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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Trump Raised Biden with Xi in June Call; Wall Street Journal: President Trump Ordered Removal of Ukraine Ambassador After Complaints from Giuliani and Others; Washington Post: Ex-Ukraine Envoy Told Lawmakers Giuliani Was Warned that Ukrainians Were Feeding Him Unreliable Info on Bidens; Wash. Post: Former Ukraine Envoy Says Giuliani Was Warned He Was Getting "Untrustworthy" Allegations Against Bidens; President Trump Says China Should Also Investigate Bidens As Ex-Envoy To Ukraine Testifies For 9+ Hours On Capitol Hill In Impeachment Probe; Pence Told About Trump-Zelensky Call The Day After It Happened; Wash. Post: IRS Whistleblower Complained Treasury Appointee Tired To Interfere With Audit Of President Trump Or VP Pence. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 3, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
There are multiple breaking developments -- developments and revelations I should say in the impeachment inquiry, many of them involving President Trump's repeated attempts to get Ukraine and now China to interfere in the 2020 election by investigating Joe and Hunter Biden.
There is a lot to talk about tonight. So we just want to put it up on the screen so you can get a better sense and keep track of it all. These things -- these stories are breaking fast and often.
"The New York Times" just within the last hour reporting, and I'm quoting from it now, two of President Trump's top envoys to Ukraine drafted a statement for the country's new president in August that would have committed Ukraine to pursuing the investigations sought by Mr. Trump into his political rivals.
There is also new reporting as well that President Trump ordered the ambassador to Ukraine removed because the president's allies, including lawyer Rudy Giuliani, said she was interfering with the president's efforts against Biden.
Also, late word that Kurt Volker, the president's special envoy for Ukraine told House investigators today that Giuliani was warned about the Ukrainian sources of the Biden allegations that he was peddling. The message to Giuliani, that he was being fed, quote, untrustworthy information.
Additionally, CNN has learned that Volker told house investigators he warned Ukraine's leadership not to interfere in U.S. politics. This was after the call with President Trump at the end of July. In other words, he told them not to do what the president and Giuliani and later the Vice President Pence and others were pressuring them to do.
There is yet more reporting from Volker's appearance today. Text messages, including one from the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine at the time telling American colleagues, quote, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance to Ukraine for help with a political campaign.
And finally, on top of all that, there is new word tonight of another whistle-blower, this time at the IRS, alleging political interference involving the president or vice president's tax returns.
All of this at the end of a news day dominated by President Trump openly doing what he has loudly denied doing in private and what he says was his perfect phone call with the president of Ukraine.
Today, the president standing on the south lawn of the House asked President Zelensky of Ukraine and China's president as well to criminally investigate Joe Biden and his son hunter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, what exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call? Exactly.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I would think that if they were honest about it that sort they would start a major investigation into the Bidens. It's a very simple answer. They should investigate the Bidens. And by the way, likewise China should start an investigation into the Bidens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: There it was. A U.S. president openly pushing two foreign governments to criminally investigate his leading political rival.
Just within the last couple of hours, CNN has learned about a call between Presidents Trump and Xi, a call that was stored in the same code word classified system as that call with the Ukrainian president.
So, let's begin with that. CNN's Pamela Brown joins us.
So talk to me about what you've learned about this call.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we have learned that during this phone call with Chinese President Xi back in June, President Trump raised Joe Biden's political prospects as well as those of Senator Elizabeth Warren, who by then had started rising in the polls. This is according to two people familiar with the discussion.
So, it shows the president mixing foreign policy with domestic politics. And in that call, Anderson, Trump also told Xi that he would remain quiet on the Hong Kong protests as trade talks progressed.
Now, sources tell me, Anderson, that the president believed that China would not be able to reach as good as a trade deal with Biden or Warren as it would have with him because he was fearing that they were going to hold out until after the election to strike a deal.
