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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Trump's Atty. Need Russia Probe "Time Out" If Rosenstein Leaves; Graham: There's A "Bureaucratic Coup" Against Trump; Brett Kavanaugh And Wife Speak Out In Unprecedented TV Interview. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 24, 2018 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:05] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Out front next, a game of chicken, will the President fire Rod Rosenstein or could the Deputy Attorney General quit first.

Plus, Brett Kavanaugh fights back, going public with his wife on national TV tonight. Would he be doing this if he didn't think his nomination was in serious jeopardy?

And family feud. A candidate fighting for his seat in Congress has six new opponents, his brothers and sisters. Let's go out front.

Good evening, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. Out front tonight, time out. That is what the President's attorney is calling for tonight in the Russian investigation if Rod Rosenstein is out. A convenient foil or something else? This as the President won't give clear questions -- clear answer about Rosenstein's fate. Instead, leaving Rosenstein twisting in the wind until they meet face to face.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My meeting with Rod Rosenstein on Thursday when I get back from all of these meetings, we'll be meeting at the White House, and we'll be determining what's going on. We want to have transparency, we want to have openness, and I look forward to meeting with Rod at that time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Rosenstein's job hanging in the balance since the bombshell report that he discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office and raised the prospect of wearing a wire on more than occasion, according to the report, to secretly record the President. And as the clock ticks down to Trump's meeting with Rosenstein, there has been a flurry of developments.

Sources say Rosenstein offered his resignation to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on Friday. And here's the thing, Kelly accepted it. But then today pure utter and confusion, that's the only way to describe it, as the President seems more than happy to let the uncertainty over Rosenstein and his fate linger. In the meantime, though, Republicans are pouncing. The President's attorney saying, if Rosenstein goes, the Russia investigation should pause.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: I think it's really important that there be a step back taken here, and a review, and I think it's a review that has to be thorough and complete, and a review that has to include an investigation of what has transpired with all of these statements and all of these allegations, going back to this broken page (ph) in Bruce Ohr. And basically a time out on this inquiry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: And not just a time out. On Capitol Hill, one of the President's closest allies, Congressman Mark Meadows, he seized on the reports about Rosenstein to further discredit the Justice Department, putting this out, "Whether or not the latest reports on Rosenstein are true, one thing is clear. What is happening at the Department of Justice is a travesty. This is disastrous, and it needs to end now." A lot to get to tonight.

Let's start with Jeff Zeleny, he's out front live at Trump Tower here in New York. Jeff, any signs what the President might do on Thursday?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, that is an open question. We're not sure the President is sure of what he's going to do exactly. We're not sure that Rod Rosenstein knows what's coming to him. But he did start the day as you said. He was prepared to leave his job. Either in a resignation or by firing, but it is not at all clear that that is what the President is going to do on Thursday. It's almost a certainty that it happens at some point, but the question is when.

So many Republicans are urging the President not to get involved with this, during the midterm elections. We're some five weeks away before the midterm elections. But it's unclear, so much confusion here. Half of the President's staff and he, of course, was here at Trump Tower watching all of this drama unfold in Washington. Of course, Rod Rosenstein was at the White House.

But one thing is also clear. We have seen the President be so angry at the Attorney General. But he hasn't fired him. So it's unclear if he's going to fire Rod Rosenstein on Thursday. But also one thing is clear, Kate, this is all playing out as world leaders here in New York City are getting a front row seat to this dysfunction inside this administration. And that annoys the President we're told by officials.

So, of course, all these changes (ph) on the Russia investigation, which is something he cannot get beyond. What happens between now and Thursday? One this is clear, he wants to take off some of the spotlight of the Supreme Court hearing in the Senate, so that's why the meeting was scheduled on Thursday as well. But unclear what he's going to do on Thursday, Kate? We simply just don't know.

BOLDUAN: After programming himself. Great to see you, Jeff. Thank you so much and so much can happen between now and then or now and five minutes from now.

Out front now, James Trusty, he's the former Chief of the Organized Crime Section for the Department of Justice. He's a longtime friend of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Gloria Borger is here, she is CNN Chief Political Analyst and Anne Milgram is here, a former Federal Prosecutor. Thank you all so much for being here.

James, when we spoke last week, you called Rosenstein very fatalistic, that he's the kind of guy that who would ride this out after the report emerged from the New York Times. Why would he be offering to resign then?

