Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Kavanaugh Accuser's Lawyer Calls For More Witnesses At Hearing; Kavanaugh Accuser's Attorney: "The Rush To A Hearing Is Unnecessary". Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 19, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Out front next, breaking news, Christine Blasey Ford's attorney releases a new statement just moments ago calling for more witnesses in Monday's hearing. This, as Republicans say she has until Friday morning to decide whether she will testify.
Plus, should the FBI investigate Ford's allegation or is it not their job?
And Trump in the storm ravaged Carolinas passing out hot dogs and hugs, but was it his question about his golf club that could have been most revealing. Let's go out front.
Good evening, I'm Jim Sciutto in for Erin Burnett tonight. And out front, breaking news. Showdown. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault is in a standoff tonight with Republicans. Ford's attorney just releasing a statement slamming Republican efforts to hold a hearing on Monday, saying it is, quote, not fair or in good faith. Adding, "The rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the Committee discovering the truth." Her attorney also leveling new demands, saying that more witnesses should be included in Monday's hearing.
However, a spokesman for the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee tells me tonight that they have received no communications from Ford or her attorney about that request for more witnesses. It comes just about an hour after Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, in a letter to Democrats, shut down the idea of delaying the hearing, giving Ford until Friday, this Friday, at 10:00 in the morning to decide whether she is going to testify on Monday. Even Republican Senator Susan Collins, who could be a key vote on Kavanaugh, says that Ford must testify.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I think it's not fair to Judge Kavanaugh for her not to come forward and testify.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: Now Ford's lawyers have also called for an FBI investigation into the incident before any public hearing, an investigation that the President makes clear he does not support.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it would seem that the FBI really doesn't do that. They've investigated -- they've investigated about six times before and it seems that they don't do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Sunlen Serfaty is out front live on Capitol Hill tonight. Sunlen, really a stunning turn of events just in the last hour.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jim. A lot of fast-moving developments really speaking to how fluid this situation is even at this late hour and I think it all boils down to the fact that both sides here are really digging in further. We heard from Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, and he's firmly rejecting calls to delay Monday's hearing. He's firmly rejecting calls for an FBI investigation to happen before the accuser, Dr. Ford, shows up at that hearing, potentially. He's saying essentially today we are pushing forward on this.
He sent a letter to the Democrats on the committee that in part makes all this crystal clear, saying, "It would be a disservice to Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh, this committee, and the American people to delay this hearing any further". And Grassley says that he has made many options put on the table for her to potentially testify. A public hearing, a private hearing, here on Capitol Hill, with staff, over at her home in California. He also says in this letter that he has offered to fly staff to California or anywhere else to meet her to get her testimony, but then we are seeing her side really dig in as well in response to this letter.
You noted that statement coming out from her attorneys today, essentially saying that this process is still being rushed and really blasting the committee, questioning whether they're in good faith going about this, realizing that they believe more witnesses should be called not just the two of them, the he said, she said showdown that would potentially turn out to be on Monday. So, all of this boils down to, there is a new deadline on the table, Jim. Grassley set 10:00 a. m. Friday for her to make her decision. Will she show up or not? The next question is what next step is after that. If she doesn't show up, does the committee hearing still go on? Does a vote potentially happen? All of those still an open question tonight.
SCIUTTO: That's right. Big questions. Sunlen Serfaty, thanks very much.
Out front now, David Gergen, he's former presidential adviser to four presidents, Laura Coates, former Federal Prosecutor and Greg Brower, he's former Assistant Director for the Office of Congressional Affairs at the FBI. David, if I could begin with you. So, Christine Blasey Ford's attorney with this new statement just in the last few minutes, in effect making a new demand regarding Monday's or requests we should call it for more witnesses to appear at Monday's hearing. Is that a fair request?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: I think it has to be seen in the context of history. I'm frankly rather puzzled by the arguments that have been made by the White House and by the Republicans that the FBI really doesn't want to do this and doesn't do this sort of thing and, by the way, it would take a long, long time and take us through the summer and so forth. And there shouldn't be witnesses.
[19:05:05] In 1991, when Anita Hill came forward with her allegations against Clarence Thomas, the allegations were sent to the White House, and the White House of President George H. W. Bush, a Republican, called, told the director of FBI to do a background investigation. The FBI then did a background investigation. It took three days. Three days.