Now the White House record of that call we're told was later stored in that highly secured electronics system used to house that now infamous call with Ukraine's president and which helped spark the whistleblower complaint that has led Democrats to open an impeachment inquiry.
White House secretary Stephanie Grisham we should note said in a statement to CNN, we're not going to start comments with every conversation President Trump has with world leaders other than to say his comments are always appropriate -- Anderson.
COOPER: And has there been reaction from China either about this call in June or what the president said on the South Lawn today?
BROWN: There has been quite a reaction, Anderson, after the president boldly called on China to investigate the Biden's allegations, the Biden allegations.
We're told that Chinese officials were basically sent into scramble mode. One of them, a diplomat saying, this is quite chaotic.
We do not want to get into the middle of U.S. politics.
Now, one Trump ally outside the White House described receiving a message from Chinese government officials asking, hey, is President Trump serious when he suggested China open an investigation into Biden? The response, investigating corruption is an easy way to earn goodwill with Trump.
Now, the Chinese did not immediately clarify if they would be launching an investigation or if they would make it public this they do. There is no evidence, we should note, Anderson, that the former vice president received money from China.
And last week, one of Hunter Biden's lawyers told "The Washington Post" that he hadn't received any return or compensation on the account of the investment or his position on the board of directors. So, his lawyer basically dismissing these allegations.
But it is significant that in the wake of the impeachment proceedings by the Democrats because of the president's call with Ukraine, the president called on China to investigate Biden, and now we're learning that in June, the president raised Biden in the conversation in the context of domestic politics -- Anderson.
COOPER: Pamela Brown, appreciate it.
A lot to get to. We should note that just moments ago, presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted her reaction to Pam's reporting, saying and I quote: Trump can say what he wants about me, but it's outrageous that any president would sell out the people of Hong Kong behind closed doors. The public must see the transcript of Trump's call with Xi and we need a leader who will stand up for our values.
Now, more new reporting, this from "The Wall Street Journal", on the role that Rudy Giuliani and others played in the president's order to remove the ambassador to Ukraine, the one whom he later bad-mouthed on that call to Ukraine's president.
Joining us for that reporting is Michael Bender, who shares the "Wall Street Journal" byline on the story. He is also CNN political analyst.
Michael, you'd lave out what you learned about the president's involvement in the removal of the ambassador. Just explain the latest information that you have.
MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WSJ: Sure. The headline on this story and the news that we were chasing on this is that President Trump is the one who in fact ordered the removal of the Ukrainian ambassador earlier this spring. And the reason he did that was that he was getting information from Rudy Giuliani and others outside the administration that the ambassador was anti-Trump, was talking poorly about the president, and was also blocking Rudy Giuliani's efforts to push Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, who is obviously a 2020 presidential candidate and a potential rival to Mr. Trump.
COOPER: We should point out, President Trump, he didn't deny it, but he said that he didn't remember if he had her removed or somebody else did. But Rudy Giuliani doesn't deny that he was bad-mouthing the ambassador, career professional to the president. He told you and your colleagues that he told the president that his supporters were concerned about the ambassador as well.
Is that right?
BENDER: That's totally right. The president was asked why he wanted the ambassador out earlier today, and he said he couldn't recall -- he couldn't remember if he recalled her or somebody else. I'm not sure what he meant there. The ambassador never talked to the president and never talked to actually Mike Pompeo either. So I think if he's talking than direct, direct conversation, that's definitely true.
But we have sources around the administration telling us that it was in fact the president who was adamant about removing her. And not only that, but Rudy Giuliani tells us in our story that he reminded -- this has been going on for a while. His investigation, his pursuits in the Ukraine have been going on for a while. He says he reminded the president in the spring that the president in fact had wanted her out. And that set off a cascade of phone calls that included Mike Pompeo and Rudy Giuliani talking about how to get rid of the ambassador.
COOPER: So is there any indication that Secretary Pompeo did anything to defend the ambassador who by all accounts really hadn't done anything wrong, other than apparently not supported this idea of investigating the Bidens? And did he push back against this?
