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Interview with Sen. Chris Coons; Further Discussion of Kavanaugh Allegations; Examining Change in Sen. Lindsey Graham's Attitude Towards President Trump. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 28, 2018 - 21:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Thank you, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME. Another wild day in Washington, and it's only Friday. It could really go all weekend long.

So what happened today? The good news is senators from both parties found common ground on Brett Kavanaugh and called for further review of sexual assault allegations surrounding the judge. The bad news is that people keep discussing this development in terms that are not accurate. We're going to tell you the truth of what this week extension is and is not.

Now more impressive than what happened is how it happened. This scene that you're watching put heads on a swivel. Senators Flake and Coons, friends but not friendly when it comes to thoughts about Kavanaugh's fitness. Flake walks over to him, taps him on the shoulder, let's go outside.

What happened next will be talked about for a long time, and really only two men know exactly how this went down and one of them is here tonight. Democrat from Delaware, Senator Chris Coons.

And if the FBI looks into the allegations with any depth Kavanaugh's truth about his partying may become relevant. Did he lie under oath? We have someone who can help answer that question from firsthand experience.

Friday night. Let's get after it.


CUOMO: One week. That's what the FBI is being told they have to conduct a supplemental investigation into the shocking allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. Big turn of events that unfolded in the final minutes before a critical vote this afternoon that could have set the stage for Kavanaugh's swift confirmation. Not now.

So, it seems it was all set in motion after Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who was seen as a swing vote, announced he was a yes on Kavanaugh, delighting Republicans, crushing the hopes of Democrats. But then this twist, Senator Flake stepped into an elevator at the U.S. Capitol, was suddenly confronted by two women who identified themselves as victims of sexual assault.

Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at me when I'm talking to you. You're telling me that my assault doesn't matter, that what happened to me doesn't matter, and that you're going to let people who do these things into power. That's what you're telling me when you vote for him.


CUOMO: What an amazing turn of events. It looked in that elevator like Flake really couldn't make eye contact, he was looking down. I didn't know if he was trying to push the button to close the door or whatever. They were standing in the way it wouldn't happen.

It looked like he was doing everything he could to avoid the situation. But then, not long after, he would be the man of the moment as senators delivered their final speeches in the committee before the vote, Senator Flake rose from his chair. Here is the scene, walks to the back of the room, taps Chris Coons.

I didn't know if they were going out to talk or throw down. And then there was chitchat. Something is happening. Something is happening.

Soon, Flake returns and turned everything upside-down. Here's a moment.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R-AZ), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to but not more than one week in order to let the FBI do an investigation limited in time and scope to the current allegation that are there.


CUOMO: We're going to get into what does that mean? What happened? But how it happened, that we can get straight from the source.

Democrat from Delaware, Senator Chris Coons, joins us now.

I know you were at a town hall tonight. I know you wanted to go and check in with your people and see what they want in the situation but, boy, when I talked to you last night and when I talked to you this morning, you were crest fallen. You were like nothing good can happen in this situation.

And then what happened?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, Chris, I'm here at the Delaware City Fire Company Hall where we just finished a robust town hall, several hundred Delawareans came out with a wide range of views about Dr. Ford's allegations about Judge Kavanaugh. But I want to start by saying how grateful I am to my friend, Senator

Jeff Flake of Arizona, for acting on his concerns. He's heard, just as I have, here tonight as well as throughout yesterday.

I've heard from a lot of survivors of sexual abuse who have come forward with their stories and I think it was hard for anyone to listen to Dr. Ford testify yesterday for hours and not come away with some doubt, with some concern. It was also hard to listen to Judge Kavanaugh and not hear the pain that this has caused his family and his categorical denial of the allegations against him.

Jeff, Senator Flake conveyed to me that he still had doubts and that he was listening to the argument that I and others were making that we should take one week for a limited in scope and duration further background investigation --

CUOMO: All right. So, Senator, take me through it --

COONS: -- because as you pointed out in the opening there were few things we could get into that might really help.

CUOMO: Well, I want to -- no, definitely going to get into it but we don't see this. We don't see this on, like, mundane stuff, like budget stuff where you should be finding ground. It looks like people are trying to find common enemies, but on something like this so polarizing.

So Flake says he's a yes. They come at him in the elevator and he seems hurt by that and he has a reputation for being a sensitive person, that he feels deeply, he processes things. You know, not every man does. But he has a reputation for that.

I watched that scene in the elevator. I was like, oh, he can't wait to get out of here. He just wants to cast his vote and be done with it. Boy, was I wrong?

When he tapped you on the shoulder and said let's go outside, what did you think was going to happen and what did happen?

