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Ford Response to Testifying; Shooting in Maryland Update; Deadline for Kavanaugh Accuser. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired September 20, 2018 - 12:00   ET



[12:00:22] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

Breakthrough or broken record? South Korea's president says North Korea's latest pledge to give up its nukes has specifics. So the Trump White House says it will resume negotiations. But there is plenty of skepticism.

Plus, China fires back big time. The Alibaba CEO now says never mind, his promise to create one million new American jobs. He blames the Trump trade war.

And 22 hours, Senate Republicans say that's when the clock runs out on Christine Blasey Ford's invitation to testify against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The GOP insists it's being patient and gracious. Democrats call it an insensitive sham.


AMB. WENDY SHERMAN, HELPED ANITA HILL PREPARE TO TESTIFY IN 1991: I would tell her to do what's in her heart, what she feels like she is up to dealing with. I think it would be a very unfair fight for her to come on Monday to a hearing where there are no corroborating witnesses, no facts have been found. The Republicans have already stated they're going to confirm Kavanaugh. They're just going to give her this moment to speak, but they really don't believe her.


KING: I want to make clear, we're also waiting -- any moment now we're expecting authorities to deliver a police briefing in Harford County, Maryland. There's been a mass shooting there. You see the pictures there. CNN reporting is at least three fatalities. We expect the police and other authorities to brief any minute. We'll take you there live when that happens.

We begin, though, first here with an impasse and a deadline. Christine Blasey Ford now has until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, just shy of 22 hours from now, to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee whether she will testify against the Supreme Court Nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Professor Ford says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school. Her legal team wants an FBI investigation first and also says other witnesses should be called for any Senate hearing. But a source with knowledge of the negotiations tells CNN she has not ruled out testifying if the Republican who run the committee refuse to yield.

The GOP plan, as of now, hold a Monday hearing, whether or not Ford appears. Judge Kavanaugh would testify and deny the allegation. Then Republicans plan to move ahead with a committee vote next week. The GOP's take it or leave it approach to a woman who alleges a violent sexual assault is risky, but the leadership and the White House at this moment say they will not bend.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is live up on Capitol Hill with the latest.

So, Phil, as of this hour, it seems this is up to Professor Ford.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's no question about it. Look, there are really two things that are true right now. First, in talking to Republican aides and lawmakers, there is increasing confidence that if Christine Blasey Ford chooses not to come on Monday and give testimony, either public or private, that Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed, that they will move forward, that they will likely take up his nomination in the committee on Wednesday and then move him to the floor shortly thereafter.

Here's another thing that's also true. No one know what Christine Blasey Ford and her legal team are going to do. And that's led to a level of uneasiness amongst both the Republicans and Democrats right now. There's a recognition that the moment and the scope of the allegations, were that to be aired out particularly in a public hearing, that could change the dynamic, not just of perhaps the nomination, but also just the conversation in general here on Capitol Hill about an issue that's this important. So what you have is a lot of people who are very uncertain about what happens next.

Now, you mention Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley kind of set the scheduled deadline for 10:00 a.m. tomorrow to find out whether or not there will be testimony. That's based on committee rules. But that's really what everybody's keying on right now.

And, John, you've watched this play out. Things have been moving back and forth, sternly worded statements, kind of positioning one way or the other. There's a very real possibility, in talking to Republican and Democratic aides, that the testimony could happen on Monday and right now it's just kind of a -- trying both sides trying to play a positioning battle of who is in the best situation and the best set-up when that testimony actually happens.

KING: And part of that positioning battle, there were protests outside of Senator Corker's office today. He has essentially said she should come or else he's prepared to go forward. You see, it's not just the senators who still have raw, political emotions as well.

MATTINGLY: Sorry, what was that?

KING: I'm taking note of the protests up there earlier today outside of Senator Corker's office, that you see evidence of the emotions playing out, not just among the senators, but for the advocates on both sides of this.