BENDER: Well, that's a good question, and two important points there. As we also say in our story, no one from the White House or the State Department or anyone in government can say -- point to any actual proof that the Ambassador Yovanovitch, Marie Yovanovitch was a problem.
And even when Rudy Giuliani goes on television, and Joe diGenova and some of these other allies, they never have information to point to say she was a problem. As to the question about whether Pompeo defended her or protected her, Giuliani says that he talked to Mike Pompeo to tell him that the State Department was protecting her, that the president had wanted her out for the better part of a year, and she wasn't out.
How she was protected it's unclear, but I can tell you with certainty that at the end of the day, Mike Pompeo agreed with the president and agreed that she had to go.
COOPER: Michael Bender, fascinating reporting. Thank you very much.
BENDER: Thank you.
COOPER: Appreciate it. Joining us now is CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, former State Department spokesperson and Obama White House communications director, Jen Psaki, CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen, and "New York Times" White House correspondent, Maggie Haberman.
Maggie, you and your colleagues at "The New York Times" have also some reporting about the president in the Ukraine. What is it?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Our understanding is there was a draft of a statement that was done by the ambassador of Ukraine, Gordon Sondland in addition with Kurt Volker, the State Department official who was on the hill today testifying behind closed doors about this whole issue. The statement was presented to staff, to the Ukraine President Zelensky as something he could say publicly that they would investigate Burisma, this company that Hunter Biden had worked for and commit to investigating what they believed was involvement by the Ukraine in the 2016 elections, or what they believed could exist.
Ultimately, the statement was never issued. But it does, again, show a desire to try to bend foreign policy to the president's political needs. And I believe that this is something that came up on the Hill today.
COOPER: So this is the -- the U.S. ambassador who is involved in this, this is the person who replaced the ambassador who had been removed by President Trump?
HABERMAN: Right. And Gordon Sondland was a big contributor to the president, was somebody who -- you know, there were text messages about this statement that they were drafting that they were hoping to get Zelensky to issue publicly, because it would be a commitment, basically, to an investigation that hadn't been made previously. COOPER: And the text message is -- I'm not sure if -- there has been
so many different stories today. I'm not sure if it's "The Times" that has them, but I saw text messages from, this and I guess Volker was one of the people on the text messages, which is how they came out. In which it seems to indicate the current ambassador was concerned, essentially saying that this is -- they're holding up aid in order to advance, you know, an attack against the president's political opponent, and the ambassador to the European Union essentially said that's not the case, and let's take this discussion offline.
HABERMAN: Correct. And excuse me. I should be clear. Sondland was the ambassador to the E.U., and I misunderstood you before you were talking. And he said yes, let's not continue this back and forth over texts. Said there is no quid pro quo and was explicit about this.
But again, it is still going to raise questions about why the aid was being held, what the goal was in getting this statement in front of staff to President Zelensky in the hopes that he would actually make a public concession that would then be appeasing to the president and to Rudy Giuliani.
COOPER: David, I mean this reporting, does it make it seem like the president's personal political agenda is essentially under pressure being promoted by certain members within the State Department, at his urging, including the ambassador to -- the new ambassador to Ukraine?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. The president's pressure for this result is ensnared in now one official after another, one cabinet officer after another. It does go in the State Department. I think standing back from today, I must tell you, Anderson, there are not many days in Washington that one can call historic, even though they may be eventful.
But today, it came darn close. This is a -- calling out and inviting China, our chief rival to interfere in our elections by opening an investigation that would further Donald Trump's political interests, to bring China into the middle of this after bringing Russia in. Remember, during the campaign telling the Russians to go ahead and hack Hillary's emails.
COOPER: Right. That was said to be a joke. That was said to be a joke according to his supporters.
GERGEN: Yes, his supporters, bad joke. But then telling the Russian officials in his office that he didn't really care whether the Russians were interfering with our elections.
