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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
New Impeachment Witness Testimony Just Released Less Than 48 Hours Before Public Hearings Begin; Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) is Interviewed About the Impeachment Inquiry and Public Hearings. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired November 11, 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.
Today began what may be the most daunting week in the history of the Trump administration, facing public testimony by officials from the State Department, that the president orchestrated the shakedown of another country for political gain. On Wednesday, Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry will open the doors to the public to what has until this moment been a closed door process.
President Trump has repeatedly demanded transparency in the House impeachment inquiry. This week he is getting his wish though he certainly doesn't see it that way.
This week, three witnesses who have worked intimately with Ukraine policy will testify. Now, behind closed doors, they've already testified to what they believe is an attempt by the Trump administration to bribe Ukraine for an investigation into the Biden clan. Also to the machinations the personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to accomplish this feat.
So that much we know we can expect from open testimony. What we don't know is how the witness testifying publicly may influence the opinion of American voters if it does so at all. We also don't know for sure what the White House and the president's supporters on Capitol Hill are going to do to combat what looks to be a growing mountain of evidence against the president and his administration, a mountain that has gotten larger with the release of more closed door testimony in just the past few hours.
We don't know because so far the reaction has been a smattering of everything from nothing to see here to the White House is too incompetent to hatch an extortion scheme. That last one came from Senator Lindsey Graham who like a president has been all over the map on this one. His latest defense came over the weekend.
Here he is trying to make an argument about process and the identity of the whistle-blower.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): So, if they don't call the whistle-blower in the House, this thing is dead on arrival in the Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, the House Intelligence chairman leading the public inquiries, Adam Schiff, says that the testimony they've already received corroborates the whistle-blower's account making it in Schiff's words, redundant. Also, it wasn't that long ago, the Republicans were saying this person was invalid as a witness.
In the words of Congressman Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz, this person had, quote, no firsthand knowledge. So, that was one argument.
Then there was the defense that acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney trotted out. The message, we did it, so what, everyone does.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: To be clear, what you described is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well.
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We do -- we do that all the time with foreign policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He later included the now infamous line get over it just for good measure. Hours later, of course, he walked the whole thing back, blamed the media, saying he didn't say what he was saying on camera right there, which is interesting for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that a slightly revised version of that argument is now once again being made by some of the president's supporters.
The new version, President Trump did it, his phone call and actions were bad, but they don't rise to the level of impeachment.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I think it is not a good practice for us ever to ask a foreign country to investigate an American, I don't, but did the Ukrainians call for an investigation? No. Did the president hold up aid? He released the aid, as he should. I don't see it as impeachable.
REP. MAC THORNBERRY (R-TX): I believe it was inappropriate. I do not believe it was impeachable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that last person you heard there was Mac Thornberry, a congressman from Texas.
Now, President Trump doesn't like that argument because he says his phone conversation with the Ukraine president was perfect, his word. A few hours after Congressman Thornberry showed you, President Trump tweeted this, quote: Republicans, don't be led into the fool's trap of saying it was not perfect but is not impeachable. No, it is much stronger than that. Nothing was done wrong.
Joining us now from the White House, Jim Acosta.
Jim, so we're entering this historic week. Talk about the White House strategy to deal with everything that will come out of the hearing. I mean, is there a strategy or it is just whatever President Trump wants to tweet on any given moment?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's a little bit of both, Anderson.
I will tell you, we just obtained the Trump campaign talking points heading into these public hearings. I should mention, it is a critical week in the impeachment inquiry. And according to these talking points, one of them says the facts are on our side. Democrats would beg to disagree.
It also goes on to say that the whistle-blower has no first-hand knowledge of the call. This is sounding familiar and that other witnesses in the inquiry so far do not have firsthand knowledge of the call.
Now, Anderson, we have heard much of that already before repeated by this White House, and so, it seems to be at this point, they are just repeating the same talking points over and over again in the hopes that it will stick.
Now, in terms of other points that they will be hammering home as the week unfolds, the president will be holding a press conference with the president of Turkey on Wednesday, so we'll hear more about that then. But he did tease out earlier this evening what he plans to do at some point this week. He's going to release the transcript of his first call with the leader of Ukraine.
