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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Parnas: President Trump Knew Exactly What Was Going On; Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) Is Interviewed About Lev Parnas. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 16, 2020 - 20:00   ET




At the end of a landmark day for the country, a key figure in President Trump's alleged Ukraine extortion scheme, Lev Parnas, says, quote, the president knew everything I was doing. What's more he says, and these are his word, everybody knew. Vice President Pence, he says, he believes was in the loop, Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, all in the loop.

And as Rudy Giuliani's go between with the Ukraine, the guy who was actually on the ground for Giuliani in Ukraine, Lev Parnas is certainly in a position to know.

He also, we should point out, is an alleged felon. He's under federal indictment on campaign finance charges. He is wearing an ankle monitor. He is out on bail. He has baggage.

But as prosecutors often say, they don't choose their witnesses. It's the alleged bad guys who choose their associates.

In a moment, our conversation, so you can decide for yourself what to make of Lev Parnas story of the pressure campaign he says he helped carry out, the extortion, he says he helped carry out on the president's behalf to get the Ukrainians to announce an investigation of the Bidens. And with his words practically hanging in the air today, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, they released a bombshell report saying the administration broke the law when they withheld mandated military aid to Ukraine.

So, in the space of a day, the government watchdogs say the White House broke the law, an alleged henchman directly implicates the president and other top officials in the scheme. Then, for only the third time in American history, a presidential impeachment trial began.


JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: Will all senators remain standing and raise their right hand?

Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to Constitution and laws so help you God?


ROBERTS: The clerk will call the names in groups of four, and senators will present themselves at the desk to sign the oath book.


COOPER: Impartial justice. They swore that they would do that. Impartial justice.

One by one they did. They signed that oath.

Then a few moments later, the sergeant of arms made it official.


MICHAEL C. STENGER, SENATE SERGEANT AT ARMS: Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. All persons are commanded to keep silent on pain of imprisonment while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump, president of the United States.


COOPER: And not long after that, the president weighed in.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a hoax. It's a hoax. Everybody knows that. It's a complete hoax, the whole thing with Ukraine.

So you have a perfect phone call. Everything was perfect. And they impeach. It's totally partisan.

We had 195-nothing Republican votes. I guess we got a Democrat actually came over to the Republican side. We had 195 to nothing. This is a hoax. It's a shame.


COOPER: He was also asked about Lev Parnas as he so many times before about so many other associates, here's what he said.


TRUMP: Oh, I don't know him. I don't know Parnas other than I guess I had pictures taken which I do with thousands of people including people today I didn't meet, just met him.

I don't know him at all. I don't know what he's about. I don't know where he comes from, I know nothing about him.


COOPER: Knows nothing about him.

Now, keeping them honest, Lev Parnas is not claiming the president gave him his marching orders or asked him for details about what was done allegedly on his behalf. What he does say however goes straight to the heart of the articles of impeachment now before the Senate. And if it's true what he says, it ties the president of the United States into the worst of it.

Much of it is accompanied by documentation which he's provided to federal investigators that could find its way into the proceedings, maybe not. Though portions of it have not yet been corroborated, and some that has been refuted by the people he names, his account largely tracks what testimony that we have already heard, sworn testimony.

We spoke late tonight, or excuse me, late last night, accompanied by his attorney, Joseph Bondy.

Here's part one of tonight's "360" interview.


COOPER: You loved President Trump? You --

LEV PARNAS, FORMER ASSOCIATE OF RUDY GIULIANI: I loved him. I mean, he -- I mean, when the FBI came to my house, it's a raid (ph), and my wife felt embarrassed because they said I had a shrine to him.


I mean, I had pictures all over. I mean, I idolized him. I mean, I thought he was the savior.


COOPER: Did you believe -- did you think you were friends?

PARNAS: Absolutely. I mean, again, I went from being a top donor, from being at all the events where we would just socialize, to becoming a close friend of Rudy Giuliani's, to eventually becoming his ally and his asset on the ground in Ukraine.

COOPER: The president has said, -- when you're arrested, the president of the United States said he didn't know you.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know those gentlemen. Now it's possible I have a picture with them because I have a picture with everybody. I don't know them.


PARNAS: The truth is out now, thank God. Yesterday was a big day for us. I thank God every day. I was worried that day is not going to come. I thought they were going to shut me out, and make me look like the scapegoat and try to blame me for stuff that I wasn't done. But with God's help and a great legal team I have beside me, we were

able to get the information out. And now it's out there.