COONS: Well, I frankly thought that we were going to go in the anteroom and just have a conversation about how while we respect each other as senators and hope to remain friends that this was a pretty bitter moment for both of us because each of us is on the other side of what ought to happen with Judge Kavanaugh. I was -- I'm so encouraged when he said to me, you know, Chris, this whole thing is tearing our country apart and we have to do something. We have to do something to show that we can hear each other and that the argument you're making if we can find a way to set the parameters right is something that we ought to consider doing.

One week. Not indefinite. Not every possible allegation. The allegations in front of us right now. Will you work with me on that? Can you get some commitment out of Senator Feinstein that will be the scope of this?

And it started a conversation. And as you noticed, the two of us were back there talking for a few minutes and then a second senator, and then a third, and a fourth came back and we had virtually the whole committee back there having a very vigorous argument.

CUOMO: So, how did it unfold?

COONS: I didn't think it distract (ph) both --


CUOMO: So, how did it unfold? When you heard that, you said you were encouraged. I think you're underselling it. You must have been in a mild state of shock that it was going that way after the way it seemed in that room.

But when they started coming over --

COONS: That's right.

CUOMO: -- how easy was it for you to get Feinstein and other people on both sides of the ball to be okay with this?

COONS: Exceptionally difficult because, frankly, some of the sharpest partisans on the committee came back and really leaned on Senator Flake very hard to say this is ridiculous, this process is over. The FBI has closed the investigation. There's absolutely nothing for them to investigate.

And there were others who were arguing forcefully, the other side, and then accusations started going back and forth about what Democrats were really trying to do, what Republicans were really trying to do.

CUOMO: How did Flake take it?

COONS: Chris, there were a couple of encouraging moments.

CUOMO: How did Flake deal with that kind of pressure?


COONS: You know, Flake was very stoic. You know, you saw the result which was that he came out and stood firm. You know, this really, frankly, is all hanging on his willingness. He voted to move forward with the committee process to show good faith with his caucus.

But at the end of the day, what will keep this week a week is his willingness and several other undecided senators to be clear that they're not going to vote for cloture or Kavanaugh until we get the report back from the FBI. What's happened today, Chris --

CUOMO: All right. I want to get into the details of it. I want to get into the details of it. But just in terms of your time in there and, look, you're known as a bridge builder, you're known as a -- you know, you'll work -- I mean, the Senate is supposed to be about that. But you have a good reputation, you're someone you can work with on things. Did you ever imagine that in this disconnected a scene, because I

remember, we were just sitting shoulder to shoulder 24 hours ago having this conversation and it was like what a horrible day. Somebody is not telling the truth when you listen to these two people in their testimony and there's very little interest in figuring out who that is. That's really 24 hours ago.

Have you ever had anything like this happen before on something that was so divisive that in the critical moment when the side with the leverage was about to win, it was someone from their side who said, I'm not going to win at all costs, I'm going to win the right way, we're going to do this out of fairness?

COONS: I'll tell you, Chris, I can think of several instances over the last eight years on the biggest issues, the tax package, the tax break, changing the rules of the filibuster, changing some other things that have been important, changes in the Senate. A group of us have together, tried to work out bipartisan solution and often failed. It is very difficult. The partisanship and the division, the pressures brought to bear on senators make it very hard to come to reasonable solutions.

The last time that a group of us were meeting about the Supreme Court and the filibuster rule was in John McCain's office and he was the one --

CUOMO: May he rest in peace.

COONS: -- who pulled together a dozen of us.

As you know, earlier this year, a group of us tried to find a centrist solution on Dreamers and providing more funding for border security, the president's requirements.

CUOMO: Right.

COONS: It is very difficult in this environment to do anything bipartisan, Chris.

CUOMO: So, that's what made this so exceptional today. And, you know, good on you and Flake for getting the people's work done in the name of fairness.

To the judge, also. You know, if they come back in a week and they say, look, we tracked this stuff down, nothing impresses us in terms of being corroborative. We could never make a case on this, for what that's worth. You know, good for him to have that so there's no stain on him if he gets confirmed.

COONS: Exactly.

CUOMO: So, now, let's talk about what this is. One week, one, Christopher Wray has got to be OK with that, a new name injected into this situation. You know, it could be advice, I mean, you know, all the protocols.

But for the audience, you don't just tell him what to do. He's got to want to do it.

COONS: Correct.

CUOMO: One week -- now, that's all about, what are you asking him to do, everybody says, well, Anita Hill, that was one thing. It was just going on. There was a limited scope of people that they could talk to. Here, you could slice this a lot of different ways.

