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President Trump's Call With The President of Ukraine Isn't the Only Call the White House Has Gone to Incredible Lengths to Hide; Sources: The White House Took Remarkable Steps to Prevent a Call With Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and the Russian President Vladimir Putin from ever becoming public; The Washington Post: President Trump Told Two Senior Russian Officials at the Oval Office That he Was Not Concerned About Moscow's Interference in the 2016 Election. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired September 28, 2019 - 15:00   ET




ANA CABRERA, HOST, CNN NEWSROOM: You are live in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. Thanks for being here with us.

We begin this hour with a Presidency in peril and an impeachment investigation in overdrive. It's hard to over-state what all has developed just since the release of that bombshell whistle-blower complaint accusing President Trump of not just abusing his power, but trying to cover it up, all in the name of taking down a political opponent he might face in next year's election.

We have now learned that President Trump's call with the President of Ukraine, the one in which he asked the leader to investigate Joe Biden, isn't the only call the White House has gone to incredible lengths to hide.

People familiar with the matter tell CNN, the White House has also taken remarkable steps to prevent a call with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and a call with the Russian President Vladimir Putin from ever becoming public.

Now, this comes as The Washington Post reveals a stunning remark President Trump allegedly made during an Oval Office meeting with the Russians. This was way back in 2017. Yes, it is the same meeting where President Trump apparently shared highly classified information and bragged about firing James Comey.

According to The Post, President Trump told the Russians he wasn't concerned that they had interfered in the 2016 election, because the U.S., "did the same in other countries." But wait, there is more.

Sources confirmed to CNN that the Special Envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, has resigned. He is the one who set up a meeting between Rudy Giuliani and an aide to Ukraine's President. Also developing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has now been subpoenaed by three House Committees. Like I said, it is hard to overstate just how much news has been made

in the last day. CNN's White House reporter Jeremy Diamond is live outside the White House for us. Jeremy, a lot to unpack here. Let's start with this new CNN reporting about the length the White House went to, to limit access to records of the President's calls with Putin and Mohammad Bin Salman. What more can you tell us about that?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Ana. Well, we learned already through this whistleblower complaint that the transcript of the President's call with Ukraine President, that now infamous July conversation, that the transcript of that call was moved on to a highly classified system.

And now, CNN is learning that this was not the only time that the White House sought to restrict access to transcripts and records of the President's calls with other foreign leaders. It also happened in the case of a phone conversation with Mohammad Bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. And that call was after the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

And we also know now that at least one of the President's phone conversations with Vladimir Putin, records to that call were also restricted. We saw transcripts of these calls not going out to the people who they normally would go out to, so clearly a change in procedures there.

What we don't know at this point is whether those call transcripts were also moved on to that same highly classified system. We do know of course that those were calls with two very controversial leaders. In the case of Khashoggi, it came out of NBS, forgive me, it came at a time of that sensitive and controversial murder of the journalist.

So we don't know if it was done for political or personal reasons, as it appears to be the case with this Ukraine call, where there was not necessarily anything highly classified on the conversation, but rather perhaps concern among White House officials that the President may have done something inappropriate.

CABRERA: Jeremy, we've uncovered so much in just the last 24 hours. But, you've now learned something else new involving Mitch McConnell?

DIAMOND: That's right. Well, we do know that there were differing opinions at the White House and in administration as to whether or not the White House should release the transcripts of the President's conversation with the Ukrainian President back in July.

We have also now learned, according to a source familiar with the matter, that the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also encouraged the White House to release the transcript of that call that was first reported by The Washington Post.

Of course, this is significant because that call is the - how we learned that the whistleblower and his complaints, the matters that he was discussing in that complaint were corroborated by this phone call.

You saw the President in that transcript of the conversation pushing the President of Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden. So it has certainly become a touch-point of this impeachment inquiry that Democrats are now leading.

But there are certain officials and certain Republican allies who believe that it was a smart move for the President to release this transcript, because perhaps it removes any kind of sense of guilt, because he is putting it out there of his own volition. Ana?

CABRERA: Jeremy Diamond at the White House for us. Thanks, Jeremy.

