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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
White House Budget Official Will Testify If Subpoenaed; Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) is Interviewed About the Public Impeachment Hearing; Republicans Cling To "Hearsay" Defense Of President Trump; Two Dead, Three Injured At California High School; Saugus High Attack Is 44th Shooting At A U.S. School In 2019; Parkland Survivor Respond To California Attack. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired November 14, 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.
We just learned about a new witness coming forward in the Ukraine affair, this time from the White House. That's our breaking news.
And it comes on the eve of testimony from another witness. He was reportedly there at a restaurant in Ukraine while E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland talked by cell phone to President Trump. He'll be interviewed behind closed doors tomorrow by House lawmakers.
Also tomorrow in a very public hearing, testimony from the former ambassador to Ukraine whom President Trump had called, quote, "bad news." Those are the exact words he used to describe Marie Yovanovitch. "Bad news" he called her during his July 25th phone conversation with Ukraine's president before saying, quote, well, she is going to go through some things.
It's unlikely the president meant it this way. But tomorrow one of the things she'll be going through will be providing evidence to Congress.
As significant as her testimony may turn out to be, it could be eclipsed by what David Holmes, a staffer at the U.S. embassy in Kiev tells lawmakers away from the cameras. His story of as we mentioned a potentially key phone call came to light in testimony yesterday from his boss Bill Taylor, now the top diplomat, U.S. diplomat in Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM TAYLOR, TOP U.S. DIPLOMAT IN UKRAINE: A member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations. Mr. Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward. Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Mr. Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden which Giuliani was pressing for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Ambassador Sondland is, of course, Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union and a million dollar Trump donor. He gave the million to the inauguration.
Tomorrow's testimony puts the pressure on Sondland to testify to what was on that particular call which the president says he doesn't even remember. Again, he also said he hardly new Sondland who as I said wrote a million dollar check for the inaugural and whom the president rewarded with a plum job.
In any case, this all ties the president tighter to the allegation against him, could weaken one of main Republican talking points that the testimony so far is second, third, or fourth-hand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): They're offering hearsay.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hearsay.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hearsay.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Not secondhand.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's all third-hand information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Second, third, fourth-hand, no-hand information.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: In a real court of law, that would be objected to as hearsay.
NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.; It's perception on one side and hearsay on the other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, keeping them honest it is not true hearsay is inadmissible in court. In fact, federal rules of evidence, Rule 803, details 23 specific exceptions under which hearsay evidence can be used at trial.
But remember, congressional hearing rooms are not courtrooms, and House impeachment proceedings are not criminal trials. Also, it should be noted that if Republicans really wanted to hear from witnesses with direct connection to the president, if that's what the president wants, Mick Mulvaney could testify, so could John Bolton that could be possible. But so far, they're not willing to testify without a court ruling.
As for a case, the Democrats are now making, today, House Speaker Pelosi put it as bluntly as she ever has, saying to her the testimony so far makes a case for bribery. That's one of the charges specified by name in the Constitution's language on impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You talked about bribery a second ago.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Yes, bribery.
REPORTER: That's a very serious charge.
PELOSI: It's in the Constitution.
REPORTER: -- of bribery?
PELOSI: Well, you know, we're talking Latin around here, e pluribus unum, for many one, for many one. Quid pro quo, bribery, bribery. And that is in the Constitution attached to the impeachment proceedings.
REPORTER: So what was the bribe here?
PELOSI: The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of fake investigation into the elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Speaker Pelosi also took a moment to remind the president that he is free to provide witnesses to refute the case being made against him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: It's called an inquiry, and if the president has something that is exculpatory, Mr. President, that means you have anything that shows your innocence, then he should make that known, and that's part of the inquiry. And so far, we haven't seen that, but we welcome it. And that's what an inquiry is about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Late this evening, as we said at the top, we learned that an official in the president's office of management and budget will testify if subpoenaed. His appearance is now scheduled for Saturday.
Also tonight, the question of what to make of video of Attorney General William Barr and others in what's been described as an animated exchange in the Oval Office earlier today with the president. The conversation was -- delayed the president's departure for a campaign trip.
Afterwards, the president was seen reading a redacted document. And it's unclear what exactly it was or whether it was connected with a prior conversation.
More now from the White House. CNN's Jim Acosta is there for us.
