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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Resigns; NY Times: Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Says Trump Wanted Her Removed and Blames "Unfounded and False Claims" About Her; Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) is Interviewed About Former Ukraine Ambassador's Testimony; President Trump: "I Don't Know" If Giuliani is Still My Attorney; Sources: Giuliani No Longer Dealing With Ukraine Issues After President Trump Dodges If He Is Still His Personal Lawyer; President Trump's Dismal Day In Court; Independent Voters In Wisconsin Weigh In On Impeachment, Presidential Race. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 11, 2019 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:19]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We start a two-hour broadcast tonight with some breaking news. A cabinet official who recently told "The Washington Post" he didn't have control over the, quote, tone, the message, the public face and approach, unquote, of his department has announced his departure. The Department of Homeland Security chief, Kevin McAleenan, is out. It occurs the same day a judge said the administration could not use military funding to build the border wall.

Here with more tonight is CNN's Kaitlan Collins.

So, what do we know about his departure?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is sudden, with the president just now tweeting, announcing the news himself. But, of course, if you talk to people here in the White House, they saw this coming for a very long time.

Ever since Kevin McAleenan first got named to this job under, of course, an acting position, people never envisioned him taking the job in a permanent role. And he was often someone who is at odds with the president and some of his top advisers, including Steven Miller, Ken Cuccinelli and their roles and where they wanted to go on immigration.

Now, there were times where the president was pleased with what Kevin McAleenan was doing. There were other times where the president with a lash out and blame him for the border policies, the high border crossings. But something else that's interesting that happened in recent weeks, Kevin McAleenan gave this interview to "The Washington Post", Anderson, where he talked about how essentially he lamented the fact he didn't feel he had control over the tone, the policy at the department at a time when he said they felt like they were in polarized times.

We're told that that interview, Kevin McAleenan didn't understand that he was on the record based on what someone close to him later told CNN. And essentially, he thought that interview was going to land harder in the West Wing than it did. Of course, it came at this time where this impeachment inquiry against the president was ramping up. So, there was distraction. Now the president announcing he is leaving to spend more time with his friends and family. He is going to announce a replacement for McAleenan, he says, next week.

COOPER: OK. I mean, not surprising to a lot of people who knew him and knew the situation. Was this -- is there reason to believe it was a sudden decision? Was it a decision, do we know, on the president's part?

COLLINS: It appears, based on what our sources are telling us, right now, that this is McAleenan's decision, that essentially he had been kind of despondent, was the word that someone used to me over the last few weeks, ever since that interview came out, people at the department who spoke with him said they noticed a change in his attitude since that interview came out, an interview he said, again, he didn't was on the record.

But, of course, Anderson, we should note, he's had a really troubled time in this job. There was one time based on CNN reporting that he came close to resigning over the summer because he didn't feel like he ever had control over the department, over his subordinates. And that was at a time when you notice there was that purge at DHS officials after Kirstjen Nielsen left, that continued throughout the summer.

And essentially, what we were told, McAleenan didn't feel like he had control over that. He thought people like Stephen Miller had too much say in who was doing what at the Department of Homeland Security. The big picture here though for people at home is that the Department of Homeland Security has essentially been in a point of turmoil for some time now.

They have had a complete rotation in not only the DHS leadership but also CBP, other positions in DHS under that umbrella of DHS. Depending on who the president picks next, that will be a big question because the people he's liked in the past, Senate Republicans have said are people who don't have a chance of getting confirmed.

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much.

Nick Miroff covers immigration for "The Washington Post". He interviewed McAleenan for the story ten days ago, joins us now.

Thanks so much for being with us. First of all, were you surprised to hear McAleenan's leaving? And have you -- do you know more details about for sure was it his decision?

NICK MIROFF, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST (via telephone): Yes, I think this was his decision. I mean, I got signs of that when I spoke to him. I got the impression this has been coming for a while, particularly as he has felt more frustrated and somewhat isolated in his role there as acting secretary.

He has been acting secretary now for six months. He has done everything that the administration and the president has asked of him, and delivered on the one thing that mattered most to Trump, driving down the border numbers and kind of getting the crisis under control. But at the same time, you know, the messages -- the messaging coming out of the administration, the rhetoric on enforcement was at odds with his more kind of moderate approach to this stuff and the language that he is more comfortable with.