JAMES TRUSTY, LONGTIME FRIEND OF ROD ROSENSTEIN: Well I think the biggest question, you know -- I mean, there's a lot of uncertainty here, so let's start with that. I mean, what's clear is nothing's clear.

[19:05:05] But in terms of Rod, you know, he may be offering a resignation that has a fuse length. He may say I am offering my resignation, I'm going to leave at the beginning of the year. And so I'm real curious that if that's what he's doing, if he's actually offering a resignation, is he whetting it to the completion of the probe, or is he picking some date meaning more I've had enough and I'm out of here.

And, again, that's assuming he's offering a resignation, as opposed to facing firing. So, I think a lot of this really has to wait until Thursday to have any certainty in terms of what he is saying and how the President is going to react to it.

BOLDUAN: And that was some of the reporting, is that there was a conversation with John Kelly about a resignation, timing was a condition, and Kelly and the White House did not accept it. That was some of the reporting, so that gets to exactly what you're thinking about.

Gloria, why is this all so confusing? I mean, either you're fired or you resign or you have your job and let's just all move on. I mean, how can there be an in between with this?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, have you ever heard of I quit/you're fired? That's what this seems to be a version of. Look, this story from the New York Times on Friday in which Rosenstein, you know, is reportedly talking about wiring himself or removing the President to the 25th Amendment not as a joke, according to the New York Times, not sarcastically was difficult for him. And he was going to be called to Capitol Hill to testify about it, before Republicans, I don't think it's something he looked forward to.

And our reporting and other reporting is that, you know, he thought a lot over the weekend about offering his resignation, talked to various people at the White House about it including the Chief of Staff, including Don McGahn, the White House Counsel, who, of course, was busy with the Kavanaugh nomination. And I think today he expected, when he went to the White House, he expected that he was going to be fired, except he wasn't. Because the President and his supporters don't think this would be good for the President right now to do that heading into the midterm elections. And that perhaps he ought to wait on firing Rosenstein until after the midterms.

And so, it is chaotic, it is confusing. The President doesn't like him, he does want him gone. I think the question is, when?

BOLDUAN: Yes. Anne, what do you make of Trump's attorney saying, if Rosenstein goes, the Russia probe should come to a halt? Should come to at least a pause or a time-out, as he talked about it? Would you give him a nice trial or is there something to it?

ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I don't think there's anything to it. I mean, the Department of Justice, what they do is prosecute cases. And this Mueller out there as Special Counsel looking into what happened with the Russia probe. There have already been countless criminal prosecutions, convictions, guilty pleas, we have Manafort pleading guilty in cooperating just week in a half ago. So there is nothing in my --

BOLDUAN: It feels like seven years ago.

MILGRAM: It does. But there's nothing, in my view, there is increasingly more and more evidence of the importance of the probe, not less. And so this idea that you would hit pause on a criminal investigation, that's just not how criminal investigations work.

Mueller has to work quickly to figure out what happened. But that task is still the same, what happened, was there any wrongdoing and should people be charged? And that then that will conclude the probe. So this idea feels incredibly political to me and really contrary to the rule of law.

BOLDUAN: Shocking. Shocking that it seems political to you.

James, what happens on Thursday? What is the message do you think that Rosenstein brings to the President do you think?

TRUSTY: Well, you know, I think Rose going to go into it with his head held high. He's not going to grovel for the job or grovel to be release from the job. I think he is very historical minded person. So he's tending to think not kind of egotistically historical, but just, hey, I've got a job to do, I'm going to have a conversation, I'm going to lay out my concerns. Why I might want to leave, if that's what it is.

But he's going to be dignified on both ends. He's going to walk out the same guy when he leaves, and he'll have a bright future in some other realm. Maybe not public service any more. He may have had this feel of that after all these years. But I think he'll probably conduct himself very commonly and rationally and not any kind of hysterics or emotionally or even an undue emphasis of himself. He's going to talk about the job of Deputy Attorney General and a job of supervising the Mueller probe.

BOLDUAN: Gloria, you hit on this just a bit. The politics surrounding Rosenstein have changed since this all came out on Friday. At first Trump's allies were saying, fire Rosenstein immediately. And now his allies, like Fox host Sean Hannity are saying, do not fire anybody, it is a trap.

BORGER: Right.

