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CUOMO PRIME TIME
President Trump Orders the Declassification of Documents in the Russia Probe; Interview with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R), Florida; CNN Obtains a Copy of Stormy Daniels' New Book; Professor Ford Wants to Testify but Wants the FBI to Investigate First. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired September 18, 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: All right, let's keep it going. Don is off again tonight, which means we've got a bonus hour of CUOMO PRIME TIME. And we begin with big breaking news. The woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault in high school is saying she'll testify, but she wants there to be a complete FBI investigation first. Republicans are saying Monday or no way. But will it stay there? Is it going to be all about getting this through or getting it right?
On the score of the same type of battle, President Trump orders the declassification of documents in the Russia probe. Why? Transparency, he says. Give all the information. Do it right. On FISA yes, on Ford, no? We go one-on-one with Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz.
And CNN obtains a copy of Stormy Daniels' new book, where she shares explicit details of her alleged affair with Donald Trump. Chris Cillizza on what we learn after months of allegations and denials. Busy Tuesday. What do you say? Let's get after it some more.
A lot of people thought, including yours truly for a while, that Brett Kavanaugh's accuser was going to testify on Monday before the Senate committee. But now there's a major precondition. CNN has obtained a letter addressed to the Senate Judiciary chair that says Professor Ford wants to testify, but she wants the FBI to investigate first.
Now, there's a plus/minus here. On the plus side, you could say it's a boost to her credibility. Who wants the feds digging into something that they're lying about? On the negative side, it smacks of politics, because this is what the Democrats have been pushing for, as well.
So let's test this. We have a member of the House Judiciary Committee here tonight, Florida Republican Matt Gaetz. Good to have you, sir.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: Good to be back with you, Chris.
CUOMO: Thank you for making the time. So let's start with the obvious proposition. Have the FBI do what they do with judicial nominees, have them look into it, we'll better equip the senators to advise and consent on this matter. GAETZ: You repeatedly asked guests in prior segments, what would the
harm be in just having the FBI look into this? And here's one thing I would propose to you, Chris. If you're always able to launch another investigation at the conclusion of the normal review window, then these will be interminable hearings for every Supreme Court justice forever, no matter who the president is or no matter who controls the Senate. So at some point, you've got be able to act on the information that you actually have.
Now, I'm frustrated that Dianne Feinstein didn't release this information sooner. I'm frustrated even more that it leaked in kind of a sneaky political operative looking way. I think you've been fair at highlighting those concerns. But we also have to note that Brett Kavanaugh has been investigated by the FBI six times. So what is it that we hope to find in the seventh investigation about an alleged event...
GAETZ: ... that maybe happened 36 years ago?
CUOMO: Congressman, this. They missed this. She hadn't come forward. They had no way of knowing. You can't hold the FBI accountable...
GAETZ: You don't -- you don't know that they...
CUOMO: ... for what they can't know. So now they know. And, look, is politics at play? That's a given.
GAETZ: Wait, wait a second.
CUOMO: You see it on both sides.
GAETZ: How did they -- what do they know?
CUOMO: So why not take it out of their hands and give it to the FBI? They're the only fair broker.
GAETZ: Well, you -- it is unfair to suggest that they missed something if you don't know that the something is true or false.
CUOMO: They missed the allegation.
GAETZ: I also would feel more comfortable...
CUOMO: She hadn't come forward. I'm not saying -- I'm not saying this was misfeasance.
GAETZ: Yeah, but you had...
CUOMO: No, no, no, we agree. We agree. We agree. The FBI didn't make a mistake. They didn't know. I'm saying your point is, what are they going to find that they didn't find before? This, because they never knew about this. So they should look at it.
GAETZ: But -- but look, right, but the premise of that is that it is true. That is a tautology. You cannot say...
CUOMO: No, no, no, no. It's not a tautology.
GAETZ: ... that a thing is true because it is true.
CUOMO: No. I agree. That is a tautology. But this is not a tautology. It's is she telling the truth? What can you ascertain? What can you find out? This is what they do with background checks all the time. Now they have new information. Let them assess it.
GAETZ: And he had six -- and he had six of them. And the -- but we have to, I think, for the sake of the viewers, kind of unpack what those investigations normally entail. Sometimes they go 8 months, 10 months, as long as a year-and-a-half in some circumstances. They talk to all the people you've been involved in, in your life. And so here with Professor Ford, if there was some proffer of evidence, if there was some contemporaneous account of the event, if there was some -- some nexus of facts to go investigate...
CUOMO: We don't know that there isn't.
GAETZ: ... I think people would feel a lot -- a lot healthier. But we don't know that there is, right? So how do you go and investigate in the absence...
CUOMO: Investigate. That's -- that's how,,,
GAETZ: ... of some probable cause?
CUOMO: Look, here's my point...
GAETZ: What do you investigate? She doesn't know -- she doesn't know when it happened. She doesn't know where it happened.
CUOMO: She doesn't know exactly, but she was completely consistent with...
GAETZ: She doesn't know...
GAETZ: So where do you start? Chris...
CUOMO: I did a story down in your home state.