And more now about that U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine, the diplomat who has now quit his job in the wake of that whistleblower report. Sources tell CNN Kurt Volker resigned yesterday evening. Let's bring in our National Security Reporter, Kylie Atwood. Kylie, I know you've been working to gather more information about this. What can you tell us about his resignation?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, it came pretty suddenly. We've heard a lot about Kurt Volker over the past few days, namely from Rudy Giuliani, who has been waving his cell phone, showing people the text messages that he has between himself and Kurt Volker, who is that special representative to Ukraine for the Trump administration.


Where it gets sticky there is, in that role as a State Department official, he shouldn't be engaging in politically motivated investigations that Giuliani was pushing and that we know Trump had discussed during his phone call with President Zelensky in July.

But the State Department has said, listen, all Ambassador Volker did here was connect Giuliani with an aide of Zelensky's. But what we know from this whistleblower complaint is that it actually was a lot more than that.

The day after Trump spoke with President Zelensky on the phone, the next day Kurt Volker was there on the ground in Ukraine meeting with Zelensky and talking about, according to the complaint, how to navigate the demands made by President Trump. So, it is going to be really interesting to see what Ambassador Volker ends up saying here.

Now, he's left the Trump administration and he should be able to say a little more than he would have, if he was still in the administration. But he has been called forth to talk to Congress about this, and we're expecting that that's going to happen next week.

CABRERA: We know the House, I think it's the House Foreign Affairs Committee that really wants to get him in front of them. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is another one Congress is calling on. They've now subpoenaed the Secretary of State. His name was not mentioned in that whistleblower complaint. What do they want to hear exactly from Mike Pompeo?

ATWOOD: Well, so what they want from Mike Pompeo are documents, State Department documents. So there are the allegations right now as we've seen because there's proof out there that the State Department was involved with Rudy Giuliani's efforts here and President Trump's motivations to encourage Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, which is a political agenda.

So what they want from the State Department are documents that either prove the State Department was involved in that or prove that the State Department wasn't. And the reason that they are subpoenaing the Secretary of State is because he's ignored their multiple requests for these documents over the last few weeks.

So now they're saying, listen, you either provide us with these or else it will be evidence of obstruction. And the reason that that is so significant is because, if it is evidence of obstruction, then it will become a part of this impeachment inquiry that is being navigated right now and put together by those on the Hill.

CABRERA: An impeachment inquiry leads us to bring in a couple other players who are joining us right now. So, Kylie, stay with me because I do want to expand this conversation and bring in Katherine Lucy, The Wall Street Journal White House reporter, and Tolu Olorunnipa who is The Washington Post White House reporter.

Tolu, we're just learning that there is at least one Republican now who is supporting an impeachment inquiry and is willing to say publicly he supports this probe. His name is Mark Amodei, he is from Nevada, and he makes it clear that he supports the inquiry, not necessarily that he supports impeachment, but how significant is this?

TOLU OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: That is immensely significant, because if we know anything about President Trump is that he has a stronghold on the Republican Party.

They have excused a lot of his behavior, they've excused a lot of the doctrine and policies that typically they wouldn't support, but because President Trump has shown that he is willing to take on Republicans, Democrats, attack people on Twitter, he's kept them in line.

The fact there are now certain Republicans that are thinking of whether or not they should back this impeachment inquiry, we're not hearing a lot of Republicans defending the President saying he did nothing wrong. You're hearing, we're deeply troubled, we want to get to the bottom of this. Even if it's not impeachable, I wouldn't have done this.

You heard one Republican on the Intelligence Committee say, Mr. President, this is not okay. So the fact that there is some daylight between the President saying this call was perfect and a number of Republicans saying they have concerns about it could be the first step in what Democrats feel they need to make this a bipartisan impeachment process, where they can have some Republicans come onboard.

And if that happens, that could lead to sort of a snowball effect where more Republicans feel safe breaking with the President. It is definitely not an entire dam breaking yet, but the fact that there is some daylight between a certain number of Republicans and the President is something to watch.


CABRERA: It's at least a crack at this point. There was a remarkable bipartisan moment in the Senate this week, Catherine, where the Senate voted unanimously to force the White House to release that complaint to the Intelligence Committees.

And now, CNN has learned that it was Mitch McConnell who pushed Trump to release the phone call transcript. Is this a sign Republicans have had enough of the stonewalling or even possibly Trump, or did they underestimate what the complaint in the transcript would reveal?

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, I think what we know with the transcript is the President certainly heard a lot of differing opinions about what to do.

