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Kavanaugh Accuser Will Testify on Thursday; Trump Urged Not to Fire Rod Rosenstein. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired September 23, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: -- Ford will testify first about her sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh will testify after her. This highly anticipated hearing is set for this Thursday, 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time.
CNN's justice correspondent Jessica Schneider joining me now.
What more do we know about the conditions?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka. After days of negotiations the Senate Judiciary just in the past few minutes sending out a release confirming that this highly anticipated hearing will move forward on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. It will be open to the public, but there are still some details that haven't yet been determined, like if other witnesses besides Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh will testify.
Now Blasey Ford's attorneys, they have been pushing for other witnesses to testify on Thursday include trauma experts and also they want the person who administered Blasey Ford's polygraph to testify. But really the committee has been pushing back continually on this and they're doing it again today. They just wrote in that release that just came out. They said, "The committee determines which witnesses to call, how many witnesses to call, in what order to call them and who will question them. These are non-negotiable."
So the committee standing firm there but seeming to leave a little bit of wiggle room that maybe perhaps there could be other witnesses called. But for now we know that Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh are the only two at this point.
So Blasey Ford's attorneys earlier today, they issued a statement about the hearing in general and Blasey Ford's agreement to testify. They said this. They said, "Despite actual threats to her safety and her life, Dr. Ford believes it is important for senators to hear directly from her about the sexual assault committed against her."
So Blasey Ford will testify, but her attorneys have raised numerous concerns here. They say the committee is refusing to subpoena Mark Judge to testify. Of course, Mark Judge was the classmate Blasey Ford says was in the room when this alleged sexual assault happened. But Mark Judge has since said he has no recollection of the incident.
Brett Kavanaugh, of course, has issued several forceful denials that this incident ever happened, and of course still no details on who will be doing the questioning on the Republican side. But we know of one senator who has already told us what she'll be asking. That's Democrat Mazie Hirono. She talked to our Jake Tapper this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: What specifically do you plan on asking Brett Kavanaugh?
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: There are a lot of issues around Brett that -- involving what was happening in high school.
HIRONO: I would be wanting to hear what kind of environment it was in high school. Apparently there was a lot of drinking and partying going on. This is why we need an investigation. We need an independent investigation that lays all of that out for us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: And to that end top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer along with the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein, just in the past few minutes they've sent a letter to President Trump asking the White House to direct the FBI to investigate Blasey Ford's accusations.
Now this is something that Democrats have been pressing repeatedly ever since these allegations came out. And really it is up to the White House if they want the FBI to investigate further. So now the Senate Democrats pushing for that, sending that letter to President Trump and really, Fred, in perspective here, back in 1981 when Anita Hill's sexual harassment allegations surfaced against now Justice Clarence Thomas, the George H.W. Bush White House, they ordered the FBI to investigate.
That investigation took just three days. So Democrats seizing on that, saying here, in this letter that they just sent to President Trump, they're saying, look, if you order this, it can be done before the hearing on Thursday. So that letter just sent. No word back from the White House just yet -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Jessica Schneider, thank you so much. Appreciate that.
So Brett Kavanaugh has been hours preparing at the White House last week, going over possible answers to questions about his teenage years and dating life.
So let's go now to CNN's White House correspondent Boris Sanchez in New York where President Trump will head later on this hour to attend the United Nations Security Council meetings this week. Back to Washington, D.C., however, the testimonies are scheduled for Thursday. So what is the White House's response now that we are learning a little bit more about the sequence of events, et cetera? BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fred.. Yes.
President Trump has remained relatively silent on Twitter about these ongoing negotiations between Christine Blasey Ford and the Senate Judiciary Committee for her testimony. They haven't said much after it was announced that she would be testifying on Thursday.
Just two days ago the president openly questioned why it took Ford so long to come forward with her accusations about Brett Kavanaugh, the man that president picked out to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court following his retirement.
Now we understand that several Republicans were unhappy that the president went there, including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.
[16:05:03] Sources indicate that the Senate majority leader called President Trump on Friday to tell him that those tweets that the president sent out were not helping Kavanaugh in the confirmation process. Other Republicans like U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley haven't directed their comments toward the president, but they've made clear they believe that Christine Blasey Ford should be heard and that her credibility shouldn't be questioned.