GAETZ: Let's assume this. President Trump...
CUOMO: Congressman, I did a story down in your home state about women who suffer these types of events and how they process and how they're dealt with. And, by the way, your state's doing a heck of a job. You've got lots of outreach for women, so they're processed right and treated the way. Bravo to your state, because the government funds a lot of it.
It is not unusual to forget moments of trauma, to convince yourself to forget so you can survive. And we've heard from multiple friends that that was her case. And I'll tell you what, it squares with how she came forward here. Why would she come out anonymously if she wanted to be the tip of the spear for Democrats? Why would she push Eshoo and Feinstein to bungle it the way you are arguing that they did? Why, if she wanted to come out and say something that wasn't true, why would she ask for the feds to dig into a story if she thinks there's a chance it winds up being false or uncorroborated in any possible why? Why would she set herself up for that?
It's a lot of -- a lot of questions there, that -- why not take a look? Do you want to look for 8, 10 months? You say no. Fine. The White House controls the process. But why say no altogether?
GAETZ: Well, the Senate does.
CUOMO: No, the Senate does not. The White House decides whether or not the FBI looks into this, not the Senate.
GAETZ: Well, the -- the Senate is going to decide whether or not they proceed in taking floor action prior to some investigative activity...
CUOMO: The White House has to ask the FBI.
GAETZ: ... the Senate said that they wouldn't -- well, or the Senate can say that they're not going to proceed until the FBI issues some report. That can happen frequently.
I am not making the suggestion that Professor Ford is not telling the truth. I'm not making the suggestion that she shouldn't be believed. That would be terribly irresponsible for you and I to do when we don't know the facts.
But -- but let me perhaps propose a hypothesis for you to criticize. The facts are never going to be knowable here. We're actually never going to know the truth about this, just like we don't really know the truth about Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill. That's one of the reasons why we have statutes of limitations in this country. Over time, we don't become less interested in justice. It's that justice becomes so much more difficult to obtain as memories fade.
Now, you know, I appreciate the compliments you gave to the state of Florida. I served as our criminal justice chairman and put a lot of those policies in place when I was in our legislature. And you are absolutely right. People react to trauma in very different ways. And when you're looking at something that could potentially have happened 38 years ago, I think you have to at least acknowledge the possibility that facts could be confused...
GAETZ: ... events could be sort of reimagined. CUOMO: True.
CUOMO: ... people assessing all that stuff up. And here is something that's not being considered...
GAETZ: But they don't -- they're not pros at doing it the 36 years old. They actually never do this with a 36-year-old allegation, because the statute of limitations would have run for a criminal.
CUOMO: Well, they do it with homicide. They do it with homicide.
GAETZ: Well, but -- but -- but not this type of an event. Homicide creates a different -- a different catalog of physical evidence. It creates more opportunities...
CUOMO: Maybe, maybe not. Most of the cases, as you know, are circumstantial. You don't have direct evidence. Sometimes, you know, you're searching just for a body, and, you know, whatever it was, that was -- you know, the means that were used to commit the homicide.
But here is what I'm saying. Let's not get too into the hypothetical. If you're Judge Kavanaugh, I know that he has confidence that he can fight this and win. I know that, from sources around him. But it doesn't seem like his sponsors have the same confidence. And he's the one who's going to have the cloud hanging over his head, Congressman. There will always be doubt.
If you do Monday or no way to Professor Ford -- I know you're not in the Senate, you're in the House, but if that's what happens in the Senate, that cloud is over his head. Is that something he wants? Is that what you want to do with him?
GAETZ: Just as -- look, no -- I think that's sadly an inevitable part of the culture of accusation that we're in today that is a response to a culture of silencing victims that was of yesteryear. And we as a society are still struggling with this balance.
But I would argue that there's probably a cloud still over Clarence Thomas, whether that's fair or unfair, because we don't really know what happened with him and Anita Hill. And we're not going to ever really know what happened...
CUOMO: You didn't have the FBI look into that, either.
GAETZ: ... with Brett Kavanaugh...
CUOMO: At least have the FBI look. If they come back and say we cannot corroborate what the professor says, the Democrats ask for it, they say they trust the FBI, that's that, for better or worse. If they find something, you pursue it...
GAETZ: So -- so -- so how do you solve this problem? CUOMO: ... but at least you have an independent arbiter.
GAETZ: So tell me how you solve this problem. We go through a month- long progress. The FBI says we can find no evidence. We can't proceed. And the day after that process ends, a new victim comes forward. Do we take another month? Do we take another month after that? I mean, at some point, don't we have to have some conclusion of this so that we're able to populate the court as the Constitution requires?
CUOMO: Maybe -- maybe, maybe not. I'm -- I'm really slow to cap possibilities when it comes to a class of people who've been silenced so long culturally. I mean, look...
GAETZ: I agree. I agree...
CUOMO: You know what our problem is? And this is why I like this conversation. This is a struggle. We have certain operating rules, but not many, because we don't like the rules unless they play to advantage here, and that's what we're witnessing in real time with this Senate confirmation process. Everybody plays to advantage. Everybody is afraid of what they can't control. So if it's in a court of law, that's one standard of review. Outside of that, we're lost. If I say that, hey...
