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Accuser Won't Testify without Investigation; Trump Speaks of Kavanaugh Battle; North Korea to Scrap Nuke Site. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired September 19, 2018 - 09:30   ET



[09:33:23] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Continuing there and the president has been following that very closely, tweeting about that as it comes. Again, just a reminder, the president has made comments on the White House lawn prior to his departure for the Carolinas and we're expecting those comments to come in momentarily.

I believe right now. Do I have that right?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I think we have a few minutes before we get this. It's tape turn.

SCIUTTO: OK, still waiting.

HARLOW: (INAUDIBLE) television.

Let's bring in David Gergen and Jennifer Rodgers for this.

So, Jennifer, just to you first, legally speaking, you know, can the president order the FBI to take a look at this again, given these claims from Ms. Ford?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He can certainly. And I think the issue really is, if anyone wants to get to the bottom of this for real, if they want the senators to have the most information they can have as they question Dr. Blasey Ford, and as they question Judge Kavanaugh about this, then they should have an investigation. I mean the FBI is good at this. They do cold cases all the time. They can, in a matter of probably days, figure out whether there's corroboration for Dr. Blasey Ford's account. And that will give everyone more information.

HARLOW: You mean by like, by, for example, subpoenaing Mark Judge, who has said -- who she attests was in the room during the alleged attack, who has said through his lawyer he does not plan to speak before the Senate. The FBI could compel him.

RODGERS: They could speak to him. They would speak to the two principals. They would speak to anyone else who might have been there. They'd dig around. You know, this is what the FBI does. So the more information, the better, I think, as far as most people are concerned. And that's what the FBI would give the senators. SCIUTTO: David Gergen, politically, are the Republicans in a dangerous political spot here if they proceed with this vote without hearing from Ford? And granting the fact that they have grant -- they have given Ford this opportunity on Monday. She's not yet comfortable doing that. But are Republicans in political danger here if they keep to this timeline and say, listen, we gave her a chance, she didn't take that chance, we're going to go ahead and vote.

[09:35:14] DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they're in serious danger of being seen as treating her unfairly. And the standard is going to be, was she treated fairly? Was Brett Kavanaugh treated fairly? Both people deserve that. And at this point, there's a lot of suspicious, a lot of anger among women especially, among suburban women who are already inflamed and want to come out at the polls in the midterms, that the whole process of appointing these Supreme Court justices has been unfair from the beginning. You know, first denying President Obama a chance to have his nominee. Then when the Kavanaugh hearings came up, the big document dump, you know, just hours before the committee was to start. And now with this allegation, you know, it seems -- I would think that the Republicans, since they're confident Brett Kavanaugh is innocent, they would lean over backwards to be fair to her.

SCIUTTO: Let's hold that thought for a moment because the tape of the president's comments just coming in now. Here they are. This is just moments ago.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we're going to North Carolina. We'll then be heading to South Carolina. We're doing very well there. But the rivers are cresting. They're just starting to crest. We're really just going to say hello to all of the folks from FEMA, the military, the people that are working so hard. And I think it will be an incredible day. We'll be coming back at about 6:00 or 7:00 tonight.


TRUMP: Say it?


TRUMP: Well, it would seem that the FBI really doesn't do that. They've investigated --


TRUMP: They've investigated about six times before, and it seems that they don't do that.


TRUMP: Well, I would let the senators take their course. Let the senators do it. They're doing a very good job. They've given tremendous amounts of time. They've already postponed a major hearing. And really they're hurting somebody's life very badly and it's very unfair, I think, to -- as you know, Justice Kavanaugh has been treated very, very tough. And his family. I think it's a very unfair thing what's going on.

So, we'll see. But I do think this, they've given it a lot of time. They will continue to give it a lot of time. And, really, it's up to the Senate. And I really rely on them. I think they're going to do a good job.


TRUMP: I really want to see her. I really would want to see what she has to say. But I want to give it all the time they need. They've already given it time. They've delayed a major hearing. There's no more -- just about it -- look, when I first decided to run, everybody said the single most important thing you do is a Supreme Court justice, OK? We've all heard that many times about a president.

I would say this. I think he's an extraordinary man. I think he's a man of great intellect, as I've been telling you. And he has an unblemished record. This is a very tough thing for him and his family. And we want to get it over with. At the same time, we want to give tremendous amounts of time. If she shows up, that would be wonderful. If she doesn't show up, that would be unfortunate.


TRUMP: I'm disappointed in the attorney general for numerous reasons. But we have an attorney general. I'm disappointed in the attorney general for many reasons. And you understand that.


TRUMP: We are looking at lots of different things. I have a great cabinet. We have the greatest economy ever in the history of our country. So we're very happy with the way things are running, generally speaking. I don't think we've ever had an economy like this. Somebody was on just this morning from Reagan -- from the Reagan White House. He said, this is one of the greatest economies in history. So we're very happy.


TRUMP: I can't hear you.


TRUMP: Well, the FBI has been very involved with respect to Justice Kavanaugh. They know Justice Kavanaugh very well. They've investigated him, I guess, six times. And they've investigated him for this hearing.