To tell that about both of our chief rivals in the world is so deeply offensive to the spirit of the Constitution, to what Hamilton was talking about in Federalist 68. What Madison said in his notes, that they believe that the gravest threat that could be posed to the United States by a foreign power would be to interfere in our elections of a president. And here the president is just doing this cavalierly, openly. He is sort of daring the House to impeach him. COOPER: Right. And, Jeff, what's fascinating about this, Vice
President Pence during the election, during the debate, he looked at the camera and a sort of said with great solemnity, of course, it's absolutely impossible to in any way think that it's OK for a foreign power to interfere in an American election, now seems completely on board with it because his boss wants him to, and he's going along with it.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the fact that the vice president is a toady is not -- is not news or a surprise. But what really is extraordinary here is that the fact -- I mean, David I think got to it. The facts are increasingly not in dispute.
Basically, the president has acknowledged that it is official U.S. government policy to encourage, demand that Ukraine assist his political campaign by finding dirt on Joe Biden. I mean, that's just increasingly clear. And the question is, what are the consequences of that?
I mean, is the president going to be impeached? Is he going to be removed from office? Because the facts increasingly are not really in dispute. The only thing that's in dispute is, what are the consequences? And I still think that's very much up for grabs.
COOPER: Well, you haven't heard really anything from Republicans in any way saying, wow, that's really outrageous. The president appealed to China.
Jen, as if China has a great legal system and a strong, you know, unbiased investigative levers of government. The idea that --
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Exactly.
COOPER: -- America is appealing to China to investigate an American citizen and company, the whole thing is -- it's nuts.
PSAKI: It is completely bananas, nuts, every fruit or vegetable or nut you can think of. You know, I think that's a really important point, Anderson. In this case, the lessons that Trump has learned, when he made that -- he calls it a joke, but when he made that call for those emails to find those emails, we know now from reporting and from the Mueller report that the Russian intelligence agency were listening.
COOPER: Yes, they sprang into action.
PSAKI: They sprang into action, right?
And so, the lesson he's learned is that this works. And he as also learned as Jeffrey said there aren't really consequences. As it relates to China, he went out there overtly today. I think we're all still a little bit in shock about this, and called on China to look for dirt on Biden, publicly.
China, as you said, they don't have the same standards of free and fair elections. They don't have the same values that we have as United States historically or at least that we've had historically.
PSAKI: What's to stop them from doing this? And next week, there are negotiations. They have every reason to do this.
COOPER: Right, well, that's the thing. Trump's supporters will say look, there is no quid pro quo with China here, but yes, there is, and it doesn't even need to be stated. There are negotiations, incredibly high level, incredibly important negotiations going on over trade.
And the message to China is, you know, you do me a solid here, investigate Biden. Who knows how will -- maybe it will grease the wheels here.
PSAKI: Exactly. They're coming next week. These negotiations, there is a great deal of money, tariffs on Chinese goods, not to mention how much this is impacting farmers and agriculture in the United States.
But the Chinese want these negotiations to go well. They want these tariffs to go away. They have every reason to listen to what the president of the United States is saying.
PSAKI: And try to deliver.
COOPER: And, David Gergen, just very briefly, the message to China which is to Jen's point, there are things that matter about farmers and he's essentially saying I might give China a break on some things that affect American farmers if it helps me in my election against Joe Biden.
We've got to take a quick break. We're going continue this discussion.
We should note Representative Eric Swalwell, house intelligence committee member told reporters they plan to release the evidence tonight they got from Kurt Volker. So stand by for that.
More ahead, including new reporting that Rudy Giuliani was warned that some of what he was peddling was based on dubious information from dubious case.
Also, a member of the house intelligence committee on Ambassador Volker's lengthy deposition today.
COOPER: The impeachment inquiry's first witness just wrapped up more than nine hours of testimony to House investigators behind closed doors. As we mentioned at the top, what he said today is a big part of a tidal wave of breaking news.