So, what are you learning about how the White House is preparing for tomorrow?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, they are sizing up some of these upcoming witnesses. For example, Marie Yovanovitch, who was the former Ukraine ambassador.
I'm told by a White House official that they're already sending out their talking points, already talking about whether or not she is going to be that great of a witness for the Democrats. This White House official said essentially, what does Marie Yovanovitch know about the July 25th phone call that the president had with the leader of Ukraine? She doesn't know anything about it because she wasn't on that phone call and she wasn't the Ukrainian ambassador at that point.
So, they're sort of looking at who is coming up and sizing up each of these witnesses.
I will tell you that the official that I spoke with also talked about this overheard conversation that Bill Taylor testified to yesterday about how the president and the E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland had this phone call that was overheard by at least one official who heard the president say the word "investigations". According to this White House official, that is no reason to stop the presses. Of course, the president has been asking about investigations. They don't see anything wrong with that.
COOPER: This meeting with the president and Attorney General Barr and the White House counsel Pat Cipollone which we're seeing through the windows there -- I just want to replay the video of it. I understand you're learning a little bit more about what they're talking about.
What do you know?
ACOSTA: Yes, Anderson, it was very mysterious because the president was coming out of the White House shortly after this meeting, presumably to talk to reporters. He does these chopper talks from time to time. He didn't do one today as he was heading down to this rally in Louisiana.
But for a good 30 minutes, he was in the oval office with Bill Barr, the attorney general, with Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel. And our understanding is talking to our sources is that this meeting touched on in part very briefly on the Horowitz report, which is the report that is expected to come out soon, not sure when, from the inspector general inside the Justice Department who has been investigating the origins of the FBI counterintelligence investigation of the 2016 election, the origins of the Russia investigation.
This obviously has been of great interest to the president. It's something that Bill Barr has been working on, obviously, keeping tabs on for some time. And the inspector general has been working on for some time.
But, apparently after that meeting between those three individuals broke up, Anderson, then Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, and others came into the room. But my understanding from talking to a source this evening about all of this is that that meeting between those three individuals was kept pretty much under wraps until it ended.
But, yes, we understand the Horowitz report, which is due to come out fairly soon, that that was one of the subjects tackled in that meeting.
COOPER: And the transcript that the president has been touting about the first call between him and President Zelensky of the Ukraine, that is ostensibly going to be released still?
ACOSTA: Well, we thought it was going to come out today. We thought it was going to come out earlier this week. We don't believe that is coming out this evening.
I talked to a White House official earlier today about this who said that this first call transcript, if you want to call it a transcript, it may be a summary transcript of the president's phone call when he congratulated Zelensky for winning the election in Ukraine, that that was ready to go, that it had cleared all the hurdles inside the White House, including the White House counsel's office and was awaiting word from the president that it was OK to issue that rough call transcript.
It has not been issued, and there is no timetable as to when it's going to happen. I was told by an official earlier today the timing of that release is fluid, Anderson.
COOOPER: Right. Clearly, the fact that the president has been touting it, the president is pretty pleased with what is in that call transcript, although he seemed fine what's in the other call transcript.
COOPER: Which obviously a lot of other people see differently, and Anderson.
ACOSTA: And, Anderson, we should point out -- I mean, to our viewers, it is what happened on the July 25th phone call that matters in all of this and the inquiry. And the president is obviously hoping to release this first call transcript, to say, look, I didn't do anything in this other call transcript. That doesn't have anything to do with whether or not there was an illegal quid pro quo that was the subject of that July 25th phone call, Anderson.
COOPER: Right, and the subject of weeks of work before and months of work before and after.
Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
Joining us now, one of the questioners tomorrow, California Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier is here with me. The change -- Speaker Pelosi using the word "bribery," is that more of
sort of a messaging that the whole quid pro quo is not something which is a term commonly used by people, but bribery is far more understandable, extortion, things like that and also bribery is mentioned in the Constitution?
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Well, the fact that bribery is mentioned in the Constitution I think is something the American people grab on to, treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors.
And the elements of a bribery taking place are just so clear. You have a public official who either directly or indirectly asked for something of value in exchange for doing an official act, that is what President Trump did. And so I think that the only thing that we have to establish is that, was there corrupt intent? And I think I don't have to look at his actions.