So how do you decide -- let's put up the statement for the audience about what this is being called, this supplemental FBI background investigation. It's not a new investigation. It's not a criminal investigation. Current, credible allegations which are those and whom do they reach out to? What do you know?

COONS: Well, Chris, let me be clear. As you know, the FBI does not take direction from me. They take direction from Chris Wray, the FBI director, and the White House. It is an executive branch agency.

So, I can talk about what I hope they will do, what I think would be reasonable for them to do but I am not able to direct them in any way.

CUOMO: Understood.

COONS: I would think if they take up a supplemental background investigation, they would test the allegations made by Dr. Ford.

CUOMO: Just Ford?

COONS: They would question some of the folks -- and they would question some of the folks who have already come forward in the public and made statements about Judge Kavanaugh.

So, for example, you were talking at the opening of the show about the credibility of his categorical denial, his categorical denial that he's ever had a night that he can't remember from drinking. There are already several folks who have come forward, a college classmate, a college roommate, acquaintances to say that's not true. We were with him. We've got evidence.

And there's obviously a list of folks who are classmates or friends who have come forward to say we support Judge Kavanaugh and we support his characterization. So, I think there is a fairly ready list of people who could be questioned.

CUOMO: What about Ramirez and Swetnick?

COONS: Obviously, when -- I think the statement made here was all credible allegations, so there's a number of allegations made public where there are sworn statements in front of the committee. I think that's what ought to be the first road map for the FBI is to look into those allegations that are in front of us.

There are many potential other allegations, and I would assume the FBI could make some quick decisions about which of them fall into the category of credible or not. The central issue that got us to this moment, Chris, was Dr. Ford's

testimony in front of the committee. It was the fact that by the end of the time she testified, there were real doubts. There were concerns on the part of several senators on and off committee who were left uncomfortable with the idea that we would push forward with Judge Kavanaugh's nomination without any further investigation of her allegations. So, I do think that's really central to this.

Look, it's entirely possible that a week from now, Judge Kavanaugh will still be confirmed. It's possible that he will be cleared of some of these allegations, or all of them. It's possible that further evidence corroborating Dr. Ford's allegations may be uncovered.

What I hope the folks watching tonight take from this is that we are hearing those folks who have come forward with allegations of sexual assault, that we are respecting them and investigating their allegations, and that we're trying to add a bipartisan commitment to due process to what was a pretty rough and tumble, pretty divisive partisan process here so far.

I mean, Jeff Flake said to me, Chris, this thing is tearing our country apart. What I embraced was his spirit of trying to work together to get back to a sense of what a fair hearing would look like.

CUOMO: I've got to tell you, I wear black most of the time for two reasons. One, I can't dress. Two, it's because I often feel it suits the mood.

But you guys, you proved me wrong today. A Republican and a Democrat, and really more than one on both sides. This took a little mini- village on each side to make this happen.

We didn't see it coming. We didn't expect it from you. Frankly, we weren't sure it was possible anymore. You proved this wrong, and that keeps hope alive for a lot of people that their interests will come first before any special interest.

Senator, good on you. I hope that was reflected in your town hall tonight. And as you know going forward, when the American people need to know anything about this process, you know you got a home here.

COONS: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Be well, Senator.

What an amazing turn of events. Now I'm not saying that it's a game changer, all right? Remember what we've been saying on the show from the beginning.

The process stinks. It's not fair. It's not complete. It's not reasonable.

It's not good for Ford. It's not for accusers. It's not for the judge. It's not good for you. So for them to do this today when they didn't have to, the

Republicans, to nod in the right direction and for the Democrats to work on it and not get over-reachy, not decide to die on this hill and martyr themselves about this, that was impressive as well.

Now what does it all mean? One of the things that's going to come under close scrutiny, I think -- what did Kavanaugh say about himself? That picture that he painted of himself that was perfect. Will he be able to paint himself out of the corner?

My next guest says he did not tell the truth under oath. Who is she? How does she know? We find out, next.


CUOMO: Republicans have finally granted Democrats their wish, well, kind of. I mean, they wanted to have more review, to have more witnesses in front of them. But now, at least, the FBI will take a look. It's called a supplemental background investigation.

What does it mean? We're not exactly sure. But it's a hell of a lot different place than we were just 24 hours ago.

Watch this.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: If the president and the Republican majority had asked for the FBI to do an investigation at that time like we asked, it would likely be finished by now. None of us have talked to or questioned James Roche (ph), Lynne Brookes, Liz Swisher, Tom Kaine (ph) or Chris Dudley.


CUOMO: Two points for that cliff. One, they were talking about this as a done deal. This process has been malignant and now, it's over. But it isn't.