And Anita Hill was allowed to have some witnesses, not enough. She had a big argument but not enough. So the precedent all runs the other way. Fairness under President George H. W. Bush was to do a background, get all the facts on the table and do it. So, it just seems really strange, you know, that was 1991. That was, you know, almost two decades ago.
SCIUTTO: Yes, 27 years ago.
GERGEN: And look how far we've come with women's rights in and our understanding of women's rights since then. And now we're going to give less due process to Dr. Ford than we gave to Anita Hill? Less due process? It's just sort of stunning to me.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Laura, as you watch this experienced prosecutor yourself, what do you see pushing this? Do you see the political calendar pushing this? You know, October 1st, when the Supreme Court sits again, a lot of key decisions there and of course you have midterm elections coming up with the outcome in the Senate uncertain.
LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Those two points are exactly what's driving this. It's certainly not as empathy or as a fact finding mission on behalf of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is the looming deadline of the October 1st oral arguments, knowing that there are Supreme Court cases on the docket right now that if you do not have Judge Kavanaugh on the bench to shift that conservative ideology to be in the majority that liberal decisions, as they're so- called, will actually remain and it will be every day he's not on the court is said to be a victory against those who are counting against conservative revolutions on the court. Number one.
Number two, yes, the midterms are a factor and this reminds people painstakingly that although there are many lawyers who sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, it is not a court of law. Their mission is not to be a fact finding body as evidenced by the fact that they think they can fast track justice. Listen, if this were something as trivial perhaps as Justice Kavanaugh often used the letter C to spell his name as supposed to a K, they would order a supplemental background to figure out the bankruptcy proceedings, right? Nothing happened (ph) or criminal history or arrest warrants, everything said. They would cross their Is and dot their T.
If this was an issue of somebody alleging homicide, God forbid, they would also dot their Is and cross their Ts. The fact that a sexual assault allegation does not find itself on that spectrum tells you that the motivation could not possibly be about truth finding. It's more about fast tracking.
SCIUTTO: Greg, let me ask you this because you, of course, with the FBI and you worked closely with Congress in your role at the FBI. The President has said again today, Chuck Grassley has said, other Republicans, that this is not the FBI's job to investigate this. This is the committee's job to investigate it and they say they're making a good faith effort to do that by inviting her to testify under oath before the committee.
David Gergen cites precedent from 1991 where President George H. W. Bush ordered the FBI to look into Anita Hill's allegations. What is your view of the law here? Does the FBI -- should the FBI be investigating? Should the President order the FBI to investigate?
GREG BROWER, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI OFFICE OF CONGRESSIONAL AFFAIRS: Well, the process would include the ability on the part of the President to direct the FBI to reopen the background investigation and run down this new lead and interview any witnesses that might be relevant. The -- This typically happens, as David pointed out, when this has happened in the past, it typically happens before the nomination is formerly announced. It hasn't always worked that way, but typically, the idea is to get all of this investigative work as part of the background investigation done before the nomination is actually made public.
But the President in this case could direct the FBI to do more work. I think that the Republicans and the Democrats, though, on the Senate Judiciary Committee need to understand that it may also be better in this circumstance to have committee staff do whatever additional fact finding the committee deems necessary. But I think two things are important. The Republicans need to be careful to not appear to be rushing this, despite this new evidence, and the Democrats need to be careful to not appear to be delaying it just for the sake of delaying it.
BROWER: There has to be some accommodation between the two sides.
SCIUTTO: On that point, David, if I can ask you, we have the accuser here, Christine Blasey Ford, she's under enormous pressure as a woman coming out, clearly had no desire, understandably, to come out in public with her account of a painful experience. So that's understandable.
She's received death threats. We understand she's had to leave her home because of those death threats. This is, to say the least, a difficult time for her. That said, is there an argument here where she should take this opportunity to speak under oath because she has made an allegation against Brett Kavanaugh that is and could be enormously damaging?
[19:10:11] Does she have some responsibility to, whether it's in public or in private, or whether she sits down for it with Chuck Grassley's staff as he sends them out to California?
GERGEN: Well, listen, I think it's -- we should start with the proposition, this has been a very difficult time for her. She's been very brave. But it's also been a very difficult time for Judge Kavanaugh and both need to be treated fairly to go through this. And I think the Republicans have a point. It would have been a lot better to have dealt with this during the hearings and this all to go public earlier, but we are what we are and the question is how to handle this fairly.
