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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

U.S. Official: Iran Shot Down Passenger Plane Using Two Surface to Air Missiles; House Voters to Curb President Trump's War Powers Against Iran; Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) is Interviewed About the House Passing War Powers Resolution; Top House Judiciary Republican: Democrats Are "In Love With Terrorists"; Speaker Pelosi Says She'll Send Impeachment Articles "Soon"; One Source Believes It Could Be In The Next 24 Hours. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 9, 2020 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:25]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

Tonight, it is looking more and more like 176 people aboard a Ukrainian airliner may have been unintended casualties of the confrontation between United States and Iran. There is new video that appears to show a missile fired into the sky over Tehran early Wednesday morning and hitting a moving object.

Now, we're going to play the entire clip, but because it could show the final seconds of those 176 lives, we're only going to show it very sparingly tonight, and only when necessary to illustrate a particular point.

With that, here it is. You're going to first see what appears to be the missile moving toward the plane, and then what appears to be an impact. About ten seconds later you'll hear the sound of the strike catching up to the location where the photographer is standing.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

COOPER: Again, 176 people were aboard the Boeing 737. Sixty-three of them were Canadians. We should point out that CNN cannot independently confirm that video, but the buildings in it appear similar to ones in the area where the plane went down.

Multiple U.S. officials are now telling CNN that the growing belief is that Iran did, in fact, shoot it down apparently by mistake. They say intelligence indicates that two Russian-made SA-15 anti-aircraft missiles were used and that radar signals locking onto the plane were picked up at the time and discovered the morning after. But the data took another day to verify.

We do not know whether President Trump is aware of the intelligence or the assessment when he spoke just before noon today, but his words hinted at something.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was flying at a pretty rough neighborhood and somebody could have made a mistake. Some people say it was mechanical. I personally don't think that's even a question, personally. So we'll see what happens.

REPORTER: Do you think it was shot down by accident?

TRUMP: I don't know. I really don't know. I don't want to get into -- that's up to them. I have a feeling -- it's just some very terrible -- something very terrible happened. Very devastating.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: In a moment, we'll get the latest from Tehran and speak as well with experts in the aviation and intelligence field.

But first, let's go to CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House.

So, you heard the president, Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

COOPER: What's the latest White House thinking on what caused the crash?

ACOSTA: Anderson, they're pointing to the intelligence community. As you were saying, the belief inside the U.S. intelligence community is that Iran used Russian-made surface-to-air missiles and shot down that Ukrainian airliner. Now, Canadian and British officials, they're saying that their intelligence agencies are telling them with certainty that that is, in fact, what happened.

The U.S. is not going as far as the Canadians and the British at this point, but it doesn't take intelligence officials to tell you, Anderson, that this is what happens when you have the unintended consequences of military conflict.

COOPER: There's also been a new rationale, I believe, from the president on why General Soleimani was killed.

ACOSTA: Yes, this caught our attention earlier today, Anderson. When the president was talking with reporters, some of the same video you were showing a few moments ago, the president told reporters that Soleimani was essentially taken out because the Iranians were plotting to -- what he said -- he described as a plot to blow up the embassy in Baghdad.

Now, earlier in the day administration officials were telling us, telling other news outlets that, no, the president was talking about the storming of the Baghdad embassy at the end of last year. And then late today just before 6:00, Pentagon officials were telling reporters, no, in fact, they have intelligence that leads them to believe that the Iranians were actively plotting to blow up an embassy to use explosives to harm U.S. diplomatic personnel. Anderson, we should point out the president is having a rally right

now where he was just telling supporters in Ohio that he suspects that the Iranians were looking at what he called embassies, not just an embassy. And so, he's using a plural use of the term there.

So at this point, Anderson, tonight it is very difficult to sort out what is coming from the intelligence community and what is coming just from the rhetoric from the president. But obviously there was a contradiction coming out of this administration earlier today. The administration at one point saying, no, no, this is just what the president was referring to. He was talking about this embassy storming that happened late last year.

