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CUOMO PRIME TIME

The Kavanaugh Curveball; Judge Kavanaugh's Sexual Assault Allegations; Texas School Leaders Want Hillary Clinton, Barry Goldwater and Helen Keller Gone from History Classes. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 17, 2018 - 22:00   ET

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


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: The problem is, it will be very difficult to establish those preconditions to know that he did it and that he's therefore lying under oath right now. So how do we process this?

My argument is this. The larger problem is how we're trying to figure it out. We're dealing with the most sensitive and complex kind of allegation, something that requires understanding and openness and a willingness to accept what you don't like.

Now, we're doing that in a confirmation process with senators that is about none of those things I just mentioned. I would argue it is a perversion of due process, not due process, in fact. It is about nondisclosure. It is about political convenience. And our leaders are part of the problem in an instance when we are looking for solutions.

They have not hammered out their own standard for how to treat allegations like this on Capitol Hill. They're still using our money, as far as we know. The president is all but disqualified from being a moral guide given what he has been alleged to have done and how he has spoken about people in situations like Dr. Ford's. Leaders from his party have surrendered high ground for common ground with the president on matters of political convenience.

As a result, this is unlikely to be satisfying, but at least -- at least -- the two sides will be heard. It's a low bar, but do you know what? It wasn't certain that we would even get that until later on this afternoon.

There's something else that we need in these situations that has not been allowed to date, and I know this is not comfortable to talk about, and I know some people won't be comfortable with what I say. But we need to be able to struggle in moments like this.

The "Me, Too" movement has empowered people who have been too often disadvantaged, forgotten, and disrespected. That's just the truth. Everyone must be heard, whether you like what they say or not. And too often when it is clear that something wrong happened in the past, it's been denied or dealt with deceptively.

But what about when it isn't? What about when the law can't give us due process of an investigation or a prosecution with a trial and an outcome that we can haggle about, but at least there was a standard? Well, in situations like what we're dealing with right now, what is our standard? What are the rules? What are the guidelines? These are really big questions. They don't merely define the person who was wronged. They define all of us, our culture, our rules and ways for how we conduct the business of our collective humanity. And we've simply not made enough progress. And sadly our leaders have either been too often perpetrators or perpetuated the problems.

The situation with Judge Kavanaugh is going to come down to political will and public opinion. Now, when I say those considerations, many of you will say, those are afterthoughts. But they're not. You could argue they are the most considerations of all. Who matters more than you and your democracy?

The questions -- who are we, what are we about, what do we tolerate, what do we condemn, how much do we decide which of those fates is fair, and how do we make those decisions -- this is heady stuff, and we are dealing with confusion in our political culture right now on all of those points.

It is not just about what may have happened or not at a party with kids many years ago. We know we're not going to be able to be absolutely sure about that, not in this context, not at this time. But we can be very sure about how we guide ourselves in handling it now.

So my argument is to the senators: Please make Monday about the rest of us, about what the confirmation process has not been about. Make it about your best efforts to find the truth. Speak with candor and with sensitivity to what and who matters beyond political gain in the moment. In other words, do your job.

All right. That is the argument. Let's take it to the better minds in Cuomo's court. We've got Norm Eisen, author of "The Last Palace," a good read, even I am able to understand it. He's here along with Carrie Severino.

Good to have you both. Appreciate it. So, you heard what I just said. Carrie, you get first crack. Why am I wrong?

CARRIE SEVERINO, CHIEF COUNSEL, JUDICIAL CRISIS NETWORK: Look, I think it is great that we're going to have an opportunity to hear from both sides. And I think people should do their best. With the case of allegations like this, it does boil down to a test of credibility and a test of he said/she said. I think what we have here, on one side, we've got -- we've got 35-year-old uncorroborated, you know, allegations, never mentioned any...

CUOMO: Not completely.

SEVERINO: That -- that she didn't mention to anyone for at least 30 years, right? And then, on the other side, we have Judge Kavanaugh saying this didn't happen at all, period. We have everyone who is mentioned in it along with him so far saying, nope, that didn't happen.

CUOMO: One person.

SEVERINO: That's everyone. But that's...

CUOMO: But "everyone" makes it sound like many people.

SEVERINO: All right, fine. There's three people involved. Two of them say it didn't happen. Sixty-five women who knew him at the time, including women who had dated him, including a woman who was dating him at the time of this allegation, say this is not the Brett Kavanaugh we know. He was a man who was respectful to women, who was always dignified. We had several other women coming out saying how he treated them in a personal respect.