He is withholding information from the committee. He is preventing many people from testifying before the committee. He had a back channel with Rudy Giuliani and others to pursue it. You start adding all of that together, and you have a pretty solid case.
COOPER: Do you think that there would be more than just the issue with Ukraine, if it does come to articles of impeachment, that it would be obstruction of justice from the Mueller report would be involved as well?
SPEIER: There was clearly obstruction of justice. It was spelled out in the Mueller report. He chose not to pursue it because of the guidelines within the Department of Justice about not indicting a sitting president. But I don't think we're going to walk down that path. I think we're staying very focused on the Ukraine phone call.
COOPER: On the argument that many Republicans are making and certainly tomorrow, it seems like what the ambassador is going to be making as well, she really had no knowledge of -- she wasn't talking to the president and all this other stuff is hearsay. We hear this now, third, fourth, fifth-hand.
SPEIER: Well, first of all, I mean, hearsay is like circumstantial evidence. And in most crimes, it's circumstantial evidence that actually solves the crime.
And we also have this summary of the president's phone conversation, and then we have his actions afterwards. And now, we evidently have Mr. Sondland talking to the president in which the president says how about the investigation. So, it's pretty -- it's pretty straight forward.
COOPER: Sondland never mentioned this other call. I believe in his testimony, he said he couldn't remember there were one or two calls with him and the president. But correct me if I'm wrong, he never mentioned this other call at the dinner that now -- that Ambassador Taylor referenced one of his aides. SPEIER: That's right. What's so interesting is that you have the
president saying -- well, I really don't know much about the gentleman, except that he gave this gentleman his personal cell phone number and evidently, Ambassador Sondland has him on speed dial. There was probably at least six phone conversations that they had.
COOPER: It's also -- I mean, there is -- for a candidate like for President Trump, who as a candidate was very upset about the security, you know, violations or, you know, the security standards of Secretary Clinton, to be using a cell phone in a restaurant in Ukraine of all places, I mean, that sort of violates every norm of trying to keep secrets from your adversaries.
SPEIER: Well, and the president using a cell phone as well, which he does and is -- you know, verboten, actually, and the irony is, you know, Russia could know more about this conversation than we'll ever know.
COOPER: The -- Mark Sandy, this attorney for the OMB is going to testify on Saturday if subpoenaed. He would be the first witness from the OMB. Prior to this, there had been testimony that somebody at the OMB had said that this -- that the president was holding up the aid.
Do you know much about this witness, what he will testify to?
SPEIER: Well, we know he is a career civil servant. He has been in and out of OMB for a number of years. We also know that he did sign the July hold on the military aid. Subsequent holds on the military aid were done by political appointees. So, it will be interesting to see what happened.
It appears that he, without having had the interview yet, was resistant or asking questions about why they were putting a hold on it.
COOPER: Do you know -- is it one step closer to trying to figure out exactly how that order came down? Because, I mean, it seems something like putting a hold on aid, you would think there would be a large paper trail on something like that.
SPEIER: Well, you can withhold -- typically, there is a process by which you use either rescission or what's called reprogramming. Neither of those things took place. Normally, there is some description as to why there is a hold put, and obviously there wasn't any in this case at all. And then we have, you know, a number of incidents where we've heard from people who said that it was being -- we've got text messages from Volker and Sondland about the fact that the president was holding the military aid until there was an investigation announced.
COOPER: If the ultimate goal is to get some Republicans in the Senate to -- if this goes to impeachment, to get some Republicans in the Senate to kind of look at this with different eyes, do you think any move has been made toward that thus far with the testimony?
[20:15:04] SPEIER: You know, how do you know? I mean, every day, there is another disclosure, there is another bombshell. The conversation at a restaurant now is new information that we didn't know about a day ago. So, I think what we have to do is just do our job. And this inquiry will move forward.
We will present our evidence to the Judiciary Committee. They will assess whether or not they're going to create articles of impeachment, and then the House will take it up.
COOPER: Congresswoman Speier, we appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
SPEIER: Thank you.
COOPER: Busy day.
With the big day testimony tomorrow, the new allegation of bribery will discuss the accusations that the White House is facing with our legal and political folks, as well as a veteran in the Watergate scandal.