But the thinking on the release really was a sense from a lot of people that they should get ahead of the concerns, that they got credit for transparency if they do put it out, and some of the President's defenders and allies will say that there is no sort of direct quid pro quo outlined in the transcript.


And they point to that as another reason to put it out there. And that is certainly what the President is talking about as well.

So, I think in terms of Republicans more broadly, I think we are going to see this play out very quickly. This is really moving like a wrecking ball at this point. And what we saw this week to Tolu's point is there is some sense that there is some caution at least from Republicans. We caught up with a lot of Senators the day the whistleblower complaint came out, and a lot of them just said they hadn't read it yet. So, there was that effort to put - at least put a little bit of pause on it.

CABRERA: I wonder, Kylie, I remember after the Mueller probe and even while that was going on, it didn't seem like other world leaders were too shaken by all of that. How are they reacting to the developments this week?

ATWOOD: So it was the United Nations General Assembly this week. And the meeting between President Trump and President Zelensky was not expected to be a meeting that got a lot of attention. Of course, because of everything, it was the top meeting that everyone was watching.

But diplomats who are here in the city were - I spoke to a lot of them on the sidelines of this and they were kind of surprised that this had taken over, right, because there are so many other pressing national security issues this Trump administration needs to be dealing with right now; North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran.

I mean, those are just a few of them. Because of what's happening here, the diplomats that I'm talking to from those countries and from the region are saying that they aren't getting the attention from the Trump administration on the issues that they really need to be working on.

CABRERA: Mike Pence, the Vice President is named in this whistleblower complaint, Tolu. The whistleblower says President Trump instructed the Vice President to cancel his attendance at Zelensky's inauguration, and President Trump made sure to remind reporters this week that Pence had talked to the Ukrainian President as well. Where does the Vice President fit into all of this?

OLORUNNIPA: He is starting to have more of a central role and the Democrats in the House are going to want to know more about what Mike Pence talked about when he talked with Zelensky. He actually went to Poland and had a meeting around the time that the Trump administration had become very public that they were holding back almost $400 million in military aid.

So Pence has this meeting with Zelensky. He comes out and says we didn't discuss Biden, but we talked about corruption. Democrats are going to want to know whether or not that discussion got a little bit closer to that quid pro quo that many Democrats say was evident in the President's call. Maybe not explicit, but whether or not Pence was involved in anything like that in telling Zelensky that, if you want to get this money, that we need to see X, Y, Z from your government in terms of investigating Joe Biden.

Pence is going to have to be able to show that he did not do that, because right now, the Democrats are saying that the U.S. government led by President Trump with Vice President Pence as the mouthpiece, was putting pressure on the Ukrainians to investigate Joe Biden, or else not get the money that was going to be very influential in their defense against the Russians on their border.

CABRERA: Catherine, where is the President at out right now, what do you know?

LUCEY: We've heard a lot from the President the last couple days. He is frustrated. I think that may be an understatement. He has been pushing back on these claims, and I think we're seeing him sort of try out a lot of the playbook we saw him deploy during the Russia probe. So, he is talking about a witch-hunt, he is trying to discredit the information, he is defending his behavior, and I think we are likely to see more of that in the days to come.

CABRERA: Catherine Lucey, Tolu Olorunnipa, and Kylie Atwood, great to have all of you with us. Thanks so much.

We're learning of another conversation that the White House tried to limit access to and it concerns that now infamous Oval Office meeting the President had with two high ranking Russian officials in the wake of the firing of James Comey.

The stunning statement Trump supposedly made next in the CNN Newsroom.



CABRERA: New revelations from that infamous Oval Office meeting in May of 2017 where the President revealed highly classified information to several top Kremlin officials. According to The Washington Post, President Trump told the two senior Russian officials that he was not concerned about Moscow's interference in the 2016 election, because, he said the U.S. did the same in other countries.

Those comments prompted White House officials to seal off access to any remarks made in that meeting. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responding to this report saying, if true, the reports that President Trump may have told close associates of Putin that he didn't mind Russian interference in the U.S. elections are extremely harmful to both our national security and the integrity of our elections. It is one of the most disturbing things we've learned yet.

CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, helped break this story. Josh, what else can you tell us about the President's comments as they relate to Russian election meddling in 2016?

JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR THE WASHINGTON POST: If you remember, that was a pretty chaotic time in the White House. He had just fired James Comey the FBI Director, Special Counsel was soon to be appointed, and he had He had two Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak, two top officials into the Oval Office.

