Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
McConnell: GOP Hasn't Heard From Kavanaugh Accuser; Kavanaugh At White House Preparing for Public Hearing; Mark Judge: No Memory of Alleged Incident With Kavanaugh. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 18, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:03] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: UPFRONT next, limbo, a hearing that could change the course of history is set for Monday, but will the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault be there? Plus Kavanaugh's high school friend and defender, she was not a witness, so why is she so sure he didn't do it? We're going to ask her.
And the Florida Senate race, one of the most expensive and competitive races in the country, can Republican Rick Scott get away with keeping his old friend Trump at arm's length? We're going to ask him. Let's go UPFRONT.
And good evening, I'm Jim Sciutto in tonight for Erin Burnett. And OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, the public hearing into the alleged Brett Kavanaugh sexual assault is in question tonight. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just moments ago saying that he and other Republicans still have not heard from Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford or her attorney on whether she will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. Republicans quick to point out that Monday is Ford's chance to be heard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) MAJORITY LEADER: We're looking forward to hearing what she has said to say on Monday. She's going to have an opportunity to be heard Monday.
SEN. JOHN THUNE, (R) SOUTH DAKOTA: We hope she will take advantage of that opportunity and we can move forward with the process.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) TEXAS): We certainly hope she takes advantage of this opportunity if she still would like to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: This opportunity, Republican Senator Susan Collins, a key swing vote on Kavanaugh's nomination, calling it puzzling that Ford has yet to confirm if she will be there on Monday, but Democrats want more time. They are pressing for the FBI to reopen Kavanaugh's background check before any hearing takes place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, (D) NEW YORK: We should not be rushing to judgment with a sham hearing on Monday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no reason to rush this thing to judgment right now.
SEN. MAZIE HIRON, (D) HAWAII: We all signed on to this letter to demand an FBI investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Today, it was clear where the President stands, refusing to even say Ford's name while clearly siding with the Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I feel so badly for him that he's going through this. It's a shame because this is a great gentleman. I feel terribly for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Manu Raju is OUTFRONT tonight live on Capitol Hill. Manu, you just spoke to the Senate Majority Leader. What more did he say and do they have any explanation why they haven't heard from Ford or her attorney?
MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Republicans don't know why they have not heard from her yet or her attorney after her attorney went on national television yesterday saying that she'd be willing to testify publically. McConnell telling me in a brief interview that no they have not heard yet from Ford, this comes after Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has reached out to her and her attorney but has not heard back. But they have interviewed Brett Kavanaugh about the allegations.
They have also reached out to the individual who was cited by Ford in that the Washington Post piece about who allegedly witnessed this incident from the 1980s, that person, Mark Judge, has told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he will not -- does not want to testify in public. And he said he has no recollection of this incident.
Now Democrats on the other hand are saying that they want a full FBI background investigation looking into this before any decision to move forward with a hearing. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, who initially got this letter from Kavanaugh's accuser, told me earlier that there should be a delay for any hearing out there if the FBI background check is not completed.
But, Jim, Republicans do not want to move forward with the FBI background check, neither does President Trump and Orrin Hatch, one of the top Republicans on the committee just told me also moments ago they're going to move forward with this nomination next week. If, even if she does not show up, so Republicans rolling the dice here, want to move forward no matter what for decides to do, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Manu Raju there on Capitol hill. OUTFRONT now, former White House Communications Director for President Obama Jen Psaki, former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush Scott Jennings, and White House Correspondent for POLITICO Eliana Johnson.
Scott, if I could begin with you. If ford does not show up for this hearing on Monday, there's six days a lot could change between now and then. In your view is it game over, in effect will Kavanaugh then be confirmed?
SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUS: Yes, I do believe that. I think they will probably go ahead and have the hearing Monday and vote him out of committee. I think Kavanaugh may show up and deny what's been publically said about him.
But yes, I mean, if they can't get her on the record under oath, then I think they have to go ahead with what they do have on the record under oath, which is the hours and hours of testimony, the questions he's answered, the background check that's already completed. You move that forward just as though you were on the calendar you were on before.
SCIUTTO: Jen, Republican senator Jeff Flake, who of course one of the first Republican, I think the first Republican to say that he wanted to wait to hear from Ford.
