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Kavanaugh Responds to New Accusations of Sexual Misconduct; Trump Briefed on New Allegations, Stands By Kavanaugh; Senate Judiciary Committee Reviewing New Kavanaugh Accusations. Aired 12:30- 1p ET

Aired September 26, 2018 - 12:30   ET



[12:34:32] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Back to our breaking news coverage. A brand-new state from Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the president's Supreme Court nominee denying a new allegation from a woman who says back in his high school says that she was at 10 or more house parties where the woman Julie Swetnick says Brett Kavanaugh and friends were grossly inappropriate in their treatment towards women. Physical conduct, demeaning words, demeaning language, drunken conduct. That is from Julie Swetnick from Brett Kavanaugh just moments ago, released by the White House this, quote, this is ridiculous, and from the Twilight Zone, I don't know who this is and this never happened.

[12:35:04] That is from Judge Kavanaugh responding to this breaking news.

All right, joining our conversation is former sex crimes prosecutor and Washington attorney Julie Grohovsky. Help us in the sense. If you look at this declaration, it is a woman who has a history of working for the federal government, who has a history of security clearances, who is saying, and she says she's willing to say this under oath at penalty of perjury, that she was with Brett Kavanaugh at these parties back in the 1980s, and there was grossly inappropriate behavior towards women. What happens now?

JULIE GROHOVSKY, FORMER SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR: Well, we certainly need to do more of an investigation. She brings up some very serious allegations not only of the behavior itself but there are allegations that directly contradict what Brett Kavanaugh said in his interview with Fox News. So they go to his ethical behavior and they also go to his credibility. So certainly, this is not something that's going to be worked out in the public form, there needs to be an investigation just like there needs to be an investigation of all of these allegations.

KING: Conservatives have made in the last 24 hours understandably recycling some old Joe Biden from the Judiciary Committee saying the FBI can look into this thing, but the FBI doesn't say x is right, y is wrong. The FBI looks into these things, this is 35, 36 years ago, what could the FBI do?

GROHOVSKY: The FBI could do quite a lot. First of all, they could interview a number of the witnesses including Mark Judge who was there at the time of Ms. -- Dr. Ford's allegations. They could also interview the people she told and they can assess -- help to assess her disclosure of those matters. They can interview all these people that are showing up online who say or making claims about Brett Kavanaugh during his high school days. So there is a lot they can do.

They also have trained forensic examiners who know how to interview victims of crime and who also are aware of some of the trauma issues with victims of crime.

KING: Let's get up to Capitol Hill, the man who has a big decision to make with the -- obviously after consulting his leader Mitch McConnell is the chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley. Our Congressional Correspondent Sunlen Serfaty which is part of the group questioning Chairman Grassley.

Sunlen, what's the latest?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Chairman Grassley who I just spoke to just a few minutes ago says that he is not delaying tomorrow's judiciary hearing that is scheduled for tomorrow morning with Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. He said no delay in the face of this new accusation. He said it would be a disservice, it would be, you know, disadvantage for dr. Ford to -- for that to be cancelled.

And when I asked him specifically about this latest round of accusations, he said, our lawyers are on it right now. So the headline being that the hearing tomorrow still goes on and certainly his committee as we know, are looking into these round of allegations.

Now, I want to also highlight a tense moment that we had just moments before with Senator Orrin Hatch who was coming out of a committee room, and of course he was peppered with questions from reporters about these new allegations. And I think it's fair to say that tempers were flaring, he at one point said "shut up" to the press. A lot of back and forth, he said he's of course going to look into these new allegations but needs time to digest them.

All these tense moments of course just underscoring how fast moving this story is, and I think much to the frustration of many senators, as well that they can't seem to digest every twist and turn to this story. But the headline being that Chairman Grassley says tomorrow will indeed go on.


KING: Sunlen Serfaty on the Hill. Sunlen, continue your reporting, come back when you get more.

Let's bring it back in the room. So let's assume for the sake of conversation at this moment and this story is moving, changing very quickly every day. But assume they try to go forward with this hearing tomorrow. So if that's the case, Dr. Blasey Ford comes in, gives her testimony. Brett Kavanaugh is supposed to follow and give his testimony. If the Republicans say, Julie Swetnick is not welcome, Deborah Ramirez is not welcome, so then what will happen is the Democrats will read this to Brett Kavanaugh during his questioning. One would assume the Republican attorney would ask him about it as well, and the Republicans have brought in a third party, her name is Rachel Mitchell. She's sex offense prosecutor for Maricopa County in Arizona. They're bringing her in there.