GAETZ: But a court of law would never review this. This would never meet the court's standard, right? Like, you made that point earlier with Michael Moore, and I thought it was very effective, that we have a judicial system, but once we get out of that, that this...
GAETZ: ... becomes a matter of talking heads and political pundits and not factual development of evidence, but that's why we don't do...
CUOMO: Right, but the culture influences the rules of the process.
GAETZ: ... on evidence on cases this old.
CUOMO: Right, but it works hand in glove.
GAETZ: Right, but this...
CUOMO: It works hand in glove, though, Matt. You're making the right point, Congressman.
GAETZ: How so?
CUOMO: But here so -- how so. The reason that we don't review these, in part, you're right, judicial economy. You're right, preservation of evidence and administration of justice, what they call judicial economy, you're right. However, it's also cultural that we don't -- we forgive accusations
over time. We don't let people come out later, out of convenience, imagine, God forbid, it were one of my kids and she came out or he came out many years later and said it happened and the system said too -- too bad, too late.
Now, a lot of those laws are changing, as our culture of appreciation of consequence and crisis evolves, but we're not there yet. And I think we're living it in real time right now. And it is a struggle. It's imperfect, it's inconvenient, it's uncomfortable. I grant you all of that.
But the best-case scenario right now, given that she didn't just pop up out of nowhere and is without credibility and it seems like she's taking a flyer here to help the Democrats, is you have to do something better than what you're prepared to do.
GAETZ: No one is suggesting that. No one is suggesting that.
CUOMO: Well, they are by saying that they're not going to give her any independent review.
GAETZ: But there's not sufficient evidence, right? Look, if you had a contemporaneous writing, if you had a contemporaneous oral account, something, if she knew the date, the time, the place of the party where we could go and try to cobble together witnesses from 36 years later about an event in high school, but there's not even a hook upon which to kind of sink in to an investigation here.
CUOMO: Well, I'm just saying that I don't know that we don't know that it exists. And the only way to know is to dig. I get your concern about the unending string of allegations.
GAETZ: But -- but if there's no initial proffer...
CUOMO: I'm saying, you're concerned about that.
GAETZ: If there's no proffer, then...
CUOMO: But there could be a middle ground -- could be a middle ground, if you have your eye on the right priority. We'll see what happens. You're not to account for that. You're not in the Senate, at least not yet.
Let me ask you about something else, though, that dovetails into this. So in the name of transparency, forget about sources and methods, forget about any potential protracted concern of national security, Trump wants the FISA application of Carter Page out.
CUOMO: You could argue it's out of political expedience for him or out of transparency, but it's a hell of a thing to argue if he doesn't do the same for Ford. If you want transparency, want it everywhere. And I'm not even going to bang you over the head with his taxes tonight, because I don't have enough time, and I've said that to you 100 times. But if you want transparency, want it everywhere. How do you justify wanting it with Carter Page and not with Ford?
GAETZ: Well, I have to say, you won't be able to beat me over the head on the taxes issue, because on your network, carried live, I said the president should release his taxes, because I am a transparency hawk. The question is whether or not that transparency is reasonably calculated...
CUOMO: I beat you over the head by saying you don't call for it all the time, Matt, and you're not shy. You could be calling for those taxes every day.
GAETZ: Hey, listen, man, I've just called for it -- hey, I've called for them before. I still think the president should be able to do it. The Congress has no power to force him to do it. But if I was president...
CUOMO: They shouldn't have to. But, go ahead, make your case about Carter Page.
GAETZ: ... I would release my tax returns. And I think he should. Sure, my case about Carter Page is this. We have secret FISA courts where things are happening that are aberrational. You have the inspector general testify that this -- this personnel move of having the very people that were on the Hillary Clinton investigation move to the FBI Russia investigation, then subsequently move to Mueller's investigation, that that should never happen.
And then you continue to see the text messages, the dossier, the way in which the dossier came through Bruce Ohr rather than coming through the FBI directly, it all stinks, man. And I want to know what happened. And the American people deserve to know the truth.
And frankly, when this is done, Republicans and Democrats need to get together and figure out a way to clean this up so that no matter who is in power, you don't weaponized the FISA court to go after your political enemies. We will never be able to start that process until we turn all the cards face up on the table.
CUOMO: Well, look, I'm a journalist. I'm always going to argue in front of transparency. I listen to the government all the time telling me about sources and methods and what I have to be careful about. And it's part of the balancing test. That's part of journalism.
But I'll tell you this: One, FISA is not a secret court. As you know, it was created to keep the process less secret, to give areas of review and layers of review. Is it being used the right way? Separate question. Is it aberrational, as you say? We don't know yet. And when it becomes known, then we'll be able to assess, because you haven't seen that FISA application, either. You're going on what others have told you about it.
CUOMO: So we can't know what we haven't been shown.
GAETZ: No, no, I'm going from -- based on what the inspector general testified. I'm going based on the staffing that was expressly said by the inspector general.
