a favor. So, for everyone who is coming on the air saying, the president wasn't asking for a favor, it says in this unclassified document, which is not a verbatim by the way --

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: -- do me a favor. he's asking someone --

CUOMO: Language matters. Words matter. LEMON: Words mater.

CUOMO: The context matters. Remember, the reason I say it's not just about the call, you don't need a quid pro quo because we're not looking for elements of a crime.

LEMON: You just made my second point.

CUOMO: It's not a criminal investigation.

LEMON: Exactly.

CUOMO: But it would be good --

LEMON: It's implied.

CUOMO: -- to know that the behavior rises to a level of something that's easy to fit into a high crime or misdemeanor. But interesting. Chris Christie, all right, we all know who he is.


CUOMO: He's on GMA this morning talking about how when we see this, we'll see what's in there. Look, if he says something like, do me a favor, then we've got a problem. And then that exact language was in there. Now he's probably going to have to back away from that. Look, --


LEMON: I was surprised actually that they put --

CUOMO: -- you're going to have to look at the context.

LEMON: -- they put it out.

CUOMO: You don't need a quid pro quo.


CUOMO: What the Democrats are going to need is a justification to the country that this isn't just bad judgment. It's just not deviation from the norm. It's an abuse such that we find it intolerant to the point of nullifying the election.


CUOMO: It's a high bar.

LEMON: Well, when they say high crimes and misdemeanors, it's not that it has to be a high crime. It means a person who is committing the high crime or the misdemeanor or the bad behavior is in a high position. You know that. That's what the --


CUOMO: I think it's a nonexistent standard, but you've got to make the case.

LEMON: Yes, you got to make the case.

CUOMO: And it's got to be high because in the past when they've made the case, it's been the real deal.

LEMON: It's been really amazing watching different programs today. It's like we're living in two different universes.

CUOMO: But when you're doing the legal analysis, look, politicians and pundits will yap all night the way that their partisan stripe tells them to. Legal minds mining into what the questions are and how they'll be rebutted --


CUOMO: -- that's what you want when you're trying to form your judgments here because that's what you will be subjected.


LEMON: But impeachment as you pointed out, impeachment is not just -- it's a political process.

CUOMO: It's all political.

LEMON: When people say, this is just --

CUOMO: It has no legal effect.

LEMON: -- politics, it's a -- impeachment is political by nature.

CUOMO: Yes. There will be a Supreme Court justice --


CUOMO: -- if there's ever a trial, which I don't really think there will be --


CUOMO: -- and he could be playing canasta all night.


CUOMO: You know, he's really there almost ceremonial.

LEMON: I've got to someone -- I got to get to someone soon who has seen the whistleblower's report, so we want to make room for her, Congresswoman Jackie Speier is going to be here in just minutes.

Chris, always a pleasure. Great show. Thank you. See you soon.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

We've got a lot to get to tonight. Things are moving really, really fast tonight. A dramatic night that is rocking the Trump presidency. Breaking news here.

The mystery whistleblower at the center of the Democrats' impeachment inquiry reportedly raised questions about how the White House handled records the president's -- of the president's conversation with Ukraine.

That is according to the New York Times. The New York Times is also reporting that the I.G. for the intelligence community interviewed multiple White House officials as witnesses and concluded there was reason to believe the complaint was substantiated.

So, the I.G. -- the I.G. is a Trump appointee -- interviewed multiple officials in the Trump White House, concluded there was reason to believe the whistleblower's complaint was substantiated. A Trump appointee.

And CNN has learned that the whistleblower has tentatively agreed to meet with Congress on some future date. There's a condition, though, that the acting DNI, Joseph Maguire, approve security clearances for the individual's legal counsel.

All this is happening as senators and the House members spent hours behind closed doors reading the whistleblower complaint, which was handed -- which was hand-delivered, I should say, to a secure facility on Capitol Hill. A SCIF, right? That's what it was delivered to. And that was just a few hours ago.

We don't know yet who the whistleblower is, and while the White House hasn't given a hint of when they'll declassify the complaint after the administration first attempted to bury it by the way, what we've learned tonight is really troubling.



REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I think that what this courageous individual has done has exposed serious wrongdoing, and I think it's a travesty that this complaint was withheld as long it was because it was an urgent matter. It is an urgent matter, and there was simply no basis to keep this from the committee.