And I must tell you, it's not an easy call but I do think that she should come and testify under protest and delay out the case, why it's unfair, to ask for some more time and then lay out her views. There are an awful lot of women in this country who are pulling for her and I think she has some -- she's taken on some responsibilities as a citizen to her fellow women to make the best case she can --
GERGEN: -- for why this is being railroaded through and why it was inappropriate, this wasn't fair, why she did what she did. She could be a very sympathetic witness. And, frankly, I think Judge Kavanaugh, it's in his interest to do a background so it removes any cloud over his head. You know, I personally believe Judge Kavanaugh ought to ask for an FBI background check if he feels like he's done nothing wrong. What's the harm.
SCIUTTO: Opportunity to clear his name.
SCIUTTO: Laura, let me ask you to pipe in on that. In your view, and again, no one can make this decision but Ford, frankly, right? And that -- it is her decision, ultimately, but in your view, should she take this opportunity?
COATES: I think she should. And here's why. The idea that the Me Too movement or the idea that we've come so far from 27 years ago about public shaming those who allege sexual assault, which also includes men, by the way, who have had that unfortunate circumstance pressed upon them as well. You know, the idea that you are battling against this presumption of incredibility, that people assume that you're telling a falsehood, simply by virtue of the fact of your gender or that it's too uncomfortable or inconvenient to make the claim.
I think it is incumbent upon people to follow through with this sort of accusations to demonstrate that there, in fact, is some foundation to be believed. Not that you can automatically believe that the person you're accusing is guilty, but if you're going to have presumption of innocence in this country, that also requires, there's a presumption that you will believe credible witnesses or at least the opportunity to do so. And so I would implore her to do so not just because I'm fascinated or because I'm nosey or I want to have some salacious event unfold on Monday, but because as a former prosecutor, I can tell you I routinely had to confront women and men who were victims of sexual assault who had no interest in coming forward because they knew what was ahead of them. They knew about the vulnerabilities and the antagonist attitude of defense counsel and yet and still they had a responsibility and civic duty and a subpoena as well. That said, we have to protect the next person and many ways, somebody looking for a lifetime appointment is -- it's incumbent upon them to allow their entire life to be evaluated, including this point. If she can give that illumination, please do so.
SCIUTTO: Greg, if I can ask you. The President has implied not only that it's not the FBI's job to look into this allegation but almost that the FBI's not interested in looking into the allegation. You served a lot of time with the FBI. Do you think if asked the FBI would step into the breach, as it were, and do this?
BROWER: I do. I don't think the FBI would hesitate if directed by the White House to reopen its background investigation and do additional work. The FBI would absolutely do that. But I think just to emphasize Laura's point, I think that Dr. Ford having put this allegation out there does need to go on the record and explain why she thinks this is relevant to the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh and then fundamental fairness would dictate that Judge Kavanaugh be given an opportunity on the record to respond to that. But I think that without that full airing of this allegation, and any response to the allegation, the committee just isn't getting all of the information that it needs to make a decision.
SCIUTTO: Listen, thanks to all of you. It's a tough issue. It's a tough issue, God knows, for those involved personally. We appreciate you sharing your thoughts tonight.
Out front next, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is defending herself against criticism from both parties. Why did she wait so long before telling the FBI about Ford's allegation?
Plus, new people from Christine Blasey Ford's past are coming out. What are they saying about her credibility?
And Trump hits the ground in the Carolinas. Ahead, the high and low moments as he meets with Florence survivors.
[19:18:42] SCIUTTO: The breaking news tonight, Christine Blasey Ford's lawyer within the last hour releasing a statement saying, "The rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the Committee discovering the truth". This as the Committee's Chairman, Chuck Grassley, is digging in, saying that Ford needs to confirm by this Friday at 10:00 in the morning whether or not she is going to testify. That is, whether in public or in private. Out front now, Amy Kremer, she is Co-founder and Co-chair of Women for Trump and Robbie Mook, he is former Hillary Clinton Campaign Manager. Thanks to both of you for joining tonight. Robbie, if I could begin with you here. Ford has an opportunity to testify here under oath, granted, on that day, on Monday, at first her lawyer said she will testify in public, then said she's not ready to testify and now tonight u have a new demand in effect that, listen, beyond an FBI investigation, more witnesses should be heard on Monday. I wonder from your view, are Democrats losing control of this situation, to some degree?
