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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
House Democrats Release Testimony Of Key Impeachment Witness; Ex-US Ambassador Told She Needed To Come Back From Ukraine Because Of Her Security; Key Decision In President Trump's Tax Return Battle; President Trump Trying To Unmask Whistleblower Protected By Law; House Dems Release Testimony of Key Impeachment Witnesses; GOP Rep. Scalise: Dems are Selectively Releasing Transcripts from their Closed-Door Hearings. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired November 4, 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.
Tonight, for the first time, two key witnesses in the impeachment inquiry told lawmakers -- what they told lawmakers we now have the transcripts of -- their depositions before the three House impeachment committees.
These are two long-standing State Department professionals with seven decades of experience between them. Michael McKinley, former senior advisor to Secretary of State Pompeo, and Marie Yovanovitch, former ambassador to Ukraine. She was forced out of her post. He resigned from the Foreign Service and gave two reasons.
Because what they said is so significant and at times mysterious, we're going to do something a little bit different tonight and read some of the most important passages word for word. And we'll try to link up the moments that really build a narrative that according to these two officials, illustrate a State Department in Washington operating at cross-purposes from diplomats around the world, and a White House that was undermining those diplomats for purposes that seem to have more to do with President Trump's political interests than U.S. national security.
We'll start with the sworn statements of a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Pompeo, Ambassador Michael McKinley. Quote: The timing of my resignation, he testified, was the result of two overriding concerns. The failure in my view of the State Department to offer support to foreign employees caught up in the impeachment inquiry and, second, by what appears to be the utilization of our ambassadors overseas to advance domestic political objectives.
In other words, as both he and Ambassador Yovanovitch made clear in their testimony, using the people and institutions of government, or as you'll see bypassing them, for private personal aims. Their testimony reflects what they saw and heard as people connected to the president from in and out of the government worked to influence the government of Ukraine and squeeze it for the president's political advantage, specifically the president's Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker, European Union ambassador and campaign donor Gordon Sondland and Rudy Giuliani.
As Ambassador McKinley tells it, quote: What is clear is that both Volker and Sondland were engaged in the Ukrainian government in conjunction with Rudy Giuliani on domestic political issues.
It's clear from Ambassador Yovanovitch's testimony that Giuliani's efforts in the Ukraine were extensively, involving her specifically, dating back to late last year. Quoting her now: Basically, it was people in the Ukrainian government who said that Mr. Lutsenko, the former prosecutor general, was in communication with Mayor Giuliani and that he had plans and that they were going to, you know, do things, including to me.
It became clear, she said, that the goal was removing her from her post. One point of contention, her alleged role in blocking Giuliani's effort to bring ousted Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin to the U.S., apparently in pursuit of Giuliani's political mission for the president. Following longstanding protocol, an American consular officer denied him a visa because of his alleged ties to large-scale corruption.
Now, remember, President Trump and Giuliani, they are now claiming that all they cared about was fighting corruption in Ukraine. But the guy they are trying to bring to the U.S. is himself considered corrupt by diplomats who actually know about corruption in Ukraine.
Ambassador Yovanovitch picks up the story. Quote: And the next thing we knew, Mayor Giuliani was calling the White House as well as the assistant secretary for consular affairs, saying that I was blocking the visa for Mr. Shokin and that Mr. Shokin was coming to meet them and provide information about corruption at the embassy, including my corruption.
Now, keep in mind Rudy Giuliani is the president's personal attorney at the time. He had no formal role in government, hasn't sworn to serve U.S. national interests. He's working for the president, doing whatever he can for the president, and we should also point out has business dealings himself in Ukraine. So maybe there's a money motive for Giuliani as well.
As you might imagine, none of what Giuliani was saying about the ambassador made Ms. Yovanovitch a favorite back in Washington. But as she testified, the career Foreign Service officer felt stymied, saying, quote, it's not like a sent in a formal cable outlining everything, she says. It felt very, very, very sensitive and very political.