BOLDUAN: What is going on behind the scenes there?

BORGER: Well, there's some theory of the game that perhaps this is a setup by liberals to get the President a position where he fires Rosenstein and then Democrats go after him for trying to blow up the Mueller probe, or, in fact, see this as an act of obstruction.

[19:10:10] And they believe that the President should not walk into that trap. I think -- I don't know what the motivation of this was. You know, I think they have a good political theory here, which is that this is not the best time to fire Rod Rosenstein. The question is whether Rosenstein says, I've got to go.

I doubt he would do that. I think he was ready to resign. But if the President and he agree, OK, you leave in January as Jim is saying or, you, you know, you leave on November 10th, maybe they'll agree to that. I mean, Rosenstein not only overseas Bob Mueller, but he is the Deputy Attorney General. And as Deputy Attorney General, you do a lot of stuff, and I think Sessions depends on him in a lot of ways.

Does the President want it to look by the way that he's completely cleaning house at his Justice Department on November 10th? That's another thing to keep in mind too. Firing your attorney general, firing your deputy attorney general all at once --

BOLDUAN: Yes.

BORGER: -- maybe not a great idea.

BOLDUAN: But this gets to, Anne, kind of in the flurry of responses today especially, there's been one common theme against Democrats that we've heard from, is that everyone talking about Saturday night massacre. Just listen to this.

MILGRAM: Right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: This is the next step in a slowly evolving, slow motion Saturday night massacre.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: This looks to me like a slow-moving Saturday night massacre.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: I mean, we do hear the term -- we hear the term all the time when it comes to the threats, the maybes, the this and that, but do you think this is an over reaction or do you think there are right to be concern about another Saturday massacre?

MILGRAM: I mean, it does feel to me like Rosenstein is on his way out, and whether it's tomorrow or next week or at the end of the year, and I think the question is, what happens to the Mueller probe, right? And we don't have an answer to that yet. I don't think it will be positive. I think the best that people can hope for right now is that it's equal. But it's more likely that it's going to be bad. That Trump will put someone in who will try to control the investigation.

And this does lead to all sorts of questions about, are they trying to obstruct the investigation? Are they trying to use politics to basically subvert the rule of law? And so, you know, I don't think we're there to have that -- I wouldn't put in those terms, but I do think that this does raises serious jeopardy for the investigation. And for the truth coming out to the American people.

BOLDUAN: I wonder this a lot and I wonder it again tonight. Bob Mueller sees all of this playing out and he thinks what? We don't know, that's the thing. Because he doesn't. He's the only one in Washington who isn't talking.

Great to see you guys. Thank you so much.

Out front for us next. A top Republican says reports about Rosenstein show there's a bureaucratic coup happening under Donald Trump. Is it just paranoia?

Plus, Brett Kavanaugh on the attack tonight. Going public with his wife at his side. A sign of determination or desperation.

And Noel Francisco, get used to hearing that name. He may end up overseeing the Mueller probe.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:16:56] BOLDUAN: Bureaucratic coup, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's job hangs in the balance tonight and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says allegations that Rosenstein talked about secretly taping Trump and discussed invoking the 25th Amendment show officials are actively working against President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: And he said he did not do the things alleged. But there's a bureaucratic coupe against President Trump being discovered here. Before the election, the people in question tried to taint the election, tip it to Clinton's favor. After the election, they're trying to undermine the President.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Out front now, former Justice Department Official, Francey Hakes, and former Head of FBI's Office of Congressional Affairs under James Comey, Greg Brower. Great to see you both. Francine, is there something going on here, or is this paranoia?

FRANCEY HAKES, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, Kate, I don't think it's paranoia. I think there is something going on here. I think it started under President Obama with high level officials who either believe or wanted to believe that President Trump was colluding with Russia to throw the election, and so they began investigating.

And even a week before President Trump's inaugural, there was talk about preventing him from being inaugurated. Or that he would have to resign and talk about what would happen with Mike Pence taking over. So, I think there is some evidence of some kind of action by those at the very top of the bureaucracy.

BOLDUAN: Greg, what do you think?

