Return to Transcripts main page
Kavanaugh Accuser Has Not Closed Door on Testifying Before Senate; Woman Kills Three at Rite Aid Distribution Center; What New Studies Say About Alcohol and Memory Loss. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired September 20, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi, there. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me. A congressional source says that Christine Blasey Ford has not closed the door on testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday. And she now has 20 hours left to make that call. Committee chairman Chuck Grassley has set a deadline of 10:00 a.m. tomorrow for Blasey Ford to inform the committee if she will appear. Despite the fact the request is being denied.
Blasey Ford of course wants the FBI to investigate her nomination that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh pinned her down and groped her when she was in high school, making her fear for her life, at the time. This was more than 30 years ago. Senator Grassley gave a lengthy explanation why the FBI will not investigate. Writing in part, quote, the FBI does not make a credibility assessment of any information it receives with respect to a nominee. We have no power to commandeer an executive branch agency into conducting our due diligence.
Meantime, Blasey Ford has yet to officially respond to this Friday deadline, which two sources tell us may not be such a strict demand, that 10:00 a.m. deadline, saying it's possible she would be able to speak even after her answer came in later in the morning or in the afternoon. In the meantime, her attorney issued this statement. Quote, "the committee's stated plan to move forward with the hearing that has only two witnesses is not a fair or good faith investigation. 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."
Noteworthy here, the President of the United States, who according to aides, they are stunned by the President's respectful handling of Blasey Ford. The President not attacking her and calling for her to be heard. Sources say Trump has bragged about the positive coverage he has received for his response. Let's start on Capitol Hill, with our CNN congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly. And Phil, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, just spoke about Kavanaugh's confirmation. What did he say?
PHIL MATTINGLY CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he was in a hallway and he was asked, do you still believe Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice? And he said, oh, Yes. And I think one of the issues here, just kind of a couple of elements here, Brooke, that are important. And the first is, Republican aides and lawmakers I've been speaking to over the course of the last 12 hours or so have grown increasingly confident that if Christine Blasey Ford chooses not to show up on Monday, not only will they most certainly move forward, but they are confident that Brett Kavanaugh would be confirmed. Now, that's one element. The second element is, they don't know what's going to happen over the course of the next couple of days. There's been, obviously, a lot of behind the scenes, shuffling back and forth, a lot of outreach from Republicans on the judiciary committee, trying to conduct their own investigation, but nobody has a sense right now whether or not professor ford will actually show up. And there is a lot of school of thought right now that's what's happening is a bit of a negotiating position. Trying to set the stage for the most beneficial setup for a public hearing. One of the key elements, Brooke, and you laid out a lot of where Democrats are on this, where they very much align with professor ford's attorneys, they want an expanded FBI review from a background investigation perspective and they want more witnesses. I asked Senator Chris Coons a little bit ago who's on the committee, who's a Democrat, why that's the case. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS COONS, (D) DELAWARE: Her allegations put Mark Judge in the room. If she weren't being truthful, why would she put his best friend in the room, in this drunken sexual assault? If she weren't truthful, why would she volunteer to have the FBI question her as well as mark judge, professor -- excuse me, Judge Kavanaugh, and many others? Because being questioned by the FBI creates legal risk for her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: And Brooke, Democrats right now are furious, to kind of make a not-so-subtle point about how this process is going forward, and the recognition that there's not much they can actually do to stop this process from moving forward, as Republicans want. I think it's important to remember, the stakes of this seat, the stakes of this moment, the stakes of this discussion about the allegations, everybody's cognizant of them, and keenly aware of them. The open question right now is, what is professor Ford, what is her legal team going to do, going forward. And as of this very moment, we don't have the answer to very question.