COOPER: It is remarkable when you kind of step back and look at all the people who -- whose job was to execute the policy that President Trump has been pushing, along with Stephen Miller and others. The people who are actually on the ground having to kind of execute it, they end up leaving.

[20:05:04]

I don't know. I guess that says something about the policy itself at a certain point.

MIROFF: I mean, this is an incredibly difficult job. I can tell you that he has been going nonstop ever since he has got this. I can't remember ever seeing somebody working quite that hard and facing so many different difficult challenges. I mean, he was the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection before this.

He was dealing with things like the deaths of those children in custody, all the, you know, criticism that he has faced really from -- especially from Democrats but also from the hard liners around the president who doubted his credentials and continued to whisper to the president that he was an Obama guy and wasn't really tough enough.

But, you know, over the past six months, we have seen him implement some pretty -- some contentious policies that have, in fact, really tightened things up at the border.

COOPER: Yes. Nick Miroff, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much, from "The Washington Post".

More on the White House. For the second day in a row, President Trump claims he doesn't know someone who is a potential threat to him. On Thursday, it was two Rudy Giuliani's clients charged with campaign finance violations. Today, it's the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, a woman with 33 years of service to the United States under six presidents, who has testified.

Listen to what the president said about the ambassador whose career he destroyed. As you listen to this, see if you can catch the incredibly obvious lie in the president's statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, she may be a wonderful woman. I don't know her. But she may be very much a wonderful woman.

If you remember the phone call I had with the president, the new president, he didn't speak favorably. But I just don't know her. She may be a wonderful woman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Don't know her. Maybe wonderful woman. I destroyed her career, but a wonderful woman.

What's incredible about that statement is that this president cannot even attempt a simple cleanup excuse without lying. He spoke five sentences there. There was, besides the "I don't know her", there was at least one big lie in there that's very obvious. President Trump claimed the new Ukrainian president didn't speak favorably about the ambassador in that phone call.

The problem is, it's in the transcript and it wasn't Ukraine's president who didn't speak favorably of the ambassador. It was President Trump.

Here he is from the transcript of the July 25th call. Quote, the former ambassador from the United States, the woman was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news. I just want to let you know that. That's the president talking to the Ukrainian president.

He certainly seemed to remember her more than two months ago. Today, she certainly remembered him in her opening statement during today's closed door hearing. Yovanovitch said she was recalled from Ukraine after, quote, a concerted campaign against me.

She said the deputy secretary of state told her that she had done nothing wrong but the president had, quote, lost confidence in me and the department had been under pressure from the president, unquote to remove her. She said this of Rudy Giuliani and the two men arrested yesterday.

Quote, I do not know Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me. But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine. She actually was executing an anti-corruption policy, which is what the president claims he was really interested in when he asked the Ukrainian president to go after the Bidens.

CNN's senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju joins us now from Capitol Hill.

So, talk to me about the ambassador's deposition today. What do we know about what she said?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she just actually left, Anderson, after being here nearly 10 hours, including most of that time behind closed doors getting grilled by lawmakers and delivering that rather eye-popping opening statement. Talking to the people, really the statement is what drove a lot of the conversation internally, and probably drove most of the news of what came out of there. And Democrats are emerging, calling this a really stunning series of

comments that this former ambassador made, calling it a gripping and personal account of a presidential abuse of power. One Democrat put it. Several have said the president sought to throw her to the wolves of sorts and an effort to clear her out of the way so Rudy -- as Rudy Giuliani was trying to push the investigation into the Bidens, and also in the views of Democrats and how she characterized it, also helped Giuliani's associates' bottom line.

That was essentially the narrative, what the takeaway from the Democrats from this closed door testimony.

Now, Republicans also just came out and they sharply criticized the process.

[20:10:01]

They said the process was not fair. They said it should have been transparent. This should not have been behind closed doors, sharply criticizing Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman.

But when I asked them about the substance of the allegations that were laid out in this eye-popping testimony, she would -- most of the Republicans would say, look, we can't talk about this because it is classified. According to the rules, these are secret rules. We're not allowed to weigh in some of the allegations.