[19:05:06] He did not want to vote on anything until that happened. He has said he agrees with Scott, that if she does not take this opportunity and testify, that he's then inclined to vote to confirm Kavanaugh. What is your view here? And again, keep in mind that we don't know what's going on behind the scenes or perhaps Ford is considering what will be a very difficult decision? What is your view, if she does not testify should this go forward?
JEN PSAKI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, Jim, as you mentioned we don't know what's going on behind the scenes. It is probably likely she's in touch with the minority committee staff, which would be pretty standard operating procedure in this case, which mean it would be the Democrats.
There are six days between now and Monday, that is a long time in the news cycle. It's a long time on Capitol Hill, and there's already pressure ratcheting up on Republicans.
The real question is, do Republicans in the Senate think someone who's been accused of sexual assault should serve in the Supreme Court. There are lot of ways they can get to the bottom of that. They can subpoena Mark Judge. They have subpoena power. They can call for reopening the back on investigation. This is a private citizen and she's obviously, she's getting death threats but there are lot of ways to get information. It's really a question if they want it or not.
SCIUTTO: Eliana, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, he says that he has tried to reach out to Ford side multiple times now to arranged this testimony. He like McConnell are saying they have not heard back. At this point, I know you've been covering this very closely. What are you hearing? I mean, generates the possibility that Ford is in touch with Democrats? Are you hearing that's taking place?
ELIANA JOHNSON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: I haven't heard that's taking place. My focus has really been on the white House rather than on the committee. So it may very well have taken place.
But it is clear that Kavanaugh has already spoken with the majority committee staff, those are calls that the minority committee staff was also invited to take place in, though, they didn't. And those are also calls that Ford declined to participate in. So there has been outraged that she and her lawyer have not responded to thus far.
The red flag to me so far would be if she declined on Monday to participate in a closed door hearing with Republicans or with the Senate Judiciary Committee without cameras. They are affording her that opportunity, which would preserve I think her privacy to a certain extent.
And if she declined that, I do think that her credibility would take a hit in the eyes of lawmakers and that the confirmation would be more likely to move forward.
SCIUTTO: Scott, if I could ask you this question. She -- and again, we don't know what's going to happen between now and Monday. As Jen said, you know, things could change a thousand times between now and then. But to be clear, she has already made this allegation on the record. She has provided a statement with quite a detailed recollection of the circumstances of this, although some details place missing, but still details about her memories of what happened to her in this. Does that disappear if she doesn't appear before the Senate?
JENNINGS: No, it doesn't disappear. But if she doesn't appear to tell the story under oath, I agree with Eliana that I think it causes her credibility to take a hit. Especially when you consider that Kavanaugh is willing to show up, under oath, and declare that this is false and it did not happen.
I think we should focus on here, though, how we got to this place in that she is being put in this position by the Democrats. She sent an anonymous letter that was then leaked presumably by the Democrats. She never wanted it in public. Now, they are putting her in a position that she never wanted to be in, supposedly which is have to show up and talk about this publically.
I don't think she's been treated with respect by the Democrats or their staff. The Republicans are trying to give her a platform if she so chooses either in public or in private. But I think she's been treated terribly. They don't care about her victim story here. They care about delaying his nomination. I think it's awful.
SCIUTTO: That's quite a charge, Jen. I ask you to respond to that. The Democrats may not prepared to hear about this.
PSAKI: So as says, with all due respect, Scott, so says another white male like all of the white male Republicans who have been out there putting her credibility on the stand instead of questioning whether a Supreme Court justice who's been accused of sexual assault should be on a lifetime appointment and passed through.
We don't know how the information got out there. So that information is not out there publically.
JENNINGS: Yes, we do, Jen. You guys leaked it. Let's just be honest about it. How did it get out there? Come on.
PSAKI: Scott, I understand why you're trying to change the subject as many people in the Senate are, on the Republican side.
JENNINGS: I'm not. This is the subject.
PSAKE: As a woman accusing The Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault, you know, that they don't want to have this conversation. It's awkward watching them talk about. And frankly, if they wanted to get to the bottom of this, they absolutely could, and they don't. And that's what's clear.
SCIUTTO: Eliana, if we could look ahead, and again there are a lot of questions tonight. It was only yesterday we heard the lawyer saying that Ford was willing to testify in public. And now there's questions about whether they've arranged that yet. But let's look at who would, if this were to take place on Monday, who would be questioning Ford?
[19:10:04] There will be, as Jen noted, four women but all on the Democratic side. On the GOP side, it is all men as you see there.
