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GOP Sets 2:30 p.m. ET Deadline for Ford to Negotiate Hearing Terms; Rosenstein Denies Discussing Plot to Record and Remove Trump; 44 Dead as Carolinas Endure More Flooding; Preview of the Final Episodes of "PARTS UNKNOWN"; Iran Media, 25 Killed as Gunmen Fire on Military Parade. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired September 22, 2018 - 11:00   ET


[10:59:55] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: There is much more ahead in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.

We turn it over to Fredricka Whitfield. Good morning to you -- Fred.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. Good morning to you. I know it's been a busy one.

BLACKWELL: It has been. It's going to be a busy afternoon, too.


WHITFIELD: And it's just going to continue. You better believe it.


WHITFIELD: All right. Good to see you -- guys. Thanks so much.

It's 11:00 on the East Coast. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. NEWSROOM starts right now.

So we are just hours away from the latest deadline set for Christine Blasey Ford. She is accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual and physical assault back when they were in high school. Ford and Republicans are locked in a tense back and forth as they attempt to hammer out details for a possible set of testimonies next week where both sides can share their story.

If Ford's attorneys do not respond by 2:30 Eastern time this afternoon with the terms for her testimony, the committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee says it will vote Monday on Kavanaugh's nomination.

Tensions are very high. Ford and her family have been forced from their home after getting hate mail, death threats and harassment. And U.S. marshals are investigating death threats sent to Kavanaugh and his wife.

CNN's Boris Sanchez joins us now from Berkeley Heights, New Jersey not far from where the President is this weekend. So where do things stand right now as far as you know from the White House perspective?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there -- Fred. President Trump has remained pretty silent about this new deadline so far. He's only tweeted about the economy earlier today.

But we learned about this new deadline from Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in a tweet that really read like an apology to Judge Brett Kavanaugh. In it, he says that he is typically not this indecisive.

Of course, as you know, Fred -- we have blown through a number of deadlines already for Ford's legal team and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to come to an agreement. Now Ford's attorneys are suggesting that Grassley should be apologizing to her because of the stress that these deadlines have caused her.

I want to read you a statement from Debra Katz, that's Christine Blasey Ford's attorney. She writes quote, "The position of aggressive and artificial deadlines regarding the date and conditions of any hearing has created tremendous and unwarranted anxiety and stress on Dr. Ford." Listen to this. "Your cavalier treatment of a sexual assault survivor who has been doing her best to cooperate with the committee is completely inappropriate."

Now, Senator Grassley has not directly responded to that comment, but we know both sides are still far apart on a number of issues, not only when Christine Blasey Ford may testify but also who is going to be asking the questions. We know Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee want to hire an outside counsel to question her, something that her attorneys do not want.

Also dividing both sides, who is going to testify first? Her attorneys are demanding that Kavanaugh go first. The Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans are asking that Ford testify first.

Yesterday at a rally in Springfield, Missouri President Trump made clear how he wants to see this all unfold and how far he is willing to go to make it happen. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A senator, good guy, said to me the other day, it was very interesting. We were talking about frankly about Judge Kavanaugh. And I said we have to fight for him, not worry about the other side. And by the way, women are for that more than anybody would understand.


SANCHEZ: Again Fred-- President Trump has not yet weighed in on this 2:30 p.m. deadline. We should point out that at least for the first few days after the specific allegations against his nominee to be the next Supreme Court justice came out, the President was relatively quiet on Twitter, essentially defending Kavanaugh, not really questioning Ford's credibility.

That has changed in the last few days. He has suggested a number of times that there is a Democratic effort at play to try to derail this nomination process -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez -- thanks so much. Keep us posted.

All right. Let's talk more about all of this. Joining me right now to discuss -- CNN political commentator David Swerdlick, CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano, and former federal prosecutor Lis Wiehl.

So Lis -- you first. You know, this deadline of 2:30 p.m. Eastern time after moving it from, you know, another deadline is it arbitrary? Is it bullying, you know? Or is this part of negotiations?