The problem with all of that, Anderson, of course, the president may not have sought a quit pro quo. That's not relevant. What's relevant is what happened on the July 25th call.
COOPER: Right, which is not public. In fact, Vindman, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman who's testified has said that it's actually not an exact transcript, which we already knew that. But Vindman had knowledge what it was not exact transcript, word for word, comma for comma, as the president has said.
ACOSTA: That's right, Anderson. And we should also point out what happened on that call has been corroborated over and over again by other administration officials who have gone in to testify, and as you mentioned in that opening to your show, Mick Mulvaney walked into the White House briefing room and said we do this all the time.
The other thing we should point out, Anderson, I just spoke with a source close to the White House a short while ago who objected to the president continuing to say that his phone call with the leader of the Ukraine was perfect. You know, nobody really is echoing that message on behalf of the president. It doesn't seem that anybody here in Washington except for the most partisan of partisans feels that the president's phone call with the leader of Ukraine was perfect.
The other thing to point out, there is some nervousness inside Trump world, inside Trump's camp. I talked to another source close to the campaign who said, listen, if any Republicans defect in this upcoming process, it damages a key message for the White House. And that this -- they believe this is a partisan exercise and it was Democrats voting in the House impeachment inquiry that Nancy Pelosi held the other day. If any Republicans defect, that is big news in this inquiry and very bad news for this White House -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta -- Jim, thanks very much.
Congressman Ro Khanna sits on the Oversight Committee which has helped conduct the closed door hearings that have laid much of the ground work for what we're going to see on Wednesday. He joins me now.
Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.
In today's transcript release, we learned that a person named Laura Cooper, the Pentagon's deputy assistant secretary for Russia, testified that Ukraine was very much aware of their military aid being blocked and that a statement and opening investigation will unfreeze the aid, I'm wondering how critical is what Ukraine knew and when they knew it to the overall case that that you're presenting to the American public?
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Well, it's absolutely critical. It goes to the pressure that they were facing and they actually didn't want this revealed because they felt that their relationship with the United States was at risk.
Here, Anderson, is the important part. Laura Cooper, the career officials at the State Department, at the Defense Department sounded the alarm bells. They knew that this was wrong policy. They alerted the White House.
They said, you can't withhold this aid that Congress has appropriated. It's illegal. And yet their warnings went totally unheard.
COOPER: It's also interesting because this was one of many arguments that supporters of the president on Capitol Hill early on said, well, oh, well, you know, it can't be a quid pro quo because they didn't know about the holdup of the aid, they didn't know about the whole plot when, in fact, we now know they did from multiple people.
KHANNA: Exactly. And they were embarrassed by it. They didn't want to admit that the president had that kind of leverage on them and make them look weak and question the relationship with the United States. And they were just hoping that this situation would resolve.
And you had people like Laura Cooper and other career officials basically telling them that the situation would resolve because they knew what a breach this was of our legal system. COOPER: You know, there was a lot of hype in the lead-up to the
Mueller hearings and those did not work out as many Democrats had hoped they would with the testimony of Robert Mueller. What is the Democrats' plan going to the hearings on Wednesday?
KHANNA: Well, the difference here is that this story is so simple and most people around the country know what happened. The president withheld aid from Zelensky because he wanted Zelensky to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and announced that publicly. And you had witness after witness corroborate this.
And what's going to come out in the testimony by a few key witnesses like Ambassador Taylor is this wasn't just one phone call, this was a concerted effort for months to try to get dirt on Joe Biden. So, I think the case is simple and most people are going to understand what went on.
COOPER: It's being reported that the Republicans as part of their strategy is going to focus on the conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in 2016 election, not Russia and push unsubstantiated claims about the Bidens. Do you -- is this going to end up being a tale of two hearings?
That essentially Republicans are going to be asking on those things and Democrats are just going to be focusing on the president's actions and Giuliani's actions?
KHANNA: Well, the Republicans are desperate to come up with some defense. They started by saying there is no quid pro quo. Now they can't dispute that. Then they said, well, there may be a quid pro quo but it's not impeachable. That seemed laughable.