Listen to this from Nikki Haley on "STATE OF THE UNION" earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: What I've said very clearly is every accuser always deserves the right to be heard. And -- but at the same time, I think the accused deserves the right to be heard. I think that's going to happen, which is great. The Senate has a huge responsibility here. They have to make sure it's fair, they have to make sure it's responsible, and they have to take the politics out.
And for the good of both families, I think they have to do this swiftly and quickly, and they have to do it with a lot of care. And so with that, we don't know what the truth is 35 years ago, but we'll find out. And I think that's the best thing we can do, is just hear from both sides and then take it from there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Now, Fred, the White House did put out a statement in regards to some of the new accusations or new details in the accusations coming forward from Blasey Ford. Here's a part of that statement now, the White House writing, quote, "One week ago Dr. Christine Ford claimed she was assaulted at a house party attended by four others. Since then all four of these individuals have provided statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee denying any knowledge of the incident or even having attended such a party."
Now Ford's attorneys put out a competing statement essentially arguing that in at least one of those cases, the case of Leland Kayser, she would have no reason to have remembered that incident because nothing happened to her at that party and Ford at the time did not come forward with the accusations that she did in the past week or so -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.
Let's talk more about this. I want to bring in CNN legal analyst Jack Quinn, David Drucker, CNN political analyst and senior political correspondent for the "Washington Examiner," and CNN political analyst Karoun Demerjian.
All right. Good to see you all.
So we're now learning a few new details about the terms of this testimony, upcoming. Dr. Ford will testify first, and this is on Thursday 10:00 a.m. And no other witnesses will be called. It's not clear who will be asking the questions, whether it will be the senators or some independent, you know, counsel.
And you know, Karoun, also, you know, Dr. Ford's attorneys are saying, well, wait a minute, you know, prior to Anita Hill's testimony back in '91, the FBI took three days to investigate. Now perhaps there are enough days ahead of that Thursday testimony. Why wouldn't that apply? So what can be the argument that senators can make that this investigation wouldn't happen ahead of the testimony?
KAROUN DEMERJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you've heard some of the senators making that argument this morning, saying that the FBI can't determine what the truth is, and the only people that can say what happened are the accuser and the accused. So they're going to let Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh have another day to explain to the committee what their position is on the allegations.
Of course, Democrats are pushing back against that, calling for the FBI to do this investigation. Blasey Ford has said that she wanted the FBI to do this investigation prior to her testimony, but they agreed to go ahead with Thursday morning whether or not it happens.
The question is going to be who wins out here on the sidelines of what we know now is going to be a real showdown. Potentially a he said-she said showdown on Thursday morning and definitely one which, you know, has huge, huge political stakes, both for the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh but also everybody is putting this in the context of what happens, what does this mean for, you know, an accusation like this and how it's considered in 2018, in the #metoo era, the -- you know, the question of how this will play out, you know, in the midterm elections which are coming up very soon after this for the different parties based on how they handled themselves.
It was lingering there in the background and several senators are reminding each of that, too. So the FBI -- the request to the FBI to look into this is now another potential political football in the next few days whether it goes ahead or not.
WHITFIELD: And so, David, why would the White House put out that statement, you know, that Boris just, you know, read saying, hey, look, these friends say they either don't recall or deny that it ever happened? Why would the White House put itself in a position to do that ahead of testimony days away? DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Because this is a battle of
credibility, and so both sides are trying to shape the upcoming hearing by shaping where the two individuals are coming from, right? And so much of this hinges not just on how credible both Kavanaugh and Ford are in their testimony but on how much of the facts can be determined ahead of their testimony. And the biggest problem that the Democrats have in trying to use this issue with Ford to derail Kavanaugh is thus far, although we do not know the truth, there has been no corroborating evidence presented that has made it clear that Ford is definitely telling the truth and Kavanaugh is definitely not telling the truth.
[16:10:21] And so both sides are trying to shape this with every bit of information they can get ahold of. And I think that -- Karen brings up a really good point, which is that so much of this is going to be dependent on how they perform, and we know that senators on both sides are going to ask very probing questions to, in a sense, try and trip up the other side. The one thing that is a little bit tougher for Republicans here is that they have to be very careful about looking as though they do not believe Ford on the face of her accusation. And --
WHITFIELD: And hasn't that already happened?
