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Third Kavanaugh Accuser Comes Forward; First Kavanaugh Accuser Set to Testify in Front of Senate. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired September 26, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
You are watching special coverage of the intensifying crises facing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Today has become a pivotal moment in the course of U.S. history. The confirmation of Kavanaugh is now in serious, serious question.
Just remember, Kavanaugh is vying for a position he will hold for the rest of his life. Justices decide of law of the land for every single American, man and woman.
Less than 24 hours before Brett Kavanaugh is set to publicly testify on these allegations that he sexually assaulted a teenager in high school, a third woman, a third is now coming forward, making explosive, graphic allegations against him.
Among them, she is accusing Brett Kavanaugh and others of being present at parties where young women were getting gang-raped, as she describes, in a side room or bedroom by a train -- her word -- a train of numerous boys.
The allegations are graphic, they are horrific, and we will get into them in just a second.
But these new allegations come from a woman by the name of Julie Swetnick -- here she is -- in a sworn affidavit. She is a government worker who went to another local high school at the very same time Brett Kavanaugh.
And her attorney is Michael Avenatti. You know Michael Avenatti. He represents Stormy Daniels in the case against the President. Trump is now engaged in a war of tweeted insults with Avenatti, with Trump calling him a -- quote -- "total lowlife" and Avenatti countering that Trump is a -- quote -- "habitual liar."
Kavanaugh himself has also now weighed in on these latest accusations, saying that he doesn't know who Julie Swetnick is and that her claims are from the -- quote, unquote -- "Twilight Zone."
Moments ago, his attorney added this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BETH WILKINSON, ATTORNEY FOR BRETT KAVANAUGH: He has never met this woman. He doesn't know Ms. Swetnick. He didn't go to parties with her.
And we have already have -- I have received calls myself from women and men who went to high school with him. No one knows this woman. No one knows -- remembers seeing her at any of the parties that they attended. And they're absolutely serious allegations if they're true, but if that's so, they're no excuse for his -- her lawyer not going straight to the police.
There's no one's stopping any investigation. And any lawyer worth their salt would put their client's interest first and go straight to the police or the FBI.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Now, what all this means is the hearing is scheduled for tomorrow still happening as of now will be without two of Kavanaugh's three accusers and without an FBI investigation.
So let's start with Sara Sidner. She has the details from this sworn affidavit.
And, again, just a warning, they are disturbing to listen to.
So, Sara, tell us what Julie Swetnick is alleging.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here's what she is alleging, some of some of the allegations, not all of them.
She says that she observed Brett Kavanaugh drink excessively. This is between 1980 and 1983, so want to give the time frame there, when they were both in high school at different high schools. She says she observed in drinking at many of the parties, about 10 of them that she was aware of that she had been to, that happened on the weekend, said that he engaged in abusive and physically aggressive behavior towards girls, including -- and I'm quoting from her actual declaration to the Judiciary Committee -- including pressing girls against him without their consent, grinding against girls and attempting to remove or shift girls' clothing to expose private body parts.
Now, that is one of the allegations she herself says that she witnessed Brett Kavanaugh doing during these parties. She also talks about the fact that she was aware somehow of him and this friend Mark Judge being involved in spiking drinks. She doesn't say how she was aware of it or that she -- quote, unquote -- "witnessed" it. She says she was aware of it, but making it so that girls were inebriated and unable to sort of give consent.
She also goes on to say -- and this is where things get really, really disturbing -- she said that, look, she also, she says, witnessed efforts by Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh and others to cause girls to become integrated and disoriented, so that they could be gang-raped -- those are her words -- in a side room or bedroom by a train of numerous boys. [15:05:07]
She says that she has a firm recollection of seeing boys line up outside of rooms at many of these parties waiting for their turn with a girl inside the room. Those boys, she says, included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh.
Now, what we don't know from this statement here is whether or not she knew exactly what was going on in that room. She says they were in line. We don't know exactly why they were in line, if they were intending to do something, if they knew what was going on in that room.
But she makes the allegation that they were standing in a line where she says boys were going in and having sex with a woman, different men, one after the other, where she refers to it as a train.
Very, very disturbing allegations.
As to who she is and as to her allegations, her attorney, Michael Avenatti, made very clear that she does want an FBI investigation, that she is considering going to local police, but she has asked for an FBI investigation. She says she will sit in front of the Judiciary Committee.