GREG BROWER, FMR. HEAD OF FBI'S CONGRESSIONAL AFFAIRS OFFICE UNDER COMEY: Yes. I don't see any evidence of that at all. I think what we see here quite simply is with respect to both the political leadership of the Department of Justice and the career men and women at the department, including the FBI, we see a few things, we see a steadfast commitment to defending the institution. The independence of the institution of the DOJ and the FBI. We see a steadfast determination to uphold the rule of law. We see a commitment to not allowing the Special Counsel's investigation to be undermined for political reasons. And we see a commitment to national security. That's it, the same exact things that any American would expect from DOJ and FBI I think we see playing out here, despite what the conspiracy theorists out there may want to come up with.

BOLDUAN: Francey, is it a conspiracy theory that you're open to here?

HAKES: No, Kate, I'm not a tinfoil hat wearer. I'm, instead, someone who work inside the Department of Justice for a decade. And I'm well aware of the attitude of the career bureaucrat who are part of then some on both sides, but those who say things like, well, let's just wait out the presidential appointees, we don't have to implement this policy because they'll be gone soon. I mean, these are high level bureaucrats who run, for example, the Department of Justice between administrations.

And it isn't a conspiracy and it isn't upholding a lot to like to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. And I think we have evidence here that there's lies that have taken place. And so I understand what Greg is saying, but a desire to uphold the law is not shown through lying to the FISA court.

BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Greg.

[19:20:00] BROWER: Kate, let me be clear, there is no evidence that anybody lied to the FISA court. The Department of Justice inspector general is reviewing that process now. But today, there is no cite (ph) evidence and I'm --

BOLDUAN: This gets to a warrant application to surveil Carter Page who was an adviser to the Trump campaign. Continue, please. BROWER: That's right. That's a right wing talking point. There is no such evidence. But more over, we have to remember because it's lost (ph) in this argument often. Those who are leading DOJ and the FBI right now, and with whom the buck stops on all of these issues are Trump appointees. Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein and Chris Wray, all Trump appointees.

And that goes for every single other senior leader at the Department of Justice. They have the national security division, they have the criminal division, that is civil division. Every single senior leader in DOJ is a Trump appointee. So it's just nonsense to suggest that somehow the will of those appointees is being subverted by some conspiratorial career people who are out to get this President. That's just nonsense. There is no evidence of that.

BOLDUAN: Francey, he has a point. I mean, we're well beyond just the beginning of this administration, and these are people that the President put in place.

HAKES: Well, what Greg obviously doesn't remember is that you've got an entire level, about three levels down from the Attorney General who are put in and are career employees. And they are career employees throughout both --

BOLDUAN: You don't think the Attorney General oversees that, stops them, observes them, controls them?

HAKES: Well they can't be fired, except for misconduct because they are protected federal employees. I am not saying there's some massive government wide conspiracy to take down the President. You misunderstand me, Greg, that's not what I said. What I'm saying is, I think there are a few high level people inside the Department of Justice and the FBI and the CIA who took it upon themselves to engage in conduct that looks unlawful.

BOLDUAN: Greg, just sort of -- go ahead, Greg. Go ahead.

BROWER: Let me be clear about this. All of the final decisions about everything that happens within the Department of Justice on investigations and with respect to ongoing criminal cases, all of those decisions are made by Trump appointees. Again, the buck stops with them. The career people. Even assuming this idea that there are career people who may have nefarious intent. Those people can't do anything without the ultimate decision making being approved by Trump appointees.

And, frankly, Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein, Chris Wray and others would be offended and frankly we think it's laughable to think that somehow their will, their decision making, their power is somehow being undermined by others who are subordinate to them. It simply doesn't work that way.

BOLDUAN: Just to high cut (ph) to this pretty quick, Francey, would it be a mistake if the President fired Rod Rosenstein at this point?

HAKES: Let me just first say, Kate, that Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein when it comes to things like signing FISA warrants have to take the word of the career level people that the facts are as they've been described. Now, as far as what it be a mistake to fire him? I think politically it might be a mistake, but I have to say, if I'm the CEO of a company or the president of the United States, and somehow working for me has been subverting my will, has claimed I'm unfit, and is trying to get Cabinet members to sign off on a 25th Amendment scenario where the President is removed from office, I'd fire him.

BOLDUAN: So do you believe Rod Rosenstein's denials? I get a sense you're skeptical?

HAKES: No, no, I don't know. I don't know what the truth is there. I'm simply saying that if what they're saying is true, what the media is reporting, if Rod Rosenstein engaged in that kind of conduct where he's trying to get a cabal of Cabinet level officials to sign off on the 25th Amendment, the President would be right to fire him.