LIS WIEHL, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I'll just go back to my prosecuting days and when I would have accusers in front of me. And if they were getting death threats let's face that first. If they were getting death threats that became the primary thing that had to be dealt with and both sides usually recognize that when a person was getting death threats and would have to be separated from their children as is the case in this case -- you kind of have to deal with the death threats first and the deadlines kind of take a second place. Most people would realize that common --


[11:05:09] WHITFIELD: So is that what you're seeing is happening? But is that what we can interpret as happening? Yes, there has been the movement of the deadline, but it seems as though the attorney representing, you know, Miss Ford is working really hard to convey that. I mean we don't know the details of what's being expressed.

But when you listen to the tweets of, you know, Senator Grassley, it sounds like, you know, this is an annoyance.

WIEHL: Exactly. It seems like those deadlines are being pushed back and it is an annoyance versus on the other side, she's getting death threats. By the way, those deaths threats and those things I would assume they're going through mail or social media, crossing interstate borders, crossing interstate lines -- she wanted an FBI investigation.

Well, She's going to get an FBI investigation because right there you're talking about obstruction. You're talking about federal laws that are being broken right there. So those are FBI -- those are federal crimes that are being broken there, secondarily federal crimes that are being broken so that right there the FBI should be getting involved.

So you've got a whole panoply of things that are going on way beyond what the senators are talking about moving 24, three hours, four hours, six hours. Come on -- we are talking about limited time deadlines here when she's talking death threats.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And we don't know privately, you know, how much that is being, you know, extrapolated in detail -- David, but we know that publicly it just seems like the clock is ticking. You know, there's a deadline. We want to get the Supreme Court, you know, intact by an October 1st deadline.


WHITFIELD: But you know, Senator Grassley, he's been down this road before, you know -- David. You know, back in 1991 with Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, et cetera.

And now he has tweeted a few times yesterday even, you know, into the late night saying, you know, as the chairman now of the Judiciary Committee, you know, he's saying this, "Judge Kavanaugh, I just granted another extension to Dr. Ford to decide if she wants to proceed with the statement she made last week to testify to the senate. She should decide so if we can move on. I want to hear her. I hope you understand. It's not my normal approach to be indecisive."

And he's directing that to the nominee, Kavanaugh.


WHITFIELD: And then his tweet later was saying, you know, let's move on with it. But I want to hear her. It's almost an aside that hearing her, you know, may not be as important as let's get to the deadline. What is the rush?

SWERDLICK: Right. Yes, good morning -- Fred.

Let me deal with Senator Grassley in a second. First of all, to echo Lis, it is pathetic and disgusting and cowardly that anyone would threaten Dr. Ford or her family in any way. At least senators on both sides of the aisle should be able to agree that this is a priority for the FBI, maybe for the capitol police, for local law enforcement to protect her and to protect Kavanaugh's family. That's first of all.

In terms of what Senator Grassley and the Republicans are doing, these deadlines strike me as very arbitrary. I think it would be one thing if he was saying look, I don't want to get through the weekend without having reached some kind of rough agreement that makes sense. But to set some random time, 2:30 today, about four hours from now, seems like he's really being pushed by issues that don't have to do with getting to the bottom of this.

Republicans held open President Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for the better part of a year, I think -- definitely for months. So a week or two here or there with Judge Kavanaugh is not going to make a difference to anyone. That is about politics.

On the other hand, I do think it is a little -- it's a little puzzling to me about how Dr. Ford's legal team is going about these negotiations. It is certainly understandable that she wants this to be on her terms, that she is not used to being in the public eye, and there are these safety concerns.

But some of the conditions that they seem to have asked for are really not in their control. At the end of the day safety aside, it is more up to the senators, the members of the Judiciary Committee how they will examine her. WHITFIELD: And you mean in terms of who were to testify first. I

mean that being one of the conditions of --

SWERDLICK: Right. Who would testify first? Who is going to do the questioning? My own view is that senators have an Article 2 constitutional responsibility to do this. It shouldn't be farmed out to lawyers but they have that option.

