Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Says Kavanaugh Allegations Are "False" But Then Says He Could Be Convinced Otherwise; New Accuser Alleges Kavanaugh Was At Parties Where Women Were Drugged, Gang Raped .Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 26, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: -- step of the way. Tomorrow I'm sure our viewers here in the United States and around the world will be watching. In the meantime, our special coverage on all of these continues right now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Out front next, President Trump calls accusations against Brett Kavanaugh false. Part of a big fat con job he says but then says he can be convinced otherwise. What?
Plus, the Republican who may determine Kavanaugh's fate is said to be unnerved tonight concerned about the third Kavanaugh accuse who's come forward.
And unprecedented, a U.S. senator is suing the President of the United States to stop a vote happening in the Senate on Kavanaugh. Is it the Hail Mary or something else? Let's go out front.
Good evening everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. Out front tonight, President Trump calls accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, he comes out swinging and calls them all false. In his strongest comments yet, Trump accused -- calls them false and part of a con job. Explosive accusations including the latest bombshell from a woman who claims she attended various parties with Kavanaugh in the 1980s where girls were allegedly drugged and gang raped. The President questioning tonight, questioning all of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why did they wait so long? Why did Senator Feinstein wait until the hearings were over and make this case? Why didn't she bring it right at the beginning? When you asked about, as I'm example, the FBI, why didn't they bring this right at the beginning during the hearing?
You would have had all the time in the world for the FBI. It would have been fine. Now the FBI, as you know, did investigate this time as they have five or six other times. And they did a very thorough investigation. But this is a big con job. Thirty-six years. No charge. No nothing. Everybody --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that happens often. I mean -- TRUMP: People are going to have to make a decision. These are all
false to me. These are false accusations in certain cases and in certain cases even the media agrees with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: All right, so you have that. The moments later the President said he could be convinced to change his mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't know about today's person that came forward. I do know about the lawyer. And you don't get much worse, bad reputation, to take a look at his past. So as far as the other women are concerned, I'm going to see what happens tomorrow. I'm going to be watching. You know, believe it or not. I'm going to see what's said. It's possible that they will be convincing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: The President went as far as to say that he might have to pull the nomination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What you're saying is there is a situation, there is a scenario under which you would withdraw Brett Kavanaugh's nomination? Is that correct?
TRUMP: If I thought he was guilty of something like this, yes, sure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you will wait until tomorrow to make up your mind.
TRUMP: I want to watch. I want to see. I hope I can watch it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: A lot to get to tonight you can imagine including news of a key Republican senator now raising serious questions about Kavanaugh's nomination.
Jeff Zeleny is out front live outside Trump Tower here in New York City. Jeff, the President on fire tonight but at time sending some, as we've already laid out just one, very mixed signals when it comes to Brett Kavanaugh.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, there's no question about that. And the President has just returned here to Trump Tower just a few moments ago after that extraordinary news conference some 1:20 minutes or so long. And there was indeed something for everything in there as you've been saying. There's no question the President still firmly stands behind his nominee for the Supreme Court. There's no question about that. That's the headline from this. He, of course, cannot take away any of the things he's been saying for the last week. But the President also seemingly wanting to clear the air a little bit and certainly occupy the space on the eve of the hearing. He knows that there are concerns among some Republicans, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski. So it was clear that he was taking pains to avoid a lot of the things he has tweeted about in the last week. You know, certainly a raising suggestions why she didn't bring this up some 36 years ago.
But, Kate, I was struck by most specifically about leaving the door open yet again to the possibility that he may not be confirmed. Again, that's not as preferable outcome, but the President seemed to be talking more about himself throughout the course of this news conference than about Brett Kavanaugh. Of course, he talked about his own accusations of sexual misconduct. He did say that they certainly influence his views but then he also said I want to hear from the women. He keep saying I want to hear from the women.
Well that could create a bit of an issue for Republicans on The Judiciary Committee because they've only agreed to allow one woman, one accuser to come forward here. So unclear if the President helped things or hurt things. But I was struck by the fact that he's still open to the possibility of having, you know, to potentially nominate someone else. And they would be happy to use this, Kate, as a weapon in the midterm elections saying Democrats brought down this nominee, brought down this good family man.
[19:05:10] Again, that's not where he's at now. But this is unchartered territory. No question about what the hearing will bring tomorrow. And if there are any other accusations out there, but the President made clear he'll be watching and in a separate bit of news, he pulled back from the potential of firing of Rod Rosenstein. He said he may not have the meeting at all tomorrow. He may do that later. He may keep him on board.
As we've been actually reporting for the last 36 hours or so, his advisors have been saying that, you know, urging him not to fire him. So, first things first, Kavanaugh tomorrow. We'll let this play out to see what senators on the Hill thought. My early read talking to a few aides, they're frankly not sure, Kate. We have to listen to the hearing tomorrow.
BOLDUAN: There's a lot to digest for being kind. A lot to digest from that press conference. Great to see you. Thanks so much, Jeff.