So, I welcome him to say that anymore. Every time he says that, I'll show him another picture.

COOPER: He's lying?

PARNAS: He's lying.

COOPER: Your attorney in a tweet had said there were two times in which you gave a message of a quid pro quo to Ukrainian officials. What were those two times?

PARNAS: I think there were probably a little more than two times. But the first quid pro quo again was when we met with President Poroshenko. That was --

COOPER: Former president?

PARNAS: Former President Poroshenko.

COOPER: So what was your message to Poroshenko?

PARNAS: To Poroshenko, is that if he would make the announcement, that he would get -- Trump would either invite him to the White House or make a statement for him, but basically would start supporting him for, you know, president.

COOPER: So that was the first quid pro quo, Poroshenko can come to the White House, get a meeting with Trump if he announces an investigation?

PARNAS: Correct.

COOPER: What was the next one?

PARNAS: You have to understand because this was a transition time. He was -- Zelensky just won, he was president-elect. And he -- the most -- the number one thing in their agenda was not even the transition. It was to get the inauguration because it was a big thing. He was a young president --

COOPER: To show the American backing of the new administration.

PARNAS: Of course, because he had no strength with Russia. I mean --

COOPER: So, Giuliani cancels his visit because there's a lot of bad publicity about it in the United States. He cancels his visit. You go have the meeting with a high level official in Zelensky's circle.

PARNAS: Correct.

COOPER: And what's the message you deliver?

PARNAS: I basically told them very strict, and very stern, several things. A, that he needed to make an announcement, to immediately make an announcement literally that night or tomorrow, that within the next 24 hours, that they were opening up an investigation on Biden.

COOPER: At that point, was there any mention of withholding of aid?

PARNAS: Yes. Well, if they didn't make the announcement, basically, there would be no relationship. Not just to -- it was no specific military, there was no way they were going to be assisted.

There was going to be no inauguration. Pence wouldn't be at the inauguration. And there would be no visit to the White House. There would be basically -- they would have no communications.

COOPER: So how, you told the top official in the Zelensky inner circle if they did not announce an investigation of the Bidens immediately and get rid of some folks around Zelensky who they believed were opposed to President Trump, that there wouldn't be any aid and Vice President Pence would not even come to the inauguration?

PARNAS: Correct.

COOPER: And what happened? What did they say?

PARNAS: I called Rudy, told them that I don't think it's going to -- there is going to be an announcement. And he said, OK, they'll see.

COOPER: They'll see?

PARNAS: They'll see.

COOPER: And what happened the next day?

PARNAS: I got called and said that they got a call from them, some -- basically some -- they found out that Pence is not going to be there, they got -- he got cancelled. They said that there was a scheduling problem or something.

COOPER: The day after you delivered that message --

PARNAS: Correct.

COOPER: -- of quid pro quo?

PARNAS: Right. On the -- it was Monday the 13th.

And then after that, like I think on the 16th or the 15th, I don't remember the exact dates, they had -- because they were flipping out what to do. They didn't want to be embarrassed. They didn't know if anybody at all was going to show up, you know, but they knew Pence wasn't coming, Trump wasn't coming.

COOPER: How did you have the authority to say the vice president of the United States will not attend the inauguration if you don't do what I say?

PARNAS: I mean, that's what I was told to do. COOPER: Who told you to do that?

PARNAS: Rudy Giuliani.

COOPER: This letter that you gave to the House, the first line in it which is a letter from Rudy Giuliani to President-elect Zelensky.

It says: I am private counsel to President Donald J. Trump. Just to be precise, I represent him as a citizen not as president of the United States. This is quite common under American law. Duties and privileges of a president and private citizen are not the same.

So, he -- he is making a very clear point that he's not representing the interests of the United States writ large, of American national security. He's representing the interests of Donald J. Trump.


PARNAS: That was always a point.

COOPER: That was? That was always made?

PARNAS: That was always clear. He always made it clear that he doesn't represent -- wherever we went, he said, I don't represent the government, I represent the president of the United States.

COOPER: So anything Rudy Giuliani wanted the government of Ukraine to do, that wasn't official U.S. policy, that was a personal benefit to the president of the United States?

PARNAS: Well, you know when I was doing it, I thought it was all in the same. But, obviously, now, as I can see -- with the situation the way it is, I mean, it was strictly for him. But again, I thought he was the -- our leader. He's the chief, he's the president and it was all about 2020, to make sure he had another four years.