ROBBIE MOOK, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: Well, this really shouldn't be about Democrats or Republicans. It should be about the truth and what Dr. Blasey is asking for here is, as David Gergen just mentioned, this is exactly what Anita Hill got in her hearing. There were other witnesses called. The FBI did do an investigation in three days.
[19:20:05] And I think a lot of people today would feel that that case was handled improperly, that she wasn't given enough and that her accusations weren't heard out enough. So, I think it is only fair for her to ask for the same thing here. And, frankly, I don't understand if I were a Republican senator or any senator entrusted with choosing someone for a lifetime appointment to the highest court no in the land, I don't understand why I wouldn't want the FBI to spend, what, 72 hours just trying to lay out the facts in this case before speaking to her. I don't understand why somebody wouldn't want that.
SCIUTTO: Amy, to Robbie's point, why the rush here? Why not let the FBI investigate, for instance, as they did with Anita Hill's case some 27 years ago, ordered then by a Republican President, President Bush. At that point, it only took three days, right? Why not allow that extra vetting here?
AMY KREMER, CO-FOUNDER & CO-CHAIR, WOMEN FOR TRUMP: So, let's deal on facts. First of all, the FBI, this is not their jurisdiction. It should go to the local authorities there in Maryland wherever this happened, number one.
MOOK: That's not true.
KREMER: But second of all -- it is true, Robbie. Second of all, with Anita Hill and Justice Thomas -- please let me finish. Second of all, with the Anita Hill accusations, those didn't happen 35 years ago. It was in a much shorter time period. So, that is a big difference.
The FBI, so they go do an investigation, I think Chuck Grassley said that an FBI investigation is not going to help recall her memory or change her memory. What they want to hear from her is her memory and what she has to say. Look, the FBI has done six investigations on Brett Kavanaugh, and I just heard David Gergen talk about, she should have come forward, she could be a sympathetic witness.
Let me tell you something. It's not about being a sympathetic witness. It's about getting to the truth and facts and the bottom line is, we're never going to prove this or disprove it. It's he said, she said, so why delay this any further? It is clear as day that the Democrats are trying to gin up the hysteria machine in order to delay this confirmation so they can delay it through the midterms and then appoint a Supreme Court justice in 2020, that's their objective.
SCIUTTO: Robbie, if I could get you to respond, just on the facts of the issue of testifying now, the FBI investigating and so on. That not being necessary, in effect. Tell me your response.
MOOK: I'm sorry that it's not necessary for her to testify at all or that it's --
SCIUTTO: No, I'm just giving you a chance to respond to Amy.
MOOK: Oh, well, my pleasure. I mean, look, let's -- Amy opened up saying let's talk about facts. I do want to talk about facts. When Anita Hill brought charges against Clarence Thomas, a Republican President ordered the FBI to investigate. It is absolutely the FBI's role to investigate nominees for something like this. And I just want to --
KREMER: And they have.
MOOK: -- reiterate something. This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in our land. This man will be making life and death decisions and Republicans are trying to rush by a matter of days to jam him through, simply because they don't want the truth to come out. And again, I don't understand --
KREMER: Interesting, Robbie.
MOOK: -- I don't understand why a Republican senator -- no, hold on a sec, hold on a sec. You said that it's he said, she said. And that's exactly all we're going to have if we don't allow the FBI to investigate. Let's let law enforcement professionals lay out a clean explanation of all the facts and then absolutely both sides should testify and we should hear from them and, by the way, we should hear from other witnesses.
But I just don't understand why these Republicans can't do their job. Their job is to vet these people and these guys just want to jam this guy through.
SCIUTTO: Amy, let me ask you because I want to get it a different way if I can. Couldn't you make an argument that it is fairer to Brett Kavanaugh to have a full investigation, right? Because you have this alarming allegation out there. Would it not also offer him an opportunity to potentially clear his name? To have the FBI chase down the leads, talk to other witnesses.
KREMER: Absolutely. I mean, I personally have no problem with it. I think that Chuck Grassley should -- if the FBI wants to go do it, go do it, we'll have the hearing on Monday. If she doesn't want to testify, that's up to her. And then they'll call the vote afterwards. That's exactly what they should do. But if I were Brett Kavanaugh, I would want it done because I would want to clear my name. And if it's not factual, this did not happen, I'd sue her for defamation.