Secondly, there are names of people that should be spoken to, Lynne Brookes. Right now another person from that list you just heard Senator Feinstein giving, Liz Swisher, one-time roommate of Debbie Ramirez, therefore Yale classmate of Brett Kavanaugh, joins us now on PRIME TIME.

Thank you for taking the opportunity. I know this isn't what you've been dying to do with your life, but I'm glad you recognize how much it matters right now.


CUOMO: All right. You heard me talking to your friend Lynne last night, and her feelings that she's a Republican, she believes in Kavanaugh's pedigree as a jurist but she heard him say things under oath she knows not to be true. Do you share her opinion? SWISHER: I do. I absolutely share her opinion.

CUOMO: How so? What do you know about Brett Kavanaugh that he was not truthful about in the hearing?

SWISHER: Well, I've known Brett since the beginning freshman year. He was always one of the beer drinking boys and I drank beer with him. I like beer.

There's no problem with drinking beer in college. The problem is lying about it.

He drank heavily. He was a partier. He liked to do beer bongs. He played drinking games. He was a sloppy drunk.

He was more interested in impressing the boys than he was in impressing the girls. I never saw him be sexually aggressive but he definitely was sloppy drunk.

CUOMO: So in terms of the allegations of a more serious nature, you have nothing on that? You never saw him do anything wrong, or offensive or inappropriate with any women. Good to note out of fairness.

However, his description of himself as, certainly in high school, I was about my church programs, going to church, studying, being number one, doing my sports teams, didn't have sex in high school, didn't have sex for many years after that, loved beer but that's it. Nothing to excess. You don't buy it?

SWISHER: I don't buy it. I didn't -- that's not the Brett I knew, as soon as I met him in college. It's not the Brett I saw during four years at Yale, and I don't think many of his answers were credible.

I don't -- I really question any senator that Ralph Club had something to do with his known weak stomach. I knew of no weak stomach. That's not what ralphing means to any college kid.

CUOMO: Yes, it means you're just throwing up from drinking too much in general.

SWISHER: Exactly.

CUOMO: There were a lot of things he explained in a way that didn't meet with people's expectations.

Let me ask you something, though, if he is lying about how much he liked drinking and whether or not he got drunk a lot, if he is not telling the truth about that, do you think that that is disqualifying for him in this nomination?

SWISHER: Absolutely. That's perjury. He was under oath.

CUOMO: Even if it's not about the main allegations, even if he's telling the truth that I'm not the one who did this to Christine Ford, I didn't do what your former roommate at Yale, Ramirez, alleges. I never did that to her. I was never there. I didn't do any of that.

If he's truthful about all that but not telling the truth about how he was with booze, that's enough for you?

SWISHER: That's enough for me. If he said -- I would have stayed on the sidelines if he said I drank to excess in high school, I drank to excess in college. I did some stupid things, but I never sexually assaulted anybody, that I would have stayed on the sidelines for. I didn't have any credible evidence to the contrary.

But to lie under oath, to lie about that, then what else is true? To be -- to blur, you know, in the highest position in the judiciary in our land, to not know the difference between truth and lies, that's just terrible.

It's not about women versus men. It's not about Democrats versus Republicans. It's about the integrity of the Supreme Court.

CUOMO: Now, I'm not asking you about what Ramirez alleges because you've already said, you don't know anything about that. You were her roommate, but you weren't present. You hadn't heard about it at the time, you don't know anything about.

Let me ask you something, are you willing to talk to the FBI?

SWISHER: I'm willing to talk to the FBI, yes.

CUOMO: That's a little bit of a scary proposition, too. You know, one of the differences, even if you put out a sworn statement, which some people have, I think in Mark Judge's case, it was through his attorney, so it's a little tricky in terms of whether or not that's a sworn statement that has the same penalty of a felony that others do.

But when you sit across from the FBI, you have to tell them the truth or it's a crime. Not a problem for you?

SWISHER: Not a problem for me. I believe in the truth.

CUOMO: Liz Swisher, thank you very much for taking this opportunity. I know it is not a conversation that you've been dying to have, but it matters to the country. It matters right now. Thank you.

SWISHER: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. So, this FBI probe, who is it good for? I think it's good for everybody, and that's not just Pollyannaish optimism. If they look and corroborate, you need to know that matters, right? That would be good for whoever's accusation that is.

If they can't corroborate, this is good for the judge because why should he have a stain over his head if it's not legitimate?

All right. And at the end of this week, does he still get confirmed? Do we believe there's a change in outcome?

Great topics for a great debate, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Old saying in politics, when you have the votes, you vote. But when you don't have the votes, you talk.