BOLDUAN: Francey, I really appreciate your time, thank you so much. Greg, thanks so much, really appreciate it.

Out front for us next, if Rosenstein goes, who oversees the Russia investigation? New details tonight.

And we have some breaking news, an unprecedented moment, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh goes on national television with his wife sitting by his side before his confirmation has been considered by the Senate. Will the P.R. push work?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:27:49] BOLDUAN: Breaking news, Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh speaking out for the first time defending himself publicly against allegations of sexual assault and inappropriate sexual behavior. Moments ago, denying to Fox News, Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that he assaulted her when they were in high school. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: The truth is I've never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise. I am not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone at some place. But what I know is I've never sexually assaulted anyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Out front tonight, Karen Tumulty, Washington Post Columnist, Patrick Healy, Politics Editor for the New York Times, Joan Walsh, National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation and Scott Jennings, former Senior Adviser to Senator Mitch McConnell.

All right, Patrick, before we go into this, I think it is important to say just the fact that Kavanaugh and his wife sitting together side by side in a television interview at this point is extraordinary. PATRICK HEALY, POLITICS EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right. We don't see this kind of offense usually from a Supreme Court nominee. You may see it from, you know, a Cabinet secretary, you know, someone whose nomination is going, at the hell, it's in trouble, but not from a judge. And what was striking about this interview is that, you know, clearly he is going through a series of talking points. He hit the same, you know, few phrases over and over again about wanting to have a fair process, a fair hearing, we are fair in American, you know, again, sort of like pushing a message over and over again.

But the reality is that on Thursday, if he is on the hot seat answering questions from, you know, United States senators, about a lifetime appointment at the bench, these kind of clip sound bites in which there's no real reflection or reckoning at the kind of person that he was in high school or in college or later, it's hard to see how that's going to be convincing, especially if he's up against, you know, a witness, who many people may find very sympathetic or at least is telling a personal story. It so hard in these situations when you're telling a very personal story. One witness and then the other is sort of sticking to these very scripted talking points. You feel very discordant.

BOLDUAN: Karen, would this even be happening, though, if Kavanaugh didn't think his appointment was in serious trouble?

KAREN TUMULTY, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Oh, absolutely. This is extraordinary. It's unprecedented. And I think it reflects the fact that everyone recognizes that he is -- he's got a very narrow lane here. He cannot afford to lose two Republican votes.

And so, I think he is speaking to the conservative base that he's doing this on Fox News, and, you know, I think he probably helped himself tonight. He choked up a couple times. He came across as pretty straightforward on this.

And he smartly avoided attacking her personally. He really stuck with her story.

BOLDUAN: I want to play a bit more from Kavanaugh, Joan, for all of us. Here's what Kavanaugh says a little bit more about that party. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: I was never at any such party. The other people who alleged to be present said they do not remember any such party. A woman who was present, another woman who was present who was Dr. Ford's lifelong friend has said that she doesn't know me, and never remembers being at a party with me at any time in her life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: I was sitting here listening to that, and I was thinking, this is exactly what we're going to hear on Thursday when he testifies before the committee. Why not wait? JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: I don't know.

BOLDUAN: It's on Thursday.

WALSH: I honestly don't know. Kate. I'm going to say, look, I expected this to be a bunch of softball questions, I thought he was going to house organ of the Trump Organization and he would be treated with kid gloves. That did not happen. I rarely if ever disagree with Karen Tumulty, my friend, but I think this was a disaster. And I think that, you know, and Patrick says the repetition of fair process, fair process, respecting the dignity and honor of women.

He -- and, also, I hate to say this, but this is the turf we're on. He went into a long soliloquy of all I did in high school was study and play basketball and make friends with boys and girls. Well, I'm sorry, if you go to his yearbook, you know, what's written under his picture himself about the 100 keg party and the Ralph party and the bowling alley assault and the Rehoboth Beach police fan club, he opened up territory now for I think Democratic senators to actually ask questions about that, because he's painted a picture of himself that, oh, I had a few beers, but it's in variance with what is already on the record.

Also, his own speeches over the years, talking about glad everything stayed at Georgetown Prep. And, you know, having at various points where he over-consumed. I think this was a disaster. I think he's gone.

