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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Sources: White House Restricted Access To Trump's Phone Calls With Vladimir Putin, Saudi Crown Prince; Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) Discuss Trump's Call To Crown Prince And Putin Amidst The Dismemberment Of Jamal Khashoggi; Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo Subpoenaed For Ukraine Documents In Trump Impeachment Probe; Warren: "I Do" Worry For the Whistleblower's Safety. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 27, 2019 - 19:00 ET
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ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, we begin with breaking news. We have learned of more Trump phone calls that the White House tried to keep secret. CNN learning this hour, the White House also tried to limit access to President Trump's conversations with two controversial dictators, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
The conversation with the Saudi Prince that we understand was treated differently occurred when Trump was siding with the Crown Prince over U.S. Intelligence in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It shows yet another part of the whistleblower compliant may be true to have back to quote the complaint again, "According to White House officials I spoke with," this is the whistleblower, "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."
Now, we don't know yet if these additional calls were put on the super secure system, but what we do know happened to them is stunning and we have more on that in just a moment. I want to make sure you also know this, these developments are coming as the White House itself is admitting a key part of the whistleblower complaint regarding the call between Trump and the President of Ukraine is true.
The White House confirms tonight the transcript of Trump's call with the Ukrainian president was filed in that separate highly classified system at the direction of National Security Council attorneys. The big question this hour is who told those lawyers to do something so unprecedented and outside protocol, because according to The Washington Post the transfer could only happen at the direction of someone at the highest levels of this administration such as the chief of staff of the National Security Advisor.
Pamela Brown is out front in Washington. And Pamela, you broke this story on the phone calls, stunning. The whistleblower complaint says more calls were treated in extremely rare ways. You now know what some of them were. Tell us what you know.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. White House efforts to limit access to president Trump's conversation with foreign leaders extended to phone calls with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. This is according to several people familiar with the matter, familiar with those calls.
Now, both the leaders who maintained controversial relationships that we just mentioned, both of them maintained controversial relationships with Trump. They were among the presidential conversations that aides took remarkable steps, Erin, to keep from becoming public.
Now, in the case of Trump's call with Prince Mohammad, officials who ordinarily would have been given access to a rough transcript of the conversation never saw one, according to one of the sources. Instead, Erin, a transcript was never even circulated at all which the source said was highly unusual, particularly after a high profile conversation.
Now, the call which the person said contained no especially sensitive National Security secrets came as the White House was confronting the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi which U.S. Intelligence assessment said came at the hand of the Saudi government, as you know. Now, with Putin access to transcripts of at least one of trumps conversations there was also tightly restricted according to a former trump administration officials.
Now, it's not clear, Erin, and if aides took the additional step of placing the Saudi Arabia and Russia phone calls in that same highly secured electronic system that held the now infamous Ukraine call and which helped spark this whistleblower complaint that was made public this week. Though officials confirmed that calls aside from the Ukraine conversation that weren't particularly sensitive were placed there as well.
We should note that the attempts to conceal the information about Trump's discussions with Prince Mohammad and Putin further illustrate the extraordinary efforts taken by Trump aides to strictly limit the number of people with access to the conversations with foreign leaders. We're told this really picked up steam, this practice picked up steam after there were conversations leaked between the leaders of Mexico and Australia and President Trump, Putin as well as you'll recall, that also leaked out.
So that was when this practice really went into place more than a year ago. We should know, Erin, that the White House did not comment about the limiting of access to these calls with the Russian and Saudi leaders.
BURNETT: All right. Pamela, I mean, this is a pretty stunning development and I'm going to be joined in just a moment by the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee to talk about this. You also though have new reporting on Trump's reaction to - well, he hasn't even had a chance to react to what you're breaking right now but to how this whole broader story is exploding and how he spent his day.
BROWN: Yes. That's right. There really is a sense in the White House that they're basically in crisis mode. They're trying to figure out how to respond to the fallout from the whistleblower complaint, from the impeachment inquiry, all that has transpired this week.
So there were meetings throughout the day between President Trump and his White House counsel as well as his personal counsel including Jay Sekulow who came into town for these meetings to figure out a strategy moving forward. Now, I did speak to Jay Sekulow who said that as of now no war room has been created. But what is clear here, Erin, is they're trying to figure out what the next steps are.
