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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

President Trump Attacks Whistleblower's Sources, Likening Them to Spies Who Would Be Executed in "Old Days"; Sen. Kamala Harris (D- CA) is Interviewed about the Whistleblower Complaint and the Trump Impeachment Inquiry; Whistleblower: Ukrainian Leaders Were Led To Believe They Had To "Play Ball"; Whistleblower: President Trump To Get Ukraine To Interfere In 2020 Election, Then WH Officials Scrambled To "Lock Down" Records Of Call; Whistleblower: WH Officials Moved Of Trump's Call To Secure Computer System; "Not The First Time"; Acting Intel Chief To Congress: "I think The Whistleblower Did The Right Thing". Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 26, 2019 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:22]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

If the allegations of a whistle-blower are true, the country is now in a place it has not seen since Watergate. That's how consequential, how historic this day has been, and that's how serious the allegations are in the formal complaint made public today. We should say again at this point they are only allegations, but they certainly paint a damning picture of a president abusing a power of his office for personal gain and abusing it once more to cover it up, allegedly misusing the system designed to guard the country's most sensitive secrets to instead conceal evidence of wrongdoing and doing that more than once.

The complaint implicates senior administration officials, including the attorney general of the United States who may have used the power of his office to keep this complaint from coming to light. But it did, and the president is continuing to lash out, making a veiled threat against the people apparently in the White House who gave the whistle-blower information. The president's comments caught on tape in a breakfast this morning and obtained by "The Los Angeles Times."

The report you'll hear him mention is the record of the July 25th phone call in which President Trump repeatedly pressed the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call. Heard something and decided that he or she, or whoever the hell it is -- they're almost a spy. I want to know who the person that gave the whistle-blower, who is the person who gave the whistle-blower the information? Because that's close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart, right

with spies and treason. We used to handle them a little differently than we do now.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

COOPER: Calling possible witnesses spies who should be put to death for treason.

He was speaking to career Foreign Service officers at U.S. mission to the United Nations, not ordinarily a venue for possible witness intimidation, but it was that kind of day.

The president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani also named in the complaint is lashing out as well, telling "The Atlantic's" Elaina Plott, and I'm quoting here, it is impossible that the whistle-blower is a hero and I'm not. And I will be the hero. These morons -- when this is over, he will be the hero.

Have you ever heard someone who is actually a hero call themselves a hero? That's not what real heroes say.

Anyway, right now, Giuliani is merely the one who was skulking about trying to get Ukrainian officials to make trouble for president's leading political rival under the guys of really being concerned about corruption in Ukraine. As a whistle-blower complaint's read, and I quote, the president's personal lawyer Mr. Rudolph Giuliani is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well.

Though the whistle-blower concedes that he or she was not a direct witness to most of the events, quote: I found my colleagues' accounts of these events to be credible because in almost all cases, multiple officials were counted fact patterns that were consistent with one another. In addition, a variety of information consistent with these private account has been reported publicly.

In addition, as you know, the intelligence community's inspector general has already said the complaint has merit. And today, the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, told members of the house intelligence committee he believes the whistle-blower is acting in good faith and following the law. It is important to establish that because the other part of the whistle-blower complaint on what became the July 25th call and others is so explosive.

Quoting again, White House officials told me that they were directed by White House lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored for coordination, finalization and distribution to cabinet level officials. The whistle-blower continues, quote, instead, the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise use to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature. One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective. Allegations do not come more serious than that. The president is

back, we should point out, in Washington now.

Our Jim Acosta joins us right now.

Jim, what's going on inside the White House? What are you hearing?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, the president is acting like his back is up against the wall. He didn't really take many questions from reporters today. He made that statement as he got off of Air Force One, called this a witch hunt again, and then went back inside the White House and essentially secluded himself except for one moment where he came out and talked to some law enforcement officials, but then did not take questions again.