And the idea that the Department of Justice would have intervened to prevent it from getting to Congress throws the leadership of that department into further ill repute.

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): I will tell people that it is deeply disturbing. It reinforces the concerns that what we've previously learned, and I think it is a blueprint for what we still need to know.


LEMON: OK. So, there are some Democrats there. But Senator Ben Sasse -- Ben Sasse is a Republican -- saying, quote, "Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons and say there is no there, there when there's obviously a lot that is very troubling there." He also said that Democrats should slow it down as well.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier is calling the complaint explosive, goes on to say it reveals how -- these are her words -- how grotesque and twisted the attorney general's opinion is. I'm going to talk to her in just a moment as I mentioned to Chris just a while ago.

The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is refusing to answer questions, refused to answer them as she left the SCIF, saying that the White House retroactively classified the whistleblower's letter.

Acting DNI Joseph Maguire set to testify before the House intel committee in open session tomorrow.

So, we may get some answers then. So stand by. We might get some more answers when he testifies. That as sources tell CNN that Nancy Pelosi wants to keep the impeachment inquiry tightly focused on the president's conversation with the leader of Ukraine, a conversation that he still is still trying to defend today.

He did it in a rambling conference at the U.N. after the White House released a rough transcript of that call, and that's important. It's not a verbatim. This is a rough transcript, not verbatim.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Lindsey Graham said to me when he read it -- it was very interesting. He's a good man. He's a smart man. He said, I can't believe it. I never knew you could be this really nice to a person. He said, I cannot believe it. You were so nice. I didn't think you had that in you to be so nice. I was nice. I'm nice to a lot of people.


LEMON: Nice has nothing to do with it. The president withheld $391 million in aid to Ukraine just days before that phone call. Three hundred ninety million dollars in aid to Ukraine just days before that call.

A phone call in which the president of Ukraine brought up U.S. military aid. Right after that, President Trump asked for a favor from President Zelensky, asking him to look into a U.S. cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC after it was hacked in 2016, and going on to ask him to investigate Joe Biden and his son.

Do me a favor, investigate this company and Joe Biden and his son. The president repeatedly insisted there was no quid pro quo in that call, but that's not the Trump way. Remember when Donald Trump's former fixer, Michael Cohen, said this in his testimony to Congress?


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: That's how he speaks. He doesn't give you questions. He doesn't give you orders. He speaks in a code, and I understand the code because I've been around him for a decade.


LEMON: So, you have to believe that code would have been clear to Ukraine in the wake of Rudy Giuliani's very public statements and actions and the fact that the president had put a hold on nearly $400 million in aid days before the call with the Ukraine's president.

What does that code sound like? What does that code sound like? So I would like you to go along. Try this experiment with me where we put the exchanges that we see in this transcript into everyday terms for you, OK?

And you should read it at home for yourself because if you do, you're going to see a lot of these exact terms in there, OK?

So, imagine this. A meeting between two people who want to do business together, OK? Two folks who want to do business together.


One of them is a lot more powerful than the other one. The powerful one says, you know, we do a lot for you, but it hasn't been reciprocal. Things are happening that are not good, but we've been really good to you.

The less powerful one says this. Yes, you're right. We're so grateful. Thank you so much for doing business with us. We're ready to do more. In fact, we want to place an order with you.

The more powerful person says, I would like you to do us a favor, though. We've been through a lot. You know about it. I would like you to investigate something. Let's call it, say, CrowdStrike.

I'm going to have one of my top department heads call you about it so you can get to the bottom of it. It's important you do that if that's possible.

The reply from the less powerful person, yes, it is important to me too. We need to open a new page of cooperation. We'll work with your personal representatives as well.

The powerful person says, good, because I heard you had this other problem, a really bad, unfair thing. My personal guy, my top department head are both looking to call you about this too. Talk to them about it. It's about a new business, new business rival, my main new business rival and his son. Look into it. It sounds horrible to me.

Now, the other person, who at this point has got to see where all of this is going, says, yes. We will take care of that, and we will work on the investigation. Please provide us any additional information that you can.

And then the powerful person says, I'll have my personal representative and my top department head call. We will get to the bottom of it. I'm sure you will figure it out.

Good luck with everything. Your economy is going to get better and better; I predict. That is the essence of what happened in this call. Can you crack that code?