And then the Defense Department said almost the exact opposite, that they believe Soleimani was plotting to blow up an embassy -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta -- Jim, thanks very much.

ACOSTA: You bet.

COOPER: There's breaking news out of Iran, a welcome development in the investigation, also perhaps in U.S./Iranian relations.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Tehran for us with that.

So, what more are you learning, Fred?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.

Well, the Iranians at the beginning said that they were not going to let the U.S. or any U.S. entity participate in this investigation at all, saying they were the ones in charge. But now, apparently, the NTSB is actually going to get involved in this investigation.

The NTSB just a couple of moments ago actually put out a statement saying they wouldn't speculate on any of the causes of the incident. They are saying they are going to send what they call an accredited representative to take part in this investigation. This obviously coming as the Iranians earlier were saying that is absolutely not going to happen.

Now, the Iranians are saying they are allowing Boeing and also the NTSB to participate in this investigation. That certainly is welcome news, obviously, try and move this investigation forward and also, Anderson, to make it more transparent.

COOPER: You talked with the head of Iran's Civilian Aviation Authority. What did he have to say?

PLEITGEN: Yes, that was -- that was something that was a stroke of luck, because he talked to us and he told us that he did not deny that potentially or possibly that airliner was shot down by an Iranian missile.

However, he did say he doubted it. He said that the airline took off, it flew for about five minutes, and then he said it turned around and tried to make its way back to Imam Khomeini Airport, which is the airport that's not really far from where I'm standing right now. He says, he believes, that if that airliner had been hit by a missile, that it would have plunged to the ground immediately rather than being able to try and make a move and go back towards the airport.

But, of course, we just saw that video that we were seeing there before, it does seem to indicate something may have been fired at the airline. And then, of course, you have the various intelligence services including the U.S., Canada and other allied intelligence services saying they do believe it could very well have been a surface-to-air missile that took down that airliner.

The Iranians, by the way, Anderson, now saying they are going to tomorrow try and decipher the black boxes of that plane. They say there is a team of Ukrainians here, it was the Ukrainian airline that was shot down. They say one of the black boxes is pretty badly damaged. They're not sure whether or not they're going to be able to get the information out of that black box. They say they might have to ask other countries as well.

That's another reason why it's such welcome news that apparently now they are allowing the NTSB to get on board as well, Anderson.

COOPER: So, just to be clear, the NTSB, will they be allowed to examine the black box itself? Because earlier on, the Iranians were saying nobody else would be able to look at it.

PLEITGEN: That's unclear whether or not they'll be able to see the black box. Essentially what we heard -- this is also coming direct from the head of the Civil Aviation Authority. They say that they have the technology to read out the black boxes.

However, they also say in the blacks boxes, as badly damaged as they think, they are not sure whether their technology will be sufficient. Now, they say they don't necessarily want to give it to the U.S. They would like the French, the Canadians to possibly help read that data out.

However, they also said that all the data, as they put it, that's on that black box that can be retrieved from that black box if none of it has been lost, will be made public for the world to see. That's the exact words of the head of Iran's Aviation Civil Authority -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Fred Pleitgen, we'll see. Thanks very much.

Perspective now from CNN aviation analyst, Miles O'Brien, CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest, and CNN national security analyst Steve Hall.

Richard, you -- there is this video which we haven't been able to independently verify. There is wreckage on the ground, the black boxes we were just talking about, perhaps radar data. What's the most important at this point in the investigation? RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: The most important is the

wreckage to some extent. The black boxes, well, you might have comments on the cockpit voice recorder and the telemetry on the black boxes will show sudden loss of power. They will show the aircraft responding as a result of whatever happened. You will see engine parameters. You'll see all sorts of things like that within the black box.

But they won't tell you what you need to know, which is what actually happened. And that will rest on the wreckage. The wreckage, you will be able to tell if the aircraft was pulled apart through various forces, whether or not there is explosive residue, and unfortunately, sad to say to put it in these terms, the remains much those who were on board. They will also tell you what happened.

So, getting to the wreckage, independently, and being able to verify that will be crucial.