So, now, they're saying, well, let's say it was Ukraine that was actually responsible for interference. And I think the problem with their story is they don't have any facts that actually exonerate the president's actions. They're going to have to at some point explain to the American people why the president kept asking Zelensky to dig up dirt on Biden. Why did Biden's name keep coming into the situation?
COOPER: None of the witnesses scheduled to testify had direct interaction with the president. Both John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney did. I know Democrats are pushing ahead without securing Bolton and Mulvaney's testimony. But doesn't the public deserve to have that final piece of the puzzle? And, frankly, wouldn't that make your argument stronger?
KHANNA: Yes, they do, and that's why John Bolton should testify. There is no reason for John Bolton not to testify. It's a shared delay tactic.
We're not going to delay for months because John Bolton is unwilling to testify. The reality is he's not shielded by executive privilege if there is actually illegality. And so, he owes the American people an explanation about his judgment of whether there was illegal conduct. That has never been protected by executive privilege.
Same thing with Mick Mulvaney. They owe the American people an explanation.
COOPER: Congressman Ro Khanna, appreciate your time. Thank you.
KHANNA: Thank you.
COOPER: Still ahead tonight, we're going to examine President Trump's own defense ahead of the public hearings. His latest unfounded, untrue explanation for why practically all the witness testimony so far has gone against him.
Also, exclusive excerpts from the White House official known only as anonymous. What this person says was the reaction inside the White House where President Trump saying that he only withheld military aid to Ukraine to battle corruption.
COOPER: You know, prior to Wednesday's first day of public testimony, President Trump clearly appears unhappy with the witness testimony he's heard about so far. Today, without any evidence at all, the president called the transcripts, quote, doctored. And he said, quote, Republicans should put out their own transcripts.
We should point out that no Republicans who have sat in on these hearings have questioned the validity of the transcripts which have been released nor have any of the witnesses whose words make up those transcripts. So you can add this lie to however many other thousands of lies he has already told.
The weird thing is, it sort of seems normal, doesn't it? The sky is blue, the earth is round, the president of the United States is lying. It's kind of pathetic.
Joining me now is CNN chief legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin, CNN political commentator and former Obama White House communications director Jen Psaki, and CNN senior political commentator and former Obama White House senior adviser, David Axelrod.
So, this latest round of transcripts, I mean, they certainly to be very consistent going into these hearings. And I'm even not addressing the notion that they're doctored because it's just so absurd.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It's so ridiculous.
But I mean, what's remarkable is now he has more than a dozen people who have talked about the issue of the American relationship with Ukraine. And they've all essentially said the same thing, that there was one policy on the books, or one policy where the Congress authorized and the president signed that said, you know, $391 million goes in military aid, and Rudy Giuliani was conducting a separate foreign policy which said there would be no money and no meeting with the president and potentially no meeting with the vice president unless he started going after Joe Biden's son and the 2016 conspiracy theory. I mean, every witness says the same thing.
COOPER: And, David, I mentioned this at the top of the broadcast but I just want to put it back up on the screen. President Trump tweeted this weekend, Republicans don't be led into the fool's trap saying it is not perfect, it is not impeachable. No, it is much stronger than that. Nothing was done wrong.
I mean, it doesn't leave congressional Republicans many places in search of a cohesive defense. I mean, Lindsey Graham is still now focusing on the whistle-blower which is really largely irrelevant at this point because so many other people confirmed what this person who apparently had no firsthand knowledge said.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. No, they're really between a rock and a hard place. They've got on the one hand a president who's very, very popular with their base and who is more than willing to take out people who dissent with one tweet. So they have that on the one side and then this very stubborn fact pattern on the other.
And so, what they have is a defense in search of an argument. They've been auditioning different arguments.
I've said here before, Anderson, I think ultimately where the senators are going to land is, yes, he did something bad but let's let the people decide we're close to in election. I think that's probably -- if you're not going to vote on the facts, that's probably the best you can do. But, clearly, he's not going to like that. And someone is -- I don't know if anybody can talk to him, someone has to say to him, hey, you have to leave us a little wiggle room here because you're squeezing us into an impossible place.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, Jen, if he decides, you know, that a senator is saying that defense, it wasn't great but it's not impeachable is not good enough or is insulting to him personally, I mean, will they fold and parrot whatever he wants them to parrot?
