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Christine Blasey Ford Testifies Before Senate Committee; Soon Brett Kavanaugh To Be Questioned About Accusations. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired September 27, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: Briefly, yes I can. There were during freshman and sophomore year, particularly my sophomore year which would have been his junior year of high school, four to five parties that my friends and I attended that were attended also by him.
RACHEL MITCHELL: Did anything happen at these events like we're talking about, besides the time we're talking about?
GRASSLEY: You - you can answer that question then I'll go to Senator Harris. Go ahead and answer that question.
FORD: There was no sexual assault at any of those events. Is that what you're asking?
FORD: Yes, those were just parties.
MITCHELL: Or anything inappropriate is what I meant (ph).
FORD: Well maybe we can go into more detail when there's more time, I feel time pressure on that question, yes.
FORD: Happy to answer in further detail if you want me to.
GRASSLEY: I'm sorry, go ahead and finish answering your question.
FORD: Oh OK. Did you want me to describe those parties or...
(UNKNOWN): Shouldn't we leave this to the next round, Mr. Chairman?
GRASSLEY: Answer the question.
FORD: I'm just happy to describe them if you wanted me to and I'm happy to not. It's just whatever you want.
MITCHELL: Maybe this will --
FORD: Whatever is your preference. MITCHELL: -- cut to the chase. My question is was there anything else that was sexually inappropriate, any inappropriate sexual behavior on the part of Mr. Kavanaugh towards you at any of these other functions?
GRASSLEY: Senator Harris.
HARRIS: Dr. Ford, first of all just so we can level set, you know you are not on trial. You are not on trial. You are sitting here before members of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee because you had the courage to come forward because as you have said, you believe it was your civic duty.
I was struck in your testimony by what you indicated as your intention when you first let anyone associated with these hearings know about it. And what you basically said is you reached out to your representative in the United States Congress, hoping that person would inform the White House before Judge Kavanaugh had been named.
That's extremely persuasive about your motivation for coming forward. And so I want to thank you, I want to thank you for your courage and I want to tell you I believe you. I believe you.
And I believe many Americans across this country believe you. And what I find striking about your testimony is you remember key searing details of what happened to you. You told you husband and therapist, two of the most intimate of your confidants, and you told them years ago about this assault.
You have shared your experience with multiple friends years after that and before these hearings ever started. I know having personally prosecuted sexual assault cases and child sexual assault cases, that study after study shows trauma, shame and the fear of consequences almost always cause survivors to, at the very least, delay reporting if they ever report at all.
Police recognize that, prosecutors recognize that, medical and mental health professionals recognize that. The notes from your therapy sessions were created long before this nomination and corroborate what you have said today.
You have passed a polygraph - polygraph and submitted the results to this committee. Judge Kavanaugh has not. You have called for outside witnesses to testify and for expert witnesses to testify. Judge Kavanaugh has not.
But most importantly you have called for an independent FBI investigation into the facts. Judge Kavanaugh has not. And we owe you that, we owe the American people that. And let's talk about why this is so important.
Contrary to what has been said today, the FBI does not reach conclusions. The FBI investigates. It interviews witnesses, gathers facts and then presents that information to the United States Senate for our consideration and judgment.
This committee knows that, in spite of what you have been told. In 1991 during a similar hearing, one of my Republican colleagues in this committee stated these claims were taken seriously by having the Federal Bureau of Investigations launch an inquiry to determine their validity.
The FBI fulfilled its duty and issued a confidential report. Well that could have and should have been done here. This morning it was said that this could have been investigated confidentially back in July, but this also could have been investigated in the last 11 days since you came forward, yet that has not happened.
[14:05:00] The FBI could have interviewed Mark Judge, Patrick Smith, Leland - Leland Keyser, you and Judge Kavanaugh on these issues. The FBI could have examined various maps that have been presented by the prosecutor who stands in for the United States senators on this committee.
The FBI could have gathered facts about the music or the conversation or any other details about the gathering that occurred that evening. That is standard procedure in a sexual assault case.
In fact, the manual that is - was signed off by Ms. Mitchell, the manual that is posted on the Maricopa County attorney's website as a guiding principle and best practices for what should happen with sexual assault cases highlights the details of what should happen in terms of the need for an objective investigation into any sexual assault case.
It says, quote, "effective investigation requires cooperation with a multi-disciplinary team that includes medical professionals, victim advocates, dedicated forensic interviewers, criminalists and other law enforcement members."