COOPER: Steve, as I've said, you know, we're only showing this video very sparingly. But the -- from -- I'm wondering what you make of the video. Again, we haven't been able to independently verify it.

When you look at it, what do you see?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know, Anderson, at this point, it is indeed a little hard to tell exactly what's going on. We won't know probably until a couple of days at least down the road. The imagery that we saw does seem to support a narrative that a missile was fired and that it did indeed take the plane down.

[20:10:08]

But the one thing that I think is sure, Anderson, is that, you know, we have so many western intelligence services that are looking very, very closely at this area of the world given the events that have transpired over the past couple of days that, you know, really there is no doubt in my mind that we have a whole lot of intelligence, we have an extremely close relationship with the Canadian intelligence services, a very special relationship also with the U.K. intelligence services. And, of course, we have our own capabilities.

All of those services would be looking at signals intelligence, SIGENT, who was calling who, emailing and using official channels. Electronic intelligence, ELINT, what is the telemetry of what might have been launched, and what was going on with the airplane. Not to mention human services who down the road can give us a more complete picture of what happened.

One thing we won't be able to rely on, I'm afraid, is the Iranian government which is, of course, not a transparent government. And so, we have to be very cautious, I think, as to what they say.

But I think the intelligence services know what the real story is.

COOPER: Miles, is there anything, a commercial pilot could -- would a commercial pilot be aware of a missile heading in their direction? There's not, I assume there is not kind of warning systems in commercial airlines for that sort of thing.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: No, the 737-800 is an advanced airliner. This one was three or so years old. A very well-experienced crew, but nothing on board that aircraft would let them know that they had become a target or that somebody was homing in on them with a missile.

The system is built, Anderson, to have radar make the determination. In other words, the transponder on the aircraft is sending out specific codes which tell the world what it is and what it is not.

Where the disconnect comes is the separation between the civilian air traffic control authorities all over the world and the military itself. And that particular surface-to-air missile battery that may have been involved in this or looks like it was involved in this, probably didn't have access to a lot of that data. It's as if they're watching a black and white 1960s TV as opposed to high-definition television at air traffic control. And so in that context, with that hair trigger alert, and that lack of data, mistakes can happen.

COOPER: And, Richard, I mean, I guess it sort of -- I was unaware that planes would be allowed to fly given the circumstances of what was happening in the region and only hours after missiles had been launched.

QUEST: This is something that clearly will be closely investigated. Look, most major airlines have been avoiding Iranian and Iraqi air space. U.S. carriers have been banned from going across there. I saw one confidential document from a European airline which talked about how they were going to circumvent those particular countries.

And the implications and where they were going to have to land and put fuel stops and extra staffing on all of those sort of things.

Now, why did Ukrainian International Airlines decide to fly that flight only a few hours after the missiles? That is an unknown. That is a risky operation by that airline and will go to the core on one side of it.

But, you know, when you talk about what happened in this particular incident, was it a missile or was it not? There is a very simple way -- the Iranians can tell us. I mean, the Iranians know. Did they or did they not shoot it down? And I suspect investigators all around the world are going to spend a lot of time trying to analyze third-party evidence when really the Iranians have the answer, pure and simple.

COOPER: Miles, is it known at this point whether -- I'm not exactly sure how that particular surface-to-air missile works. I don't know it would actually hit a plane or it would explode nearby and send shrapnel into an aircraft. Or do we know if the aircraft itself -- I mean, essentially exploded in the sky? Or if it, if it -- you know, continued to fly or at least was sort of intact as it headed to the ground?

O'BRIEN: The SA-15 is designed to explode in proximity of the aircraft, and that's what we saw with that Malaysian 777 that was shot down by the same sort of surface-to-air missile system in Ukraine in 2014.

And interestingly, they were able to triangulate the exact location of the explosion using the different microphones in the cockpit voice recordings. It actually the speed at which they approached those microphones allowed them to define exactly where it blew up, which was about a meter away from the cockpit.

So that's the way these weapons are designed.