[20:05:01]

He has been working out his aggressions in other ways. As you know, he had that private breakfast, you just referred to that a few moments ago in which he referred to the sources for the whistle-blower as being spies who could be potentially put to death, and he was also tweeting that the stock market might crash if he is removed from office.

But, Anderson, Kellyanne Conway came out and talked to reporters earlier this evening, the White House counselor. It's something that certainly less than a daily White House briefing that we haven't had in 200 days. She said none of this is affecting the president. She said that the White House is not preparing to put a war room together at this point.

But, Anderson, most interestingly, I tried over and over and over again to ask Kellyanne Conway, why did the president say can you do us a favor to the Ukrainian president, President Zelensky? She could not answer that question, Anderson.

COOPER: When the White House says there is nothing to all of this, I mean, are they just -- is that just a public face?

I mean, they say -- Kellyanne Conway is claiming they're not putting together a war room. I cannot believe that this is not now taken over, you know, activity in the White House among the -- by the president's certainly mental activity and his senior staff.

ACOSTA: Right. They're trying to put on a good face. But look what was in that whistle-blower complaint. According to this whistle- blower, there are officials trying to conceal and cover up what was going on in these call transcripts. So, obviously, there are things going on behind the scenes that they don't like to talk about from time to time.

But, Anderson, keep in mind, we're talking to sources close to this White House, close to the president, talked to a source close to the White House who talks to the president regularly, who has talked to the president in the last 24 hours who said the president seems more distracted, less focused than usual, talking about his demeanor, not really coming to grips with the scandal that is developing around him.

I talked to a separate source close to the White House who said maybe this falls short of impeachment, but it does warrant investigation. These are the things that people who are trusted inside this White House, who advise this White House are saying privately.

But, Anderson, perhaps the comment that sums up everything at this point in terms of how the people inside the White House feel but won't say it publicly will only say the quiet parts quietly, this source said to be just a short while ago that the president did something stupid, but he doesn't deserve to be impeached for it -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

The Senate intelligence committee heard today from the inspector general who passed initial judgment on the whistle-blower complaint as well as acting DNI Maguire.

Joining us is committee member and Democratic presidential candidate, Kamala Harris.

Senator Harris, first of all, I know there is only so much you can say.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.

COOPER: But what can you tell us about the closed door meeting today between your committee and the inspector general and the acting DNI? Were they forthcoming? Did you learn anything new?

HARRIS: You're right, Anderson. I can't talk about what we learned. It was a classified briefing. But I'm happy to tell you, a bipartisan group of senators, and I expect that there will be more information coming.

The overall issue, you actually don't need to be in a SCIF to understand. The president told us what he did, and there is a transcript of what he did that was supplied by the White House.

And it indicates very clearly that yet again, Donald Trump is lawless. That he believes he is above the law, and that he can engage in blatant misconduct in the name of the United States of America for personal gain, and he thinks he can get away with it. But I think it's just one time too many.

But, you know, the way I think about this, Maya Angelou, the great Maya Angelou, she told us a long time ago, she said listen to people when they tell you who they are. Listen the first time.

What did he tell us when he was running for office? He said I can stand on Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and get away with it.

COOPER: Let me ask just a couple of things. The inspector general has done a couple of interviews, I mean, based on that's what the inspector general's job is once he got this complaint.

HARRIS: Yes, right.

COOPER: And he seemed to -- even though he raised questions about this whistle-blower may not like President Trump or may support another candidate, there was enough corroborating information that he received that he felt this was valid and should go to Congress.

Is the inspector general's role at this point now done? And is it purely up to Congress to investigate? And how much of an investigation do you want to see? Because I know some folks in Congress are saying, look, this should just be done quickly. It's pretty much all out there. This doesn't need to be a months and months and months-long thing.

HARRIS: Well, the process needs to have integrity. But for it to have integrity, doesn't mean it needs to drag on. It should are happen quickly. It should happen swiftly.