CUOMO: Right, but I read that report. There's not enough in there to know dispositively. That's why you want more. I'm not going to fight you on that point. I'll just say this. Even though there's risk to sources and methods and how it's done and when it's done and why it's done, if the president thinks it's that important, he should see it that way every time out, and what's happening with Ford is one of those, as well. And it's not a tit-for-tat. It's a this and that he should be thinking about.
GAETZ: Yeah, but it's not -- it's not -- they're not the same thing.
CUOMO: They're about transparency.
GAETZ: It's not the same thing. We're not talking about...
CUOMO: Either you want people to know or you want people...
CUOMO: ... want people to vet things or you don't. That's all I'm saying. But you're right. They're not exactly the same.
GAETZ: ... where you could reasonably -- where I want to vet things where you can reasonably find out what happened. I start with the premise that we will never know what happened with Ford and Kavanaugh, because it happened so long ago and there's nowhere to even begin the investigation.
CUOMO: Many cases that happened a long time...
GAETZ: That's totally different when it comes to the FISA process.
CUOMO: Many cases that happened a long time have had more shed light on them.
GAETZ: Yeah, but they start with better evidence than -- they...
CUOMO: Light shed on them.
GAETZ: Well, I'm eager to hear your examples of that. But -- but -- but as it relates to the FISA process, I think there we'll be able to clearly see what was told to the court, what was not told to the court. I think it is one of the most underrated outrages of this entire circumstance that you had the wife of Bruce Ohr, a senior -- senior Justice Department official... CUOMO: Right.
GAETZ: ... paid to go write dirt on the president, and that never got disclosed to the court that then authorized the spying.
CUOMO: I know the -- I know the circumstance you're talking about, but...
GAETZ: And, by the way, you said -- you said it's not a secret court.
CUOMO: It's not a secret court.
GAETZ: You said it's not a secret court. But, like, if you and I -- if you and I can't go and watch...
CUOMO: Well, that's not the definition of secret.
GAETZ: ... that's not my definition of secret.
CUOMO: You remember how it was before -- you know, don't let perfection be the enemy of progress. We all know that adage, right? It used to be that we didn't know what the hell it was based on. So they put in this law, Congress did it, as a function of oversight, to make sure there were levels and standards that had to be followed. And here you had multiple judges that are all part of the same conspiracy of crazy, if you believe your opinion on it, but we'll see what comes out...
GAETZ: No, no, not true. I don't think -- no, that's totally different. I'm not saying the judges are part of some crazy conspiracy. I'm saying they were not told the truth. I'm saying...
CUOMO: What was in there?
GAETZ: ... the information that the Woods procedures would have required. Well, let's see, Chris. I'll tell you what...
CUOMO: All right, fine.
GAETZ: ... you and I will not know what was in there or not in there until -- until it's out...
CUOMO: ... you're right...
GAETZ: I'm glad the president's on the side of transparency.
CUOMO: When it comes out -- he just has to be consistent. When it comes out, especially if he's going to take risk to do it, you come back on, please, Congressman, and let's get after what's in there and what isn't.
GAETZ: I'd be honored. CUOMO: Be well and thank you for tonight.
GAETZ: We'll do it.
CUOMO: Thank you, Congressman Matt Gaetz...
GAETZ: My pleasure.
CUOMO: ... Republican, Florida.
So, Kavanaugh's accuser maybe talks, maybe not. I think the chances you've got to look at right now, less than average. But she has been leaning on some of her closest friends about going public. We're going to talk to a reporter who's been talking to her friends, some insight for you, you haven't heard before, next.
CUOMO: Before going public with her claims, Brett Kavanaugh's accuser spoke to friends about her decision to go public. Julia Prodis Sulek is a reporter for the Mercury News in the San Francisco Bay Area. She interviewed a number of Christine Ford's friends.
Good to have you here. Thank you for joining us. First question is, this is an interesting timing aspect. The friends as reported in your story -- and we spoke to Samantha Guerry, who's not in your story, but she's a friend, as well -- this is something that Professor Ford says she spent a lifetime trying to forget, never wanted to advance, that's why she came out anonymously, that's she pushed Democratic lawmakers to keep it that way. What did they tell you? And what do you think about it?
PRODIS SULEK: Well, I spoke with a number of her friends. She has a really close-knit group that is all rallying behind her now. And she spent a lot of time at the beach in the summer. Her kids are part of a junior lifeguard program. And one of her friends said we spend hours and hours on the beach and, you know, she would confide in her friends that, you know, this had happened to her before.
And then she started, once Kavanaugh's name came forward, she thought, god, what are the odds that this guy that did this to me is actually going to be the nominee and is going to be confirmed? And so she told her friends, gee, what should I do? Should I come forward? I'm not sure. If I do, will it make any difference? I can just -- you know, she was just imagining what could happen, the allegations against her, people, you know, whatever.
And she was also concerned that, as she said, he didn't rape me. Is it going to make a difference? It was an almost rape, as she put it. Her friends said that she was -- you know, felt like she was struggling for her life.