DRUCKER: -- if they attack her too much she is going to look very sympathetic, whereas I think Democrats have the luxury of being able to go very hard at Kavanaugh without worrying about that blowback.
WHITFIELD: OK. So two things on that. Jack, hasn't that already happened?
JACK QUINN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.
WHITFIELD: We've got Lindsey Graham, you've got the president himself also saying don't really believe her, you know, and second to that, is there any proof that the Democrats put her up to it, you know, to David's point, about, you know, the Democrats thinking that they can use her to undermine Kavanaugh?
QUINN: Yes, it's -- yes. The Republicans absolutely right now do not look like -- they're not serving Brett Kavanaugh very well in this process. They do not look like they're really trying to get to the truth of the matter.
Look, this is a really touchy subject, obviously. But in my experience, women don't lightly make an accusation like this. I think it's a painful thing, it's a difficult thing. They suffer from the concern that their victims get blamed. There is a stigma to this. I have personally had people in my family, loved ones, who've been victims of this crime. It's a heinous crime. I think that the Republicans running this investigation frankly look to most women in the country like they don't get it.
They don't understand how difficult this is, how difficult -- and this argument that there is no corroboration when, at the same time, they refuse to do anything to help corroborate it. They don't want the FBI to investigate. They, including the president, have said that's not what the FBI does, which makes me wonder, what does that I stand for in FBI? Of course they do this. And it's ridiculous that they should not be asked to do this.
Brett Kavanaugh's nomination has a dark cloud over it. That cloud is getting darker precisely because of the behavior of the Republicans in the Congress who want to control and limit this inquiry and ensure that it enables them to say, well, it's he said-she said, and, you know, we have to go forward and confirm him for the Supreme Court despite the fact that there is this serious allegation out there.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And then, Karoun, why would Republicans or why would senators think it's beneficial to have this independent counsel as opposed to senators asking the questions? You heard Senator Lindsey Graham who said, you know, these 11, you know, men are politicians and they're kind of rusty, or, you know, it's been a while since they've been in court asking questions. I mean, why is that a feasible argument here?
DEMERJIAN: Well, I mean --
WHITFIELD: They've been asking questions all along.
DEMERJIAN: I was going to say they ask questions every time there is a public hearing. It's customary for the senators to be the ones who ask the questions themselves, but, you know, there is an optics issue which is that you have a bunch of older, white predominantly men asking questions of a woman who's claiming to have been sexually assaulted by somebody, and there's the doubt that the Republicans do have about her allegations and a desire to protect Brett Kavanaugh as well. The optics could be really bad.
There is the argument that, you know, having somebody independent do it just as a better way of getting to the truth anyway, but it's impossible to divorce yourself from the fact that that panel is going to hearken back in many ways to, you know, 1991. And everybody does have that memory.
DEMERJIAN: Even if they weren't, you know, old enough to remember that in the day.
DEMERJIAN: The day and age that it happened. That's the precedent for what's going on right now. The Democrats are going to be very quick to remind of.
DEMERJIAN: And the optics of having one woman against 11 men.
WHITFIELD: OK. All right. And quickly, David, I mean, I remember I was a cab reporter in Washington and everybody was glued to the set.
WHITFIELD: Or at least to a transistor radio. Yes, there were that -- those things way back when. So, David, really quick, do you see that senators are going to ask the questions ultimately or do you see that they will still argue for an independent counsel?
DRUCKER: Well, I think at this point the way this is going they'll probably going to be the ones that end up asking the questions, but I understand why they don't want to. In addition to the fact -- to the optics, the fact is most of these senators are from a previous generation where the sensitivity to these sorts of accusations just didn't exist the way they do now.
[16:15:06] And I think there is a big fear on the part of Republicans that they're going to end up looking accusatory and demeaning and that is the sort of thing that this hearing is all about politically, who comes out looking better, looking better in front of the public, and that will determine where Kavanaugh's nomination goes.
WHITFIELD: All right. We will leave it there for now.
QUINN: And Can I --
WHITFIELD: Real, real quick, like in less than five seconds.
QUINN: No one should want this process to be fair more than Brett Kavanaugh.