BOLDUAN: Wow.

Scott, that in mind, do you think this was a right move?

SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: Yes, I have said since this weekend, they should put Brett Kavanaugh on television, and the reason he had to do it, let's be clear about this, because it was sat on by two months -- for two months by Dianne Feinstein. They chose not to bring this up during his confirmation hearings, they could have done that, but they didn't. So, they waited for the hearings to end, forcing us into this situation here between --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You go back and talk about that, but I want to get your take on this. Why do you think it was a good idea to have him -- I'm surprised you said since the weekend that he should be. Tell me why. This is so extraordinary.

JENNINGS: Well, a couple things. Number one --

BOLDUAN: The Supreme Court nominee would be on TV before he's been voted in.

JENNINGS: Yes, I mean, look, there's no third party that puts Brett Kavanaugh in any of the locations where the allegations are said to have taken place. And there's no credible third party that can say for sure he was there or did anything that's like being alleged. So, the only people that can speak about this credibly are the accuser and the accused, and Brett Kavanaugh as the accused is the most credible spokesperson for his case. He went on TV tonight and made an unequivocal credible statement that he did not do this. He is the best spokesperson for his side of this, he needed to get it out there.

I think the narrative has been controlled by the Democrats for the last week since the Democrats choreographed and dropped all of this out after his confirmation hearings. I'm glad he was out there defending himself tonight, because he's the best person to look into a television camera and tell the American people this did not happen. And he did that tonight and I think the objective was achieved.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I would just -- I think there's choreography on both sides if we want to be really honest here.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Guys, Karen, stick with me. You guys are going to have to come back. We've got much sound and more of this interview coming in and going to bring this to you and everyone is going to stick around.

[19:35:03] OUTFRONT for us next, all eyes on Kavanaugh's wife Ashley, what she is now saying about the allegations against her husband.

And solicitor general, Noel Francisco, if Rosenstein is out, he could become a household name.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: More now to the breaking news. Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his wife Ashley breaking their silence on Fox News moments ago. It's the first time we're hearing from Kavanaugh's wife amid the allegations.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS HOST: So, Ashley, when you hear women say, you know, that they repressed the memory that they had been struggling with their whole life. They never wanted to say anything. They were embarrassed to even tell their parents or their friends what had happened.

But years later, in this situation, Christine Ford says, you know, I felt I wanted to submit what I knew about Brett Kavanaugh into his file, because I heard he was up for this very important position. And I wanted to make sure that my story was in there. I didn't want to come forward, but I wanted to make sure that they had that information, because she felt it was really important that they know.

ASHLEY KAVANAUGH, WIFE OF JUDGE KAVANAUGH: I truly, I don't understand it. [19:40:02] I know Brett, I know who he is.

MACCALLUM: But do you sympathize with the idea that some women would suppress a memory or wouldn't want to share it? Or would not be able to talk about it until many years later?

ASHLEY KAVANAUGH: I don't under -- I don't know what happened to her. And I don't even want to go there. I feel badly for her family, I feel badly for her, through this process. This process is not right.

MACCALLUM: Do you believe there should be an FBI investigation into these allegations and that a pause should happen and, you know, sort it all out? If there's nothing to worry about and nothing to hide, why not have that process? Ashley, and I'll ask you that, Brett?

JUDGE KAVANAUGH: I've said all along, and Ashley, too, I want to be heard --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Fascinating. My guests are back with me. I have to tell you, throughout the clips that I've seen, I was not watching the judge. I've been watching his wife wondering what she is thinking. And now she is speaking out.

How powerful is it that she's sitting there -- that she's sitting there? And what do you make of what of she said?

TUMULTY: Well, I don't know that she adds much to it, usually when we see the spouse, the wife next to a man in a situation like this, she's -- it's because something has happened that affects the marriage. And the wife is there to essentially send a message, this is nobody's business but ours. I think in this case, and you usually see her greatly pained. This is a case where she is sitting there as his character reference, and the character references have not really accomplished in his case what I think he and his allies have hoped.

BOLDUAN: Scott, do you think he would have been better served to do this alone and not bring his wife along?

JENNINGS: Well, I mean, with all due respect, I mean, if somebody started calling you a rapist for a week in the national media, that would probably tend to think, maybe my -- I should talk about this with my wife and she'd be a great character reference, which is exactly what's happening with Brett Kavanaugh.