You have to -- anytime this happens, we can't go back. She doesn't even know exactly which year or where this was. There's no way to go back and get evidence outside of trying to judge the believability and the credibility of these witnesses.

And what I have seen is we have someone whose character is unquestioned in every other area. We've got six FBI background checks, didn't turn up -- this is not a "Me, Too" type situation where everyone is going, oh, yeah, you know, that figures. This is someone who in every other instance, 25 years in the public sphere, no one has ever had a whiff of misconduct. Does that add up with these allegations we have been seeing?

CUOMO: All right.

SEVERINO: I have to say, there's a lot of holes in this, I think.

CUOMO: All right, that's the case.

SEVERINO: This is a really hard card to make.

CUOMO: That's the case for Kavanaugh. Appreciate you making it. Norm, what's your case?

NORM EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Chris, thanks for having me back. I think the allegations are serious and credible. They are detailed. It is not unusual in cases of this kind, as I wrote today in the Post, Washington Post, with two veteran sex crimes prosecutors, it is very difficult for the victims to come forward with the evidence.

The fact that some details are remembered and others not is also normal. It's very vivid evidence. I've litigated these cases. I believe that the proof that Professor Ford has made credible, serious allegations, including corroborated long before this nominee was appearing before the Senate for a Supreme Court position with her therapist, corroborated with her husband.

I think the proof of this, the seriousness of this, is that the Senate is taking the time. And I thank them for taking the time. And I thought your message was important because this is a moment when we want to be fair to Professor Ford, we want to be fair to Judge Kavanaugh. When people come forward with these claims, they deserve to be treated seriously and with respect. And I'm glad that the Senate will have the hearing. Chris, there's one other factor that has to be borne into account in

considering the credibility of Judge Kavanaugh's denials, and that is that there have been a series of statements by him under oath that have been questionable, misleading, perhaps dishonest. He claimed he wasn't even involved...

CUOMO: Not on topic, but you're just saying credibility in general?

EISEN: It's very important, when you're in -- stuck in this situation with two witnesses telling different stories...

CUOMO: Right.

EISEN: ... you have to judge credibility. He claimed he wasn't involved in the Pryor and other controversial judicial nominations. Guess what? The documents showed he was. He claimed that he was not aware that there was spying, that information was stolen from Democrats in the Senate and turned over to the White House. Guess what? The documents show, I believe, that he did know about it. He claimed he doesn't have a position on whether a president should be indicted, and there's evidence after evidence that he does.

CUOMO: All right.

EISEN: So his credibility has to be weighed in that context. I was already very troubled by those other, I believe, misrepresentations. That's relevant.

CUOMO: So does Kavanaugh have a credibility problem? Carrie, you say no. Why?

SEVERINO: No. No. All of the examples Norm is listing are the same genre of -- of selective editing of Kavanaugh's remarks that Kamala Harris, frankly, got four Pinocchios for recently in her editing of his testimony.

He didn't say he never had anything to do with Pryor. He said he wasn't -- I don't think it was Pryor, actually. It was a different judge. He was lead on that person. And nothing in his testimony has been contradicted. It only is if you intentionally misconstrue what he said to mean something much different. He never said presidents can't be indicted. They're saying he said that, and it's not in there. And then they'll claim he changed his mind. It is not...

CUOMO: No, that's not -- that example isn't your best one, but it is a fair point that misconstruction of things is different than patent -- you know, a patent credibility issue where he's spoken on these issues before.

SEVERINO: You know, he said, for example, he didn't see -- those particular members didn't know that they were stolen. He may have been given the information through some other route, which is what seems to be -- they're attempting to show, but that has nothing to do with whether he knew they were stolen. In every case, there has been some misconstruction of what he said. And it's people knocking down strawmen. He didn't say any of those things. CUOMO: Well, but that's because he's been clever -- that's because he's been clever with how he answers. He's been cute.

SEVERINO: He's been accurate in how he answers. That's why.

CUOMO: And that's OK -- no, he hasn't been accurate, because we both know -- all three of us know that he doesn't -- that he knows damn well that the Supreme Court can change Roe v. Wade, that it's not settled law...

SEVERINO: He never said anything...

CUOMO: ... that that is a meaningless phrase. We all know that what he was arguing for, with respect to executive power, does suggest that he does not think a president should be put through any of the paces that Trump is being put through right now. But he's being cute because the process allows it. That doesn't necessarily give you a straight line to these allegations.