And this, she said, was making top Ukrainian officials uneasy. She describes a conversation with the Ukrainian interior minister in February. Question: what were his concerns as expressed to you? Yovanovitch replied, he thought it was -- so, he thought it was very dangerous that Ukraine, since its independence, has had bipartisan support from both Democrats and Republicans all these years, and that to start kind of getting into U.S. politics, into U.S. domestic politics was a dangerous place for Ukraine to be.
It became dangerous as well for her. Donald Trump Jr. tweeted about her in March, referring to her as a joker. She was signaled out during a segment on "Hannity" by name. She raised concerns about it to Gordon Sondland, and other of the president's emissaries. Sondland she says, told her -- and I quote -- you need to go big or go home. You need to, you know, tweet out there that you support the president and that all these are lies and everything else.
And, so, you know, I mean, obviously, that was advice. That was advice that I did not see how I could implement in my role as ambassador and as Foreign Service officer.
So, just -- let's think about this for a moment. The advice she says she got from the ambassador to the European Union, Sondland, who is a major Trump supporter and donor, was to say nice things about President Trump, which is pretty amazing when you think about it, that the E.U. ambassador tells her that the president of the United States of the United States is basically a sucker for compliments and can be manipulated by flattery.
Another lesson she learned was that the road to the president also goes through Fox News. Here's she's describing efforts she heard about to stop the attacks on her.
Quoting the ambassador: What I was told by Phil Reeker was that the secretary or perhaps somebody around him was going to place a call to Mr. Hannity on Fox News to say, you know, what is going on? I mean, do you have proof of these kind of allegations or not? And if you have proof, you know, tell me. If not, stop. And I understand that call was made. I don't know whether it was the -- or somebody else in his inner circle, and for a time, you know, things kind of simmered down.
By May, however, she was removed from her post. As for her departure from Kiev, she describes a conversation with the Foreign Service director -- the director general, Carol Perez, who ordered her home.
Quote: She said that there was a lot of concern for me, that I needed to be on the next plane home to Washington. I was like what? What happened? She said, I don't know, but this is about your security. You need to come home immediately. You need to come home on the next plane.
And I said, physical security? I mean is there something going on here in the Ukraine because sometimes Washington has intel or something else that we don't necessarily know. And she said, no, I didn't get that impression. But you need to come back immediately. And I mean I argued with her. I told her I thought it was really unfair that she was pulling me out of the post without any explanation. I mean, really none and so summarily.
This is not, it is safe to say, how any of this is really supposed to work, not the ambassador's removal, not career first aid through Twitter, not alleged phone calls to Hannity or the president's TV lawyer scuttling about gathering dirt, not any of it. Or as Ambassador McKinley put it in his testimony: In 37 years in the foreign service in different parts of the globe and working on many controversial issues, working 10 years back in Washington, I had never seen that.
Four administration officials were supposed to testify today. None of them showed up. More transcripts are due out tomorrow.
I want to talk about all of this. Joining me now, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero, and former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean.
David, I'm wondering how -- what do you make of the transcripts that have been released today?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm very -- we should be very glad they've been released. It gives the granular view is much more sobering and distressing than what we had heard before today. I think the details show you this became a cesspool. Our own State Department became a cesspool.
You know, it is -- it's one thing for an American ambassador to be called home because there's a physical threat to the ambassador coming from some thugs or, you know, rebels outside the gates.
GERGEN: It's another thing to be threatened by your own government with your physical security being threatened when they asked her to come home.
And then the president in that phone call with Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, they started talking about her and the president said -- the president of the United States says, she's going to go through some tough things.
GERGEN: She felt, I think quite rightly, that was threatening to her, and she remains threatened to this day.
Anderson, it may take as much as a generation to restore the Foreign Service and to attract the kind of talented people we need on the front lines.
COOPER: Really? You think the damage that's already been done is that great?
GERGEN: Yes, I do.
COOPER: To an entire generation of foreign service officers.
GERGEN: I think you and this network, with a lot of young people, many of whom used to go into a Foreign Service, they very reluctant to go in. You have no idea what's going to happen to you, if it's going to be politicized as an institution.
COOPER: The -- and also whether the White House or Washington cares what you're doing or believes in it. In fact, it's quite clear they don't care.