And here are some of her superlatives, if you will. She has something to lose. You see some of the places that she's worked. Here's what Michael Avenatti has to say about his client.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR JULIE SWETNICK: She is 100 percent credible.
And when the American people hear from her, they will determine, as I have, that she is to be believed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Now, she says in her declaration, Brooke, that she presently holds the following active clearances, with the Public Trust, U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Mint, and the Internal Revenue Service.
That is all put into her declaration. But the most stunning things are of, course, her accusations about what Brett Kavanaugh knew and what she witnessed of Brett Kavanaugh. She wants an investigation and she wants it immediately -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Sara Sidner, thank you for that.
Let's have a bigger conversation so much of what Sara laid out for us.
I have with me CNN chief political Gloria Borger and CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor, and Berit Berger, also a former federal prosecutor. So, ladies, thank you for being with me.
And, first, just on the legal piece of all of this, because I have -- we have all read her sworn affidavit. And just to underscore the serious nature of these allegations, the fact is, we know submitting a statement to Congress that is knowingly false can be criminally prosecuted.
So, if she is lying, she could be prosecuted, yes?
BERIT BERGER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, absolutely. It's basically the same as being under oath at this point for her, so...
BALDWIN: Ergo, these are extraordinarily serious allegations.
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. And not only that. She is a government employee. So it would have taken about five minutes for Chuck Grassley or his colleagues to call around and start finding out about this woman.
So she's got a lot to lose, criminal liability, possibly her job, all of that stuff, and she's going to be an open book to them. So it's really risky for her to come forward if she's not telling the truth.
BALDWIN: Gloria, here is how President Trump responded to these latest allegations just in the last hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's ridiculous. It's a time game that they're playing. The Democrats are playing this game that is disgraceful. It's a disgrace to the country.
And I think you're going to see it in the midterms. I think people are wise to it. It's just a con game. It's a high-quality person. They're bringing people out of the woods. They can do that to anybody. They can do it to anybody, other than perhaps Prime Minister Abe, because he's so pure.
TRUMP: But they can do it anybody, what they are doing. And it's really, really sad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Gloria, is that helpful?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don't think it's -- I don't think it's helpful to the Republicans at all, because he doesn't mention what the accusations are.
He doesn't mention -- he doesn't mention anything about...
(CROSSTALK) BALDWIN: ... her or her name.
BORGER: Or her or her name.
And, obviously, look, he doesn't like Michael Avenatti, as we know, because Avenatti, of course, was doing Stormy Daniels' case, et cetera, et cetera.
So, look, I would be naive to say there's not a political component to the argument that's going on, on Capitol Hill between the Democrats and Republicans here. I don't think we can overstate at all the impact that holding Judge Merrick Garland's nomination up and then killing it has had on the Democrats.
But I would also say that the president's dismissiveness is not helping Republicans, who -- and Chuck Grassley has gone out of his way, I would say, to be respectful to all of these women who have raised questions.
The only problem is that, tomorrow, we're only going to hear from one of them. And there happen to be two others.
BALDWIN: Right, right.
Just to underscore how serious these allegations are, the fact, according to Julie Swetnick in her sworn affidavit, saying that Brett Kavanaugh was present at a party where a woman was being gang-raped. And she said too later on that she was gang-raped, not by -- again I just want to be clear, not by Kavanaugh, even though you heard Lindsey Graham say he's being -- alleged that this is a serial rapist.
He's not. But Swetnick says that she saw Kavanaugh -- quoting her -- "pressing girls against him without their consent, grinding against girls and attempting to remove or shift girls' clothing to expose private body parts."
This is also the same Brett Kavanaugh we all watched on FOX Monday night saying this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: I was focused on trying to be number one in my class and being captain of the varsity basketball team and doing my service projects, going to church.
The vast majority of 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)
BALDWIN: You're shaking your head.
RODGERS: Yes. BALDWIN: Which is it?
RODGERS: Look, when you're evaluating a witness, one of the things that you look at is obviously their demeanor and how they come across, but also corroboration.
And there's been plenty of corroboration that he was a heavy drinker and then, when he drank, he wasn't a great guy. We hear that from Mark Judge's book. We hear that from other people who were his contemporaries at the time.
He even said such in speeches just a few years ago. So this whole choirboy routine that he pulled on Monday, I don't think it does him any favors. I mean, I think the American people know better than that.
