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New Accuser Comes Forward in Brett Kavanaugh Nomination; Thursday's Senate Hearing with Ford Continues Tomorrow; Trump Attacks Avenatti; Kavanaugh Calls Accusations Out of the "Twilight Zone". Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired September 26, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're going to continue to follow the breaking news. Ladies, thank you very much for the excellent analysis. Our special coverage continues right now.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Today has become a pivotal moment in the course of U.S. history. The confirmation of the man who is in line to be the nation's next Supreme Court Justice is now in serious, serious question. Remember, this is a lifetime position. These justices decide the law of the land for every single American, male and female. Less than 24 hours before Brett Kavanaugh is scheduled to publicly testify on the allegations he sexually assaulted a teenager in high school, a third woman now is making explosive allegations against him. Among them, she is accusing Brett Kavanaugh and others of being present at high school parties where young women were getting gang raped, as she describes according to her words in a side room or bedroom by a train of numerous boys.
The allegations are graphic, they are horrific. We'll get to them in just a second. But these new allegations come from Julie Swetnick in a sworn affidavit. She's a government worker who went to another local high school at the same time Brett Kavanaugh did. Her attorney is Michael Avenatti, who represents Stormy Daniels in her case against the President of the United States. And Trump is now engaged in a war of tweeted insults with Avenatti with Trump calling him a, quote, total low life. And of Avenatti countering Trump as a, quote, habitual liar. Kavanaugh weighed in and said he doesn't know who Swetnick is and says her claims are from the quote, "Twilight Zone." His attorney added this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETH WILKINSON, KAVANAUGH'S ATTORNEY: It's outrageous. Really, you witnessed gang rapes and never said anything? You witnessed something like this as a parent of a daughter and two sons? I cannot imagine not coming forward when this man was named.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: What all this means is the hearing scheduled for tomorrow still happening as of now. It will be without two of Kavanaugh's three accusers and without an FBI investigation. Let's start with Sara Sidner who has the details in this sworn affidavit that we have from Julie Swetnick. Tell me more about these graphic allegations. SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As we read through them,
they are graphic. She begins with talking about how and where she met him, saying that she had been to about ten different parties where she had seen Brett Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge. She mentioned that he and Mark Judge were joined at the hip and that's a quote. The judiciary committee has agreed that they have received this paperwork from her. She says that she would describe the two of them as very close friends. She said that during the years between 1981 and 1982 she became aware of efforts by Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh and others to spike the punch at some of these parties. She says she also witnessed efforts by Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh and others to become inebriated so they could be gang raped in a side room. He said there was a train of numerous boys coming through that room. She has a firm recollection of seeing boys line up outside the rooms waiting for their "turn" inside.
BALDWIN: Let's go to the President.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bringing people out of the woods, they can do it to anybody, other than perhaps the Prime Minister Abe because he's so pure. But they can do it to anybody what they are doing. It's really, really sad. If you look at this lawyer that just came out. He's a low life. He represented Democrats. Nobody talks about that. He's a Democrat lawyer. Not a very good one but he's a Democrat lawyer. So, it's a horrible con game. I think the people are finding it out and hopefully over the next couple of days it will be settled up and solved and we will have a supreme court justice who will go down as one of our greatest ever. Hopefully he's going to be there for a long time. He's a young man and he'll be there for a long time, and I'll be very proud of him just as I'm very proud of Justice Neil Gorsuch. I think it's really working out very well. I think people are seeing what a disgrace these Democrat senators are when they come out with statements like that, when they don't even talk about it and then after the hearings are completely over, they come out with what they come out with. It's a disgrace what's going on. The good news is the public is very smart and they get it.
[14:05:10] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But do you think all women are lying, all three women are lying?
TRUMP: What's your next question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, can you explain why -- [inaudible].