Out front with me tonight, John Avlon, CNN's Senior Political Analyst, April Ryan, White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, the Author of "Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House." And Scott Jennings, former Adviser of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. He worked with Brett Kavanaugh in the Bush White House. And Jennifer Granholm, the former Democratic Governor of Michigan. Thanks to all of you.
John, multiple sources have been telling CNN that the President is -- describe it how you will, was upset, was growing increasingly frustrated. However you want to put it with how the defense of Brett Kavanaugh was going and how Brett Kavanaugh kind of perform, if you will, in that box in his interview. And he clearly thought he was going to take it on himself. Is that what we saw tonight?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you saw a President free willing and filibustering and enjoying the sound of his own voice as he has want to do, but putting his on considerations ahead of the fate of the nominee. The idea the President of the United States going to quarterback this nomination is it self-surreal. But that's just another unprecedented moment in an presidency that is unprecedented.
The cardinal sin for President Trump often is whether or not someone can comport themselves on television. And Brett Kavanaugh's interview with Fox seemed stiff. It seemed stilted. And that apparently didn't read well for the President. The fact he left the door open and kind of a reality show tease of, you know, I'll be watching, stay tuned, is not a sign of great confidence.
But this administration is all in. In part because the President himself, he said today, has the weight of all the accusations against with him, with women. And so his instinct is to blame the women and not blame the real victim as he sees it is the man in question because that's how he sees himself.
BOLDUAN: April, I want to play another exchange here from the President's news conference. Just listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have daughters. Can you understand why a victim of sexual assault would not report it at the time? Don't you understand?
TRUMP: By the way, I only say this, 36 years, no charge, no nothing. Everybody --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that happens often.
TRUMP: People are going to have to make a decision. Thirty-six years there's no charge. All of a sudden the hearings are over and the rumors start coming out. Then you have this other con artist Avenatti come out with another beauty today. I only say that you have to look at the facts. The senators are very capable people. They're very good people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: He didn't necessarily answer the question directly but he definitely was saying something, April. What is he saying?
APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Basically, what he was saying is once again his personal past is influencing the present and the future. He did not address the fact that he's a father and he has daughters, who, if this were to happen, you know, how would he feel. He is governing or talking at this press conference from his heart and in from his feelings from his personal life, which he said he is influenced by that.
But also you have to remember this, the longer this goes on, the worse it looks for this administration because, again, the President's personal past is coming up. Also the issue of Roy Moore and even Rob Porter has come up into this. But you have to remember, politics is playing into this as well. There's a chance that the President could pull the nomination.
And politics is playing because it's playing with women. Women are leaving Republicans and going to the Democrats, according to what polls are saying. So the longer this plays out, the President may have to change his tune.
BOLDUAN: That's not the case the President made today. He says that the women he's hearing from, they are angry about how this is playing out against Brett Kavanaugh.
RYAN: Well, polls are showing differently.
BOLDUAN: Scott, you tweeted that you think the President did well. I was reading your tweet and you said, he was clear in his messages on a range of topics. When the President first says that this is all a con job, these are false accusations, then a moment later says that he, though, could be convinced to change his mind. What's clear about that, though?
SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRES. G.W. BUSH: Well I think he was saying what a lot of people are saying. And that is there are legitimate questions that have been raised about these accusations, by a lot of Republicans. And if we are going to listen to the accusations and there are legitimate questions about him that need to be answered. But that the hearing matters. I mean --
[19:10:12] BOLDUAN: That's not the definition of a con job. (INAUDIBLE) but that's not a con job.
JENNINGS: That's his view of it today. Then he said I want to see the hearing which is also what Republicans are saying and what they have been working towards trying to get Dr. Ford from the day they learned about her allegation and her name trying to get her in the committee room which they will get to do on -- or we're going to get to do on Thursday. And I think everybody is going to be watching that.
And what Brett Kavanaugh has to do on Thursday is remain unequivocal and his denials and everybody is going to see Dr. Ford for the first time, and then people are going to make judgments. I mean, there's still several United States senators on the committee and at large I'm sure that are undecided about how to view all these and the committee matters. And that's what the President said, that the hearing matter.
BOLDUAN: But how is this clarity? Because on this point of -- he was asked you appear to believe accusers -- the accused more than accusers. And he said when it comes to Roy Moore, he didn't really like him. That he wasn't with him. That is revisionist history to be kind. He went down and campaigned for Roy Moore three days before that special election.
JENNINGS: Yes. I didn't like Roy Moore either. And I know that the President was for Roy Moore. And I was famously one of the first Republicans to come out against Roy Moore.
JENNINGS: And I heard what he said today and I understand the way he treated it. But, look, this is a completely different issue. The issue is, are we going to listen to Dr. Ford or not? Are we going to pre-judge it or not? And what he said today is we're going to listen to her in the hearing and see what she has to say and let her answer the questions that we have for her. That is a perfectly legitimate point of view.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF MICHIGAN: Yes. Just give me one good reason why in order to clear this up, if he's calling these women and their accusations a con job, why we can't have an objective investigation by the federal bureau of investigation? What is the problem with getting to the bottom of it? If there were a senator who was interviewing a low level staffer in their office who had three public accusations of sexual abuse and worse, they would never be hired.