Republicans are now saying that they may bring outside lawyers to question Ford if she comes before the committee. From the Republicans' perspective, how important are the optics here?
JOHNSON: I think the optics for Republicans are potentially damaging, and they do threaten to sort of resurrect the specter of the Anita Hill hearings three decades ago. We've already heard some of that.
I do think that the tone and tenor of the Republicans questioning her, even if they are white men, would be very different because Republicans are cognizant of the fact of their need to take a different tone. And you've heard that I think from the White House and from this Senate Judiciary Republicans already.
Their immediate reaction was that they wanted to hear from this woman, that they thought she should be heard out and deserve the hearing. They immediately invited her to testify before the committee. That's not quite what we heard when Anita Hill came forward two days before the Thomas nomination was scheduled for vote in 1991.
SCIUTTO: No question, a very different time between now and then. And you're right to note that. They delayed the vote on this and they are offering this platform.
Jen, Scott, Eliana, thank you very much. OUTFRONT next, death threats reports tonight that Kavanaugh's accuser has been threatened and that she's been forced to move out of her home. In short, she's in hiding tonight. Plus, Kavanaugh's high school friend and defender, how did she know that Kavanaugh didn't do it? She will be my guest. We're going to ask her.
And new threat, floodwaters will not quit in the Carolinas, still shrouding everything in their path, millions bracing for what's ahead in the next 48 hours.
[19:15:22] SCIUTTO: There were new and disturbing details tonight about Brett Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. The New York Times reporting that since she has come forward, she has been inundated with vulgar e-mail and social media messages, even death threats. The attacks forcing Ford to move out of her home and to hire private security.
Meanwhile, for the second day in a row, Brett Kavanaugh was hunkered down at the White House. Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT tonight. Jeff, what is the president's current thinking here, is his support for Kavanaugh wavering at all?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, the support for Judge Kavannaugh is not wavering at all. He's been talking about the process for this, how there should be a process. There should be a hearing on both sides.
But what I can tell you, Jim, really every time we see the President, he's inched closer to talking about the politics of all of this. We saw him earlier this afternoon is the east room of White house and he was talking about how he believes, you know, the Democrats have been obstructionists. They've been resisting this. And he said, it's part of the campaign against him.
But at the same time, the President still talking in a much more measured tone about who he does believe there should be a public hearing, and that of course as an open question if that will be happening or not. But, you know, there's definitely is a sense that the President is aware of the politics of all of this.
So even though he is talking about how, you know, this certainly seems to be a part of obstruction campaign by Democrats, he does believe there should be a hearing but, you know, just in the last couple moments here, speaking of those death threats, a spokesman for Chairman Grassley said that Chairman Grassley condemns all of those death threats. He believes there should be a public hearing.
So there is a sense that leaders on both sides trying to cool the rhetoric on all of this. And the President included that. He said there should be a public hearing. But he did refer to her as that woman today, and he said he feels sorry for Judge Kavannaugh in what he is going through, so certainly showing much less empathy for the accuser. So then, the question in Washington tonight will she testify next Monday behind closed doors or in a public setting. That's an answer we don't know, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Oh maybe the death threats could be a reason for the delay in speaking with the committee. Jeff Zeleny at the White House.
OUTFRONT now, MEGHAN McCaleb, she's a high school friend of Brett Kavanaugh. MEGHAN, thank you so much for taking the time tonight.
MEGHAN MCCALEB, BRETT KAVANAUGH'S HIGH SCHOOL FRIEND: Thanks for having me.
SCIUTTO: So let me ask you, just for the sake of audience, how well did you know Kavanaugh? Do you know Kavanaugh, and for how long? And what is your reaction in light of that relationship to what Christine Blasey Ford is alleging here?
MCCALEB: I have known Brett for almost 38 years. I met him when I was a freshman in high school, and was a good friend all through high school, college and beyond. I know that Chrissy alleges that this happened, but it is wildly unlike anything Brett Kavanaugh would do, the Brett Kavanaugh that I know.
SCIUTTO: That would be clear, you attended a nearby high school, you were social friends.
SCIUTTO: You were not at this party that Ford alleged to have happened, so you don't have personal knowledge or experience of this particular incident that she's describing here?
MCCALEB: I do not, because I don't remember ever being at a party with her. But she also didn't say where the party was, who was there, what the day was, and it was 38 years ago, so I would have no idea.
