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Trump Lawyer Duo Behind Mueller Talks; Fed Expected to Announce Interest Rate Hike; Michael Avenatti Comes Forward with New Accuser Against Brett Kavanagh. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 26, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: We are in a changing dynamic right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, a changing dynamic. Such a new dynamic to watch playing out right in front of us.

Thank you. It's great to see you. Thank you.

Coming up, Rudy Giuliani's may be the fact of President Trump's legal team but CNN has leaned that his role in talks with the special counsel may not be as big as you think. That is next.



[11:35:08] RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, it isn't true. Truth isn't truth.

It's like the tree falling in the forest. Did anybody hear it? I mean, how do we know what the truth is?


BOLDUAN: I don't know. Let's sit and think about it.

If you have watched cable TV in the past several months, you know Rudy Giuliani is the name-calling, red-line drawing, bomb-shelling dropping, legal attack dog for the president right now. Behind the scenes, a much quieter legal duo may be calling the shots with regards to Robert Mueller, as their approach to Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation. Married couple, Jane and Marty Raskin, are the ones driving the high-stakes negotiations with Bob Mueller now, sources say.

CNN justice correspondent, Evan Perez, is joining me now with much more on this.

Evan, what is going on behind the scenes, if what Rudy Giuliani is saying on TV isn't the truth?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right, exactly. One of the interesting things that -- Gloria Borger and Kaitlan Collins and I have been doing a little digging. You are right. You see a lot of Rudy Giuliani out there. Behind the scenes, there's Jane Raskin and Marty Raskin, Florida white collar lawyers, who came on board in May as part of the president's legal team. As far as we know, Rudy has only met with Robert Mueller's team only once since he joined the legal team. But Jane Raskin, in particular, has been driving a lot the legal work going on behind the scenes and doing negotiations. She knows a couple of people she is working with, including Robert Mueller. She worked with him at the Justice Department, Jim Quarles, who she was a partner with at a law firm here in Washington. So what's been going on behind the scenes is there's just a lot of phone calls and conference calls trying to come to some kind of deal on whether or not the presidents will answer questions from Robert Mueller. That is really one of the big things that is happening behind the scenes, is trying to find a way whereby the president might answer questions from Robert Mueller as part of this investigation -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: So if I'm deleting everything I've heard from Rudy Giuliani, where do the negotiations stand right now?

PEREZ: They are closer than people realize. We will see very soon the president's legal team will get a set of questions, first round of questions from Robert Mueller. It will be written questions, which is a very big deal. If you looked at, seven, eight, nine months ago, when the negotiations began, nobody would have thought that Mueller would accept written answers. It is sort of a take-home test from the president. Everybody really was pushing for a sit-down interview, which is still something they are discussing. At this point, they are first going to get the written questions. The president will answer them. They might go for a couple of rounds before this is all said.

Kate, really, behind the scenes here, this is a big part of the strategy, which is to show Robert Mueller that, look, we gave you everything you want. If you end up having some kind of a legal fight over a subpoena, you really are in a good place. At least, that is the strategy behind the scenes at the Trump legal team.

BOLDUAN: Fascinating.

Great to see you, Evan. Great reporting.

PEREZ: Thank you. Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

Still ahead, the head of the Federal Reserve is about to make a big announcement and it is a safe bet that President Trump isn't going to like it one bit.


[11:42:54] TRUMP: I'm not thrilled because we go up, and every time you go up, they want to raise rates again. And I don't really -- I am not happy about it. But at the same time, I'm letting them do what they feel is best. I don't like all of this work that we are putting into the economy and then I see rates going up.


BOLDUAN: That is just one example of President Trump breaking the presidential mold again, making comments about the actions of the Federal Reserve and making it very clear that he doesn't want to see interest rates go up again. If the experts are right about what the Fed is expected to announce this afternoon, we can assume the president will not be thrilled.

CNN's Julia Chatterley joins me now from the New York Stock Exchange.

Julia, what is the Fed expected to do and why?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Yes. President Trump definitely not going to be thrilled today. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates today.

But I think the bigger news is, what will Jay Powell have to say about thinking on future rate rises. President Trump will not be happy. I don't think Jay Powell cares about that. What he does care about is the data. The American economy right now is strong. Wages are rising. It looks on the surface to be the perfect time to raise rates. The future, that is a whole different story. There's plenty of challenges out there, particularly for American consumers. The trade war being one of them.