But here's your bigger problem, and this was explained to me once by a survivor of assault that actually happened. You have to look at the lens of the allegation through the lens -- just as people, not as litigators -- of whether or not if you want them to be true. You're looking at the lens of you don't want it to be true. You want Kavanaugh to get through, you want these allegations to be false, and you're finding reasons why.

You should try looking through the lens of what Dr. Ford says as if it were your sister or someone you cared about and someone who you had an investment in believing that they're telling the truth. That messes with your head when you do it that way. Now you have someone who's got no reason to lie. It would totally ruin her life.

She came forward during a therapy session six years ago, was banging on the desk asking for anonymity with these people. She did not want to come out and grandstand. Then she thought she was going to get outed. Why would she lie? Tell me that.

SEVERINO: I would ask you to simply also put yourself in Judge Kavanaugh's position, someone who has spent his entire life in public service, and at the eve of his confirmation, after these allegations have been known, no one investigated -- Senator Feinstein had them since July. She didn't bring it up during the private hearing -- meeting with him in her office, during the confidential background discussions in the committee.

CUOMO: That's all true.

SEVERINO: She -- in 32 hours of testimony, hours of...

CUOMO: That's because she promised she wouldn't.

SEVERINO: This is the whole reason there are closed sessions on these hearings.

CUOMO: No, I hear you. SEVERINO: She didn't even show up to them.

EISEN: Well, Carrie...

CUOMO: She has to answer to that. But that doesn't...

SEVERINO: No, that is exactly right. It is precisely what...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: She has to answer for that, but that doesn't go to whether or not the allegations are true. I have to leave it there.

SEVERINO: No, but, look, if she thought they were true, if she thought they were credible and relevant and significant...

CUOMO: No, I don't think that's fair. She didn't vet them.

SEVERINO: ... why would she not have brought them up until now?

CUOMO: She didn't vet them.

SEVERINO: The timing of this is precisely what you would do with a last minute character attack.

EISEN: That's not fair.

CUOMO: She didn't -- she didn't vet them. She has to answer for it, but she didn't vet them, so that's not as accurate a point.

SEVERINO: If she -- if she thinks they're credible, then she's doing this woman a disservice, as well, because she...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: She didn't vet them. I don't think she knows whether they were credible or not. Norm, go ahead.

EISEN: Yeah, it's very unfair to both Professor Ford and Senator Feinstein. Professor Ford was not ready to go public with these. And Senator Feinstein was in an impossible situation. Chris, I've been in that situation with victims, with whistle-blowers. What should you do?

She respected -- she made a difficult choice. She respected the professor's desire for confidentiality. Now the matter is before us. And I think we need to be sensitive to -- Carrie, there's some criticism of Professor Ford in that argument, and we need to be sensitive to her as a victim. It is very difficult for these victims to come forward.

CUOMO: Well, that we know. And anybody who doesn't know that now just simply doesn't want to know. We know that you can't look at delay as being deception. That's just not fair. We know too much about that.

All right, so let's...

SEVERINO: But it also doesn't prove that she -- that her description was an accurate...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: No, of course. An allegation is not a fact.

SEVERINO: Look, I can -- I've got a daughter and a son. I can identify with both sides of this, right? We can all imagine that.

CUOMO: An allegation -- an allegation is not proof of fact. You know, it's something that has to be substantiated. We all get that. But we have to balance things, and that's why we have to have these conversations.

And I asked Senator Feinstein to come on. I think she has things to answer for. I think she should flesh out the record. I gave her that opportunity. She didn't take it. The invitation remains.

Norm, thank you very much. Carrie, as well.

SEVERINO: Thank you.

EISEN: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. My next guest can speak to the historic significance of what we're about to witness on Monday. Dan Rather, the one and only, he remembers well what it was like to report on the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings. What does he see as playing out right now? What matters, what we must not forget, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: The Kavanaugh curveball. The last time we saw something like this was way back in 1991. I know you keep being told and reminded about Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. It's not the fact that it happened. It's what it meant, how it was perceived, and what it lets us know about today.

So joining us is someone who reported on the story back then, understands what it meant, why it was right and wrong, and what we need to remember right now, the one and only Dan Rather, the host of "The Big Interview" on AXS TV. Is that it, AXS?

DAN RATHER, HOST, AXS: AXS.

CUOMO: Good. It's good to have you, sir.

RATHER: Thank you very much, Chris. Appreciate the opportunity.

CUOMO: Instantly by being here, you have made the show better, so thank you.