SCIUTTO: That's progress there. We agree that the FBI would add some value. Robbie, let me ask you this, though, because now Ford has been offered an opportunity to make this allegation, provide details under oath. Listen, I want to acknowledge as we did in the previous segment that she's under enormous pressure now. She's had to leave her house, she's under death threats, she's got children. None of us can identify with that so we have to factor that into this time line, but just on the point of testifying, whether in public or in private, should she not take that opportunity?
[19:25:12] MOOK: I think that she should testify and I want to underscore what you just said. I can not imagine what she is dealing with right now and the kind of bravery this is requiring. This was, you know, put on her and she has stepped up to the situation. But I also think that it is fair for her and for the process for her to insist that we follow protocol, and I have to say, and it's sad that any of us have to say this. She cannot trust these Republican senators to do what's right. And they are trying to set up --
KREMER: That's rich coming from Hillary Clinton's campaign manager.
SCIUTTO: Well, let him finish and I will give you a final chance to respond, Amy.
MOOK: That was two years ago. I don't think that's all relevant here.
KREMER: It is.
MOOK: You know, they are trying to set this up so that they can bully her. And I think it is perfectly within her rights to ask that this is done the way it was over 20 years ago by a Republican president to his nominee the same way we are now with Trump, and a process by the way that's been criticized since that time as unfair. I think that's the least that we can do to her and, by the way, I think it's the least we can ask of our United States senators whose job is to put honest, good people in this lifetime appointment.
SCIUTTO: So, Amy --
KREMER: Robbie, why weren't --
SCIUTTO: -- final word. Would that, 27 years ago, would that not show lack of progress if that chance wasn't afforded here to dig as deep as you can?
KREMER: Listen. She has been given every opportunity. Chuck Grassley has said, they'll fly to California, they'll do it behind closed doors, whatever she wants. They want to hear from her. She can't even answer the e-mail. The attorney is putting out public statements, but they won't answer Chuck Grassley in the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is a P.R. stunt. The Democratic firm, SKDKnickerbocker is involved in it. I mean, I was born in the morning but not this morning and we all know what's going on here. You're trying to derail a confirmation and the Republicans, thank goodness, are not buying it anymore.
SCIUTTO: Well, Amy and Robbie --
MOOK: I think to call what she is doing a publicity stunt is really sad and says a lot about this administration.
SCIUTTO: Amy and Robbie, we're going to have to leave it there. It's a tough one. We're going to keep on this story.
Out front next, questions about Christine Blasey Ford's credibility are front and center, but what people from Ford's past are saying about her tonight.
And Trump says, quote, I don't have an attorney general. What is the President's end game?
[19:30:54] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Breaking news, in a new statement, a lawyer for Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford is reiterating the danger that her client is in, saying, quote, she is currently unable to go home and is receiving ongoing threats to her and her family's safety.
This is as more people are coming to Ford's defense. The "L.A. Times" spoke to several people who have known Ford professionally and personally for years. One professor who's known Ford for 14 years telling "The Times," quote, I know her to be an honorable, honest, straightforward, decent person. I can't conceive of her doing this for any other reason than she is honestly reporting what she's experienced.
OUTFRONT now is Maya Lau. She's one of the reporters who wrote this story here.
Maya, I understand you spoke with several people who know Christine Blasey Ford. They know her well. They've known her for a number of years.
What is the common thread you've heard from them?
MAYA LAU, REPORTER, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES: They held her in very high regard. They have a lot of respect for her.
I spoke to two Stanford professors, both of whom have worked with her for over ten years, have written scholarly papers with her, have taught grad students with her. Both of them said that she's very well liked by students. She's lovely to work with. She's professional. She has a lot of integrity.
And a lot of her work centers on statistics, and in analyzing massive amounts of data and interrogating it and saying, can we really say this about the data? Is this data really saying this? And that that kind of work requires a level of integrity and that they really feel that she has that.
SCIUTTO: Full transparency for our viewers. How did you find these people? Were their names provided to you? Did you track them down yourself?
LAU: They're definitely not provided to us. We did a lot of old- fashioned shoe leather reporting. I knocked on a lot of doors, made a lot of calls, sent in my colleagues, and we reached out to a lot of people.
SCIUTTO: And that's what reporters do.