BOLDUAN: Scott, do you think at this point we can acknowledge because they want to move it along? Do you think that it's OK to say it that way?
GRANHOLM: But that's --
JENNINGS: Yes. Look, Governor Granholm is articulating exactly what the Democrats want. They want anything they can do to delay this past election and we hope to say --
JENNINGS: You want to hold it open for two years. And the best change you have is to delay. That's what you want.
GRANHOLM: I want the truth.
JENNINGS: Yes, you want to hold it open for two years.
BOLDUAN: Hold on. When we all talk -- I love the Brady bunch, but when we all talk, literally no one can hear a Brady bunch.
John, let me bring you in on this. Have your say, but the answer my best. I'm not even making sense more. He is now -- Brett Kavanaugh is now facing another accusation from another accuser. The President offered up the thought -- as we're discussing the thought of withdrawing his nomination tonight which I thought was really amazing to hear him even say the word that he hopes he doesn't have to withdraw. But he said he hopefully does not have to do that. The fact that he even went there really stuck out to me. Do you think this new accuser is a turning point?
AVLON: Look, the new accuser being put forward by Michael Avenatti is someone who has taken, you know, a sworn deposition and it's a story about that is very salacious about a culture around Georgetown Prep and allegedly Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge that involved not just drinking but gang rapes. Kavanaugh is not directly implicated necessarily in this, but it is more fuel on this fire. I think that accusation itself has a chance of creating blow back on the part of Republicans. Because it is such a salacious accusation.
And all of a sudden, you know, if Brett Kavanaugh was masterminding this in high school is some combination of Ferris Bueller and Caligula (ph). I mean, this is really ugly, ugly stuff. And you need to -- this is a woman who has had a very successful professional career in the government. She's taken a sworn deposition. It needs to be taken seriously. But Avenatti is such a polarizing figure.
Some Republicans will use it and excuse to say, see, this is an 11th hour pile on. And Kavanaugh in (INAUDIBLE) said it's Twilight zone. But, you know, the argument that we just had on air --
AVLON: -- the squaring of the circle is name Merrick Garland. Democrats say, look, you accuse us of wanting to delay. What about delay 300 days for an imminently qualified jurist who was not polarizing did not have serious questions and was killed (INAUDIBLE) part of the reasons. Is there a political (INAUDIBLE) of this? Of course there is.
BOLDUAN: Of course there is. But the question is, in reality, in this moment with three accusers facing Brett Kavanaugh right now with a committee hearing scheduled for tomorrow, I mean, the perfect storm is a cliche but it is exactly what we're facing right now. What is going to happen?
[19:15:5] Is there time for an investigation to happen when Chuck Grassley says that they are working diligently to have it and there's 14 hours left. We're in a real moment here people, as Captain Obvious (ph) case. Stay with me guys.
Out front next, the new details about the third Kavanaugh accuser. Who is Julie Swetnick? Plus, a top Republican who could determine Brett Kavanaugh's future is said to be unnerved by the latest allegations. Will Senator Susan Collins feel his fate?
And different measures? What one top Democrat is doing to try to stop the Kavanaugh vote now? Senator Jeff Merkley is my guest.
[19:19:33] BOLDUAN: New details tonight, about the third woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of inappropriate behavior. Her name is Julie Swetnick and she is saying in a sworn statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, that Kavanaugh was present at a party where she was drugged and gang raped. She also said that she saw Kavanaugh engaged and abusing and physically aggressive behavior toward women at this party, as well he was in high school.
Sara Sidner is out front with me right. Sara, Swetnick made this accusation in a sworn statement. If she's lying, she has a lot to lose.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. She's under the penalty of forgery and she states that in her declaration that has been handed over to the Judiciary Committee through her attorney. The Judiciary Committee has told CNN they have received it and are looking at it.
I do want to mention some of the things that she said in her sworn statement. At the very beginning she talks about herself and says that she has some security clearances. That she had security clearances associated with the federal government. In other words that she has worked with or for the federal government including the Department of Transportation, the U.S. Mint and the IRS. She talks about the fact she had formerly held even higher security clearances for the Department of State.
All that being said, she's making that the point here that she has a lot to lose by coming forward because she has, you know, dealings with the federal government and she is, you know, gainfully employed and she's not just coming out of nowhere. And so, she's put that information forward in the very beginning of her declaration. But then she goes on and talks about some of those very disturbing allegations against Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge.
She talks about having met them at a parties over 1981 through 1983 about 10 different parties. Now her attorney has talked at length about this, but Brett Kavanaugh's attorney has also responded to some of her allegations. And here's what Brett Kavanaugh's attorney talked about when she said, well, why did this woman keep going to the parties if she thought something like a gang rape was going on. Here's what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETH WILKINSON, ATTORNEY FOR BRETT KAVANAUGH: When you say you went to 10 parties like that and you kept going to those parties even though that was happening and you saw that supposedly happen to other girls, that is a different thing not to report. I understand why women don't report sexual assault, it's very difficult and no one should criticize them for that. But this is a whole different level.
