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Trump Defends Kavanaugh Amid Third Willman's Allegations; Who Is the Female Attorney Who Will Question Kavanaugh and Ford?; Trump was Venting and Ranting to Macron on Trade; Trump Accuses China of Election Meddling Against Him. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 26, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: More on our breaking news. A third woman now making these explosive allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh that includes abusive behavior towards women in high school. The allegations are incredibly graphic and extraordinarily serious. They are also allegations that Judge Kavanaugh is denying.

But tomorrow's hearing involving the first woman accusing him of attempted sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford, is still a go. The attorney hired by Republicans to ask questions for them at tomorrow's hearing is a woman by the name of Rachel Mitchell. She has been a prosecutor for 26 years, most recently she served as a deputy county attorney in Maricopa County, Arizona. Mitchell has prosecuted cases involving the backlog of rape kits, sex abuse cases involving Catholic priests, among other sex crimes. And my guest worked with Mitchell for several years in Maricopa County. He is Jason Lamm, who is now a criminal defense attorney. So, Jason, thank you so much for being on with us.


BALDWIN: Millions of eyeballs will be on Miss Mitchell tomorrow for this monumental this hearing involving the Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. From what you know about her, is she up to the task tomorrow?

LAMM: First and foremost, I've known Rachel Mitchell for about 20 years. And I want to say, it's strictly in a professional capacity. I also was also a deputy county attorney at the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and I also prosecuted sex crimes. But for about the last 17 years I've been a criminal defense attorney in private practice and I've had numerous cases against her. Some of which were high profile sex cases. That having been said, Rachel Mitchell is a fine attorney. She is a career prosecutor and she is absolutely dedicated to the prosecution of sex crimes. Unfortunately, given the environment she's brought into for this hearing, Brooke, in a lot of ways she in a no-win situation.

BALDWIN: Why do you say that?

LAMM: Well, you have to look at this. We only heard just last night that Rachel Mitchell would be assigned this task and given this task and already she's getting criticism from the right, she's getting criticism from the left. So, one of two things happen, either she asks Dr. Ford some very, very tough questions, and that's going to be completely against her grain in working with victims. Working with victims who have delayed reporting. Which is a big issue in this case.

On the other hand, if she softballs Dr. Ford and the Republicans on the committee feel Rachel Mitchell is not being aggressive enough, well then people are going to say she wasn't thorough and she was just being a shell. So, either way she's certainly up for the task. She's imminently qualified. She's a highly ethical attorney but there's just no good answer here.

BALDWIN: Sure. I'd be remiss not to ask you, you haven't been to touch with her since the news broke she'd be heading to Washington, correct?

LAMM: No, I think she's probably wisely undercover --

BALDWIN: Keeping a low profile.

LAMM: -- minding her business and getting ready for the challenge. Absolutely.

BALDWIN: So, to your point about how she will be questioning both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh -- as you mentioned, you have been on the other side of the courtroom in a number of cases, high profile cases, what is her M.O. when it comes to questioning?

LAMM: Rachel Mitchell's M.O. is very simple, Brooke, to get to the truth. Now again, I heard your last guest talking asking about the gender of the person asking the questions. I don't think that's really an issue. What I think is Rachel Mitchell's experience in dealing with victims of crime and sex crimes in particular and understanding the dynamics of delayed reporting. And I think that's going to be a big issue.

I think she's going to want to look at this in a black-and-white situation and if it's a delayed reporting, peel the layer of onion and see why and get to the kernels of truth.

[15:35:00] By the same token, I think she has a more difficult task at hand with Judge Kavanaugh. Because as a career prosecutor, she is used to cross-examining and aggressively at that. She's not a yeller. She's not a screamer but she's very effective and methodical. And I think she runs the risk of seeming too aggressive on Judge Kavanaugh. And yet again, another Catch-22 -- but if she's not aggressive enough, then others are going to say, hey, you know, you're just pooching this. So again, a really, really difficult task ahead but probably one of the most qualified people in the country for the job.

BALDWIN: Great. I think you hit on the truth. I think that's what every single American wants is the truth. Jason Lamm, a pleasure, thank you.

LAMM: Indeed, to you as well, Brooke. BALDWIN: Thank you.

On this breaking news, this latest allegation against Judge Kavanaugh, claims that Democrats have been calling on the White House to pull his nomination. Plus, CNN went to Yale to do some of our own reporting. Here what his former classmates are saying about his life on campus.