And the allegations that she was disloyal to this president is one reason why that push was there to get her out of the job. I asked the Republicans whether she quelled any concerns that she said she was not disloyal to the president. Was that OK to satisfy the Republicans? They would not weigh in on that either.

So, you are hearing the narratives come out of that. Republicans argue on the process. Democrats saying this is significant and could further their impeachment push, Anderson.

COOPER: Hmm. Manu Raju, thanks very much.

Joining us now is Congressman Tom Malinowski who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who is the room during the ambassador's testimony today.

Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.

The ambassador testified there had been what she called a concerted campaign against her and that the president wanted her removed because of, quote, unfounded and false claims about her. I know there's only so much you can say. I'm wondering in your opinion, was she forthcoming? Is there anything you can say about that?

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ): She was very forthcoming. And, look, the first thing I would say is that it's really significant that she was there. What her presence says is it is not only necessary to obey legally binding subpoenas, but it is possible if you are a career foreign service officer or civil servant in this government, it's possible despite the efforts of this White House to stop career employees from speaking to the Congress. So, that's an important message. She's setting an example for everybody else.

On the substance, I can't talk about what she said. Look, we know -- we already know a great deal. And so, just from what we publicly know, what's clear to me is that this was an ambassador of great integrity who was advancing our official policy in Ukraine, fighting corruption. There were a bunch of crooked Ukrainians who wanted to get her out of the way because she was threatening them.

And at the same time, we had Rudy Giuliani advancing a shadow foreign policy on behalf of the president. He also wanted to get her out of the way because she was standing in the way of that. And so, all these people found each other. The crooked Ukrainians, Giuliani and his associates, they found common cause in getting rid of a patriotic American diplomat.

COOPER: What's so interesting is that official U.S. policy in Ukraine was an anti-corruption effort. It seems like from everybody I have talked to about this ambassador, is that she actually was executing an anti-corruption policy which is what earned her the ire of some of these Ukrainian officials. So, the idea that the president was really concerned about anti-corruption, it just doesn't hold water.

MALINOWSKI: It doesn't. No, she was advancing an anti-corruption policy. And there were at least a dozen parts of that, all kinds he reforms that she and the State Department were urging the Ukrainians to take to their anti-corruption court to strengthen all their institutions that were fighting corruption, to fire another crooked prosecutor who is still in place in Ukraine.

And, meanwhile, yes, the president says now that we held up this aid because we were concerned about corruption. Problem with that is that they never actually then told the Ukrainians, here are the three or five or ten steps that you need to take to clean up your corruption act to get the aid.

All they said was, investigate Joe Biden and confirm some wacky conspiracy theory about what happened in 2016. So, it totally doesn't hold water.

COOPER: Is it clear to you -- I mean, and again, maybe -- I don't know if she spoke to this or if you know or don't know. But is it clear about Rudy Giuliani's motives in all this? Obviously, he is working on the behest of the president for -- as the president's attorney.

He also in many places seems to have financial dealings with -- we know these two people who are now under arrest. Is it known if he had financial dealings in Ukraine or financial connections, financial interests?

MALINOWSKI: He certainly seems to have had financial interests in Ukraine. I think there's probably much more that we can learn about that. I think he probably had multiple motivations. But the most important one from our point of view is that he was purporting to represent the president of the United States in a shadow foreign policy that completely contradicted the official foreign policy of the United States, which was fighting corruption and supporting Ukraine in defending their territory against Russia.

[20:15:00]

COOPER: The fact that the White House and State Department, according to three Democratic committee chairs, directed Yovanovitch not to appear today, but she complied anyway with a last minute subpoena, to testify today, but she complied anyway with a subpoena, is that the way the House committee work around the administration? Is that how they are trying to block witnesses?

And I know you said this sends a message. Do you think her testimony encourages other career officers, career employees that they, too, can come forward?

MALINOWSKI: Anderson, I believe it does. I think she's setting an example of courage and integrity under great pressure. And, you know, that example is if there is a legally binding subpoena, then you have a duty to show up. This is -- this is -- you know, we are a rule of law country.

I think one of the great things about Ambassador Yovanovitch, she spent 30 years representing us around the world, fighting for the rule of law. She came back home and she is abiding by the rule of law right here in the United States. And I think there are a lot of folks at the state department, throughout the U.S. government who will see this as an example, a good example to follow. It can be done.