And so this will play out without the direct testimony from the other two women, but their allegations will certainly be part of the hearing?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. I mean, you imagine if you are any of the folks on that Democratic side of the committee, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Dianne Feinstein, these allegations are going to be part of their questioning. They're going to be entered into the record during the questioning and during the testimony. So this idea that somehow is going to just be a he said/she said and (INAUDIBLE) this information is going to, you know, get out to the public, that he's going to have a chance to respond to it, is just not -- it's not going to be the reality, I think tomorrow.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And just more reaction coming in, this from our colleague Ted Barrett on Capitol Hill, John Cornyn, the majority whip who is of course sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee referred to this as, quote, reckless accusations and when he said, my view is the longer this nomination strings out there, the more you're going to get reckless accusations that have no basis in fact.

[12:40:17] So you're seeing the Republicans who are aggressively pushing this nomination, trying to dismiss these as a smear campaign, not give these people a chance to testify under oath, but say there's just nothing to it. They want to move forward. The question is, though, again, whether those handfuls of senators will determine the votes ultimately.

KING: And that handful being, Jeff Flake on the committee, the most important because of his proximity to the vote at the committee. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Bob Corker who has come the leadership's way in the last 24, 48 hours and the silence for the past 10 days or so, Ben Sasse, often independent Republican from Nebraska who's not on the committee but hasn't said -- he's not on th3e committee, correct?

RAJU: No, he's on the committee.

KING: He is on the committee. He's been very quiet in recent days, so that to me is something to watch from a legal perspective. Put yourself in the chair of Rachel Mitchell tomorrow, brought in by the Republicans, because, let's be honest, they have 11 white men on this committee, and they understand the optics of having white men challenge Professor Ford.

How does Rachel Mitchell deal with this? A second woman and a third woman, who the Republicans will not allow as witnesses, will not allow -- and you have the Republican leadership essentially saying they are liars without talking to them, without looking at their information, already saying we don't believe them. How do you deal with that because her job is to deal with it with Kavanaugh because otherwise the Democrats are going to after him aggressively?

Well, let's talk first about, what is her job. I mean, she's a former sex offense prosecutor, but she's clearly not acting as a sex offense prosecutor but she's clearly not acting as a sex offense prosecutor in this case. She is as Mitch McConnell said the Republicans' assistant. We don't know who's going to help her write her questions, whether she's going to do her own. So, I don't know what she'll do with it. But she's here on behalf of the Republicans, standing in the shoes of the Republicans on the committee. She is the Republicans' assistant.

To that end, I think she ignores this. They're telling her the hearing is about Dr. Ford tomorrow, and, you know, maybe that's fine if the hearing is only about Dr. Ford tomorrow. As long as there's follow-up hearings with regard to these other women.

KING: Right now, the Republican plan is not to do that. The Republican plan is to have a hearing in the Judiciary Committee tomorrow, have a vote by the Judiciary Committee on Friday, one day later. And then bring the Senate into session over the weekend to start the clock on a final confirmation vote which could happen. There's only this weekend I think more likely if the Democrats use all their tactics they're allowed to use, it will spill over into next week. Is that a fair statement? Most likely still (INAUDIBLE) to early next week but the Senate being told, be prepared for a rare Saturday session because Republicans want to keep this on a fast track.

Can they keep that place? A big question today because of all the breaking news.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.


[12:47:16] KING: Back to our breaking news. (INAUDIBLE) and a big question (INAUDIBLE), will the president now stand by his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh now that a third woman, her name is Julie Swetnick has come forward and filed this declaration with the Senate Judiciary Committee in which she says she was at at least 10 house parties with Brett Kavanaugh back in his high school days where in her words, he engaged in gross and inappropriate, both physical and verbal behavior with women.

Our Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny is traveling with the president, he joins us now with some fresh reporting. Jeff, tough one for the president, what's he going to do?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the president has just left the United Nations here, he's been actually away from the news coverage of this for a couple of hours as he's been sharing the meeting of the United Nations Security Council. But I am told by an official traveling with the president that he has been brought up to speed on all this now and he is absolutely standing by his nominee. He said, he's standing with him, and we know the president is doing even more than that, John. He's been signaling in recent days, he's been unhappy with the defense of Judge Kavanaugh.

So it's one of the reasons he's holding a news conference this afternoon at 5:00. It's one of the reasons he's also likely to respond to it even sooner. He'll be meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in about an hour or so, and then later this afternoon with the British prime minister as well.