The manual also stresses the importance of obtaining outside witness information. You have bravely come forward, you have bravely come forward. And I want to thank you because you clearly have nothing to gain for what you have done, you have been a true patriot in fighting for the best of who we are as a country.
I believe you are doing that because you love this country and I believe history will show that you are a true profile in courage at this moment in time in the history of our country. And I thank you.
GRASSLEY: Senator Kennedy now, so we'll proceed, Ms. Mitchell.
MITCHELL: Dr. Ford, we're almost done. Just a couple clean up questions first of all. Which - which of your two lawyers did Senator Feinstein's office recommend?
FORD: The Katz -
MITCHELL: I'm sorry?
FORD: The Katz firm. MITCHELL: OK. And when you - when you did leave that night, did Leland Keyser - now Keyser ever follow up with you and say hey, what happened to you?
FORD: I have had communications with her recently.
MITCHELL: I'm talking about like the next day.
FORD: Oh no, she didn't know about the event. She was downstairs during the event and I did not share it with her.
MITCHELL: OK. Have you been in - are you aware that the three people at the party besides yourself and -- and Brett Kavanaugh have given statements under penalty of felony to the committee?
MITCHELL: And are you aware of what those statements say?
MITCHELL: Are you aware that they say that they have no memory or knowledge of such a party?
MITCHELL: OK. Do you have any particular motives to ascribe to Leland?
FORD: I guess we could take those one at a time. Leland has significant health challenges, and I'm happy that she's focusing on herself and getting the health treatment that she needs, and she let me know that she needed her lawyer to take care of this for her, and she texted me right afterward with an apology and good wishes, and et cetera, So I'm glad that she's taking care of herself.
I don't expect that P.J. and Leland would remember this evening. It was a very unremarkable party. It was not one of their more notorious parties, because nothing remarkable happened to them that evening. They were downstairs.
And Mr. Judge is a different story. I would expect that he would remember that this happened.
Senator Harris just questioned you from the Maricopa County Protocol on Sexual Assault. The -- that's the paper she was holding out. Are you aware that -- and you know, I've -- I've been really impressed today, because you've talked about norepinephrine and cortisol, and what we call in the profession, basically, the neurobiological effects of trauma. Have you also educated yourself on the best way to get to memory and truth, in terms of interviewing victims of trauma?
FORD: For me interviewing victims of trauma?
MITCHELL: No, to... FORD: Oh.
MITCHELL: The best way to do it, the -- the best practices for interviewing victims of trauma.
[14:10:00] MITCHELL: OK. Would you believe me if I told you that there's no study that says that this setting in five minute increments is the best way to do that?
(UNKNOWN): We'll stipulate to that.
(UNKNOWN): We could stipulate to that.
MITCHELL: Thank you, Counsel.
MITCHELL: Did you know that the best way to do it is to have a trained interviewer talk to you one-on-one in a private setting, and to let you do the talking, just let you do a narrative? Did you know that?
FORD: That makes a -- a lot of sense.
MITCHELL: It does make a lot of sense, doesn't it?
MITCHELL: And then to follow up, obviously, to fill in the details and -- and ask for clarification. Does that make sense, as well?
MITCHELL: And -- and the research is done by a lot of people in the child abuse field. Two of the more prominent ones in the sexual assault field are Geisel and Fisher, who've talked about it, and it's called a cognitive interview. This is not a cognitive interview.
Did anybody ever advise you from Senator Feinstein's office, or from Representative Eshoo's office to go get a forensic interview?
MITCHELL: Instead, you were advised to get an attorney and take a polygraph. Is that right?
FORD: Many people advised me to get an attorney. Once I had an attorney, my attorney and I discussed a -- using the polygraph.
MITCHELL: And instead of submitting to an interview in California, we're having a hearing here today in five-minute increments. Is that right?
FORD: I -- I agree that's what was agreed upon by the collegial group here.
MITCHELL: OK. Thank you. I have no further questions.
GRASSLEY: OK, I have something to submit for the record. We received three statements under penalty of felony from three witnesses identified by Dr. Ford: Mark Judge, Leland Keyser and Patrick Smyth. All three denied any knowledge of the incident, or a gathering described by Dr. Ford. Without objection, I'll enter in the record.
BLUMENTHAL: Mr. Chairman, I have something for the record, as well...
BLUMENTHAL: ... a number of letters from the witness's family friends, including her husband.
GRASSLEY: OK. I'll get you just as soon as the ranking member.