BURNETT: All right. Pamela Brown, thank you very much with some very, very significant new reporting this hour. I want to go now to the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel.
Chairman, I appreciate your time. So let me start with the - your reaction to this latest breaking news that we now know that there are two more calls at least, which were highly restricted treated in highly unusual ways with the Saudi Crown Prince, a call which occurred in the same timeframe that the president was siding with him over U.S. Intelligence in the dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi and at least one call with Vladimir Putin.
REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D-NY): Well, it doesn't surprise me at all because the way that this White House has apparently worked is really unconventional and unconscionable and just something that makes you kind of scratch your head and say, what were they thinking.
BURNETT: It's an unconventional and unconscionable.
BURNETT: A combination that ...
ENGEL: Both wrapped into one.
BURNETT: ... yes, so let me ask you in the case of the Crown Prince, the Saudi Crown Prince, ordinarily, Pamela's reporting, they would have been a group of people who were given access to a rough transcript of what transpired on this particular phone call. She has learned the transcript was never circulated at all. Highly unusual particularly after a high profile conversation.
You're the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, you know how these things are done. How unusual would such a thing be?
ENGEL: Well, it's very unusual and, of course, it leads you to believe that somebody is hiding something or somebody wants to keep things from getting outside and this is the same secretive attitude that we have found straight on, which is one of the reasons why we issued the subpoena today and I sign the subpoena, because we really want to find out what's happened.
And as Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, in our committee we have a jurisdiction over the State Department and so this is just the tip of the iceberg.
BURNETT: And this is for the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, you've demanded documents that he has refused to hand over in the whistleblower case regarding the Ukrainian call, the Ukrainian president and Trump's conversation. Have you had a response yet from Secretary of State Pompeo?
ENGEL: No, we have not. But we'll give him some time. We just subpoenaed him today. The subpoena is the last thing you should do and we only did it because they turned a blind eye to whatever we asked for. We asked for information. We asked for documents and we were stonewalled, not even so much as an answer.
This administration thinks ...
BURNETT: Just ignored you.
ENGEL: ... ignored us. This administration thinks that Congress doesn't have the right, the checks and balances we all learned when we were kids in grade school, this administration seems to feel that it doesn't apply to them.
BURNETT: So, obviously, there's multiple sources on our latest reporting. One of them a former U.S. official. Are you going to be trying to subpoena all of these individuals? Do you even know how to figure out who to subpoena at this point?
ENGEL: Well, I think those are the things that will be determined down the line. But one of the things that's really sure is that we - in this impeachment inquiry, we're all working together. It's the Foreign Affairs Committee and it's the other committees as well. The Intelligence Committee, the Oversight Committee, three committees are working together and there will be other things happening soon.
BURNETT: Are you going to try to move to get access to the transcripts which we now know were walled off in some way?
ENGEL: Well, since we just found out about it, but I would think we have more than just a little bit of an interest and then we have a big interest in it. And again, this is the whole thing. We wanted to know what the State Department knew about the call to the President of Ukraine.
BURNETT: Yes. ENGEL: We wanted to know what Rudy Giuliani was doing with the State
Department. So these are all things that we couldn't get answers to that we asked for very reluctantly in a subpoena. I would have much rather not have to sign the subpoena, I would have much rather ...
ENGEL: ... had them comply, but they chose to ignore us so they left us with no choice.
BURNETT: So the White House is confirming now an important part of the whistleblower complaint, which is that the transcripts were moved to this secure server where they would, by virtue of what's in them, never ordinarily be. National Security Council attorneys and Pamela is reporting, specifically, we know at least who one of those individuals are, but the question is were they doing it at the behest of someone else?
And the understanding from The Washington Post is that that is how it would have had to do, that those attorneys would have only moved the transcript because someone else directed them to direct it to be done.
ENGEL: Well, it certainly seems logical.
BURNETT: Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, it could be John Bolton who was then, obviously, in the White House or Mike Pompeo, do you think it went that high?