Also, we'll bring you new details from the site of the deadly school shooting today just north of Los Angeles and the latest on what went on.
COOPER: Well, for the first time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling allegations against President Trump, quote, bribery.
We talked about that just a moment ago with Congresswoman Speier. Specifically, she said of Wednesday's public hearing, quote, the devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry. Now, as we mentioned up top, bribery is not only a specific crime that is maybe easier for voters to understand, it's also specifically mentioned in the Constitution as an impeachable offense.
We're joined now by our -- well, our legal and political folks: John Dean, Jeffrey Toobin, David Gergen, Gloria Borger, Kirsten Powers, Scott Jennings, and Jen Psaki.
Jeff, I mean, do you put significance to the fact that their -- Nancy Pelosi is using the word "bribery" now?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. I mean, I think they are getting away from quid pro quo because most Americans, except David Gergen speak English rather than Latin. And, you know, bribery is also a -- you know, it is clear what it is and there is evidence to support it. Personally, I think extortion may be a more accurate description. But --
COOPER: Is it a little late for them to try to be rewriting, sort of, you know, remarketing what this thing was?
TOOBIN: I don't really think so. I mean, the facts are the facts. And, you know, we are now moving into the impeachment process. And it happens to be true that the Constitution speaks specifically of, you know, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
COOPER: But, Gloria, I mean, what changed? Why do you think they made this change?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Quid pro quo wasn't working. It was complicated, Latin, as you point out. And the president -- you know, the supporters of the president kept saying, well, you can't have a quid pro quo if there wasn't aid. The aid wasn't stopped. They got the aid.
So where is the quo? Would that be?
TOOBIN: You have to ask Gergen. I don't know.
BORGER: But I think as a result, Pelosi and also Adam Schiff started doing it earlier started saying look, this is easier for people to digest. And by the way, I just happen to have Article II of the Constitution here. And it says that a president can be removed from -- on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. So when you have it there, you use the word.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a lot easier to argue somebody took a bribe or offered a bribe than it is to get into a conversation about what is a high crime or misdemeanor, because it's exactly in the Constitution. I think this gives Democrats a little more leverage. And it's clear with the public.
And what the Democrats need overall is they need a much better messaging process of their own. They need some gravitas in the way we talk about this.
COOPER: John, is -- is that what's lacking?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I would agree. And I don't think it's too late to put that word out, and that word will likely stick more than quid pro quo, which is kind of confusing. I think -- I think that the quid pro quo really started in the White House with Trump, who when he was making some of these calls to people like Sondland said for goodness sake, say there is no quid pro quo, because he had been tutored on that somewhere along the line, and then he would go ahead and commit a bribery.
COOPER: Does -- is this just semantics? Does it matter?
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it matters also -- if you watch what Adam Schiff said yesterday at the beginning and the end, and Nancy Pelosi today at their press conference, they're trying to broaden this beyond Trump. They're trying to make this beyond what precedent there should be for any president. Should we accept, the American public accept that a president of the United States could be bribing a foreign official in exchange for military assistance?
I think that's good messaging if they can stick to that. I also saw -- watched Adam Schiff say yesterday this was directed by President Trump. And I expect we're going to hear more of that from the Democrats as well.
I don't think it's too late. It's the beginning of the public portion of this, and some of the public I think is just tuning in.
COOPER: I will say what I think is amazing about this, if it's bribery, if that's what it, he is using taxpayer money much like his foundation used other donors' money that was funneled through his own foundation like -- I don't know.
PSAKI: It's a web.
COOPER: It seems like that he's fingerprint. Everybody has a signature.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, yes, I mean, I agree -- it's definitely not too late. This is the very beginning of this process, and I do think that it has a lot to do not just with messaging, but I do think the fact that it is the word in the Constitution. And so, something when you speak that way and you explain to people the Constitution explicitly says this, and this is what he did. It's much easier for people to understand why he might get impeached.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, this is a branding issue. Obviously, what they had been doing wasn't working. It wasn't all that compelling. And so, they do need a simpler way to explain it.
I really think one of the messages they're going continue to get tripped up on is they're trying to force people into a binary choice. Either you support Trump all the way and you condone all this, or you want impeachment for bribery.