QUINN: Because -- I mean, he's got everything at stake. This is going to be hanging over him for the rest of his career.
WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there, Jack Quinn, David Drucker, Karoun Demerjian, thanks so much.
DRUCKER: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, amid the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, CNN sits down with suburban women and gets their pulse on how they view the GOP's handling of this issue.
WHITFIELD: All right, President Trump has not directly attacked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over the "New York Times" report that Rosenstein reportedly talked about wearing a wire to record the president and possibly suggested building support for the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
[16:20:12] Rosenstein has issued two statements denying the report and today Senator Lindsey Graham gave Rosenstein the benefit of the doubt, but also claimed the DOJ and the FBI were trying to overthrow the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Should -- one last question here. Should the president fire Rosenstein and to what degree does this revelation taint, compromise the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, whom Rosenstein appointed?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He shouldn't fire Rosenstein unless you believe Rosenstein is lying. He said he did not do the things alleged. But there is a bureaucratic coup against President Trump being discovered here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me right now, Michael Zeldin, CNN legal analyst and Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the Department of Justice, and Norm Eisen, a CNN contributor and former ambassador and author of, "The Last Palace: Europe's Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House."
All right. Good to see you both. Michael, you first. You know, how potentially damaging is it that Senator Graham would claim that there is a bureaucratic coup against the president?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Honestly, I do not understand what that means. There is no bureaucratic coup against the president. The allegations that I read in the "New York Times" I don't credit, I don't believe for a moment that a week on the job, Rod Rosenstein, a lifer in the Department of Justice, is going to be talking about the invocation of the 25th Amendment or wearing a wire to do what with respect to the president. So I just don't credit it as a story and I don't, therefore, follow from it that there is any likelihood of there being a bureaucratic coup.
What Senator Graham really needs to understand and others need to understand is that Rod Rosenstein is the key person in the oversight of the Mueller investigation. And the Mueller investigation is at a critical juncture now, whether they can force the president to testify via subpoena or whether they can get him to agree to it, whether there is a viable theory of obstruction of justice by these mosaic of pieces.
There is a lot of stuff going on here. Rosenstein has been central to this for 14 months. To pull him out now would just be a terrible legal mistake on behalf of the president.
WHITFIELD: And so you question kind of the motivation behind any kernel that would instigate a report like that, particularly knowing what Rod Rosenstein's responsibilities are?
ZELDIN: Exactly. And there have been a series of "New York Times" reports. One said recently that Kavanaugh when he -- rather, McGahn, when he testified before the grand jury, you know, spoke to Mueller, he waived executive privilege. That's not true. Then they said that Dowd did not debrief witnesses. That's not true. Now they're saying Rosenstein invoked the 25th Amendment and proposed wearing a wire. I don't believe that's true. Something is going on here, I don't know what it is, that's political
in motivation. Sean Hannity seems to believe that as people tried to get the president all riled up to do something stupid. I don't know about that. But there is something that's going on here below the surface political that needs to be sorted out quickly for us to understand how to proceed here.
WHITFIELD: I get it. On your inference of, you know, planting information, so to speak.
So, Norm, you have known Rod Rosenstein for 25 years. Rosenstein released two statements denying that report. Knowing him as you do, do these accusations seem at all characteristic of him?
NORM EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Fred, thanks for having me back. They do not. I want to both defend Rod but also defend the "New York Times." I should disclose, I'm a regular opinion writer for them, frequent opinion writer for them. But you can understand what happened. Take the wire, the claim that Rod said maybe we should wear a wire. There is a dispute about that. Was Rod, who does have a sense of humor and a sarcastic sense of humor that the whole country saw when President Trump's allies in Congress, Congressman Meadows was cross-examining him, .and he used that sarcasm.
He might very well have said sarcastically -- Rod Rosenstein I know might have said sarcastically to Andy McCabe, who the conversation was happening with, Andy, what are you saying? You want me to put a wire on to interview the president? And it was intended as sarcasm. For whatever reason it appears that McCabe wrote it down as if verbatim.