RATHER: I'm grateful for the opportunity. CUOMO: So what we're playing with, with Anita Hill and Clarence

Thomas, is that despite the acrimony and what you could have argued was the cogency of Anita Hill during that testimony, the public approval for Thomas went up afterwards when he was, of course, confirmed. How did you understand that at the time?

RATHER: I didn't understand it at the time, and I'm not sure I understand it now, is the honest answer. But once we go through the catharsis of this kind of public display, people able to make up their mind, I think what happened was the public attitude was, look, he's on the Supreme Court. We hold the Supreme Court in very high esteem. It's very important as part of our system of checks and balances, so give the guy the benefit of the doubt, and let's move on to the next thing.

But, Chris, we're not just in a different planet now, we're in a different cosmos. At the time of the Anita Hill and the Clarence Thomas thing, there were two women in the United States Senate. Today, there are, what, 23, maybe 24. The "Me, Too" movement didn't exist at the time.

So while some comparisons can be made, don't make too many comparisons, because a different time, different situation, that -- one of the things that came out of that hearing was that -- and, by the way, they were all primetime on regular television at the time. This consumed the country.

It was a real education in the advise and consent role of the Senate, which I know you've emphasized tonight, and people came out of it smarter about how these nominations are happening.

CUOMO: One of the weak arguments, in my opinion -- you feel free to judge it -- judge me as wrong -- but for a Trump supporter to say this should happen behind closed doors, if we've learned anything in the current political environment, we need as many doors open and for it to be transparent as possible.

RATHER: Absolutely. Let the sun shine in. Sunshine is a disinfectant. And what this is about, as was the case with the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas time, it was what the Bork hearings in the mid-1980s was all about. What it's about is trying to get to the truth, or as close to the truth as is humanly possible.

Now, as a country, as a society, at the time of our founding fathers, we, we, the people of the United States, we've been on a journey to deal with the question of whether power predominates through everything or whether there is a role for justice to balance power.

We've seen this when the civil rights movement, when it first started. We saw it during the women's movement, the early women's movement. We've seen it with gay rights. That's what we're on -- we're still on this journey about how to resolve this question.

And this is a watershed moment, I will say that. I think the future history books may have at least a line or two about this confirmation hearing, because this is a watershed for the question of what we prioritize. Do we prioritize power? Or do we prioritize justice?

Now, that's not pre-judging anything in this Kavanaugh case. It is sort of emphasizing why we need the hearings, why the hearings need to be open hearings.

CUOMO: Right.

RATHER: Because part of what we're dealing with here -- look, whether this woman is speaking the truth or not, people will get a chance to judge for themselves. If she's not a credible witness...

CUOMO: True.

RATHER: ... then Kavanaugh is -- he's approved right away.

CUOMO: Although she is a college professor. But obviously, he has -- and, again, not to prejudice him at all, but he's got a lot of advantages. One, he's got a lot of people invested in making him look good on that panel. And, two, he is very savvy in terms of going through the process. And as far as we know, although a college professor, this is going to be very difficult for her, whether or not she's telling the truth or not. This is -- as was said earlier -- the klieg lights.

My concern is that, one, if you didn't give her the opportunity to testify, you're negating whatever progress we've made culturally in terms of letting people who say something was wrong happen. Not all accusations are the same. Allegations are called just that. They're not facts, you know, and dispositive proof for a reason within the justice system, within common sense. But you have to hear it, and he can shoot it down. You know, if he has the basis to do that, the ammunition to do that, then everybody will see it for what it is.

RATHER: And, frankly, back to the central question. Who is telling the truth? One of these two people is not telling the truth. People can have a different perception of things. But this will come clear.

I do agree with you that she's at a tremendous disadvantage at these hearings next Monday. So two points about these hearings, one, that she may be a very accomplished college professor, but she is walking into a room in which she's going to be roughed up. She's going to be -- attempts will be made to humiliate her. So whatever you think of the story, it takes a lot of guts to do that. It's a very brave thing for her to do.

The second thing is, it's still a week before these hearings. So let's stop and kind of cut through the cyclone of coverage and say, as you and I both know, overnight is a long time in politics. A week is forever. This is going to be a virtual eternity for both of these people because you can bet journalists all over the country are scrambling around (inaudible) the White House will be looking for all kinds of dirt on her. So just stay alert, because a lot of things can change between now and next Monday.