There is so much what we need to know that we already know based on the information supplied to us by the White House and told to us by the president. He has engaged in conduct that is -- it is in violation of what is his ethical and moral responsibility to the people of the United States of America when he serves as commander-in- chief, which is that he is not to use that platform and that position in a way that is about self-gain and political gain, especially when talking with the leader of a foreign government and bartering and bargaining and frankly holding American and U.S. taxpayer dollars hostage until he gets what he wants politically.

[20:10:33]

So there is so much about what we need to know that we actually know and of course the process will take its course. But I don't think that it has to go on for months in order for us to reach a conclusion.

COOPER: You sent a letter today to the inspector general from the Department of State demanding any --

HARRIS: Yes, I did.

COOPER: -- State Department officials who work with Rudy Giuliani.

HARRIS: Correct.

COOPER: Giuliani today in an interview with "The Atlantic" referred to himself as a hero, as whistle-blower as well. He also told CNN that he met with the State Department ten times.

Does it make any sense to you that the president's personal attorney would even be involved? I mean, if the cover story is we're concerned as a nation about corruption in Ukraine that it would be Rudy -- it would be the heavyweight of this would go on the slumped shoulder of Rudy Giuliani when instead of like the Treasury Department which has excellent people to investigate corruption? You know, there seems like there is a lot of levers the president could use.

HARRIS: Look, I think Rudy Giuliani really ought to stop talking and get a lawyer because, I mean, he is incriminating himself.

The reality of it is that I am asking the inspector general of the State Department to open an investigation to determine whether officials at the State Department facilitated Rudy Giuliani as the president's personal lawyer, engaging in frankly official conversations with officials from Ukraine about these matters, including the potential investigation and prosecution of any cases, because we need to know if the personal lawyer of the president, Giuliani, was using government resources for political gain.

And frankly, if there were any members of the State Department who were facilitating Rudy Giuliani's private conversations on behalf of the president, there should be accountability and consequence for that. So I'm calling for the I.G. to investigate if any state officials worked with Giuliani to help him with his personal quest, but I am also saying, Anderson, I actually think that the state bar of New York needs to investigate Rudy Giuliani.

COOPER: You think he should lose his license?

HARRIS: I think there should be an investigation of whether he should actually retain a license and whether he's qualified to do that, and does he pass all of the requirements that we have for the ethical behavior of a lawyer.

COOPER: You think he's violated basic ethics of an attorney?

HARRIS: I think that it's certainly -- it's a good question to ask, and that's why the bar should probably take a look at it and determine that. But there are so many incidents of his behavior that call into question his ability to actually follow ethical rules in terms of honesty.

COOPER: You're calling on Attorney General Barr to recuse himself. I just want to play an exchange between you and Barr from a hearing in May, because it's taken on even greater weight right now. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no, please, sir.

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The president or anybody else.

HARRIS: It seems you'd remember something like that and be able to tell us.

BARR: Yes, but I'm trying to grapple with the word "suggest." There have been suggestions of matters out there that they've not asked me to open an investigation.

HARRIS: Perhaps they've suggested?

BARR: I don't know. I wouldn't say suggest. HARRIS: Hinted?

BARR: I don't know.

HARRIS: Inferred? You don't know. OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Do you want to get him back in that seat to answer that under oath?

HARRIS: Yes. And that's what I'm calling for, that Attorney General Barr would come back before the United States Congress. We have a duty to conduct oversight, and including into whether the attorney general of the United States has been requested by the president of the United States to engage in what would be unlawful conduct, which is to use the resources of the United States Department of Justice for the political gain of the president of the United States.

So, yes, I strongly believe that Attorney General Barr should come back before Congress and answer this question under oath. Because, Anderson, as you know, for a large part of my career, I was a prosecutor. I was the attorney general of California for two terms where I ran the second largest Department of Justice in the United States, second only to the United States department of justice.