[14:05:00] BALDWIN: Tick, tick, tick. Phil Mattingly, thank you very much. Meantime, the family of Christine Blasey Ford has just released a letter vouching for her character. Let me just read a portion of it for you. Quote, her honesty is above reproach and her behavior is highly ethical and respectful of everyone's point of view. It goes on, we know how difficult this is for her. Chrissy is not someone who chooses to be in the spotlight. We ask that her decision to share a private and difficult recollection be treated seriously and respectfully. With me now, Molly Ball and Ariane De Vogue. Molly, I want to start with you on your "Time" cover story. You point out something that's been on my mind about when Judge Kavanaugh was first standing at the White House, standing by President Trump, right? And I remember a lot of us took note at the time, he had his daughters, his wife, and he spoke about the women who he has really admired and respected in his lifetime, let's go back to that moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: My mom was a trailblazer. When I was 10, she went to law school and became a prosecutor. She overcame barriers and became a trial judge. The President introduced me tonight as Judge Kavanaugh, but to me, that title will always belong to my mom. I have to spirited daughters. Margaret and Liza. Margaret loves sports, and she loves to read. Liza loves sports and she loves to talk. I have tried to create bonds with my daughters like my dad created with me. Ashley was a source of strength for President bush and for everyone in this building. Through bad days and so many better days since then, she's been a great wife and inspiring mom. I thank god every day for my family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: That was July 9th. Molly, we're in now mid-September, and my goodness, what a difference a couple of weeks make.
MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL REPORTER, "TIMES": Yes, you know, it was so striking, as you said, from the very beginning, how aggressive the messaging was, the presentation of judge Kavanaugh as a friend to women. And you could certainly understand why that was done, right? The swing vote Senators that they're going for are women. The major decision at issue, Roe v. Wade, is about women's rights. And so really trying to send this message, this is a friend to women. This is someone women can trust. This is someone who esteems and admires women. He talked about not just his family, and you know, barely mentioning his dad, really emphasizing his mom, who you can understand that, she is a judge. But also, talking about the majority of his clerks having been female and really, really trying to create this impression and then -- and even bringing, you know, the girls' basketball teams that he coached into the hearing room to sort of set this tableau. And then with this accusation coming, it really complicates that picture in a major way.
BALDWIN: So, Ariane, we just heard from Phil, talking about how Mitch McConnell, the senate majority leader, was just grabbed in a hallway, right, and he says that he is confident now that judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed. Jeff Toobin said on our air, quote, if she refuses to testify on Monday, Kavanaugh is getting confirmed. Do you agree?
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, they're very confident. And I talked to somebody, though, a Democrat on the hill who doesn't rule out that she might come up. He was guessing, he said, about 50/50. Of course, he points to the fact that she's worried about the backlash. And you know, we had that statement last night from her lawyers. She said, she's unable to go home. She was receiving threats. She wanted more time, a full non-partisan investigation. And we have seen today on the hill, a ground swell of support. There were those protesters who said, I support Christine Blasey Ford. On the other side, you've got the Republicans and she said or the Democrats said, they wanted a hearing, so they're producing this hearing. And they're going to move forward. Grassley has given that Friday deadline at 10:00 a.m. to hear from her. His staff has sent out letters to people involved. His staff has talked to Kavanaugh, but one big thing, Brooke, of course, the Democrats haven't participated in any of that. So, where we are now is a standstill and waiting to see what's going to happen. But two key Senators seemed really skeptical, Republicans, that look, she wanted a hearing, there's going to be a hearing. She should show up. So that's where it seems to be right now.
BALDWIN: Chairman Grassley has said, you come to us, we can come to you, private, public, I mean, Molly, if she does not testify, do Republicans then, in the end, have the upper hand and they can walk away, maybe with "A," a Supreme Court justice, and "B," saying, hey, we tried.
[14:10:00] BALL: Well, a lot of these Republicans also went out of their way to say that she should be heard and that they want to hear what she has to say. So, it does seem like a bit of a game of chicken right now, right?
BALL: Because it's not clear to what extent she is trying to sort of use her leverage and extract concessions. And it's not clear to what extent they really regard this as a real deadline. Sore do they need, for political reasons, or just because, hopefully, they want to learn the truth, but all that matters is in terms of confirming Judge Kavanaugh is whether they have the votes. And that is something that Mitch McConnell probably knows better than anyone, because it's up to his caucus. And it's up to those waffling Republican Senators who have, again, said that they want to hear from her. Will it satisfy them if they feel that she turned down the opportunity to be heard?