And I just think Republicans are going to wind up with varying levels of discomfort. Some will say, I don't have any problem. Some a little, some will I say I have a lot. But they don't want -- none of that group wants to go all the way to impeachment.
Democrats seem to trying to be force the American public into a binary here. You love him or we have to impeach him, when we're on the eve of an election. I tend to think most people who are torn about this or confused may just default to -- well, we have an election and let the American people render a verdict.
There is a remedy. The political remedy is an election. I think a lot of folks are going to go that way.
PSAKI: I don't think that's the Democrats' strategy, or we've seen any semblance of what you've said.
JENNINGS: I was talking about the Republican strategy.
PSAKI: Well, I don't -- I just don't think that's what they're trying to convey. It is amazing, though, that we're sitting here and you're suggesting as Republican strategist that just kick Trump out of office at the election. That's the best option.
JENNINGS: No. I'm suggesting that Republicans who have varying degrees of discomfort with this, who don't want to impeach the president may prefer to say as a messaging tactic, the American people should have a say in this, not the partisans in Washington.
PSAKI: Well, I think -- look, do you remember when Congressman Rooney came out from Florida and said I'm going to be around longer. Looking at people, my grandchildren, and I want to able to tell them where I was in this moment. I actually think as people start to turn, that's the kind of messaging that will be effective.
COOPER: All right. We've got to take a quick break. We're going to be around for two hours at least.
We'll take a look at why the president's biggest defenders are perhaps wrong to dismiss the testimony against him as hearsay.
COOPER: Well, another big day tomorrow, particularly for Republicans, who like to say hearsay at the damaging testimony conducted thus far, a U.S. diplomat who however heard President Trump asked a top diplomat to the E.U. about the status of investigations during a cell phone conversation is set to appear before the House impeachment inquiry, but that's going to be behind closed doors tomorrow. That's in addition to a second day of public testimony, this time with the ousted ambassador to Ukraine.
Back with our team. Kirsten, there is something you wanted to mention about with Scott.
POWERS: Oh, yes. Right before we went to break you were saying there are a lot of Republicans who are uncomfortable with what he did, but they don't want to impeach the President.
POWERS: But isn't -- shouldn't they be looking at what the facts are and then deciding whether or not they want to impeach him? You're basically just saying because they like the President, they don't -- they're not even considering the fact that he may have violated the constitution.
JENNINGS: Well, I'm saying that a lot of Republicans I have spoken to have exhibited varying degrees of discomfort. Some very little, and some say bad judgment, some say, man, that was terrible. But to rise to the most grave action you can take in our system against the President of the United States, especially on the eve of an election makes almost all of them uncomfortable. We just don't use impeachment like this. And so they don't --
JENNINGS: They don't believe, they don't believe that what he did should be -- especially because we're on the eve of another political remedy.
POWERS: So if we weren't on the eve of an election, you're saying that they would support impeachment?
JENNINGS: I'm saying that in the Clinton instance, there was no remedy. It was in a second term. And so that made it more likely if you wanted to try to remedy it. In this case, there's a remedy that doesn't put -- they take it out of the hands of the American people.
BORGER: Well, but the constitution doesn't say unless an election is less than a year away. The constitution says you should be removed from office, period. That's it.
COOPER: Jeff, about the hearsay thing, I mean, we've talked about this before. This is obviously not a courtroom.
COOPER: And yet hearsay is used as evidence in many cases.
TOOBIN: Yes. We have a little law school class now. Hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered for the truth of the fact asserted. That's something you learn in law school.
COOPER: An out of court statement --
TOOBIN: Offered for the truth of the fact asserted.
COOPER: See, this is why I never went to law school.
TOOBIN: But, what -- as you pointed out at the beginning of the program, there are 23 statutory exceptions to the hearsay rule. And one of the things you learn in trying cases is that hearsay, those exceptions cover a lot. And if you're a good lawyer, you can get most hearsay in.
It is, however, true, and I think it's important that we acknowledge this that, you know, putting aside the legalities -- I mean, the Republicans are right that, you know, if you're going to impeach Donald Trump, you need to talk about what Donald Trump did and said and ordered.
And that, you know, has to be proven in different ways. And some of it is you show the implications of what he ordered, and that's really what Kent and Taylor were about on the first day. But I don't think the Republicans are wrong to demand evidence of what Donald Trump actually did. And I think that's more important than any sort of legal rule.