"The Washington Post's" Rachael Bade and her colleagues delivered a big chunk of it. She joins us now.
So, Rachael, you are reporting Ambassador Volker, the one who is testifying today apparently told Rudy Giuliani. What have you learned?
RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, Anderson, so we've been up here for nine hours. He testified for nine hours in front of the committee today, and we're starting to see sort of the pieces of the puzzle really come together about Ukraine, the State Department, Giuliani and Trump and how it all fits together.
Kurt Volker I'm told, number one he testified that he warned Giuliani that the people he was hearing from in Ukraine were sketchy figures and he needed to be very careful with this sort of information he was getting on Biden. Any sort of suggestion that Biden might have done something wrong when it came to his son and foreign policy. He said you shouldn't believe them. They can't be trusted.
He also warned the Ukrainians don't get involved in U.S. domestic politics, because this is going to end up bad for Ukraine. This is a guy who is a long-time diplomat and really cares about the U.S.- Ukrainian relationship. And he was concerned that the politics were really going hurt the relationship. So he warned them be careful. You can't be seen as infringing in the election or that's going to be bad for Ukraine in the long run.
But it sounds like those warnings that he gave Giuliani were ignored, and we're just learning, of course, you just talked in your previous segment about this "New York Times" story reporting that there was a draft statement that he was part of where Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, was actually going to announce this investigation.
So, clearly, he lost this battle in trying to get Giuliani to sort of back off and try to keep distance from this investigation.
COOPER: Right. From my understanding of your reporting that the conversation with Zelensky about don't get involved in American politics, that came short -- I think in early August or after the July -- the end of July phone call that President Trump had. And correct me if I'm wrong. And then this -- this ultimatum or this kind of draft document, they were going have Zelensky kind of announce the investigations. I assume that came also in August after the phone conversation.
BADE: So the timing is still a little unclear here, but it seems to me that the warning from what I'm hearing from these sources that were in the room came much earlier, that Zelensky -- I'm sorry, Kurt Volker was trying to tell the Ukrainians not to get involved and Giuliani that he shouldn't be pursuing this information.
But listen, we just had some interesting news coming out of the committee. We saw Eric Swalwell, who is a Democrat from California. He came out and just told us that the committee now has evidence from Volker that there was basically a requirement that Zelensky put out a statement saying that he was going to investigate Biden in order for Zelensky to have a face-to-face meeting with Trump.
And that is significant because Ukraine, when Zelensky was first elected and in early May, a big participant of the U.S. promise or negotiations with Ukraine was that they would have this face-to-face meeting. They were really looking forward to that meeting. Trump kept delaying it, and at the same time the military financial assistance was suspended.
So, now, Eric Swalwell, and we're going to hopefully be learning more about this in the next couple of minutes here says they have proof from Volker that there was some sort of requirement that Zelensky put out a statement saying they would investigate Biden in order to have that bilateral meeting.
COOPER: Right, which is the definition of a quid pro quo, I believe. That's incredible.
Rachael Bade, we'll be looking for that. We appreciate your reporting today.
Back now with Jeff Toobin, Jen Psaki, David Gergen, Maggie Haberman.
David Gergen, what do you think of this?
GERGEN: I think it's more quid pro quo. Anderson, before we went to the break, I wanted to make about the president's relationship with China, he is not only asked them for this -- for help on the investigation, but remember, and Elizabeth Warren put out a tweet on this tonight. He basically has told the Chinese that he would not -- he would stay quiet during the Hong Kong protests. He would not call them on the human rights violations that might occur there.
That is a big deal for the Chinese. Xi has that in his pocket. He owes Trump.
So I think there is a lot of horse trading going on behind the scenes, and that is clearly the way Trump does business, and clearly his own personal interests come way ahead of the nation's interests.
COOPER: Yes. Everyone, stick around. There is a lot more to unpack, including more on the Volker testimony and questions about who else may be involved in this.
We'll be right back.