Maya Lau, thanks very much for sharing what you found.
OUTFRONT now, Paul Callan, Wendy Murphy, both former prosecutors.
Paul, if I could begin with you. A lot of people have come to Ford's defense. As you hear and again you're watching this from afar, you have no personal knowledge of what happened here, but as an experienced prosecutor, do you find her allegation credible?
PAUL CALLAN, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, you know, I've worked as a prosecutor and a defense attorney and I've tried cases where people have been acquitted for this sort of charge.
And when I look at this case, first of all, it's 36 years old. I mean, we're reaching back to high school to try to resurrect this claim against Judge Kavanaugh, and it's almost impossible to prove a case of that age. And what prosecutors look at, they look at, to see if there was a fresh complaint made about the alleged rape or attempted rape at the time of the incident and, of course, there was none made for at least another 20 years.
Just think about the Cosby case for a minute. That's dominated American coverage of the courts. This case is 20 years older than the criminal case he was tried on. So, if he were trying this, it would be one of the oldest rape cases in America. Very difficult to prove to a jury.
SCIUTTO: Wendy, experienced prosecutor as well. There's been some criticism from Republicans who say, well, she can't remember some of the key details here, exact date, exact location. That said, she does share vivid details of the experience itself.
In your experience, what does that tell you?
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, it tells me she was traumatized. You know, I can't remember where I was in anybody's particular house 35 years ago, but I suspect that if I had been sexually assaulted, I'd remember lots of things about the sexual assault. I might not remember the details that weren't related to the trauma, but I would remember the trauma.
And I have to disagree with Paul about whether this case is weak because it's old. How many of the Catholic Church abuse cases that were very successful, highly credible, and the church spent billions of dollars settling them have we heard about in the past ten years, with no other evidence but for the credible word of an adult who described something that happened many, many years earlier, often as a child?
[19:35:06] Here's why I think she's credible. And I think this is such objectively clear proof of her credibility, that I think it's going to be a hard time for the Republicans to disprove, at least the issue of whether she's motivated to lie based on politics. And I do think that's their strongest point and it's this.
If she's motivated to lie for political reasons, and she just came up with this cockamamie story because she wants to hurt Judge Kavanaugh, which I suppose is possible, but why in God's name would she have named his friend as the eyewitness knowing damn well that he would be coming forward saying she's wrong, I never saw it, she's lying, I'm on his side, he's the best thing since sliced bread?
So, as a prosecutor, when I think about the evidence, it is absolutely, you know, not an easy case, one way or the other. They're both respectable. They're both highly educated, you know, they come with lots of character witnesses on their sides.
That's not the issue. The issue is how do you glean the truth?
CALLAN: I just wanted to respond to wendy.
SCIUTTO: Let her finish quickly.
CALLAN: I just wanted to talk about --
MURPHY: Paul, Paul, let me finish.
CALLAN: Go ahead.
MURPHY: What I'm trying to emphasize here is that you look for small things like if she's lying, would she have named his friend as the key eye-witness? Knowing that would hurt her credibility. And the answer is no. That's why I think she's truthful.
SCIUTTO: Paul, please respond.
CALLAN: That's the exact thing I wanted to address. Why would she name him, his name is Mark Judge, as being in the room when this occurred? Well, Mark Judge happens to be a blackout -- somebody who's admitted to being a blackout drunk. He's written books about it.
So, if you were going to pick somebody to put in the room, you couldn't pick a better person than somebody who was completely drunk and unable, really, to contradict her version of events.
The other thing to remember is, she -- if she's saying that Kavanaugh was really trying to rape her and she managed to escape from the room, she goes into the bathroom and a rapist would have pursued her. But these two young men went downstairs -- MUPRHY: What?
CALLAN: -- according to her testimony and remained in the house. She then left the house.
MURPHY: Paul, that makes no sense.
CALLAN: --never reported it to her parents. So this is 36 years ago. So, you're telling me that that --
MURPHY: That makes no sense. Paul, that makes no sense.
One of the reasons -- one of the other reasons she's credible is because she didn't overstate what happened. If you're trying to derail Judge Kavanaugh's nomination, you don't say he jumped on me and grabbed at my clothes. You say he grabbed my breast, put his hands down my pants. She didn't do that.
CALLAN: Or it means you don't have a case. Or it means there's no case there.