[16:25:02] Now you have to -- I do not fault "The Times." I believe that they are accurately reporting what's in those memos. I know the fact-checking that "The Times" does. It's extensive. However, I do agree with Michael. I think that probably McCabe may have had a motive to malign Rod. McCabe is in a fight with the Department of Justice looking at possible charges. So you have to take those memos with a grain of salt. The facts are there. It's the spin that is up for grabs.
WHITFIELD: Except -- yes, except it's a source of another source who's saying that it's in the memo as opposed to it being reported that that person actually saw the memos and is reporting on what was seen in the memos.
So given that, you know, Michael, some are -- you've heard the drum beating now about whether Trump would use this in which to fire Rosenstein. But what would be the potential fallout, particularly as you -- you know, you all just underscored that it's Rosenstein who gave the green light to the special counsel for the Russia probe, and it's Rosenstein who also gave the green light for the FBI raid of the offices of the former fixer and attorney of the president, Michael Cohen?
ZELDIN: Right. So let's look at the timeline. First of all, all of that which we're talking about, the so-called conversation about the 25th Amendment and the wire, occurred a year and a bit ago. So there's been a lot of time since then, and if Rosenstein felt seriously that at that time there was such chaos that this was required, the chaos hasn't gotten any less over the past -- over the next 12 months and yet we hear nothing of this, and he's quite soberly overseeing this investigation.
So that also to me undermines the truthfulness or, you know, accuracy of the "New York Times" report here. But were they to fire Rosenstein at this point would require them to have a new deputy attorney general appointed and confirmed by the Senate. If he just fired him and left him vacant, then the solicitor general is the acting attorney general for the purposes of the Mueller case, something he's not familiar with.
And again, from the president's standpoint, you just do not want, I think, to change the director of this investigation. Rosenstein, not Mueller, at this critical point in the investigation. I think the lawyers for the president have been working very hard.
WHITFIELD: Interesting. OK.
ZELDIN: We saw reports recently that they might allow him to testify in written form. Why would you upset that apple cart?
WHITFIELD: Right. OK, we'll leave it there for now. All very fascinating.
Michael Zeldin, former ambassador Norm Eisen. Thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.
EISEN: Thanks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. As China cancels trade talks with the U.S. the latest U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods taking effect tomorrow. Coming up, the view from China on this escalating trade war.
[16:30:01] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, NEWSROOM HOST, CNN: In a few hours, new U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products take effect. This coming as trade negotiations between both countries have stalled. China cancelling the latest round of meetings set for this week. CNN's Matt Rivers has the view from China.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT RIVERS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: If you want to talk to lots of people quickly in Beijing, take a scooter. Seriously, the traffic here is horrible. It might not look great, but it does work. Our mission today, to find out how the average person in Beijing feels about the U.S.-China trade war, we start in one of Beijing's many outdoor workout areas where we spot 77-year-old Su-Jen going strong on the leg press. She says China is strong too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are powerful now and we are not weak like in the past. Chinese people aren't easily bullied. The U.S. cannot handicap China's development. RIVERS: Chinese state media says that a lot too. On August 10, the
people's daily newspaper wrote, quote, the U.S. is unwilling to see China develop and prosper and then surpass it. No hardship has ever stopped China from standing up, growing rich, and becoming strong. The anti-American drumbeat in state media is loud and consistent, though (Inaudible) doesn't entirely agree.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't generalize them. People in the U.S. aren't all bad. There are nice American people. It's just the leaders are bad.
RIVERS: Post workout, it's over to a cafe on the other side of town where the coffee is strong but support for the trade war is weak. We know -- what do you think of the trade war?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's wrong. It's only about (Inaudible).
RIVERS: Movie Director Lee Hwan Go says China's policies could hurt ordinary people by hurting the economy overall. In Beijing's narrow winding alleyways, the trade deal can feel pretty far away, but think about it differently. Do tariffs make those playing cards more expensive? Does the delivery guy's petro bill go up? Are veggies are harder to source or export?
Maybe, maybe not, it's too early to tell. But it is a lot to think about, enough to make you hungry. Can I have one American pulled pork sandwich, lunch break? This sandwich is more expensive now because American pork is on China's tariff list. I am still going to eat it, though, because it's good, but still. It's still lunch time when we're back on the bike heading over to the central business district, the natural habitat of white collar workers. Trade war panic, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I didn't feel I am affected so far.