MATTINGLY: No question about it. And you just talk to anybody who's paying attention to this. Look, the stakes were already enormous on this issue. The polarization on this candidate, they're already --

KING: Phil, I'm sorry to interrupt you. Phil, on Capitol Hill.

I've got to take you straight up to Harford County, just outside of Baltimore. A police briefing on a mass shooting. Let's listen.

SHERIFF JEFFREY GAHLER, HARFORD COUNTY, MARYLAND: And of our law enforcement partners have been standing here before. We stand here yet again today. You know, many people have been affected by the events this morning and our prayers -- prayers -- thoughts and prayers of the Harford County Sheriff's Office go out to all those affected.

[12:05:02] They're -- we are so preliminary into this investigation. I know there's a million questions. We're not going to take any questions today. I know you have many. But as Kristi (ph) said, it's so important that we deal in facts. There are families that are irrefutably harmed from today's event. We don't want to make it -- as if you could make it worse, you certainly can. We don't want to be part of that. We want to release facts. So, please, allow us the time to gather facts and share those with you.

I'm going to give you as much information as we can right now, even though it's very preliminary and it's very limited.

At about 9:06 this morning, a report came in to a dispatch center from the Rite Aid Distribution Center of shots fired. Immediately deputies and officers, troopers, other first responders responded. We were on scene just in over five minutes. Arriving law enforcement, fire, and EMS units quickly paired up together, got into the building in order to render first aid where appropriate, treating patient and an attempt to locate a suspect or suspects.

At this time I can confirm multiple wound and multiple fatalities.

Based on what we know right now, and, again, very preliminary, the lone suspect in this incident is in custody and is in critical condition at a local hospital. It appears to be a single weapon that was used, a hand gun, and there were no shots fired by any of the law enforcement officers responding to the scene.

We do not believe that there is an additional threat anywhere to our Harford County community.

We have set up a family reunification center working with the county executive and our county partners at the level (ph) volunteer firehouse. And, again, this investigation is very early. I and our office will be happy to give you more information as it becomes available.

Again, I ask you to keep the victims of today's tragic event in your thoughts and prayers. And I also, you know, have to thank our fellow first responders. We have responders here from the federal government who were on scene within minutes. The FBI, the DEA, ATF, state police, MVTA police, Natural Resources, the local municipal departments of (INAUDIBLE) and Bel Air. You name it.

As we've seen unfortunately in our community before, when something like this happens, you can't have enough police and you can't have them fast enough. And we were very fortunate here that everyone worked so well together and responded so well together that we were on scene and able to get as much aid in as quickly as possible.

So that's what we have for you at this time. Kristi will put out a little later when we're going to have some additional details. And I know you're anxious for them. We'll be as timely as we can. And the county executive did want to offer a few thoughts this morning.


QUESTION: Could I get your name, please, sir?

GAHLER: Sheriff Jeff Gahler, g-a-h-l-e-r.


Barry Glassman, the Harford County executive.

I just got off the phone with Governor Hogan a few moments ago and updated the governor on the incident so far as we know it. He offered all of his resources available under state government. We certainly appreciate the Maryland State Police, all the allied agencies that responded.

You know, I followed this probably from the moment the call came in on our dispatch and listened to the radio transmissions. Unfortunately, in today's world, we have active shooter drilling and drills. And I can tell you, and tell our Harford County citizens, that every agency performed at the top of their profession. And the response from all our allied agencies was great. Our volunteer fire and EMS system responded with medical units. So I am thankful to all the agencies that came out to help us today to get through this, which is becoming a too often occurrence not only in Harford County, but in the country.

So with that said, we really reach out to those families that are suffering right now, that have lost loved ones and offer our services as we begin to get them reunified, not only with loved ones lost, but with workers that have been displaced.

So I certainly thank all our courageous men and women that have helped us this morning.