GERGEN: Yes. But the Republicans are treating us like idiots. You know, they just -- they say you're only bringing forth hearsay. You don't have any firsthand information. Well, we know that there are three people who know exactly what happened. One is named Giuliani. You know, one is the guy -- Chief of Staff Mulvaney. And the third one is --
GERGEN: -- Bolton. And what's happened here? They all three have been called. The President said, no, you must not talk. So the Republicans then come up and say, well, you only have hearsay. Well, come on. I mean, stop treating us so stupidly like we're children.
COOPER: The other argument on the hearsay thing is there were a lot of folks doing a lot of, you know, somersaults in order to execute the President's policy. And so if it's not the President directing it, essentially, then Republicans are saying Giuliani, you know, Rick Perry is doing his own foreign policy deal in Ukraine. All these people are kind of, you know, working toward this end with no central organizing structure.
BORGER: Let me ask the lawyers. Circumstantial evidence, wouldn't that be all these people suddenly telling the same story -- I mean, you know, different pieces of the story and they all match.
TOOBIN: That's true. But, I mean, I think it's always important to remember that impeachment is a political process much more than a legal process in trying to sort out, you know, evidence into different categories. I mean, it's interesting, but I think ultimately what matters is what persuades politicians and the voters who elect them.
You know, I -- it is, of course, you know, outrageous that Republicans are complaining about the absence of, you know, hearing Trump's words when the people who heard him -- heard Trump's words are not being allowed to testify.
COOPER: Scott, would you like to see Mulvaney and Bolton testify?
JENNINGS: Well, I was in this position once. I was subpoenaed by Congress, but I was a sitting White House staffer. And what they ultimately decided for me was you have to go up there, but we'll have a lawyer sit beside you and tell you what questions you can answer or not. So I got stuck in the middle of one of these privilege issues. These are higher ranking staffers than I was. At that level of the White House, as Mr. Gergen knows, there is a tradition of them being able to not have to comply with these types of subpoenas. It doesn't always work. And sometimes -- like, you know, in the Harriet Miers case, the court ruled against her. But there is the office of legal opinion from the DOJ that's been a firm in administrating both parties that protect --
TOOBIN: If only John Dean were here, we could talk about it.
JENNINGS: And it was most recently affirmed, by the way, during the Obama.
COOPER: But putting that aside, would you like to hear from them? As a citizen, would you like to hear what they have to say?
JENNINGS: I will give you -- I'm torn, because, yes -- of course, I want to know the truth. On the other hand, as a former executive branch guy, I am protected in defense of other separation of powers.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I just want to make one point about this. You know, it's -- you're right about it, sometimes it is accepted, sometimes it's not accepted. But presidents with integrity act to tell the truth and get it out there.
When Ronald Reagan had Iran contra, he told everybody on his staff, all the White House, you must comply with the request to testify and you must turn over the documents.
And to sit there and say, oh, no, no, we can't do that, we got to find a precedent here and precedent there. When you got an impeachment proceeding, you know, going forward and the country is in a grave moment and the President of the United States normally steps up to it.
JENNINGS: Well, I would just say that what the Republican White House would say to that line of thinking in this case is this impeachment inquiry didn't attract a single Republican vote. And because it is a hyper partisan process, and because of how they acted during the Mueller probe, we don't trust that they are honest brokers or good faith actors in this process. That would be the retort.
BORGER: But that shouldn't matter.
COOPER: All right, we're going take a break. We'll see you back here in our second hour tonight. Coming up next, though, the other major story tonight, which sadly is the nation's latest school shooting. We'll have the latest on that when we continue.
COOPER: It is the end of an especially difficult day in Southern California. Tonight in the city of Santa Clarita, just north of Los Angeles, all the heartbreaking moments that follow a school shooting are unfolding yet again.
With every update, every tear, each question why, another sad picture comes into focus. 16 seconds is all it took, according to authorities, 16 seconds and now a 16-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl are dead. Three classmates are wounded. The suspect, also a student, is also badly wounded in what began this morning as any other Thursday at Saugus High.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard the first shot, and everyone thought it was a balloon, and it got really quiet. And then two more shots went. And then everyone just started running out of school.