Look, if she shows up and makes a credible showing, that will be very interesting and we'll have to make a decision.

[09:40:03] But I can only say this, he is such an outstanding man. Very hard for me to imagine that anything happened.


TRUMP: We had very good news from North Korea, South Korea. They met and we had some great responses. I got a tremendous letter from Kim Jong-un. As you know, it was delivered three days ago. We're making tremendous progress with respect to North Korea. Prior to becoming president, it looked like we were going to war with North Korea. And now we have a lot of progress. We've gotten our prisoners back. We're getting our remains back. They continue to come in. A lot of tremendous things. But very importantly, no missile testing, no nuclear testing. Now they want to go and put a bid in for the Olympics. No, we have a lot of very good things going.

Remember this, prior to my coming into office, a lot of people thought we were going -- it was inevitable we were going to war in North Korea. And we're -- the relationships, I have to tell you, at least on a personal basis, they're very good. It's very much calmed down.


TRUMP: Well, we'll see what he's looking at. We'll see. But in the meantime, we're talking. It's very calm. He's calm. I'm calm. So we'll see what happens, OK?


TRUMP: No, I'm not. I'm not, because if he's honest, and he is, I think he's going to tell -- as long as he tells the truth, it's 100 percent. He was with Ronald Reagan. He was with Bob Dole. He was with McCain. He was with many, many people. That's what he did. Paul Manafort was with me for a short period of time. He did a good job. I was, you know, very happy with the job he did. And I will tell you this, I believe that he will tell the truth. And if he tells the truth, no problem.


TRUMP: I don't want to talk about it now.


TRUMP: Because we want to be able to take what we can handle.


TRUMP: Well, I'd have to see what she has to say. I've given her a lot of time. The Senate has given her a lot of time. We continue to give her a lot of time. We've held up the whole hearing.

What I don't like is that Senator Feinstein had this letter for a period of like three months, from July, maybe even before that, but from July. Why didn't Senator Feinstein bring this up at her meeting with Judge Kavanaugh? Why didn't the Democrats -- they knew about the letter because she was showing it to Democrats. Why did they wait until everything was finished and then bring it up? That doesn't look good.

Thank you very much. I'll see you in North Carolina.

SCIUTTO: You've been listening to the president there. Those comments just moments ago.

Just briefly some highlights, because there's a fair amount of news in this.

First of all, on the question of whether the FBI should investigate Kavanaugh accuser's -- his accuser's allegation, he says that it wouldn't seem the FBI really does that. We're going to fact check the president there. That's not true.

HARLOW: They do.

SCIUTTO: There is precedent for that. If the president orders the FBI to investigate such an investigation, they can. It happened in 1991 with Anita Hill.

That said, and this was interesting, the president said that he would like to, in effect, see Ford show up before the committee and tell her side of the story. And he said, if she shows up, if she tells a credible story, that would be very interesting, leaving open the possibility that that could affect his decision going forward.


SCIUTTO: I think that's notable.

HARLOW: It is.

SCIUTTO: He also commented on just comments reported just a brief time ago in an interview with "The Hill" that he no longer has an attorney general. He says that he is disappointed in the attorney general for many reasons. And he ended by saying, he believes that Paul Manafort will tell the truth going forward.


SCIUTTO: Listen, lots to digest here.

HARLOW: Lots to digest.

SCIUTTO: We've got our panel here. We're going to go to break shortly and we'll be right back.


[09:48:36] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he's an extraordinary man. I think he's a man of great intellect, as I've been telling you, and he has an unblemished record. This is a very tough thing for him and his family. And we want to get it over with. At the same time, we want to give tremendous amounts of time. If she shows up, that would be wonderful. If she doesn't show up, that would be unfortunate.


HARLOW: That is the president weighing in here on what the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to do when it comes to the claims against Judge Kavanaugh by Dr. Ford.

Back with us, David Gergen, Jennifer Rodgers.

David Gergen, to you.

You know, there are lessons. No matter where you fall on this, there are lessons from what happened with Anita Hill's testimony in 1991 that should be heeded for all parties here, correct?

GERGEN: Absolutely. I -- you know, Justice Thomas went to the court with a cloud over his head that had not been dispelled by the process itself. It was not seen as fair to her. And, therefore, there was a lot of anger and it's, I think, affected his whole time as a justice.

Think now if they ram rod this threw so that Kavanaugh gets a vote. She never really is heard or she -- and she's -- there inadequate evidence but they just say, no, that time is the most important thing. We'll have a second Supreme Court justice who will take a seat, along with other men, and a Roe v. Wade is going to come before that group. We'll have two sitting justices who have been accused of sexual harassment and it hasn't been cleared out before they take the bench. That is a situation I think most Americans would find to be extremely unfortunate and that they will see the system as rigged.

[09:50:17] SCIUTTO: Jennifer, listening to the president there, and this has been consistent with how he's handled this for the last several days, he did not close the door, by any means, to listening, to hearing the story from Ford. He left it open. And his words were striking. If she shows up, presents a credible -- I'm paraphrasing somewhat, but it is a -- if it's credible, that will be very interesting. Did you hear in there him saying, listen, if she gives a credible account in public, I might reconsider on Kavanaugh, or is that going too far?