What does raising interest rates mean? It means borrowing money costs more. We have mortgage rates here in the states at a seven-year high. Combine that with the fact that companies are saying they may have to raise prices to consumers as a result of the trade war. All of these things hurt American consumers.

For Jay Powell, it is balancing great data with the risks to the American consumer right now. That's the challenge he faces.

We will hear from him in around two-hours' time.

Kate, back to you.

[11:44:44] BOLDUAN: We will look at the president's Twitter feed to see what he has to say in response.

Great to see you, Julia. Thank you so much. We really appreciate it.

That coming up this afternoon.

We'll be right back.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BOLDUAN: We are following breaking news right now. Attorney Michael Avenatti says that he's representing a client now leveling serious accusations against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanagh.

CNN's Sara Sidner is joining us now with more details. Sara, what are these accusations?

[11:49:38] SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRRESPONDENT: They're are strong accusations from a woman named Julie Swetnick, who said that she first met Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, at a party between 1980 and '81 in the Washington, D.C. area. She says that she herself observed Brett Kavanagh doing things that she said were absolutely unacceptable. She says him and Mark Judge were joined at the hip, if you will, and that she consistently saw them together in many social settings. She says there's no question in her mind that Mark Judge knows a lot of information.

But here's some of the allegations she's making about Brett Kavanagh. She says they were at a party together, that she attended well over 10 house parties in the Washington, D.C. area. She says that she witnessed both Brett Kavanagh and Mark Judge drink excessively and engage in highly inappropriate conduct. And I'm reading from the declaration that she has sent to the Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee has said that they have received this sworn declaration from her, a sworn declaration, taken and sent by her attorney, Michael Avenatti.

She says she observed highly inappropriate conduct, including Kavanagh and Judge being overly aggressive with girls and not taking no for an answer. She also said she observed Brett Kavanagh drink excessively at many of these parties and engaged in what she says, quote, "is abusive and physically aggressive behavior" towards girls, including pressing girls against him without their consent, grinding against girls, and attempting to remove or shift girls' clothing so their private parts were exposed. She also says she often witnessed Brett Kavanagh speak in a very demeaning manner towards girls in general, as well as specific girls by name. And she said that she saw him behave as a, quote, "mean drunk."

Now, she makes some other allegations, that are -- she doesn't say that she herself directly witnessed. They are even more extreme allegations.

But the thing that she says she has witnessed are pretty clear here, talking about him grinding against girls and doing things to girls that she says were absolutely inappropriate and that the girls did not give their consent for.

She is obviously one of now three women who have come forward. This is the first time, though, one of the women has signed a declaration and sent that to the Judiciary Committee, signed this declaration. It's basically a sworn statement that she could pay a price for if there's incorrect information in here or they can prove that she's lying.

She has also said that Brett Kavanagh is a liar when she talks about how he acted in college. And as you know, he spoke on FOX News about how he acted in college and denied many of these allegations.

Although, he has not responded yet, we are reaching out to him about these particular allegations. They just came out within the past 25, 30 minutes. We want to make that, very clear, that she has just filed this, the Judiciary Committee has just gotten a hold of this.

Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, has been very plainly stating that he believes an FBI investigation is in order, that they want that FBI investigation to involve their client as well as the others who have come forward. He says that's what he thinks is the most appropriate thing to happen going forward.

BOLDUAN: OK, Sara, great. Thank you so much. I appreciate you bringing that breaking news.

There's much more to come on this and we're working through this affidavit as we go through it.

Let me go right now to CNN senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju.

Manu, what are you hearing? The Judiciary Committee is already reviewing this?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they received this complaint, this e-mail, this sworn affidavit soon after, or around the same time that Avenatti put out this tweet and Republican aides to Senator Chuck Grassley, who's the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued a statement saying they were reviewing the allegations, and that's essentially the extent of their comment. We have not heard Democrats weigh in specifically on this yet.

But typically, the way that the committee has approached allegations, not just from Christine Blasey Ford, but also from Debbie Ramirez, the woman that made the allegation in the "New Yorker" article, that Kavanagh expose herself to her while they were in college. They have tried to have a private staff-level conversation, either with the attorneys and as well with the accuser, to hear their side of the story. They have gone back to Brett Kavanagh who has now talked twice privately to staff investigators and denied those two other allegations. We'll see if they probably will follow the same protocol going forward.