COOPER (voice-over): It was around 7:30 a.m., about 20 minutes before the start of classes at Saugus High School. Some students were just arriving when the shooting started.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we heard the first gunshot, we thought it was not something serious, and then we heard two more.
COOPER: Law enforcement were on the scene within minutes, and parents soon received this emergency alert.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hold for an important message, active shooter at Saugus High School. All schools in the vicinity are on lockdown.
COOPER: Some students ran for shelter in neighboring houses, others were trapped in the school.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard from our friends who are still stuck in school that they're hiding in closets. They're just trying to find anything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're texting us that they're scared to die and they're hiding in closets and it's very sad.
COOPER: Police say the gunman is a student at Saugus High School.
CAPTAIN KENT WEGENER, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: Detectives have reviewed the video at the scene, which clearly show the subject in the quad withdraw a handgun from his backpack, shoot and wound five people and then shoot himself in the head.
COOPER: Two of those five were killed, a 16-year-old girl and a 14- year-old boy. The shooter survived and is being treated at the hospital. His motive, still unknown.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You won't let go of your daughter?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I'm scared.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is very scary. We ran -- we heard the one shot, and then four after and we just started running. And just -- all I heard was all these kids running and just screaming and calling their parents and it was very sad. COOPER: Terrified parents waited to be reunited with their children at a designated holding area. This mom says her son called her crying after he heard the gunshots and immediately drove to the school to try and find him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shawn (ph), where are you, honey? OK. Can you just stay there, Shawn, and we'll walk there to you. OK? OK. I'm going to walk to get you. Don't move, please. I just need to be -- you just need to be in my arms right now, OK?
COOPER: Like so many other schools in America, the students of Saugus High School had active shooter training, but no amount of training prepared them for the shock and fear they experienced this morning.
COOPER: And Ember Miller is a senior at Saugus. She was there this morning. She joins us now. Ember, thanks so much for being with us. I'm glad you're doing OK. You were -- I think you were in your first period, math class, before it began when the shooting started. Can you just walk us through what you heard?
EMBER MILLER, SAUGUS HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Yes. Like you said, I was in my first period in math class, just preparing like any other day. And all of the sudden I see this guy barge in, and he screams gunshots. And I happened to not really be paying attention, I was on my phone. And my best friend looked at me, she tapped me on the shoulder and she was like, you need to get down under the desk. And I was like, OK.
So I get under the desk and the lights turn off, and then pretty quickly, a bunch of students jumped up, grabbed desks and tables, pushed them against the door, stacked them against one another, and we all huddled into a corner.
And I was with, you know, three of my really close best friends and we just sat there for what seemed like a really long time. I'm guessing it was about an hour and 15, an hour and a half. And we just waited for it to be over.
COOPER: Is that something you had trained for? I mean, I assume -- I believe the school has had active shooter training. Have you gone through that?
MILLER: Yes. I mean, of course, our school did a pretty good job of trying to teach what's to do, but it's really hard to know what to do when someone is actually there with a gun and your life is actually threatened. So I don't even think any amount of training or preparation could prepare us for what happened today.
COOPER: What was it like? I mean, you were waiting, you said, I think for more than an hour. I mean, are you -- at that point, are people talking? Are you just -- I mean, I assume -- do you know what's going on outside? Are you on your phones? MILLER: Yes. So, a bunch of us were on our phones texting one another, texting our moms, our dads. I was on Instagram and Snapchat, just trying to get information. But, there were so many things being told.
I just remember being told like three people had been shot and then four people died. Just so much misinformation was being thrown at us and we were all talking, me and my group of friends, there's four of us, we were all talking and we just had no idea what's happening outside.
COOPER: And after the police arrived, what happened? I assume its police officers who came into your class?
MILLER: Yes, yes. I believe like five police officers came in and I actually heard them in the classrooms behind me before they even came in and that's when I felt -- I think I felt more adrenaline and more fear because I don't know. It was just a break from this crazy calm.
And they came in, and they had guns, and they had us put our hands up like this and I was so scared. Luckily I had my phone and my keys in my pockets. But, you know, then they asked us to put our hands down and we walked outside.
MILLER: And that's when we all saw the backpacks open and everything, yes.
COOPER: And I know it's important for you to let people know about the spirit of your school and the community right now.