CUOMO: That's 100 percent. RATHER: But I do think that -- and you've alluded to this earlier,

that Kavanaugh's nomination, this has changed things dramatically. The center of gravity has changed. And to mix metaphors here, his nomination is hanging by a slim rope, and that rope can start to fray very, very quickly, because you have to know that somewhere in the boughs of the White House, someone is saying, you know what, we may have to drop this nomination. Politically, whether we like Kavanaugh or believe him or not, and I like him, and I do believe him, there comes a time in politics when you just have to cut it.

Now, we're not at that point, but no one should be surprised if we reach that point.

CUOMO: Well, we've seen the president cut it out of convenience and what he sees as his disruptive sense of loyalty. This would be a lose for him if he cuts it here. That would be new. But we'll see. And as we get closer to the day of consequence, please come back and join us. Thanks...

(CROSSTALK)

RATHER: I will, Chris. And, again, thanks for having me tonight.

CUOMO: The pleasure is mine. Thank you very much, sir.

The Kavanaugh storm is coming right up against the midterms. Is that timing a coincidence? Well, it depends on your political stripe, like most things these days. Republicans are certainly in a fight to hold on to Congress. The potential impact for the GOP in November is going to be the subject of the great debate. Let's get after it, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Until this weekend, the questions seemed to be how narrow a victory President Trump would have with the Senate confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Now things seem different. The future could depend on one woman and most of America, in terms of how they feel about what we haven't heard until just yesterday.

"Great Debate," Angela Rye and Scott Jennings. Angela Rye, so it is a good thing that we're going to hear. It wasn't a given. In fact, you could argue that President Trump actually helped move the ball a little bit in the right direction here, unusual on these issues for him.

But him and Kellyanne Conway said exactly what should be said every time out, which is: Hear out the person with the accusation. Let's hear from the other side. And let decisions be based off information, at least in the court of public opinion. The law is different. Do you believe that we are headed for a proper outcome starting Monday, Angela?

ANGELA RYE, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't know what the outcome will be, but I think that it is great that the Senate will provide an opportunity for Brett Kavanaugh's accuser to be heard at 10:00 a.m. in the public. The fact that it was ever up for discussion that this would be private is asinine at this point.

And I think what is most ironic is that Donald Trump is saying that he believes that this particular accuser should be heard when we know that he's had more than 20. It also is no surprise at all that he would put forth a nominee that may have a record on this. And it also is no surprise that Brett Kavanaugh has a good judicial friend who resigned from the Ninth Circuit Court due to some sexual harassment allegations himself.

CUOMO: Kozinski.

RYE: We haven't heard as much about that, but we know that Brett Kavanaugh said on the record during his hearing in response to Senator Hirono's question on sexual harassment that he said he doesn't know anything about this.

I am concerned overall, Chris, about Judge Kavanaugh's credibility. I think that he has demonstrated throughout the hearing process that he's not credible. So it will be interesting to see what the outcome will be on Monday.

CUOMO: Scott Jennings, how does it size up for you? Do you agree with Angela at least that the idea that this should have been done behind closed doors by the committee was a bad idea?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I think the way the Democrats have handled this has been atrocious. I mean, within one day of interacting with the Senate Republicans, Dr. Ford now has a chance to tell her story publicly when her story sat on Dianne Feinstein's desk for two months and nothing happened.

Let's just cut the baloney here. This has nothing to do with her. These Democrats do not care about her; they do not care about her story or what happens to her. They care about killing this nomination or at least delaying it to see if they can win this election, because what they want to do...

CUOMO: Then why would Feinstein keep it quiet so long?

JENNINGS: ... is win the election and block this thing out -- block this thing out for two years. They want payback for Garland, which I understand...

CUOMO: Why did Feinstein keep it quiet for so long? If she had a weapon, why didn't she use it?

RYE: Are you asking...

JENNINGS: I agree with you.

CUOMO: But you're saying two things, then.

JENNINGS: Yeah, I agree with you. I agree with you. She should have brought it up and redacted the name behind closed doors if she really cared about her story. But they detonated this grenade at the 11th hour, not because they care about the victim, but because they care about killing off or delaying this process.

CUOMO: Well, look...

RYE: Do you know how her name...

CUOMO: Go ahead, Angela.

RYE: Do you know how she came forward? You do know that that was her decision to keep her name confidential and then her decision to come forth because she realized that people both on the Senate staff and others were handling this situation recklessly? That was not Dianne Feinstein's decision. She asked to remain confidential. I was upset, too, but then I looked at the...

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: Who does the staff work for?

RYE: I encourage you to do the same.

CUOMO: Well, also, she was going to be outed by the media...

JENNINGS: Who does the staff work for?

CUOMO: ... and she made a calculation that I'm going to be exposed. She wanted to do it...