[20:32:34] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: More now on Kurt Volker's testimony and reports. He provided copies of text converse -- excuse me, text conversation showing an internal battle among diplomats about the military aid that President Trump was withholding from Ukraine.
Now, this portion of the conversation I'm about to read was obtained by both ABC and Fox. It occurred September 9th, two days before the aid was released. It begins with William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. He writes, "I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign." Excuse me. Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the EU responds, "Bill, I believe are -- excuse me -- about -- you are incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The President has been crystal clear, no quid pro quos of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign." Sondland then asked to take it offline, "I suggest we stop the back and forth by text."
Congressman Mike Quigley is on the intelligence committee whose staff were among those interviewed the source of those texts, Kurt Volker. Congressman Quigley, I'll get to the text in a moment, but your take on Rachael Bade's reporting that Volker testified that a meeting between Ukraine's president and Trump was contingent on the Ukrainian president agreeing to make a statement on investigating the Bidens.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): Look, I want to make clear that I have read the text multiple times now. I was not there for Mr. Volker's testimony. But I can confirm that the U.S. held up -- used the power of the President to coerce Ukraine to investigate Biden and to also create something of an alternative universe as it relates to the 2016 election. And I think the big concern that the Ukrainians had was having a White House meeting. And I think that came before talk about military assistance as well.
COOPER: So, excuse me, the timing of this, is this before the President's phone conversation with Ukrainian president in July -- in the end of July?
QUIGLEY: Look, this is all happening just before and just after.
[20:35:00] I think the bottom line when you read these texts is it basically substantiates every aspect of the whistleblower's complaint, that the President of the United States coerced a foreign power to help himself politically, and he used the Justice Department, and now we're learning the State Department to have him carry out that deed.
COOPER: It also-- from all the reporting that's been happening today, appears that he got rid of the Ukrainian ambassador because of concerns she was not on board or willing to help or was trying to obstruct in some way according to Giuliani their efforts to get the Ukrainians to help interfere in the election.
QUIGLEY: That's exactly right. I think before today, it was unclear whether or not, though, what the crystal clear reasons were for the ambassador leaving. I believe she'll have an opportunity to tell us directly next week. But I believe today's reporting detailed the fact that she was kicked out because Rudy told the President of the United States she wasn't helping with this ill deeds.
COOPER: It seems like her testimony is going to be very -- is going to be critical given all the emails that must have been flying about her future, about concerns, you know, and that Mike Pompeo may even have had or whatever hand he had in getting rid of her as well. Are you sure she's going to be allowed to testify? QUIGLEY: I'm not sure of anything in terms of who's going to testify and when, who will be allowed and whether things have to end up in court. I understand it's -- we are trying to get her in next week, and I think that would be extremely helpful. There's no guarantees the way this process is going.
But remember, I think she left in May, so she may have a whole body of information as to why she was pushed out and what if anything took place prior to her departure. And maybe she knows from others what took place in the follow-up in the emails that would -- and the texts that we're reading about today.
COOPER: If there was any question about whether or not there was a quid pro quo, which obviously with Ukraine it's pretty clear there was, though many-- since Republicans on the Hill for some reason are not willing to see that, the President today saying on the front lawn that he wanted the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden and that he is now asking China to -- or wants China to do the same thing.
Given the fact we're in this trade dispute and negotiations with China, isn't that inherently you're asking for a favor from China not known for their legitimate investigations on anything?
COOPER: Isn't that the definition of a quid pro quo?
QUIGLEY: Look, it's a lot to handle. Let me just mention my Republican colleagues' statements today saying that there's nothing here. If there is nothing here, why did they hide it so much?
And I think what's happened today after seeing these texts and the Republicans still saying there is nothing here, I think if you're going to support this President, you have to live in his alternative reality.
What you're alluding to with the rest, the bottom line is, I said it some time ago, this President never does anything wrong once. We're now hearing about the calls besides Ukraine, the Russian dealings before, Australia, and now with China.