COOPER: And, just finally, I'm not sure you may have been in the meeting, you may not have heard, the president's latest comments. But the president said he doesn't know her, that maybe she's a great woman, but that the Ukrainian president in his phone conversation spoke -- said negative things about her, which is a complete lie, we know, from the transcript. It was president Trump saying bad things about her.

I guess that shouldn't come as a surprise that he is lying in just five sentences, but it strikes me as amazing that he lies about stuff that we can read in a transcript that's not even a complete transcript.

MALINOWSKI: You know, every day he makes it harder for his defenders to defend him. I think, you know, this is getting harder for some of my Republican colleagues, who see this chaos, who see an indefensible policy and whatever they are telling you publicly, I know that a lot of them are privately thinking, do I want to defend this for another six years?

COOPER: Congressman Tom Malinowski, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

MALINOWSKI: Thank you.

COOPER: More to come tonight, including White House reaction to a bad day in court. We're going to count up all the big cases that the administration,

that the White House lost today. And there's a number of them.

Plus, is Rudy Giuliani still President Trump's attorney? It's a simple question with not-so simple answer at this hour.

More ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:21:46]

COOPER: More breaking news tonight on Rudy Giuliani and questions about his status as the personal attorney and fixer for President Trump. Two of Giuliani's associates with whom he worked extensively on issues involving Ukraine have now been arrested, as you know, on campaign finance violations. Sources tell CNN Giuliani's own financial dealings with the men are under scrutiny as well.

So, the question is Giuliani still the president's attorney or is the president distancing himself just as he has done with Michael Cohen and so many others?

Here's what the president said on that today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Is Rudy Giuliani still your personal attorney?

TRUMP: Well, I don't know. I haven't spoken to Rudy. I spoke to him yesterday briefly. He is a very good attorney and he has been my attorney, yes, sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Pamela Brown joins us now.

Pamela, what do you make of that answer? It seems like the distancing is beginning.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think you are seeing both of what you mentioned, that he is still his personal attorney but the president is trying to distance himself. In fact, Anderson, a source tells me tonight that while he is still his attorney, he will be sidelined on legal matters involving Ukraine. And I was actually the one that talked to the president, asked him whether Giuliani was still his personal attorney.

And his first words out of the gate were, I don't know, I haven't spoken to Rudy. And then as we heard, he said, I spoke to him briefly yesterday. He is a very good attorney. He's been my attorney.

We have seen this in the past with the president's former personal attorney Michael Cohen. We did reach out to Giuliani to get comment on this. He says he is still the president's lawyer and that there are no Ukraine issues, which he says he finished in March. But, of course, Anderson, Ukraine is at the heart of the Democrats'

impeachment probe after it was revealed the president asked Ukraine's president to investigate his political rival. And it was Giuliani who has been intricately involved with this effort to dig up dirt on Biden and two of his associates as we know, Anderson, helped with that effort. They were just indicted on campaign finance charges just yesterday.

Now, my colleague Kaitlan Collins is reporting tonight that in the wake of that, Trump has been privately expressing concerns about Giuliani's involvement with those two men and doubts as well. And if you heard what he said today that you just played, that certainly wasn't a ringing endorsement of his personal attorney.

COOPER: For a moment, I thought he was going to say, I don't know how to answer that. It was just I don't know. So, we'll see.

Pamela Brown, thanks very much.

BROWN: Yes.

COOPER: Joining us to discuss all this, CNN chief legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin, CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent, Maggie Haberman, as well, CNN senior political analyst and adviser to four presidents, David Gergen.

Jeff, Rudy Giuliani saying still despite President Trump saying earlier he didn't know, Giuliani says he is president's lawyer and that there's no Ukraine issues but he's not going to be dealing with anything Ukraine related. How do you interpret all this?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think, just to talk about the legal framework of all this, which is that lawyers are not allowed to also be witnesses in the same case. If you are a witness in a case or in an investigation, you can't represent anyone in that case. It's just -- it's common sense.

Here, it's quite clear that at many different levels, Rudy Giuliani is a witness in the impeachment matter and very likely a witness in this case that was brought against two of his associates yesterday.