RYE: I'm going to do it myself. Yeah.

CUOMO: ... the professor, on her own terms, which is certainly her choice. But, look, to say that there's no politics at play, it almost goes without saying these days. Everything is politics at play. This confirmation hearing is a farce of disclosure, not just with Kavanaugh. He didn't start the fire. The Republicans didn't start the fire. It's been burning since Bork, OK? Ever since that man made the mistake of telling people exactly what he thinks, and he got dinged for it. And I'm not saying he shouldn't have been. But now the rules have changed and nobody says the truth about anything in there. They say the minimum possible.

So my problem is this. Transparency, yes. Is this the right place for it? Scott Jennings, I argue no. The president took the right step today in terms of saying she should be heard. Angela is right to push back in saying where has that candor been all along? Fair point. However, what he should have said was, the FBI should open up the background investigation again. Let them look into this, let them find the facts, and then let the senators vote. It will take more time, but it will be less in dispute. Fair point?

JENNINGS: Yeah, I think the background investigation point is a good one. Kavanaugh has been through six. I have been through one when I got my job as special assistant to the president. I can tell you, having been through this, they are thorough, they call people you have forgotten about that were in your life...

CUOMO: They didn't find her. RYE: Yeah.

JENNINGS: The fact that he's been through six of them -- they didn't find her. They found no other women to make any accusation against him. There is no pattern. And that makes me very suspicious here that's what being said about Kavanaugh...

CUOMO: You can be suspicious. You can be skeptical. But she deserves to be heard.

JENNINGS: ... having these names...

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: Totally agree.

RYE: But there is a pattern, though. There is a pattern.

CUOMO: There is a pattern with credibility. Angela, that's your point, go ahead.

RYE: Boom, that's the point. There is a pattern with his credibility and how questionable it is. I think there's something to be said for the fact that not only is there character credibility, the fact that he could have been lying under oath when he's been testifying before the Senate, and his credibility on how he would rule on decisions.

I have substantial questions. I've had them from the beginning. I've been very consistent. I'm being transparent about that. I also have questions about how his documents were released in comparison to Elena Kagan or to Sonia Sotomayor. There are complete and stark differences in how transparent this administration has chosen to be or not with this particular nomination. And it's troubling.

CUOMO: Look, and the problem with the politics on both sides is, is there fair criticism of how the Democrats handled this? Yes, I think there's fair criticism. I asked Senator Feinstein to come on tonight. I think she has things to answer for. I'm not putting any blame, but I do think it should be tested. The invitation was declined. It remains in full effect. So we'll have that conversation.

But on the other side, you know, if you care about "Me, Too," if you care about women, and anybody who is victimized and has to survive a situation, then you treat all of them with dignity and respect, not just when they play to your political advantage. So we'll see how this goes on Monday.

Angela, Scott, you're so nice, let's do it twice. Stick around. We're going to have more of the "Great Debate" right after this. I actually created that phrase. Anybody else who's ever said it, they're copying me.

RYE: That bar is (ph) Chris.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Are the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh coming at the worst possible time for Republicans? Yes, right? I mean, they're on the verge of whether or not they thought he would be the judge. They were just about to vote. Now we're also 50 days away from the midterm elections. Timing is not good. But should that affect how they deal with it, if they care about people who come forward with allegations? It's a tough question.

Let's get back with our great debaters, Angela Rye and Scott Jennings. One of the aspects of this -- and by the way, Angela Rye, thank you, I've got bars, meaning I have rhymes. I understand that. It took me a Google search and a couple of interns, but thank you for the compliment.

RYE: Oh, no.

CUOMO: So this is the point. Chuck Schumer just came out with a statement that is somewhat of an echo of Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein had said, look, we need to hear people come out, give their testimony. The FBI should be involved. Schumer says the FBI should be involved before we vote. They can't control that.

Scott Jennings, we touched on this, but I want to get you on the record more specifically. That seems to be the best middle ground. Put aside the fact that the president's been beating up on the legitimacy of the FBI for the last 10 months. But the Republicans and the Democrats can't handle this. They cannot handle this in the confirmation setting. It doesn't have the legitimacy with the American people. The FBI does.

Why not give this matter to them, wait a week, whatever they say they need, look at it, come back to the senator, so at a minimum their questions would be informed by a fact-finding process?

JENNINGS: Yeah, I think that they need to have the hearing regardless of what happens with the FBI. I sort of reject the idea that they don't have credibility with the American people, because this is the process the Constitution demands, and they are commanded to go forth and get the truth and ask questions of witnesses.