On a night of fast breaking news, fast-moving breaking news on the president and Ukraine and what it all means for the impeachment inquiry, who better to talk to? The former DNI, James Clapper, next.



LEMON: We're back, and here's our breaking news.

Some members of Congress getting their first chance to see the classified whistleblower's complaint tonight. It's classified, OK, and they're getting to see it for the first time tonight.

That as the New York Times reports there are witnesses, administration officials, who can corroborate the complaint, and there are questions about how the White House handled records of President Trump's call to Ukraine's president.

Let's bring in James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence. Director, thank you so much. Really appreciate you joining us tonight.

The New York Times is reporting that the whistleblower identified multiple White House officials as corroborating witnesses, and it goes further. The intelligence inspector general interviewed witnesses. What does that tell you about the credibility of this complaint?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, from -- I saw an earlier interview. I think it was Wolf Blitzer conducted with Congressman Eric Swalwell, and his inferential description of the whistleblower's complaint tells me that I think this, when it eventually comes out, is going to be even more devastating than the transcript or summary of the one phone call between the president and his Ukrainian counterpart.

And I think, it sounds to me like this was written by a very good intelligence officer, who is a good writer, and who has documented both documentary references as well as other witness -- other people who are implicated or who are corroborating witnesses. So, this thing can spread.

So, I think this is actually a bigger deal than the transcript which, itself, I thought was damning and devastating. And why anyone thought that was going to help the president is beyond me.

LEMON: I don't understand why they thought that would be exculpatory. When you actually -- when you read it, I mean there's no other way -- it's not a Rorschach. There's nothing -- there's nothing nebulous about it. There's nothing that really not much left to interpretation. He was basically asking for a -- he says favor -- CLAPPER: Yes.

LEMON: -- in the report.

CLAPPER: I mean --


LEMON: But let me just go back and ask you one more thing. You said that you think this is going to spread. Why do you think? What do you mean by that?

CLAPPER: Well, I think as Eric Swalwell alluded, I think there is in the whistleblower's complaint at least a beginning roadmap of additional witnesses who could be summoned to testify. Now, I imagine the version of the complaint that the Congress -- the two oversight committees have gotten has got some redactions in it, notably names of people. But I think that's going to be hard to suppress.


CLAPPER: And the fact -- and this officer, whoever it is, needs to be commended for bravery, I think, under a very difficult circumstance because I think he's in somewhat, you know, legal limbo --


CLAPPER: -- for what he's done. But he's apparently evinced a willingness to testify beyond just, you know, the bald read of his complaint.


LEMON: Listen, I got so much to ask you. Let me see where I want to go. Let's go to the Times report. The Times in a separate report details President Trump first pressed Zelensky to coordinate with Giuliani and investigate corruption.

This was back in April within hours of his election victory, and they report that Zelensky's aides have come to see the word corruption as code for investigating Biden in 2016. It sounds like Ukraine understands exactly what Trump wants.

CLAPPER: Yes, they of all people would, exactly.

LEMON: As simple as that.

CLAPPER: Yes. Birds of a feather flock together, I guess.

LEMON: Zelensky talks about military aid, saying that he wants to buy more anti-tank missiles. Trump says, I would like you to do us a favor. I mean those things are key, right?

CLAPPER: Right, they are. And by the way, the president has chosen to criticize the previous administration for not supplying offensive weapons, specifically javelins. The concern that the Department of Defense had then, to include the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was compromising the technology of that weapon system because it was almost sure to fall into the hands of the Russians at some point. I just wanted to make that point parenthetically.

LEMON: Yes. Let's talk about the acting DNI, Joseph Maguire. He's testifying on Capitol Hill tomorrow. The Washington Post is reporting that he threatened to resign if he couldn't speak freely. And Maguire is denying that, and the Trump administration is denying it as well. How candid do you think he'll be tomorrow?

CLAPPER: Well, I can't say. I don't know because I don't know all the facts and circumstances here. But I do know Joe well enough to say that he is a straight shooter, a good guy, distinguished naval officer, a SEAL who has been put in a really, really tough place when he's sort of been -- I don't mean this disparagingly -- part time help at the post office at Christmastime, and he got thrust into this situation.

And I'm sure Dan Coats is pretty happy that he, you know, walked out of Dodge City just in time before this came up. So he's in a very tough place. I think he understands clearly all the equities here.