PSAKI: Well, I think some of them may.
I mean, you have Representative Lee Zeldin who will probably echo whatever he says on Twitter. But there's obviously a range in the Senate and the House of Republicans. And in addition to what David said, they've been suggesting that Ukraine has already -- they got the assistance so what's to see here. I mean, Nikki Haley sort of suggested that as well. That's true.
Does it mean that a president of the United States should be holding back military assistance in exchange for, you know, an investigation into a political opponent? No. That's what Democrats will argue. But you can see some semblance of an additional bullet point the Republicans will add.
But they're in an untenable place. If Donald Trump keeps tweeting and keeps pushing them to argue on his behalf, they're not going to have anywhere to go.
TOOBIN: Can I be the master of the obvious for one second?
TOOBIN: Who calls their own behavior perfect? Have you ever met anyone like that? And I know, it's like, oh, that's how Trump talks.
That's not normal. I mean, it's just -- I mean, the idea -- and he lies all the time. Well, I --
COOPER: It's not even behavior. It's conversation was perfect. I didn't even know what that means.
TOOBIN: It's so surreal that we sort of pass that by because that's the way he talks and he's the president of the United States.
COOPER: Listen, it's surreal that he's calling the transcripts which Republicans were in on and which all these witnesses have read before they were released, that he's calling those doctored and nobody blinks an eye. Everyone is like, oh, yes, no, that's totally normal. It's not normal at all.
AXELROD: Anderson, can I --
COOPER: Yes, go ahead please, David.
AXELROD: I want to go back to something that Jen said. You know, Ambassador Haley made the argument, yes, the money flowed. But it seemed like it flowed after the White House got an inkling that there were people who were blowing the whistle on this whole caper. And secondly, she said that the Ukrainians -- well, that was the main point. That the money did flow.
COOPER: But, also, David, what's important about that, "The New York Times" did reporting in the Ukraine about how close the president came because all of his advisors are saying, look, we desperately need this aide even though our whole program is to battle corruption and not have phony investigations for corrupt political purposes, we may have to do that.
AXELROD: They were about to move forward. It was reported that they were about to move forward when this whole thing blew up.
AXELROD: So the Haley argument doesn't hold up either. This goes back to the fundamental dilemma. Republicans don't have a real, great place to land here.
COOPER: Jen, one of the things that surfaced in the transcript of Catherine Croft, a former aide to Ambassador Kurt Volker, which was released tonight, was that Mick Mulvaney in this capacity as director of OMB had put a hold on lethal aid to Ukraine in the form of javelin missiles, which is what they desperately want, back in late 2017, or early 2018, and the reason, according to the reporting is, he was worried Russia would react negatively.
But that is stunning in and of itself, that it shows what the White House thought about Ukraine, how little they cared about Ukraine, and it undermines the idea that some Trump accolades have been pushing that nobody's -- and the president's been pushing that no one's been tougher on Russia than Donald Trump which is just patently false.
PSAKI: You know, I think as you said, Anderson, it raised some big red flags here. It's important to remember there's been a debate about increasing assistance to Ukraine is because Russia had illegally invaded Ukraine and the United States has been assisting Ukraine. Also in that same transcript, which is really interesting, was why they got those javelin anti-tank missiles in the first place.
And in 2017, Catherine Croft, cropped the same transcript. She talks about the paper process, which means there wasn't even a senior level negotiation or discussion about this, which should be pretty uncommon, and it's linked to some "New York Times" reporting, too, about suggesting that Poroshenko, who was the former president of Ukraine, may have put a hold on Manafort's -- some of the investigations involving Manafort in order to get this assistance.
So, that's pretty complicated. But there's more to dig in here. To the earlier point that we've been discussing, it means that this discussion with Ukraine about quid pro quos has been ongoing for months and months and months if not years. They certainly know.
COOPER: And, in fact, allowed, you know, potential witness -- at least one potential witness for Mueller to be able to leave the country and go to Russia.