QUESTION: Sheriff, are you suggesting that the suspect shot his or herself?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jane, we're not going to give any additional information right now. Again, this is very fluid. And, you know us, we will be sure to provide you the information as soon as we have it. So follow our feeds. And I will absolutely let you know when the next media briefing will be today and hopefully we'll be able to nail down some of those other details and give you a better picture of what happened.

KING: You've been listening -- you've been listening there to a police briefing, Harford County, in Aberdeen, Maryland. It's a little north of Baltimore. A horrific shooting. We are told of multiple people shot. The sheriff saying multiple fatalities.

You see where we are here, at a Rite Aid Distribution Center, in a warehouse area. Again, not terribly far from Baltimore, Maryland.

[12:10:04] CNN's Joe Johns has been helping track this investigation.

Joe, the sheriff saying multiple fatalities. He says a lone suspect who is in critical condition at a local hospital, significantly saying that none of the law enforcement officials who responded to the scene had to fire a shot.

What more do we know about this?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I thought that first question you heard that the authorities did not answer was at least telling about what people are trying to get to on the ground there. And the question was, are you essentially telling us that the suspect shot himself or herself there in the building? So a question about whether there was an attempt to -- for this person to kill himself or herself. Also a question about the gender of the shooter.

So this started around 9:09 Eastern Time. It appears certainly that the situation is secured. The reports that we have are five people shot, three people dead. And not a lot more information there. It's been described variously (ph) by sources as a workplace shooting, which certainly could entail almost anything.

So that's about all we know. It's a distribution support facility for Rite Aid. That, of course, is the drugstore and pharmaceutical firm with which we are all familiar. We do know also that they locked the whole thing down and it doesn't appear like it's going to get back to normal any time soon as the investigation continues.

Back to you, John.

KING: Appreciate the live reporting, Joe Johns. We'll continue to keep track of the latest information in that case.

A quick break here.

When we come back, back to the big showdown here in Washington, D.C. Twenty-two hours now. The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to know, they've set that deadline for Christine Blasey Ford to decide, will she come forward and testify about her accusation against Judge Brett Kavanaugh?

We'll be right back.


[12:16:01] KING: Back now to the big impasse and the deadline here in Washington, D.C. Christine Blasey Ford has until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow Washington time to tell the Judiciary Committee in the Senate whether she plans to testify -- to give testimony, either in private or in public, against the Supreme Court Nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Professor Ford says she was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh back in their high school days. As we wait to find out if Kavanaugh's accuser will testify on Monday. The Senate Judiciary Committee says her only chance is Monday.

Let's discuss this high stakes showdown. With me to share their reporting and their insights, Rachael Bade of "Politico," CNN's Jeff Zeleny, Eliana Johnson with "Politico," and CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson.

At this moment a source telling CNN's Sunlen Serfaty she has not ruled it out. Still in the negotiating phase. The Republicans show zero willingness to budge here, right? They say this will be on Monday. There will be no other witnesses. Take it or leave it.

RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "POLITICO": Yes, Brett Kavanaugh's fate right now, in a large part, really relies on her decision about whether or not she's going to appear on Monday. She has this difficult decision to make about whether she wants to continue holding out for an FBI investigation that's probably not going to happen, or is she going to take the stand and tell her story and potentially keep this guy from getting on the bench? There were a lot of Republicans on The Hill who felt that if she were to appear or do some sort of news interview on TV and tell her story, that that would be the end of this, you know, nomination completely. But in waiting and not doing anything and not going out there to share, people, Republican, the White House feel like the momentum is back on their side and it looks like, you know, he potentially has a chance to get through.

ELIANA JOHNSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "POLITICO": I think that's exactly right and I think there's an increasing feeling among Republicans that they've called her bluff because their posture almost immediately when she came forward on Sunday was that she should be heard. They wanted to hear from her. Even from Kellyanne Conway at the White House said this woman shouldn't be ignored. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary, immediately scheduled a hearing. It was dissimilar to the reaction to Anita Hill coming forward 30 years ago. So I think that they feel that they have been open to hearing from her in public or in private. And that they are feeling increasingly confident at this moment. But we've seen things change so many times this week, who knows whether that will last through next week.