SCIUTTO: You also know Ford, is that right?
MCCALEB: I don't -- no, I don't know her. I knew her when I was younger. Like right before high school, but we went to different high schools and we did not socialize together much. And she really didn't hang with our crowd much, so I don't really know her, no.
MCCALEB: I want to if I can. I just want to read from her account, her written account so far of what happened here. I'm just going to quote briefly here. Kavanaugh physically pushed me into a bedroom as I was headed for a bathroom up a short stairwell, from the living room. They locked the door, played loud music, precluding any successful attempt to yell for help.
Now, granted there are other details she has not been able to recall, although people who have handled sex crimes said that can be the case where they remember images but not necessarily other details. I just wonder, as a woman, when you hear those details of that account there, do you dismiss them?
MCCALEB: I don't -- as I said, I think she must have had some sort of a horrible situation, but I do not feel that she's accurate. That it could have been Brett Kavanaugh.
I am friends -- I've been friends with him for years and I was one of the people who gathered women together to sign a letter that we -- that Senator Grassley released.
[19:20:02] and 65 women from area high schools that went to high school at the same time that he did, all said he always was a gentleman, always respected women. And nothing like that has ever happened. So I don't -- I can't explain why she would say that.
SCIUTTO: Understood. Do you leave open the possibility that it could be true? That it could be credible?
MCCALEB: I don't. Until we hear from her on Monday, I just don't know. I don't think so. But I just can't judge on that.
SCIUTTO: You do believe that she should have this public hearing for these -- for a chance to air this in public, her account of it, her recollection of it, to air it in public and under oath?
MCCALEB: Yes. The Senate Judiciary said she would and I think that's fair.
SCIUTTO: And I imagine you believe, that Brett Kavanaugh for this, who you had this long relationship was, you believe that he should also have the chance to answer, I imagine, the allegation in public?
MCCALEB: Absolutely. I wish he had had the chance previously when he went through two days of questioning, three really, and then the other witnesses. I wish that it happened then.
SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, according to the Washington Post, in high school year book, Kavanaugh listed himself as the treasurer, according here, of the Keg City Club, 100 Kegs or Bust.
Listen, I don't want to mischaracterize that. A lot of people went to high school. A lot of people where they were in high school they drank, high school or college they drank beer. I'm not saying that by itself is out of bounds. But just based on your experience with him, granted this was a long time ago. Did he drink a lot? Did he drink in excess around you?
MCCALEB: No, he did not. He would have a beer, a couple beers but he never ever was out of control. Ever. In fact, I always felt he was one of the more mature ones of that whole group of friends.
SCIUTTO: Understood. And listen, as I'm asking these questions here, I know that you know, you know, Kavanaugh better and you're vouching for your opinion of his behavior, his character, et cetera, you know, Ford less well, or you knew her as a child.
But today there was a moment when the President was asked about this. And he spoke about Christine Blasey Ford but he never mentioned her by name. Here's how the President handled it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't know about the other party but Judge Kavanaugh is very anxious to do it. Hopefully, the woman will come forward. They will look at what she had to say from 36 years ago. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: The other woman, the woman, not mentioning her by name. Again, emphasizing the time that has passed. You do know Ford, at least you knew her as a young woman, should the President referring to her, at least do her the honor of referring to her by her name?
MCCALEB: Well, I don't know if he knew her name at that time, but I feel like he made a statement, what he knew. I feel like he should have mentioned her by name, but he may not have known it at that time.
SCIUTTO: Meghan McCaleb, thank you very much. I know it's a difficult topic. I know you've known Kavanaugh for sometime. We appreciate you joining us tonight.
MCCALEB: OK, thank you. Bye-bye.
SCIUTTO: OUTFRONT next, the only witness in the room who is the man describe by Kavanaugh's accuser as having seen the alleged assault, Mark Judge is speaking out tonight. Plus, evangelicals overwhelmingly supported Kavanaugh's nomination but is that support now wavering. Influential Evangelical Leader Russell Moore will be OUTFRONT.
[19:27:24] SCIUTTO: New tonight, the other person who was allegedly in the room when Brett Kavanaugh allegedly again assaulted Christine Blasey Ford is speaking out now. In a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mark Judge and his attorney write following, "Brett Kavanaugh and I were friends in high school but I do not recall the party described in Dr. Ford's letter. More to the point, I never saw Brett act in a manner Dr. Ford describes."