CUOMO: It's called an assault, by the way.
PRODIS SULEK: You know, the timing for -- pardon me? CUOMO: It's called an assault, really. I mean, if those facts match
up with the -- you know, any corroboration, you know, it's an assault. I mean, I get where her head was on the political reality of it, but certainly there's importance to the notion.
PRODIS SULEK: Oh, absolutely. I mean, she's been traumatized by this. It's one thing to say you want to put it behind you, but it's another to actually try to do that.
CUOMO: Yeah, totally. I totally get it.
PRODIS SULEK: One interesting thing about...
CUOMO: Let me ask you something. Did you pick up -- oh, go ahead. Make your point.
PRODIS SULEK: Oh. One interesting thing about the impact it's had on her is that she can't be in -- can't sleep in a bedroom that doesn't have an exit door to the outside. She feels trapped. She's paranoid about feeling trapped and needs an escape. And she told friends that when her husband -- when they were remodeling their house, that she needed to make sure she had exit doors in the bedrooms. So this has affected her as much as she's tried to forget it.
CUOMO: Understood. Let's flip it. Anything you learned, anything that triggered your instincts as a reporter that there could be political motivation here, that it's not just personal and reticence and concern that she doesn't like the president, that this is an opportunity, that she wants to help the cause of the Democrats?
PRODIS SULEK: Well, from her friends, of course, they -- they all believe her. And they say that she's, you know, teeming with honesty and, you know, she would never make this up, what reason would she?
I certainly asked about her political background and, you know, if that could have any effect. And they said that she has, in fact, participated in some of these marches. She participated in the women's march right after Trump was elected. She participated in the March for Science. And she was quoted in our paper at the time saying that she was wearing one of these fuzzy brain caps, so it looked like, you know, the brain. So she -- and she was upset and talked to her friends about the immigration child separation policy.
So by some standards, that would be considered pretty politically active. But to her friends in Palo Alto, they thought, well, that's really not much. She didn't -- otherwise wasn't a political animal. And they certainly didn't consider her a bleeding heart. But her friends said that she knew that the fact that she, you know, considered herself a liberal or at least her friends said that they considered her a liberal, that that could present problems in bringing this forward at such a hyper-charged political time.
CUOMO: Right. And, of course, how you feel is just one standard. What you can show and corroborate is something else. Obviously, in a court of public -- in the court of law, that burden is not on the accuser once it gets to a trial. But here it will be interesting to see -- if there's an opportunity to
investigate and time is allowed to probe -- is there anything that comes up that squares with what the professor is saying, beyond her own statements that we have at this point? Julia Sulek, thank you for expanding our understanding. Appreciate it.
PRODIS SULEK: You're welcome.
CUOMO: All right. So now you've heard, Professor Ford is not saying she won't testify, she's not saying she's backing away. I'm seeing on social media, you're saying she's backed out. Who says that? She didn't say that.
The letter says she wants something that is actually the opposite of that instinct. She wants an FBI investigation before she'll talk to the politicians. How likely is she to get one? "Great Debate," next.
CUOMO: This just in to CNN. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, has responded to the letter sent by lawyers of Professor Ford, the woman accusing Judge Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
He says, quote, "Nobody should be subject to threats and intimidation, and Dr. Ford is no exception. These are serious allegations. Dr. Ford deserves to be heard. Her testimony would reflect her personal knowledge of memory and events. Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee. So there is no reason for any further delay."
Great start off for a great debate. Jess McIntosh, Niger Innis, Jess, is that good enough for you, what Grassley says?
MCINTOSH: No, of course it's not. I think the FBI investigation is a perfect thing to ask for and the appropriate thing to get. It's not lost on anybody that we're almost 27 years to the week of the Anita Hill hearings. We're not in 1991 anymore. I know Chuck Grassley is still sitting in the same place as he was back then, but a lot has changed.
We can organize in ways that my mother would have dreamed of when they were fighting that fight. Women have a language to talk about this thing in a way that we didn't before. Even the phrase sexual harassment didn't show up until the Anita Hill hearings. And we have women on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
So it's not going to be the kind of thing where one man can say this is the only way we're going to do it, we want her in front of the committee telling us what we want to hear on Monday, my way or the highway. It's just not going to fly in 2018.
CUOMO: Niger, why not go to the FBI? They're a fair arbiter. This is what they do. This is their appointed role within judicial nominations. It's up to the president to do it. Why not remove the specter of fairness from it and give it to the FBI? INNIS: I wish actually someone named Senator Dianne Feinstein had had exactly that point of view when she got this information from a Democrat congresswoman in July. And the fact that she sat on this reveals exactly what Dr. Ford's friend said in the earlier hour.
And I agree with Dr. Ford's friend completely, which is that Dr. Ford is being used as a political football. And if that analogy is correct, and I agree with it 1,000 percent, then the quarterback is Dianne Feinstein, the coach is Chuck Schumer, and the running back is Kamala Harris.
And what Democrats are doing for political purposes with Dr. Ford, who clearly -- in my opinion -- has a three-and-a-half-decade-old memory and a trauma that she believes occurred to her is a disgrace. It's an outrage what the Democrats are doing.