This is saying I went with other women, other girls at the time, I saw all this happening and I went back. And I went back again and I never told anyone and I never brought it up. I never thought about what was happening to those other women. I just, I have a very hard time believing that's true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Kavanaugh's latest accuser, Julie Swetnick, her attorney coming back with a fierce response to that saying that in the beginning she didn't know what was happening to other women who were in this private room. She wasn't in the room with the other women when some of this was happening. But she says she did see men going into a private room and she later determined what has happened because she says she herself was gang raped in what she called a train rape in 1982. And she says Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present. What she does not say is that they were the attackers but she said they were present whether they were present in the room or present at the party. We still don't know, but certainly some very strong allegations.
BOLDUAN: And we know tonight the Senate Judiciary Committee has these allegations and he's looking into them. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it, Sara.
Everyone is back here with me. So Scott, the third accusation, a sworn statement, I mean, there is a breaking point for every nomination that we see to any secretary of this and that or to be the Supreme Court Justice. Do you think this is it?
JENNINGS: No, I don't. I don't think we're there yet because we haven't had a hearing about any of these. No witness can corroborate any of these. All of these allegations are without any evidence or any witnesses. And, again, we haven't even had a hearing on the first one which is Dr. Ford which comes up on Thursday. I think what the Democrats want is for, what you just said, to achieve a breaking point before they ever have to produce any witnesses or evidence delaying this past the election so they can hold it open.
It's a perfectly understandable emotion. They want revenge for Merrick Garland. I totally understand it. But they are hiding behind this basal (ph) of we want the truth and we want to help this, that, that's it. It is raw politics. They want to open it up for two years because that's what they think they need to do to get revenge for Merrick Garland. That's it. That's the whole ball game there.
BOLDUAN: Governor, is Scott wrong with ball games?
GRANHOLM: Yes. It's so warped, like it's difficult to respond to. First of all if you want to --
BOLDUAN: Folks wanted revenge for Merrick Garland. Go ahead.
GRANHOLM: Yes. Let me just say, if you are worried about some delay then put an end time on the delay, on the investigation. Say to the FBI, you have seven days. Put everything you have into it. Look into these investigations.
You're not going to hear from this woman because they have one hearing set and a vote the following morning. So you're not even going to hear from her. You're not going to hear from the second one. And there's breaking news tonight that there is another woman that the Senate Committee has asked Kavanaugh about who has similar allegations, Mark Judge's ex-girlfriend.
BOLDUAN: CNN does not have that information quite yet, but continue on.
GRANHOLM: OK. Well, I'm just saying it was breaking news but the bottom line is there is -- Mark Judge's ex-girlfriend is willing to come and testify openly about this notion of these train rapes that Mark Judge confessed to her that he participated in. But we're not going to hear any of that.
[19:25:06] JENNINGS: I think you're exaggerating. You're exaggerating what she said about that, by the way, you're exaggerated. I've never read that she said Mark Judge has claimed he participated in train rapes. That is -- you're exaggerating that.
GRANHOLM: Well, then you better read that New Yorker article, hon. You better read that New Yorker article --
JENNINGS: Don't call me hon. Listen Governor, I call you Governor. I think you would respect -- don't call me hon. Don't --
GRANHOLM: Scott, I apologize. Scott, I'm just saying that you should read --
BOLDUAN: Governor and Scott, I'm jumping in.
GRANHOLM: -- the New Yorker article.
BOLDUAN: Give me one second, Governor. John, I want you jumping on this. When it comes to the hearing, and this is really important, when it comes to the hearing what is being done ahead of time? What is actually have been handed over to the committee?
Quite a bit of stuff, I guess I would say from the side of Brett Kavanaugh. They handed over a calendar or pages from a calendar from that year, from back when he was in high school. And they say that it shows that there's nothing on the calendar that shows he's going to a party. I mean, just to illustrate like what was in this calendar, as we maybe would expect some any centennial to have in May of 1982, grounded three weekends in a row, June 6th through the 11th, 1982, beach week. Does any of this mean anything to the Committee?
AVLON: Look, this is the problem with anything resembling discovery around a 36-year-old accusation that goes back to high school. We know that he was excited to see Rocky III when it came out. But you're not necessarily --
BOLDUAN: Don't diminish Grease 2.
AVLON: Michelle Pfeiffer underrated role in that.
AVLON: But, you know, you're not necessarily going to put a party of this nature on that kind of a calendar. And it's the surreal difficulty of proving these kinds of allegations. This is an undiscovered country. The closest parallel we have in Supreme Court is, of course, Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. George H.W. Bush got the FBI to do an investigation over 72 hours. But these were adults. There was a professional relationship working for the federal government. That's comparetabily easy.