[20:15:01]

It is a very sudden and catastrophic event and that's why no radio call came from this particular aircraft, or why we can suppose no radio call occurred in this case. If it had been a simple mechanical failure, an engine failure, the crew would most certainly have gotten a radio call out.

COOPER: Miles O'Brien, Richard Quest, Steve Hall, thank you very much.

Just ahead, the smear campaign that Republican lawmakers have launched, accusing anyone who questions the president's decision in Iraq and Iran will -- were supporting the terrorists overseas. We're going to talk about it with one former top law enforcement official who has had enough.

And later, new reporting on how soon we could see the president's impeachment trial begin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: More breaking news tonight.

[20:20:00]

The House passing resolution limiting the president's ability to take military action without congressional approval. Three Republicans crossed party lines to support it. Eight Democrats did the opposite, voting no.

The resolution sponsored by Michigan Democrat Elissa Slotkin who joins us momentarily calls on the president to end the use of U.S. -- the use of U.S. Armed Forces and hostilities in or against Iran unless Congress either declares war specifically authorizes the action.

Meantime, the president speaking out again tonight on his decision to kill the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani without prior approval.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: So, you know, these are split-second decisions. You have to make a decision. So they don't want me to make that decision. They want me to call up, maybe go over there -- let me go over to Congress. Come on over to the White House, let's talk about it.

When can you make it? Well, I won't be able to make it today, sir. How about let's say in a couple days? Oh, sure, come on over.

No, we got a call, we heard where he was, we knew the way he was getting there, and we had to make a decision. We didn't have time to call up Nancy, who is not operating with a full deck.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's the speaker of the House, second in line of succession he's talking about.

With us now for the 360 interview, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin.

Congresswoman, you were of the co-sponsors in the War Powers Resolution that just passed the House. I'm wondering what your message is to those who voted against it?

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Well, listen, I mean, everyone has to make their own decisions. All this thing tried to do was say that if the president is going to keep forces in the region that are focused on Iran and be in a protracted war with Iran, he's going to have to come back to Congress.

What he just said right now is factually incorrect. The president always has the right to act in self-defense. The president always has the right to act when he sees fit as long as he notifies us afterwards within 48 hours.

But after 60 days, if those troops are still there, he's got to come back to us and say, you know what, we're now not in immediate moment, we're in war. And I need authorization from Congress. And that's just the Constitution. That's not something new that we made up.

This bill today was just something to remind everybody that we should be debating things like war and peace, and we should be following the Constitution and authorizing war if that's what we're going to end up doing.

So, the president, he always has the right to self-defense. And I'm a big believer in that.

COOPER: Sara Sanders, the former White House secretary, she criticized the resolution today saying, quote, that she, quote, can't think of anything dumber than allowing Congress to take over our foreign policy. That was an end quote. She doesn't think anything can be worse for America than that.

Does that -- I mean, what you're doing, as you said, is about the Constitution.

SLOTKIN: Yes, I mean, I guess I just feel like maybe for some people this is a theoretical exercise. My husband was in the Army for 30 years. We actually met in Baghdad when I was a CIA officer. My stepdaughter is a brand-new army officer. My son-in-law is a brand-new army officer. When we're talking about sending young men and women into war, we

should be having a debate. We should be having a robust conversation. We should be talking about authorization of military force. This isn't a radical thing.

So, for me, we were just reinforcing what the Constitution says. And anyone who says, you know, all this political stuff, they either don't have skin in the game or they don't understand people's lives are involved here.

COOPER: Today, the president has said that the reason he decided to kill Soleimani was back the general was, quote, looking to blow up our embassy, and then at a rally tonight said it was actually multiple embassies. Obviously, no public evidence has been provided. A number of senators, Mike Lee and Rand Paul on the Republican side, were clearly unhappy with the briefing they received just yesterday.

Were -- is this a plot you were aware of before the president mentioned it today, if this was a plot?

SLOTKIN: Yes. So, I can't speak to what the president was speaking to. Yesterday we had a briefing from Secretary Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper, from the director of the CIA. The same briefing the Senate had. They just walked over to the House and gave the same classified briefing.