And there is so much about all of this that has been about really an attack on the integrity of our system of democracy, in particular our elections process, and our system of justice.

[20:15:10]

And those people who are compromising the integrity of these systems, they must be held to account. So that's why I think he should come before us and he should tell us what's going on.

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

HARRIS: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, our legal and political professionals here to bring their perspective to what has been a remarkable day. David Gergen joins us. He got his big start of course in the Nixon White House.

And later, one of the Democratic senators the president is trying to deflect blame on to joins us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We're talking tonight about the individual president Trump has called partisan and a hack, the same individual who in a carefully reasoned and tightly structured complaint made public today makes a potentially devastating case against the White House and the president himself. Adding credence to it is his account or her account to the act at the center of it, the July 25th phone call with Ukraine's president tracks closely with the White House's own rough transcript of the call.

[20:20:0]

As a whistle-blower puts it, quote, multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call informed me that after an initial exchange of pleasantries, the president used the remainder of the call to advance his personal interests.

And the transcript shows that's what he did. The whistle-blower alleges that both it and other transcripts were covered up by misusing a system intended for protecting national security secrets. The former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper with us later in the hour.

Joining us right now is CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash, CNN chief political analyst David Gergen, certainly worked in his storied career with presidents facing this kind of pressure.

David, how significant a day was this?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLTICAL ANALYST: I think it's a good day for the Democrats. It's unusual in an investigation like this that so quickly you can have the transcript yesterday and today. The document is much longer but amplifies and strengthens the credibility of the first day.

COOPER: It's also rare in an investigation to quickly to have the person who is at the center of it also speak publicly about it in a way that confirms things which are --

GERGEN: How much on defense that he feels.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: And if they put him out every day, if he becomes his main defender, he is going to have some more problems because he blew so hot that it diminishes his case. It doesn't strengthen his case.

But go back to the whistle-blower report itself. It not only is highly professional, stunningly familiar with Ukrainian politics and personalities, somebody who obviously spent a lot of time in the area. But I think it also advanced the case because for the first time now we have signs of what people are calling a cover-up, and that is the very existence of this separate computer system where things go to be hidden.

COOPER: Right, code word clearance.

GERGEN: Yes.

COOPER: It's officially for very high level security clearance documents with very high level of security classification.

GERGEN: You remember back in Watergate we used to talk about deep- sixing, and that's when you really screw something into the ground, the Potomac River where people would never see it again.

COOPER: Yes, this is where they hope to deep six it.

GERGEN: Yes, this has a deep six quality about it.

COOPER: Right.

Jeff, I mean, in the complaint, the whistle-blower lays out a swath of potential criminal violations claiming the president has abused his office for personal gain and clearly if the whistle-blower is correct, others in the White House, you know, were involved in this as well, and apparently talking about it.

Is this as bad for the president as you thought it was last night or it is worse?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's clearly much worse if the House of Representatives can follow up on these leads. This document is a road map for further investigations.

Obviously, the whole White House counsel's complex in terms of how they handled all the documents related to Ukraine and whether they hid them in such a way that was improper and had a political motive. You know, Vice President Pence is involved. Rudy Giuliani is involved.

But, you know, we had two days of completely uncharacteristic disclosures from the White House of the partial transcript and today the whistle-blower's report. But remember, all the other information that is talked about in this report is in the possession of the White House, these lawyers, the classified information. All of that is at the White House.

How hard is the White House going to fight to keep Adam Schiff's committee from seeing that stuff? I think they're going to fight pretty hard and that's going to be I think a central part of the investigation to come.

COOPER: Although there is also the former ambassador to the Ukraine who apparently was forced out with help from Giuliani on that. There is also the head of I think -- I'm not sure of the title, but sort of negotiations in Ukraine who seems to have been mentioned as well. It seems like there would be a lot of State Department people who would have knowledge of this.