However, judge's past is now coming under intense scrutiny. Jessica Snyder is OUTFRONT.
JESSICA SNYDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Testimony from Brett Kavanaugh's high school classmate Mark Judge in demand by Democrats.
SEN. CHRIS COONS, (D) DELAWARE: I think it's important that we hear from witnesses, not the least of which is Mark Judge.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) MINORITY LEADER: How could we not want to get the truth and not have Mr. Judge come to the hearing and ask questions?
SNYDER: Professor Christine Blasey Ford says Mark Judge was in the room at a house party when she alleges a 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh, pinned her down, tried to take off her clothes and put his hands over her mouth to prevent her from screaming.
Ford said Judge now an author and film maker witnessed everything. Through his lawyer, Judge sent a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, saying, "I have no memory of this alleged incident and never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford described." Kavanaugh has also forcefully denied the incident.
Judge's own memoir in addition depicts the heavy drinking and hard partying. At Georgetown prep student at that time, Kavanaugh was there in the early 1980s but he does not recount any incidents such as what Ford alleges. In "Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk", Judge writes how the all boys' high school was swimming in alcohol and he was shocked they got away with it.
DEBRA KATZ, LAWYER FOR CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: One needs to look at the writings of Mark Judge who was the other person present to know he wrote about how drunk he and other members of Georgetown Prep were repeatedly, routinely. This was part of their culture.
Judge even seems to allude to Brett Kavanaugh in this passage from the memoir. "Do you know Bart O'Kavanaugh?" one character asked another, "Yeah, he passed out on his way back from a party."
Both Kavanaugh and Judge were varsity athletes at the prestigious all boys catholic high school outside Washington, D.C. Captions and quotes inside their class yearbook allude to parties and women, 100 kegs or bust written on Kavanaugh's year book page. On another page, "Do these guys beat their wives?" And this one, prep parties raise question of legality. Judge's personal page reads, "Certain women should be struck regularly like gongs."
Judge has even waded into conservative politics, writing several articles for the "Daily Caller". He has written about former President Obama saying, "he seems to be a women and feminist one at that." And Judge took on the topic of feminism in a 2013 book review, writing, the bogus war on women is really nothing but liberal women acting out against bad fathers. The anger of the feminists has grown more acute, nothing short of a matriarchal utopia will suffice. It's easier than admitting what really ails you.
SCHNEIDER: And Mark Judge telling the Senate Judiciary Committee tonight he will not be testifying or speaking out publicly because he has no memory of the alleged incident.
Jim, in addition, we talked to a friend of Kavanaugh and Judge who said Kavanaugh did drink beer in high school but was never out of control. Judge, in the meantime, was apparently a loud mouth apparently and a lot wilder. But, Jim, the same person said they had no knowledge of the party that Ford alleges that she was sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh -- Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Jessica Schneider, thanks very much.
OUTFRONT now, Wendy Murphy, she's a former federal prosecutor, and Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor.
Wendy, if I could begin with you, mark judge said he does not want to speak publicly about the sexual assault allegation. But from the perspective of this hearing that's coming, can it be a credible hearing if you don't hear from the other witness that we know of at this point?
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: You know, if he were not an eyewitness, Jim, I would say, let's not go there. It's just too tangential, even if the guy has a lot of bad marks on his record and a terrible history of insulting and disrespecting women.
But he was not only an eyewitness, he was a participant. Let's remember that. Yes, the judge, Kavanaugh, is the primary target and the man whose career is on the line but Mark Judge was accused of participating to some extent. Remember, there was slamming of the door, the music was raised up so that her screams couldn't be heard and he jumped on top of both of them, which allowed thankfully allowed her to escape.
But he was not just an eyewitness, that's why I think it's critical and has to be there. He should answer questions about not only what he claims he doesn't recall seeing but about his own behavior during that very incident. Of course, the Republicans are going to put him on a long plane trip someplace because if he does testify, it will highlight the most important aspect of the story, which is that we're talking about a grotesque example of violence against women that is pervasive in our society, that really does raise important questions about the qualifications of a judge, even at a lower level, much less the United States Supreme Court.
It matters that the man accused here could sit in a position of prominence that would affect not just women's lives but all of our values and the integrity of the values in this country. It's fair, Mark Judge should be there, and he won't be there because he knows his testimony would destroy the judge's chances.