So with the Senate Judiciary Committee delaying Kavanaugh's floor vote and the president ordering the FBI to do a supplemental investigation of the allegations surrounding Judge Kavanaugh, whatever that means, does the GOP really care about the allegations against him, or are they just buying enough time to get the votes to confirm him?

That is a distinction with a difference. But let's take it up with our great debaters, Jess McIntosh and Niger Innis.

Good to have you both on a Friday night. Thank you for doing it.

McIntosh, I start with you. What do you think this is about? Is it bona fides? Is everybody in good faith here? Or is this just delay by the GOP to get the votes together?

JESS MCINTOSH, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, SHAREBLUE MEDIA: I have a very hard time believing most Republicans are operating in good faith considering how the process has gone thus far, but I don't want to take it completely out of the realm of credibility. I think what happened yesterday, the second Dr. Ford stopped her opening statement and women started pouring out their stories, I mean, the C-Span call- in line turned into one woman after another just calling in and telling her own experience and my feed has been flooded with videos of women lining the Senate, they're stalking the senators, they are making themselves be heard.

I think the two women who cornered Jeff Flake in the elevator today deserve a lot of credit for what happened. I don't want to take any of that away from him. It is very rare that a woman speaking her truth actually makes a Republican man change his mind. But I'm hopeful that's part of what happened here today.

CUOMO: Right. Niger, do me a favor.


CUOMO: Let's turn your frown upside-down for one second. Forget about what you're angry about for just one second. We both know that many women have been silenced in our culture. We know this. And I'm not blaming any partisan for it. In truth, everybody is to blame. The whole culture is to blame for it.

But for those women that come forward and cornered Flake, we know that's not easy for them. If they're speaking their truth, like they're really victimized, that's hard to do. It certainly impacted Flake. He was a different guy in that hearing than he was this morning. He was a yes, and it changed him.

So, what do you make -- or do you believe them allowing the FBI to come in cutting this deal, do you believe that it's an unqualified bad? INNIS: No, I don't.

CUOMO: Good. What is it?

INNIS: Not at all. I actually think it's very healthy for the country and I hope that the FBI has a comprehensive investigation that includes researching and finding out exactly who the leak was on the Senate Democrat committee that leaked Dr. Ford's letter to the public. I would love to find that out. I hope the FBI also subpoenas or makes an attempt to ask the lawyers for the notes, the therapist notes, that the lawyers of Dr. Ford, that the lawyers refused to turn over to the Senate committee, to the investigators of the Senate committee.

So as long as the FBI is not politicized and let's keep in mind that in recent history, liberals, I suppose Jess, I don't want to assume anything, Jess, but I suspect Jess among them, said that the FBI under Comey torpedoed Hillary Clinton's campaign and was very politicized. I got, as you know, Chris, I got history and lineage that goes back to the Cointelpro FBI probe.

CUOMO: Sure.

INNIS: So, I think the FBI, I think most FBI officers and individuals are heroes and do God's work. But they're not God.

CUOMO: No, that's -- we all agree on that. The FBI is not God. But I give Niger far credit on that McIntosh because --

MCINTOSH: Stipulated.

CUOMO: -- he should -- stipulated. They should try to ascertain how correct Ford's testimony is. And if they can do that in any way that makes sense within their purview including the therapist notes which are not always easy to get, if they're made available because Ford wants to be as helpful as possible, to use her word, fine.

But in terms of looking at the leak, look, the leak was a bad thing. But that's not going to change your mind whether or not you vote for Kavanaugh. That's why I'm saying, Niger, not that that doesn't have its place, I don't think it has its place right now.

But what's your take?

MCINTOSH: It certainly doesn't seem like the most pressing issue right now as we're looking to confirm this guy to a lifetime appointment, is what happen in the process. I would be fine with the FBI looking at anything that they chose to look at, but that doesn't seem like the most pressing concern right now.

CUOMO: All right. So now let me go from sunshine to rain. Here's my fear, OK? My fear is, and I don't like being a Cassandra, but my fear is a week from now assuming Christopher Wray says, fine, you want it to be a week, that's crazy to ask me to do it in a week but, fine, I'll do it.

In a week, what if they come back and say, my guys, and my men and women who are doing this, I threw everybody at it, they say it's incomplete, they say they have some real stuff, they're finding value or whatever terminology they use, they're not done? Now what, Niger?

INNIS: That's going to be a pickle. I've got to be completely candid here and not talk like a conservative pundit. That is going to be a pickle. It would have to be, I would suspect that the vote would have to be delayed a little bit longer. But, you know, obviously, there would have to be a discussion between Grassley and Feinstein and Wray and I suppose other stakeholders to find out how long the FBI would need.