ENGEL: I have no idea, but I'll tell you we're going to find out about it. When our career ambassador to Ukraine was dismissed back in May, I said then something smells, something was not right. They wanted to move her out and I think we're going to find out that that was a central start to what continues to be this crisis and all of the things they're being sneakily about, that they're not telling us about, that they try to hide. You can't hide from the truth. I think the truth always wins in the end.
BURNETT: So what is the timeline here? Obviously, you say you don't want to rush Pompeo. You want to give him a chance to respond to your subpoena even though, obviously, he didn't respond to your requests before that. We're hearing others say they want to vote on impeachment in October, is that what you were looking at?
ENGEL: I personally don't have any timetable. I don't think we should drag anything out. I think we should do it as efficiently as possible, but I think we should be thorough. We should be fair and I think we will be.
BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, Chairman Engel. Thank you very much.
ENGEL: Thank you.
ENGEL: The Chairman coming on and hearing that news literally at the same time as all of you heard it as Pamela was reporting at the top of the hour. I want to bring David Gergen in now, he's advised four presidents including Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, obviously, the last two to face impeachment. And the former Counsel to the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security Carrie Cordero. John Dean, also former Nixon White House Counsel and central to that with me as well.
Here we are with this breaking news. John Dean, what do you make of it reporting that there are at least two more calls which were treated in highly unorthodox ways? We don't know for sure if they were put that server, but transcripts were not put out. People were restricted from seeing them. They went to extraordinary lengths to prevent people from hearing what the President really said to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia during the time he was siding with him over the CIA in that brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi and a call with Vladimir Putin.
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I suspect every White House has a similar problem and that is a special place to put very sensitive files. As David will recall, there was something called the special files at the Nixon White House that I was actually asked to set up and they were not accessible but to a few people.
They weren't necessarily classified information. Some of it was, but most of it was not. It was just politically sensitive and was not to circulate but yet it had to be there so other people could see what was in the file in the event that they needed access to it. So I think this is what's happened, they just wanted to put this away where others wouldn't get to it.
BURNETT: And what's the significance of that, David Gergen?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER ADVISER TO FOUR PRESIDENTS: Well, first of all, I do think we need to say right up front presidents need to have privacy on National Security calls of importance and I think Trump had been burned two to three times by leaks before this. So I think it's not wrong for the White House to try to bring extra protection for sensitive conversations.
Having said that, what distinguishes these calls from others is they're being put in a file because they're politically sensitive, not because they're National Security-related but because they have political sensitivities in those files and that's what makes it so suspicious especially when it comes to dealing with the Crown Prince of Saudi and also Vladimir Putin.
BURNETT: Yes. Carrie Cordero, it does seem certainly the politically sensitive nature of both of those individuals, of those dictators does put the question marks around this.
CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: Right, exactly. I mean the question is and this is I think what David is getting at as well, is what was the motivation, what was the reason behind them segregating these specific conversations.
It's OK to have unclassified information in a classified system, there's no law or rule prohibiting that from taking place. The question is why did they segregate these specific calls and it's awfully curious why it was the call with the Ukrainian president and then now as we're reporting a phone call with Mohammad bin Salman and Putin both of whom are involved in activities that the President has expressed disagreement with the U.S. Intelligence Community on.
So when it comes to Putin, the President has rejected the Intelligence Community's assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
When it comes to Khashoggi, the administration and the President would not accept what was the intelligence information being reported about the complicity and the responsibility for that murder. So both of those were situations where the President is in a different place than what the actual intelligence reporting is, which is why this is a completely legitimate area of intelligence oversight by Congress.
BURNETT: And I want to bring Dana Bash in here. Dana, just to remind people from what we understand the timing of this particular call with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, what we were hearing the President say publicly was backing his version of things which was completely opposite to the conclusion reached by the President of the United States' own CIA. Here's President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The King firmly denied any knowledge of it. He didn't really know maybe - I don't want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe this could have been rogue killers.
I hate the crime, I hate what's done, I hate the cover-up and I will tell you this, the Crown Prince hates it more than I do and they have vehemently denied it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Dana, that's the context for a call that we now know they went to in sort of extraordinary lengths to never even circulate a transcript at all and limit the people who actually saw what the President said to the Crown Prince.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right and as our colleagues here have been saying, it's an incredibly sensitive issue politically, geopolitically. And Erin, I'm not so sure that we will get an answer to the question that Carrie just posed, the important question which is why was it these three, why was it just these three as far as we know that were put into this special classification.