But yes, Fred -- I understand why she wants Kavanaugh to go first but I'm not sure. That's up to her and her legal team.

WHITFIELD: And so James -- you know, on the issue of death threats the FBI, you know, investigating, you know, what she and her family are enduring. She has two kids. You know, she's worried for her safety. If she travels to D.C. that's another, you know, extension of the concern for security.

[11:09:57] So what kind of considerations do have to be made for her security -- where she is in California, in transit if she does make it to D.C., and then once she were to get to D.C.

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Absolutely. Fred -- the FBI takes these types of threats very, very seriously. Now, we have to understand this is not a criminal investigation for the FBI per se. It is a background investigation for a judicial nominee.

And the FBI's role in that is going to be primarily to call balls and strikes just like a baseball umpire. It is not to establish credibility or veracity or look at this like Olympic, you know, figure skating because there's no nuance and interpretation here.

I think the FBI's role here, if asked, is going to be to go back as far as they can. Now, remember, in background investigations you generally go back to the age of 18.

Now, the judge has undergone five of these I think thus far. They would have gone back to the age of 18. What's going to be so difficult here, Fred --


WHITFIELD: He was allegedly -- you know, he was 17 at the time of this alleged offense.

GAGLIANO: Yes. And if you asked me about something that occurred today, it's 35 years now we can investigate, I say absolutely because technology, police science, criminal just methodologies have vastly improved.

But we're now going back to a period of time 35 years back where the forensic evidence harvesting is going to be so, so difficult here. I don't know how they're going to get any answers here other than just testimony.

WHITFIELD: Ok. So that brings it to the he said/she said. But then that also brings it to her attorneys saying what about other witnesses, those who were there --

WIEHL: That's right.

WHITFIELD: -- those who have heard her story, all of that stuff, you know -- Lis. So then --

WIEHL: Right.

WHITFIELD: -- you know, one also has to wonder if indeed she testifies about this, whether it is just she, you know, and Kavanaugh's word --

WIEHL: Right.

WHITFIELD: -- could it potentially open up, depending on what the testimony is --

WIEHL: Right.

WHITFIELD: -- could there be an ensuing FBI investigation or even a Montgomery County police criminal investigation because that's where the alleged offence happened in Montgomery County, Maryland.

WIEHL: There could be. I doubt it because of statute of limitations would have run to get into all of those issues. But let's bring it back to the hearing, even right at the hearing level. Let's say she's correct in that she's got a little bit of an issue of her going first, wanting to go second.

You know, usually an accuser, you know, would go first and then the defender would go second then there could be rebuttal though so she could rebut whatever he said. You get into a question then sur- rebuttal (ph). That means he would go after that.

But then there would be the corroborating or, you know, the other evidence and the witnesses. That witness has not been put under oath. Yes, there's been a statement that he wrote, but that was not an under oath statement. That's critical.

Bring him under oath. Put him under subpoena. He has not been subpoenaed and put under oath. Absolutely critical and there's no time stamp on that one.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And then there's the issue of, you know, does it matter, are minds made up.

WIEHL: Well --

WHITFIELD: Listen to what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday.


SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: You've watched the fight. You've watched the tactics. But here's what I want to tell you. In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court.

So my friends -- keep the faith. Don't get rattled by all of this. We're going to plow right through it and do our job.


WHITFIELD: So David -- what does that mean?

SWERDLICK: Yes. Don't get rattled by us doing our job and trying to figure out the facts of what happened based on this allegation. Look, Senator McConnell there is signaling to Republican base voters that they're just going to go straight ahead and get Kavanaugh confirmed by hook or by crook.

And I think it's unfortunate that not only that he is expressing that attitude but he's expressing it so publicly. Look, have a hearing. Determine what senators think, then vote.


SWERDLICK: And then if he -- Judge Kavanaugh is still confirmed, then so be it. But the idea that a confirmation in his words there is almost pre-ordained I think is unfortunate. And it shows who is really calling the shots there. Senator Grassley in my view is not calling the shots; it is Majority Leader McConnell.