The equities of his responsibility to be straight with the Congress and forthright and transparent with the Congress and straight in terms of the protection of the employee because that's the whole purpose of the whistleblower law as it applied to intelligence community people was to protect two things -- classified information and insulate the employee, the complaining employee against potential retaliation.


CLAPPER: He understands all that. How he's going to handle it and how this whole thing will work in public, I don't know.

LEMON: Director, we're going to be seeing a lot of you. We're going to spend a lot of time together over the coming months. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: My next guest was able to see the whistleblower complaint today, and she's going to question the acting DNI tomorrow. A lot to talk about with Congresswoman Jackie Speier, next.



LEMON: We're back with our breaking news. And trust me, you want to sit and watch this. It's a very important interview. You're going to get a lot out of it. Acting DNI Joseph Maguire will appear before the House intel committee tomorrow in an open session.

That after members of Congress spent hours behind closed doors today reading the whistleblower complaint in a secure facility on Capitol Hill. Congresswoman Jackie Speier was one of them. She joins me now. She'll

also be doing some questioning tomorrow. We'll talk to her about all of that. Congresswoman, thank you. I appreciate you joining us.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Thank you, Don.

LEMON: So, you read the whistleblower complaint. Chairman Schiff called it deeply disturbing. How do you describe it?

SPEIER: I describe it as explosive and jaw-dropping. I could not believe what I was reading. And while I can't refer to whether or not the phone call was included in this whistleblower complaint, I can tell you the totality of that complaint is so disconcerting that a president of the United States could conduct himself in a manner that was so illegal.

LEMON: So why would -- why do you think that the White House would agree to release the whistleblower complaint, which was unclassified, correct, and then classify it, it appears, at the last minute? What's going on here?

SPEIER: I can't speak to the machinations of the White House. I'm deeply troubled that based on this television phone conversation alone, there's not just one person that listened to this telephone conversation. Many people in the White House had to have listened to that telephone conversation.

And to have no one, no one within the White House come forward and say, this is a problem, it's astounding to me. I mean that was a shakedown. The president basically was saying hello to the President Zelensky and says, you know, we've been really good to you. We've done a lot of good things. It hasn't been reciprocal. I have a favor to ask you for us.

Us isn't the United States. Us is himself and his re-election campaign asking the president of Ukraine to become an opposition researcher for him and dig up dirt on his prospective opponent.


LEMON: The president said today that his earlier calls and the calls of the vice president, Vice President Pence, should be released. Will your committee subpoena those?

SPEIER: I'm not sure that we will subpoena those phone calls and it's not based on this complaint, there's lots of people that we're going to want to talk to, and there are lots of documents that we're going to request. And I think the breadth of it is something that I can't even get my arms around yet having just read over the complaint a couple of times this afternoon.

LEMON: Yeah. Listen, I'm not an attorney and, you know, I was talking to Chris about this, Chris is an attorney. But he says, listen, you've got to prove it. You've got to build your case. You've got to make your case. You think with this document from the phone call, the readout, and from the whistleblower's complaint, that you have enough to make a case for impeachment?

SPEIER: Well, I would say it's certainly the foundation for bringing articles of impeachment. I mean, there's a lot of work that has to be done. There's a lot of people that have to be interviewed. There's a lot of evidence that has to be collected. So I'm not in the position to say we have a lock on a case now.

But the American people have a right to know how this president conducts himself as it relates to our national security. He is placing our national security at risk. He is showing that he is not a patriot, that his oath of office to fully protect this country is not what's first and foremost on his agenda. It is about himself, and we can't afford that in our president.

LEMON: Listen, I've got two quick questions for you here before we run out of time. I want to know, the Attorney General, Bill Barr, because you know the Justice Department said, well, in the phone call, didn't see anything that rises to the level of any illegality. Are you concerned that the Attorney General, as he did with the Mueller report, will try to shape what's happening in these reports and in this situation as well?

SPEIER: There's no question in my mind that the Attorney General tried to spin this particular complaint by the whistleblower and suggest that it wasn't a whistleblower complaint, so therefore there was no reason to actually turn it over to the committee. Obviously they have moved from that position.

LEMON: So, there is some concern about that, but my other question is the acting DNI, Joseph Maguire, is going to testify before your committee tomorrow. Give me the number one thing you want to know from him.