BALDWIN: We will get you back to the breaking news involving Judge Brett Kavanaugh here in just a second.

But just in, apparently President Trump went off -- that's how we're hearing it -- went off on his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, during their face-to-face meeting in New York. A senior diplomatic source telling CNN Trump was called quote, venting and ranting about trade to Macron. The source adding there was some rapport between the two but it's not what it once was. So, with me now senior diplomatic correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, who broke the story. And CNN's global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott. And so, Michelle, to you. What happened?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Some of the magic is gone here. But this has come to be expected among U.S. allies. That Trump gets into these one-on-one meetings where they can sort of be more themselves. They're not on a display, they're not putting on a show. But Trump starts to really hammer them on trade. So, we saw this with this Angela Merkel of Germany several months ago. We know that Trump and the French President, Macron, have this rapport, where Macron stands up to Trump at times but he also gives him the firm and shake. They have this decent working relationship. But even then, behind closed doors Trump just starts this kind of talking point, this rift on how in his mind the U.S., as he puts it, is worse than China on trade. It's something he's said before. But it makes for this uncomfortable meeting --

BALDWIN: Does it have anything to do with the Iran nuclear deal? What Macron has said?

KOSINSKI: They have this history of, you know, Macron feeling like he can have a good -- he can sort of be a hero and have a good relationship with Trump and maybe save the Iran nuclear deal at one point he thought that. And that didn't happen. And also, he's trying to get points back home. Some things work, some things just backfire on him. But this is a meeting where the two of them can talk about things that are really still on the table but Trump just hammers him on trade.

BALDWIN: OK. On China, the President said this on China, Elise, and how he saying China is meddling in our upcoming elections. Here he was.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Regrettably we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election. They do not want me or us to win because I am the first President ever to challenge China on trade.


BALDWIN: Can you fact check all of that for me?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, this is not the first time a top administration official has said China, Iran even are interfering with elections. It's an effort, isn't it to, dilute the importance of what Russia did in the election --

BALDWIN: Which he never mentions.

LABOTT: He never mentions. So, there may be some things that they feel they're looking at technology and what China and Russia and Iran are trying to do. Certainly not as much as what Russia is going to do and this is an effort to kind of divert away from what even the top intelligence officials are saying is a blinking red light, that Russia is still trying to interfere. But you heard over the last couple of weeks, National Security Adviser, John Bolton, Secretary of State Pompeo in a recent interview last week told me that he's also looking at China and Iran as well. And it's all an effort to kind of divert away from what Russia is doing at this very minute with the midterms coming up just a few weeks away.

BALDWIN: Bright, shiny object. Doesn't don't look this way.

LABOTT: Exactly.

BALDWIN: Elise and Michelle, thank you ladies so very much.

From that back to the story here. Judge Kavanaugh's college behavior, quite the topic among his former classmates. Some had high praise, others question his so-called choir boy image. We go next live to Yale University for a look at Kavanaugh's years on campus.


BALDWIN: As the Senate Judiciary Committee gets ready to hear from Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, and one of his accusers tomorrow, Kavanaugh's college behavior has become quite the topic among his classmates at Yale. Some had high praise for the nominee, and others pushed back on the notion of Kavanaugh's choir boy image implied in his recent interview. Liz Swisher, who described herself as a college friend of his, told

"The Washington Post," quote, Brett was a sloppy drunk, and I know because I drank with him. I watched him drink more than a lot of people. He'd end up slurring his words, stumbling.

CNN's Miguel Marquez went to New Haven, Connecticut, and has more on Kavanaugh's years in campus.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Yale University, a partially remembered alleged incident. 35 years old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

MARQUEZ: Now front and center in the high-powered fight over a crucial pick for the highest court in the land.


BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: Well, is there a person you're talking about?

[15:50:00] HARRIS: I'm asking you a very direct question. Yes or no.

MARQUEZ: The claim, at an alcohol-fueled party in 1983 or '84, Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself in a very aggressive way to Debby Ramirez, when both were freshmen and both were drunk.

KAVANAUGH: I never did any such thing. Never did any such thing. The other people alleged to be there don't recall any such thing. If such a thing had happened, it would have been the talk of campus.

MARQUEZ: The claim has added a layer of worry, angst and protests for many on the political left over a nominee and his nominating process.