John, what does it say about the administration that a U.S. ambassador was being smeared by the president and his allies on the global stage, and the ambassador wasn't even convinced that she was physically safe and had to learn about this from Ukrainian officials?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's amazing. What -- she's like somebody who was hit by a train and didn't even know she was on the tracks. And she said that she couldn't even imagine, as late as her testimony, the six and seven months she'd been through already.
Now, what happened, Anderson, in her revelation point, was very interesting, when she heard the rumor of the report in "The Hill" publication, the interview with Lutsenko. And I happened to look at it because it prompted my interest in reading the transcript. And the interview is a setup. They're all leading questions to Lutsenko.
It's like "The Hill" was in the loop on this whole thing.
COOPER: What was that?
DEAN: So I assume they're going to be a witness at some point.
COOPER: Yes, I think there's a reporter from "The Hill," I think, who has been mentioned who, you know, was doing a lot of this reporting early on.
After -- Carrie, after reading the ambassador's transcript, it's almost difficult to overstate just how much havoc Rudy Giuliani -- I mean, it seemed was allowed and able and encouraged to wreak. And it also seems really -- I mean, for the president to be claiming and, you know, his supporters to be claiming this was all concern about, you know, corruption in Ukraine, the server, the Bidens, all the people it seems like -- or many of the people that Giuliani and the president are kind of relying on for all their inside information were people who were allegedly corrupt and had been removed from office because of it.
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. Well, I mean that was a fake response and a cover story for what was actually going on. I think what's interesting as we learn more of these details is that, Anderson, the essential facts that we learned about seven weeks ago when the whistle-blower's complaint became publicly known and then when the White House released the transcript, and then just a few weeks ago when the White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney basically admitted what had transpired in terms of holding out aid in exchange for political information from Ukraine, is that the underlying facts really haven't changed. And what happened was that the president was using his foreign policy
authority to get dirt and political information that would benefit him. And what I think becomes more clear through these details in these new transcripts is how much the institutions and in this case the State Department have been under pressure from not just the president and not just people in the White House, but from people outside government like Rudy Giuliani.
And so, when I hear others, president's defenders or maybe affiliates in Congress or others who are observing from the outside, commentators say -- well, the institutions are holding up, you know, this is just a lot of bluster that comes out of the White House. These aren't things to be really worried about. These transcripts show that the institutions are under tremendous strain.
COOPER: Well, also, David, strain from the guy who's running the State Department. I mean, we talk about Secretary of State Pompeo. His former adviser, Michael McKinley, who we've just been reading about, he says that on three occasions, he broached with the secretary the idea of making a statement of support for the Ambassador Yovanovitch.
That contradicts what Pompeo himself said about McKinley last month on ABC. I just want to play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: From the time that ambassador Yovanovitch departed Ukraine until the time that he came to tell me that he was departing, I never heard him say a single thing about his concerns with respect to the decision --
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: So you were never asked to --
POMPEO: Not once. Not once, George, did Ambassador McKinley say something to me during that entire time period.
(END IVDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, I mean, obviously now, it's a he said/he said.
GERGEN: There's a direct conflict.
GERGEN: You know, if Mike Pompeo was brave and smart, I think he would ask to appear before the committee under questions and deal with it.
COOPER: Under oath?
GERGEN: Under oath. Under oath. That would be --
COOPER: Why do you think that would be an advantage?
GERGEN: Because I think it's important for the country that we not have a secretary of state who seems compromised or potentially compromised in a very, very serious situation. And in a State Department whose morale is broken. And --
COOPER: But, clearly, he doesn't care about that or the president doesn't care about it. I mean, they're -- clearly, he's the president's guy there in a way that other secretaries of state haven't even been because at least some of them believed in the institution itself.
GERGEN: Right. Well, I have to believe Mike Pompeo arrived with a pretty good reputation. He was a strong figure in Benghazi against the Democratic administration. But nonetheless -- he -- you know, he was at West Point. He was number one in his class. He's a really smart guy.
So, people thought he's going to be another adult in the room along with Mattis. And it turns out in order to survive in this White House, you've really got to kiss the ring of the president regularly, and it compromises your own department.