BALDWIN: We know that judge Kavanaugh has been at the White House for the last couple of days, spending hours and hours and hours, right, preparing Ariane, you probably know more about what he's going through, questions he's being prepped for in the case that there is dual testimony on Monday. And I'm just wondering, with this -- they're not obviously keeping this a secret, that he's prepping. Do you think that they're trying at all to send her a message?
DE VOGUE: Well, it's interesting, because, Brooke, he spent so much time prepping there for his nomination hearing, right? And we had those war rooms and that was really gearing up for the hearings. And now, he's there again in a totally different circumstances. And I think that they're sending the message that he wants to testify. He wanted to testify the moment this woman came forward and he's ready to go. He wants to tell his side of the story. And by showing up every day at the White House, that shows it. He's working on that and he is eager to testify.
BALDWIN: Ariane and Molly, ladies, thank you so much for that conversation.
New to us here at CNN, new details about this workplace shooting that happened in Maryland earlier today. Officials are telling us at least three people have died. The lone shooter, a woman, is in critical condition. We have more on that. Also, prosecutors say at least six more victims have come forward in
that rape case against a California surgeon. That doctor who had been featured on reality tv and his girlfriend are accused of using their charm and good looks to target possibly dozens of victims. We're going to have an update for you on that story.
Also, another concerning security breach at yet another airport. What a student pilot was caught doing in the middle of the night inside a passenger jet that was undergoing maintenance. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
[14:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: A deadly workplace shooting today near Baltimore. Law enforcement sources telling CNN at least three people were killed and the lone shooter is a female, who is now in custody and in critical condition. All of this happening in Aberdeen, Maryland, about 35 miles northeast of Baltimore. Joe Johns is covering this for us today and CNN law enforcement analyst, James Gagliano is with me to analyze. But first, Joe, to you. What do you know about the shooter?
JOE JOHNS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we do know, Brooke, among other things, that the information is being couched from the authorities there on the ground. This is information from our own CNN team on the ground. The information started out as numbers. Now, authorities are saying, at least five injured. At least three dead. So why are they couching it? Simply because they have to go every inch of what appears to be a fairly sprawling distribution complex for the Rite Aid drugstore chain. They have to go inch by inch before they can give out the all-clear sign, with any finality. So that's one thing. They're sill apparently getting together on whether they have the right numbers. Second thing that is quite interesting is that the shooter here appears to be a woman. This is a statistical rarity, in terms of active shooter events. Most active shooters, of course, are men. We're told this is a woman, apparently a disgruntled employee, who went in, shot up the place. Also, every indication is that she shot herself. Authorities tell us the police are not the ones who fired their weapons and injured her. She's in critical condition at this time at the hospital. That is the extent of the new information we have right now on the shooting occurring, just about 20, 30 minutes' drive from Baltimore, Maryland. Aberdeen, near Aberdeen, Maryland.
BALDWIN: Tried shooting herself twice. She is in critical condition. Joe, thank you. And James, to you. On the note that this is a woman, you just rarely hear that.
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, I think you and I talked about this back in April, when there was another anomaly. A female shot up the YouTube headquarters in California.
GAGLIANO: So, to put this in perspective, the FBI tracks these things. These mass shootings now, from 2000 until 2013, there have been a total of 160, Brooke. 154 committed by men, 6 committed by women. Two since last April. So, this is, that is -- women are responsible for about 3.8 percent of mass shootings, and in every instance of all six of those instances, it involved a handgun.
BALDWIN: Really. And this was a handgun, as well. And you know, we were talking commercial break that this was the third shooting in the last eight days, and you've noticed a difference in how police are handling this quickly and publicly.
[14:20:00] GAGLIANO: Absolutely. So, a week ago Wednesday, we had the shooting at the Pennsylvania courthouse. Then we had a shooting in Wisconsin, I believe, at a software company, and then obviously, what happened today. The police response to this is obviously now, you cannot just contain and negotiate. You have to go to the sound of the guns, make certain that this is not somebody that's just trying to ratchet up a body count. And then in the post-crisis part of this, they're also changing the paradigm. And that is, give a short press conference. Tell everybody that everything's stable. We've got the suspect in custody or the suspect is deceased, you can go about your business. We'll now continue to do the work of the investigation. We're not going to speculate on causality. We'll have a press conference later on. That's happened in the wake of the last three or four of these.