AKHIL REED AMAR, YALE LAW PROFESSOR: Brett Kavanaugh is the best candidate on the horizon.

MARQUEZ: Yale law professor, Akhil Reed Amar, a self-described liberal Democrat, testified on Kavanaugh's behalf and wrote an editorial in "The New York Times," supporting his appointment based on the legal strength of Judge Kavanaugh's written decisions.

AMAR: As a constitutional scholar, read what Judge Kavanaugh as a Judge has written, and I thought that this overall work product placed him at the very top of all sitting federal Republican judges.

MARQUEZ: He now has second thoughts.

AMAR: I have second thoughts, because a second issue has arisen, and it's an issue about which, frankly, I don't have the facts. I don't think any American yet has the facts.

MARQUEZ: Amar wants to hear what Judge Kavanaugh's accusers have to say and judge for himself if he thinks the claims are credible and should bar Kavanaugh from sitting on the Supreme Court. In a statement, James Roche, Kavanaugh's freshman roommate, remembers him as a normally reserved, but a notably heavy drinker. Roche, a close friend of Debby Ramirez, says he has no knowledge of the incident she describes, but that Kavanaugh could become aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk.

HAILEY FUCHS, YALE DAILY NEWS: When he was at Yale as an undergrad, he joined a fraternity known as Delta Kappa Epsilon.

MARQUEZ: Hailey Fuchs and Britton O'Daly reported deeply on Judge Kavanaugh's time at Yale.

BRITTON O'DALY, YALE DAILY NEWS: This is a fraternity that heavily, heavily drew from the athlete scene at Yale. Right. So, Brett Kavanaugh is this guy who liked to play a little bit of basketball, wrote about sports for the "Daily News", was a big fan of that crowd.

MARQUEZ: One picture appearing in the "Yale Daily News" during those years of DKE members, but not Kavanaugh, raising a flag made from female student undergarments, it indicates the sort of fraternal high jinx some say misogynistic activities carried out by members of DKE during Judge Kavanaugh's time in the fraternity.

FUCHS: It was sort of a lot of high jinx and a lot of kind of like debauchery and like rowdiness that was very --

MARQUEZ: CNN contacted dozens of Judge Kavanaugh's classmates. Of those that did respond, many described DKE as a hard-partying fraternity. Most had positive memories of Kavanaugh, but not all. One woman called him an aggressive, obnoxious drunk, saying his fraternity was misogynistic. One classmate who was in the same secret society, truth and courage as Kavanaugh, say they drank but never saw him in a state where he wasn't in control. A female classmate who knew Kavanaugh well found the allegations shocking, saying she remembers Kavanaugh as an extremely intelligent and extremely nice and sensitive man.

KAVANAUGH: I'm just asking for a fair process, where I can be heard and defend my integrity and defend my family's integrity.


MARQUEZ: Now, the big question, Brooke, is will Debby Ramirez be allowed to testify before the senate committee? It is not very clear, and probably not likely. Her lawyers have sent a letter to the committee, saying that she's willing to cooperate. Their response back from the Republican leadership on that committee has been, we want more evidence. Something she says she doesn't have. But she wants to talk to them. Is hoping they'll at least hear her out. All of this against the backdrop that a tentative vote on Judge Kavanaugh in the committee has been set for Friday morning. So, after tomorrow's testimony of Dr. Ford, that maybe it. They may move to a vote on Friday -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Miguel Marquez, thank you. At Yale for us.

Coming up, we will soon hear from President Trump holding a rare, solo news conference. The night before this blockbuster senate hearing that could determine the fate of his Supreme Court nominee. Special coverage straight ahead here on CNN. We're back in just a moment.


BALDWIN: A third woman now making these explosive allegations against Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, including, quote, abusive behavior toward young women in high school, and beyond. The claims now have Democrats calling on the White House to pull his Supreme Court nomination.

Meantime, on the Republican side of things, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Chuck Grassley, says tomorrow's hearing will go on as planned. Republican Senator Jeff Flake, a key vote on that committee, questioned if lawmakers will ever get to the truth.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: We seem to sometimes forget that before this woman and this man or anything else, they are human beings. We sometimes seem intent on stripping people of their humanity so that we might more easily denigrate or defame them or put them through the grinder that our politics requires.


BALDWIN: And, again, you see it on the screen. The hearing tomorrow morning starts at 10:00 a.m. eastern. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.