Dana, isn't that an avenue that they could pursue? But it also, to Jeffrey's point, it does seem like there are a lot of folks in Congress who say look, this doesn't need to be a long, lengthy investigation. All the stuff out there right now is damning enough.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It would certainly help them if they can get the information that this road map that Jeffrey rightly calls it provides for them, if they can talk to the officials who were concerned, obviously even more so, can talk to the officials who directed that these transcripts, these summaries of this call and obviously others be put in a place that was supposed to be just for highly top secret information, not for things that you want to hide for political reasons.

[20:25:01]]

So, look, the questions at this point still is when it comes to the House, we see the numbers. Over the majority of the House, we mean the majority of Democrats are OK with an impeachment inquiry. It's hard to see that not translating into an actual vote given what we've seen over the last two days. The question is whether or not they can get any Republicans on board.

COOPER: Yes.

BASH: If they can get more information, I still think that's going to be very difficult, unless you're talking about the Republicans who are already leaving Congress.

COOPER: Yes, David?

GERGEN: I -- listen, I think it's really important for the Democrats to be able to get a series of witnesses, as they did in Watergate, John Dean and the sort of people coming up. It really drills home to the public.

COOPER: You think sort of rushing this would be a bad idea?

GERGEN: Rushing this and trying to have a vote in the next ten days is crazy. They need to pin this down because the Republicans are saying with justification, this is mostly hearsay.

The big issue, and I refer to Jeffrey on this, is whether the White House will resist and whether they can claim and uphold executive privilege. That's going to be what they want to do. I think they've waived it. That's what I defer to Jeffrey on.

COOPER: Listen, we'll get to Jeffrey in just a second. We'll get a quick break. A lot more to discuss on that whistleblower complaint release. How tough is the White House going to be? Can they stop people from the White House from testify? Including a quote now from unnamed officials who say the Ukrainians were told their president could only have that call with Trump in July if he was willing to, quote, play ball, unquote, on investigating the Bidens.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:30:55] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: There are a number of startling moments in the whistleblower complaint that was released today, that as Jeff Toobin said before the break, will serve as a road map or a potential road map for future investigations, including this one.

I'm quoting from the complaint, "multiple U.S. officials told me that the Ukrainian leadership was led to believe that a meeting or phone call between the President and President Zelensky would depend on whether Zelensky showed willingness to 'play ball' on the issues that had been publicly aired by Mr. Lutsenko and Mr. Giuliani."

Back with me, Jeffrey Toobin, Dana Bash, and David Gergen. Lutsenko is a former prosecutor who basically alleged there was corruption with Biden and then backtracked on that and now says that there isn't.

Jeff, when you hear things like that that the idea between, you know, a phone call between the President of the United States and Ukraine, which is an ally fighting against an adversary of the United States, Russia, and that phone call depends on, you know, the new young president who used to be a comedian in the Ukraine, you know, kowtowing to Trump to go after Biden, that's -- it's just extraordinary. I mean, it's -- like you can't -- it's just stunning.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It is extraordinary. And it is also quite at least in my reading a very obvious if not explicitly stated quid pro quo. You know, do the favor, give us the dirt on Biden, and you'll get your $250 million in military aid. I mean, it is -- in a courtroom, that would be easy to prove. This is not a courtroom. This is a political environment. But the explicitness --

COOPER: Yes.

TOOBIN: -- of the interaction between the two was astonishing.

COOPER: Jeff, let me ask you what David was wondering before the break, which is -- I mean, has the White House waived privilege by allowing the information that's come out to go out, allowing the acting DNI to talk today? I mean --

TOOBIN: No. I don't think they've waived all privileges. Like -- I mean, there are certain areas that I don't think any court would ever order. For example, there are suggestions of interactions between the President and vice president about dealings with Ukraine. I don't think the court is going to require the vice president to testify.

However, the dealings of the White House counsel's office with the classified information, that is certainly an area that might be effective for the prosecutor -- for the congressional investigators to look at.