Jen Psaki, David Axelrod, thanks. Jeff is going to stick around.
Coming up, more breaking news. CNN has obtained exclusive excerpts from that forthcoming book by an anonymous senior White House official. The book is called "A Warning." I'll share some of what's inside, next.
COOPER: Breaking news tonight. CNN has obtained some exclusive excerpts from a soon to be an anonymous senior White House official. The book is called "A Warning" and it follows by a year of "New York Times" op-ed written by the same official, an op-ed that President Trump called treasonous.
Writing about the Ukraine affair, the author says about the president, quote: Those of us who have seen these reckless actions, again and again, wanted to slam our heads against the wall. The explanation that he wanted to help combat corruption in Ukraine was barely believable to anyone around him.
And about acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the author writes, quote, despite telling colleagues, he was not interested in the job he angled for months to get -- to get it. Mulvaney is a survivor. He saw opportunity as John Kelly's star dimmed.
The acting chief confided in friends not long after taking the position that he didn't understands why Kelly loathed it so much. "
And this, "Mulvaney brought a new approach to managing the West Wing. He didn't manage it. His guiding maxim was let Trump be Trump. "
Another excerpt, "The only problem with the approach is that, Trump has not changed since the Mulvaney blasted him as a terrible human being. So in effect, Mulvaney's raison d'etre is to help a terrible human being be maybe a little less terrible if he can swing it. If not, that's OK, too."
And final Anonymous writes, "We lean that given enough time and space, Donald J. Trump will abuse any power he is given. This is a fact of live we've been taught inside his administration through repeated example. No external force can ameliorate his attraction to wrongdoing. His presidency is continuously jeopardized by it, and so are America's institutions."
Joining me, a veteran for Ford White House administration, David Gergen, CNN Senior Political Analyst, and Kirsten Powers, a USA Today Columnist and a CNN Political Analyst.
David, I mean, first of all, I mean, the quotes from this person are pretty incredible to hear. You -- one also has to consider that this person, though, they think as far as we know, they're still works for the administration or did work for whatever reason, even thought others have now come forward and put their careers on the line, this person is not doing that.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's true. I think the person is totally disaffected but for whatever reason that's odd, is hanging in there, obviously does not want to be identified.
And what's missing from the book right now, at least the excerpt that we have, or any incidents or stories or precise things that happened as opposed sort of this vast overview of what we known. You know, we've known all along that the White House is going to become a snake- pit. We just didn't know until this book came out just how many snakes are in there. And that's one thing. But the president always abusing the power once given, that's been pretty apparent for a while, but then again there's no concrete example.
So I think, given where we are, the book is going to have less impact unless there's something big and blockbuster that we haven't been told yet. This book is sort of a rehash from very disaffected person that confirms that this White House, in the up person's (ph) words, is full of third graders, full apologists, people are either psychopaths or silently abetting the president's abuses of power.
GERGEN: It's a very, very unhappy picture.
COOPER: Kirsten, I mean, what's interesting is how far our knowledge of what's happening inside the White house has come since this Anonymous person wrote in op-ed, you know, some -- a year ago, to David's point, a lot of this isn't surprising and because they're insisting and remaining anonymous, they're clearly not putting in, if they know, any specifics because they don't want to be identified. And again, that all has to be taken into account, it certainly weakens their, you know, the moral clarity that they claim to be exuded.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think the -- I mean, I certainly would have hoped and I only read the excerpts, you know, that there would have been more specifics and there would be more new information. And so, I think if you're somebody who hasn't follow the nurse closely, and you wanted to get a pretty, you know, accurate synopsis of what's been going on in the White House, this is probably a good book to do that.
If you're somebody who follows the news closely, you're going to be nodding your head and saying, yes, yes, yes, yes, that I see that.
I did think one thing was interesting, I mean, I think it's something that we have -- have probably known but he says so explicitly our he or she says so explicitly that the president really goes out of his way to harm states that didn't vote for him. Now, he only -- he provides only an example of something that we already knew where he, you know, went to deny funding for fighting fires in California. But the way he writes it is as if this is a regular occurrence in the White House that he sort of horrifies staff coming up with different ways for make life difficult for people in states that didn't vote for him.