SCIUTTO: Renato, there will be and this assumes that Ford goes forward, there would be only two witnesses as currently planned in this hearing. If the intention here is to properly explore and investigate this allegation and judge the credibility of both of these witnesses, does the committee need to hear from others?
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think there's no question, Jim. Whenever you're dealing with what I'll call a one-on- one, a situation like this where there's only two people who were present and have a recollection, although obviously the point that was just made a moment ago is an excellent one, I do agree that Mr. Judge should be subpoenaed and his testimony is vital because obviously Dr. Ford has indicated he was part of the incident, and that is her recollection.
But clearly you need to have other witnesses who either corroborate or undercut the testimony. There's a lot of witnesses that could be called here. For example, the therapist, assuming that Dr. Ford was willing to waive the privilege there. Her husband and others who could support the testimony and corroborate her testimony.
And then there would be other witnesses, presumably who could support Judge Kavanaugh as well.
SCIUTTO: Wendy, certainly a lot riding on the line here. We're hearing tonight, that "New York Times" reporting, that Ford is receiving death threats, that she's had to move out of her home, hire private security. You have represented clients, I imagine, in situations like this, but barely -- certainly not with this public attention to it.
Is that a common thing?
MURPHY: I wish I could say it's rare. I actually think intimidation tactics run the gamut from -- you know, here's a promise I'll never do it again or here's some cash, or I'll kill you if you testify. I'm not surprised.
[19:35:00] But I do think we have to put it in context. If she were not credible, she would not be getting death threats. People are trying to silence her. People always try to silence women to keep them from telling their stories. That's one of the reasons the #MeToo movement is so powerful. Women are done being silent.
So I hope she does come forward. I don't think anyone will kill her, and I think she will be heroic when she testifies.
SCIUTTO: Renato, the president made clear today he does not want the FBI to investigate this allegation, just a reminder, the president has asked the FBI to investigate a whole host of things, have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats have had massive collusion, massive obstruction, and they should be investigated.
Why isn't the FBI looking at the DNC server?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Also on Twitter at times, saying in part that the FBI and all others should be looking into the leaking of classified information, must find leaker now.
So a lot of cases there, those are just a few. Hypocrisy by the president to say the FBI has no business, no interest to look into this?
MARIOTTI: No question. I mean, Trump views the FBI has his own force that should be used to investigate his political opponents and his enemies and then I think recently suggested that the attorney general should have quashed the investigations of his political allies. So there's no question here.
If you really want to have a nonpartisan professional investigation, you'd have the FBI do it. They're professionals, not a bunch of senators who will use this to score political points and potentially embarrass Dr. Ford. It would be better if the FBI was doing it but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.
SCIUTTO: Wendy, Renato, thanks very much. OUTFRONT next tonight, evangelicals are part of the president's rock
solid case. Has the Kavanaugh crisis shaken their faith in them? I'll ask a prominent Christian voice who had doubts about Trump from the start.
And the Kavanaugh chaos now front and center in Florida's red hot Senate race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Dr. Ford needs to come and give an opportunity to testify.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:41:07] SCIUTTO: President Trump with glowing praise tonight for Brett Kavanaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This is not a man that deserves this. It's a shame, because this is a great gentleman. Honestly, I feel terribly for him, for his wife, who is an incredible, lovely woman, and for his beautiful young daughters. I feel terribly for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: What the president did not say is that he feels terrible at all for the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, or even mention her name.
OUTFRONT now is Russell Moore, an evangelical leader, and president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He is also the author of a new book on "The Stormed Tossed Family: All the Crisis in the American Family Today".
Russell, thanks very much for taking the time.
RUSSELL MOORE, AUTHOR OF "THE STORM-TOSSED FAMILY": Thanks for having me.
SCIUTTO: It's quite a moment there. The president didn't show really a shred of empathy towards Kavanaugh's accuser there. Was that a missed opportunity for him?
MOORE: Well, you know, I'm more than willing to criticize this president, the White House when they need it. But I actually was encouraged by, for instance, what Kellyanne Conway had to say, I believe it was this morning. We need to not ignore these charges, we need to respect Professor Ford, we need to have an open hearing. I think that's --
SCIUTTO: Why can't the president say those words?
MOORE: Well, the president was relatively restrained from what he has been in other settings, so I'm not sure what was going through his mind at the moment. But I was encouraged by the Kellyanne Conway comments and several other things from the White House. I think it's a confusing time and a very serious time.