COOPER: But when you talk about court's ruling, I mean, that takes a lot of time.

TOOBIN: That's months. That's months. That's the thing, is that it's one thing to have a theoretical legal right to certain evidence. It's another thing in a frenzied political environment to get it next March as opposed to --

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Which is why --

TOOBIN: I mean, you know, what good is that?

BASH: Which is why as much as David is right for any American who really wants to get the facts, it would be best to get witnesses in order to find those facts if in fact the White House is going back to the way that they were before the last two days, which is saying no Congress, we're giving you nothing and you're going to like it.

It is hard to see them, you know, the Congress not getting anything fast, and they will have to make a decision. Do we want to wait for the courts or do we want to do it before the end of 2019? Because what happens in 2020 is the votes start on the campaign trail.

COOPER: But, I mean, they could get, you know, the State Department people, that's not executive privilege, stuff that Rudy Giuliani has said to members of the State Department or, you know, the ambassador there. That's not --

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I don't think they can get Rudy Giuliani. I mean, I think the court -- I mean, the Congress can call him in and tell him that, you know, if he doesn't talk, they're going to lock him up, you know.

COOPER: But, Jeff, I mean, can he say, I'm in his attorney-client privilege, what he's discussed with the President?

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, the -- you know, he is in a peculiar legal situation. Obviously the Congress can't ask him about his conversations with Donald Trump, but I don't see why they can't ask him about his conversations in Ukraine, or particularly his conversations with the State Department. Why the state --

BASH: They don't have to. He's been texting it to us all night, literally.

[20:35:01] TOOBIN: But why is he talking to the State Department at all? I mean, why is that appropriate?

COOPER: He says they're the ones who asked him to investigate and help on corruption in Ukraine. Dana, I mean, does that --

BASH: Yes, yes. Those are the texts that he is sending, exactly that, from the State Department talking about the time and the date that we're going set up these meetings, which he has, and he is sharing them. I don't think he would be shy about testifying about that.

COOPER: Yes. I got to go. David Gergen, Dana Bash, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you.

More to come, obviously. President Trump accusing other Democrats of literally, in his words, threatening the Ukrainian president, all without announce of proof. Is it just projection? One of the senators that he has accused of going after the Ukrainian president, threatening him is on the show next. We're going to talk to him in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Despite a whistleblower complaint that says the President solicited election interference from a foreign country and a rough phone transcript that shows him asking the leader of that country to, "do us a favor," and the President's own statements to reporters that there was "pressure" put on with respect to Joe Biden, President Trump is adamant he has done nothing wrong, that his conversations with the Ukrainian president were "perfect."

It is Democrats, he says, and without any proof, who've interfered with Ukrainian politics for personal advantage, Biden being one, and my next guest, Senator Chris Murphy, according to the President as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[20:40:07] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And Chris Murphy, who I've been dealing with on guns, you know, so nice. He's always, oh, no, we want to work it out. We want to work it out. But they're too busy wasting their time on the witch hunt. So Senator Chris Murphy literally threatened the president of Ukraine that if he doesn't do things right that they won't have Democrat support in Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Senator Chris Murphy sits on the Foreign Relations Committee. He joins me now. Senator Murphy, the idea that you literally threatened the president of Ukraine, how do you respond?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Yes. Well, its typical standard fare for the President that when he is backed into a corner, he starts making things up. I did meet with President Zelensky. I was there with Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. This was about three weeks ago before we had the transcript of the phone call in which the President is trying to pressure Zelensky personally to intervene in the 2020 election.

When I was with Zelensky three weeks ago, what I knew was that Rudy Giuliani and perhaps others in and around the Trump campaign were pressuring Zelensky and his team to start trying to go through an effort to destroy the President's political opponents. And what I told Zelensky was pretty simple, it was common sense.