Unless there is another John Dean out there. If there is another John Dean in this White House who is going to be willing to come out and say so, because the indications that we're already getting is that this White House is going to continue to stonewall Congress asking for the answers to those questions and whether or not they can get around that or get away with that will be a matter for the courts and it's unclear if Democrats want to wait that long if it's politically tenable for them to move forward without getting the answers, we'll see. But it would be nice to get the answers, but it's a question of whether people are willing to admit it or to give the real the truth.
BURNETT: And John Dean I guess let's pose that question to you. The reporting tonight, multiple sources, a former White House official among them, the reporting on the call with Ukraine at least certainly people within the White House had enough concern that they were willing to talk to a whistleblower who certainly knew how to write an incredibly detailed annotated appendix report.
There are people who want to say something. The question is, is there someone like you who's going to come out and say it to the country. What do you think the odds are?
DEAN: Well, it could evolve to that. It's hard to say. One of the things about the whistleblower that I found interesting is that he was not or she were not alone. They were in sort of a collective voice in that very well-written piece that there was clearly interchange between other members of the staff and the whistleblower. And he or she decided to take action and go through a process that did not exist in my day. That didn't come into existence till '89.
What happened is I got into a fight where they thought I'd make a good scapegoat and I didn't think I'd make a very good one. So that's the reason I blow it up.
BURNETT: Well, I suppose it's when you see tensions rise and people start to feel that way, then - you don't know how people will act till their backs are against the wall, so I guess only time will tell ...
BURNETT: ... as this develops, where it develops. Carrie, this comes as you just heard Chairman Engel talking about the other breaking news this hour, three House committees subpoenaing Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State as part of the impeachment inquiry. They want all of the documents about President Trump, Rudy Giuliani and the Ukrainian government. Rudy Giuliani and how he was operating as a private citizen and personal attorney of the President vis-a-vis Ukraine and foreign policy.
So what do you think that will yield, Carrie? Is he going to comply? They said they haven't yet heard from him.
CORDERO: Well, I think, the administration has adopted an approach of challenging congressional requests for information. So it certainly seems like they have adopted an overall approach to challenging, so I tend to expect that they will find ways to challenge these subpoenas or at least delay responding to them.
They could on the other hand provide some responsive information and then decide to fight about certain other information.
[19:20:01] It's for documents, so depending on what types of privileges they want
to assert, it depends on what the specific documents are. So it just depends on whether the administration is going to continue with their blanket approach of challenging all requests for congressional information. The difference in this case is that now there is a open acknowledged impeachment inquiry on the part of the House and so there is the support of the Speaker for these demands for information by all of the different committees.
BURNETT: And so Dana, the context here is who are they going to be able to hear from, who are the American people going to be able to hear from and what kind of performance will it be. And when I use that word, I'm using it specifically talking to somebody that I know you've been able to speak to today, Rudy Giuliani.
Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley on Intel says he wants Rudy Giuliani to come in there. He wants him to testify and then Giuliani today is all over the map. He will, he won't, maybe if Trump tells him he can. I mean, you just spoke to him, what is he saying?
BASH: Well, he is saying a lot of things, but on this particular issue he spoke to our colleague, Michael Warren and he said he's not. He doesn't have any intention of testifying, because he sees himself as the President's private attorney and it would breach attorney- client privilege. As you said that could change if the circumstances change with regard to what Congress thinks that they have or more specifically it could change if somehow someway they could get ambassador Volker to testify or at least come forward.
And if he disagrees with some of the things that Giuliani is sending to me and many, many other reporters that suggest that the State Department did not just know about Giuliani going and meeting with Ukrainian officials including potentially the president, but he helped set it up. So there's a lot that we don't know about how far down the House will go that could change Giuliani's mind which will probably happen many times (inaudible) ...
BURNETT: And David Gergen, this comes Kurt Volker obviously Dana just referenced, the special envoy to Ukraine who replaced the Ambassador when Trump got rid of her. He is resigning and he, of course, is in this report. He's in the transcript as part of who Trump was having to work with Rudy Giuliani but now we have learned tonight that he has resigned. Do you read anything into that? Three sources, by the way, confirmed that to CNN this hour.