CUOMO: But they don't do that.

JENNINGS: So they don't have to do that. I don't have a -- well, they are going to do that.

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: I mean, they're going to call -- as far as I could tell, they're going to call in three people -- Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh, and the third person who was in the room.

CUOMO: Mark Judge.

JENNINGS: Two of the three are going to say it didn't happen. One is going to say... CUOMO: I don't know that they're calling him. Have you heard that? I haven't heard that.

RYE: I hope they call on him.

JENNINGS: I haven't heard that, but they need to, because he was supposedly, according to Dr. Ford, in the room. There's only three people in my opinion that have any standing to sit up there. And that's those three people. I don't have a problem if the FBI gets involved in this. I would just go back to my point before the break. He's been through six investigations by the FBI.

CUOMO: Right.

JENNINGS: They have never found any pattern of behavior anywhere touching anything like this. I am sure -- and, look, I like Angela, but I trust the FBI on determining whether somebody is truthful and honest or not more than I would trust you, who opposes Judge Kavanaugh. They find this man...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: It's good to hear a Trump supporter say that they believe the FBI. I'll take that. You can take a shot at Angela if it redeems the FBI.

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: I don't agree -- I don't agree with the attacks on the FBI.

CUOMO: Good.

JENNINGS: I believe in the FBI. And I think they do a good job investigating people under these circumstances.

CUOMO: Here's the problem.

JENNINGS: So I think they've done a good job...

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: You know -- you know...

CUOMO: Here's the problem, Angela. You say whatever you want, but just give me a little bit on this at some point. Why would the professor lie? That part of the analysis has to be -- I mean, this is going to be a harrowing experience. Yes, she came forward. We also know that she was very worried about coming forward, and she asked them for anonymity. You know, you could argue that maybe she regrets ever coming forward now. We'll see when she sits in the chair on Monday and starts answering questions.

But, boy, she is really setting herself up for a situation, if she's telling the truth about every aspect of it, as she best understands it, let alone if she's playing with the facts. Angela? RYE: Yes, I think that's absolutely right. And, Chris, this is the one thing that I have to acknowledge in this space as a woman. As a woman, I still have privilege on this particular topic because I've never been the victim of sexual assault.

CUOMO: Thank God.

RYE: I've never been the victim of sexual harassment, saying that to say I've learned from my sister friends and women around me who've told me how intimidating this experience is. It is terrifying. It is mortifying. That is why this woman did not want to come forward.

We are immediately questioning her credibility, despite the fact that she has passed a polygraph test, despite the fact that not once, but twice in two different therapists' notes, she has talked about this incident and in the same way.

I'm also coming at this very conflicted because I also have someone very close to me who is in jail right now for an accused rape, a rape that he said he did not commit, and I believe him. So I understand how challenging it is when you have someone who you know and they display another side of a character that you never thought you'd see. They, frankly, are a monster. Right, there are parents of serial killers who could say that same thing.

I also do not understand in this particular circumstance where we're talking about naming someone to the highest court of the land, who's demonstrated a propensity to struggle with the truth, to not share documents, to actually oppose sharing documents, not being completely transparent, and then to have this particular issue.

So I'm also again going back to what I said before about the sexual harassment allegations of his friend -- I'm also interested to know how much he knows there. This could be a pattern. And the FBI doesn't find out everything. This may be a bipartisan point of agreement, Scott Jennings, even though you tried the "Hillary, you're likable enough, Hillary" me right before this. But I would say to you, the FBI has not had a ton of credibility with the black community, so that's not necessarily a sword to fall on. But whatever. I still struggle with his credibility, whether you accept it from me or not, Scott.

CUOMO: Well, Scott, can you say that you believe -- they had all the FBI -- all the background vetting going. They didn't find anything like this. Fair point. But to Angela's point, even if you want to play with, well, that's a policy statement, it's not about his veracity, there was plenty of discussion about whether or not Kavanaugh is clever enough to play the process and give just enough truth that he needs to, to get passed. And, by the way, he's not the only person ever accused of that in this process.

And I do harken back -- and I'm not saying it has anything to do with Professor Ford's allegation -- however, credibility is a big bucket, and it doesn't just go to this specific. When he didn't shake that man's hand, and he says, "I didn't know who he was, I got pulled away by security, it wasn't that I didn't shake his hand," that's just not true on the face of the video.

I'm not saying that it was right or wrong for him to shake his hand, although I do believe it was wrong. But if he was playing that situation and he was giving the answer that's convenient, how do you know that he won't give an answer that's convenient on something like this?