BALDWIN: "The Washington Post" this morning, there was a whole piece about all these Yale classmates who were coming out saying, choirboy, essentially, what choirboy? And they're -- they're sharing their own stories as well.
We have we have gotten these prepared remarks, too, Gloria. I'm sure you have seen this, right? These are Kavanaugh's prepared remarks ahead of tomorrow. I presume they were written prior to this latest allegation, although I knew it been swirling for a few days.
He vehemently denies these allegations. And he did speak generally about some drinking in high school and college on the interview the other night, but this is what he's prepared to say tomorrow.
"But I was not perfect in those days, just as I am not perfect today. I drank beer with my friends, usually on weekends. Sometimes, I had too many. In retrospect, I said and did things in high school that make me cringe now."
Make me cringe now. Do you think his lawyers got to him and said, listen, you need to -- you need to change your tone a little bit, because of everything that's already out there and how the world will be perceiving you tomorrow?
BALDWIN: What do you think?
BORGER: I do.
I mean, I think, look, the FOX News interview, the choirboy interview, didn't go over real well. And there are reports it didn't go over well with President Trump, in fact.
And I think he has to admit to a certain degree of being a so-called bad boy when he was in high school, maybe he drank a little too much and some stuff he did made him cringe, et cetera, et cetera, which is certainly it within the realm of kind of acceptable high school behavior, I guess, but nothing about -- nothing about the charges, the charges against him, which are obviously going to be litigated tomorrow or he's going to be asked about them in great detail.
So I do think there's been a shift in that kind of strategy, but they're also going to make the point that this is not about his high school behavior, this is about character assassination, and that's what they're -- that's what they're going to call it.
BALDWIN: Lastly, as we all will be glued tomorrow to this -- to this hearing, we know that the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, they have hired this veteran sex crimes prosecutor by the name of Rachel Mitchell. And she will be doing the questioning on behalf of the Republicans, and then the Democrats, and there will be taking turns back and forth.
This is not a court of law, right? So correct me, but it's my understanding they won't be able to bring in, in the questioning any of what we have just been discussing with this latest allegation, right? They keep it on Ford.
BERGER: That's right.
We're hearing from Dr. Ford tomorrow and from Judge Kavanaugh. And those are the witnesses that we're hearing from. It's incredibly limited. I mean, look, I think it's interesting. It's in some ways commendable that they want to have somebody with expertise in sex crimes to advise them on this.
BALDWIN: And a woman.
BERGER: And a woman.
And if that was it, if they had brought this woman in to simply give them advice, like, this is how you prosecute a sex crime, this is what you should know about victims of sexual assault, that would be one thing.
To have her being there on the front lines as the one actually asking the questions, it really takes it to a different stage. It makes it seem like really hiding behind her, or having her sort of do the dirty work, because they don't like the optics of these white men asking the questions of this victim.
BALDWIN: Berit and Jennifer and Gloria, thank you so much. We will be watching tomorrow.
In the meantime, we're still hearing from key senators talking about Judge Kavanaugh's fate. We will play that for you.
Also, Republicans insist the hearing will go on tomorrow as planned. My next guest calls their move, as Berit was just saying, to bring in this female prosecutor from Arizona, she calls it sexist and cowardly. That's next.
BALDWIN: Now, this hearing is still set for tomorrow. Judge Brett Kavanaugh is going to testify. He will defend himself against these allegations of his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who will be there and will make statements and answer questions for herself as well.
Senate Judiciary Republicans will be using a veteran sex crimes prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, to ask the questions for them. No doubt it is so that the 11 white men on the Republican side avoid these optics, the image from 1991 -- you remember this -- showing Anita Hill before at that time a full panel of white men of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as she testified that then Supreme Court justice nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her.
Well, my next guess has this message for the chairman of the committee, Chuck Grassley, who is in charge of Kavanaugh's hearing tomorrow.
She says in her "New York Times" opinion piece that Grassley needs to -- quote -- "man up" and question the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, himself.
She is Lara Bazelon. She is a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law. She is with me. Also with us, Alice Stewart, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist.
Ladies, thanks for being with me.
And, Lara, before we get to your -- what -- how did you phrase it, cynicism, sexism and cowardice, essentially, right, on what the Republicans are doing, Alice, I wanted to ask you.
Just with the news we have been covering today, these latest incredibly serious allegations, do you think the Senate Judiciary Committee needs to pump the brakes on this hearing tomorrow?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I think they need to move full speed ahead.