And I can't talk about the details. All I can tell you is that it was a bit thin. It did provide some new information, but it was a bit thin. And many of us were asking for follow-up, for more documents, for something we could read.

And, you know, I hope that that's forthcoming. That's the way things should work.

So I can't speak to the specifics of what the president is talking about, but to me, this was about looking forward, right? We have been having a back and forth with Iran seven or eight months now. The killing of Qasem Soleimani was a very new step. So were ballistic missiles fired on from Iran on U.S. forces in Iraq. That's totally unprecedented.

So, we've obviously had a really, really tough week. This conversation with Iran has been going on for a while. That's why I thought it was important to put down a marker that if you're going to get us into protracted war, you're going to have to come back to Congress to ask for authority.

[20:25:06]

COOPER: I want to play something that Republican Congressman Doug Collins said last night, attacking Democrats over their questioning of the events of the last week. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): Nancy Pelosi does it again and her Democrats fall right in line. One, they're in love with terrorists. We see that. They mourn Soleimani more than they mourn our Gold Star families who are the ones who suffered under Soleimani. That's a problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Obviously, you know, just factually what he said is not true. And also as somebody who was a pastor and I believe still is a pastor, it's kind of amazing that he would say that.

But when you hear a fellow member of Congress, high-ranking official on the judiciary committee nonetheless, accusing your fellow Democrats of that, I'm just wondering what do you make of that?

SLOTKIN: I mean, it's offensive. I don't know what else to say about it. I served three tours in Iraq as a Shia militia analyst. I have been in the embassy when in the embassy when we've taken incoming fire from Iranian rockets. I have watched Qasem Soleimani in particular, who has just been the architect of this horrible, horrible approach to the United States trying to get us kicked out of Iraq and trying to sow just destabilizing activities all over the region.

So, I don't -- to me, it's beyond political speak. It's offensive. And I don't know what to say other than it isn't consistent with being a leader.

COOPER: Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

SLOTKIN: Thanks so much.

COOPER: Just ahead, we're going to have reaction to the comments by Congressman Collins.

Also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke today about when she will release the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Her strategy when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:31:40]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Just a moment ago, you heard Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin who did three tours in Iraq as a CI analyst criticize the assertion made by some high level Republicans that Democrats are unpatriotic when they question the administration's stated motive for killing Qassem Soleimani an eminent threat. She called it "offensive."

President Trump and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy both said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was defending Soleimani. And again, this is what the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Doug Collins, said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): I did not think she could become more hypocritical than she was during impeachment, but guess what, surprise, surprise, Nancy Pelosi does it again and her Democrats fall right in line. One, they're in love with terrorists, we see that. They mourn Soleimani more than they mourn on our Gold Star families, who are the ones who suffered under Soleimani.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: My next guest, Preet Bharara, wrote today that this was a shocking new low for the Georgia congressman, quoting him, "You are not a talk radio show host or a carnival barker. You are a pastor, an attorney and a sitting member of Congress. Therefore, the evidence would suggest you should know better. To utter such garbage, which you know to be false and defamatory, goes against all the training and teaching you much have received. But you got your cheap shot across, and perhaps that's all that matters to you."

Joining us now, CNN Senior Legal Analyst and former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara. You were really upset about what he said.

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYSTL: Yes. You know, there's been a lot of rhetoric, a lot of poisonous rhetoric, a lot of barbs and I know politics is a tough game as I said in the piece. I work for, you know, a scrappy, tough politician in the Senate for four years and so I get it.

But something about that, about the equating of people who are of a particular ideological or political persuasion as being lovers of terrorists based on nothing I think just crossed a different line. I don't think I've been that angry about something -- I try to be measured here on CNN and in my Twitter account, and I kind of lose a little bit yesterday because it was a bridge too far.

It was stupid. It was self-defeating. It borders on pathological. You don't need to say that to make a point and be persuasive. It's just debasing to himself, debasing to democracy and debasing to his party.