WIEHL: Fredricka -- can I just bring it back to the courtroom just for one second?


WIEHL: It's like the accuser gets a preview of what the jurors are already saying before she's had a chance to bring her words to the jury. And that's never happens.

WHITFIELD: And that's enough to silence -- and that too, is enough to silence someone --

WIEHL: Right.

WHITFIELD: -- who has already showed some reticence or worry --

WIEHL: -- who already -- who's already had death threats against her.

WHITFIELD: -- about sharing the story. Right.

All right. So David Swerdlick, James Gagliano, Lis Wiehl -- I am going to talk to you again, so stand by. Much more to discuss.

Also still ahead -- absolutely false. That's how Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is responding to reports that he considered recording conversations with President Trump and discussed having him removed from office. Will Trump fire Rosenstein?

[11:15:00] Plus, the Carolinas still waterlogged a week after Florence made landfall; residents now bracing for more flooding as rivers continue to rise.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein is doubling down, issuing a second denial that he suggested wearing a wire to secretly record President Trump. Rosenstein was spotted at the White House last night, hours after the "New York Times" first reported that last year he also discussed recruiting cabinet officials to invoke the 25th Amendment or at least discuss it to remove Trump from office.

Let's go to CNN's Laura Jarrett in Washington. So what is the fallout so far?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Fred -- the staggering news of these memos detailing Rosenstein musing about secretly wearing a wire to record the President and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office have just rocked the Justice Department as officials try to do what they can to contain this damage.

[11:20:05] Rosenstein forced to issue a second statement last night saying the following. Quote, "I never pursued or authorized recording the President. And any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the President is absolutely false."

Now, in addition to Rosenstein's denials, one person in the room there told me he was being sarcastic, but others tell the "New York Times" he was dead serious. And while no one is really reporting that either of these proposals actually came to fruition, the revelations themselves could jeopardize Rosenstein's delicate standing in the President's eyes as this Russian investigation looms so large.

The "Washington Post" reporting that Trump actually sought advise from his aides about whether he should fire Rosenstein as they tried to sway him not to make any rash decisions last night. And Trump said that he did not trust Rosenstein or former FBI deputy director McCabe, author of these memos, according to "The Post" -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Laura Jarrett -- thanks so much.

All right. Let's discuss further now. David Swerdlick, James Gagliano, and Lis Wiehl are back with me right now.

So David -- let me begin with you.


WHITFIELD: The "Washington Post" is -- you know, Laura was telling us -- reporting that President Trump had asked advisers awhile back if he should fire Rosenstein and he was swayed not to do so. So now what? Does it appear as though Rod Rosenstein's days are numbered despite his two statements?

SWERDLICK: So Fred -- I think we've heard enough reports over the last weeks and months to think that the President has certainly considered this per the "Washington Post" reporting and reports elsewhere. Whether Rosenstein will be fired at all or whether it will take place, if it takes place before the election in November I think is a key question.

I imagine that his aides and other Republicans are telling the President look, maybe at some point Rosenstein has to go, at least from their perspective, but to do it before the election, to do it at this sort of heightened stage of special counsel Mueller's investigation would be dicey for the President.

On the one hand, the President will say look, Rosenstein is not conducting things -- based on this reporting, he can twist it to say look, he is not doing this in a fair and balanced manner.

On the other hand, it may make the President look either --- make him look guilty or at least look like he is trying to hide something if at this critical stage he gets rid of Rosenstein who ultimately is who will receive any report from special counsel Mueller.

WHITFIELD: And James-- we know the President has been openly critical of Rosenstein, of his AG, you know, Sessions -- you know, of the entire Department of Justice. And then last night President Trump appeared to allude to the report -- you know, "The New York Times" report about Rosenstein at a rally in Missouri by promising to get to the bottom of what's going on at the FBI. Listen.


TRUMP: You're seeing what happened at the FBI. They're all gone. They're all gone. They're all gone.

But there's a lingering stench, and we're going to get rid of that too.