Well I think the Republicans have not done themselves any favors in the administration not by even opening into the FBI. However difficult that maybe to come to any kind of thing presumably conclusion, proof, young adolescence and alcohol and different accounts is the fact that they haven't subpoenaed, for example, Mark Judge.
One of the rare cases in the original allegation where it's not purely as he said -- she said because there's a third party in the room, so said the accuser. So they haven't gone that extra mile and that makes it more -- it makes it easier to accuse them of lack of good faith as the scheduling of a vote the next morning.
BOLDUAN: Well that --
AVLON: That is procedural. That may or may not happen.
AVLON: It indicates that as Lindsey Graham said, they want to hear the woman's story and then move on. That is not illustrated greatly.
BOLDUAN: With this latest accuser, April, the twist and I had kind of noticed this with Julie Swetnick. Her attorney is Michael Avenatti. I mean, this is the definition of the current Trump nemesis, I guess we could say. It's turned personal already from Twitter to the President in his press conference calling him everything, you know, a con artist or whatever he called him tonight which I think is what exist.
RYAN: Low life. Low life, yes.
BOLDUAN: Does this make it more difficult that Avenatti is her attorney for her claims to be taken seriously?
RYAN: For some, yes. For others, no. What Michael Avenatti has done has created a name, Stormy Daniels. For people to see who she is and he's made it prominent, and he has made some allegations that have really challenged this White House. Michael Avenatti may be this low life that the President says, for some, but he's also an attorney who is in the forefront who brings this to the forefront for the American public to see. And what you have to look at -- this is a critical moment in history. And beyond politics, beyond Michael Avenatti, this is about humanity. Women are crying out. This is an important moment.
Do you negate what they are saying, these allegations, just to get someone on the Supreme Court? This nation is made up of women and men. And do you not listen to the cries for help? Someone in this scenario is lying, someone in the scenario is lying and the question is who is it?
AVLON: And justice is important for everyone involved. That requires process. And there is an attempt to kill this nomination under a weight of headlines, and that's I think the point of Scott has been making fairly. But if we all deserve it to ourselves to see this to a responsible and to the extent that's humanely possible to environment.
BOLDUAN: Great to see you guys. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it all.
Out front for us next, has a third woman's claims tip the scale against Kavanaugh with the key Republicans. Senator Susan Collins may be having serious doubt about the nominee. Tonight, we have details.
And Kavanaugh's former law professor has called him the best choice among many possible nominees. Is he having second thought? He's my guest. I'll ask.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: -- among many possible nominees.
[19:30:02] Is he having second thoughts?
He's my guest. I'll ask.
BOLDUAN: We have some breaking news coming in. Brett Kavanaugh facing questions now, tonight, about two additional accusers. This just coming in. Two anonymous accusations are on top of the three women who have already come forward.
Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue has these breaking details. And she's joining me now.
Ariane, what can you tell us?
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, Kate, what's important to remember here is that these are coming out on the eve of the hearing and the hearing tomorrow is about Christine Blasey Ford's allegations. But the committee tonight has released these transcripts of conversations they had with Kavanaugh over the last couple of days. And there are two new allegations in here.
But, Kate, these allegations are anonymous. Not like the ones that have to do with Professor Ford. And he has vehemently denied them. The first one went to Senator Cory Gardner. And it was an anonymous letter and it's dated around time the incident happened around 1998. That would have been when he worked for Starr.
It was a mother writing about her daughter and a few friends and the mother wrote that Brett Kavanaugh shoved her friend up against a wall very aggressively and sexually. And the mother says there that there are witnesses. Kavanaugh is asked about it and he says that's total twilight zone. I never did anything like that. And then another one went to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. One of his
constituents contacted him. He said around 1985, there was an incident about a boat. Again, Kavanaugh is asked about it in these transcripts and he denies it. So, these are two more coming on the eve of the hearing. But it's quite different, right? These are anonymous. It's not like the allegations that have been brought by Christine Blasey Ford.
BOLDUAN: And coming through the committee transcripts as well. That's the fascinating part about this as well, Ariane. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Much more on this now tonight. Two more accusers anonymous, on top of the three clearly we've been discussing.
[19:35:01] Also tonight, red flags from a key Republican senator. Senator Susan Collins raising serious concern at a private meeting today about the latest sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. Multiple sources say that she appeared unnerved and that Republican leaders fought to reassure her.
Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT with more on this.
Sunlen, Collins is and has been a crucial vote here. How concerned is she over the developments? What are you picking up?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems potentially very. It seems specifically the allegations that came in earlier today from Julie Swetnick may have potentially rattled her. The question tonight, Kate, is how much.
Now, our CNN Hill team is reporting that Senator Susan Collins huddled with Republican leaders earlier today and during that meeting, which was indeed private, that Collins appeared unnerved by these specific latest allegations and specifically that it was the sworn statement that Julie Swetnick gave to the panel, the Senate Judiciary Committee, that carries the weight of potential perjury for lying to Congress that seems to have particularly struck a chord with Senator Susan Collins tonight.
You know, as you said, she is such a key swing vote here. She has not revealed what her vote will be in that meeting today. Sources tell our Hill team here tonight that she did not reveal it to those leaders either. It still remains a mystery.