And I didn't (ph) --

COOPER: But that's how you personally viewed it, that this is about 2020, to help him get the next four years?

PARNAS: That was way everybody viewed it. I mean, that was the most important thing is for him to stay out in front another four years and keep the fight going. I mean, there was no other reason for doing it.

COOPER: Did the president care about corruption in Ukraine?

PARNAS: You'd have to ask him, but as far as I know, our -- the only thing we cared about and we were part -- we were the team was to get Zelensky or Poroshenko or somebody to make a press release, an announcement into the Biden investigation.

COOPER: In terms of who knew about what you were doing in Ukraine, did Vice President Pence know?

PARNAS: Of course. COOPER: Because, I mean, his office has said he was unaware of -- you

know, that he had met with Zelensky after not going to the inauguration, but he wasn't delivering a message of a quid pro quo.

PARNAS: Look, again, like I said I'm not here to debate. I'm here to get the truth out. I got my records. I brought (ph) --

COOPER: But how do you know the vice president would have known what Giuliani was up to? What you were up to?

PARNAS: Because we would speak every day. I knew everything that was going on. I mean, after Rudy would speak with the president, or come from the White House, I was the first person he briefed.

I mean, we had a relationship. We were that close. I mean, the -- I mean, we were together from morning to night. I mean, he took me -- I mean --


PARNAS: -- in the interview he would do, I would be sitting there while he was doing interviews. I mean --

COOPER: So, Giuliani knew everything you were doing?

PARNAS: Everything, Anderson.

COOPER: You're saying Vice President Pence knew?

PARNAS: Well, I don't if the vice president knew everything we were doing. I'm sure he was --


PARNAS: But he was in the loop.

COOPER: But he knew about the quid pro quo.

PARNAS: Of course, he knew -- everybody knew. Everybody that, quote, was close to Trump knew that this was a thorn in the side and this was a serious situation.

COOPER: Bolton?

PARNAS: Bolton.

COOPER: Mulvaney?

PARNAS: Mulvaney.

Bolton, I don't think agreed with it. I think there are certain people agreed with it and then agreed with it --

COOPER: He called it a drug deal, according to Fiona Hill?

I think Bolton is a very important witness because I think between me and Bolton, we could fit in all the dots, I think, because I was on the ground there and he was over here. I mean --

COOPER: And you'd be willing to testify?

PARNAS: I would be very willing to testify.


COOPER: A few moments ago, you heard President Trump say that he didn't know Lev Parnas.

Vice President Pence says the same, telling reporters, quote, I don't know the guy. Pence also said it was, quote, completely false that he was aware that dirtying up Joe Biden was the goal of the pressure on Ukraine.

We reached out for comment from Rudy Giuliani and got no response.

However, he did say this about his former associate Lev Parnas, to "The Associated Press", I'm quoting now: I feel sorry for him. I thought he was an honorable man. I was wrong.

Next in part two of our conversation, why Lev Parnas believes that senators are afraid to call him as a witness. Also ahead, the legal implications of Parnas' allegations, as well as the GAO striking conclusion that the White House broke the law.

Tat and more when we continue on this history-making day.



COOPER: Before the break, you heard Lev Parnas say he is, quote, very willing to testify at the Senate impeachment trial.

Part two of our conversation, he talks about why that might not happen.

But we begin with his account of the campaign to get rid of Marie Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine, and his very -- according to him -- big role in it.


COOPER: Did you want Yovanovitch removed?

PARNAS: Me personally?


PARNAS: I mean, I have not personal motives.

COOPER: Did you know her?

PARNAS: No, I don't know her.

COOPER: Did you have -- you didn't have an opinion about her at all?

PARNAS: First of all, I mean, my opinion came from the crowd I was in, and over the time, it grew more, more, more, more, more, more, and more that eventually, I felt like, yes, look, I hated her because, you know, everybody hated her and she, I mean --

COOPER: You said the crowd, you mean Ukrainians or Giuliani?

PARNAS: It's primarily our Trump crowd.

COOPER: Why did they hate her?

PARNAS: Because she was supposed to be a Soros left -- she was supposed to be a leftover from the Obama-Soros-Democrat era, and that she was --

COOPER: That's what you were told?

PARNAS: That's what I was told, and she's not a Trumper. And to my knowledge, he -- the president fired her at least four times, maybe even five times. I mean, once in my presence.