BALDWIN: James Gagliano, thank you so much.
A question one will likely face, how reliable is one's memory when alcohol is involved. Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the science, coming up.
[14:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: A source tells CNN that Christine Blasey Ford has not closed the door on testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In her initial letter to the ranking member, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Ford said, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his classmate mark judge were intoxicated. Her phrase was stumbling drunk, at the time she claims she was sexually assaulted. Kavanaugh vehemently denies his accusation and in a statement, his friend, mark judge, says that he, quote, has no memory of this alleged incident. But if Blasey Ford decides to testify, Senators may raise concerns about how much alcohol can affect what people can and cannot remember. So, let's go to our chief medical correspondent, on just the science behind all of this. And so, Sanjay, how impaired can someone's memory be if they have been drinking?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's really interesting. The answer sort of depends a little bit, obviously, person to person, but also how much time has passed and probably how quickly they were drinking, as well. Let me explain for a second. They did these really interesting studies, Brooke, where they basically had eyewitnesses to crime scenes. They had ones who were intoxicated, they had ones who were sober, and they found that if they actually asked questions pretty soon after the crime that had occurred, both groups, the intoxicated and the sober, sort of remembered about the same number of details. So, there wasn't a lot of memory impairment, at least in the initial stages. What seemed to change, though, was over time. If they were asked the same questions, the intoxicated group, those memories were really no longer there, or, again, if they had been binge-drinking in some ways, that also seemed to affect their memory longer term.
BALDWIN: What about binge drinking. You know, if someone has way too much to drink and they black out, are your memories totally wiped out? Or is there a way to get them back?
GUPTA: This is really interesting and this is where a lot of memory research is sort off focused in this area. First of all, black out doesn't necessarily mean pass out. Someone can be blackout drunk, still walking and talking, people around them may not even know that this person is that inebriated, but they really don't have any memory or at least long-term memory of it. And let me explain a little bit why. When you remember something, you have these sensory that, you know, sensory stimuli, you see things, hear things, feel things. That immediately gets transferred into short-term memory. That part can happen really quickly and does not seem to be that impacted by alcohol. But binge drinking, with someone who's heavily intoxicated, whatever it may be, it's this step over here, Brooke, short-term to long-term that appears to be the most affected. This just doesn't happen. So as a result, it's not even so much that they can't remember things, it's that the memories were never really there in the long-term memory stores. So that can happen, especially again in the situations of someone who is blackout drunk or where enough time has passed, they're no longer in the short-term phase.
BALDWIN: But don't you also say that in some cases, drinking can actually improve one's memories? Is that right?
GUPTA: This is interesting. And admittedly, I read about some of this and talked to some of the folks yesterday. Some of this is new research, but what will they basically are saying is, something happens and then a person drinks versus a person drinks and then something happens. So, if something happens and you're trying to remember it and you drink after that event happened, you may have a better ability to remember the event that occurred before you were drinking. Now, if you were already intoxicated and then the event happens, then we run into the situation where I've just described over here. But why is that? Why would you remember something better if you started to drink afterward? They say it's because you become better at sort of ignoring the misinformation, things that may either contaminate your memory in some way or suppress it. It's interesting. It doesn't really apply in a situation like this, because you're already in an inebriated state when the event occurs. That's different.
BALDWIN: Interesting. Interesting. Dr. Gupta, thank you so much for going into all of that with memory and alcohol consumption. And now, you know, to the broader conversation of this whole thing. Since her name became public, attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford says her worst fears have materialized. They say that she has been the target of vicious harassment, intimidation, and even death threats. And as ford weighs this difficult decision, there's only one person who truly knows what her life may look like afterward. Anita Hill. Years after Anita Hill testified that she was actually harassed by then nominee, Clarence Thomas --