The question I think you should also ask, Chris, though, is if the FBI comes back with the information that we already know from the testimony and from just the public knowledge in general, if they come back and say there's no more there there, are there going to be any Democrats that change their mind and actually vote for Kavanaugh other than those moderate Democrats in Trump-dominated states?

CUOMO: Fair point, fair point.

INNIS: I think the answer to that question is no.

CUOMO: Fair point. Well, but it's OK for it to be no if the reason they're not voting yes is because they weren't going to anyway because they don't like his jurisprudence. You know what I'm saying? Like, so you got to be fair about what the basis of their no was, Jess.

So when we get to next week, I believe this helps the judge as much as it does with the accusers involved because if they can't corroborate it he deserves that disclosure. And if they can get Judge at a minimum, if they can get Mark Judge, he says he wants to cooperate, I think his sworn statement is through his lawyer, if that's true, it doesn't have the same value that others do in terms of what happens if you're lying in there.

If he'll talk to them under penalty of law and tells them what he knows and what he doesn't, I think that would go a long way. But at the end of the day, if this comes back uncorroborated, are you OK with that? And do you believe that would mean no more on this point and whatever you feel about the judge's jurisprudence is fair game?

MCINTOSH: I think it's unlikely that it's going to come back with the FBI saying that Dr. Ford was lying and Brett Kavanaugh was telling the truth. I think we would have seen Mark Judge willing to testify on behalf of his friend if that were something that could happen. Instead this odd thing where he said he couldn't talk because he couldn't public -- he couldn't do speaking in public. He had PTSD or he had depression, but he's listed as a public speaker by his agency online.

CUOMO: About his book.

MCINTOSH: It's all sorts of strange about that and I'm glad that we have the week. But more than just the assault, I think it's nice to put a couple days between the Kavanaugh testimony and when they actually have to vote, because some very disturbing things happened yesterday that had absolutely nothing to do with the assault. He lied repeatedly in front of the Senate Judiciary saying --

INNIS: The alleged assault, Jess.

MCINTOSH: -- saying over and over -- alleged assault, yes, I'm sorry. He lied repeatedly in front of the committee saying over and over again that witnesses said this never happened when, of course, that's not what the witnesses said. He asked Senator Klobuchar if she had a drinking problem after she disclosed her father's alcoholism --

CUOMO: Right.

MCINTOSH: -- which was a truly stunning moment in a Supreme Court nominee hearing. I think it's important to take some time and breathe about it.

CUOMO: Well, it goes -- also got to remember who Kavanaugh is. Kavanaugh is a fighter and a political operative before he was a judge. All somebody has to do is look at the questions he wrote up about Bill Clinton when he was working for Ken Starr.

This man knows how to fight when he's got something he believes is worth fighting for.

Jess, Niger, thank you to both of you. Enjoy your weekend. Get ready for a heck of a week. Rest up.

So, look, here's what we know, when it comes to FBI investigations, one of the things you hear us argue on this show often is, why do you think we haven't heard from the Mueller probe like it should be over by now? Federal investigations take forever. That's true.

So, one week to get to the bottom of this kind of stuff? Is that possible? Is it probable? What will they do? What can they do?

Good news for you. We've got a former agent who used to do exactly this. He's more than his looks. James Gagliano is going to take us through the pluses and minuses, next.


CUOMO: Kudos to Republican Jeff Flake. He stated the price of his vote and he got it. An FBI investigation. What does that mean?

Well, Trump and the Republicans had been refusing to do any kind of extra investigation. But --


SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: You specifically asked for an FBI investigation, did you not?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: This also could have been investigated in the last 11 days.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Why aren't you also asking the FBI to investigate these claims? SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think an FBI

investigation will help all of us on both sides of the issue.


CUOMO: Flake was like, you know what, I think they're right. I think we should do it.

So, let's get into what they've decided to do. Perfect guest, former FBI supervisor James Gagliano is here to help us out.

Thank you, brother, as always.

All right. What this is and what this is not, not a criminal investigation, right? So what's the reasonable look at what they're going to do?

JAMES GAGLIANO, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: So the FBI doesn't typically investigate sexual assault violations, Chris. That's a -- that's a state crime. Montgomery County, Maryland, would normally handle that.

Because this is part of the investigation or a background investigation for judicial nominee, the FBI would have purview over this. Now, we know Judge Kavanaugh has been part of six of these. The FBI has been asked to go back and take part in what's called a collateral or supplemental investigation in this.

They can go back and ask the same questions they asked before and anything out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, they can raise those hands, go talk to people that are brought up. Mark Judge is one of those people they want to talk to. Look at the forensic things, and they've got tools to do that, and try to get to the bottom whether or not this is truly an issue.

CUOMO: Guilt or innocence? No.