COOPER: Yes, explain that. You said that he fired her in front of you?

PARNAS: Correct.

COOPER: What happened?

PARNAS: That was the first interaction about her. We had -- it was a dinner at the -- a private dinner, for a super PAC in Washington, D.C. at the Trump Hotel. In the conversation, the subject of Ukraine was brought up and I told the president that our opinion that she is bad- mouthing him and that she said that he's going to get impeached, something like that. I don't know if that's word for word, but that she was --

COOPER: You said that at the table?

PARNAS: Correct.

COOPER: Where the president was?

PARNAS: Correct, correct. And his reaction was, he looked at me like he got very angry and basically turned around to John DeStefano and said, fire her.


Get rid of her.

COOPER: You've been described -- the position you ended up with Giuliani, you've described as a fixer for Giuliani in his efforts to dig up dirt on the Bidens. Is that accurate?

PARNAS: I don't know what you call a fixer. I mean, I was --

COOPER: Arrange meetings, conduct meetings --

PARNAS: Yes. I mean, that's exactly what I did. I mean, I was the middleman between two worlds.

Here I was, I had a partner in Igor Fruman that grew up in Ukraine, had extensive business there. And because of his businesses, he knew all kinds of people that were, you know, politicians --

COOPER: He had -- he had the contacts.

PARNAS: It was all his contacts. I didn't have any contacts in Ukraine. I don't have any contacts in Ukraine.

COOPER: For a guy who does not have contacts in Ukraine, you were able to get meetings with a lot of very important people in Ukraine. Why was that?

PARNAS: Well, I mean, if the president of the United States tells them to meet with you, I think anybody will meet with you.

COOPER: Everybody you met with knew you represented Rudy Giuliani and by association, the president.

PARNAS: It was -- I mean, it was more than that. I mean, the protocol would be, when I would meet like -- I give you an example, when I first met Ivan Bakanov, who was a close -- one of the close --

COOPER: Aides to Zelensky.

PARNAS: -- aides to Zelensky and now is the head of the (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: He's now the head of the intelligence?

PARNAS: Intelligence.

So, when we first me, he was the first person we met in the Zelensky camp. And when I met him, the first thing I did is I said, I represent Rudy Giuliani and he -- I'm going to put him on the phone. I put him on speakerphone and Rudy at that time told him that I represent the president of the United States and that everything I say that to be taken with that authority.

COOPER: Rudy Giuliani said on speakerphone, to the man who now runs Ukrainian intelligence, that you represent Giuliani and the president?

PARNAS: Absolutely. Not the president directly.


COOPER: He represents the president?

PARNAS: Correct. And that's why they spoke to me and that's why they -- that's why I got out of there alive. COOPER: You can say, with 100 percent certainty, that everything Rudy

Giuliani did in Ukraine was done with the president's blessing, whether or not he had foreknowledge or was told about it afterward. But Giuliani and the president were in frequent communication?

PARNAS: Beyond frequent. Several times a day.

And Rudy wouldn't do anything without the president -- just like I would not do anything without Rudy's.

COOPER: The argument made by a lot of Republicans during the congressional hearings was not only that the president cares deeply about the corruption in Ukraine, so this wasn't just about, you know, a personal benefit for the president, but that Zelensky himself has come forward and said, I didn't feel any pressure, there was no quid pro quo.

You've met with a whole host of people in his inner circle throughout the government --

PARNAS: That's a lie. That's a total lie.

They -- they're still -- I mean, they're still rocked to this day. They're still not recovered and I don't know of when they will.

COOPER: You have no doubt they felt this pressure. This was a --

PARNAS: Oh, my God, of course. Absolutely.

COOPER: This was an existential threat to the survival?

PARNAS: Well, the main reason my life was threatened because of that.


PARNAS: I mean --

COOPER: Why do you think Zelensky says, oh, no, there was no pressure, I didn't feel any pressure?

PARNAS: They are on an awkward position, I understand them. I'm not here to call them out and put them in the worst position.

COOPER: The offered position is if Zelensky says whatever he actually feels, he still needs aid from the Trump administration.

PARNAS: Obviously. And they -- listen, my opinion is this, you know, loyalty goes so far, but I think there's a lot of people in the Republican Party that don't agree -- they're good people that don't agree with what he is doing, but they're scared.

He gets away with everything and I would -- you know, especially with the Attorney Bill Barr on the side in the Justice Department.