CUOMO: But, Niger, I get your take on the politics, not to give you short shrift. I get it. I get that you can criticize how we got here. But how does that remove the interest in giving it to the FBI, now that you have an actual controversy?
INNIS: Well, the fact is, is that it was given -- the letter has been submitted late to the FBI. Justice -- Judge Kavanaugh has not had the opportunity -- I mean, I'm not a lawyer, I don't even play one on TV -- but I think a fundamental of American law is that the charge...
CUOMO: You have the right to -- you have the right to confront your accuser.
INNIS: Yes. Absolutely.
CUOMO: He would here...
CUOMO: But he would here, as well. Actually, Jess...
INNIS: And right now, all we're dealing with right now, Chris, is a letter that has been submitted. I think Grassley is absolutely right to say that under whatever circumstances, privately, over the phone...
CUOMO: Can't be private.
INNIS: ... or in a hearing...
CUOMO: Can't be private.
INNIS: No, it can be private before the committee.
CUOMO: No way. Not with these people. Can't trust them.
INNIS: Oh, you're saying because of the leaks.
CUOMO: No, I love the leaks.
(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: I love the leaks. I'm a journalist. I'm saying, I don't trust what they're going to ask. I don't want the left to come out and say, you know, oh, very compelling, very compelling, and the right to come out and say, oh, some holes, some holes, and that's all we get. I don't even call them Democrats and Republicans anymore. I call them left and right, because it's all feel now with them.
But I have to tell you, Jess, I believe Niger makes a point that ultimately what may wind up countering his initial argument, which is Kavanaugh hasn't gotten his say, not all allegations are even, and an allegation is not certainly dispositive proof of an outcome. But who would want this more than he should? Let the FBI take a look. Go through what she says. See if they can corroborate it, which they certainly do better than a Senate staff. And then, either they say we got nothing, we cannot substantiate this, or they say we found this and this, and either way, you have fairness. Why not?
MCINTOSH: Absolutely. This is -- this is exactly the kind of...
CUOMO: To punish Feinstein?
MCINTOSH: ... pattern that Republicans usually call for in these -- in these cases. We have to -- we have to have all the facts on the table. We have to have the evidence.
Here you have an accuser who's actually saying, all right, I will submit to a legal entity. I will tell the story. I mean, she's already taken an FBI-given polygraph test, which she passed. So she comes to this with even more credibility than the average accuser.
CUOMO: She's asking for the FBI. Who asks for that?
MCINTOSH: Who does -- and why wouldn't Brett Kavanaugh want that, if he truly thought that he had nothing to hide in the matter?
CUOMO: And he, by all of my reporting of people who are around him and know him, he believes he is right. He believes he can defend. The question is, Niger, do his sponsors and boosters believe the same? When they got word about this, the White House didn't go into vet mode. They went into defend mode. They put a group of people around him, of women who would say what his character is and attest to his qualities. They went into defend mode right away. Maybe they don't trust their own guy to come through this clean.
INNIS: I don't know that I agree with that characterization. In fact, I think when it comes to the 200 women that have rallied around Brent Kavanaugh, you know, what we know, from the "Me, Too" movement...
CUOMO: I think it's Ford that has hundreds. And I think it's 65 that came around Judge Kavanaugh...
MCINTOSH: Even fewer now who are willing to talk on the record after the allegations.
CUOMO: ... and some backed away when a name was put to the letter. INNIS: What -- what we know -- what we know is this, OK? And those women were testifying to Dr. Ford's character. Fair enough. Be it 65, 200 -- and the -- I thought it was 200 with Judge Kavanaugh.
CUOMO: Control room is checking. They're going to let me know.
INNIS: But let's say -- let's say 60. Let's say 65. OK? I'll concede that.
CUOMO: All right.
INNIS: All right. What we had -- what we know from the "Me, Too" movement is that with folk like Kevin Spacey, Weinstein, I feel awful saying this, but Bill -- even Bill Cosby, there's a pattern of behavior. And this thing doesn't just happen...
CUOMO: It's true. You do it once, you may have done it more than once.
INNIS: ... for three-and-a-half decades...
CUOMO: Fair enough.
INNIS: Right. And what we -- and in terms of a pattern of behavior, based on the testimony of -- I -- I believe it's 200, but let's say 65, 65 women that Judge Kavanaugh has mentored, that he has gone to school with, that he has dated, that he has worked with, all of them testifying to his character, that's the only pattern that we have right now.
INNIS: And one -- and one -- and one allegation that hasn't even been made official, because, unfortunately, Dr. Ford refuses to testify before the Senate...
CUOMO: No, she doesn't refuse to testify.
INNIS: ... or privately.
CUOMO: She actually -- she's not hedging. She's doubling down, Jess.
MCINTOSH: Absolutely. She's absolutely -- this is an incredible act of bravery. And I would like to point out that the 65 women who signed the letter before this accusation dropped, of those, I believe journalists could only find five who are still willing to say their names and that they stood behind Kavanaugh after the accusation came out. So I think these are people who...