SPEIER: I want to know why he didn't follow the law. It says, you shall within seven days turn the whistleblower complaint over to the committees. He didn't do that. Did he seek out the Attorney General for advice, or did somehow the White House or the Attorney General come to him and say, wait a minute. We don't want you sharing this with the committee.


SPEIER: All of these other complaints automatically come to the committee, and we have an inspector general who was appointed by the president, who wanted to make sure that the committee knew that there was resistance within the DNI to make it available.

LEMON: Yes. Congresswoman, I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

SPEIER: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Former Governor John Kasich, next. We'll be right back.


[22:35:00] LEMON: Democrats who have seen the whistleblower complaint describing

it as troubling and disturbing. You heard the congresswoman on just earlier. She said it was explosive. And even some Republican Senators are criticizing President Trump's call with Ukraine's president. Joining me now is a former Ohio governor and CNN senior political commentator Mr. John Kasich in studio. Good to see you.


LEMON: You say that you're shocked by the summary, just the summary. We're not even getting into the whistleblower's complaint, but you're shocked by this summary, but you still don't think its impeachment material?

KASICH: Well, I think it's the jury's still out in my mind, Don. Look, I was on the air just a couple days ago saying that the whistleblower has to get to the intelligence committees, and then the next day I saw the Senate said it should go there. Look, when you read this, when you read this whole narrative, it makes you sick, OK?

The question is -- here's what I think. We have to go in order. I heard the congresswoman just a little bit ago say we have a long way to go. We have a lot of witnesses. You have to do this in an orderly fashion. If you don't, if you rush too fast, you're going to destroy the ability to have a credible investigation because at the end, Democrats will be one place. Republicans will be another, but you want to bring Republicans -- some Republicans over. You want people to say, this was legitimate.

And so for me, the jury is out, but I mean what he did here is an abomination. And let me tell you, I wasn't for him before, and I will not be for his re-election in the future.

LEMON: OK. I got you.

KASICH: I don't support the guy.

LEMON: Listen. We have limited time, so let's get this, OK. So I am shocked that they actually released this because if they think that this is exculpatory, then --

KASICH: They have no choice, but --

LEMON: Then we have much bigger problems.

KASICH: They had t release.

LEMON: And when people say, oh, well, he didn't ask for a favor, OK? I would like you to do us a --

KASICH: Favor, I know.

LEMON: -- favor.

KASICH: Right. I think people that live in that or living in a fantasyland or in total, you know, denial is a river in Egypt, OK?

LEMON: So do you agree -- do you think that this is abuse of power because he is seeking foreign influence in a U.S. Election?

KASICH: I think he has behaved absolutely inappropriately, and I'm more than deeply disturbed. You know, Mitt Romney said he's disturbed. He's very disturbed. I'm more than disturbed. I think this is really outrageous.

LEMON: Is that an abuse of power?

KASICH: You know, I don't want to get into -- well, do I think it was abuse of his power there? Yes.

LEMON: So how is it not an impeachable offense then, John?

KASICH: Because, Don, you have to have -- you've got to go through the steps to determine. Because of one phone call, do you remove this president, and you could read that many different ways.


What I'm saying is I'm reserving judgment. And what I'm saying is let's let the intelligence committees review this. Let them call the witnesses, and let the chips fall where they may. I don't want to pre- judge at all.

LEMON: It's not --

KASICH: Yes, it is.

LEMON: Pre-judging would be saying he should be removed from office. If he is impeached, let's just say the Democratic (inaudible) --

KASICH: That seems to me there's (inaudible).


LEMON: That doesn't mean that he is going to be --, but his conduct, the conduct in this phone call, if you look at that just in the phone call. We haven't seen the whistleblower complaint. If you look at that and he's asking for a favor, and he's saying, and then at the end, he says, oh, I can see your economy rising after the person agrees --

KASICH: Right.

LEMON: -- to do all of those things with him.

KASICH: Don, if he would have said, I will give you this money if you do what I want -- OK. He didn't say that. And I don't want to argue about that.

LEMON: John, you think he's going to -- who's going to say that? Who is going to say that?

KASICH: You know what? That's why I want the full investigation. LEMON: Especially with knowing that people listen. Who's going to say


KASICH: You know what? He might. I mean, he was capable of saying a lot of things, and you know the way he's conducted himself. All I'm suggesting to you is if you don't gather this evidence in a consistent way, you will have a firestorm of separation between Republicans and Democrats, and that doesn't serve us well.