COOPER: If someone is in a bar, drunk and yelling that, that --

BHARARA: Let it go.

COOPER: I mean, that is the kind of thing somebody might yell drunk in a bar somewhere. This guy is the ranking member -- a Republican member on the Judiciary Committee.

BHARARA: Yes.

COOPER: I mean, it's -- he's a pastor who --

BHARARA: And an attorney.

COOPER: And by the way a pastor who has served I believe one tour in Iraq, I looked him up because I didn't know much about his background, and you know, in the air force and I believe in the navy prior to that in the '80s. And I assume have counseled Democrats -- soldiers who were Democrats. And he's saying Democrats love terrorists.

BHARARA: I think that the bottom has fallen out. I mean, I just think -- it would be one thing if it's in the heat of argument and then you step back and you apologize for it. I'm waiting for an apology.

COOPER: He's not going to apologize.

BHARARA: Just said -- because I understand that's weak. And so what I see in the piece is --

COOPER: Well, of course, it's not actually weak. I think apologizing as human.

BHARARA: No, I agree. It's perceived as weak in this environment that we're in and because of what the President has laid down. But he says the thing he says and I don't know that he has any contrition about it at all.

Just say, you know what, it was in the heat of conversation, I shouldn't have said it. Everyone in America is -- if there's one thing we can agree on, it should be that everyone in America, Democrat, Republican or independent does not like terrorism because we're all victims of it.

[20:35:05]

As I also wrote, you know, when terrorists target Americans, they target Americans, they don't target Democrats or Republicans. And when the families of victims of terrorism grieve, they don't grieve as Democrats or as Republicans, they grieve as Americans.

COOPER: We should out we invited the congressman on the program tonight, we never heard back from his office. Obviously the invitation stands. But you also write about -- I mean, you prosecuted cases --

BHARARA: That's what I did. Our most important job when I was United States attorney was to keep the homeland safe and to prosecute terrorism, so I know that as a (INAUDIBLE). So I understand the terrorism is a terrible thing.

COOPER: Even cases -- particularly about Soleimani --

BHARARA: We're dealing to Soleimani. Ours was the office when I was U.S. attorney that prosecuted the plot that was overseen and orchestrated by Soleimani and the Quds Force of IRGC to assassinate the sitting Saudi ambassador to the United States at a restaurant called Cafe Milano in D.C.

So maybe that's why I took more umbrage, as somebody who happens to be a Democrat and who cares about the country and who cares about terrorism and prosecuted terrorism and know the good heroes, men and women, whose party affiliations I don't even know who care about that stuff to say so casually and blithely on T.V. to score a cheap political point that Democrats love terrorists, it was just too much.

COOPER: Yes. Preet Bharara, appreciate it. Thank you very much. Still to come, while the Senate waits for the House to release the articles of impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that her impasse with Republican Mitch McConnell may, may be close to an end. Details ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:40:23]

COOPER: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today said she would send the articles of impeachment to the Senate so that it may begin the impeachment trial of President Trump, "when I'm ready." That would be "soon."

Several Senate Democrats have said they are ready to begin the trial, tomorrow according to Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal. People close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say the move to hold back the articles of impeachment has been a Boone for Republican unity in the Senate.

Joining me now is CNN's Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash and CNN Contributor and former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean.

Dana, I know you've been talking to sources on Capitol Hill. What are you hearing about where things stand?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That the Speaker is continuing to keep her cards extremely closed to her vest. The indications that people who are, you know, sort of in her presence, not before the cameras today got was that when she said soon, she meant soon.

People were told to stay close in the next day or so, but it doesn't mean that it is definitely, and when I say it, I mean vote on to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate and along with it an announcement and perhaps a vote on who the House managers will be, meaning who the Democrats will be, who will prosecute the case in the trial. We still don't know.

But the pressure on her as you alluded to is getting stronger and stronger, greater and greater from her fellow Democrats, never mind Republicans.