KING: Right. They seem confident that so far, because of Senator Collins and Murkowski, Senator Corker and Flake, the four Republicans we were watching who were viewed as most likely to bolt from the leadership, or to pull back, they seem on board with this stagey for now. The priority is, get Kavanaugh confirmed, get him on the bench before the November election, where we don't know what will happen to control of the United States Senate.

It's a risky strategy for Republicans. I would put this on the table. Not only will they not have the FBI hearing, but the doctor -- doctor -- Professor Ford, excuse me, her attorneys say in a letter to the committee, while Dr. Ford's life is being turned upside down, you and your staff scheduled a public hearing for her testify and would include interrogation by senators who appear to have made up their minds that she is mistaken and mixed up.

One of their issues is they want an FBI investigation first. People who do this for a living, to put witnesses under oath and take testimony. The other thing is they say why just Judge Kavanaugh and Professor Ford at the hearing? Why not bring in Mark Judge, who she alleges -- he says it didn't happen -- but she alleges was in the room. Another person, PJ Smith, who she alleges was at the house? Why won't the Republicans bring them in under oath? The Republicans who -- 13 subpoenas in the Benghazi probe, pushing the president to declassify documents in the Russia investigation, all because they say people need to be under oath or these things need to be in the public record so we have full transparency. Why won't they at least say any relevant witness must testify under oath?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, because I think it takes it in a direction and they don't know necessarily where that direction goes. You've got the Democrats who would be questioning Mark Judge. He has a bit of a colorful past that he has written about. You hear the senators essentially saying, well, we already know what Mark Judge is going to say because he submitted that letter and his --

KING: But they subpoenaed -- in the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, they subpoenaed three technology companies who sent letters saying here's all we know. They said that's not good enough. You've got to come in and do it oath.

HENDERSON: (INAUDIBLE). You're right. Yes, exactly. No, I think that's right. Yes. Yes, yes, yes, I think that's right. Yes, I think that's right.

[12:20:01] But it's not likely to happen at this point. They want this stark contrast between what the professor would likely say and what Judge Kavanaugh would say. And they're clearly telegraphing who they believe. Lindsey Graham has said, sure, he'll hear her that lady and then they'll move on. And I think the mixed up quote is from Chairman Grassley. So, you know, she's got a difficult decision. We'll see what happens on Monday.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Senator Hatch as well I think said mixed up earlier this week. There's no question that they see this outcome (ph).

My question is, though, as Judge Kavanaugh sits at the White House for the fourth day in a row preparing for a Monday hearing, I mean he is going forward as though she is going to be on the stand. That's what he's preparing for. Are they doing Judge Kavanaugh a service or a disservice here by not having a full airing of this? If they do not bring in the other witnesses, if they do not have more of a broader investigation, will he forever be tainted if he's confirmed? We don't know the answer to that. But it is extraordinary. And I'm not sure we know the -- how this is going to end entirely. This has changed so many times this week. We don't know that she's not coming. KING: Right. They are prepared to go forward --

ZELENY: Or participating in one of the ways that Chairman Grassley (INAUDIBLE).


JOHNSON: And I think they're prepared to have Kavanaugh testify alone, even if --

KING: Right.

ZELENY: Right.

JOHNSON: Even if she doesn't show up.

But to Jeff's point, I think it's a great point, will Kavanaugh be tainted if this goes forward? Frankly, I think Republicans may be slightly concerned about that, but they are perfectly fine with having Clarence Thomas on the bench --


JOHNSON: Tainted by the Anita Hill accusations because of what he's done to push the judiciary -- the Supreme Court to the right over the past three decades. And I think that they would take that deal.