I said listen, don't get involved in the 2020 election. When you're dealing with the United States of America, deal with the State Department. Talk to our ambassador. Don't talk to the President's personal political representatives. And I guess I was potentially frustrating Trump's attempts at corrupting the Ukrainian president. That may make him angry.

But ultimately, this country needs to make clear that you can't use the foreign policy and the foreign power of the United States of America in order to try to get foreign countries to enter into our political fray.

COOPER: Had you -- had you heard -- I mean, you said that you'd heard that Giuliani and perhaps others from the Trump campaign had been around trying to get them involved and pressure them for things. Had you heard that anything about the phone conversation that had taken place?

I know you said you hadn't seen the transcript. Did you know that a phone conversation take -- took place? Did anyone on the Ukraine side from the President's office or the President himself ask about or express conflict over who they should listen to or how did they deal with the U.S., because it is a new regime there? MURPHY: So I knew about Giuliani's overtures because by that point Giuliani had been very public that he was going to the Ukraine to try to convince Zelensky to get involved in the 2020 election. I also knew that Trump had phone conversations with the president.

And there was a general confusion in Ukraine that I had heard about prior to my visit as to who they should be listening to. This is a new president. He's never been in politics before. Many of the people surrounding him have never been in politics.

And so, of course, it stands to reason that they would be concerned as to whether they should be listening to the Trump's political lawyer or to the State Department. We now know that the two may have been working together. And in fact, it may be that the State Department was facilitating Rudy Giuliani's contacts with the Ukrainian government.

In my meeting, to be clear, Zelensky did not, you know, make any connection between the aid that had been cut off and the requests that he was getting from Giuliani, but he was certainly -- but the Ukrainian government certainly through multiple channels was expressing their confusion about who they should listen to.

COOPER: I'm wondering just about the investigation now. I know -- I think you've expressed concern that it might go on for a very long period of time and that there's a lot of information already out there. How much more needs to be discovered?

You know, does the ambassador need to be spoken to who was forced out, other U.S. officials from the State Department, not to mention potentially from the White House, although that may raise executive privilege issues at the White House obviously might push and, you know, delay things on. So, how much longer do you see this? Does the time frame concern you much?

MURPHY: Well, the time frame certainly concerns me because I don't want to be having a trial in the Senate, you know, next fall. But from what I understand, Speaker Pelosi is moving towards a more limited impeachment inquiry. You know, clearly, there is a host of different topics that could ultimately be part of that investigation. But I think we have all that we need.

I mean, the President continues on a daily basis to admit to a level of corruption that I believe is likely impeachable. But the whistleblower complaint does raise these questions about how deep this effort goes to try to turn American foreign policy into an appendage of the Trump campaign.

[20:45:05] How many people in the State Department are involved? How involved was the special envoy, Kurt Volker, who seemed to be setting up these meetings between Giuliani and the Ukrainian regime?

I think those are all really important questions to ask, because in the end, you know, I think it would be much better for us to get enough information such that Republicans, both in the House and the Senate, could see the full picture. COOPER: Yes. Senator Murphy, appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

MURPHY: Thanks a lot.

COOPER: Up next, I'm going talk to the former Director of National Intelligence about the whistleblower complaint and how it felt to see one of his successors before a divided House committee.

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COOPER: There are so many aspects of this story, so many things happened today. Let's check in with Chris to see what he's going to be focusing on "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?

[20:50:02] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: How are you doing, Coop? I'm trying to get the state of play by talking to some of the players. We've got Maxine Waters. She's one of the chairmen who's going to be instrumental in where this goes from here. What does she think about today? What she believes is the path forward? What are the challenges?

Then we have Chris Stewart, Republican from Utah. He was there today. He was one of the Republicans obviously that got to question the acting DNI. Why does he see it so 180 degrees differently than his Democratic colleagues, especially with a really interesting issue?

Chris Stewart thinks its OK to get information about an opponent from a foreign power. What is his understanding of the law? I mean, that is really instructive of where there are a lot of heads and hearts on the right side of the aisle.