In that meeting, he made several comments. He said he had just fired the nutjob James Comey that relieved pressure, he revealed classified intel about a military operation, and then he also in the meeting according to our sources that we spoke to downplayed Russian interference in the election, saying that the United States also interferes in other countries' elections and that the President's telling that it was not that big of a deal. And the comments left a number of his top officials very surprised.

After the meeting, the President soon flew off to Saudi Arabia for his first major trip as President of the United States, and officials back at the White House took some pretty extreme steps to make sure that the comments, the memorandum of the conversation that is normally circulated inside the building, did not go to a wide audience.

They really wanted to limit who it went to because they were fearful that it would become public. And parts of that meeting became public long ago, as you noted in your opening there, and as reported by The New York Times and The Washington Post. But he said more and that's what we revealed last night, that he also downplayed the interference in the election.

CABRERA: I mean, this never came out in Mueller's report. Why are we just learning about this? Do we know what happened to the memorandum of that meeting?

DAWSEY: Well, that is a good question, and we certainly have been trying to see that ourselves. We know that Mueller asked some questions about this meeting. That was part of his report that delineated this meeting, but that was not in the report.


That was a pretty significant meeting for the White House, and folks have talked about that meeting now for even two years later. There are vivid recollections of what happened that day.

CABRERA: Listen to President Trump in Helsinki last summer, when he was pressed on Russia's interference, while standing next to President Putin.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: All I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia.


CABRERA: Josh, I guess the question now, did he truly not believe it was Russia or did he just not care?

DAWSEY: Well, the President has always been skeptical of the Russian interference and the prevalence of it. He sees it as a way for his critics to undermine the legitimacy of his election. He has gotten very frustrated at times when people have said that Russia's interference had something to do with the outcome.

And the President has always been very reticent to admit the Russian interference in the election in 2016, even though his intelligence agencies have done it. At times, he has conceded that it happened, but at other times, he's really pushed back on the scope and the significance of it. And in this meeting early on in the Presidency, he told the Russians that he was not that concerned about it, because the United States meddles in other countries' elections as well.

CABRERA: How could these comments that he made in this Oval Office meeting with the two Russians play into the impeachment inquiry that's officially under way?

DAWSEY: Well, it is too early to really know at this point. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, has been telling her caucus that she mainly wants to keep the impeachment inquiry about Ukraine and what happened in this call with Zelensky and the whistleblower of that complaint, with President Zelensky of Ukraine, of course.

But, there are other members of the House who are looking at various episodes, potentially including this and wanting to build a case in the impeachment inquiry. But, it is really hard to say how much it will play into that yet.

CABRERA: OK, Josh Dawsey, we know you'll stay on top of it, and we'll continue the conversation. Thank you for being here.

DAWSEY: Thanks for having me. CABRERA: Just how concerning is President Trump's phone call with

Ukraine or the additional allegations in the whistleblower complaint? We'll ask the former UN Ambassador under President Obama, next. You're live in the CNN Newsroom.



CABRERA: The man who urged the White House to release the transcript of President Trump's phone call with the President of Ukraine, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, that's according to a source familiar with that phone conversation.

And the transcript shows the President asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Now, earlier in the week, McConnell dismissed people who were critical of the President's call, calling it "laughable that it was anything close to an impeachable offense." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a gathering of Democrats in New Jersey last night that she had no choice but to formally start an impeachment inquiry.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Our founders could never have thought that anyone could be so abusive of our system. They knew that people might try to take advantage of this and that in the White House, but never so abusive of the system. So, that whole thought that, if you don't have the checks and balances, you don't have a Republic.


CABRERA: My next guest is the former UN Ambassador under President Obama and a Pulitzer Prize winning author, whose new book is called "The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir." Samantha Power, thank you so much for joining us.


CABRERA: I'm going to get your book, of course, in just a moment. But first, I have to ask you about the fallout from the President's call with the Ukrainian President. You tweeted this, that Donald Trump thought it was a good idea to release this transcript as a staggering testament to the endemic corruption of his administration. He and his close advisers have lost the ability to even see what is incriminating. Ambassador, that is quite the statement.

POWER: Well, I mean, I think what we have seen from the beginning of this Presidency is a pattern where what matters most to the President of the United States is his own welfare, his own self-aggrandizement, his own wealth, his own political fortune.