The president, I'm told is squarely standing behind Judge Kavanaugh and intends to point out what he believes, and he has coined himself, it is a con game, in his words by Democrats. So, John, you can only imagine what the president is going to do by seizing on Michael Avenatti, and, you know, and wrapping him into all of this. But as of now, I'm told by an official traveling with the president, the president not surprisingly standing firmly behind his nominee.

And he did say this morning here, just a couple of hours ago, he said that Senate Republicans have been too respectful and he wishes they would have essentially pushed this through a couple of weeks ago, of course that wasn't possible. Everything remains an open question now. One thing that's not an open question, the president stands by his man.


KING: Jeff Zeleny, as you're speaking on T.V., the president of the United States, doing as you would expect tweeting about this. The president saying in his tweet, quote, Avenatti is a third-rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations like he did on me and like he is now doing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh. He is just looking for attention and doesn't want people to look at his past record and relationships, a total low life.

So the president is attacking the attorney, the attorney for Julie Swetnick there not directly getting into her very specific allegations about Brett Kavanaugh.

CNN's Sara Sidner just spoke to Michael Avenatti. Sara, what -- Michael Avenatti has to know, yes, his client gives very specific detailed allegations here. But Michael Avenatti has to know because of his role in being a Trump nemesis and now someone who says he might run for president as a Democrat that he was going to be in the storm here.

[12:50:00] SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. But you know what, it's really significant that you just mentioned the president tweeted about him. This by the way, John, is the very first time the president has ever use his name or mentioned him where he has gone after others, where he has gone after Stormy Daniels for example, not by name but by some of the things she said. He has never, ever once tweeted about or mentioned Michael Avenatti's name. So this is significant that the president is now attacking Michael Avenatti. I had a conversation with him, it was very brief, it was about the sworn declaration by Julie Swetnick. And I asked him whether or not he was going to potentially or she was going to potentially file locally, file a local police report and he said, look, we are asking for an immediate FBI investigation. She is willing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and they are looking at she is considering as to whether or not she is going to file in Maryland, that she would file in Maryland if she was going to file something in this particular case.

So there you have it. But I do want to mention that it is significant for the very first time, the president of the United States has mentioned Michael Avenatti after all these many months, and after all the time when he's come out blasting the administration. This is the first time we're hearing from the president using Avenatti's actual name in a tweet.


KING: Prove of the stakes, certainly. Sara Sidner, appreciate your reporting. Stick with us and come back when you have more.

Up next, we want to note that the Senate Judiciary Committee says they did talk to Brett Kavanaugh yesterday about these allegations, they weren't all public yet but there was talk (INAUDIBLE). He denied them. Brett Kavanaugh plans to speak to the Judiciary Committee staff again today. More on that in just a moment.


[12:55:55] KING: Back to our breaking news story. Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the president's Supreme Court nominee denying the allegations by a third woman now about sexually inappropriate behavior, verbally and physically she says back in his high school days. The president tweeting, attacking her lawyer, Michael Avenatti. We have some new details now about how Judge Kavanaugh is preparing for tomorrow's big Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

For that, let's bring in our CNN Supreme Court Reporter Ariane de Vogue. Ariane, what do we know?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, we know two things. First of all, Kavanaugh spent most of yesterday hold up with Don McGahn and just a few advisers going over this hearing. Getting ready for it. Before, he had much larger teams for his confirmation but this one was just very small, Don McGahn and a few others.

And one more thing that we've just learned, John, is that you know, Avenatti has now launched this accusation and he's in a battle with the committee, saying that the committee is not doing enough. But we've just got an e-mail where the committee says, we did start investigating this. Yesterday, in fact we ask Kavanaugh about this under oath, and even though it was anonymous then, he unequivocally denied it. Said that there wasn't a kernel of truth. And then the committee also says that they are going to have further conversations with Kavanaugh today. So two new pieces of reporting there, John.

KING: Two pieces of important reporting. That's right. Now, on track to have this dramatic hearing tomorrow. We'll see if that changes if the president (INAUDIBLE).

Ariane, appreciate the reporting there.

Thanks for joining us on the INSIDE POLITICS today throughout the breaking news. Don't go anywhere, Wolf has Brett Kavanaugh's attorney Beth Wilkinson.

That program starts. The breaking news coverage continues after a quick break. Have a good day.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1 p.m. here in Washington, thanks very much for joining us.