TRUMP: Well, take a look at it. You have not only ads, you have statements made they're going to hit our farmers, who are my voters. I love the farmers. I'm taking care of my farmers. I'm opening markets because right enough we have closed markets, whether it's the European Union, China, Canada, who charges 300 percent tariffs to our farmers. I'm opening up markets. My farmers, our farmers, I love them. These are great patriots. They say let the President do what he has to do. We're going to make the farmers wealthy. You look at what's happened to farmers over the last 15 years. You look at what's happened to soy bean prices over the last five years before the election. They went down 50 percent. The farmers were getting -- have been getting hurt in our country for many years and that's because they had artificial barriers, artificial tariffs, all sorts of things that it made it impossible for them. I am opening it up.
And you know the one that gets it best? The ones that get it best are the farmers themselves. These are great patriots, these are incredible people. They're going to do so well. But China is going and attacking the farm bill, our farmers. They're attacking our industrial with ads (ph) and with statements that don't look like ads (ph), it looks like they're editorials, and they're not. They're made up by China because they don't want me to get elected because this has never happened to them. Their markets are down 32 percent in the last four months and our markets are up. We're taking in billions of dollars in tariff money, going right into our treasury and China is getting hurt.
BALDWIN: So President Trump is here in New York at the U.N. General Assembly, but we wanted to make sure we heard him, because I want to make two points. One, clearly he wanted to underscore that his pick to be the next Supreme Court Justice, Judge Kavanaugh is a great guy and that he believes he'll be on the Supreme Court for a long time. And this strategy is emerging, not just from the president, but on down.
Republicans, essentially they're attacking not the woman making the allegations, but they're attacking specifically her attorney. Michael Avenatti, who -- been floated, maybe wants to be president, run for president as a Democrat in 2020, represents porn star Stormy Daniels. So that is the clear line. We're starting to see from the president on down. And I just want to make one more note; never did he acknowledge the woman. Never did he say her name, and again, I say, Mr. President, say her name. Her name is Julie Swetnick. I want to go back to Sara Sidner, who was detailing the allegations. Please, continue.
SIDNER: What you said, Brooke, is important. This is actually the first time that the President has ever mentioned Michael Avenatti in any way publicly. It shows you how high the stakes are being that Michael of Avenatti has come after the President himself. Let us talk about Julie Swetnick and her allegation. We were mentioning that she has said that there was a room where Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were standing outside of the room. She said men were going into that room and, her words, gang raping a woman, who was potentially incapacitated. She herself is known and wants people to know she has a long history, a work history, she has a lot to lose. I want to let you hear from her attorney who talked about her and said that she is 100 percent credible, willing to have the FBI investigate and to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR JULIE SWETNICK: This is a woman who passed multiple security clearances administered by the U.S. government. She worked for the U.S. Mint, she worked for DOJ, she worked for the State Department. She's held a public trust security clearance, she's also held a secret security clearance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: And lastly, she said that she herself became a victim of one of these what she calls gang rapes or trains where she says Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present. She does not accuse them of being involved in the gang rape.
[14:10:00] But she says they were present. So, these allegations very strong and of course Kavanaugh is denying it and so is Mark Judge.
BALDWIN: Thank you. Despite this latest bombshell allegation Senate Judiciary Chairman Grassley said there will be no delay in tomorrow's hearing for Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh and that it is the committee's responsibility to carry on as scheduled. Sunlen Surfaty is our congressional correspondent who is in Washington for us now with more on Chairman Grassley's response. So, he says, even despite this latest allegation it is go time.
SUNLEN SURFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right he does, Brooke, I spoke with him a short time ago and he said tomorrow is an important day and the committee hearing will go on as of now as scheduled. He says he believes it's a definite responsibility on his part to give Christine Blasey Ford the chance to say her case. That of course the first round of accusations. I asked Grassley about this new allegation from Julie Swetnick. He says his committee is indeed looking into it. Here's more of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, CHAIR OF SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: As I said previously, like we have done so many times since "The Washington Post" story and Dr. Ford's name came out, we have had accusation after accusation, very few of them, if any, corroborated. Our lawyers, if we can make the contact get on it right away. Obviously with this one we have a contact and our lawyers are on it right now, our staff investigators. I won't have anything because I can't say anything until they get done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SURFATY: Grassley saying the lawyers on his committee are looking into this new accusation and meantime to your point, which was so astute, Senate Republicans seem to be picking up on the language of President Trump, focusing their reaction specifically on her lawyer, that of Michael Avenatti. I want to read to you a statement from Senator Lindsey Graham, a top Republican here in the Senate.