And there are so many examples of this, but here is an example where the President is blatantly extorting a foreign leader, a foreign leader who is governing a country that has been invaded by Russia, a country that interfered in our election previously.

And our President is trying to advance his own political welfare, rather than look out for an ally and deliver what that country needs in order to enhance its security. So, the fact that people put that transcript out and thought that it would be somehow helpful for the President I think just speaks to how accustomed the people around President Trump have become to this pattern of behavior.

CABRERA: And yet, we're learning there was an effort to make that transcript more secret, to put it in a more secure system, a place where they put the most highly classified documents. So, how do you I guess marry those two?

POWER: Yes, no I think that is a very fair point and that of course has just been revealed in the last 24 hours. But putting a transcript like this, which could reasonably be classified, because it's an exchange between the President and a foreign leader, but putting it in a special compartmented code word system, which is something that the lawyers appear to have insisted upon, speaks to the fact that, outside this little circle of people who are accustomed to this level of corruption and self-aggrandizement and even bullying and extortion, somebody who is a little further away looks at it and says oh whoops, this is not kosher, this is not allowed.

CABRERA: Given where we are today, it is kind of interesting to look back to what the President said just a couple years ago in his first address to the United Nations, when the President spoke about the need to protect whistleblowers. Take a listen.



TRUMP: We seek a United Nations that regains the trust of the people around the world. In order to achieve this, the United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistleblowers and focus on results rather than on process.


CABRERA: Are those words coming back to haunt him?

POWER: I don't think there is any evidence that President Trump gets haunted by his past statements, but it is clear that what's good for the goose is not so good for the gander. And there's a hypocrisy, of course, in that. But I mean, what's important is that others step forward.

President trump is going to look out for President Trump. There is no mystery there, there's no secret there. I tried to describe in the book that I've just written, The Education of an Idealist, the importance of trust in national security, the importance of trust in healing our divisions, and something like this and then the way he just bunkers down and goes into attack mode, attacking people who worked very closely for him, blaming other people rather than taking responsibility himself. That makes it really difficult to go to other countries and to summon

their support and their help when we need it. And we need most of the threats facing the American people today are ones that cross borders.

CABRERA: Talking more about your book, as an idealist, are there lessons you can offer someone in the current administration who is guided by a moral compass, but may feel uncomfortable about what is happening inside right now?

POWER: Well, as I described in the book, and I try to bring people into meetings, the meetings that we had don't look much like I think the meetings that occurred today. There isn't a lot of national security process of the kind that has existed for decades unfortunately, and I think that is going to produce more and more sloppiness as time goes on.

But what's really important in those meetings, my biggest regrets in government are not occasions where I raise my hand and I say, Mr. President, President Obama, I disagree, I think we should go in a different direction. I don't have any regrets about that.

He would sometimes get irritated with me. I described in the book him saying you get on my nerves. My greatest regrets are when I didn't raise my voice. When I had a thought and I looked around and I thought, I don't have as much experience up on Capitol Hill as other people in the room, I will defer to them, for example, on whether we go to Congress after the red line was crossed in Syria.

On Yemen, not raising my hand loudly enough and often enough to cut the cord with Saudi Arabia, as we should have done long ago, not providing assistance to what has become just a devastating cruel war.

So my message I guess to people, civil servants and political appointees, is your life is long. This is a short, may feel like a long period, but one's ethics need to be enduring and you want to be able to look back and say, I said what was on my mind, I raised concerns, even though I know my President - the current President likes yes-men and women and likes people to flatter him, my duty is to my country.

CABRERA: Former UN Ambassador and author of the new book "The Education of an Idealist," Samantha Power, great to have you with us. Thank you so much.

POWER: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: 2020 Democrats are on the trail trying to navigate impeachment talks. Will their messaging to voters on policies be overshadowed by this controversy? You're live in the CNN Newsroom.



CABRERA: 2020 front-runner Elizabeth Warren is holding a Town Hall in South Carolina today, as several polls show her neck and neck now with former Vice President Joe Biden. Listen to what Warren had to say about impeachment and the inquiry against President Trump.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think that this impeachment inquiry is about politics at all. I hope we go forward with care and deliberation, but that we do it quickly. I think it's important. The American people are counting on us, Congress, to do our constitutional duty.