So I think we need to look for a hearing. We need to attempt to find out the truth in this matter.
SCIUTTO: These are serious allegations from Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh. Do you believe them?
MOORE: Well, I think we need to -- we need to hear from both parties involved. So I'm looking forward to the open hearing. Obviously, if this did happen, that would be disqualifying and obviously if this did not happen, it would be a horrible thing to wrongfully accuse someone of doing.
So that's what I'm hearing mostly from evangelicals, is what's going on? We need to hear from both of the parties involved. And, frankly, I'm dealing almost every day both with young women who have been assaulted and abused. I don't want them to hear from whatever political debate is going on don't come forward, don't tell your story.
And I'm often dealing with people in the criminal justice system who have been wrongfully accused of doing things they haven't done. So, I don't want us to simply rush to judgment immediately simply on the basis of where our political convictions lie. We need to hear from both parties involved and take this very, very seriously.
SCIUTTO: What do you do if on Monday, assuming Ford takes the invitation to go forward, you have Kavanaugh there and you hear two credible stories from two credible people that are in contradiction? What do you do then?
MOORE: Well, I don't know. I'm going to wait and listen to both of them, hear what both of them have to say. I think right now, we're starting to hear from people who know from both of them. You had people that know Judge Kavanaugh -- I've heard a lot from people who have known Judge Kavanaugh for many years, but we need to hear from Professor Ford as well.
So, I think the danger here is to immediately go into either people eviscerating Professor Ford or people immediately eviscerating Judge Kavanaugh. We need to -- we need to listen here and find out what the truth is.
And the problem is we're living in a time where everyone wants to have every situation immediately adjudicated in time to put a post on Facebook. This is one -- the charges here are so serious and the implications are so serious for abused women and girls, either to ignore it or to trivialize it would be a mistake.
[19:45:01] SCIUTTO: Well, Democrats are asking for more time, in fact. They're asking for the FBI to investigate it. Can you -- where the Republicans are saying, have the hearing on Monday, then we'll move forward with the vote. That doesn't seem to be what you're looking for --
MOORE: Well, I'm saying let's have an open hearing, see what comes out in the open hearing. I think that's where most of the Senate seems to be right now. The president said if we have to have a little delay to go through the hearings, let's do that. So, I think that -- I think that's really where most of the country is right now and where most of the Senate is right now.
SCIUTTO: You supported this choice, this nomination by the president of Brett Kavanaugh. Is that still 100 percent?
MOORE: Well, obviously, if anyone had committed this act, that would be disqualifying. There's been a charge made, we need to -- we need to hear the charge. And so, I think we need to go into this with open minds, listening to both of these two people, having respect for both of them.
And again, the act that's being charged here is horrific and awful and should be condemned under any circumstances. And if this did not happen, destroying someone's reputation falsely would also be a horrible act. So we need to listen to both of these two people and the Senate has a big job in adjudicating it.
SCIUTTO: If true, you're saying it's disqualifying.
MOORE: Of course. Of course. But Judge Kavanaugh is saying it's not -- it's not true. And many around him are saying it's not true. We need to hear from them all.
SCIUTTO: Russell Moore, thanks very much.
MOORE: Thanks for having me.
SCIUTTO: Appreciate it.
OUTFRONT next, President Trump looming large over the race for a hotly contested Senate seat in Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: If it's good for Florida, I'm going to, you know, agree with the president. But if it's bad for Florida, I'm going to oppose the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Plus, the water keeps rising in the Carolinas. Look at the homes there. Now, a new and dreaded threat, a major river about to crest. What will that mean for millions of residents there?
[19:50:18] SCIUTTO: Tonight, the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have not only rocked Capitol Hill, they are now front and center on the campaign trail. Case in point, one of the most expensive and competitive races in the country, the Florida Senate race, where Republican Governor Rick Scott is challenging Senator Bill Nelson.
Ryan Nobles is OUTFRONT.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's one of the hottest Senate races in the country.
As a result, big issues in Washington quickly become front and center in Florida.
(on camera): Do you believe Dr. Ford?
SCOTT: Well, I think we have to take it seriously. So, I think it's important to hear. And then give Judge Kavanaugh -- he has got a good record as a -- very good record as a judge. We need to have him get the same opportunity.