COOPER: Yes, we're going to have more with the panel in a moment.
New reporting on how this is going down at the White House and what is being done to prepare for day two and more transcripts.
Later, after yet another legal setback, only the Supreme Court stands between the president and prosecutors getting a look at his tax returns.
COOPER: President Trump spent the run-up to the impeachment inquiry transcripts suggesting they would be tampered with by the Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, that he would put out phony transcripts. As of tonight, no complaints from Republicans about the veracity of the transcripts. Some grumbling about what one congressman, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, called the Democrats, quote, selectively releasing transcripts from their closed door hearings.
Republicans are also part of those hearings.
As for the White House reaction, CNN's Jim Acosta is there for us tonight.
Has the president said anything so far about the transcripts?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not a whole lot, Anderson. We should point out he's having a rally in Kentucky right now. Standing behind him onstage are some supporters wearing t-shirts that say, "read the transcript." I think the president and his supporters are referring to the transcript of his phone call with the leader of Ukraine, not these transcripts that are being released up on Capitol Hill. But as the president was leaving the White House earlier in the
evening, Anderson, he was going after Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. And at point, he was asked whether there was a smear campaign orchestrated against her. He did not deny that.
Keep in mind that is the former ambassador who said in this transcript that she felt personally threatened by the president and the president all he had to say about Yovanovitch is that the president of Ukraine did not have kind things to say about her as well.
COOPER: Right, which in the transcript of the actual phone call, it's actually -- if memory serves me correct, it was actually President Trump who brought up Yovanovitch --
ACOSTA: That's right.
COOPER: -- saying, you know, not great things about her and saying --
COOPER: -- and saying that, you know, she was going to go through some stuff. I'm paraphrasing that. I don't have the exact quote.
ACOSTA: That's right.
COOPER: He weighed in about the transcripts last night before they were released. I mean, his line has been -- you know, that Adam Schiff is somehow going to doctor the transcripts.
ACOSTA: That's right. He's gone after Adam Schiff. We've seen that.
He also is continuing this campaign against Alexander Vindman, the national security official, lieutenant colonel in the Army, and, you know, essentially said to reporters last night that Vindman is a never Trumper and that he has evidence of this, and that we're all going to find out what this evidence is. He hasn't produced that at this point.
The other thing we should point out --
COOPER: Which is, by the way, he also said that about the birth certificate of President Obama for the longest time, that he had detectives in Hawaii and they were finding remarkable things.
ACOSTA: We have seen this movie before. That's right, Anderson. And he has been going after the credibility of the whistle-blower as well. As a matter of fact, this evening, at this rally in Kentucky, saying, that -- wait until you find out what this whistle-blower has been saying. You're going to find out.
Going back to what you were saying, this is a tactic that the president has used time and again. He will often tease things out as if, you know, this is another episode of "The Apprentice". And on next week's episode, you're going to find out what the whistle-blower really had to say when in fact that evidence and that information is never presented to the public.
COOPER: Yes. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
Back now with David Gergen, Carrie Cordero, John Dean.
John, I mean, the notion of somehow these transcripts being faked and manipulated when not only are witnesses able to look over their own testimony before these things are released -- I mean, there are Republicans sitting there as well. So I don't even understand that whole notion. I mean it's just ludicrous.
DEAN: Anderson, one of the more interesting redactions is right at the outset of the transcripts where they redact the names of everybody who is in attendance. So that shows how few Republicans probably did attend these sessions. We don't know because in these editions at least, that information is not revealed. So the redaction actually favors the Republicans for their no-show.
You're not going to be able to mess with these transcripts. The witnesses know what they said. They would be outspoken if there was something that was not properly included in there. And they're pretty haunting documents, and they're going to be even worse when they're played out live.
COOPER: Carrie, do you think it's a mistake for Democrats to not try to compel Rudy Giuliani to testify given how central he clearly is in all of this? Obviously, you know, there's political considerations based on time lines.
CORDERO: I think the Democrats -- my own view is they would be wasting their time with Rudy Giuliani. I don't think his testimony -- I think if he ever were to testify, it would be a circus. I don't think -- he's not going to be cooperative. So I think it would be like the Lewandoski hearing. I don't think they should waste their time on him at all.