I tell you what I saw in the faces of both of them tonight -- emotion, you cannot coach emotion. Kavanaugh was breaking up during his answers, she was clearly emotional about it. I think it was right to put them both out there to address how hard this has been on their family and it was right to put her up there next to him, so that when he is sitting there saying, unequivocally I did not do this, that she can say, unequivocally this is not the Brett Kavanaugh that I know.

It was a great 1-2 punch tonight from their side. I hope -- in fact, I think -- I don't think they should stop, I think they should go out tomorrow, and Wednesday, and keep doing this until the hearing on Thursday.

BOLDUAN: What is the point of the hearing? This is what I don't understand. If it's to get confirmed, why doesn't he just go before the committee and answer the questions, if he says he's already spoken enough, why is he going on this PR road show?

WALSH: Right, and Dr. Ford has come out and said that she's been asked multiple times as we know, to do interviews and she's said no. So, that's an interesting contrast that she's saving her testimony.

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: She talked to "The Washington Post". She was the first person to talk.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: No, no, Scott, you're right, she did talk to "The Washington Post", but Joan's said she has been invited to speak on camera --

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: Her words have gotten plenty of air time versus Kavanaugh. I mean, come on, guys, she was the first person to do a media interview.

BOLDUAN: I promise you that we read the Kavanaugh's denial, and the statement of the president, just in conjunction any time anything (INAUDIBLE)

Let me play one more sound bite from Ashley Kavanaugh. Listen to this, you guys.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE KAVANAUGH: I am looking for a fair process, a process where I can defend my integrity. And clear my name, and all I'm asking for is fairness, and that I be heard in this process.

MACCALLUM: Ashley, what has this been like for you the past couple of weeks? I know you've had death threats and all kinds of things coming your way. How does that feel?

ASHLEY KAVANAUGH: This process has been incredibly difficult. Harder than we imagined, and we imagined it might be hard. But at the end of the day, our faith is strong, and we know that we're on the rights path, we're going to stick to it, I've known him for 17 years and this is not at all -- it's really hard to believe.

He's decent. He's kind. He's good. I know his heart. This is not consistent with Brett.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Patrick, it's impossible to know. But what is the impact of this on what's going to happen Thursday? HEALY: Right. I mean, the -- you know, at least in terms of this

interview, and Brett Kavanaugh is saying he wants to be heard.

[19:45:04] You know, he wants to be able to go in front of the Senate and to have a fair minded process where hopefully senators are keeping an open mind and he is -- you know, he is appealing to I think what he sees a very American sense of fairness, of innocent until proven guilty, you know, be open.

But the flip side of this, though, this is a lifetime appointment to the court. America doesn't give out many lifetime appointments. The reality is, you're going to come under tough scrutiny when you're up for a lifetime appointment, whether it's your words, your ruling or in this case, you know, a credible person coming forward with an allegation.

If there were such concerns about the process, one could argue the Republicans could have asked the FBI to do an investigation, and then all sides could have said, you know, we're not commenting on this until the FBI is done. So, instead, you're having this day to day public -- sort of public square discussion where people are going on TV and putting out their words.

BOLDUAN: Karen, give me your final thought?

TUMULTY: Well, I do think we need to remember that a confirmation hearing is not a court proceeding. It's not -- you don't have to prove something beyond a shadow of a doubt, what you have to prove is that you are fit for office and in this case, you are fit for lifetime office. And I think that's another reason he is getting out ahead of this hearing, knowing that people are getting their impressions of him right now.

BOLDUAN: Yes, they sure are.

Great to see you, guys. Really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Coming up next for us, is Noel Francisco already preparing to replace Rod Rosenstein tonight?

And Jeanne Moos on an epic family feud. A Republican congressman up for re-election has a new opponent, basically his entire family. Six of his brothers and sisters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:50:43] BOLDUAN: What happens to Robert Mueller's Russia investigation if Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein quits or gets fired? It's a question that's easy to ask, but hard to answer.

But we do know who would likely replace Rosenstein. The man Mueller would report to is solicitor general, Noel Francisco.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NOEL FRANCISCO, SOLICITOR GENERAL: If my first year on the job has taught me anything, it's to expect the unexpected.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Noel Francisco is an experienced lawyer, a staunch conservative, and may be the answer to President Trump's endless frustration with the Russia probe.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would call it the rigged witch hunt. Phony witch hunt. It's a which hunt hoax.