WHITFIELD: so James -- what does he mean by that? Because, you know, to preface that, he also said there are some good people at the FBI and there are some bad ones. But then he talks about getting rid of this lingering -- taking care of this lingering stench. How do you interpret that?

GAGLIANO: Fred -- I think if we were all cynics, and none of us are in this panel, if we were cynics we would think that maybe this leak might have been executed for the purpose of goading the President into conducting a Saturday night massacre like with Archibald Cox back in the 70s.

Look, you can come down on different views politically on the President and on Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein. I have talked to many former colleagues at DOJ and FBI. He is a man that many, many, many still on the job respect greatly. I think he is a nonpolitical actor.

And it bothers me deeply as somebody who spent 33 years in the government, 25 in the FBI that you cannot have a closed door meeting with your senior executives and not have the information that was discussed therein floated out to the press afterwards. He is entitled to that just as the President is. He serves at the pleasure of the President.

Where I come down on this, Fred -- these leaks have to stop. Leaks are expected to come out of the White House. They're not expected to come out of the Department of Justice and the FBI. Those are nonpolitical people. They're civil servants who need to do their job and stop rushing out with a memo or snippets of a conversation.

It is inappropriate and I think it is damaging the FBI and the DOJ in the eyes of the public.

WHITFIELD: And then Lis, how do you see this? Because you know, there's right now the reaction to the reporting about what may or may not have happened, you know, last year but then there's the "what's next" because if Rosenstein is removed, then what? You know, what happens to the Bob Mueller investigation?

[11:25:02] What happens to the position of the AG Jeff Sessions in which the President has out loud expressed his displeasure of? How do you see this potentially playing out? What's the domino effect?

WIEHL: I don't think the Mueller investigation goes anywhere. In fact, I think it is actually strengthened if Rosenstein is removed because I think the damage for Trump politically would be devastating because it shows him looking -- Trump that is -- looking very weak if he would take this and fire Rosenstein.

Look, we have to look back at what just happened in the last 24 hours and say did he say this -- Rosenstein say it? Yes, he did. Did he say it sarcastically? I don't believe he said those things sarcastically because I don't think anybody would say that sarcastically in a meeting like that when you know you're talking to McCabe, who was not happy with Comey's being just fired. And, you know, they are talking to somebody in a culture of FBI 302s, which are the things that FBI agents write -- the memos that they write when they talk to just about anybody.

My dad was in the FBI for years. And my dad would talk to me, you know, about my homework and I probably go write a 302 about it. I mean that's just in the culture.

WHITFIELD: Then what if -- what if --


WIEHL: He wouldn't be sarcastic about a question like that.

WHITFIELD: -- because of that culture -- what if there was feeling at the time that culturally there's usually, you know, an agreed-upon confidentiality, but that culture may have changed --

WIEHL: Yes. That's right.

WHITFIELD: -- and this is the precipice of it or you know -- WIEHL: That's right.

WHITFIELD: -- you're eyewitness to it.

WIEHL: That's right. Culture changing -- A, that's going on; B though, what's also happening in my eyes with that conversation -- what we can see in that conversation happening is that Rosenstein was looking at a gamut of things, right.

On one side it could be as wild as using the 25th Amendment to get, you know, to get rid of a sitting president. You know, you've got impeachment and you've got the 25th Amendment. Both those things you don't really want to use every day. These are not kitchen sink things, right.

You don't really want to use them every day to get rid of a president. And other possibilities, other things that are going on -- the Mueller investigation being one of them in the same conversation they could come out.

None of those things are used sarcastically because they're all going to be put into these 302 memos that are going to be read not only by the people in the meetings but down the line. And none of those people are going to have the note and tenor of voice being able to read in the memos, hey that was meant sarcastically. It wouldn't have happened that way.

WHITFIELD: So David -- if it sounded ridiculous, at one point, does it get more credibility because this isn't the first time we've heard, you know, reportedly about talk of 25th Amendment, you know, without giving, you know, credence to, you know, contents of Omarosa, you know, Manigault Newman's book. She writes about it. There have been others who said quietly that the 25th Amendment was part of discussions.