[20:25:07]

So, just as a simple matter of legal ethics, putting aside the question of whether he did anything improper, I just don't see there's any way he can stay in the case.

Now, the argument that was just made that -- well, he is still the lawyer but he has nothing to do with Ukraine -- I mean, Ukraine is the whole case at this point.

COOPER: Right, yes.

TOOBIN: So, I don't know what it means to be his lawyer if he can't deal with Ukraine. COOPER: Maggie, I mean, there's obviously a longstanding relationship

between President Trump and Rudy Giuliani, just going back to New York days. Are you surprised that the president -- I don't know I shouldn't say the president has begun to distance himself because that's what he does. But do you see this --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Yes, right, of course. But do you see this as a distancing or just confusion on the president's part of he's not sure what the status is?

HABERMAN: I think it's a little of both. I think he is distancing himself certainly. I think that he seems to be frankly doing it somewhat reluctantly. I've seen him do it and you've seen him do it with more ease with other people.

He has a 30-year relationship with Rudy Giuliani. He knows Giuliani's children. He -- you know, they have been friends a long time. I think he is uncomfortable throwing him under the bus the same way he has done with other people.

And I think he is not sure where this goes. I think he doesn't want to toss him aside if there's no reason to. However, what we learned today is that Giuliani is being looked at by the U.S. attorney's office for a possible FARA violation, federal registered lobbying agent, whether that case ends up hurting Giuliani remains to be seen. It's hard to see how he would be the president's lawyer if he himself is under active investigation.

I think the other point, Anderson, I would just make very quickly, Rudy Giuliani is the television face for this president for a long time. There's only been a couple of people who go on TV, Kellyanne Conway is one, from the White House. Hogan Gidley is one from the White House.

But Giuliani has been all over the place for the president. And if he is not out there fighting for the president on TV, that's something the president values as much as anything.

COOPER: David, when you consider -- I mean, two Giuliani's clients were arrested, charged for violating campaign finance laws, you know, how much would president Trump have known about any of this? I guess there's no way at this point to know. But it certainly seems to be a tangled web.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It sure does. I think with regard to Giuliani's future, the operative words today were he has been my attorney, in the past tense. I think that's -- I think he is heading toward the exit. I think the White House feels he has been out a lot on television, as Maggie said, but crucially, he is not effective. If anything, he rouses people on the other side.

And he is the -- when you get into this Ukrainian thing, he is the central player in the whole episode with Ukraine. He is the guy who is really trying to move things around. He is the president's guy to get this done. I don't see how he can possibly go forward without appearing before the committees on the Hill. They're going to want him. He's going to -- and the White House is not going to want to have this guy out being their spokesperson at the time he is being grilled and they find more things on him.

I mean, who would have expected these two sleazy guys to be hanging around and then who would have expected to see Don Jr. in some bar with them somewhere? That alone tells you that the press president's family sure knew these guys.

COOPER: It surprises you Giuliani is hanging around with two potentially sleazy guys? OK.

GERGEN: It doesn't surprise me that he hangs around with them. What surprises me is he does it publicly.

COOPER: Well, that's your -- yes, and they were going to be in Vienna together at the same time.

GERGEN: Well, exactly.

COOPER: Everyone, yes, everyone, stay with me. Another big week coming up. We'll have more from our panel in a second. A lot more.

Ukraine testimony expected. What will it mean for the president and Rudy Giuliani? Predictions, and more with our panel in a moment.

[20:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: In case you are just tuning in, a source close to President Trump's legal team tells CNN that Rudy Giuliani is still the President's attorney, but will no longer be dealing with matters involving Ukraine.

This after the president seemed to distance himself from Giuliani this afternoon. It was also on the same day the President's former ambassador to Ukraine said he was hollowing out the State Department, turning it into a vehicle for his own political ends.

Back with Jeffrey Toobin, Maggie Haberman and David Gergen.

Maggie, just in terms of the -- we only really have seen some of the opening statement of this ambassador. But certainly for a career foreign service officer to come forward, though under a subpoena and testify, that certainly is a break in the wall that the white house hoped to set up to stop people from taking part in this.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm sorry, Anderson, is that to me? There was an issue with my earpiece.

COOPER: Yes, yes. That was to you.