And, certainly, this concern backed up what she said publicly today which was very little but very important. All she basically said was obviously I think these new allegations seriously and believe they should be investigated by the committee and it's worth repeating her. The devil is in the detail in the math here on Capitol Hill.
Kavanaugh can't afford to lose more than one Republican senator if all Democrats vote against the nomination.
BOLDUAN: Sunlen, the hearing with Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, that begins tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Take us inside the room. What's going to happen?
SERFATY: Yes, I think it's everyone's guess that the committee is trying to make sure they stick to a schedule. It starts at 10:00, and you're looking at an early peak that I got earlier of the committee room. It is a very small room, very intimate. You'll see there the witness table. It's only about 15 feet from the dais.
First, we'll hear from Chairman Grassley, then the Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, and first we'll hear the opening statement of Christine Blasey Ford. That is not under any sort of time limit. She can speak as long as she wants.
Then it will be five minutes of questioning from the senators. We know, of course, that the Republicans are yielding their time over to that outside attorney that will be sitting as we know on the dais and questioning her. And then, of course, we'll hear from Brett Kavanaugh and we were told that they will -- the intention is for them to never be in the same room as they both give their testimony tomorrow.
BOLDUAN: And how they pull that off, we will have to see. Five minutes, though, for each senator, it's not a lot of time to get all these questions in.
Thank you, Sunlen. I appreciate it.
OUTFRONT with me now, Akhil Amar. He was Brett Kavanaugh's former law professor at Yale University. He testified to the Senate in support of Kavanaugh's nomination during his first hearings, of course.
Professor, thank you so much for joining me.
AKHIL REED AMAR, KAVANAUGH'S FORMER LAW PROFESSOR: Thanks for having me.
BOLDUAN: So, we now have more accusers tonight. Today, earlier today, the accusations came from a woman named Julie Swetnick. Her accusations that Kavanaugh was present at parties where, especially at one party, where she was gang raped.
You heard this come out in this sworn statement today, Professor, you thought what?
AMAR: I thought that this is yet another allegation and it needs to be investigated, and I want to hear from both sides. One of things that I admire about Judge Kavanaugh and his written opinions is he strikes me as someone who has tried to be open-minded. He's surrounded himself with clerks who are liberals as well as conservatives.
I think you heard Senator Collins say she wants to keep an open mind about this. She wants to hear from both sides. A good judge hears from both sides. I think a good senator hears from both sides, making up his or her mind.
Your audience might also be interested in focusing on two Democrats who I think still have said they haven't already decided, Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp. Most of the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have already, in effect, made up their mind one way. They were opposed to Kavanaugh even before these revelations. Most of the Republicans seem very committed to him on the committee.
I'm going the try to keep an open mind and that's what actually Brett Kavanaugh and his wife, I think, asked America to do when they appeared on network TV earlier this week and said we'd like you to wait and hear our side of the story.
BOLDUAN: Professor, you're a self-described liberal Democrat. That is why when you testified in support of Brett Kavanaugh, that made a lot -- got a lot of attention.
[19:40:02] I want to play for our viewers one thing that you said to the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month about Judge Kavanaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMAR: Brett Kavanaugh is the best candidate on the horizon. He's the best choice from the long list of 25 potential nominees publicly circulated by President Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Do you regret those words now?
AMAR: No, because that was based on his performance as a judge over the last 12 years. We didn't have any of these allegations. I still think if you look at the written record of his judicial and scholarly performance over the last 12 years, it's very fine.
But now, there's a new issue that has arisen. And one -- it's possible one can be very good in one way and now there's a problem in another. That's what I meant by keeping an open mind. One of the things that I admire about Judge Kavanaugh is I thought he tried to do that in his writing. That's what I think he would actually urge Americans to do.
And we may need more investigation after tomorrow's hearing because certain issues actually might be framed and clarified and that might very well be as painful as it is, more investigation will be necessary. And on the other side, perhaps in exchange for more investigation, there's going to be a need to be some sort of agreement between the parties about when the investigation ends and a vote is taken up or down.
And, by the way, if he were confirmed, oh, investigation doesn't end. The press is still going to pursue this. If Democrats win either House or Senate in November, they will have subpoena power and power of oversight and investigation.
So, I think it behooves us all to actually remember that no matter what happens over the next couple of days, investigation needs to and probably will continue. BOLDUAN: The important obviously, you will know and everybody who has
watched the show, the factor in that is if confirmed and if confirmed, he's serving a lifetime tenure even if Democrats -- even if that scenario that you're talking about plays out. I mean, this is the -- this accusation from Julie Swetnick is the ugliest accusation made against a Supreme Court nominee ever.
I mean, as you're talking about this, even if Kavanaugh does get confirmed, is he tainted by these allegations?
AMAR: Well, again, it depends on whether they are true or not, and I don't know. With all due respect, I'm not sure you do or your audience does yet. So, that's why I want to see what happens tomorrow and beyond.