SWERDLICK: So, I'm not a 25th Amendment expert but it involves the cabinet and the Vice President, all of whom are people that President Trump chose. So I think that's a pretty far out option if there's ever a point when that option would really come into play. Impeachment may or may not hinge on whether Democrats take one or both Houses of Congress either in the midterm elections or in a subsequent election.

Just to go back to what Lis was saying a moment ago, I think she may well be right. I would just add though that while Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein was very specific and categorical about not having discussed the 25th Amendment and not having made any serious, serious suggestion about going into a meeting with the President and recording, neither of his denials last night addressed sarcasm or joking specifically.

So I think that question is still out there, given the "New York Times" report, given what Laura just reported. Obviously it would be nice per Jim's point if all of this information wasn't coming from anonymous sources.

WIEHL: Well, what he said just in his comment earlier today -- what were just reported was he didn't advocate for that.


WIEHL: So, you know, he is using lawyer words, didn't advocate. That doesn't mean that he didn't say it.

WHITFIELD: It doesn't mean it wasn't discussed.

WIEHL: Exactly.

SWERDLICK: No, I agree. Lis is right. There's a difference obviously, I think you're right, between saying, you know, look everybody in the conference room, "maybe I should wear a wire" versus "ha-ha, hey guys, should I wear a wire, ha-ha".

WIEHL: Exactly.

SWERDLICK: You know, those are two very different things. And again, to Jim's point though, if you're at a senior level meeting in a conference room at the DOJ with all DOJ and FBI folks -- is that's the kind of thing that he as the number two at DOJ expects is going to come out.

WIEHL: Exactly.

SWERDLICK: As a journalist, obviously we need to report this. But from the point of view of Justice Department, it is very tricky.

WIEHL: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: So James -- would this be enough for the President to try to fire Rosenstein?

[11:29:55] GAGLIANO: Well again, I mean to David's point I mean he has every right to do so. Again, what's troublesome to me is just you cannot run an administration, you cannot run an agency or department without you being able to have a closed door meeting and trust that those things aren't going to leak out.

Just to clarify one thing that Liz mentioned, these were not, to my understanding FD 302s. FD 302s are testimonial documents.

WIEHL: Right.

WHITFIELD: So this is based on --

WIEHL: It is just a mindset though.

WHITFIELD: -- memos from Andy McCabe.

WIEHL: The mindset though.


WIEHL: Right. GAGLIANO: These were memos. These were memos which are -- this is my general feeling about what was going on where you can talk about nuance and interpretation and things like that.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there for now. James Gagliano, David Swerdlick, Lis Wiehl --

SWERDLICK: Thanks -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: -- thanks to all of you. Appreciate it.

Still ahead.

Florence moved on, but the aftermath from that hurricane persists in the Carolinas. Residents bracing for more flooding after record breaking rainfall pushes rivers to the brink.

We'll take you there live next.


WHITFIELD: Forty-four people are now dead in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence as people across the Carolinas endure even more flooding.

This is a look from high above Conway, South Carolina earlier this morning. Roads looking like rivers, homes have been turned into islands.

CNN correspondent Nick Valencia is live from Conway where flood waters have already record setting levels. But it appears, you know, that you're far out of the woods. I mean people have a long way to go before they can get to their homes, recover, et cetera.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This water is just coming up inch by inch, hour after hour -- Fredricka. They have been told all week long here in Conway that it was coming. And it was earlier this week, in fact, this area was not underwater.

It had experienced some flash flooding after Hurricane Florence. Residents in fact had enough time to come in here earlier this week to bring out their belongings. Some though didn't take the cautions from the local officials seriously enough.

In fact, this man in his home here, he said water started getting into his home earlier this morning. He was here about 5:00 a.m., trying to get out the belongings that he could. And he just pulled out an RV here a little while ago.