They have good witnesses already. They've done their closed hearings. They have bill Taylor. They have Lieutenant Colonel Vindman. They have Marie Yovanovitch. They have Ambassador McKinley.
They have people who have credibility, who have given a lifetime of service to the country, who are nonpartisan and who have come forward and testified under oath to the facts. And so, amongst those witnesses and maybe a couple others, they'll determine which ones they want to have come in public and give more testimony. But I don't think they need Rudy.
And, you know, there is transparency now. The Republicans have been in all of these testimonies, in all of these hearings. They have now released some transcripts. There is now public information about what the process will be. So there's a lot of information out there.
GERGEN: I think there's a lot of information, but the day is going to come very quickly when we're going to have televised hearing. I think in televised hearings, the country deserves to hear from Josh Bolton under oath. He's one of the people at the center of all this.
We deserve to hear from Giuliani under oath. We deserve to be able to hear from Mulvaney under oath. And, you know, Anderson, as I go back to think about these things, remembering another crisis and another administration when Reagan was president in the Iran-Contra scandal broke.
And the president was in deep trouble. There was talk of impeachment. They were growing forces for impeachment. What did he do?
He said, look, we're sending everybody up that the Hill wants to hear from. We're going to send every document up. We're going to clean house inside, and we're going to play this totally open, totally straight.
And guess what? It went away because they dealt with it, it was still a crisis, it was still a blot on his record, but he did it the right way.
COOPER: I mean, John, we're a long way away from how Reagan handled this.
I mean, you know, we expect more transcripts tomorrow, may -- I mean that may not be the last we hear from some of these witnesses. You know what it's like and how public testimony can really change the dynamics of an investigation. That being said, all those sorts of comments were made about, you know, what would happen when Mueller testified. And clearly, you know, for a lot of Democrats, that's not what they anticipated.
DEAN: No. Witnesses are hard to read in advance how they're going to appear, and there's no telling how some of these witnesses who do have great credibility might be in front of a television camera. We just don't know.
But I think the education process that public television or public viewing of the hearings will provide is really essential. This just can't go too far in being transparent and the committee really educating the American people about the seriousness of what's going on here. The fact that -- the ambassador's testimony where she said that the State Department is being attacked and hollowed out from inside is just a chilling line when you hear it -- when you read it.
COOPER: Yes, yes.
John Dean, thank you very much. David Gergen, Carrie Cordero, appreciate it.
Up next, we're going to hear from a member from the House Intelligence Committee who listened to a great deal of the testimony we've been discussing.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Briefly recapping our breaking news, House impeachment investigators today released lengthy transcripts of two interviews conducted behind closed doors last month. Those are former US Ambassador of Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and Michael McKinley, both testified they were deeply concerned about domestic political interference in US diplomacy with Ukraine.
Now, this has all four high-level White House officials who were scheduled to testify today didn't show up. One of the members of the House Intelligence Committee who sat in on much of the testimony we're learning about today is Democrat Val Demings of Florida. I spoke with her shortly before air time.
COOPER: Congresswoman Demings, of all the concerning details in this released transcripts, I'm wonder what stands out to you the most.
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL), INTELLIGENCE & JUDICIARY COMMITTEE : Well, Anderson, the thing that really, a couple of things stand out to me the most. Number one, it is just, I think, appalling that the president of the United States and his enablers would totally try to impugn the good reputation of Ambassador Yovanovitch because they did not want her to be a part of their, basically, shady operation that they were doing in Ukraine.
The other thing that really, I think, is very disheartening is when Ambassador McKinley expressed his concern about the Department of State Secretary Pompeo not having the backs of foreign service officers when he complained about the morale being low, the men and women feeling like they did not have the support of the Department of State, that he received no response. And when he received no response from the secretary, he felt like no response was a response and he felt like he could no longer be of service in his current capacity.
And so, because of the shady operation that was going on involving the president and those around him, I think two good career service -- Foreign Service employees were basically displaced or left the State Department.