HABERMAN: So -- I'm sorry. The ambassador who testified today was a break in the wall was your question? COOPER: Yes. The fact that she came forward even though Pompeo had said that they wouldn't be cooperating.

HABERMAN: Yes. It's noticeable, I think, that you are seeing the beginning of a number of people who are willing not just to speak out publicly or at least to speak out privately through news accounts, and have their views be known. But also as you note, go meet with members on the Hill.

We have seen some people in the administration in previous investigations like Hope Hicks go and give some very limited testimony with lawyers from the administration with her. This feels different.

[20:35:03]

And the statements you saw today on the Hill and what we anticipate we might hear from Ambassador Sondland next week gets us into dangerous territory potentially for the White House.

COOPER: Yes. David, I mean, she was testifying for some 10 hours behind closed doors.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it was amazing. Well, first of all, I want to step back just a bit. It is worth remembering that the president of the United States can change ambassadors and put his own person in place if he is not happy with the one who is there. But there is a code of conduct effect that goes with that that secretaries of state try to honor.

And that is, if you want to cultivate your public servants at the State Department, the foreign service officers. You want to build them, grow them, let them have embassies. That's how you get talented people to come in.

And to turn on them for his own personal gain, to put a knife in her back and end her career for his own personal political gain is a deep violation of that code of honor, that code of conduct. And I think that is -- and what I think we're increasingly seeing, to build on what Maggie was saying is, across the government we've been worried about when are the -- or we're asking when are the Republicans going to start to come over and see things in a different light.

What's really interesting now is the civil service and people who are saying whether this is an environment or Homeland Security or at State Department, they are all coming out and beginning to speak out again this administration, and to vent their frustration and disagreement with the fundamental policies. I think over time that's going to have a major impact on this whole impeachment proceeding.

COOPER: And, Jeff -- yes, go ahead.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: If I can just add one point. You know, we have this discussion about when the president fired James Comey. You know, the President had the right to fire James Comey. He was a presidential employee. The question is, could he do it for a corrupt purpose, to influence the investigation. It's a very similar situation here. As David said, the President does have the right to recall an ambassador, but why? What was the reason?

And the only reason that appears to be in play is that she wouldn't participate in gathering dirt on Joe Biden, which is illegitimate and corrupt.

COOPER: Well also, Jeff, that, you know, for the President's whole excuse on all of this is that, you know, he was -- in that phone conversation that he was really interested in fighting corruption in Ukraine and making sure that the president of Ukraine was doing that as well. And Joe Biden somehow and Hunter Biden were the, you know, the exemplars of that according to the President.

But from this ambassador, it was very clear she had an entire program in place of anti-corruption. I mean, that seemed to be a major focus of legitimate US foreign policy and the president removed the person who was doing that.

TOOBIN: Exactly. And the President has been using this work corruption, but the only corruption that he's ever shown any interest in, is Joe Biden's family. And, you know, of course, it remains to be seen whether --

COOPER: There is no evidence.

TOOBIN: -- they were doing corruption there. But the point that the President says, you know, I wanted corruption investigated. He didn't want corruption investigated. He wanted Biden investigated. And that was the source it appears of a conflict with the ambassador and that's why she got fired.

COOPER: Yes. Jeff Toobin, David Gergen, Maggie Haberman, thank you very much. You may need your whole hand to count how many court cases the President and his administration actually lost just today. The question, are Democrats now within reach of his taxes? The latest rulings on that and what they mean for President Trump, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:40:00]

COOPER: Get to the background of tonight's breaking news, the news just moments ago, the resignation of the acting Homeland Security secretary and President Trump's distancing himself from Rudy Giuliani. Next year's elections, of course, also loom large.

One of the states President Trump needs to win next year is Wisconsin, where he barely defeated Clinton in 2016 by a little more than 22,000 votes. We asked Randi Kaye to gather group of nine independent voters and ask them at this stage, at this point in the campaign about the President and the burgeoning impeachment investigation.

They range in from 18 to 82. Of the nine, one voted for President Trump in 2016, four for Clinton, two didn't vote and two wrote in other candidates.

Here's Randi's report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN REPORTER: Do you think an impeachment inquiry is appropriate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely appropriate.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER (in unison): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

KAYE: So all of you agree that impeachment inquiry is appropriate?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER (in unison): Yes.