FOREMAN: Some legal watchers firmly believe if Francisco is given oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller, he could severely tighten the reins.

GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He's wary of the power of an independent prosecutor like that, and believes in a strong executive with a capability to fire any executive employee of which Mueller is certainly one of them.

FRANCISCO: The Department of Justice's goal is not just to win, but to ensure that justice is served.

FOREMAN: Francisco's legal pedigree is long. He clerked for the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. He was on George W. Bush's legal team during the hanging chad recount vote in Florida, then served in Bush's Justice Department, arguing for the president's controversial choice to suddenly fire more than a half dozen U.S. attorneys.

FRANCISCO: There's no evidence that there is anything even remotely like a politically motivated or politically targeted prosecution.

FOREMAN: As part of his current job, he's defended some of President Trump's policies before the Supreme Court.

FRANCISCO: The president has made crystal clear on September 25th that he had no intention of imposing the Muslim ban.

FOREMAN: However, he was also in the same law firm with outgoing Trump attorney Don McGahn. And that could present a conflict of interest. At least in the opinion of a former head of the government ethics office, Walter Shaub, who says even if Francisco steps up, he should recuse himself from the Russia case, just like Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And the White House should not interfere.

WALTER SHAUB, FORMER HEAD OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS OFFICE: They have the power to grant him a waiver, an ethics waiver saying the ethics rules don't apply to you because we don't want them.

FOREMAN (on camera): But do you think that would be a mistake.

SHAUB: I think that would be terrible.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Of course, none of this is a sure thing, Francisco may not get the job. If he does do the job, he may not do what President Trump wants or expects. But in the long-running soap opera of the Russia probe, a cast change seems like it might be coming and with it, a plot twist, too -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Or three or four. Great to see you, Tom. Thank you.

Coming up next, family feud like you've never seen it before. Jeanne Moos on six siblings who are trashing their candidate brother in an ad for his opponent.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:26] BOLDUAN: Tonight, a Republican congressman from Arizona is running for re-election and facing a slew of new opponents. I'm not even talking about the Democrats on the ballot.

Here's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar may have expected his opponent to attack him, but not six of his siblings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's horrible to have to do this.

MOOS: The political ads sneak up on you. Speakers identified only by first name and profession.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul's absolutely not working for his district.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he's not listening to you.

MOOS: And then, wham.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Tim Gosar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: David Gosar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Grace Gosar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jennifer Gosar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paul Gosar is my brother.

MOOS: To which Republican Congressman Paul Gosar tweeted: My siblings who chose to film ads against me are all liberal Democrats who hate President Trump.

Actually, they're not all Democrats, but after Paul made comments --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wouldn't it be interesting to find out?

MOOS: -- about the Charlottesville white nationalist rally, six of his nine siblings living outside Arizona went public.

GRACE GOSAR, PAUL'S SISTER: You know, Paul shoots himself in the foot fairly regularly, and every day, he comes armed with plenty of ammunition.

MOOS: His sister, Grace, did a spot arguing for health care, describing her terminal cancer --

GOSAR: Without insurance, I would not be here.

MOOS: Someone on the staff of Congressman Gosar's opponent noticed David Gosar's Twitter account where he calls his brother a weasel. Siblings agreed to do ads getting no pay.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I endorse Dr. Brill.

DR, DAVID BRILL (D), ARIZONA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm Dr. David Brill and I approve this message.

MOOS: Siblings' 85-year-old mom doesn't. She says she was shocked and crushed that her son, Paul, had done a hell of a job for Arizona and they love him. To which Representative Gosar replied, I guess I really am mom's favorite. And to the six angry Democrat Gosars, see you at mom and dad's house.

GOSAR: I was willing to never have a thanksgiving dinner again with Paul and maybe even my parents because I felt so much that this was important.

MOOS: Commenters imagine family get-togethers would look like food fights. Someone tweeted a turkey TV dinner to the congressman saying, here's your Thanksgiving dinner which will be waiting for you in the shed.

Congressman Gosar probably never thought his siblings would go so far.

Jeanne moos, CNN, New York.

GOSAR: Grace Gosar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: David.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Literally cannot make this stuff up.

All right. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. "AC360" starts right now.