Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Orders New FBI Probe Of Kavanaugh As Senate Confirmation Vote Is Put On Hold; Official: Trump "Blames Flake, Dems" For Kavanaugh Delay. Aired 7-8pm ET

Aired September 28, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: -- so happy that you will still be with us on a daily basis in your new role. David Gelles, thank you for everything you've done. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Out front next, Trump orders a new FBI investigation into Brett Kavanaugh, putting the Supreme Court nominee's confirmation on hold. How one Republican senator forced Trump's hand.

Plus, the confrontation everyone is talking about, two women who say they are sexual assault survivors today, take on Senator Jeff Flake. Did they change Kavanaugh's fate?

And Christine Blasey Ford's family speaks out. How is she coping? And what is Ford's reaction to the FBI investigation? Her sisters in law are my guests.

Good evening everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. Out front tonight, we have breaking news. Donald Trump orders an FBI investigation, the White House says the President has authorized a new FBI background investigation into his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, and the allegations of sexual misconduct against him. The investigation, according to the President, will be limited in scope and must be completed in less than a week.

That time line now delaying plans for the entire Senate to hold a final vote on Brett Kavanaugh, so why the delay? It started with one Republican Senator, Jeff Flake, who went from saying I will vote for Kavanaugh this morning at about 9:25 a.m. To demanding an FBI investigation before the final vote just hours later. What happened in those few short hours in between? This remarkable confrontation.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was sexually assaulted and nobody believed me. I didn't tell anyone and you're telling all women that they don't matter, that they should just stay quiet because if they tell you what happened to them, you're going to ignore them. That's what happened to me and that's what you're telling all women in America, that they don't matter, they should just keep it to themselves because if they have told the truth, they're just going to help that man to power anyway. That's what you're telling all of these women. That's what you're telling me right now. 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. Don't look away from me. Look at me and tell me that it doesn't matter what happened to me, that you'll let people like that go into the highest court in the land and tell everyone what they can do to their bodies.


BOLDUAN: Wow. Flake's turn about effectively forced President Trump to do something that he vowed that the FBI couldn't and shouldn't do.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's not for the FBI. If you look at what Joe Biden said, he said they don't do this.

I don't think the FBI really should be involved because they don't want to be involved. If they wanted to be, I would certainly do that, but as you know, they say this is not really their thing.


BOLDUAN: So, if yesterday was an historic whirlwind, today we all have historic whiplash.

Manu Raju is out front for us live on Capitol Hill right now. Manu, where do things stand right now?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, right now, Republicans reluctantly agreed to delay a vote that was going to happen early next week to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh, but after Flake's dramatic announcement, the Republican leaders agreed to allow for that one week time period for the FBI to investigate. Now, what the FBI's going to investigate are, quote, credible allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. It's unclear exactly how many of these accusers will be probed by the FBI, but the Republican senators told me that that's for the FBI to determine.

Now, Kate, the big question is, what if the FBI does not finish this investigation by the end of this next week? Will the Republican senators like Jeff Flake agree to move forward? He told me just moments ago that he would -- he believes it will be done and at that point the Senate should move forward. Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Republican Senator, would not go that far. She punted when I asked her directly about that issue, said we'll deal with it at that point and also what happens if the FBI probe finds anything untoward in his record and how will the Republicans respond then? So, a lot of questions about his nomination and the aftermath of this rather stunning development today, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And this played out in the Judiciary Committee this morning. You were inside of there, as this confusion was playing out. What was it like to be in there, Manu? RAJU: Well, Jeff Flake was visibly distraught all day long after he had been confronted by those protesters. He was -- his head was in his hands. He was frowning, clearly, and he, at one point, got up, late in the proceedings, went and approached his friend, a Democrat, Chris Coons, they disappeared for some time, they were having some significant discussions and then Coons relayed that message to other Democrats on the committee and that led to more discussions and clear confusion about what exactly would happen leading up for that dramatic moment where Flake announced that there should be a delay.

[19:05:14] It was -- played out in realtime. Flake had not planned this going in. I asked him specifically, did the protesters force your change of heart? He said, I cannot, quote, pinpoint the reason why. He said he had gotten a lot of friends who had called him and urged him to do this. And he had a sleepless night last night and ultimately he decided to call for that delay, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Fascinating. Manu, thank you so much. I can only imagine what the weekend and next week is going to bring.

Out front with me now, Frank Bruni, New York Times columnist, S.E. Cupp CNN Political Commentator and Host of "S.E. Cupp Unfiltered", and Mark Preston is here, CNN's Senior Political Analyst. Frank, you heard what he said. It seems that maybe even Jeff Flake isn't sure what brought about the turn about, if you will. What do you think, though, made the difference with Jeff Flake and then -- and other Republicans that then got on board with something that they were not on board with, at least publicly, which was more investigation?