COOPER: And --

PARNAS: I mean, a lot of people are scared. They don't want to get investigated.

COOPER: People are scared of being investigated by the Justice Department on behalf of President Trump, you're saying?

PARNAS: I think so.

COOPER: Does that scare you?

PARNAS: It scares me a lot. And I pray every day that, you know, that's not the case or, you know, God has a way. That's why I was hopeful to get this information out and now, you know, I'm ready to deal with whatever it is because if I did something wrong, I will take my responsibility.

Like I said, what I was charged with has nothing to do with what we are discussing right now. I think this is important for a national security. And I think it's important for the country to find out the truth, exactly what happened.

And one of the things you say, Anderson, you have to understand, when these congressional hearings -- I watched them very well. And they made all kinds of arguments but there was no proof to back it up. I mean, they sit there and they talk all this stuff, oh, this and that, but they didn't bring one evidence.

The Democrats brought all this proof, all this evidence, all this testimony. Show me one witness that came out.


If you really look at it, I should be their best witness. I should be their number one witness because I'm the one that got all the dirt, supposedly.

Why aren't they calling me to testify -- why do they need Biden? Call me. Ask me what Biden did wrong.

COOPER: Do you think they're afraid of calling you?

PARNAS: I think they're very afraid of me. I think they're afraid of me because I think they made a mistake by, you know, trying to do what they did to me.

COOPER: If you could say anything to the president, what would you say?

PARNAS: He needs to understand he's not a king. He needs to understand that there is a democracy. There's rules. You know, even if you don't like them, you know? Even if you don't agree with them.

You know, it's all fun and dandy going to these rallies and standing up in the rally, I was there. I was front stage. I was the first one at the Trump (INAUDIBLE).

But it's scary if he wins another four years. I think -- I don't know what will happen. I don't know what will happen to me because I guess I'm enemy number one right now.

So, you know, I pray that I have good counsel and that I will be protected and that we'll fight this.

But I'm glad the truth is out. I feel good. I feel good that I was able to do my civil duty in front of Congress, and I'm here to help the Senate, Congress.

And, hopefully, I want to look at the GOP senators to let them know that I'm here. I'm, you know -- not just Republicans, the Democrats, you should know the truth. You could validate it. You have all my information. Call me. We can sit down and I'll tell you everything.


COOPER: Lev Parnas.

Just ahead as the Senate impeachment trial gets under way, a top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Ed Markey, joins me to talk about the allegations that you heard tonight from Lev Parnas.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer was asked today about the allegations and evidence given by Lev Parnas and whether Democrat should call Mr. Parnas as a witness given the opportunity. Senator Schumer said upon these allegations have helps strengthened the push for witnesses and that if allowed to call him as a witness, "it's something we wouldn't rule out." As you heard a few moments ago, Parnas says he is hoping to get that call.


LEV PARNAS, FORMER ASSOCIATE OF RUDY GIULIANI: If you really look at it, I should be their best witness. I should be their number one witness, because I'm the one that got all the dirt supposedly. Why aren't they calling me to testify? Why do they need Biden? Call me. Ask me what Biden did wrong.

COOPER: Do you think they're afraid of calling you?

PARNAS: I think they're very afraid of me.


COOPER: This time (ph), a Republican is there. Joining me now is Democratic Senator Ed Markey, who's one of the jurors in the impeachment trial, he also sits on the Foreign Relations Committee.

I'm wondering what you make of Parnas saying President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He's also -- though he has no direct evidence about the Vice President, he believes Pence would have known as well, as well as Mulvaney and Bolton and others. I'm wondering what you make of what his -- of his allegations? SEN. ED MARKEY (D-MA): Well, he's only saying what Ambassador Sonland said that everyone was in the loop, everyone knew, everyone was completely and totally aware of the fact that the President was withholding $391 million worth of American taxpayer money in order to extort an investigation of the Biden family.

So, it's very consistent with everything we've heard up until now. But, we are close now to the source because of the relationship, which Mr. Parnas has with Giuliani, and so we know that he was integral to pulling off this caper. And if he's willing to testify, then that's a powerful corroboration of the central charges against the President of the United States.

COOPER: It's important to point out Ukraine's foreign minister says he doesn't trust any word, that's a quote, that Parnas is saying. Parnas is facing, obviously, multiple federal -- criminal charges, there's obviously questions about his credibility, which I asked him about also.