MILLER: Yes. We're all trying really hard to band together, and I know that everybody is really trying to advocate for change. I know I am. I want something to be done. I mean, it breaks my heart that more kids have to die for us to do something in this country. It really, really, really breaks my heart.
COOPER: All right. Ember Miller, I appreciate you being with us. I'm glad you're OK. We'll talk about again. Take care.
MILLER: Thank you so much.
COOPER: Again, the nation wonders what will change. A student who survived the Parkland, Florida rampage and took action to prevent scenes like this from happening again, he joins me next.
COOPER: The attack at Saugus High brings the number of school shootings in the U.S. to 44 this year alone. As the L.A. county sheriff briefed reporters in the latest preventable American tragedy, he noted what others must have also thought about as they watched today's disturbingly normal scene. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF ALEX VILLANUEVA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: I hate to have Saugus be added to the names of Columbine, Parkland, Sandy Hook, but it's a reality that affects us all throughout the nation, something we're going to have to deal with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The sheriff mentioned Parkland, Florida, that's where Cameron Kasky survived the shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School, one year and nine months ago today. He joins me tonight. Cameron, thanks for being with us.
You know, I've talked to a lot of folks who have been through these kinds of shootings and they say every time they hear about the next one or another one, it sort of brings it all back.
CAMERON KASKY, STONEMAN DOUGLAS H.S. SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Well, at this point the real disappointment today after seeing this horrible tragedy unfold was just seeing further evidence that there is going to be no action taken. Because right as the shooting was unfolding, Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican senator from Mississippi, was blocking a bill that is bipartisan backed for universal background checks that was introduced in February, stating that she doesn't believe that bills that would infringe people's Second Amendment rights should be "fast tracked."
Well, that raises a lot of questions for people who have endured these mass shootings, namely, what does fast mean to you? Because this bill has been collecting dust since February on Senator McConnell's desk. And, of course, he's not going to address it because it doesn't involve the sugar coating of white supremacy, so it's obviously not in the world of his interest.
But is this fast tracking? 44 school shootings this year. Is that fast to you? How many more bodies need to pile up before a bill that is bipartisan backed is considered slow enough for you, Cindy Hyde- Smith? It appears as though Republican inaction has a new face, so that's what we're seeing today.
COOPER: "The Washington Post" reported a short time ago that -- a couple of weeks ago that the White House has basically abandoned the idea of releasing any proposals to combat gun violence. I assume that has something to do also not only with, you know, just the President's beliefs, but also the upcoming election. Did you have faith at all that the President would actually move forward on any sort of meaningful gun legislation?
KASKY: Well, like Cindy Hyde-Smith, Trump is taking money from the NRA. And at the end of the day, inaction can very, very clearly be traced back to taking money from the National Rifle Association, which as much as it has been depleting is still a financial force and it is still an enemy that a lot of people who believe in the safety of American children and people everywhere need to keep in focus. So, no, I don't believe that with somebody like Trump as president anything is going to be done. We banned bump stocks. That is nothing. That is an insult to the people who are losing their lives every single day.
COOPER: So, what happens now? I mean, where do you see -- you know, I think the last time you and I talked, and I've talked to other young people who were at Parkland, you know, a lot of the emphasis they have been putting on is on what's happening in states and that there's been progress in various states. Does that make you hopeful?
KASKY: Well, at the end of the day you can look at Chicago. Chicago has rampant gun violence that tears communities apart. And Chicago -- and, you know, Chicago is in a state with great gun laws. The fact of the matter is anybody can drive to Indiana, buy guns in bulk, bring them right back over to Chicago and sell them for more money.
Because at the end of the day, state laws are important, but in the big picture, every state law is only as strong as the laws we're passing on a national level and that is incredibly important to remember.
So, while every single victory is saving lives and there are laws being passed everywhere to make people safer, we have so far to go. And until we elect somebody into office who is going to actually take a stance here and not just pander like a psychopath, we're not going to see any change.
COOPER: Cameron Kasky, appreciate you time. Cameron, thanks for being with us.
KASKY: Thanks a lot.
COOPER: Coming up ahead, Speaker Pelosi now believes that President Trump admitted bribery. Plus, we're just hours from hearing from the ambassador forced out as Rudy Giuliani and company moved in. We'll have more on that as well ahead.