It is disturbing to me that he calls anybody else treasonous and a traitor. At the very least in a colloquial sense, what he has done is treasonous. He has sold out who we are as a country. He has threatened our national security for political gain.
At the very least, what Richard Nixon did was damage domestically. He didn't spread this kind of foul deeds to the rest of the world, bringing in our allies and our adversaries.
COOPER: Congressman Mike Quigley, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
QUIGLEY: Any time. Thank you.
COOPER: Another member of the administration who has questions to answer tonight is Mike Pence. The Vice President's role may be larger than he cares to let on. He seems to be acting as if this is all new to him. It's not. More on that just ahead.
[20:43:01] COOPER: As we absorb all the breaking news tonight about how extensive the Trump administration's effort was to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 elections, Vice President Pence included, I want to quickly play something that the Vice President said on the subject during the 2016 campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now you all need to know out there, this is basic stuff. Foreign donors and certainly foreign governments cannot participate in the American political process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, seems pretty obvious. Back with us, Jeffrey Toobin, Jen Psaki, David Gergen, and Maggie Haberman.
Maggie, what do you make of the president-- Vice President Pence's position in all of this? Because obviously, you know, he's sort of golly whiz, it's just not right for a foreign power to interfere in the election. That was back then. Today he seems to think its fine.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think Mike Pence thinks that his political futures rise and fall on Donald Trump. And I think if Donald Trump gets angry at him, I think that Mike Pence has a problem, and so I think you're going to see him stick to the President very strongly on this.
It is notable to me that Mike Pence is so far -- and it's possibly I've missed someone, but from what I've seen, Mike Pence is the only elected Republican official who supported what the President said earlier today on the White House lawn, which was suggesting that China should investigate the Bidens. He's the only one on record endorsing that view.
I think that there are still things we don't know about what the VP's interaction was with the President in terms of Ukraine, in terms of what he was aware of. I suspect there'll be more facts that come out over time.
But right now as this is playing out as a partisan issue in the House, I think that Vice President Pence sees his own wave as riding on the President's, and he is going to stick with this line for as long as it's possible.
COOPER: Well, Jen, what's so interesting about that is just, you know, yesterday CNN and others were, you know, being told apparently by people around the Vice President that, you know, that he didn't know. And it seemed like people around him were trying to distance him from President Trump, and there was talk about him sort of, you know, going on an extended tour of I'm not sure where.
[20:45:04] JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Traveling often.
COOPER: Traveling often. That seems today to have shifted where -- I mean, he is very front and center now. I can't imagine that played well in the White House, those reports, you know, according to people around the Vice President that he was going to distance himself.
PSAKI: I bet not. And as Maggie referenced, you know, I think Vice President Pence knows that without Donald Trump, he'd probably be an unemployed former governor in Indiana, or he'd be doing something, but he wouldn't be in political office. And so his past and his future depend entirely on Trump.
What's interesting to me here, though, is that, you know, his national security adviser was on this call, that we have seen the notes of the transcript from July, we all know that now. And we had a meeting with Zelensky in September.
So he is either the most uninformed and least inquisitive vice president in history about his portfolio, or he's not telling the truth. And I'm sure as Maggie said, we will learn more soon, because it just doesn't make sense.
COOPER: Jeff, you know, it's easy to get lost. I mean, there's so much happened today. The silence, though, from Republicans, I mean, you had Jim Jordan coming out on television, you know, after I guess listening to some of Volker essentially saying, you know, that nothing he said support what's the whistleblower said. You know, that seems completely at odds with what Democrats who had been in that -- you know, listening to him for hours are saying.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, and I think it's fortunate for the President that Congress is not in session this week, because they all do seem collectively to be joining the witness protection program and staying away from microphones.
I think the China comment is one that's really going to present a lot of problems, even for Republicans, because-- I mean, putting Mike Pence aside, you know, for the reasons that Jen and Maggie have said, you know, he's in a separate category.