JENNINGS: Well, I think he's going to show up at this committee room on Monday and put his hand up under oath and say his truth, which is I unequivocally deny this.

Now, let me go back to your previous question, because it's important. Why would she lie? I actually don't think she believes she's lying. I think she has a memory -- I think something happened. She has a memory. I also think memories are fallible, and she's already told the Washington Post she can't remember various details.

I think something happened and Dr. Ford deserves to tell that story. But I don't think a 36-year-old memory is infallible. And I also don't think you can discount it when a man who's on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals -- remember, this isn't just about the Supreme Court. If he walks in there and puts his hand up and lies under oath, it's not costing him the Supreme Court. It's costing him his whole career. They will impeach a judge, I would assume, if he's caught lying under oath.

CUOMO: Costing her hers, also.

RYE: Yeah...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You know, just because she's not in politics, she's now going to be very political.

JENNINGS: But that's my point. That's my point. I think...

CUOMO: There's a lot on the line for both of these people.

JENNINGS: I think -- I don't accept that she's going to walk in there and lie...

RYE: Scott, you must...

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: ... and he's going to tell the truth, or vice versa. I think -- I think a 36-year-old memory is fallible. And I think that she may -- she...

RYE: You must have never suffered trauma, Scott. That's really bold. For you to talk about the length of time, you must have never suffered any kind of trauma, because that is a vivid memory you'll never forget. Even if you don't remember every single aspect of detail, whether you had on eyeshadow or whether you had on pants or a skirt or what time, whose house it was, what was the address, you will remember certain aspects of trauma, and you must be saying your point of privilege is you've never suffered trauma. That must be what you're saying.

CUOMO: All right. Angela Rye, Scott Jennings, thank you very much. I appreciate the debate. Be well to both of you.

All right. This is going to go down in history, and you can't revise history, although there is an argument to be made of who writes it. But the state of Texas is actually trying to do what I just said you can't. They want to erase history. School leaders want Hillary Clinton gone from history classes, and you won't believe who else they want gone from history classes in 2018. The reporter who broke the story is here, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Hillary Clinton, Barry Goldwater, and Helen Keller -- what do those three people have in common? I would have said nothing. But now it turns out the Texas Board of Education says they're no longer required learning in the state's new curriculum. Why? What's the standard? What's this about?

Let's ask the reporter who broke the story, Lauren McGaughy of Dallas Morning News. Welcome to "Prime Time," Lauren.

LAUREN MCGAUGHY, REPORTER, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Thanks. Good evening from Texas.

CUOMO: Educate me on this. Why these three? How did this happen? What's this about?

MCGAUGHY: So we're talking about the Texas State Board of Education. It's an elected board of 15 people. And every year they look at a different subject area. It might be science. It might be health. And this year they decided to what they call streamline the social studies curriculum, and one way they wanted to do that was to look through every historical figure that kids in Texas have to learn, are required to learn in the classroom, and see if there was anyone that they could cut out.

CUOMO: OK. So, streamlining. And what are the guidelines for streamlining?

MCGAUGHY: So, in March of this year, there was a group of volunteers that were actually nominated by the board, a lot of teachers, some parents. And they got together and created a rubric that scored each and every one of the historical figures that are in the curriculum. This is hundreds of people. And they gave each person a grade out of -- either a maximum of 20 points or 21 points. And if you didn't get a very high score, then they recommended you for deletion.

Hillary Clinton, Helen Keller, and Barry Goldwater all didn't get very high scores, so they were recommended to be eliminated from the required school lessons for social studies.

CUOMO: So there's a lot that's frightening about this. But this isn't just about schools, also, and it's not just about playing politics. What is the consideration about what the impact is of a decision like this?

MCGAUGHY: So Texas has an outsized sway on textbooks and how they're written. We have 5.4 million schoolchildren in Texas, a lot of kids. And so these textbook creators, when they're looking at what they're going to put into their books for not just our state, but states across the country, they will look at the curriculum in Texas, because if they have to print, you know, 5 million books over many years, then obviously why not just make more of those and sell them in other states?

So when they changed the curriculum in Texas, it could have a snowball effect on the curriculum for other states.

CUOMO: Not just the power of politics, but the power of the purse. Lauren McGaughy, thank you very much for the reporting.

MCGAUGHY: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. All right. And thank you for watching. What do you say? You want to get after it again tomorrow, two hours, starting at 9:00? Done. CNN's coverage continues right after this.