KORNACKI: Chairman Schiff today said that the House committees aren't going to delay their work and wait for the court to decide about testimonies like, of aides like Charles Kupperman and perhaps John Bolton, why do you think this needs to be -- do you think this needs to be done at a rapid pace?
I mean, I understand the political calculation with the upcoming election and this kind of sucking the oxygen out of that. But your former law enforcement official, isn't there something to be said for getting as much evidence as you possibly can?
DEMINGS: Well, certainly there is. And from the beginning, we said that we wanted to do a very methodical, a very thorough, but also a very timely investigation. I believe a lot has happened over the last month and a half. Finally, we've had persons who were either associated with the administration or with the Department of State and others who were willing to obey a lawful subpoena and come in and give testimony. I certainly believe that we are making every effort to get every bit of information and testimony that we can in this investigation.
But as Chairman Schiff said today, Anderson, we are moving forward, and we will consider those who the president instructed not to appear, who chose to follow that unlawful order, as another article of impeachment
COOPER: You think there should be more than one article of impeachment?
DEMINGS: Well, it certainly seems like the President is on a roll. And I would think that is all -- all of that is going on with him. We know now that the President abused his power by trying to get a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election. We know that persons were directed to remove the call record of the President's July 25th call onto a secret server.
We know that the president has instructed several people to not appear and cooperate with Congress. And so, I do believe that the President is really -- the evidence is really clear, convincing and really pretty overwhelming.
COOPER: Your Republican colleague Congressman Jim Jordan said that Democrats "cherry-pick which transcripts they release and when." What is the determining -- what's determining the order in which transcripts are getting released?
DEMINGS: Well, I mean, if you think about it, Ambassador Yovanovitch and Ambassador McKinley were two of the first ones that were interviewed by the Intelligence Committee. And, look, I know the Republicans are struggling to defend that which is indefensible, but, you know, I was glad to see these transcripts being released so that the American people could see exactly what the ambassador said during their testimony.
COOPER: I think Volker went before, but I hear you on Jim Jordan's point. There's reporting tonight also that as the inquiry moves into the public phase, Republicans are considering actually moving Congressman Jordan over to the House Committee. Do you think that's a smart move on their part?
DEMINGS: Anderson, I came to Congress with 27 years of law enforcement experience. I've conducted numerous investigations. I have always been in search of the truth. If Congressman Jordan is interested in joining me in that effort, I welcome him to the committee.
COOPER: Congresswoman Demings, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
DEMINGS: Thank you. COOPER: Well, potential impeachment is not the only battle the White House is fighting. Up next, how Americans got one step closer to possibly seeing the President's tax returns as soon as next month. We'll look at the last-ditch effort to keep them private.
COOPER: Tonight, the battle of releasing president trump's tax returns appears headed for the Supreme Court. That's the vow from one of the President's attorneys after losing appeals court decision. Manhattan district attorney is hoping to succeed where House Democrats have not.
The prosecutor is demanding eight years of returns from the President's long-time accounting firm. The Trump legal team argues that the President is immune from criminal investigations while in office, but the appeals court says that doesn't block the enforcement of a grand jury subpoena.
Now, if the Supreme Court takes up the matter, justices could issue an opinion before Christmas.
Investigative Reporter David Cay Johnson is one of the very few to uncover any of the President's tax returns. He's the author of "The making of Donald Trump." He joins me along with CNN Legal Analyst Shan Wu.
David, if this decision stands, you say that President Trump could have a serious problem once a Manhattan grand jury gets the tax documents. What do you believe that they could show?
DAVID CAY JOHNSON, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, Donald lost two income tax fraud trials. And in one of those trials, the tax return introduced in the case was shown to his long-time now retired tax preparer, Jack Mitnick, who testified that was his signature on the document, but he did not prepare that tax return.
Donald has a long history of filing inconsistent documents with different government agencies. Cy Vance's grand jury has access to the New York State Tax Authority records. And I suspect, they are going to compare them to the Masser's (ph) record to see if Trump altered the tax returns he filed, which would be fraud in all likelihood.
COOPER: Shan, I mean, Jay Sekulow, the President's attorney says that the issue raised in this case goes really to the heart of our republic and that the "constitutional issues" are significant. Is he right there?
SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think he's wrong, Anderson. Certainly in the President's mind, these are dear to republic, his republic. The Supreme Court, unlike any other courts, has the discretion over what they will take, and they issue a writ or certiorari to those cases that they believe are important enough to hear. They are not going to do that here is my guess.
COOPER: You don't think the Supreme Court will take the case?
WU: I don't think they'll take it. And the reason for that is because, these are actions which, as was laid out in the Court of Appeals decision, these are actions that predate the President becoming the president. So he wants to argue absolute immunity, executive privilege, but none of those apply because this wasn't something that he undertook for his job as presidency.
Executive privilege, an important privilege, is meant to give the president the benefit of confidential advice to run the country. Running the Trump business is not the same as running the country, even though he may think so. So it's just not going to be applicable here.
COOPER: So if they didn't take it, then the ruling by this judge and the Appeals Court, that stands and the tax returns are released.
WU: That's exactly right. And the court often does that. They'll let a lower court decision stand because Supreme Court justices like to think of themselves as being minimalists. They only want to take those cases that they think are really essential for the country to take. And when they can, they'll duck the issue because they don't want to reach out and decide things unnecessarily. So I think here they're going to say thanks, but no thanks.
COOPER: David, the thing is, I mean, efforts by the President to hide the contents of his tax returns, they've been going on for decades and he's largely been successful in keeping them under wraps, hasn't he?
JOHNSON: He's been quite successful other than the 2005 few pages that I got and the 1995 state returns the New York Times got. But we won't see these returns. They will be turned over under grand jury rules that are secret. If there is an indictment or a civil lawsuit brought by Cy Vance, then we'll first see specifics that are alleged as part of a crime, and then as the case goes forward, we'll see the returns put into the record.
And Trump has ten days under an agreement with Cy Vance to appeal to the Supreme Court. So that will get resolved quickly.
COOPER: So, Shan, we should know within ten days?
WU: Well, he has ten days within which to seek the appeal. I'm not sure how fast to file it. I'm not sure how fast the court will decide on them.
COOPER: I see. And how long does the court sometimes take to decide whether they'll look at a case or not?
WU: They usually move relatively quickly. I mean, normally they would look to the next term, so I would expect them to turn around relatively quickly. It's a little hard to predict, but I think they'll expedite.
COOPER: It's fascinating. Shan Wu --
JOHNSON: And the agreement here, Anderson, is this term. It will be this term.
COOPER: Right, all right. David Cay Johnson, fascinating. Shan Wu, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Tonight, the President is still actively trying to unmask the Ukraine call whistleblower which is protected by the, well, the law. My next guest knows firsthand what it's like to have your cover blown. Her name was leaked in a different administration, former CIA Operative Valerie Plame on the consequences of the President's unlawful request ahead.
COOPER: Despite numerous administration officials corroborating what the Ukraine whistleblower warned about, despite the President's own on camera calls for election interference from Ukraine and China, and despite the rough transcript that he released that backs up much of the whistleblower's account, President Trump is still trying to blow the whistleblower's cover. The latest from a few hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I think that the whistleblower gave a lot of false information. And you have to see who the whistleblower is. The whistleblower seems to have disappeared.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, he just leveled another attack at his rally tonight. A reminder, this whistleblower's anonymity is protected by law.
I want to bring in former CIA Operative Valerie Plame who's had a valuable perspective of this. Her cover was blown in the Bush administration after husband blew the whistle on the rationale if we're going to war with Iraq. She is now running for Congress as a Democrat in New Mexico.
Valerie, thanks for being with us. Just based on your own experience, you obviously have unique vantage point on this. How important is it that the whistleblower's identity remains secret? Not only for that person but any other potential whistleblower out there.
VALERIE PLAME (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, NEW MEXICO: Hi, good evening, Anderson. Thanks for having me. It's absolutely crucial what the President is doing is illegal and harassment. Whistleblowers need to feel if they come forward to point out mismanagement, corruption, wrongdoing, that their identity will be protected. I think what Trump has been doing yesterday and reiterated again today asking essentially for his henchmen to go out and dig around, and reveal the identity of the Whistleblower is immoral. It's outrageous. And we can't function as a democracy, as a government, if you put the ice on those who seek to come forward and say, you know, that's not quite right.