FRANK BRUNI, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think Jeff Flake has been struggling with this for quite some time. And if you go back to the end of Thursday, the end of the hearings, everyone on the Judiciary Committee spoke, everyone spoke from a very partisan position. If you remember, Jeff Flake was the one who stressed there is a lot of doubt here.

So, you know, he said he spent a sleepless night. I think during that night, he was thinking, we don't have any clarity. We're moving forward, trying to decide about a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, we don't have clarity. I think he was probably struggling with it when he said, let's go ahead and when he cast the vote. I don't know if this tipped it, but I think he has been on a course where he's trying to find a reasonable compromise position and this came to him and I think this is a reasonable compromise position and I think we owe him a lot of thanks and credit for coming up with it.

BOLDUAN: I have to say, S.E., I mean, if you listen, and if you've been following this step by step. It is remarkable how quickly this turned about today.


BOLDUAN: Saying, give more time to the investigation. Have another FBI investigation. Give it a couple days.

CUPP: Right. BOLDUAN: That has been asked for quite some time at this point. Do you think that it's possible that these women, speaking up to Jeff Flake --

CUPP: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- confronting him in that elevator could have changed the course of this whole thing?

CUPP: You know, I've interviewed Jeff Flake a number of times over the years. You have too, I'm sure. He is in many ways sort of not meant for this world, this dirty, rough and tumble, you know, partisan, uncivil political climate right now. He says as much. We know this about him. But I think that's real.

And so, you know, he fashions himself sort of a modern day Barry Goldwater who would very much like to bring the disparate parts of the party together. The party in return has said no thanks, we're fine. But I think he really was impacted by that elevator confrontation.

BOLDUAN: I couldn't take my eyes off him when they were talking.

CUPP: I mean, if you know him --


CUPP: -- you know, a little, you could read on his face how uncomfortable he was, how he was in the moment, taking it in. I mean, for anyone to be across from that must, I'm sure, be really sort of jarring and disorienting, but to take it in and to be the target of this animus, this hostility, this sadness, this frustration and anxiety, I think, was very real and I think, like his book, he had a conscience sort of crisis, and it became personal.

BRUNI: He's also, I think it's important to remember, he's leaving the Senate. He's in this final days, final months of this Senate and I think he's kind of struggling with the whole idea of what is proper public service, you know, what sort of legacy am I leaving behind. He's in a moment of kind of soul searching that not all senators are usually in.

BOLDUAN: Moment of self-reflection that they're not all in. Mark, when it comes down to it, what has happened now with this additional investigation, doesn't this make it -- it all depends on what comes out, let me put that out there, but doesn't this make it easier for Republicans like Jeff Flake or Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski to eventually get to yes because the process that they've been talking about is better, if you will?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, look, there's been a couple of different wars that we have seen be fought out over the last couple days. There's been this really internal Washington, D.C., political Capitol Hill war about who has control and, you know, how are we going to implement a certain process in a way that has decorum and protocol, which, by the way, there isn't anymore in Washington. So, there's that war. And then there is this political war, but I got to tell you what. They can say all they want about how there's going to be very strict parameters on this investigation that the FBI is only going to look into current allegations, what those are remains to be seen, but that doesn't mean that we're not going to see all kind of opposition research being thrown out about Brett Kavanaugh over the next week that will in some way try to influence the likes of Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski or Jeff Flake or Ben Sasse not to support him in the end. So this is going to get really ugly, I think, over the next week.

[19:10:19] BOLDUAN: You know, it's really interesting, Frank, because one no vote as of this morning that had been a question mark before is Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly from red state Indiana, very tough reelection battle. And the reason he was a no is because according to his statement, the investigation, there was no investigation. I have deep reservations about Judge Kavanaugh's nomination to this lifetime position and as I've stated, we have been unable to get all the information necessary, regarding this nomination, despite my best efforts. I look at that and I start wondering, so, does this move also make it easier, possibly, for red state Democrats to get to yes?

CUPP: Played that card early.


CUPP: A little too early.

BRUNI: I think what you asked Mark is true. It makes it easier for a lot of people to get to yes but that all depends on what is found or not found in the next couple of days and it's not just that the FBI will be investigating. The media has been all over this and five, six, seven more days is that many more days for us to see headlines that none of us can guess and that could have as much of an impact on this as whatever the FBI investigation does or doesn't turn up.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, I'd say the President just 10 days ago have said that the FBI -- of the FBI, this really isn't their thing. That's one of his quotes on this thing. Now it clearly is. He doesn't seem to get a choice in this matter, did he?

CUPP: You know, it was so interesting because he was first presented with this new news, I think, in realtime and maybe had not really heard much about it. And so I imagine his reaction was natural. Well, sure, OK, whatever they want to do is fine with me. It was remarkable to see his restraint and discipline and his civility when talking about Professor Ford, for example, as a credible witness.