But to me, one of the remarkable things about essentially what his position was, there is no doubt he was very close to Giuliani. There's no doubt he was in Ukraine doing this stuff. The fact that he would hold up a phone and Giuliani would speak and say, according to Parnas, say to whoever -- whatever Ukraine official he is meeting with, this guy represents me and represents the President.

MARKEY: Right. There's no question that Giuliani hired Parnas to be a representative in the Ukraine in order to talk to the Ukraine government about an investigation of the Bidens in return for this money. I don't think there's any question about that.

Now, Parnas is someone whose evidence, whose testimony should be questioned, challenged, like any other witness, but he should be a witness. He should have his documents presented to the Senate. This is -- ultimately a trial, is a search for the truth.

And this evidence that is being presented is directly relevant to the question of what the President knew and when he knew it, what he told Giuliani or his other officials to try to execute as part of this attempt to extort an investigation of the Bidens out of that government.

So from my perspective, Parnas should have all of that information provided to the Senate. He, himself, should be made available so that he can be questioned as well.

COOPER: It is also remarkable when you hear from Parnas, every time he talks about what the quid pro quo was, what his message to the Ukrainians was, it's always the same, an announcement of an investigation against the Bidens, not an investigation, itself.


Like that didn't matter, whether there was -- in fact, Parnas said to me, you know, you wouldn't want the Ukrainians doing an investigation. It's the last place you would trust to have an actual fair and thorough investigation given the corruption issues in Ukraine. They just wanted the announcement.

MARKEY: It's clear that at that time that President Trump was paranoid about Joe Biden, that he wanted to discredit, undermine that candidacy. I don't think there's any question about that. The only issue now is whether or not the Senate is going to hear --


MARKEY: -- from Mick Mulvaney, who was first hand in access to the President, whether or not we're going to hear from John Bolton who called it a drug deal, whether or not the other witnesses at OMB or in the White House who had first hand information are going to be allowed to give that information to the United States Senate and to, ultimately the most important audience, the American people. And Parnas in his information only reinforces the testimony that the House of Representatives heard. This would be on top of all of that testimony.


MARKEY: That's what a trial is. It's not a grand jury proceeding. That's essentially what happened in the House. This is a real trial and you cannot, as those who are conducting a trial, blind yourself willingly to the information which is now available, an avalanche of information which has now become available since the House voted their impeachment articles so that the American people and the Senate, which is by the way also on trial along with President Trump, to conduct a trial full and fair so that the American people can understand what was being done in their name.

COOPER: Senator Markey, appreciate your time. Thank you.

MARKEY: Thank you.

COOPER: I want to bring in our chief -- CNN's Chief Legal Analyst and former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin, also CNN Senior Political Analyst and "USA Today" columnist Kirsten Powers. Jeff, what do you think of Parnas as a witness?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, he has this distinctive style. He's very dead pan. He's very low key. And you somehow don't realize how extraordinary story he is telling. I mean, here's this guy, the proprietor of a company called Fraud Guarantee, and he is going to the leadership of the government of Ukraine and saying, unless you announce an investigation of the Biden family, you are not getting the money that Congress has authorized. You're not getting the visit, you know, from the President, and you're not getting an Oval Office visit. And it's true. None of it happened.

COOPER: The fact -- also, he's just some guy who shows up in their offices and holds up a phone, according to him, Rudy Giuliani's voice emerges from the phone saying you got to listen to this guy.

TOOBIN: And he is -- and, you know, the story checks out to the extent we can. Obviously, I think Senator Markey said it right, you should test his credibility like anyone else. But does he have a story to tell? He sure (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Kirsten, I'm wondering what do you make of Lev Parnas?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes. I mean, I think that it's -- if you take a step back from everything that he's saying, like he has this very calm demeanor, I agree with Jeffrey. I mean, it's a really crazy story, but it is a familiar story. It is something that if you watch the hearings, you know, in the House Judiciary Committee and in intel committee, that's a familiar story. There are other people that were saying a lot of the same kinds of things.

So I think the fact that he is saying, you know, this was absolutely, A, the President, you know, was leading this whole effort knew about it. The fact that it was always about 2020, he said to you, that this -- everybody knew that, everybody knew that this was about 2020, again, I think it's pretty consistent with a lot of things that we've already heard.

And then you add in this letter that's been released of Giuliani representing to, you know, the president of the Ukraine, you know, I'm here in my personal capacity, which also undermines this idea that a lot of Republicans were saying it was just foreign policy.