GERGEN: Well, no, I don't know why he resigned. So I'm not quite sure what to say about it, but I do think overall we're heading for a showdown, Erin, very quickly on whether the administration is going to start its new policy of making that documents available. And they were very good about turning over all this stuff in the last few days or are they going to go back to the old policy of stonewalling.
I think it's more likely stonewalling, but very importantly in that letter that was sent to Pompeo from the three chairman was a direct threat if you do not comply with this, it will fuel our view of obstruction that the administration, the President is obstructing. That's a big serious charge.
Let me just say one other thing, Erin, if I might.
GERGEN: Related to messing up. We've been talking out how underhanded these deep conversations of the Ukrainians are trying, the President trying to cut a deal a quid pro quo and we find it very reprehensible in many ways. At the same time today, the President - New York Times Maggie Haberman story came out a few minutes ago, a little while ago, that the president met today with the Head of the NRA.
And in that they discussed how much money the NRA could give to the Trump campaign next year in exchange for which the President would back away from gun control legislation. It's the same idea of a quid pro quo. It's unsavory, it's why so many people think the system is corrupt.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much and I'm glad you did bring that up. Thank you, David. Thank you all.
GERGEN: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, decades ago Attorney General John Mitchell helped bring down Richard Nixon during Watergate, could Bill Barr be a threat to president Trump's presidency? And Elizabeth Warren speaking out about impeachment and election interference. She's speaking in an exclusive interview with us tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That isn't right. It's a violation of the law. No one is above the law in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Breaking news, a Trump administration official resigns amid the Ukraine controversy. I'm referring to Kurt Volker, President Trump's special envoy to Ukraine, stepping down tonight, following allegations of a cover up.
Now, Volker was named in the whistleblower complaint which was released to us, to the public just yesterday. It comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says yet another administration official, the Attorney General has gone rogue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I do think the Attorney General has gone rogue. He has for a long time now and since he was mentioned in all of this, it's curious that he would be making decision about how the complaint would be handled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. And my panel is back with me. So John Dean, let me just start with you, do you think Speaker Pelosi is right? She's referring, obviously, specifically to the Attorney General Bill Barr who is named in the complaint has worked with my Attorney General and Rudy Giuliani often in the same sentence with Ukraine president.
DEAN: I think her assessment is correct. It's a question of where he's gone rogue or from whom and I think it's from the American people and into trying to be a defense counsel for the President. And that's not been the post-Watergate tradition.
There's no law that spills this out, but after Watergate the Justice Department took a lot of independence and there were rules and regulations about contacting and dealing with the department that seemed to have fallen apart under this president.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: I mean, Dana, Bill Barr has repeatedly defended the president, right, on controversial issues.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
BURNETT: He's been his wingman and been his supporter, just a couple of times like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My administration is finalizing a plan to end the rampant abuse of our asylum system.
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Where people are abusing the asylum system.
TRUMP: I'm going to be signing a national emergency, and it's been signed many times before.
BARR: Your declaration of an emergency on the southern border was clearly authorized under the law, and consistent with past precedent.
TRUMP: They spied on me. They spied on our campaign.
BARR: I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal.
I think spying did occur.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And that's why, Dana, you're getting the criticism you're getting now and the skepticism.
BASH: And it doesn't even include, you know, the big situation of him summarizing the Mueller report in a way that set the narrative that didn't really represent the Mueller report, right, before it came out. That was also the biggie.
In this case, Erin, it was striking to me that the attorney general has been pretty quiet. I think it's kind of telling. There isn't any indication that he, the attorney general was saying this to the Ukrainian president that my attorney general would help take care of it. Rudy Giuliani was very open in real time in the summer saying that he was actively working on trying to find political dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine. That's not the case for the attorney general.
What is so many questions for him including when they got referrals based on this complaint, why did they decide there was not anything worth pursuing criminally?
BURNETT: And, David, look, as we know, Trump repeatedly told Ukraine's president in the phone call, Barr would be calling and Barr would be in touch and that's in the transcript and it is not even in the complaint allegation and it's in the transcript itself that we have.