CABRERA: CNN's Senior Political Reporter Nia-Malika Henderson is following Warren on the trail today. Nia-Malika, Warren is expected to speak any minute now. What do we expect her focus to be?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, CNN: Yes, Warren likes to stick to her plan, and her plan is usually to talk about the economy, talk about income inequality, talk about her healthcare plan, talk about her (inaudible), so that's what we expect.

That is what her message has been. That is what has drawn voters to her. A lot of voters here, as you can see, they're gathering behind me. Some of these folks have been here since very early in the morning, standing out in the hot South Carolina sun here in Rock Hill.

She has addressed impeachment in some of her remarks in previous days. Maybe she will talk about that. But by and large, she is sticking to her message that she would be a fighter that can really bring bold change to America, which is what she thinks is needed at this time.

CABRERA: All 19 Democratic Presidential candidates support this impeachment inquiry. A lot of them are calling for impeachment period, but as I recall, impeachment wasn't even mentioned at the last debate. Does this now become a bigger focus of the 2020 race?

HENDERSON: In some ways, yes. You think about Elizabeth Warren, she was out front talking about impeachment way back when - right when the Mueller Report came out. And that is one of the reasons I talked to some voters here. They like her boldness on there.

But you also find many of these Democrats aren't getting bogged down by impeachment therefore. But they're not letting that drown out their message about any number of issues, health care, for instance, corruption, corporate greed. All of these topics I expect Elizabeth Warren to keep talking about.

Again, it is what has made her crowd swell.


You see back here, she has got a pretty good crowd in this black town, it's not a black town, it's an HBCU, and that is one of the things she is trying to do obviously is to attract African-American voters, about two-thirds of the voters in this primary state.

But as you can see, not a lot of African-American voters in this crowd. Today, she is going to have to do better with those voters, if she is going to remain competitive. You see her obviously doing really well in national polls. But when it comes to South Carolina, she hasn't been doing too well. That is part of the goal of this event to connect with those voters as well.

CABRERA: Okay. Nia-Malika Henderson in Rock Hill, South Carolina, with Warren. We know you'll bring us any highlights from her event today. Thanks so much.

Congress has been down the impeachment road before, most recently of course with President Bill Clinton. So what happened in that case, which divided Washington more than 20 years ago? We'll take you back. You're live in the CNN Newsroom.


CABRERA: The most talked about person in Washington this weekend is someone whose identity we don't even know, the man or woman who wrote that complaint about President Trump's conversations about the President of Ukraine, the so-called whistleblower.


This certainly isn't the first time a single person has spoken up and triggered events that reached the highest office in the land. CNN's Athena Jones takes a look at how whistleblowers have sometimes changed the course of U.S. history.


ATHENA JONES, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: We still don't know who the whistleblower is. But the complaint's contents have catapulted Washington into an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

The now declassified document alleging Trump tried to get Ukraine to interfere with the 2020 U.S. election. With all the talk of a whistleblower in Washington in the past few days, what does that exactly mean?

It's defined as an employee who brings wrongdoing by an employer or other employees to the attention of a government or law enforcement agency, and who is commonly vested by statute with rights and remedies for retaliation.

In this broad category of people, one of the most famous in American history, Mark Felt better known as Deep Throat. The FBI informant helped take down the Nixon administration, divulging crucial information about Watergate.

And in 1971, military analyst Daniel Ellsberg leaked top-secret Department of Defense information about why the U.S. entered the Vietnam War. William Binney and Thomas Drake were NSA officials who informed the Inspector General about government surveillance programs they perceived as invading citizens' privacy by monitoring their Internet activity. FBI agent Coleen Rowley flagged then FBI Director Robert Mueller about

intelligence failures before the 9/11 attacks, and Sergeant Joseph Darby who told military investigators in 2004 about inmate abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Not everyone who blew the whistle on the government has been rewarded. For some, it meant the end of their careers, or even worse.

BOBBY CHRISTINE, US ATTORNEY SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: --willful purposeful disclosure caused exceptionally grave damage to US national security.

JONES: Former NSA contractor, Reality Winner leaked a secret report about Russian hacking of the 2016 election to a news organization. Now she's serving a sentence of more than five years, after pleading guilty to leaking that classify information to the media.

CHRISTINE: Winner will serve a term of incarceration that will give pause to others who are entrusted with our country's sensitive national security information.