MAX PRESTIGIACOMO, WISCONSIN VOTER: I'm witnessing this President go out there and do things that are clearly, you know, following what's in the, you know, the constitution about impeachment, high crimes and misdemeanors, and bribery.

KAYE: You, Lena, you're an independent but you lean right, but you're OK with the impeachment inquiry.

LENA ENG, WISCONSIN VOTER: Well, absolutely because I also feel like we need to follow the rule of law. And if something smells bad, we need to investigate it.

KAYE: Why are some of you convinced this call sounded like a quid pro quo?

BOB BETZIG, WISCONSIN VOTER: They put the material, the $319 million of aid, and hold just days before. What kind of a signal is that? It wasn't on hold for two months and they're going to -- this was just days before.

MEGAN SMITH, WISCONSIN VOTER: We are looking to buy more javelins. I want you to do me a favor, though. I mean, it's right there. It's in the primary source released by the White House. And you read it word for word.

To me, I mean, I'm not a lawyer, I'm not a mobster, but to me it looks like a quid pro quo.

DANIELLE BERGNER, WISCONSIN VOTER: Why is our President ever asking a foreign president for a political favor like this? I mean, it seems so highly inappropriate.

BEN HOESKTRA, WISCONSIN VOTER: I'm not convinced that the withholding of aid a few days before we have enough evidence to say that that was related. I think that the transcript of the call is suspicious but I'm not yet ready to make a decision.

KAYE: How many of you see this phone call and this ask by the president of the United States to look into his political rival as an abuse of power? Raise your hand.

And what about the White House putting that phone call on a classified server?

PRESTIGIACOMO: The White House staff, even his own staff saw this as, oh-oh, you might have just done something impeachable.

KAYE: Another concern for these voters, text messages in which an ambassador tries to bury any talk of quid pro quo or conditions.

BERGNER: As someone who has worked in government in years past, when you get that message that says call me, it's because somebody does not want a written record of something.

[20:45:07]

KAYE: And about the State Department blocking some key witnesses from testifying?

END: That to me is huge warning signs and I think that's going to be problematic.

SMITH: There's nothing to worry about, then why hide anything? Be transparent.

KAYE: Fair to say though that this inquiry has affected all of your thinking when it comes to who you might vote for, is that fair to say?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Yes.

BETZIG: Oh, absolutely. I think for me, it's just one more level of distrust. If I can't trust someone, I have a hard time voting for them.

KAYE: If the President is impeached but not removed from office by the Senate, how many of you would still vote for him? None of you. Rich, you lean right as well, even though you are an independent.

RICH (ph): Correct.

KAYE: Are you considering voting for Trump still?

RICH: No, because it looks kind of bad.

KAYE: So knowing what you know now about Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry, do you think he should be removed from office, raise your hand? Three.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Randi joins me now. Interesting that they all want the inquiry to move forward, three just say at this point they believe the president should be removed from office.

I think we're having -- Randi, you're having problem hearing me? Yes. KAYE: Right, Anderson. They really want to wait for all of the facts in this case. They want to see how it all plays out. I mean, obviously, they are very turned off by -- can you hear me OK?

COOPER: Yes. Sorry. Go ahead, we have a bad delay.

KAYE: They are clearly turned off by what's happening with Donald Trump. But they certainly -- OK.

They are turned off. They are waiting for the facts. They are turned off by the President. They want to see how this is going to play out, of course. They want the full investigation. They do think that there's something fishy happening here. But again, they want to see how it goes.

They don't -- certainly don't buy the President's explanation or the White House's explanation that he was trying to just root out corruption in Ukraine.

But if you look ahead, Anderson, to the election for 2020 as far as our voters go. One is considering voting for Joe Biden, just one in the group. The others like Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang. And one is considering voting for Bill Weld if he is the Republican nominee and Donald Trump is not. If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, Anderson, not a single person in our group say that they will vote for him.

COOPER: Randi, thanks very much.

Just ahead, President Trump's bad day in court, losses mounting on a number of fronts as Democrats get closer to his tax returns.

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COOPER: Well, the President always like to say he is winning, would have a hard time convincing Americans of that today. He along with his administration lost a total of five federal court cases today alone.