COOPER: John, I mean, according to "Time Magazine," Speaker Pelosi actually got the idea of holding the articles of impeachment from you, your appearance on CNN last month. You were the first person when I interviewed you on "Full Circle" online, you've mentioned that and it was the first time I'd heard it, too. I want to play, I think, the time that Speaker Pelosi saw you on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think Nancy Pelosi has some real leverage in this. She doesn't have to send articles of impeachment to the Senate. What happens, Don, after there's a vote on the articles, they adopt a resolution where they select managers and then they decide when they're going to send the managers over to the Senate.

So there's a flexibility in the process where she could say, listen, let's just hold these articles here until the Senate gets its act together. And that could last right through the campaign as far as her powers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So, John, do you think it's wise for her to keep holding them?

DEAN: I think what she's done has been very effective. What it's done, one of the things I had in mind in suggesting that after checking the rules that it was permissible and something she could do is that she is focused on the fact that the Senate is unlikely to provide a fair trial. So that issue is now going to be before the American public.

It may be something that Democrats can campaign on this fall in states where Republicans are part of the process to rush this thing through and try to exonerate Trump somehow from what the House has charged him with. So I think it has worked and I think she's got the flexibility of doing it whenever she wants to, up to and through the campaign.

COOPER: Dana, talk about the pressure that she's under. Where is it coming from?

BASH: Well, it's coming from several places. First and foremost, from the very Democrats we've been talking about since the Democrats took the House, but in particular during this impeachment process, the so- called front liners, those in Trump district who just want this done, over and done with and they want to move on.

And they are hearing rhetoric from their Republican opponents that, oh, not only did the House Democrats, you know, impeach the President, but now they're playing political games and they're holding the articles of impeachment in the House. Those kinds of things according to the Democrats who matter most when it comes to keeping the House majority are potentially, you know, hurtful, despite what John said and that's the other side of the coin.

I mean the other side, and you heard from the Speaker today, Anderson, that she clearly feels the need to articulate why she's done what she done and why she thinks it's beneficial. She actually coined a term, she said it's the collateral benefit, and she listed a whole bunch of things that have happen between when the House voted and now, including John Bolton saying that he would be willing to testify in the Senate.

But there will come a time, probably very shortly, where that benefit has run out if it was there at all, and it is an open question depending on who you talk to.

[20:45:10]

COOPER: Just briefly, John, do you think there's any chance Bolton actually would testify? And the President today said he had no problem with Bolton doing it, but he wants to protect presidential privilege just like the President saying, you know, he'd love to go talk to Mueller but, you know, his lawyers -- you know, he has to check with the lawyers.

DEAN: I think he's got some pressure on himself to testify because he's writing a book about all of this. What he had -- has -- or should have said in front of the Congress is said in the book, he's going to have backlash. So I think he should testify and he should testify in the House, maybe informally first if they go forward with a Senate trial so they know what it's all about.

COOPER: Interesting. John Dean, thank you, Dana Bash, appreciate it.

BASH: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham making her second appearance of the week on "The Ridiculist."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Let's check in with Chris to see what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: How you doing, Coop? We have new evidence, this video of what seems to have happened to that plane that took off from Tehran, 176 people gone, apparently not an accident, meaning this was about the plane and being self-contained.

[20:50:09]

The evidence as you've reported very well on the show tonight, suggests that this was done by surface-to-air missiles, by Iran. Why? We'll take a look at this new video. We'll have experts tell us what this is and then what it means. How do you get accountability? What does this mean for the U.S. and Iranian relationship going forward?

And then we're going to look into this War Powers Act, because the President said more at a rally tonight about why they had to take out this general than he said in his address to the nation and yet Congress didn't vote unanimously to take back its power. Why it must and what comes next?

COOPER: All right, about 9 minutes from now. Chris, we'll see you then.

Just ahead, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, second time this week, returning to "The Ridiculist."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist," and don't call it a comeback, but for the second night this week, Stephanie Grisham is back on "The Ridiculist." You didn't think I meant back in the White House briefing room doing her job, did you? No. Ms. Grisham doesn't play that game.