The Justice Department put out a statement saying Barr never had discussions with any of those people with Giuliani or the president about any of the stuff, about Ukraine. He's never -- so Trump says to the Ukrainian president and Bill Barr is going to follow up with you and according to the DOJ, Bill Barr doesn't have a conversation and nothing ever happens. Do you buy it?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, not particularly. He deserves his day in court and maybe he didn't have any contacts as he says and that's what these hearings are supposed to determine on controversial questions like that. But one thing is clear and that is the president regards him as his poodle and that Bill Barr ought to recuse himself now from further decisions about Ukrainian relationship --
BASH: Good luck with that.
GERGEN: Yes, I know.
But the other thing -- it was a guy that had a good reputation.
GERGEN: He said I don't want to kick it away at the end of my career and he's doing the opposite now, I'm afraid, and his Justice Department is getting the reputation that if there is a controversy that has any legal questions involved, send him over to the Justice Department because Bill Barr will strangle him in the crib. He'll make sure they never get outside the Justice Department and we would never know anything about this whistle-blower and the last thing we learned in the last 72 hours and had Bill Barr been left in place.
BURNETT: You know, Carrie, if Bill Barr did now was going on with Ukraine, if he'd heard anything and obviously, he did nothing, is that a problem?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, sure. I mean, he's a member of the cabinet. He took an oath of office to the Constitution, so if he is knowledgeable and complicit in the president using his official position in foreign affairs to pressure ahead of a foreign head of state to do political favors, then that certainly is a problem. What's clear simply based on the text of the phone call that was released from July 25th is certainly the president and we know this from just his behavior over the last three years, certainly the president views the attorney general and Attorney General Barr specifically, in much the same way as he views his personal lawyer.
CORDERO: So all public indications are that the president doesn't really distinguish between his personal lawyer, somebody like Rudy Giuliani and Bill Barr who is the attorney general of the United States.
So that's a problem -- that's a problem for the public because that's the president's point of view. What's a little bit less clear is whether Bill Barr knew and has been engaged in conversations regarding digging up dirt on the Bidens from a foreign government. If he's involved, then certainly, that's problem attic and we don't yet have those facts yet.
BURNETT: We don't. We don't yet have them.
I want to, Dana, give you a chance to respond to the breaking news, obviously, about the president's envoy, Mr. Volcker, resigning. In the whistleblower complaint, I want people to understand why he's central.
The whistleblower writes, Dana: Starting in mid-May, I heard from multiple U.S. officials. They were deeply concerned by what they viewed as Mr. Giuliani's circumvention of national security decision- making processes to engage with Ukrainian officials and relay messages back and forth between Kiev and the president. These officials also told me that State Department officials including Ambassadors Volker and Sondland had spoken to Mr. Giuliani in an attempt to, quote, contain the damage to U.S. national security.
And tonight Mr. Volker is gone, resigning.
BASH: And -- that's right. In addition to that, the complaint says that Mr. Volker went in order to try to help the Ukrainian president, alleges that a U.S. diplomat went to help a Ukrainian president navigate the demands of a U.S. president. I mean, that is, if true, so stunning and that is the -- that would be the first question I would ask him for sure.
You know, he is somebody who has a long career in diplomacy. He is a John McCain guy. He is the head of the McCain Institute, and so he is somebody who is known to have a lot of integrity and would be fascinating to see if he decided to come forward and talk to Congress whether in public or private.
BURNETT: I'm sure they will be asking him to do so.
Thank you all very much.
And next, we have more on the breaking news, learning this hour that the White House tried to restrict access to Trump's phone calls with Vladimir Putin and the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman.
And presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speaking out this hour in an exclusive interview on the magnitude of the impeachment inquiry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It isn't just about this president. It's about the next president and the one after that and the one after that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Breaking news. Sources tell CNN that it wasn't just Ukraine, the Ukraine call that the White House tried to limit access to. Sources say that there was at least one call with the Russian President Vladimir Putin and a call with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman, that also aides tried to restrict access to in highly unusual ways, according to a source familiar with the situation.