BOLDUAN: Do you think that --
AMAR: Let's actually be fact based, evidence based.
BOLDUAN: The real problem with that is this is playing out in a Senate committee. As you well know, it's always a big heavy dose of politics involved. Do you think the truth will really come out?
AMAR: Well, again, 96 people aren't interested this truth and four are, they may actually be decisive.
Here's what I've learned just listening in the last few minutes. I've learned that his lawyer said, gee, why did you keep going to the parties and she said I didn't know what was going on behind the door? Well, here's a question, did he know what was going on behind the door even if things were going on behind the door?
Those are the sorts of things that I expect to be asked tomorrow. I'm very interested in hearing the responses.
BOLDUAN: Professor, thanks for coming in. I appreciate it. Looking forward to hearing what you think after the hearing.
AMAR: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, a preview of what Christine Blasey Ford will say to Congress tomorrow. Three words, no one's pawn.
And Hail Mary move, President Trump being sued. A Democratic senator goes to court to try to block a vote on Kavanaugh.
[19:46:45] BOLDUAN: I am no one's pawn. This is what Christine Blasey Ford will say tomorrow, firing back at critics who say she's accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault for political reasons. It's part of the written testimony that she'd just submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Ford will also say this, and I'll read you part of it. I don't have all the answers. I don't remember as much as I would like to. But the details about that night that bring me here today are one I will never forget.
Those details will be put under a microscope for sure when Ford faces Rachel Mitchell, a sex crimes prosecutor that Republicans are bringing in to handle their questioning.
OUTFRONT now, Francey Hakes, former sex crimes prosecutor, and former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, he testified against Kavanaugh's nomination over his concerns about views on executive power.
Thank you both for being here.
So much has happened this evening. John, Republicans on the issue of what will be asked tomorrow, Republicans are bringing in this outside counsel. They say to take -- to depoliticize it, to take the politics out of equation so not to repeat what happened in the Anita Hill hearing.
Do you give them that?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I don't. I think exactly the opposite. They are politicizing it by hiding behind an outside counsel. While the credentials for this counsel are very good, she has a very good reputation. She's apparently very good with victims of sex crimes, we'll see how she performs tomorrow.
BOLDUAN: Francey, do you see that, though, they are hiding?
FRANCEY HAKES, FORMER FEDERAL AND STATE SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR: No. Quite the opposite. In fact, it looks to me like the Republicans have done what they should. They have hired a professional to do a professional job.
I think it's the Democrats who look to be politicizing it by complaining that a bunch of male senators aren't questioning this woman. If they were, they would be accusing these male senators of misogyny. I think the Republicans have just done what they had to do and that is to get a woman and a sex crimes prosecutor to both cross examine Kavanaugh and to examine Dr. Ford equally.
BOLDUAN: You know, Francey, one of the things I heard from somebody is, you know what, those Republican lawmakers who bringing in this prosecutor, it is -- they are the ones who are elected. They were elected by their constituents to sit on that dais and ask questions. Bring in an outside adviser to help them formulate the appropriate question someone in a sensitive situation, sure. Are they shirking their responsibility by not asking questions themselves?
HAKES: No. I think quite the contrary. Their job is to vet this candidate. Their job is to elucidate enough information from the witnesses to decide whether or not Judge Kavanaugh should sit on the Supreme Court. And they feel that in order to get the best information from both Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford is to bring in an experienced prosecutor. I can't see a thing wrong with that.
BOLDUAN: That gets to a key question, John. If you've watched -- if you've watched any Senate or house hearing, at times you can see sometimes, lawmakers are way over their skis in what they are asking. Dealing with issues that they sometimes it seems they have no business asking questions about.
So, if the goal is to get to the truth and to really get some answers, why not bring in someone from the outside, John?
[19:50:08] DEAN: Well, I'm a former committee counsel. I started on the House side as minority counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, very familiar with both the House and Senate, and I know that occasionally when members of the House and Senate don't feel comfortable, they have counsel prepare to do this kind of questioning. But it's rare. If there's any political hay to be made, or political liability, the roles can shift.
So, I think what we have here is an example of not wanting to repeat what happened during the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings, which have left a blot on both the committee, which has never had a female on the member -- as a member on the Republican side, whereas you have some very competent former prosecutors on the other side.
BOLDUAN: Francey, as a competent prosecutor, yourself, what do you want to hear asked tomorrow?
HAKES: Well, what I want to hear asked is whether or not Dr. Ford's account is credible, and whether or not Judge Kavanaugh's denials are credible. And in order to do that, the prosecutor will have to take them both step by step through various questions that will include questions about their memory of events, what was going on at the time, their potential for bias, whether their memory is better now or was better then. And all kinds of questions that I hope will tell us, at least give us a sense of which one is more credible.
That's the goal. Who's more credible?
BOLDUAN: John, what about you, what needs to be asked tomorrow?
DEAN: Well, I'm not sure we're going to get any resolution as to who is telling the truth and who is not tomorrow. I think they're both going to -- we know have a preview of what their positions are going to be. There has been no real investigation on a bipartisan basis or by the FBI that precedes this.