But the residents in this area -- this is ground zero according to the city administrator. They're seeing every hour here just this water go up inch by inch. We've seen -- in fact, we've had to push our vehicle back a little towards, you know, a little closer to that neighborhood.

And you could see -- just to give you a sense, Fredricka here -- I'm underwater, our photographer Jerry Simons also underwater here. But you see those individuals assessing sort of the water and when it will finally eventually get to them.

I just got off the phone with the city administrator here Adam Emrick who tells me that water assists are happening in the southern part of the city. And what that means is, people can get out. The water is too deep for a car to get out though and really too shallow for a boat so they're having to figure out exactly they're going to go about helping people -- those that have not evacuated.

This is the same community that President Trump was in earlier this week, touring the damage left behind by Hurricane Florence. You could see that this shows just how much water was dumped on this area -- dumped on North Carolina by Hurricane Florence.

All of this, Fredricka -- coming from the Waccamaw River. This is overflow from Waccamaw River which is just a couple of miles away from here. And as that water drains down from North Carolina, it makes these rivers overflow, just bursting at the seams.

We just checked the National Weather Service indicator saying that it's already broken a record, well above 19 feet. They're expecting this to crest at around 22 feet sometime Monday night, we're now hearing, into Tuesday morning.

So as you mention, you know, this is by no means a storm that is over. And we're already seeing here, you know, this water is rising in the aftermath, you know. You could just see it all around us -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Yes. A terrible situation. All right. Nick Valencia -- thank you so much.


WHITFIELD: Still ahead will Christine Blasey Ford testify next week?

And the other question hanging over Washington -- will we hear from Ford's attorney before the GOP-imposed deadline of 2:30 p.m. this afternoon?

And the final episodes of "PARTS UNKNOWN" hosted by Anthony Bourdain starting tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Here's a preview.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST: Who gets to tell the stories? This is a question asked often. The answer in this case, for better or for worse is, I do at least this time out.

First time on this continent.


BOURDAIN: It is unbelievable.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Try that in New York.

BOURDAIN: New York in your mind is where the writers' life was. Here we are.




WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

We are less than three hours away now from the deadline for Christine Blasey Ford to give her response to terms for testifying next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee on her claims that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were in high school.

Committee Chair Senator Chuck Grassley, says if Ford does not respond by today's deadline, the committee will vote on Kavanaugh's nomination come Monday.

With me now is David McIntosh, a former Republican congressman from Indiana and a co-founder of The Federalist Society, an organization of conservative lawyers that actually helped President Trump choose Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

Good to see you -- Congressman.


[11:44:55] WHITFIELD: All right. So why are Republicans in such a rush to force Ford's decision? 2:30 p.m. Eastern deadline today after a 10:00 p.m. deadline yesterday and a 5:00 p.m. deadline -- what is the rush?

MCINTOSH: Look, let's remember the duty of the committee here is to determine if Judge Kavanaugh has the character and the abilities to serve on the Supreme Court. That's what they want to get to. That's the reason that Chairman Grassley has said we need to vote on this.

WHITFIELD: Right. And that's what the exploration of this accusation is all about -- character.

MCINTOSH: Right. And what's happening is the Democrats are actually using Dr. Ford to stall and delay that vote.

WHITFIELD: How is that?

MCINTOSH: They -- well, look back at the summer. Senator Feinstein, who is the ranking member, knew about this but didn't tell anybody about this accusation.

WHITFIELD: Well, reportedly she did. (CROSSTALK)

MCINTOSH: She waited until the very last minute to share that with the Republicans.

WHITFIELD: But wait a minute. Reportedly she did hand -- reportedly she did hand that letter over to the FBI investigative body. From there, we don't know what happened until, you know, Miss Ford's name became public and then her story was out there. But then that brings us to right now --


MCINTOSH: And then they used these leaks and reports in the "Washington Post" to try to make that happen.

WHITFIELD: -- it brings us to right now and whether she will testify and whether the conditions are there for her to testify. And the benefits that come with that. Why the delay? I mean do you see this beneficial when you talk about the character in which someone, you know, is being asked about during this confirmation hearing process? Do you see it is important to hear both sides -- from her, from him on what happened?