For those keeping count, three were in New York, Washington State and California where federal judges issued rulings blocking regulations that would have made it easier for the administration to reject green card and visa applications filed by low income immigrants, and the government determines, it might become a burden on US taxpayers.

Also a judge in Texas shutdown his diversion of emergency funds to build his border wall, and perhaps it was unnerving for the President, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against his attempt to stop the House from obtaining his tax returns by subpoena.

Of course, what happens next in the taxes, joining us now is David Enrich, Finance Editor at the New York Times. He's the author of "Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump and an Epic Trail of Destruction," a fascinating book. And still with us, CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff, just on the legal front, so the administration has two options, I guess, when it comes to appealing the tax return ruling, appealed to the full DC Court, Circuit court, were trying go directly to Supreme Court, what do you think they would do?

TOOBIN: Well, I think they're going to try everything they can, and so I assume that means going to the full DC Circuit first, and then to the Supreme Court but they're really running out of options here because, you know, a three-judge panel of the DC Circuit, it was two judges in favor of the Congress and one judge who said that the President could withhold the tax returns.

But, I mean, this is unlikely to be overturned at this point. Not out of the question, but this is two really bad rulings in a row, just on this issue for the President.

COOPER: Does the Supreme Court, I mean, does Chief Justice Roberts want a case like this?

TOOBIN: You know, I don't think the chief justice wants to be anywhere near this, but it is, you know, the issues of presidential power versus congressional oversight. There are so many of these cases percolating through the courts now. It's hard for me to believe that the Supreme Court will be able to duck all of them.

But the one about the President's tax returns is so personal that perhaps that's not the one they want to pick. But I don't know. Certainly, I think in the next year they are going to have to take up at least some of these cases.

COOPER: David, if and when Congress does get ahold of the taxes, what exactly would they be able to glean from them?

DAVID ENRICH, FINANCE EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It's hard to know where to even begin with that question. There's so much information that potentially could be revealed in these tax returns that -- and these are secrets that Donald Trump has spent in the past four years fighting tooth and nail to keep secret.

We would know a lot more about where he has been getting his money over the years, from whom he's been getting his money, which foreign entities or individuals he's partnered with over the years, to whom he owes money. And there's all sorts of information that could come out with different entanglements he has with different companies, different governments, and different wealthy individual around the world. There would be a treasure trove of information.

COOPER: And, Jeff, I mean, presumably the President's accounting firm has ordered by, you know, the Supreme Court to turn over his tax return to Congress, they -- I mean, in ordinary times, they would have to do that. There's no way -- I mean, if they have to do that, according to the Supreme Court, the President can't order them to not do that, correct?

[20:55:02] TOOBIN: No, he can't although his lawyers have intervened in the

case. His lawyers have -- are now part of the case involving his accountants. Again, the President appears to be losing in that case as well. I mean, there are lots of different cases percolating through the courts about the President's tax returns. And he appears to be losing pretty much all of them, but they haven't, you know, that none of them have reached the point of final resolution where either the president himself, the IRS, or the accountants actually have to physically transfer the tax returns over to the people looking for them.

COOPER: And, David, I mean, as we said, Congress isn't limiting their scope to the President's tax records. They're looking at Deutsche Bank records, which, you know, lent a significant amount of money to the President.

ENRICH: Yes. And I think those Deutsche Bank records, I'm a little biased because I'm obsessed with this bank. But I think the Deutsche Bank records have the potential to be even more interesting.

This is -- the bank has said it does not currently possess tax returns but it does have an enormous quantity of information about his personal and corporate finances. Those of his kids, the structure of his companies, and the bank did a good bit of due diligence over the years when deciding whether to make hundreds of millions of dollars of loans to Donald Trump, and that information now potentially could end up in the hand of Congress.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, the stuff we heard about Deutsche Bank, it is fascinating. I understand why you're obsessed with it because, I mean, it sort of defies everybody's understanding or my understanding of why a bank loans money to somebody and even if that person then, you know, doesn't pay them back, why that bank would still loan money for that person, it's fascinating.

David Enrich, appreciate it, Jeff Toobin as well. There's a lot more ahead tonight. More in the close door testimony of the former US ambassador to Ukraine, and what about those cracks beginning to appear in President Trump's relationship with Rudy Giuliani. We'll be right back.

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