But I find it even hard to believe that even the President's most ardent supporters say to themselves, you know, or say out loud, you know, it's a good thing to go to the leader of China and say investigate former vice president. Put that in the mix.
You know, maybe our tariffs should be -- you know, give them a break on tariffs if they agree to investigate the Vice President. I mean, that strikes me as so outside the known universe of political opinion in the United States that I think even the President's supporters are going to have a hard time with that one.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, David Gergen, it's important to point out China has one of the most advanced spying programs on the United States both -- you know, trying to get government secrets, and there have been a number of cases of former intelligence officers who have now been arrested and convicted of selling secrets to China, or trying to, but also technological secrets.
And I mean, they've cost U.S. corporations, you know, billions of dollars. And the fact that the President is reaching out to that group, to those guys and saying, yes, you know what, use your powers and investigate Joe Biden, it's stunning.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It is. And I think that Jeff's comments just now were right on target. This is so blatant. It's as if the President is trying to normalize a President of the United States asking a foreign power to do a political favor for him to help him in his elections. I mean, he's doing it now so openly and cavalierly.
You know, he must be -- there's got to be some strategy or some thought behind this. I'm not sure it's a strategy, but there is an impulse behind this that if I say, you know, if I just -- you know, I'm cavalier about it, maybe my supporters will all say, what the hell, a lot of people do this, or not that big a deal and that sort of thing.
It is a big deal. It's a very grave offense. And it's playing fast and loose with the country's national interests. So, you know, I don't think this is going to go away quickly.
There was one other piece of news today I thought, Anderson, that was interesting, and that is some news organization found that when, you know, Biden has been called on, what they tried to investigate is his call on a prosecutor to be fired. It turned out there were three Republican presidents -- senators at that time who favored the firing of that prosecutor.
COOPER: Right. Although one of them that I saw seemed to have forgotten that they ever held that position but --
COOPER: -- funny how that happens. Thanks, everybody. Up next-- yes, more breaking news. A new report on another whistleblower complaint, this one alleging improper interference with the audit, the retain audit of President Trump's or Vice President Pence's tax returns.
[20:53:50] COOPER: I want to check in with Chris to see what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris, pretty slow news day, I'm not sure what you can do.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: A deluge of developments, and certainly the devil is therein. We have Mikie Sherrill, OK. She's one of those new Democrat members of Congress. She was in the Navy. She's a lawyer. She was one of the ones that signed on to that letter saying, OK, now we have to impeach. What do they see? What does she see in today? What matters most in these developments? And how does it make a case for impeachment? Now on the other side, we have Markwayne Mullin, Republican. And he is going to make the case that everything today doesn't change the calculus and there is nothing impeachable in it. We're going to have tests on both sides, you get to decide. Well, not you.
COOPER: All right.
CUOMO: You'll be home doing something else.
COOPER: No, I'll be, you know, at home watching, coughing. Chris, thanks very much. I'll see you in about five minutes.
Coming up next, breaking news in yet another whistleblower complaint.
[20:59:00] COOPER: On this busy night, there is breaking news on another whistleblower complaint. "The Washington Post" says an official with the IRS, a career official, has filed a complaint alleging he was told that at least one political appointee from the Trump administration had attempted to improperly interfere with the annual review of either President Trump or Vice President's income tax returns.
Now according to "The Washington Post," administration officials dismissed the complaint as flimsy because it's based, they say, on conversations with other government officials, not necessarily direct- hand knowledge.
Some congressional Democrats who have seen the complaint "The Post" says, have flagged it to a federal judge. They are also discussing whether to make it public. As you know, House Democrats are locked in an ongoing legal battle with Trump administration officials over release of the President's tax returns for the past six years.
I'll hand over to Chris. Don't miss "Full Circle." It's our new digital news show. You can catch it streaming live weeknights or weekdays at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time at cnn.com/fullcircle, or you can watch it there later on demand anytime.
All right, the news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?
CUOMO: You are a workhorse. Feel better, my friend.