FEINSTEIN: Mr. Chairman, I have three letters addressed to both you and the ranking member, and I'd ask that they be entered into the record.
GRASSLEY: Without objection.
FEINSTEIN: And it's also my understanding that Mr. Judge is not willing to come forward to answer our questions. As a result, we cannot test his memory, or make any assessment of his thoughtfulness or character. And I think that's why the failure to call him to testify is so very critical, and I hope the majority would reconsider that.
BLUMENTHAL: Mr. Chairman, I ask if you have sworn statements that you're submitting for the record, that we have those individuals come before us so that we can ask them questions about those statements. I think that the nature of this proceeding would be compromised if we lack an opportunity to ask them questions about sworn statements that will be part of the record. So frankly, Mr. Chairman, I would object to entering them in the record.
WHITEHOUSE: Mr. Chairman?
GRASSLEY: OK, Senator Whitehouse?
WHITEHOUSE: I have a number of letters that I would like to ask submitted to the record that relate to the importance of proper investigation by trained professionals in pulling these kind of -- of investigations together, from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Women's Law Center, the National Organization For Women, and so forth.
GRASSLEY: Senator Kennedy?
KENNEDY: Mr. Chairman, I have a question for our chairman. The -- the -- the statements that Senator Blumenthal talked about, those were statements taken by our majority staff, is that...
GRASSLEY: They're -- they're -- they're already in the record.
KENNEDY: Yes, sir, but those statements were taken by our majority staff?
KENNEDY: Did minority staff participate?
KENNEDY: Why not?
GRASSLEY: You'll have to ask them.
KENNEDY: Well, were they instructed not to participate?
KENNEDY: They chose not to?
GRASSLEY: That's right.
FEINSTEIN: If I may, Mr. Chairman, I was told the minority staff was not notified.
KENNEDY: If -- if -- if I could, I still think I have the forum, Senator.
GRASSLEY: Let's listen to Senator Feinstein.
(UNKNOWN): Can -- can we be excused?
FEINSTEIN: I am told by staff...
(UNKNOWN): The witness is quite tired. She'd like to be excused.
GRASSLEY: I'd would like -- I'd like to -- if you'd wait just a minute, I'd like to thank Dr. Ford.
(UNKNOWN): OK. All right.
GRASSLEY: In fact, we're going to continue this meeting, and we can -- so let's just be nice to her.
Dr. Ford, Dr. Ford, I -- I can only speak as one of 21 senators here, but I thank you very much for your testimony, more importantly, for your bravery coming out, and trying to answer our questions as best you could remember. Thank you very much. We'll adjourn for 45 minutes -- or, not adjourn. Recess for 45 minutes.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Well, she's done for the day. That is professor Ford. She spent more than four hours there in the witness chair at the Senate Judiciary Committee. They are taking a recess right now, Jake, and then the next witness will come forward, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That's the big question right now is what will Brett Kavanaugh say? I think the consensus view among people watching is that she was a sympathetic witness, credible witness, obviously had some memory issues in terms of what happened 36 years ago, as well as what happened in the last couple months, but somebody who seemed nice according to Republican and Democratic Senators and believable. She was praised by both and thanked by both Democrats and Republicans for her courage.
Now the question, of course, what does President Trump do? What does Brett Kavanaugh do? This is not a porn star or a lawyer for a porn star or a Playboy Playmate that President Trump can attack. This is a sympathetic individual who was reluctant to come forward. How does Brett Kavanaugh respond? We are told he's going to be much more passionate and less wooden. Is he going to attack her? Is he going to try to undermine her?
At no point really did we have any actual attempt to find out any facts in terms of a lot of the questions that a lot of us in the media have about what happened that night. Rachel Mitchell, who the Republican men had outsourced to give this female prosecutor the job of asking questions asked a lot of questions that seemed to have the goal of undermining her credibility. There were not a lot of fact- finding questions.
Similarly, while there were a lot of questions that evoked very emotional, riveting at times excruciating responses from Dr. Ford, the Democrats really weren't asking questions to try to find out information that we do not know about that time. How does she explain there's no corroborating evidence? How does she explain the fact that we don't know how she got home?
I understand this is politics and not a court of law, not an FBI investigation. That's of course why many say there is an FBI investigation called for. But we don't know much more now about that night then we did other than the fact that professor Christine Blasey Ford and this of course was the big question of the day, is a credible, likable witness.