LEMON: Listen, at this point -- I could be wrong. I think that -- I think that he -- it will be tough to remove him from office because you need two-thirds of the senate. Bill Clinton wasn't removed from office.

KASICH: But here's the thing, Don. You have more than just this one phone call. That is what we have to get to the bottom of. If in fact I believe, in my mind, he commits an impeachable offense, I will come back on and say it. So, I have to be comfortable with that. I think all full investigation is expected.

LEMON: But this is troubling.

KASICH: Troubling? It's not troubling. It's beyond troubling.

LEMON: Senator Ben Sasse saw the whistleblower complaint, and he said Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons and say there's no there-there when there's obviously a lot that is very troubling there.

KASICH: Yes. I mean, I agree with that. And Mitt Romney said it, and the reason why the White House turned this stuff over is because the Congress was going to demand it. And I believe that McConnell had to take pass that resolution, because Republicans were going to start jumping off the ship, and he wanted to keep them together.

LEMON: In fairness, he said that Democrats just slowed their role on impeachment as well.

KASICH: I think they got ahead of themselves with the inquiry.


KASICH: I think it should have gone through the whistleblower, through the committees, Republican intelligence, you know, Democrat intelligence, House, Senate. Let's see where this is, call all the witnesses in, and let the chips fall where they may.

LEMON: They didn't release the whistleblower complaint until after the threat of an impeachment inquiry.

KASICH: Well, I -- no. I think they were going to have to release it because I don't think that the Senate was going to go along and say, you know, hide it. I don't think they were going to do that.

LEMON: Quickly, I hate what about-ism, but what if President Obama had done this? KASICH: Well, I mean, look, I was there when we impeached, you know,

Bill Clinton. And you know, what do I think? I think Republicans would have demanded this stuff about Obama the same way that, you know, Republicans demanded Clinton. And we know, you look for Democrats during Clinton. You couldn't find them. We need to get over this.

LEMON: Is this more serious than what happened with Bill Clinton?

KASICH: Bill Clinton was very, very serious. Let's see where this goes. I voted to impeach Clinton because he misled the grand jury. What happened -- what came out of that I think damaged to our country? Where is this? I think this president has created a presidency that is troubling for the future. Troubling. Very serious problems for the future. We cannot run this country the way he's running it, OK?

LEMON: Always a pleasure.

KASICH: We'll do it again, I hope. Thanks.

LEMON: I'll see you soon. We'll be right back.



LEMON: The I.G. for the intelligence community, a Trump appointee, interviewed multiple officials in the Trump White House and concluded there was reason to believe the whistleblower's complaint was substantiated. That according to The New York Times.

Joining me now to discuss is Jim Sciutto, Kaitlan Collins, John Dean. Good to have all of you on this evening. Thank you so much. Kaitlan, I'm going to start with you because you're outside of Trump Tower right now, and I'm wondering if you're hearing anything from the White House on this new reporting about other White House officials who corroborate the whistleblower's complaint?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, this is what's interesting because over the last several days before we really knew the details of this whistleblower's complaint, you heard from the White House, from President Trump and his top officials that they said they believed this whistleblower was someone who was partisan, potentially disgruntled, someone who was essentially out to get the president, potentially a career employee.

And now today as we're learning more about this whistleblower's identity, as we're seeing this complaint start to take shape, you're seeing that the inspector general interviewed other White House officials who were involved in this, who apparently were giving some kind of a heads-up to the person who eventually filed this complaint, because what you heard from the president even today during that press conference was that this person didn't have firsthand knowledge of the call that the president had with the Ukrainian president or any of the other events that are detailed in this whistleblower's complaint.

But based on what we're learning tonight, based on this new reporting, you're seeing that this inspector general interviewed other people in the White House who could potentially corroborate this, and this whistleblower learned about this from other officials, which means essentially there are multiple people involved in this, and that is going to give people inside the West Wing some pause tonight.

LEMON: Interesting. Kaitlan standing outside of Trump Tower and what sounds very much like New York City with all the sirens and all the noise in the background.

John, I want to bring you in, because I want to talk about all the president's men here. In the transcript provided by the White House, Attorney General Barr and Rudy Giuliani's names come up multiple times as a matter of fact. Giuliani has also implicated Secretary of State Pompeo. Who else do you think could be forced to testify?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: It's a possibility the White House counsel is lurking around in these proceedings. In fact, I'd be very surprised if he is not, Don.