OUTFRONT now, Michael Green. He created transcripts like all of these, including the one between Trump and the Ukraine. He served in the George W. Bush administration as the National Security Council senior director for Asia.
Mike, thank you very much.
Look, I am so glad you're with us tonight because you can give desperately-needed context. So, with the latest reporting this hour, they went to a very extraordinary measures to limit access to at least one call with Vladimir Putin and a call with the Saudi crown prince, a call which happened in the timeframe when the president was siding with the crown prince over the CIA in blame for the brutal dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi. We understand the transcript was never circulated at all with that particular phone call.
How significant is this and how unusual would that be that they would aren't even give a rough transcript to officials who would ordinarily see it, they never circulated a transcript at all?
MICHAEL GREEN, FORMER NSC SENIOR DIRECOR FOR ASIA UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, the president does have the right to limit distribution of these memorandum of telephone calls. Usually, the national security adviser makes that call. It is very rare that they're limited beyond the already narrow distribution of the secretary of state, secretary of defense and others. But to put it in a server for compartmented intelligence, in the most sensitive kind, related to national security and not politics, not diplomacy, is unprecedented and it also strikes me that although the White House was embarrassed that transcripts with the Mexican or the Australian leader leaked, those were politically a bit embarrassing. These are different. These are relationships with leaders who were engaged in highly, highly scrutinized and controversial acts where the president himself is in disagreement with his government and it appears they were put in this special server and special restricted system after the fact, not because the relationship with the country was sensitive, but it appears it was done after.
BURNETT: Yes. And just to be clear, so our viewers know, we do know the whistle-blower said the Ukraine call was not the first time that it happened in terms of the transfer of the secure server. We know these other two calls at least were treated in unorthodox and unusual ways. We don't know yet know for sure if they were put on this server or not.
Mike, there are key issues here that we all need to understand. First of all, as you point out, the highly unprecedented nature of moving a call to the server in the Ukraine call. So, it happens, from your experience dealing with this. Sometimes rarely or is it close to unprecedented. Is that a fair word to use?
GREEN: I've never heard of and I've asked colleagues who were in the Obama administration in similar jobs to mine, and they've never heard of the memorandum of a telephone conversation being placed in a restricted, highly restricted server or system with the most compartmented and classified national security information.
Very, very unusual.
Look, I worked for President Bush. He was calling leaders about Iraq, about nuclear weapons, these were sensitive discussions and I never saw anything like this in that case.
So, I want to ask you about that just specifically because you did create transcripts like this in your role. You'd be among those in the call, you all work together, you'd create it and check the facts and make sure it's there for the historical record.
You know, there are some people out there, Mike, who might be saying, look, does this stuff just happen normally? They get to know each other at these world events and they sort of talk off-the-cuff and they may offer each other favors and this is the nasty, dark side of the world, that's the way it operates, and we don't usually see, and there's people who hate Trump who want to get this out there, and that's all this is.
Is that possible or are those people just wrong about how these calls happen and how they're handled?
GREEN: Look, what's clearly different this time and you can see it in the memorandum and the transcript that was released was the president was asking for a personal favor for information on a political opponent. That is unprecedented as far as we know.
And furthermore, he was doing it in a way where the intent was to conceal it in the server where it would not be known to the diplomatic service or the intelligence officials who were responsible for policy. When the president of the United States talk to another world leader, that is a significant diplomatic event. There are things flow from that. The other government would take actions and the ambassador, the secretary of state, intelligence community, maybe the secretary of defense need to know the gist of what was discussed because it will affect their interactions, their deployments of military equipment, their diplomatic interactions.
And that's why we've never seen this before where a transcript was essentially, it appears, hidden in a highly classified system.
BURNETT: All right. Mike, thank you very much. I appreciate your time and perspective.
GREEN: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speaking in an exclusive interview, next.
BURNETT: New tonight, in an exclusive interview, Elizabeth Warren says she wants a Senate vote on impeachment before the Iowa caucuses. The senator who is running neck and neck with Joe Biden in the polls speaking out to CNN tonight. She sat down with our M.J. Lee who asked her if she has worries about the whistleblower's safety.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: I do. And I worry about this whole investigation as it unfolds. Donald Trump and his administration have made clear not just that Donald Trump is willing to break the law but that they're doing their best to try to cover this up and discredit anyone who's trying to get to the truth.
MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: As this process unfolds, do you have any reason to believe that any of your Senate Republican colleagues will vote to convict the president?
WARREN: You know, I don't know, but I see this as a lot more important than politics. Donald Trump has admitted, and it's right there in the documentation, that he has solicited a foreign country to interfere in our 2020 elections. That isn't right. It's a violation of the law. No one is above the law in this country.
And that's why it is so important that Congress bring impeachment proceedings, to hold him accountable. It isn't just about this president. It's about the next president and the one after that and the one after that. This is our constitutional responsibility, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican.
LEE: And do you think that impeachment investigation should be narrowly focused on just the Ukraine issue, or everything else about the president and his conduct while in office?
WARREN: Yes. Right now, I'd like to just see us do the Ukraine issue, because it is so clear, and it is such a clear violation of law. The president is asking for help against one of his political rivals and asking a foreign government for a thing of value for himself personally. That's against the law.
After all that happened in 2016 and the Mueller investigation, the president of the United States knows that. This is not he somehow stumbled into it and didn't think about the consequences. No, he knew. He believed he could break the law and get away with it.
And so did his administration. Look, they didn't leave that transcript in the regular course of transcripts of phone calls with foreign leaders. Why? Because it wasn't a regular call. It was a call that violated the law.
And so, their immediate instinct is let's lock it up, let's make sure nobody can see it, let's cover it up so no one's there. And that's why it is that this impeachment proceeding is so important on this issue.
LEE: Do you think it's important that all of this be wrapped up before voting begins in February?
WARREN: Oh, I hope that it is. I'd like to see us get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. That was Elizabeth Warren talking to our MJ Lee.
OUTFRONT next, an exclusive investigation with Lisa Ling.
BURNETT: This Sunday, Lisa Ling is back with an all new season of "This is Life." And in her first episode this season, she is taking on a topic arguably one of the biggest taboos in our society, pornography. And with the rise of online porn, it has become even easier to access for all ages.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA LING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Porn. Every kid who has access to a computer or smartphone has access to porn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was exposed when I was seven or eight.
LING (on camera): Would you say that porn was your sex ed? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our generation is consumed by pornography.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the largest epidemic that not a lot of people want to talk about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And Lisa Ling is with me now. Look, I mean, just hearing that, and you go into such great detail and at such young ages. This is upsetting, OK. It is hard to hear and is truly upsetting.
What drew you to the topic for the series, Lisa?
LING: Look, Erin, porn has always been around and online porn has been around for a long time. But it's just the ease of access that concerns me. And even if you have the most stringent filters, kids are smart. They can bypass these things.
If you put a couple of words into Google that aren't particularly lascivious, you click images, and you can be astounded by what comes up. Now, if you are a young child, you hear these words at the yard at 8 years old and you put it in Google, if you've never had a conversation about what sex is, what relationships are like, what -- how our bodies even function, it can have a pretty damaging impact on you. And it can shape how you perceive sex and relationships, how you look at the opposite sex or even the same sex.
And so I'm trying to encourage parents, first of all, to wake up and recognize how easy it is to access just unlimited amounts of pornography --
BURNETT: But you're saying even with all the restrictions and restraints that you may put on, the controls on your devices, it's still there.
LING: Yes, because all kids also -- all kids now seem to have devices. You know, after 12 years old. So if you put filters on yours, they can go and look at their friends'. But they can also bypass the filters because they're pretty innovative and ingenuitive.
BURNETT: And quickly before we go, there are some places people go to get help. You're going to talk about that I know in the documentary.
LING: Absolutely. You know, porn addiction is not a medically recognized disorder. But there are websites, there are communities out there where people are banding together and trying to help each other.
BURNETT: Wow. And then you can go and do that. I know there's more about that and you talked to a lot of those. It's among the amazing things Lisa does, she's not affront of confronting it and trying -- not afraid of confronting it and trying to help people.
So, thank you very much, Lisa Ling.
And be sure not to miss it, the season premiere of "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING", Sunday at 10:00.
And thank you so much for joining us.
"AC360" with Anderson begins now.