MURPHY: No, Paul. It suggests that -- Paul, it suggests that she's credible because she's not overdoing it. And, of course, she didn't have to name Mark Judge at all if this was a lie. She could have just said, Brett Kavanaugh was there and me and that's it. The fact that she added Mark Judge to the story is why she's credible because it makes no sense for someone who's lying to include --
CALLAN: Read his book and what he says about his alcohol consumption.
MURPHY: It's irrelevant. It's not the issue.
SCIUTTO: We're going to have to leave it there. But thanks to both of you, Wendy, thank you. Paul, for sharing your experience on this.
CALLAN: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: OUTFRONT next, president Trump with his most vicious attack yet on Jeff Sessions. So, why doesn't he just fire him?
And Trump meets with hurricane survivors. It's been a tough role for him at times in the past. How did he do today?
[19:42:31] SCIUTTO: President Trump with his toughest attack yet on Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump in an interview released earlier today saying, quote, I don't have an attorney general. The president who has long denounced Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation added that his anger was about more than just the recusal, saying, quote, I'm not happy at the border. I'm not happy with numerous things, not just this.
Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California joins me now. He sits on the House Judiciary Committee.
Congressman, thanks very much for taking the time.
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: Listen, this is not the first criticism leveled at the Attorney General Jeff Sessions from President Trump but this is particularly pointed. I have no attorney general.
Do you see the president here laying the groundwork to fire Jeff Sessions after the midterms or trying to force him out, force him to resign?
LIEU: Thank you for your question. On the Judiciary Committee, we have oversight over the Department of Justice, and it's clear that Jeff Sessions is aligned with the Trump administration on basically every issue except the Russia investigation.
So, if Donald Trump were to fire Jeff Sessions, that would be obstruction of justice because he wants to put someone in who will interfere with special counsel Mueller or potentially fire him. That's similar to what Richard Nixon did with the Saturday Night Massacre where he fired numerous Department of Justice officials to get at the special counsel. I hope Donald Trump doesn't do that.
SCIUTTO: You believe -- you don't want him to fire sessions and you don't believe sessions should resign?
LIEU: That is correct. I believe the special counsel's integrity and interference from a different person who would be put in would be worse than if Jeff Sessions were to resign or be fired.
SCIUTTO: Well, let me ask you this, because I want to see how you reconcile this because you have -- we've noted before you've been critical of sessions in the past, saying that he should go. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIEU: I don't even know why he is still attorney general. He lied before Congress in order to get confirmed. That's a perjury charge. He also lied on his security clearance forms about his Russian meetings. Those are false official statements. He should have resigned months ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Why were you so certain then and why do you feel differently now?
LIEU: I was wrong, Jim. I have seen the increasing evidence of collusion regarding not just Trump associates but also those people potentially higher up in the White House, including perhaps the president, and I have now come to the conclusion that preserving the independence of the special counsel is more important than Jeff Sessions resigning. [19:45:02] SCIUTTO: All right. Fair. We give everybody a chance to
change their positions.
I want to If I could move on to a different topic, one we have been discussing in great detail, the sexual assault allegation against the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, his accuser, Christine Blasey ford, just released a statement tonight saying -- she described it this way. There are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceeding. The rush to a hearing is unnecessary and contrary to the committee discovering the truth.
Now, she has been offered this chance to speak. She's asking here for other witnesses to testify there. Is it fair to say that she's moving the goalposts on this opportunity to speak, this testimony on Monday or at least the offer to give testimony on Monday?
LIEU: No. It's actually the Republicans who are breaking with precedent. During the Anita Hill hearings, they had an FBI investigation. It took less than a week. In fact, the president could order an FBI investigation today. That would be done likely by the end of the week and Anita Hill had other witnesses as well.
So I think Republicans should simply follow precedent and not rush through what would be a lifetime appointment. There's nothing magical about this coming Monday. There's nothing that says they have to have a vote on that day.
SCIUTTO: Fair point. Do you believe that the criticism that the -- that the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein, that she had word of this allegation for a number of weeks -- now, she has said that ford did not want her name out there, did not want it released to the public, but there are even some Democrats who said that Feinstein could have shared this anonymously with other members of the committee, could have gone to the FBI earlier than she did last week when the name leaked out.
Do you think that criticism is fair?