And if the latest accuser wants to come forward and tell her story, then I'll -- she should come forward and tell her story. She deserves to be heard, just like Dr. Ford does and Ms. Ramirez. They all deserve to be heard.
But I think Chairman Grassley...
BALDWIN: But they haven't invited her?
STEWART: I think Chairman Grassley is wise to be fair to these women and give them the opportunity to speak, but also to be firm and with -- withholding the calendar they have forward with -- in terms of the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh.
I think it's important to maintain a good balance between those two issues, but we need -- we need to stand firm and move forward with this confirmation process.
BALDWIN: I know you're in touch with a lot of Republicans on high places. Do you know, have they officially invited Swetnick to testify?
They -- they want to hear her story. And I think it's important that we do hear her story. But whether or not she can do it in the timeline that they have remains to be seen. But they have been very clear, all of them, with regard to all these women that have come forward, is let them be heard. Let them hear their stories, but we also need to move forward with the process at hand.
BALDWIN: Lara, on your opinion piece out of "The Times," you say these Republican men, in hiring this outside counsel, the sex crimes expert to represent them, is cynical, sexist and cowardly. Why?
LARA BAZELON, UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, Chairman Grassley said that he had decided to outsource the questioning out of sensitivity to Dr. Ford.
But if he was truly being sensitive to her, he would have done what she asked, which is have her questions before the full panel, which is a normal Senate procedure.
They seem to have outsourced this for the reasons that you said earlier, Brooke, which is that the optics are absolutely terrible. We have 11 Republican men, all white, median age 60, two of whom are in their 80s, and they just don't want to do this.
And so they're shoveling it off onto someone else.
BALDWIN: Could you not see it as, they're all men, they are not experts in prosecuting sex crimes or any kind of cross-examination, questioning sex crimes, the fact that she is a woman, she will understand in a different way than they will?
I'm just saying that's the other side of it. How would you push back?
BAZELON: I find that offensive, frankly, the idea that it takes a woman to know a woman and that only a woman could question another woman.
These gentlemen on the committee have gone out in public and had no problem attacking Dr. Ford's character, calling her mixed up, calling her "this lady" that maybe I'll listen to and then, in the same breath, saying, as Lindsey Graham did, I have made up my mind.
The question isn't what gender you are. The question is, can you do your job in a respectful, probing manner? Why is that so much to ask?
BALDWIN: I hear you. It's almost like they aren't up for it would be one perception. It's almost like dial a woman who could question Dr. Ford.
Staying with you though, Lara, if they hadn't hired this female outside counsel, would you or other critics have complained if these -- all these 11 men did question her, 11 white men asking the questions?
BAZELON: I would complain if, in asking the questions, they bullied her, lacerated her, intimidated her, and went after her in a way that Republicans and Democrats, quite frankly, did in the Anita Hill hearings. Then I would be quite critical.
What I would expect is for them to do their job and treat her with respect while asking the questions they need to ask.
BALDWIN: Alice, how do you see it?
STEWART: I think, look, Lara's piece is very, certainly intelligent.
But two of the key points that she highlighted here, cynical and sexist, those are the two main arguments that Democrats said from the very beginning of this process as to why they did not want all men GOP members of the committee to ask her questions.
They wanted to bring in someone that had more sympathy towards Dr. Ford. And that's exactly what they did. So, in doing what many Democrats wanted from the very beginning, is bringing in someone that would be more sympathetic, now it's being used against us.
And I think Rachel Mitchell has a tremendous career in handling sex crimes cases. Her sympathies -- she has worked to protect victims throughout much of her career. And her sympathies tend to lie more towards the victim, especially those that have -- there's been silence for many, many years.
So, in my view, she's going to be much more sympathetic and compassionate to Dr. Ford than -- than anyone else. And it doesn't matter that she is a woman. She is an experienced sex crimes prosecutor and she will be able to get to the heart of the matter and get to the true story from Dr. Ford and also Judge Kavanaugh.
So, she is the right person for the job. I don't look at it as a her being a woman. I look at it as her being the best person to ask these questions during this critical time.
BALDWIN: Two key perspectives going into this hearing tomorrow morning up on the Hill.
Alice and Lara, thank you both, truly, so much for that.
We're talking about Rachel Mitchell. That's the name of this woman, this prosecutor who will be conducting the questioning on behalf of Republicans. We will talk to someone who worked with her for years back in Maricopa County, Arizona.