LEMON: Interesting. Mr. Sciutto, let's talk about the reporting here at CNN, that the A.G. Bill Barr, has not considered recusing himself from the investigation in spite of President Trump's multiple attempts to get Ukraine's president to coordinate with him. How can the Attorney General supervise an investigation where he could potentially be a witness?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been interesting to see how strong the pushback has been from the Justice Department, claiming that they had no conversations with the president here. I mean in effect distancing themselves from any involvement in the president's efforts to pressure a foreign country to investigate the president's presumed or possible rival in the next election here.

So trying to put distance between themselves, apparently to justify the lack of a need to recuse, now if you look at president, though, and this, of course, was the president's chief frustration with the prior occupant of that seat, Jeff Sessions was that he did recuse himself in the previous investigation, the Russia investigation because he was a part of that.

I mean, you could reasonably conclude that was a president that would require this Attorney General because he certainly was involved based on records that the Justice Department reviewed, but again, remember, the president chose Bill Barr because he was not Jeff session, right, and that he was going to not, you know, recuse himself, make himself a defender of the president, rather than the Jeff Sessions model here.


SCIUTTO: So, I mean, in this administration, you got a president who is somehow did it, but this is a different Attorney General. Operating differently.

LEMON: He's making himself to the attorney -- the personal lawyer for the president rather than the Attorney General for United States. John, I hate to do this to you, but I will, because I can't imagine looking at tape of myself in 1973, but this is your warning to the president back in '73. Watch this.


DEAN: I began by telling the president that there was a cancer growing on the presidency, and if the cancer was not removed, the president himself would be killed by it. I also told him that it was important that this cancer be removed immediately.


LEMON: Does this growing scandal, widening scandal with Ukraine look like that kind of cancer?

DEAN: Well, that is what I hope that the White House counsel is doing. Since I was White House counsel, the ethics rules have changed, and now the client of the White House counsel is not Donald Trump, it's the Office of the President. So I think he should be in there protecting that office. That particular conversation that you had the video on was actually an hour and 50 minutes, Don. It was -- I actually tried everything I could to turn the president and failed.

LEMON: Interesting. Kaitlan, you know, this afternoon the president pushed for another conversation with Ukraine president to be made public. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think you should ask for V.P. Pence's conversation because he had a couple conversations, also. I could save you a lot of time. They were all perfect. I think one or two of them. They were all perfect. They were all perfect


LEMON: What can you tell us about the vice president's involvement here?

COLLINS: That was something that really caught White House officials off guard. When the president was suddenly bringing the vice president back into this because you'll remember when Trump cancelled his schedule trip to Poland, that is when he was going to sit down with the Ukrainian president and instead, Pence was in his place and a reporter on the trip, a smart reporter asked a question about whether or not Pence had brought up Joe Biden during that conversation with the Ukrainian president.

He said no, he hadn't, but he did talk about corruption in Ukraine which led many people to believe that he was aware of what the president's complaints about the country had been so far. But that really perked everyone up at the press conference when the president made that comment because so far you've seen people argue the president shouldn't have released the transcript of the call from today. They said it set a dangerous precedent. That's the argument that people like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were making, so, they were really confused when the president said, they should also look at the vice president's transcripts.

LEMON: I got it. Hey, Jim, I got to get to -- because this is our breaking news. OK. And I don't know if you know anything about this. But this is from Representative Chris Stewart. Chris Stewart says breaking news, the whistleblower complaint has been declassified. I encourage you-all to read it. I know it's breaking, but do you know anything about that?

SCIUTTO: I haven't seen it. But this is key, right? Because the call is one piece of this puzzle, right? It's one dot in the picture and keep in mind, the inspector general appointed by this president interviewed multiple witnesses, not just the whistleblower, who as Kaitlan said. The president tried to dismiss as a partisan here. Interviewed multiple witnesses and then made his own conclusion that this was a credible and urgent complaint that needed to be reported to Congress, right? So that complaint is key to the bigger picture. No one can base the decision entirely on the transcript itself.


LEMON: All right. We're out of time. Thank you-all. I appreciate your time. And thank you so much for watching. Our live coverage continues with a CNN special report, The Impeachment Inquiry with Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper. That's next.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Another historic night as a president facing --