COOPER: It's also interesting given the Mueller report, we know that when the President during the campaign said, you know, Russia, if you're listening, you know, find those emails. According to the Mueller report, you know, Russian intelligence actually hours later set about doing just that.
COOPER: So the President clearly knows that giving public pronouncements saying, you know, this person should be revealed and that this person, you know, said things which are not true and equated them to a, you know, traitor or spy, he knows the impact that that could have on this person.
PLAME: Oh, absolutely. You know, this whistleblower, we don't know who it is yet, thank goodness, most likely a male, but we don't know that for sure. But clearly he's a patriot. He thought long and hard about what he was doing.
By all accounts his report was credible, thorough. He had given it a great deal of thought. This wasn't just something he tossed off. He knew that his life would change. I don't think he could have any idea of the depth of it, how profound it would be because I've experienced that myself, not exactly analogous but being betrayed by the Bush administration and going from complete anonymity to being in the maw of media attention.
And even though you might know what you did was right and your friend and family are telling you what you did was right, it is a very disorienting experience. I really, on a personal, human level, I really feel for the whistleblower. It's going -- it's hard now and it's going to get worse. I'm afraid that his identity at some point will become known and his life will just be turned upside down.
COOPER: Clearly, the President believes there's some sort of political advantage to continuing to focus on the whistleblower, when in truth the whistleblower at this point is pretty much irrelevant--
PLAME: And, you know, extraneous.
COOPER: -- to the actual inquiry because, as you pointed out, what the whistleblower said, which, you know, all the Republicans in Congress were coming forward and saying it's all hearsay, it's all hearsay. You know, it's now been backed up by testimony --
PLAME: It's all been corroborated.
COOPER: Yes, it's been corroborated. So, the idea that the President -- PLAME: Yes, that's right.
COOPER: -- is continuing to focus on this person, clearly there must be some reason for that.
PLAME: Oh, yes. I mean, Trump's really good at the shiny ball technique, isn't it? Look over here, look, shiny ball over here. Pay no attention to exactly the substantial, the flagrant abuse of presidential power, the threat to national security, the erosion of our constitutional democratic values, pay no attention to that. Let's go after and figure out who the whistleblower is.
And we fall for it, each and, you know, how long have we known that this is his technique and he's so actually quite good at it. So we need to all take a collective breath. I'm looking forward to these proceedings going into their public phase, and it will be very interesting to see what the actual impeachment articles are. Is it going to be focused on the Ukrainian issue or will it be broader?
COOPER: Right. And will they include obstruction of justice from something from the Mueller report as, you know, there's some Democrats who clearly would like that.
COOPER: Just as somebody who, you know, knows the CIA from a unique standpoint from the inside, what do you think the impact has been, just the cumulative impact? You know, we were talking earlier about the Foreign Service and, you know, the ambassador was saying it's been hallowed out from the inside.
PLAME: Oh yes.
COOPER: David Gergen was saying it might take, you know, a generation to kind of get, you know, new people in and to kind of repair the damage.
PLAME: It pained me to hear the words of that ambassador, of being attacked and hollowed out. And probably, there are those career professionals at the CIA who feel the same way.
There's been a slow accumulation of the politicization of our intelligence community, starting with the Iraq War and going on up to today. Now, we have the Secretary of State Pompeo, who doesn't really care that much about the State Department as much as his proximity to Trump.
And the amount, the years of experience that have walked out the door, the -- and both at the CIA and at the State Department, this is not good for our diplomacy, our standing in the world and is definitely not good for our national security when Trump has repeatedly denigrated the intelligence professionals that are serving as Americans, not at Republicans and not at Democrats.
COOPER: Valerie Plame, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you very much.
PLAME: Thank you.
COOPER: When we return, more revelations from the first impeachment inquiry transcripts released today, some concerning new accounts, Rudy Giuliani's shadowy operations in Ukraine. I'll talk with former White House insider turned critic Anthony Scaramucci, next.