INNIS: They signed their name on a letter.
MCINTOSH: ... signed a letter saying, hey, we knew this guy in high school, and now that they're aware what their names were being used for, they don't necessarily want to be on the record saying I'm not saying he never did that.
CUOMO: The control room -- the control room -- just for -- just for the record, there were 65 people that the White House and other people put around Kavanaugh. I'm not disparaging the effort or the integrity of them. Many backed away after a name was put to the allegations...
CUOMO: ... as opposed to being anonymous. Hundreds of people have come from different avenues of existence of Professor Ford to back her. Those are the numbers. Just...
INNIS: But this is -- but this is not a character battle between Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. This is a question of trying to find out the truth of what occurred.
INNIS: And in terms of -- and...
CUOMO: Her credibility is going to count. It may be the ultimate indicator.
INNIS: The point -- and the point that I was making before...
CUOMO: It may be the ultimate indicator, because...
INNIS: I'm sorry?
CUOMO: ... look at what we've seen in this -- what I call a fugazi process to this point. And again, it's not about Kavanaugh. It's not even about the Republicans. Both sides play the same toxic game every time out with these judges. It's about nondisclosure. It's about him saying, well, Roe v. Wade is settled law, you know, so I would respect that. No, he knows that the Supreme Court unsettles law...
MCINTOSH: I was going to say, I think there actually is another pattern at play here.
CUOMO: That's right.
MCINTOSH: And it is of Brett Kavanaugh dissembling in front of senators during these hearings.
CUOMO: He played the game, and he played it well, and it's often about nondisclosure. So credibility could be an indicator here that creates some risk...
INNIS: One thing that I think is...
CUOMO: ... and maybe that's why the Republicans want to run away from it.
MCINTOSH: If he...
INNIS: One thing that I think is credible is six FBI background checks over a 12-year period, eight years of which...
CUOMO: They don't talk to everybody.
INNIS: ... you had President Obama in charge of the Justice Department.
CUOMO: You keep saying they talk to everybody. They talk to people, but they missed this, because she hadn't come forward.
INNIS: But -- no, no, but if there was a pattern of abusive behavior...
CUOMO: Pattern isn't the important thing.
INNIS: Look, this is what we're talking about.
CUOMO: One is enough, Niger.
CUOMO: God forbid it were one of our kids...
INNIS: We're talking about...
CUOMO: ... or someone we care about, one is enough.
INNIS: But, Chris, we're talking about potentially...
MCINTOSH: I want to...
INNIS: ... let me -- Jess, let me make this quick point...
INNIS: ... and then I'll hand the ball back to you. But what we're talking about here is very serious, all right? And I do believe that Dr. Ford legitimately believes this. I don't know that it's true. I don't believe it's true. But I do believe that Dr. Ford believes there was some traumatic incident that occurred 35 years ago.
This traumatic incident is assault. It is potentially assault. It is a potential gang rape. All right? That kind of behavior by an individual in high school, you know, it doesn't just go away. It happens one time...
(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: It's not a gang rape. She never said that. She never said
INNIS: No, no. She said that -- she said that the two individuals...
CUOMO: She never said rape, she never said gang, she said somebody else was there.
INNIS: ... participated in this -- he jumped -- he jumped on top of both of them.
CUOMO: That's not rape. She says it's not rape. But that's not the point. One is enough. What her recollection is, is -- whatever it is, that should be vetted. But we've got to be careful, Niger, not to play against the presumption of when someone has an accusation. Does it mean that it happened? Not necessarily. Are all allegations even? No. But if you run away from this out of political expediency and you wind up elevating somebody and rewarding them after an allegation like this with a lifetime appointment, that matters, too. Jess, final word.
MCINTOSH: That is -- that is the absolute point of all of this. We are talking about whether or not to elevate somebody to a lifetime appointment to the highest court in this country. If you are going to be a Supreme Court justice, that means you are a person of impeccable integrity, impeccable character, able to see the humanity of every American, regardless of gender of race. And that means if you try to rape somebody, even if it was just the one time, you're out of the running. You don't get to be the swing vote on whether or not women have reproductive freedom.
CUOMO: All right, Jess...
INNIS: And what if he is innocent? There are two victims here.
CUOMO: Well, that's a big what if.
INNIS: Dr. Ford's abuse by Feinstein...
MCINTOSH: You don't presume to put...
INNIS: ... and Judge Kavanaugh, if he's innocent...
MCINTOSH: ... a predator on the Supreme Court....
INNIS: Well, American law is you're presumed innocent until proven guilty.
MCINTOSH: We're not talking about a court of law. We're talking about a job interview.
INNIS: And right now, Judge Kavanaugh doesn't even have the opportunity to respond.
CUOMO: But absolutely...
MCINTOSH: And he should have the opportunity to respond. Absolutely.
CUOMO: You are both right. Hallelujah. On this point, we agree. We should have common ground, and we want it all to come out. Everybody should have their say. Accuse, defend, can you corroborate, different standard than in a court of law. She would have to show there's corroboration. Let the FBI do their job. And at the end of the day, have some measure of confidence before something that ensures a generation of jurisdiction.