BLITZER: She said she was 100 percent that it was Brett Kavanaugh that committed that sexual assault on her some 36 years ago. Gloria, during those four hours of questioning she clearly did not appear to stumble at all.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, she didn't. She was very clear about her own memory. When she was finally asked at the end, and I'm sort of surprised that it took until the end for Rachel Mitchell to ask this, when she asked about the three statements of people allegedly at the party, they said they had no memory or knowledge of it, she finally asked about it. Well, what about that? She went through it case by case. One person had health problems and referred it to her attorney. She didn't think the other two would remember. The only person she said would remember is Mr. Judge, Mark Judge, which again raises the question of why he's not testifying. One other thing that I thought was really interesting was that Rachel Mitchell, who was representing all the Republicans towards the end of the interview made it very clear she thought this was a very bad way for anyone to get to the truth, that the format, which is I'm questioning you and then it's getting punctuated at five-minute intervals.
TAPPER: She seemed to suggest it was her fault. Because professor Ford went to an attorney and an attorney suggested the polygraph and not meeting with an expert like her.
[14:20:00] JEFF TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It is true that the format was bad.
TAPPER: We're going to take a listen to Senator John Cornyn.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R), TEXAS: It's had sort of gaps but, again, I regret that she finds herself in this circus-like setting because her letter to Senator Feinstein was released to the press against her knowledge and without her authorization and that she wasn't told by her lawyers that she could have been interviewed in a private setting by investigators on both sides and get her testimony that way. I thought she did just fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you pleased with Rachel Mitchell's questioning?
CORNYN: I think she did exactly what I hoped she would do and that is in a dignified and professional way ask questions to get information. I would say most of the comments made by our friends across the aisle struck me as more political. They didn't really ask questions seeking information. We obviously are interested in getting to the truth here and unfortunately this is a hyper politicized environment, no doubt about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Graham, I'll ask you, she seemed toward the end, Ms. Mitchell, to be questioning the political motives of Dr. Ford's attorneys by raising questions about --
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Here's what I can say. I'm really upset that they knew about this in August and never told anybody. I'm really upset if Dianne Feinstein believed this was a credible allegation that she wouldn't do Judge Kavanaugh the service of saying I've got this, what's your side of the story? Turn it over to the committee. Not this close to the midterms.
When they say she wasn't sure if they were willing to go out there. That's a bunch of bull. I don't know what they told Ms. Ford. We were willing to go to California we were told she couldn't fly. All I can say is were 40 something days away from the election and their goal not Ms. Ford's goal is to delay this past the midterms so they can win the Senate and never allow Trump to fill the seat.
I believe that now more than ever. I don't know who paid for a polygraph but somebody did. Here's what I'm more convinced of. The friends on the other side set it up to be just the way it is. I feel ambushed. As the majority we're going to hear from Judge Kavanaugh and I've been a judge, a prosecutor and a defense attorney and here's what I'll tell you. When it comes to where it happened, I still don't know. I don't know when it happened. She said she's 100 percent certain it did happen. I bet you Judge Kavanaugh will say I'm 100 percent sure I didn't do it. The people named say they don't know what Ms. Ford's talking about, she can't tell us how she got home and how she got there. Those are the facts I'm left with.
A nice lady who has come forward to tell a hard story that's uncorroborated. And this is enough, god help anybody else that gets nominated. Based on what I heard today, you could note knot get a search warrant or arrest warrant. You don't know the location, the time. You don't have any corroboration as to Ms. Mitchell. That's what I hope she would do. I heard a bunch of speeches from a bunch of politicians who have politicized this from day one, who have been lying in wait for a political purpose. Ms. Mitchell methodically went through the facts of what happened that day and leading up to that day and how we find ourselves there. From my point of view, I'm pleased with what I saw.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Given what you laid out about your own background as a prosecutor, defense attorney, as a judge, did you find Dr. Ford to be credible?
GRAHAM: I didn't find her allegations to be corroborated against Mr. Kavanaugh. I don't doubt something happened to her but she is saying it's Brett Kavanaugh. She can't tell me the house, the city, she can't tell me the month of the year. He's saying I didn't do it. So, here's what you do when you have an emotional accusation and an emotional denial, use the rule of law, the presumption of innocence attaches to the person accused. We have to give them notice of the times and location.
You ask if there's anybody to verify this. And when you give names all of them goes the other way. Having said that, what I think about Ms. Ford, very competent accomplished lady. Something happened. I don't know what but you're asking me to say it was Brett Kavanaugh. He's saying it didn't happen. I will say I thought it was a good suggestion for her to go talk to somebody to work through this.