And we're not getting any sense that they plan to move forward with Thursday's hearing at this point. So we'll hear the reaction, formally, from Republicans and Democrats in coming hours. But, at the moment, people are digesting these allegations -- Kate?

[11:55:02] BOLDUAN: I think you're absolutely right, Manu. This is still settling in, as this is just coming out as we see what the real impact could be on votes, and the most immediate, the hearing tomorrow.

We'll stick with you and you can let me know if that changes while we're hear.

Let me get over to CNN political director, David Chalian, on this.

David, Michael Avenatti is not just any attorney off the street. What's your - obviously, there's a history here. What's your reaction to this? DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I think we got to put

this in context of where we are in the Kavanagh confirmation process, which is not a good place for the White House and Republicans. This is a Supreme Court nomination that has been hanging in the balance before these latest allegations from Michael Avenatti's client. I think this added to this case is going to put Republicans in an extraordinary difficult place. You have seen that they have already advertised that they wanted to, right after Thursday's hearing, with Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanagh, to move to a committee vote on Friday, there was talk of perhaps getting on the floor this weekend, and mitch McConnell, you heard him last week before social conservatives saying that we're going to put our head down and sort of barrel through this. I don't think there's any barreling through this right now. And if you listen carefully to what President Trump has been saying all week about this, he's been expressing real regret and he's been talking about Kavanagh has a chance to be nominee. This is not a president that's speaking adamantly that without a doubt in his mind that Kavanagh is going to be a Supreme Court justice. This is hanging in the balance and it just got incredibly more difficult for the White House and the Republicans to get Kavanagh on the bench.

BOLDUAN: Just full transparency to all of our viewers, as we're working through this, Sara Sidner is working through these allegations by Julie Swetnick, we're still working through these allegations. As we work through that, we're only discussing portions of this declaration. And we will bring you more when we can and we will.

Joining me in this conversation additionally is CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan.

Paul, just based on the very fact that this is a declaration that, under penalty of law, I mean, if this is seen as if she's lying and making this up? Please explain.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This actually would not constitute a legal declaration under oath that would lead to a perjury charge if false. She would have to be sworn as a witness in front of a Judiciary Committee for their penalties to apply.

However this is a document that's obviously, you know, really shocking in what's alleged.

BOLDUAN: There are really explosive accusations in this, but what we're talking about right now, David, in terms of, she attended many parties in those summers and saw Mark Judge and Brett Kavanagh present together on numerous occasions seeing them at parties and seeing them engage in highly inappropriate conduct. This, at the least, speaks to something that has come up in the last -- well, since Brett Kavanagh did his interview with FOX.

CHALIAN: Precisely.

BOLDUAN: After that, it's is he more choir boy or is he more frat boy. And what does that matter --

CHALIAN: There's a huge gulf -- (CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Yes. What does that matter in terms of the accusations that he faces?

CHALIAN: I wouldn't say it matters in terms of the accusation, but what does it matter as the Senators access his character. That is what we're talking about. As Lisa Murkowski said, we're now talking about a Senate, a Supreme Court nominee's character. That's what this is about. And there's a huge gulf between how Kavanagh portrayed himself in that FOX News interview and what his youthful experiences were and how he conducted himself. And now what we're seeing in additional allegations. Again, we have no idea, the truthfulness behind them. But we are now hearing a similar pattern in these allegations of behavior and youthful experiences that don't necessarily match what Kavanagh was portraying himself.

BOLDUAN: And on that issue, Paul, Brett Kavanagh's attorney was on, speaking to John Berman, and said, when it comes to this, yes, he drank, he said, and he acknowledges it, but that's not the issue here. Do you agree with that?

CALLAN: I think his drinking is not the issue here. But I also think that Kavanagh went very lightly on that. I think he would have been smarter by saying, yes, I drank a lot when I was in high school, like anybody else, but I didn't do these things. I think he put himself in a difficult position by portraying himself as a real choir boy in his interview.

[11:29:54] BOLDUAN: We are continuing to follow this breaking news. Michael Avenatti coming forward with what he says is a new accuser against Brett Kavanagh. The Senate Judiciary Committee reviewing this document that's been released and reviewing these allegations.

Thank you so much for joining us as we pick up now with "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King.