GAGLIANO: They don't determine the veracity. So, they're not going to interview somebody and say this person was believable or not believable. In an FBI 302, which is a testimonial document, they only stipulate to the facts.

CUOMO: OK. Well, but that would get us further than we were, right, because they're operating on hard information because not everybody was spoken to.

Time frame, one week. You know, the Mueller probe, we're always saying, don't say it's taken too long, these things take forever. What can they get done in week?

GAGLIANO: So, one week, I can tell you right now that Director Wray is going to put the right people on top of this. So, it's typically going to work off an applicant squad. Now, whatever that squad needs, the FBI will open up a special inquiry which means FBI headquarters will have oversight and will bring folks in TDY, they would dispatch whatever resources to get it done. Is one week enough time? Well, if it's just to exonerate Judge

Kavanaugh and they don't find any there there? Yes. If it opens up another thing, something else that needs to be further developed, then it could potentially take longer.

CUOMO: That will be what we call the pickle in the last debate. If they come back and say we develop something new but looking at what was old, that's going to be something. So, now, there are two big things that you think would be relevant.

The first one is the yearbook -- eyes roll on the Republican side of the aisle. Are you going to look at what he said high school? He was under oath when he said things about whether he was in high school, his character is an issue. You think they look at this?

GAGLIANO: They would but here is where the devil gets into the details. Typically, an FBI background is for judicial nominees or for FBI new agents that are potentially coming in or five-year reinvestigations for top-secret security clearances. The FBI goes back as far as 18. They look at you from your time as an adult forward.

So, in the six that Judge Kavanaugh has already undergone, they may not have gone back that far. They'll talk to folks in the neighborhood, yes. They'll talk to folks he may have worked with while he was in high school, but they typically don't go past 18th birthday.

CUOMO: How do we know if they'll do this or not?

GAGLIANO: Well, under these circumstances, Chris, it's going to be all hands on deck. I guarantee they will do an exhaustive and full investigation into this.

CUOMO: You like the calendar, why?

GAGLIANO: I do, for a number of reasons. First of all, you can look at this from handwriting analysis situation, a handwriting analyst can look at this thing. They could take a handwriting analysis, an exemplar from the judge.

Now, your handwriting typically changes from when you were in high school to now, but determine whether or not it's legitimate. They can check the ink, they can determine that. So, as a forensic tool, it's good in that sense.

Is this legitimate? Let's stipulate that it is. Now, agents can look at this. When they go back and interview other folks, Mark Judge, some of the other people that reported to be at the party, they can ask them particular questions about this that may not have come up in the judicial hearing.

CUOMO: I got to tell you, Jim, that's very help and the biggest thing that you tipped us off on is if a week from now they say we can't corroborate anything that was there, good for the judge. But if they say we did find something that we believe, how does that get communicated, because they really just going to tell the White House. What does that mean? That could be the pickle.

Thank you. Have a good weekend.

GAGLIANO: You got it.

CUOMO: Appreciate it.

All right. So, yesterday, Lindsey Graham went Mach 5, leading the counter resistance to save Kavanaugh and you know what? I think it's fair to say he changed the tone and tenor of that hearing, OK? He called it a sham.

An amazing turnaround today, a very sober, sober Lindsey Graham. What was the behind the shift? Next.


CUOMO: I was a little rough on Lindsey Graham last night, the senator from South Carolina. I admit it. But he was kind of out there if you think about it. He launched into this impassioned defense of Brett Kavanaugh kind of spitting at everybody.

Listen to this.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: If you wanted an FBI investigation you could have come to us. What you want to do is destroy this guy's life, hold this seat open, and hope you win in 2020.

I would never do to them what you've done to this guy. This is the most unethical sham since I've been in politics.

To my Republican colleagues, if you vote no, you're legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics.

CUOMO: Well, I've got to tell you, that is a high bar that he's trying to get over. All the time he's been in there, all the stuff he's been involved in and this is the worst politics he's ever seen? But then today came, very different response.


GRAHAM: Well, all I can say it's there right now. What Jeff is saying is -- makes sense to me.

REPORTER: Do you think that Murkowski, Collins --

GRAHAM: I don't know. I'm not speaking for Mitch. I'm going to talk with Jeff. Somebody's got to explain this to Trump, so I guess that will be my job.


REPORTER: If it's going to take -- (END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Makes sense to me?

Don Lemon, please come in here.

Makes sense to him? Never, if you ever, if I'm ever the, I will never. You know, it's not that bad an idea.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT": First, he's got the vapors.

CUOMO: He did have the vapors.