RIVERS: Actually, it's a common sentiment around here. Most haven't felt the crunch yet. Several people we spoke to said that.
[16:35:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think our country hasn't been affected that much so far. China doesn't rely on the U.S. like it did in the 2000s.
RIVERS: But China's economy is already slowing down, and its stock markets aren't doing great either. The trade war certainly won't help with that. And for that reason, some around here are worried about the long term.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It definitely has an active impact on Chinese economy.
RIVERS: So in the end, if your question is how do Chinese people feel about the trade war, there is no one way to answer that question. How people feel depends on what job they have, their political views. You're talking short or long-term impact and a million other reasons. But what is clear is that people are increasingly aware that a trade war is on and that the trade tensions could last a long time. Matt Rivers, CNN, Beijing. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Coming up, a judge in Pennsylvania is about to decide Bill Cosby's fate. So what can we expect at tomorrow's sentencing hearing? But first, a sneak peek of the first of the final episodes of Parts Unknown hosted by our late colleague, Anthony Bourdain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, PARTS UNKNOWN: 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, the first time on this continent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BOURDAIN: It's unbelievable, astonishing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I always wanted to do it.
BOURDAIN: New York, in your mind, is where the writer's life was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown, the final episodes starts tonight at 9:00 on CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:40:00] WHITFIELD: We will soon learn whether the entertainer once known as America's Dad will be heading to prison for sexual assault. The sentencing hearing for Bill Cosby begins tomorrow morning in a Pennsylvania courtroom. The 81-year-old faces up to 30 years in prison for three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Here's CNN's Polo Sandoval.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POLO SANDOVAL, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Bill Cosby has been under house arrest since being convicted of aggravated indecent assault in April. Prosecutors accused him of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his Pennsylvania home in 2004. On Monday, the disgraced comic is set to begin the sentencing phase of his criminal trial, and could be sent to prison for up to 30 years.
His convictions could be merged because they all rise from a single incident. In that case, the maximum sentence would be 10 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He used his celebrity. He used his wealth. He used his network of supporters to help him conceal his crimes.
SANDOVAL: This next legal chapter is likely to bring new challenges for the Cosby defense team. They'll argue their client should receive a short prison sentence, if any at all, pointing to the 81-year-old's failing health and history of charitable giving, also the fact that their client's April conviction was his first. The prosecution, however, may call Constand and other Cosby accusers
to the witness stand once again to give victim impact statements. Constand provided emotional testimony during Cosby's retrial. The defense team would have the chance to cross-examine all of the witnesses. Last week, they also made an 11th hour attempt to have Judge Steven O'Neal recuse himself from the case, citing bias against their client.
That same judge will decide if Cosby will have to register as a sex offender with state police the rest of his life, a man once known as America's Dad may be forced to assume the title of sexual predator. One more thing to look out for in the proceedings that are a few days away here is whether or not we will actually hear from Bill Cosby himself. You'll recall he did not testify during his retrial earlier this year, Fred.
If he does take the stand, though, as part of the punishment phase here, it would certainly not be unusual, Fred, since convicts are usually given the opportunity to face their judge and ask for leniency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, Polo Sandoval thanks so much. All right, amid the allegations of sexual assault against President Trump's Supreme Court Nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, CNN sits down with suburban women to get their opinions of how the GOP has handled this issue.
[16:45:00] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. Amid the sexual assault allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, and his accuser's expected testimonies on Capitol Hill this week, we're taking the pulse of a key voting block ahead of the midterms, suburban women. They could be key to which party controls Congress come November. Here's CNN's Ana Cabrera recently travelling to a swing district in Virginia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANA CABRERA, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: How would you grade this current President?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It would be an F for me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agree, F.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A-minus because of his handwriting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Incomplete.
CABRERA: Incomplete. Why do you say incomplete?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) Donald Trump. But he's done a lot right and a lot wrong. And as Republican, we're watching him. I mean there is a good chance he'll have a primary in two years. We don't know yet.
CABRERA: You haven't made up your mind about him at this point?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's done some things very well and some things horribly. I disagree with him on immigration. I disagree with him on tariffs. These are huge issues.