MCINTOSH: And I think that's what Chairman Grassley is trying to do. And what we are seeing is the Democrats on the committee and her lawyer are not cooperating. They're trying to delay and to stop this.

And he's finally said enough is enough. We're not going to let you dictate how our committee proceeds. We want to hear from Dr. Ford. He said that over and over again. He's offered to send people out to California and hear her story. He's offered to set it up in a way that would be very fair to her, and protect her safety.

I think what we are seeing here is an effort to delay. It looks to me like it is an effort by the political people to use Dr. Ford to create a smear campaign against Judge Kavanaugh. And what the committee needs to do is let both sides say their say and then make the decision. Should Judge Kavanaugh be a justice on the Supreme Court?

WHITFIELD: So what's worse in your view -- if she tells her side of the story, Judge Kavanaugh tells his side of the story, and then of course, the Judiciary Committee has to make a decision? Or she doesn't tell her side of the story but there are the reports and there is her letter which has been made public, he doesn't get to respond to it further in detail and he gets confirmed and this is still hanging over his head?

I mean what's the worst case scenario here? What is the better case scenario?

MCINTOSH: I think that's the right question. The better case would be for Dr. Ford to be able to come and make her testimony. Do it under oath in front of the committee. And I have a great sympathy for her. Something clearly happened in her life that was very shocking, very emotionally traumatic. And they should let her share what she wants to of that.

But then let Judge Kavanaugh also explain what he remembers happening. And he's been very emphatic in denying it or his involvement in it. And so that would be the ideal. If that can't happen, and doesn't happen then I think the committee needs to proceed and go forward with the vote based on the best information that they have.

WHITFIELD: So back to what's the rush. If she says or her party says, you know, we would like to testify but it is Thursday, but then the Judiciary Committee says, you know, first they said Monday. It's got to be Monday and now there's a push deadline, the proposal is Wednesday.

When you yourself just acknowledged what could be the potential trauma that this person experienced, why feel like one day or an additional -- you know, more pressure on setting a deadline is beneficial for anyone?

MCINTOSH: Well, one it looks to me like Chairman Grassley has been very accommodating and you know, keeps pushing his own deadline back to try to see if we can make this happen.

But more importantly, it also looks to me frankly like the lawyer and the Democrats on the committee are using Mrs. Ford, Professor Ford to try to stall the whole thing completely to get it past the election.

And I think he's got to say no, we're not going to let you do that. We will vote. And a deadline needs to be set. And I think he's been accommodating. They're working on it still today. Hopefully it will get resolved some time early this afternoon.

WHITFIELD: David McIntosh, former congressman -- thanks so much for your time. Appreciate it.

And we'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: In Iran today, at least 25 people were killed in a brazen attack on a military parade in a city near the border with Iraq. Senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman joins me now -- Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka -- this is quite a dramatic event. There was a parade going on in this town of Ahvaz near the Iraqi border. The parade marks the beginning of the Iran/Iraq war back on the 22nd of September, 1980.

Now, during this parade which was being broadcast live on Iranian television, suddenly you hear gunfire and there's panic as people run in all directions. It was a military parade. So there's a fair amount of men with weapons there. But it's not clear if they had any ammunition in those weapons.

[11:55:07] But what you saw once the sort of panic and pandemonium came to an end was indeed, at least 25 people killed, among them apparently civilians and one journalist. More than 60 people wounded. Now, this is the worst attack in Iran in several years. It's been -- the responsibility for the attack has been claimed by several groups. One of them is the Ahvaz Democratic Popular Front. Now, this is a part of Iran which has a significant Arab minority that for years, with some support from Gulf States, has been pushing and, in some cases, engaging in violent acts in order to get independence for that part of the country.

And also ISIS has claimed responsibility now, but it's not clear if that claim is credible. But it does come at a time of rising tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia throughout the Middle East -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ben Wedeman -- thanks so much.

Much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM right after this.