COOPER: Yes. Chris, I will see you about nine minutes from now. I look forward to it. See you in a few minutes.

Coming up, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper gives his take on today's history-making developments.

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[20:55:02] COOPER: The whistleblower complaint has once again put the intelligence community in the spotlight. The whistleblower alleges the Trump White House often used a secret computer system writing, "According to White House officials I spoke with, this was not the first time under this administration that a presidential transcript was placed into this codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive-rather than national security sensitive-information."

All this as the acting Director of National Intelligence was facing questioning from members of the House Intelligence Committee about what he did, when he did it and why.

Joining me now, the man who once sat in that same seat, retired Lieutenant General James Clapper, a CNN National Security Analyst, also the author of "Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence."

Director Clapper, first of all, you have probably seen a lot of whistleblower complaints in your time as DNI. How does this one compare to all those that you have seen?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: By far, Anderson, it was the most well-written, well-referenced, well-constructed and most compelling whistleblower complaint I ever saw during my six and a half years as the DNI. It was very well done.

It was written at the same quality level as a national intelligence estimate, which is kind of the apex of intelligence products, and was written much in the same style as a seasoned, mature, competent intelligence analyst would write. So, it was very well done.

COOPER: And the idea that, you know, this computer system for codeword-level secrets, you know, there's secret -- you know, there's confidential and secret and top secret and codeword. Codeword is very high level.

Is it -- I'm wondering when you heard this that this document was moved over to that and that other transcripts may have also been moved into that file as well. Is that -- does that raise alarm bells for you?

CLAPPER: Well, it's -- you know, there are many systems, you know, clearance levels and all that, and networks which have multiple levels of classification. The original classification of this transcript I believe was secret no form, which is kind of standard for all of them before it was declassified.

So it's not an exceptional thing if you're trying to prevent leaks or cloister certain sensitive information away so that less -- you know, fewer people see it. The important thing for me, at least, is what was the motivation for doing that.

And it appears is that there was great concern about the legality of what the President was doing and people apparently understood that and took the action of trying to cloister the records of that conversation as much as they could.

COOPER: I wonder when you hear the President of the United States this morning talking at the U.S. U.N. mission saying that, you know, he wants to know who gave the whistleblower this information, which seems to according to the whistleblower there were multiple people who this whistleblower talked to over a period of time and also said -- you know, comparing those people to essentially being spies and that, you know, in the good old days when we were smart, you know, we used to, you know, spies and people committed treason essentially were killed.

CLAPPER: Well, first, it kind of smacks at least to me of potential witness tampering. And I think it's going to be probably have a very -- to put it mildly, a chilling effect on any future whistleblower's willingness to come forward with reports of wrongdoing. So on all counts, I thought it was egregious to make that kind of threat. COOPER: Acting director DNI who hasn't been on this job very long, did he do the right thing in seeking his attorney's counsel on this rather than just forwarding this as the statute requires?

CLAPPER: I thought Joe Maguire did a great job today in the, you know, the open hearing held by the House Intelligence Committee. He's in an impossible position, and he tried to walk a fine line here.

And what makes it difficult for him is that the law, the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, is understandably completely silent on the possibility of the President himself or herself being the target of a complaint.

COOPER: It's not written in that way.

CLAPPER: It's not.

COOPER: It's written for things within the intelligence community.

CLAPPER: Exactly. So the -- as he said many several times, the situation is completely unique.

COOPER: Yes.

CLAPPER: Institutionally, I believe he did the right thing. I mean, that is the classic procedure here, is to consult with the White House counsel, et cetera. He made another choice and he was, again, trying to do the right thing.

COOPER: Yes. Director Clapper, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Quick reminder, join me and Jake Tapper at 11:00 p.m. Eastern tonight for CNN Special Report, "The Impeachment Inquiry."

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