NOBLES (voice-over): Governor Rick Scott, the GOP nominee for Senate, attempting to strike a balance on the controversy surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
SCOTT: Senator Feinstein had allegations months ago. They should have been investigated months ago. It was a slick trick before there was going to be a vote. But you have to take it seriously.
NOBLES: The Kavanaugh controversy is just one example of how this is tied to the whims of Washington. Even though Florida is a state where local issues are very important, this seat, which could play a big role in determining who controls the Senate, is vital to the national conversation. And that means dealing with the impact of President Trump.
SCOTT: If it's good for Florida, I agree with the president. If it's bad for Florida, I'm going to oppose the president.
NOBLES: Scott's opponent, Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, has worked hard to tie the governor to Trump.
Running an ad in Spanish targeting the state's large Hispanic population that only features of the governor with the president.
Florida Democrats believe no matter how hard he tries, Scott cannot escape the specter of Trump.
JUAN PENALOSA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Governor Scott is firmly on the side of Governor Scott and Donald Trump. I don't think that he has stood up to the president when it mattered.
SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. President.
NOBLES: Scott who was happy to appear by the president's side has no plans to invite President Trump to Florida. But Scott said he would have no problem campaigning with the president whose approval ratings are better in the Sunshine State than they are nationally. Scott, who recently broke with the president over the death toll in
Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria, insists voters will judge him on his record, not how he deals with Trump.
SCOTT: If I'm going to see, if I can make Washington responsive. So, if you go around the state, it's local issues.
NOBLES: But there is evidence of Democratic energy on the ground in Florida. They are running candidates in every congressional house district and have seen a big uptick in candidates in the state legislative races. State officials believe that will bring more Democratic voters to the polls, helping Nelson.
And, Scott, who has kept up a rigorous campaign schedule, was met with a big group of protesters at an event in Naples as part of a lengthy bus tour across the state.
NOBLES: To give you an example of how these national issues are quickly becoming a big part of this Senate race, both candidates were forced to address this issue of Judge Kavanaugh today. In our interview, Governor Scott claimed that Bill Nelson, the sitting senator, was attempting to avoid a meeting with Brett Kavanaugh. When I asked Senator Nelson's office about that, the senator actually called me on the phone to rebut that claim, saying that he tried to set up a meeting on four occasions but neither Scott or Senator Nelson have said whether they would support Kavanaugh's nomination -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Well, it's a national issue, it's a local issue. Ryan Nobles in Florida, thanks very much.
Next, tense minutes. A major Carolina river is about to crest. No one knows, for sure, what the next 48 hours will bring there.
[19:57:32] SCIUTTO: Tonight, floodwaters rising in the Carolinas after Hurricane Florence. And it could get worse in just the next few hours. One river, four times higher than normal, and still has not crested. Four million people are under flood warnings in the Carolinas tonight.
Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT from Fayetteville.
Miguel, how much worse could this get?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, it could get a lot more dangerous out here.
I want to show you where we are. We are on the Cape Fear River right now. That is the Grove Street Bridge here in Fayetteville. The water has been coming up. And that gap in between the river and that bridge is getting closer and closer together.
And we're on the Person Street Bridge right now. This is how close the water is to it. Look at this. This is an entire tree. This is the sort of debris that has been flowing down the river. It just keeps coming. It's incredible how big the trees are when they are horizontal like that.
That sort of debris has been backing up against this railroad bridge. That's a CSX railroad bridge all day long, for the last eight or ten hours, it's building up debris. Officials think it will be OK. But the water still has to rise another foot or so. They have asked everybody, encourage them, issued mandatory evacuation orders for everyone, about 12,000 homes along both sides of the Cape Fear River in Fayetteville alone.
One other thing to show you here is that streetlight over here. The water has been rising against that. That should be at the base of a boat ramp where the ground usually is. But now, it's 20 or 30 feet over its banks. We have also a drone up over the Person Street Bridge. If he can fly over, you can see us here waving. The drone -- give you a better sense of that train bridge there and just what sort of debris is pushing up against that bridge.
It seems to be holding right now. It's pushing water now into the neighborhoods off to the side because it's so high. Right now, they say they feel they have done everything they possibly can. And now, they just have to wait for this bulge of water to get down not only this river but hundreds of other rivers and tributaries around the state before they can declare this disaster over -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Storm is gone, danger is still there.
Thanks so much for joining us tonight. I'm Jim Sciutto.
"AC360" starts right now.