So like that was one little tidbit that I thought was interesting because I think that that, you know, but I wanted more. You know, I wanted more examples.
COOPER: David, we're getting this excerpt at the same time. And I don't think it's a coincidence that former UN Secretary Nikki Haley is out promoting her book about her time in the administration, which she said adds another layer to how people work in this White House because she recounts -- and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former Chief of Staff Jeff Kelly asked her to "save the country" but undermining the President.
She said she wouldn't do it. And I guess that she went to Trump and told him about it, but the -- what she doesn't really address is the fact that the second of state and chief of staff felt things were so bad that they needed to try to reach out to her to do something about it.
[20:35:04] GERGEN: I totally agree. That was a really eye-opening set of comments by Haley. And I just don't -- I don't understand why she was doing that. People thought what might -- she might wind up on a ticket with Trump if he wants to, you know, put a woman on there and dump Pence, that she might be a candidate. I, you know, I don't know why she would go out there and do that under those circumstances.
I do think, Anderson, you're right about, you know, publication date for Anonymous removed from December back into November clearly wanted a tie to the impeachment, and Nikki Haley's have done the same kind. This is all coming together at one time as sort of a firestorm but whether it consumes the President is still a very, very uncertain, it is not unlikely.
COOPER: Yes. David Gergen and Kirsten Powers, thanks very much.
We should know that White House has just given a statement in response to these excerpts, that says in part, if this person has in fact been inside White House meetings or has any access to the President, he is acting like a spy. This person is a gutless coward who doesn't have the spine to put his or her names to their shameful lies.
There is more breaking news tonight, a late change of plans from acting chief -- White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney when it comes to challenging a House subpoena. Detail on that coming up.
COOPER: Welcome back. Before we move onto the next story I want to correct something I said. I called Nikki Haley UN secretary in a question when she, of course, was UN ambassador.
Onto more breaking news from Washington courtroom tonight, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney now says he will not join a lawsuit by Charles Kupperman testing the subpoena power of the House of Representatives.
Through his attorney, Mulvaney had initially wanted to join the Kupperman lawsuit, which ask the federal judge to intervene on whether to comply with the impeachment related subpoena or defied at the request of the White House. Tonight, Mulvaney said he plans to file a separate lawsuit over that subpoena.
I want to get perspective now from Chris Whipple, author of "The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency." And back with me is CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Jeff, first of all, this is complicated. It's confusing a little bit. Can you explain why would he have wanted to join the government lawsuit?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I have to say this is a baffling situation, because just step back. The Democrats have said, they are not going to court to force anybody to testify. If you are not -- if you don't come in to testify in response a subpoena, they're going to let you go.
Their view is, we have enough. We're not going to delay by going to the courts. So Bolton, Kupperman and Mulvaney are just not going to testify. So why Mulvaney, instead of just not showing up, gets involved in this litigation, is kind of mysterious to me because either way, he is not going to testify.
COOPER: Is this, I mean, safe to say, is this the first for Chiefs of Staff?
CHRIS WHIPPLE, AUTHOR, THE GATEKEEPERS: Absolutely. I mean, it's unfrequented. I mean, none of this makes any sense to me, but I have to say that not much of what Mick Mulvaney does makes sense to me.
You know, this a guy who first made this ridiculous assertion of absolute immunity and Jeff is the expert. But I think that one out the window back in '73 with US Nixon. That -- he's got another problem which is that he walk into the White House press briefing room and blurred out the truth with was -- that this was a mafia style shakedown of a country in return for political dirt. I was reminded of Michael Kinsley's definition of a gaffe, which is when a politician accidentally blurts out the truth.
So, you know, I can't make sense of this either. My best guess is, at the end of day I think he wants to avoid testifying. This is a game delay. This is buying time and just trying to see if he can avoid --
COOPER: Jeff, the Kupperman lawsuit, if the judge has given a date of I think, what, December --
TOOBIN: December 10th, just for the beginning of the case, yes.
COOPER: So there's no chance that that would be resolve in time to -- that if he's forced to testify that that would be resolved.