RODGERS: I think it's going a little too far. What I heard is, we are going to let her say her peace. We are not going to try to investigate this through the FBI or any other means of corroborating her. We'll let her say what she wants and then the Senate will vote. So I wouldn't expect him to back off.

SCIUTTO: And to fact check the president, as I did before, he says this is -- it wouldn't seem the FBI does this. In fact, the FBI can do this if the president orders the FBI to do so.

RODGERS: Of course they can. And if you really want the truth, that's where you should go.

GERGEN: He orders the FBI to do something almost every other week. I mean it was 10 days ago or so he ordered them to check out an anonymous. HARLOW: I mean we have a list. You know, anonymous, Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server again, the Uranium One deal, you know, surveillance of the Trump campaign, as he calls it. I mean the list goes on and on.

Let's just talk about Judge Kavanagh. The president said -- and he said numerous times he feels for his family. He said it's not, you know, fair what's going on for Judge Kavanagh. In the interest of Judge Kavanagh --


HARLOW: And if he is confirmed on the court, sitting on the high court, on the bench for decades on end without a cloud, as you explained that Clarence Thomas still, you know, bears every day, isn't it in his interest to let time play out here?

GERGEN: It's very much in his interest. It's very much in his interest.

HARLOW: But then why would -- why would Republicans say it's Monday or bust?

GERGEN: He's convinced he's innocent. Why doesn't -- why -- it would be helpful if Judge Kavanaugh came forward and said, I would prefer it have a background investigation by the FBI.


GERGEN: He would win a lot of points across the board if he did that. But I just think -- I -- and, look, and I think he has been through hell, but it would be nice to if the Republicans would acknowledge what's going on with a woman who was, after all, the alleged victim in all of this.

She's had to move out of her home because of death threats. She has gotten all this vial stuff over the social media. You know, she has just been pummeled. She's sort of, you know, trying -- her life has been turned upside down. And now she's been told you have -- you've got about three or four days to get ready for a very important --

SCIUTTO: It's a good point. The context of how she's faced with this decision, right?


SCIUTTO: It's not just any day. She's got kids. She's had to move out of her house. Understandably there's a lot that she's facing now, as she's presented with this decision.

Jennifer, David, thanks so much. A lot to process there.

Coming up next, on the Korean peninsula, ushering in an era without war on paper at least, but it will take more than handshakes and photo ops to convince critics that North Korea this time is really serious about giving up its nukes. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:57:41] HARLOW: All right, this morning, a potentially historic pledge of peace on the Korean peninsula. North and South Korea overnight committing to, in their words, an era of no war, agreeing to end hostility, build roads, reunite families, even host the Olympics together.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's all now going to be in what happens.


SCIUTTO: Kim Jong-un also said that he would dismantle a key nuclear site, but there is a caveat. There are a few caveats and they could be major ones. Will Ripley joins us now from Hong Kong to explain.

So, Will, one thing that North Korea did not do here is to dismantle all nuclear facilities. Is that right?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean this is, in essence, a confidence-building measure. Destroying their primary missile testing site is fine, but they have mobile missile launchers all over the country and an arsenal of missiles that could be fired at any moment from anywhere. And they do have a lot of different launch sites around the country.

They say that they will dismantle Yongbyong, but, remember, they took down the cooling tower back in 2008 and then, of course, it was rebuilt later on. They say they're going to allow international inspectors in. That is significant. But that's all contingent on the United States taking reciprocal actions, which are unspecified right now. Could that mean the lifting of sanctions in exchange for these steps, or could it mean something like North Korea wanting a reduction in the number of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, 28,000 currently right now, and perhaps the eventual elimination of those troops.

I mean what the North and South did agree to today, without calling it a peace treaty, it sort of sounds an awful lot like a bilateral peace treaty. I mean they're creating a buffer zone along the military demarcation line. They're going to stop military exercises to areas to avoid accidental conflict. This is Seoul and Pyongyang basically saying, we're going to move forward with peace. Even if the U.S. is going to hold back on that treaty until the end of the denuclearization process, we're going to go our own way. We're one peninsula.

That has to be at least somewhat -- obviously it's optimistic in one sense, but also people in Washington might have to take a little bit of pause here to wonder where this is going to go and where is the United States' role in all of this? Are they going to be sidelined, especially with these reports that China and Russia are now starting to do more business with North Korea and, you know, all of these economic cooperation projects are going to bring in revenue for that government run by Kim Jong-un as well, Jim and Poppy. HARLOW: It's a good point. I mean it makes you wonder, does -- you

know, does the U.S. feel a little left out of something so critical and a big promise from the president on this one.

[09:59:56] Will, great reporting. You've been reporting in North Korea, you know, 20 times. We appreciate your perspective on all of this. Thanks so much.

HARLOW: All right, top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

President Trump has just weighed in for the first time on the latest