JONES: The Air Force veteran's mother telling CNN in March she's being painted as evil.

BILLIE WINNER-DAVIS, REALITY WINNER'S MOTHER: I think that we as Americans deserve to that proof. And so, how is it that she put us in danger by giving us that proof?

JONES: Winner is the first person arrested under the Trump administration using the Espionage Act established in 1917 during World War I, originally intended to prosecute anyone interfering in US war efforts, so people like spies.

In modern times, it's the same law that sent Edward Snowden into exile in Russia. The former intelligence contractor accused of leaking NSA documents, revealing a secret global surveillance program.

GENERAL KEITH ALEXANDER, FORMER NSA DIRECTOR: These leaks have inflamed and sensationalized for ignoble purposes the work that intelligence community does lawfully under strict oversight and compliance.

JONES: Earlier this month, Snowden said he'd like to return to the US if he's guaranteed a fair trial.

EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA WHISTLEBLOWER: I'm not asking for a parade, I'm not asking for a pardon, I'm not asking for a pass. What I'm asking for is a fair trial, and this is the bottom line that any American should require.

JONES: And in May, the Justice Department indicting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of 18 Espionage Act counts, ordering him extradited to the U.S. after spending seven years at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Assange charged with conspiring to help former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who spent two separate terms behind bars in connection with leaking secret Defense Department documents in 2010 published in WikiLeaks website.

President Obama commuted her sentence and she was released in 2017. Manning telling CNN in May she has no regrets.

CHELSEA MANNING, FORMER ARMY INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: I did what I did with the information that I had, the knowledge that I had, and the tools and resources that I had at the time. In 2010, when all this happened was very different landscape.

JONES: Athena Jones, CNN New York.


CABRERA: When natural disasters strike, 2017's top ten CNN Hero Stan Hayes delivers a key ingredient, comfort in the form of barbecue. Operation Barbecue Relief mobilizes their army of pitmasters and volunteers to feed survivors and first responders across the US.

And now, Stan and his organization are going international, setting up a mobile kitchen in Florida and flying in meals to the Bahamas by the thousands. We caught up with them as they hit a major milestone.


STAN HAYES, OPERATION BBQ RELIEF'S CO-FOUNDER AND CEO: We are getting ready to ship over to the Bahamas 10,000 meals. This is our first international mission. Our 3 millionth meal since we started the organization in 2011 is going over on this plane. For us, that is a huge milestone.


We hate to see disasters happen, but we are so blessed that we can provide them comfort through a good hot barbecue meal. The folks there that just need a good hot meal, they need a lift up and that is what these meals are.


HAYES: You bet, thank you, sir. If it takes their mind away from what is happening to them for a few minutes, it means a lot.

CABRERA: To see more of Operation BBQ Relief mission, go to


CABRERA: She's back, Lisa Ling back this Sunday with an all new season of This Is Life. And in the first episode, she is taking on another taboo topic, online pornography. Lisa looks at how digital porn is addicting watchers and badly damaging an entire generation's perception of sex and intimacy. Here is a preview.


LISA LING, HOST OF THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING, CNN: Before you all took this class, had anyone ever spoken to you or talked to you about porn?



LING: When I was your age, I didn't have any sex education in school at all. In fact, my grandmother when I was a kid was like, never let a man see you naked. That's how I was raised, like super conservative. And, if I had a phone and could access hardcore porn, I can't even imagine how I would have dealt with that.


What do you think the right age is for kids to start learning about sex and even learning about porn?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like it is when you first give your child a phone or what someone has access to like computers or Internet, that's when they should be told because they will find it one way or another.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not something that's really taught in school and that's a place where we basically spend like our entire lives. So I feel like it should be a mandatory class.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, sex ed here in the United States is this like big kerfuffle of nonsense and confusion, because it teaches you how to be safe, but not the pleasures. And porn teaches you the pleasures sort of, but not how to be safe.

CABRERA: Again, an all-new season of This Is Life with Lisa Ling, premieres tomorrow at 10 PM Eastern only on CNN.


CABRERA: Hello on this Saturday. You are live in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York, and we begin with new developments in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump.

CNN has now learned that President Trump's call with the President of Ukraine, the one in which he asked the leader to investigate Joe Biden isn't the only call the White House has gone to great lengths to hide.

People familiar with the matter tell CNN, the White House has also taken--