So, it's a rough setup. A setup for a he said/she said and we'll see if they vote on Friday as they're talking about, then this whole thing is just a sham. If there's further investigation, then they're serious about resolving this thing.
BOLDUAN: Well, this thing changes minute by minute. As we know, new accusations have just been leveled. Let us see what changes in the coming hours.
Thank you, both, very much. I very much appreciate it. OUTFRONT for us next, 11th hour lawsuit. A U.S. senator is suing the
president of the United States to stop a vote on Brett Kavanaugh. Senator Jeff Merkley is my guest, next.
BOLDUAN: Tonight, a Hail Mary. A top Democratic senator is making an 11th hour attempt to stop a vote on Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, he's suing President Trump along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley saying that his and other senators' constitutional rights to advice and consent are being violated.
[19:55:10] OUTFRONT now, Senator Jeff Merkley.
Senator, thank you for coming in.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: You bet, Kate. Good to be with you.
BOLDUAN: This is an unprecedented move. You're asking a judge to step in to stop the Senate from holding a vote. Is this a desperate move, too?
MERKLEY: It's not desperate. It's an unprecedented situation. The Constitution lays out very clearly in the advice and consent clause that the president nominates and the Senate can't interfere with that, and the Senate deliberates on advice and consent and executive cannot interfere with that. They're meant to be a check on each other.
But in this case, on three separate occasions, the president has deployed his executive team to interfere with the senators' ability to get the key information to review the record of this nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. That is unprecedented. It hasn't happened before. It's an outrageous violation of the separation of powers and it's compromising my ability and my colleagues' ability to fulfill the pledge they took when they took the oath of office.
BOLDUAN: Senator, what vote are you actually trying to get a judge to prevent, the committee vote or a final floor vote?
MERKLEY: Well, specifically, we're asking for facilitation, a stay, if you will, until senators can see the documentation that the president's team has blocked. And this includes his service, Kavanaugh's service as staff secretary. It includes the more than 100,000 documents related to his service on the White House counsel. And it includes the fact that he deployed his individual who said he was taking his directions from the president to label as committee confidential.
Another 140,000 documents which means even what has come to the senate, we can't share that information with the public, we can't describe it to experts. We can't even talk to our staff about it. So in all three of these cases, the executive is interfering directly with the Senate's ability to do its responsibility to review this man's record. BOLDUAN: Is this only about the documents that the Democratic
senators all along have wanted more access to, or is this about the allegations that have come out since?
MERKLEY: This is about the documents because our constitutional responsibility is to review the man's record. We can't do it if those records are blocked by the White House.
BOLDUAN: I'll tell you, we spoke with a constitutional law professor who's a CNN contributor, Steven Vladeck, about the lawsuit and let me read you what he told us.
He said: The suit's a real reach. It's almost impossible to think it has a real chance of success. It's not that the federal courts could never review the internal procedures of the Senate. But it's not at all obvious what the legal, as opposed to political transgression is here.
Do you really think your lawsuit can succeed?
MERKLEY: We've never had this situation before. And if you go back and read Alexander Hamilton's description of why it was set up with this clear separation between the president nominating and Senate confirming, he lays out in great detail why it is that having the Senate able to review a person's record is to determine whether or not that person was a fit character or unfit character.
To get to that conclusion, you have to be able to examine a person's life. So, for the president to nominate and then blockade an examination of the man's life, completely violates the structure established in the Constitution. It is untested ground because we've never had a president engage in this massive, substantial, and direct obstruction --
BOLDUAN: But, Senator --
MERKLEY: -- of the Senate's review.
BOLDUAN: You say this is -- you're saying this is a politics-free move?
MERKLEY: Well, I'm saying is very much about us doing our job here in the Senate under advice and consent.
BOLDUAN: I ask that because we saw a fund-raising e-mail come out from you. If this is about advice and consent, if this is not a political move, why is there a fund raising e-mail that was put out?
MERKLEY: Well, very simple thing is all of us keep our constituency informed about what we're doing. We ask for support if people agree with it. But the point here is that this is all about -- I mean, if you can't see the separation between the powers, Kate, then I really encourage you to read the Constitution and see the fundamental structure that's being savaged by this president.
BOLDUAN: Do you think you should have -- do you regret putting out a fund-raising e-mail on this if you want to make it look like it's not politics?
MERKLEY: Well, you're the one bringing it up and making it political in not context. I'm here talking to you about the fundamental nature of this violation of our Constitution.
BOLDUAN: Senator, I get it. I get it.
But if it's not about politics, then keep it politics-free.
MERKLEY: Speaking with my own base about what I'm doing and why, if they want to support me, that's separate from the issue here before us of a violation of separation of powers.
BOLDUAN: Let's see what the judge says. Let's see where this lawsuit goes.
Senator, thank you so much for coming. I appreciate your time.
MERKLEY: You're welcome.
BOLDUAN: And thank you all so much for joining us tonight.
"AC360" starts right now.