COOPER: Right.

POWERS: But the letter shows otherwise.

COOPER: Yes. Stay with us. Still a lot to discuss, including whether Democrats should call Lev Parnas as a witness or -- even if they were able to do that, ahead.



COOPER: From my interview with Lev Parnas, we discussed the Senate impeachment trial and who should testify. One name he mentioned, the President's former National Security Adviser John Bolton. Take a look.


PARNAS: I think Bolton is a very important witness, because I think between me and Bolton we could fit in all the dots, I think, because I was on the ground there and he was over here.

COOPER: And you'd be willing to testify?

PARNAS: I would be very willing to testify.


COOPER: And back with us, Jeffrey Toobin and Kirsten Powers. How -- I mean, there's no sign that any testimony is going to take place.

TOOBIN: Well, McConnell is dead set against it. And the question is, are there four Republicans who will vote with the Democrats? I think it's unlikely.

COOPER: John Dean said he thought it would only need to be three because then a deciding vote would be the chief justice?

TOOBIN: Well, you know, this is one of the many uncertainties. In the 1868 trial of Andrew Johnson, the chief justice did break a couple of ties on procedural issues. But since then, the received wisdom has been that a tie is a failure. It means, no. Again, nobody knows for sure because, you know, so many of these issues have not been sorted out because it never happened before.

COOPER: Yes. Kirsten, Parnas is saying Bolton can fill in the dots. Certainly we know Bolton -- well, Bolton -- we know Bolton claims to be willing to testify if subpoenaed, though he wasn't willing to testify to the House.

POWERS: Right.


COOPER: Do you think that this -- do you think Parnas and Bolton saying he is willing to puts any more pressure on senators to call a witness or they don't really care?

POWERS: I don't think that they really care and I'm not even sure they would care if they testified. Because I think what Republicans will keep falling back on is that they're just taking their word, right? So you're taking Lev Parnas' word that this happened, but the President said that it didn't happen. And they're always going to fall back on that. It doesn't matter how many different people tell the same story.

So Ambassador Sondland has said the same thing that Lev Parnas said in terms of the President only wanted an announcement, right, of an investigation, an actual investigation, which undermines the whole story, which was, you know, he cares about corruption. Sorry, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: No, no, I'm sorry. I'm just not sure -- I'm not sure that's true that these senators will feel no pressure at all. I mean, the idea that there should be a fair trial is a very simple one to understand. And if you just railroad this thing with no witnesses -- I mean, how does Susan Collins explain that to the voters? How does Cory Gardner explain that to the voters of Colorado that, you know, there was just no reason to call any witnesses this case was so clear?

POWERS: Yes, but I'm not saying that -- I mean, they may end up calling witnesses. My point is that even if they call the witnesses that I think most of the Republicans will just say, well, unless -- basically, unless you have like a picture -- a video of Donald Trump doing this, we don't believe you.

TOOBIN: Oh, I agree with you on the ultimate vote.


TOOBIN: But, you know, I think the issue of witnesses is really a big deal. And you know, and the public is going to see the testimony and will make up its mind. I mean, look, all of us who have covered Trump have, you know, been wrong about like, oh, the public is going to change its sentiment about anything, and the public never changes. The polls haven't moved since he became President. But, you know, I do think the idea of a fair trial is a powerful one.

COOPER: Yes. We got to leave it there. Kirsten Powers, thank you, Jeff Toobin as well.

Coming up next, CNN correspondent asked Arizona senator, Senator Martha McSally, a pretty routine question today. What happened next is anything but routine, that's coming up on "The Ridiculist."



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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: It's very interesting that we saw the oath taken today by McConnell and I think 99 of the senators, right, in office is still to be done next week, but it's already off to a shaky start. You can't really trust the oath.

This guy, Parnas, that interviewed, we've seen out there with Maddow's interview. He's got credibility issues, there's no question about that, but you can't ignore what he says. There are documents that back it up. He should be tested at trial, and I don't see how the Senate gets around all the information that they must ignore if they don't have witnesses.

COOPER: Yes. We'll see what they're going to do. Chris, we'll do that in about eight minutes from now. See you in a couple of minutes.

One senator's response from a simple question from our Manu Raju earns the spot on "The Ridiculist" tonight.



COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." And tonight, Senator Martha McSally, sadly, Sally's on to the list. She's a Republican from Arizona who on the day that President Trump went on trial, for among other things, his contempt for the constitution and the rule of law revealed her contempt for professionalism and one of democracy's core tenants, a free and professional press just doing its job in the halls of Congress.

This is what happened when our CNN colleague, Manu Raju, dare to ask the senator a very straightforward and very simple question.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Senator McSally, should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial?

SEN. MARTHA MCSALLY (R-AZ): Manu, you're a liberal hack. I'm not talking to you.

RAJU: You're not going to comment about this?


COOPER: A liberal hack, that's what Senator McSally called Manu. Now, for the record, Manu Raju is not just an incredibly fair and responsible journalist, he also happens to be a really good human being and a very nice person. He's incredibly polite asking public officials' questions that they often do not want to be asked.

But you know what, they're public officials. That's part of their job. And by the way, the question that he asked, it wasn't exactly what Sarah Palin used to like to call a gotcha question, which weren't actually gotcha questions at all. Should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial? Ah, wow.

If you can't answer that question, maybe you shouldn't have been elected to the Senate. But, oh, sorry, Martha McSally actually wasn't elected to the Senate. She actually tried to get elected, but she lost, I forgot that. She lost actually to a Democrat.

She only has the privilege of walking the halls of the Senate and calling others a hack because she was appointed to the job by the governor of Arizona to fill the seat left vacant when Jon Kyl, who had been temporarily filling the seat of the late Senator John McCain, retired.

Now, I didn't know much about McSally because her record in the Senate is pretty thin. It turns out McSally is a veteran of the Air Force and has a really honorable and impressive record of service. And she was a trailblazer in the military. She actually sued the Defense Department while serving so that female service members didn't have to wear head scarf when off base in Saudi Arabia.

She may be, you know, pretending to be tough in the media now or hate the media now, but when she wanted attention for her lawsuit, she seems to have no problem popping up on CBS' "60 Minutes." But, look, that was 18 years ago. For, you know, a person who's become a desperate politician, that's a lifetime.

She also didn't seem to dislike the media when Elle Magazine, which is not exactly the daily caller, profiled her back in 2016. That was when she was a preparing herself as a political moderate, and according to WikiPedia, a pragmatic conservative. Elle Magazine said she, "Seeks to engage in rational discussion based on mutually agreed facts."

Well, based on the mutually agreed fact of her slur against Manu Raju today, I think it's fair to say that McSally's days of engaging in rational discussion are over. See, because what her calling Manu a liberal hack is really about is her running scared and attempting to reinvent herself as a Trump foot soldier. That's what this is about. She's up for reelection. She now actually has to earn her Senate seat, the one she was appointed to. And she's running against former astronaut Mark Kelly. It's going to be a tough election. She's desperate to say or do anything to stay in power. That's what this is about.

Back in 2016, she was running for Congress. She didn't endorse Trump. She probably doesn't want to talk about that now, but she didn't endorse Trump. In fact, she actually spoke out against Trump when the "Access Hollywood" tape came out. McSally has been public about sexual abuse that she said she suffered from a coach when she was in high school. She's been incredibly brave about that.

Back then, she said, "Trump's comments are disgusting. Joking about sexual assault is unacceptable. I'm appalled." Sure, she was running for reelection as a congresswoman then in a swing district, so maybe it was political calculation, but it was at least politically a tough call.

But once Trump won and she ran for Senate in 2018 for Jeff Flake's seat, she knew which way the wind was blowing. She started embracing Trump. Politico wrote, "Martha McSally wants to make one thing clear before she launches an Arizona Senate campaign, she's a big fan of President Donald Trump," big fan.

McSally is brave. She's been in combat. She was a trailblazer in the military. But now, she wants to stay in power, so she picks on a good and decent reporter just asking a fair and simple question. And, you know how you know that this is all just a political act, because she herself tweeted out a video of the exchange, and she herself is now fundraising on that exchange. She's trying to make money off the fact that she called Manu Raju a liberal hack.

And you know what? The President now is asking people to donate to her because she was rude and unprofessional to a reporter. So big, long, slow clap for you. The reporter was just doing his constitutionally backed job, and so congratulations appointed Senator McSally.

I'm sure the money is going to flow in, and you may get a bump in the polls, and you may win. But look at the company you are now in, and look how far you have come. You were once a profile in courage, you're now a profile in politics.

The news continues. I want to hand over to Chris for "Cuomo Primetime." Chris?