LIEU: Not at all. I think Senator Feinstein did the right thing by preserving the confidentiality and the wishes of Dr. Ford. I don't think people should be judging Senator Feinstein unless they were in that same exact position. That's a very difficult situation for Senator Feinstein to have handled, and I think she handled it well.
SCIUTTO: Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
LIEU: That you know, Jim.
SCIUTTO: OUTFRONT next, President Trump touring the Carolinas in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Is this your boat or is it just -- did it become your boat?
(END VIDEO LCLIP)
SCIUTTO: And Jeanne Moos on the giant typo flown round the world.
[19:51:14] SCIUTTO: New tonight, President Trump in a role that he's not always been at ease with in the past, comforting survivors of the natural disaster. Trump toured the hurricane-devastated Carolinas today, handing out meals, pausing for a word or a selfie, at one time even taking time out for a presidential hug.
That's quite a moment there.
Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT at the White House tonight.
Kaitlan, the president did his best to really connect with people today. Was there something going on behind the scenes that made him, you could say, step up his game here as he went down to the Carolinas?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jim, it sounds like these are always a big test for presidents, because it not only tests the competency of their administration, but also their empathy as well. And one little mishap can hang over their presidency forever and their legacy forever even after they left the White House.
You've seen it clearly with George W. Bush whose name is synonymous with Hurricane Katrina. So, certainly, it is a big test. There is a lot on the line when they're handing these storms. And they don't just have the human aspect, of making sure everyone is OK, making sure people have power and water.
They also have the political aspect. And, of course, we're only a few short weeks away from the mid-terms. In South Carolina, President Trump is hoping Governor McMaster wins his re-election bid. So, a lot at stake here, of course, but especially for President Trump who was widely criticized in the days leading up to this storm for now he handled Puerto Rico. We saw the president very sensitive to that because he lashed out, disputing the death toll saying 3,000 people didn't die even though a pretty comprehensive study showed that was how many did die as a result of Hurricane Maria when it hit Puerto Rico and devastated the area.
So that is why so much is on the line today. By all means President Trump, critics will say, he did have a successful day. He went through. He shook hands and handed out meals and he really played that role of consoler in chief.
SCIUTTO: Now, as you say, the president has in the past had some cringe-worthy moments. Hard to forget that image of him flipping the payment towels to survivors of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Today, there was this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Lake Norman, that area, how is that doing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good. Still 10 or 12 inches of rain.
TRUMP: I love that area. I can't tell you why but I love that area.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: I can't tell you, but I love that area. What was Trump referring to there?
COLLINS: Yes, Jim. He says he can't tell us why but it may have to do with the 18-hole golf course that bears his name and it sits on the shores of Lake Norman near Charlotte, North Carolina. The president checking in on that today, seeing how they fared.
The president does have a high interest in his properties, which he often visits. Not only his golf course outside Washington, his hotel in a restaurant here as well as Palm Beach, Florida. Certainly that is an aspect that the president got involved in as well while he was there touring that storm damage.
SCIUTTO: He has golf course in Scotland as well.
Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much.
OUTFRONT next, Jeanne Moos with proof that everybody needs a really good copy editor.
[19:58:11] SCIUTTO: When it comes to spelling, some people just fly by the seat of their pants.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is one way for an airline to increase its name recognition. Misspell your own name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At Cathy Pacific, the world is at out fingertips.
MOOS: But painters didn't have an F at their finger tips, resulting in Cathay Paciic instead of Pacific.
Cathy Pacific itself tweeted the mistake, saying, oops, this special delivery won't last long. She's going back to the shop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Celebrating the new colors of Cathay Pacific.
MOOS: The Internet celebrated the mistake. Welcome to the new Cathay where we give no "F." Someone else inserted the "F" with a notation, fix it.
While you have another commentator concluded, if an airline is going to make a mistake, let it always be on the paint job.
The Hong Kong based airline likes to explain who we are. You're the one whose painters need to go back to school as it has been misspelled in various school zones. Sure, there are bungled traffic signs and even tattoos, else with too many E's.
And remember the time the Mitt Romney spelled --
MOOS: Wrong. Try pronouncing this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amercia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, who was the genius?
MOOS: Probably not the same genius who turned --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cathay Pacific --
MOOS: -- into Cathay Paciic. As someone tweeted, I guess no one gives a flying "F" these days.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
SCIUTTO: Thanks so much for joining us tonight. I'm Jim Sciutto.
"AC360" starts right now.