She actually can't go back because she's never been in that room doing a press briefing. She might have walked through it or, I don't know, gaggled or something, but never an actual formal press briefing. There hasn't been one of those in 304 days, old news, democracy. Tweets are better, rage tweets. Tweets.

Grisham is making more than $150,000 a year. She doesn't have time to step in that small, dank little room with all that free press sitting around. There's no telling what they might ask.

[20:55:07]

No, Grisham is back on "The Ridiculist" this week because even though possible war with Iran is on hold, she is still popping up on Fox News, firing on all cylinders, by which I mean, she continues to say things which appear meant to defend the President but actually point out the President's own failings.

I'm actually starting to think that Grisham may be just pretending to be unintentionally ironic and deeply hypocritical while in fact she's trying to secretly and subtly subvert the President.

Example, just a few days ago she was on Fox and was asked if she could specify the threats posed by Qassem Soleimani, threats that U.S. officials have used to justify the time of the attack. Without a shred of irony, this is what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, that's something -- it was an intel based decision and it saved American lives. And I think that that's what's most important. I know a lot of people are now questioning the intel. That's really unfortunate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: See, she seems to be defending the President's decision, but then she ends it with attacking anyone who would question U.S. intelligence, saying that's really unfortunate that someone would question U.S. intelligence. Now, here's the genius of that. Who's the biggest questioner of U.S. intelligence? Her boss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've dealt with some people that aren't very intelligent having to do with intel.

I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You disagree with that assessment?

TRUMP: I have intel people. That doesn't mean I have to agree.

As I think you've all learned, the intelligence agencies have run amok.

When we waste our time with intelligence, that hurts our country because we had poor leadership at the top, that's not good.

My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And that's unfortunate. The President even questioned intelligence on Iran in the past. Here's the tweet. "The intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They're wrong." "Perhaps intelligence should go back to school."

Just side note, the man who once paid a $25 million settlement for running a fraudulent university told intelligence professionals to go back to school. That is actually unintentionally ironic.

Back do Grisham, though. It seems we aren't the only ones concerned over the lack of White House press briefings. Two mega best-selling authors have now made her a proposal. Take a look at this tweet from crime novelist Don Winslow. "To Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, I'm upping my offer to $100,000. Stephen King has agreed to put in $75,000. We will donate $175,000 to St. Jude in your name and help a lot of kids if you will take questions from the White House press corps for one hour in the White House briefing room."

CNN's Jake Tapper asked Ms. Grisham about that offer to which she replied, and listen to this, "If you have $200,000 to play with, why not just help children because it's a good thing to do? Donations to charity should never come with strings attached."

And there it is again. She just did it again. It's brilliant. Donations to charity should never come with strings attached. Guess who views charity in exactly a strings attached kind of way? The President. Here's his strings attached offer to President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I have a deal for the President, a deal that I don't believe he can refuse, and I hope he doesn't. If Barack Obama opens up and gives his college records and applications, and if he gives his passport applications and records, I will give to a charity of his choice, Inner City Children in Chicago, American Cancer Society, AIDS research, anything he wants, a check immediately for $5 million.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Yes, the champion of the more than likely racist and completely debunked conspiracy theory about President Obama was willing to donate $5 million to Inner City Kids in Chicago, the city he hates, if President Obama would play along with the more than likely racist, and I think we can just say racist and completely debunked conspiracy theory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Frankly, it's a check that I very much want to write. I absolutely would be the most happy of all if I did, in fact, make this contribution through the President to these charities. One caveat, the records must be given by October 31st at 5:00 in the afternoon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That is called strings attached. So Stephanie Grisham, it has been a big week for you and I see your long game. I see what you're doing. That's why you were so quick to echo the President when he called those never-Trumpers human scum. You were like a deep cover asset for the resistance inside the White House.

But don't worry, your secret is safe with us, President Trump never watches CNN. So keep sending those messages on Fox. He'll never notice how much you're pointing out his own hypocrisy on "The Ridiculist."

The news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?

END