[14:25:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is that not all an argument for a more fulsome investigation?
GRAHAM: If you really believe we need an investigation of this, why didn't you tell us in August? Listen, listen, listen. The FBI is going to tell us what? What House are they going to go to? What city are they going to go to? Who are they going to talk to? They can't tell us the month. This is all delay. Mr. Judge says I didn't do it. They want to bring him in, trash him out and call 25 people to say he's an abuser and guess what, we'll be past the mid term. I'm not going to reward people for playing a political game I think with her life. She is just as much a victim of this as I think Brett Kavanaugh because somebody betrayed her trust and we know who she gave the letter to. And the people that betrayed her trust owe her an apology.
BLITZER: All right. So, there you have a very strong statement from Lindsey Graham, the Senator from South Carolina. He clearly says something happened to her but he's not convinced at all that it was Brett Kavanaugh.
TAPPER: Lindsey Graham, the senator from South Carolina who in 2020 is up for reelection. One of the things that people always ask me, what happened to Lindsey Graham, why has he changed, he used to be basically a junior McCain and now he is one of President Trump's fiercest defenders on Capitol Hill, if not President Trump's pit bull on Capitol Hill. And the truth of the matter is the naked raw politics beyond what he believes and we can believe that he is sincere in his beliefs. Beyond that that there are a number of House Republicans who want to take on Lindsey Graham in '20 in the primary and he wants that to not happen. He wants President Trump to think that Lindsey Graham is his guy and chase away any primary challenge. That is a very key part of all of this.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Bingo. Bulls eye. Look, a Republican from South Carolina who is not Lindsey Graham described South Carolina as Trumpistan. That completely explains the politics of this. But South Carolina is not the only place where the President is popular. What matters is the states for the Senators in the short term where there is a blind level of support for the President and for the President's nominee. And that is -- he used the word ambush. That was on purpose because he is speaking to those Republican constituents and the Republican base who believe that.
The other point that I just think it bears a little bit of a fact check here, he was clearly going after Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee. What this hearing did unearth under oath from Christine Blasey Ford herself, is that she asked more than once Dianne Feinstein not to do anything with it. She promised in a letter in writing that she would not reveal her identity. Not just her identity, she wouldn't do anything with it. It is true that somebody somewhere made the process very chaotic and leaked this information to the intercept and then people came to her House and she felt like she had to do it publicly. This process was incredibly messy and I'm sure there were some Democratic, you know, politics at play here but it does not seem to me it was Dianne Feinstein.
TAPPER: I want to bring in Laura Coates. Let's talk about the principles that Lindsey Graham was just enunciating there, which is the idea that there is no corroborating, contemporaneous evidence for what professor Ford is alleging happened, however credible she was. And if this is the new standard, god help us all. What do you say as a former federal prosecutor?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: First of all, there's a reason the triangle is the strongest shape in nature. You bring in third party to add strength to all sides. They could have easily had an investigation on all of these things. They could have found corroborating evidence, either bolster or undermine without the pretext of this particular hearing. They could have done all of these things. They could have also not had to go through the posture of all the magnanimous gestures, I go to California for you, I will do all these things. Every prosecutor knows if someone doesn't want to come forward, here's a subpoena, I'll see you at 9 a.m. Here's what your option is, I have some duty to get the information and truth finding out.
So all of this I think is real pre-textural to suggest there was not only a political motive here, she's somehow infantilized by her attorneys saying they are the ones who have encouraged you to do all these things to circumvent the process. When you think about whether Mark Judge should have been there, they are all saying they want more information, they want to know the house, they want to know the location, have some jumping off point for an FBI investigation to take place.
Otherwise it's all for not.
That could've given them ammunition to do so. Finally, much is made about the timing of when SEN. Feinstein disclosed the information. But anonymity is not just a political issue. The sixth amendment says you have the right to confront your accuser. Although it not a court of law, it's taken very seriously. So, what is someone to do with the information if it's anonymous, if there is never an opportunity to meaningfully test the credibility of that person, she not only had a political problem but would you have attached gravitas to someone's statement that was purely anonymous.
You would not end there would've been equal pressure on Senator Dianne Feinstein to say well now you have essentially said there is no meaningful opportunity for him to defend himself. I want to be careful about how it's used. And clearly Senator Lindsey Graham is very, very steadfast in his attempt to say let's focus on the timing, not on the fact that this is an arbitrary deadline to vote even tomorrow.