CABRERA: (Inaudible), what do you see as him doing really, really well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that our President has delivered. His deliverables have been quite good, like the tax reform, filling out the judiciary. Some of the difficult, albeit difficult relationships and international relationships he's re-forged. Has he delivered things that are good for our nation? And to that extent, I say he gets an A-minus.
CABRERA: You disagree, Lana?
[16:49:58] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel he has done nothing but divide our country further apart, and, you know he -- Charlottesville was huge for me. To see the President of the United States get up and say that there is good people on both sides really, really hurt. I don't want my kids looking up to that. I don't want my kids thinking that racism is acceptable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughter was crying on the couch when she saw my friend from Sterling, Virginia have to jump out of the way of that car.
CABRERA: You knew somebody who was there?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. No one in the commonwealth of Virginia should ever have to fear for their lives when they are at a rally supporting diversity.
CABRERA: Do you believe that this President has done anything that is considered an impeachable offense? Monica, I know you're an attorney. What do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't practice that area of law.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do believe and support Robert Mueller's investigation into the Russian interference. And of course, if there is anything that is uncovered by Robert Mueller and his investigation, of course, we should pursue any avenues that are out there to remove a President, if the President has, in fact, colluded with Russia.
CABRERA: Do you believe Democrats should be running on impeaching this President?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe so. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at Bill Clinton. I mean it was a huge distraction in the 90s. And at the end of the day, nothing changed. They can impeach Donald Trump, but nothing is going to change. We should really focus on making the country a better place.
CABRERA: Do you support how the President has handled the Russian investigation?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) of Donald Trump. No, there are some things he's done well, some things he's done horribly. I wish he would just stop tweeting.
CABRERA: We have seen support of the Special Counsel investigation on the rise over the last few polls, even though the President has continued to go after Robert Mueller and his team and that investigation, calling it a witch hunt and a hoax. There have been a number of indictments. There have been a number of convictions. And I think any suggestion that this is a witch hunt, that's obviously the President, can speak his mind and tweet all day long if he would like.
But the facts speak for themselves. The President has called it an illegal investigation. Does anybody here believe it as an illegal investigation?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not at all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't possibly answer that. I mean that it's ongoing and that they're finding the facts that need to be found out. Our neighbors and our friends are fact-based folks.
CABRERA: Do you believe this President is telling you the truth?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't speak with him so I can't answer that.
CABRERA: Do you trust the President?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I -- the office of the President is created and it's a function of the politics of our nation. And America selected Donald J. Trump to be our President. He serves in that capacity. It will be a measure on his ballot about whether America agrees with him. For my part, I like the work that he is doing as President.
CABRERA: Do you trust the President and that he's being truthful with you, Jo?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. But did I trust Obama, did I trust George Bush? No. They're politicians at the end of the day.
CABRERA: Are you willing to overlook the facts?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Facts are facts. One plus one is two. So there is nothing like an alternative fact. An alternative fact is a lie. And our President lies regularly every single day. He has lost the ability to communicate with our allies because we are no longer trusted.
CABRERA: I know your husband is in the service.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
CABRERA: Lana, does that influence your perspective about this administration?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
CABRERA: In what way?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you know, I fear he might make a grave mistake. Tweeting back and forth with Korea is unacceptable. There are people that are putting their lives on the line. I feel Mr. Woodward's book is just coming out and emphasizing the fact that he's unfit to be President. And Congress needs to act on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All those women are from Virginia's 10th congressional district. Incumbent GOP Congresswoman Barbara Comstock is currently pulling 10 points behind her opponent, state Senator Jennifer Wexton. If Wexton wins, she'll be the first Democratic representative in that district in nearly 40 years. All right, the city of Lagos is known as Nigeria's Silicon Valley.
It's a sector dominated by men, something one successful computer programmer is determined to change by helping her country's most disadvantaged girls fill that gender gap. Meet this week's CNN hero.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:54:55] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I went to Makoko for the first time, I was surprised to see the living conditions of (Inaudible). Most girls are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty. Many of them are thinking of education. They plan for the future. I believe girls should be given opportunities. What you can't see, you can't aspire to. They need to be shown another life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, for more on this week's Heroes, go to CNNHeroes.com. All right, coming up, new details on the ongoing negotiations between Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee and lawyers for Brett Kavanaugh's accuser ahead of Thursday's hearing.