TOOBIN: Impossible. I mean, I was speaking to the people in Intelligence Committee today, and they said, look, we are doing two weeks of public hearings. They are doing this week and next week. Then, the case moves along to the Judiciary Committee, which is going to have a whole different set of witnesses or no witnesses at all. So the idea that these lawsuits will continue, I expect they will be dismissed as moved very quickly.
COOPER: It's also odd, Chris, that he wanted to join Kupperman and Bolton in a lawsuit from other reporting, Bolton and he were not, you know, barely on speaking terms when Bolton left the White House as a Chiefs of Staff. I mean, the entire structure of the White House is unlike any other pass structure and any other Chiefs of Staff.
WHIPPLE: Yes. These were bizarre bedfellows to say the least because, obviously, Mick Mulvaney in my opinion has been really as White House Chiefs of Staff, a guy who's really become a lap dog for Donald Trump. I mean, he's become a fixer, really the new Michael Cohen. There's no command that he wouldn't execute no matter sketchy or impeachable.
And, of course, Bolton is coming from a very different place, is a guy who presumably wants to testify, who's called this thing drug deal, Mulvaney scheme along with Rudy Giuliani. So it never made any sense. It never made me sense, these were bizarre bedfellows.
And I think that, you know, for Mulvaney, this is -- he's in a very dangerous place. I mean, if he were to go and testify under oath and try to do what he did with Chris Wallace, you know, essentially walk back the truth that he accidentally blurted out on national television. I think he -- Haldeman wound up in prison for perjury, obstruction, conspiracy, and I think, you know, Mulvaney could be headed in the same direction.
COOPER: And just on Bolton, I mean, is he just trying to cover himself for a future career in, you know, conservative politics or conservative television, by getting, trying to get coverage of a judge, insisting he has to testify?
TOOBIN: I can't, you know, do his mental state. I mean, he does have a difficult legal situation. I mean, if executive privilege applies to anything, it probably does apply to some of the conversations between Bolton and the President.
However, the way to do that is to negotiate and answer, you know, about what you'll talk about and what you won't. The idea of going to court in advance is something that, as I'm not aware it's ever been done before, but in any case by going to court, he is effectively made the decision not to testify.
COOPER: Jeff Toobin, thanks, Chris Whipple, the book is "The Gatekeepers" thank you so much, really appreciate it.
Coming up, Donald Trump Jr. gets heckled on his book tour, leaves the stage. It turns out it wasn't a bunch of liberal college students doing the shouting, it's going to surprise you to learn who forced Don Jr. to leave.
COOPER: Donald Trump Jr.'s book promotion tour got noisy over the weekend. He and his girlfriend, Trump campaign senior advisor, Kimberly Guilfoyle, were at UCLA promoting his new book. He got heckled. He thought they were liberals doing the taunting. It turned out it was conservatives, his father's supporters in fact, that didn't like -- that there would be no time for a Q&A session, a question and answer session. That's when the chants of USA change the cries of Q&A. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR., DONALD TRUMP SON: Name a time where a Conservatives had disrupted even the furthest leftist on a college campus, right? It doesn't happen that way. We're willing to listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Q&A.
TRUMP JR.: We're willing to listen.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Q&A. Q&A. Q&A. Q&A. Q&A.
TRUMP JR.: You see what I mean. And that is problem, and the reason oftentimes, it doesn't it doesn't make sense to do the Q&A. It's not because we're not willing to talk about the questions because we do.
Now, it's because people hijack it with nonsense looking to go for sort of standby. You had people spreading nonsense, spreading hate to try to take over that room.
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: No, it's because you're not making your parents proud by rude and disruptive, and discourteous. We were happy to answer a question.
Respect the people around you so that they can hear. You don't play by the same rules. Let me tell you something. I bet you engaged and go on online dating because you're impressing no one here to get a date in person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That really didn't work either. Eventually Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle left the stage. Joining me now, CNN Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter host of "Reliable Sources" here of CNN.
So, it wasn't -- why are Trump supporters heckling the President's son?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Right, and there's going to be liberals on a college campus. But no, these are far right activists who are speaking out against Donald Trump Jr. and Charlie Kirk who was on stage with him, he's a college campus activist.