Niger Innis, Jess McIntosh, strong arguments. Thank you for making them on the show.
All right, so in the middle of all of this, Stormy Daniels is back on the radar. She's got a tell-all book. And we learn things. New claims, new insights. What will Donald Trump say and do? Chris Cillizza with the key takeaways, next.
CUOMO: Her book is not safe for work. Stormy Daniels' upcoming tell- all has salacious details about her alleged affair with Donald Trump and some intimate details about him. Hillary Clinton and "The Apprentice" make some surprising cameos in the pages. How do I know? Because we got a copy.
So what are the big takeaways? Chris Cillizza has more. What are your top three, C?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, here we go. Here we go. Yes, you're right that the -- the salacious headlines about descriptions of genitalia will be the thing that titillates people. But there's actually, I think, Chris...
CUOMO: No pun intended. Continue.
CILLIZZA: Ah. There's actually some stuff in here that I think is worth sort of revisiting. Number one, and I think by far the most important, you mentioned it, 2007, Stormy Daniels says that she's with Donald Trump when he -- watching "Shark Week," by the way, when he receives a phone call from none other than Hillary Clinton. She's not sure what goes on, on that phone call, but when he hangs up, he says he loves Hillary Clinton, they're friends, and they went to each other's wedding. Now, that's not exactly true. Donald Trump didn't go to the Clintons'
wedding, but they did, as you know, because we've seen the pictures, go to Donald and Melania Trump's wedding. OK, that's the biggest takeaway.
Second takeaway, she asked him about his hair, what the deal is. He says it's just kind of my thing. Now, why is that important? I think it's important because it gives you some sense that he is self-aware. We always ask this question. Is he self-aware? Does he know how he is being perceived or does he not care? I think he sort of is a little more self-aware than possibly, possibly we give him credit for.
Now, the last one. She says that he promised her a slot on "The Apprentice." And this is the important part. He would help her cheat and give her some of the challenges beforehand so that she could advance on the show, stay on the show. Presumably that's better for her career. Now, it never wound up happening. Obviously, Stormy Daniels wasn't on "The Apprentice." But, again, we know from his golf game to almost everything else, Donald Trump views the end justifying the means.
So these are all, I think, small things, with the exception of I would love to know what he talked to Hillary Clinton about in 2007 while she was running against Barack Obama. But these are small things, but I think insightful into his character. I'm done.
CUOMO: I like it. And they are all grist for the mill of the big question, which is, how will he respond? And we'll see. This book is supposed to be about helping her credibility and telling her truth. That's what her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, argues, but I think it's also a provocation. And we'll see how it's responded to.
CILLIZZA: One very quick last...
CILLIZZA: One very quick last point, which is he almost always is his own worst enemy on Twitter and on everything else. He doesn't leave things alone that he should. This book could be dismissed by many if he leaves it alone. My guess, if past is prologue, he won't.
CUOMO: Did you hear that, Mr. President? What will you do?
Chris Cillizza, thank you.
CILLIZZA: Thank you, sir.
CUOMO: All right, we can't turn away from something that has to be a focus, not just now, a week from now, three weeks from now, three months from now. Carolina is not through. Floodwaters are rising. The death toll is climbing. Many are desperate. The need is just beginning to be known. Food, supplies, consideration, construction. President Trump is planning a visit tomorrow. What do we know? Next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: Don't forget about Florence. It's not about the hurricane. It's about everything that comes after. The Carolinas are still in chaos right now. Floodwaters continue to rise. Flashfloods damage, danger, the death toll, thirty-three linked to this storm as of now.
Rescue crews working, saving people trapped across two states in all kinds of places known and unknown. Many of them now former roads, islands, communities. Hard-hit North Carolina aerials today show the destruction that the hurricane inflicted on that coastline.
Take a look on the left, neat rooftops, white sandy beaches, the right, the reality, all worn away, towns in ruins. I was there, as you know, as it all unfolded, talking to a number of people who wanted to stick it out. Their terms were getting shorter and shorter to make a difference. Their streets became rivers, highways, waterways. Now the peril grows.
Footage from FEMA shows this search-and-rescue, amazing what these men and women are doing. Look at this man on the top of this car. He is moments from the end. But that moment never came, because here came our best, our angels. And that moment ended in this, a successful rescue.
But this is not what happens with everybody. That's where the numbers of the lost are coming from.
Authorities in North Carolina on just Monday recovered the body of this little boy, Kaiden Lee Welch, swept away by floodwaters. He was there with his mother, and the waters took him away from her. Imagine the tragedy. I just -- I don't even want to think about it, but it happened, and it matters.
The states are working to recover from the storm. More than 300,000 people are without power. Some are facing dwindling resources. And that's where we come in. Don't forget there but for the grace and these are your brothers and sisters.
And tomorrow, the president is going to the Carolinas. He's going to visit some of the affected areas by Florence. How will he respond? What will he promise? How will he deliver? Those are key, and we will be watching.
Thank you for watching me tonight. Let's get after it again tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.