KING: Well, that's an interesting -- if the calculation is, a lot of Republican -- you talk to strategists, pollsters, people involved in elections this year, they say, we already have a giant gender gap. This is a huge risk. You could -- you could exacerbate the gender gap. We could lose even more seats in November. But priority number one for Mitch McConnell and the president seems to be, let's get a conservative justice into Anthony Kennedy's seat, then we'll deal with whatever fallout comes. But that's priority one.

JOHNSON: And I think -- I think people who aren't a part of the conservative movement don't fully understand how much judges --

KING: Right.

JOHNSON: The -- the judiciary binds the right together.

KING: The Holy Grail.

JOHNSON: These are people who hated Donald Trump, who voted for him anyway. They would take Kavanaugh despite all of the hits to his reputation.

KING: And it's the Holy Grail to these people. And Mitch McConnell has made that clear in holding the Merrick Garland seat -- nomination open for a year.

JOHNSON: Absolutely.

ZELENY: One of the central reasons he was elected. HENDERSON: (INAUDIBLE).

KING: And one of the reasons Mitch McConnell and Chairman Grassley can go ahead with this strategy is because they have brought Senators Murkowski and Collins back into the fold. Just listen to them here, in the last 24 to 48 hours, saying, look, we want her to testify. We want to hear her story. We want to be fair. But if she doesn't come Monday, we're ready to go forward.


SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: If she is not going to be part of the hearing, I think that that -- that would be a very interesting and unfortunate turn of events.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I think it's not fair to Judge Kavanaugh for her not to come forward and testify. Both of them need to testify under oath.


KING: This is the Democratic counter to that. This is Mazie Hirono from Hawaii to ABC. We're not consulted at all. I would like to have us come together and figure out what is the best way to proceed, not this seat of the pants stuff. And the latest being a letter from the chairman to the Democrats saying, we've done everything we can to contact her. That is such, I'm going to say it because a senator said it, bullshit. I can hardly say it. And so you have the -- you have an incredibly serious allegation. Professor Ford has put her reputation at stake. She says she's getting death threats and had to leave her house. Judge Kavanaugh is a sitting federal appeals judge who could be the next Supreme Court justice. His reputation is at stake. And you have the parties in their traditional polarization pointing fingers at each other.

BADE: Yes, but, again, the clips you just played of Murkowski and Collins, I think they're really telling. And she is losing support from senator who could potentially be in her corner if she were to come forward and tell her story.

I think that if her lawyers were asking for more time to prepare, saying, you know, this is traumatic, she's getting these death threats and we've got to take this slow, that's one thing. But right now her lawyers are saying they want the FBI investigation and assumingly she's not going to come forward without that, which is unlikely to happen. So, you were right, I think things could really change depending on like if they say we need a couple more days to prepare. But absent that, I think this is going to move forward next week.

KING: Move forward next week and the Republicans willing to vote without a full record. A, without the FBI review, but, b, without, to me, the most striking part, you could have the hearing and say, depending on your testimony, then maybe we'll ask for the FBI review if we find you credible. That would be an argument you could make. But to have someone she says was in the room, not required to testify under oath to me is striking, but the Republicans are comfortable with their position.

[12:24:43] Up next for us here, another summit between North and South Korea. Another promise to denuclearize. Is there any weight this time behind Kim Jong-un's latest promise.


[12:29:34] KING: Your move, President Trump. That's the message from South Korea's President Moon Jae-in after his summit in Pyongyang with the North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un. The visit was full of chummy handshakes, smiles and symbolic photo ops and yet another reassurance that Kim is committed to complete denuclearization, even providing a few long-awaited details about how it plans to get there.

Further progress, however, will depend on how the United States proceeds. Upon Moon's return to Seoul, he told the media that Chairman Kim is keen to meet again with President Trump and that Kim has invited Secretary of State Mike Pompeo back to North Korea again. This warm encouragement standing in stark contrast to a North Korean state media report earlier this week calling the U.S. demand for