He says, quote, "from my view, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it did. The lawyer to porn stars has taken this debacle to an even lower level. I hope people will be highly suspicious of this allegation presented by Michael Avenatti. I have a difficult time believing any person would continue to go according to the affidavit to ten parties over a two-year period where women were routinely gang raped and not report it. I also find it curious these charges were not brought forward until two days before the confirmation vote."
On that previous point that Graham was making with the fact that this hadn't been reported, the fact that this accuser allegedly went to ten parties over a two-year period, that was the exact point we saw Brett Kavanaugh's attorney make in the last hour. Democrats have been picking up on this and we are hearing many Democrats, the Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, as well as every Democrat on the committee calling for the President to withdraw his nomination.
BALDWIN: And you wonder why women don't come forward. Stay with me. We have a lot to discuss today. The President calling Michael Avenatti a low life and saying this is all a horrible con game and when a question was shouted "are the women lying?" The President said, "next question."
[14:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We're covering the breaking news here. Here's what you need to know. A third woman is making accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. She came out with a statement that Judge Kavanaugh was there at a party when she was gang raped around 1982 and not saying that Judge Kavanaugh was there. Now all Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are calling for Kavanaugh's nomination to be withdrawn.
Let's have a discussion. CNN legal analyst Areva Martin, Paul Callan are up with me, and CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins and CNN political analyst Julie Pace, who is Washington bureau chief for the Associated Press. Welcome to all of you.
Paul, before we get into the content of her incredibly serious allegation, we know submitting a statement to Congress which is knowingly false can be criminally prosecuted. If she is lying, she could be prosecuted, yes?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. That's the same provision that Mueller has used the false statements provision that people get prosecuted for lying to the FBI. This is lying to Congress when Congress is conducting a legitimate investigation.
BALDWIN: Which underscores the seriousness --
[14:20:00] CALLAN: If it's a lie. If it's a lie, she faces up to five years in prison. Obviously, it's material to his being approved for the Supreme Court.
BALDWIN: OK. I'm going to come back to you. Kaitlan, you cover this President each and every day. We just saw him at the UN answering some questions regarding these latest accusations, Swetnick is represented by Michael Avenatti. He used some colorful language to describe him. What did you make of the President's response there as it seems the strategy from the President on down is to go after the lawyer?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What we know behind the scenes is that President Trump doesn't feel that Brett Kavanaugh has been aggressive enough in his own defense against the allegations. He said in the interview where he appeared next to his wife he appeared wooden and wasn't aggressive enough. Now we see President Trump being much more aggressive than Brett Kavanaugh is. That is plain as day with this latest allegation from this woman the third accuser who is being represented by Michael Avenatti. And of course, we saw Judge Kavanaugh put out his most forceful statement yet he has denied all allegations across the board. This was his most forceful statement yet saying this was the "Twilight Zone" and this this never happened and he doesn't know who this person is. Then we saw President Trump come back with stronger push back saying Michael Avenatti is a third-rate lawyer who makes up allegations like the ones against President Trump. Of course, he and Michael Avenatti have a relationship here because Michael Avenatti is also the person representing the porn star, Stormy Daniels, who said she had an affair with President Trump.