Well, there's something really interesting going on, in fighting within the conservative movement about what the Trump movements stands for in the Trump age. You have these young people who have organized online, who call themselves America First. Really, I view as a slogan, as a way to say we are white nationalist. We want to see a white state. We want to preserve our white Christian identity. In many cases, these are racist, homophobes, anti-Semites but they organize online and they've, increasingly, been trying to show up at these Right Wing events, trying to hijack the conversation.
COOPER: Because they feel that the -- what they want from the movement, the Trump movement is not --
STELTER: Is not enough, they actually want more restricted immigration. They want less --
COOPER: It's kind of a sign of what President Trump has rot.
STELTER: It is exactly yes.
COOPER: I mean, you start to play with these sorts of fires, you can't contain it.
STELTER: Right, because these keeps spreading and spreading and spreading. This is white identity politics, really at the end of the day. And you think about the impeachment debate and how this relates, the President needs every support he can get.
So typically, the president and his allies are on -- are unwilling to back away or resist these kinds of really fringe, really extreme supporters, the kinds of try to hijack that event at UCLA.
Well, they asked Donald Trump Jr. today, his spokesman declined to comment. They think they don't want to give this fringe elements any attention. But as you said, the President has allowed this permission structure for hate and division in the country. And I think when you do that, you get these extreme elements showing up, trying to answer questions, trying to ask questions, trying to interrupt.
COOPER: I don't think anybody should be shouted down, whatever their politics are.
COOPER: But interesting that he was thinking it's all liberal and then --
STELTER: And it was bunch of real right wing conservatives.
COOPER: Yes. Brian Stelter, thank you very much.
Still to come, Biden town hall live from Iowa, less than a hundred days until the Iowa Caucuses, the first test of the candidates. Also new polling from New Hampshire which will host the first Primary 2020, we'll have that, next.
COOPER: New polling shows that Joe Biden now holds shows a narrow lead in New Hampshire, the first state to hold a primary in the 2020 presidential race.
The former vice president is at 20%. It's a close race for second, Senator Elizabeth Warren at 16%, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Bernie Sanders right behind her, no other candidates reaching double digits in the poll.
Meanwhile, Iowa voters will hear from Mr. Biden at tonight's CNN Town Hall at Grinnell College. The state holds the first test for the candidates with the Iowa Caucuses now less than a hundred days away. CNN Political Director David Chalian joins me now.
So, first major poll to show Biden with a lead in New Hampshire, I think since July, they're clearly, I guess, glad about that. How big a deal is it?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it's one poll so you don't want to over read it too much, Anderson. But, I would note that remember, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are the senators from next door of New Hampshire in Massachusetts and Vermont.
So the fact that Vice President Biden is able to have this narrow lead in this poll right now with, as you mentioned, just less than a hundred days until we get to in a New Hampshire primary, is not insignificant. Those next door state senators have not sort of overtaken and dominated this race in some way that keeps him out of the mix. He's been resilient there.
COOPER: The rhetoric between Biden and Warren has certainly heated up. They seem much more willing to point out their differences.
CHALIAN: No doubt about that, Anderson. We are in a new phase, especially of that relationship in this race between Vice President Biden and Senator Warren. They have sharpened their attacks against each other. I wouldn't say it's gotten nasty but it is clear that we are now in that sort of beginning of the end phase of this campaign season.
COOPER: And obviously, Mayor Pete Buttigieg doing well in that latest poll as well. He certainly sees himself, I guess, in the same kind of lane as Vice President Biden.
CHALIAN: He does. He also likes to sharpen his differences from Sanders and Warren as the more moderate centrist approach here to the primary. And he seems to be hoping and banking on that perhaps Biden falters a bit and that he's there to make the case that he's the one that can unify some of that liberal wing and that moderate conservative side of the party.
But Biden is not falling too fast right now so it's a battle of those top four at the moment.
COOPER: Yes. David Chalian, thanks very much. I want to hand it over to Erin for the CNN Presidential Town Hall with former Vice President Joe Biden.