LEMON: Oh, I got the vapors. And then, you know, he's like, well, you know, I'm Mr. Pragmatic, and I have to explain this to the president. That, my friend, is a screen test, what you saw, to be the attorney general once Sessions is gone.

CUOMO: You bounce this off the old radio show, SiriusXM 125, 12:00 to 2:00 Eastern Standard Time. That's my new show.

You believe that this really, really significant shift we've seen in Graham is not schizophrenia. It's planned.

LEMON: Yes. This is just my belief, and not just over the last couple of days. I think over the last few months or so.

CUOMO: Sure.

LEMON: Since the president really started having trouble with -- or since the president came out and started criticizing Jeff Sessions publicly. And you heard it was back in August, I think the end of August where Lindsey Graham said, well this -- their relationship is irreparably harmed. They can't really repair it.

CUOMO: Well, that's true. He has been a little bit more final about things than he used to be. I never figured that was because he saw an angle. But what a shift from during the campaign.

LEMON: He wants to be the attorney general. That's what I think. He wants to be the attorney general. He said that he wants Grassley's job. But I think, boy, he would love a job in this administration.

He was one of the biggest, harshest critics of this president not so long ago.

CUOMO: True.

LEMON: And now they're golf buddies and now he's defending everything, even when it's the indefensible.

CUOMO: He was the picture of the description cooler heads prevailed from yesterday till today.

LEMON: I know you got to go, but did you see this truth chart that Vox did on -- CUOMO: No.

LEMON: There is an answer chart. Who answered and who didn't answer the questions yesterday for Ford and Kavanaugh.

CUOMO: You've got it?

LEMON: I got it.

CUOMO: Beautiful. Can you give me the vapors line one more time?

LEMON: I've got the vapors.


CUOMO: Thank you, Don Lemon. I'll see you in a little bit.

You got to give to him when he has a good line.

All right. Something happened today that seemed impossible 24 hours ago. It's kind of like Graham yesterday, Graham today. This was even more dramatic.

And what it means to all of us. My friends, if you look up in those clouds, what is that? Could that be a ray of sunshine? Closing argument, next.


CUOMO: It is always darkest before dawn. We lived that in the last 24 hours. Just as it seemed our senators could feed nothing but their own base political instincts and that a SCOTUS member, a swing vote no less, would be made as a rush to judgment with so much hanging in the air and over the head of the nominee.

And then the sunshine of compromise and common ground. You could almost see Teddy and John smiling down on their colleagues and their consternation. All of the sudden, you hear senators Coons and Flake, from different parties, very different pages when it comes to Kavanaugh's fitness, but they both saw this process as what it was lacking.

So then something happened. Atypical, without being forced, not because there was a quid pro quo, Flake used his all-important vote to do something just because he thought it was right. To be fair to the allegations, to the accusers, and to the judge, let's remove this specter of unknown about the allegations and have the FBI investigate. Amen.

But just like the "darkest before dawn" quote, this is not as true as it seems. It is not darkest before dawn. It's darkest around midnight. And the quote is not from the Bible. It's from Thomas Fuller.

And the FBI is not starting a criminal investigation or anything like it. In truth, we're not exactly sure what they'll be looking at. At this point, we know more about what it is not -- not a new criminal look into the guilt or innocence. It's not going to be about veracity. They're not going to say who's lying. But we do know it's limited in scope, whatever that means, and certainly limited in duration.

The last may be the most troubling. A name we've not heard much in this process now just became a big deal. Christopher Wray, the head of the FBI. Now, the president, the White House, they can make suggestions to him. But technically he decides what he does and how long it takes. It's really his call.

And if he says, I can't do it in this time, or if they come back in a week and say, you know, we found some stuff we need to dig into a little bit more, well then what? The supplemental FBI background investigation is supposedly limited to current credible allegations. Which are those?

Who will be interviewed? What if they say no? What if they discover this legit lead in the course of this? These are beguiling questions, and we need to know the answers.

Now, this development, does it make Kavanaugh's confirmation more or less likely? I could argue it either way. Something new could come up. Something alleged could be corroborated, or he could be cleared by nothing being corroborated, nothing from any of it.

All we know for sure is that there will be more respect and review given to the allegations than was expected when today started. Those women who cornered Flake and demanded he look at them in the eye, he saw you, he heard you, and he made this happen.

And think about it. If the senators can make something happen on something so ugly and hostile and partisan, even when it wasn't convenient, even when it didn't play to the advantage of the party with the leverage and was so unpopular, they did it simply because it was right and fair. Imagine what they could do on so many other issues. There's so much more common ground to be staked out.

So, hopefully, as a Friday night wish heading into what could be a turbulent week, hopefully the best is yet to come.

Thanks for watching.

"CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON" starts right now.