So, there are so many layers to this. We're seeing him take a much more forceful stance in defending Brett Kavanaugh these allegations. Now that is not because he believes Brett Kavanaugh is innocent though he does believe that, because he believes this is another effort by Democrats to come out, try to derail his agenda by preventing him from nominating someone to the Supreme Court. That is why you keep hearing the President go back to not only attacking Michael Avenatti but going back to the Democrats saying they're masterminding some kind of con game here, in correlation with saying that these women, the first Christine Ford, that if what happened to her is as bad as she said it was she would have reported it to the authorities. Then with the second woman Deborah Ramirez saying that she was drunk and admits there were time lapses in this alleged incident. And now with his third accuser he is going after the person who is representing her.
That is President Trump coming out swinging, doing the attacking for his nominee here because he doesn't feel he is doing it enough himself.
BALDWIN: Julie, given everything that Kaitlan has just outlined I know you read every word of this sworn affidavit as well, should there even be a hearing tomorrow?
JULIE PACE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, AND WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF FOR THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, there's going to be a hearing. Regardless of this third accusation and regardless of the pushback from Democrats, Republicans have a strategy and their strategy is to move as quickly as possible. It's important to remember why they are trying to do that. Mitch McConnell wants to get a Supreme Court Justice seated by October 1st, certainly before the election. And the only way to do that, to get somebody on the court before the election is to go with Brett Kavanaugh. There simply is not enough time to put up another nominee or really even to delay this much longer and still get a Trump nominee on the court. You could potentially push this into a lame duck. The Senate is at stake in mid-term elections. McConnell doesn't want to risk having a lame duck with Democrats having taken back the Senate.
So, there's a lot at stake here for the Republicans when it comes to the timeline. And that is important to note as well.
BALDWIN: So, there is the politics and there's the law. Areva, underscoring how serious these allegations are, that Swetnick is alleging that Judge Kavanaugh and friends were at this party when she and others were being gang raped, right, and not only that but Swetnick said -- I'm quoting her -- pressing girls against him without their consent, grinding against girls, attempting to remove or shift girls' clothing to expose private body parts. This is the same Brett Kavanaugh who we saw on Fox Monday night saying this when he was asked specifically about parties with women being taken into rooms and raped. I was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT KAVANAUGH, NOMINEE FOR SUPREME COURT: I was focused on being number one in my class and being captain of the basketball team, doing my service projects and going to church. The vast majority of the time I spent in high school was studying or focused on sports and being a good friend to the boys and the girls that I was friends with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[14:25:00] BALDWIN: So, Areva, which is it?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Brooke, clearly there are so many, you know, elements of this new allegation that need to be investigated. Julie Swetnick needs an opportunity to tell her story. To listen to the President and listen to Lindsey Graham marginalize her without even an investigation is appalling. Michelle Obama said the President doesn't make the man, it reveals who the man is. I think this is Donald Trump and the GOP senators, their misogyny on full display with respect to all three of these allegations. How can we appoint someone to the United States Supreme Court with the kinds of allegations that have been made by Ms. Swetnick in this sworn declaration?
BALDWIN: The push back because I'm thinking of the last hour. She said there, she has a daughter, she has sons. These are serious allegations and she was essentially saying why wouldn't this woman come forward? Why wouldn't this woman go to law enforcement? Why is this just coming out right now? What would you say back to her?
First of all, I have two daughters, too. And I have a son. I watched her performance and I was appalled by her performance. There are so many studies done that tell why women don't come forward. That question has been answered over and over again. We also know only 2 percent to 8 percent of women lie about being sexually assaulted. So statistically the probability that Ms. Swetnick or these women are lying is low. We know why she didn't come forward. It's very difficult for women to come forward. Now, we're not talking about a woman, we're talking about a teen-ager. So, let's have some empathy for a young lady who says she was raped, that she witnessed sexual assaults and let's be clear, grinding on women, pressing your body up against women, those are sexual assaults. She didn't say Kavanaugh participated in gang rape but she did say he participated in sexual assaults that are crimes.
When talking about what President Trump has said, why didn't they report this, she has pointed that out several times.
BALDWIN: That's right. Appropriately so. Everybody, stand by. Stay here, special live coverage next.