But I think all of that just shows how confident he is in Brett Kavanaugh. I don't think that showed sort of a, I'm losing the grip here. I think he's that confident in Brett Kavanaugh. That whatever happens over the next week, as historic as it will be, yet again, I think he thinks at the end of the day he's getting his guy into the Supreme Court.

BOLDUAN: I want to show you, though, Mark, what the President said a week ago and what then he said today. First, let me read you part of a tweet from last week. Of course, he says, "I have no doubt that if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with the local law enforcement authorities by either her or her loving parents". And now, today, as S.E. was alluding to, this is what the President says.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you think of Dr. Ford's testimony when you heard that?

TRUMP: I thought her testimony was very compelling. And she looks like a very fine woman to me. Very fine woman. And I thought that Brett's testimony, likewise, was really something that I haven't seen before. It was incredible. It was an incredible moment, I think, in the history of our country. But certainly, she was a very credible witness.


BOLDUAN: She was a very credible witness. Who is this man?

PRESTON: How dare you. How dare you ask me to try to make sense of the senseless with President Trump and what he says today and what he might have said yesterday and what he plans to say tomorrow.

BOLDUAN: Yes, episode 3,000, yes.

PRESTON: Right, no. But, you know, I mean, look, the bottom line with him is, and this is what's really dangerous, is that he's angry, he's vindictive, but he's also impulsive and the last thing is what scares me the most because if you go back to that tweet, beforehand, before even hearing anything from Dr. Ford --


PRESTON: -- he went out there and knocked her down. But he does that on every major issue, not only here in the U.S. but also with our allies and that's what is really concerning.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you guys. Thanks so much. Let's see what happens in the next five minutes.

Out front next, the blame game, new details just coming in on who President Trump is blaming for having to order the FBI investigation.

Plus, the family of Christine Blasey Ford is speaking out, what is their reaction to this news, the delay in Kavanaugh's confirmation vote. I'll ask them.

And is the Christine Blasey Ford -- what is the Christine Blasey Ford effect? Survivors of sexual assault now are telling their stories after yesterday's testimony.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do remember where, when, and how. When you're sexually assaulted like that, you never forget. (END AUDIO CLIP)


[19:18:17] BOLDUAN: Breaking news, the blame game, President Trump blaming Jeff Flake and the Democrats for having to order a new FBI investigation of Brett Kavanaugh over sexual misconduct allegations.

I want to get right over to Jeff Zeleny who's at the White House. Jeff, this is your reporting late tonight. What else are you hearing about what's going on behind the scenes there?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, we are hearing that the President was watching this dramatic moment unfold like all the rest of Washington, sort of confused and uncertain what exactly was going on in the moment, but he held his tongue today as we've been saying, all day long, not blaming anyone publicly but privately, of course, he's blaming Jeff Flake. He's his least favorite senator anyway and also blaming Democrats for this. But the President also was advised earlier today against taking a premature victory lap, in the words of one official. He's been around Washington long enough to know that things happen in the Senate, even though he wasn't expecting this, they knew something like this would happen.

But the reason that he signed that order tonight to, you know, essentially that goes against everything that he's been saying for the last 10 days, he had no choice. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican Leader, made it clear to the White House and the President through several phone calls this week that they did not have the votes. This is the only way forward on this, but there is a question here tonight, I'm hearing from a lot of Republicans. If this FBI background check is going to come out in a week, if it's clean, if there's nothing in it, will some of these Democrats who've been complaining so loudly, will they change their minds and vote for him or not?

So that is one of the shifts here in the conversation the White House is going to start doing, but White House officials also are bracing for what the President might say over the weekend. He's gone after Jeff Flake before, and Kate, he has a Saturday night campaign rally tomorrow night in Wheeling, West Virginia. What could go wrong, huh?

[19:20:02] BOLDUAN: In the home state of one big question mark vote, Joe Manchin. Great to see you, Jeff, thank you so much. Fascinating.


BOLDUAN: Out front with me now, former FBI Assistant Director Greg Brower and Former Justice Department Official and Sex Crimes Prosecutor Francey Hakes. Guys, it's great to have you back. Greg, let's talk about what we know, which is very little about what this investigation is going to entail. As of now, they say the investigation will last no longer than one week. Do you think they can get it done in a week? GREG BROWER, FMR. HEAD OF FBI'S CONGRESSIONAL AFFAIRS OFFICE UNDER COMEY: It's hard to say. It's possible, but of course it may be impossible. It all depends on the scope of the reopened background investigation, how many witnesses are to be interviewed and then of course with each witness interview, it's not uncommon that additional witnesses are identified who then have to be interviewed. So, this could be a much more complicated, much longer process than a week would allow for. We just don't know at this point.

BOLDUAN: You know, Francey, you've said that the Senate has all the information that they need, but now, we heard today that Mark Judge, whom Christine Blasey Ford alleges is the sole eye-witness to the attack, he says that he will cooperate now with an investigation. Aren't there obvious follow-ups for him now after the hearing? Have things changed?

FRANCEY HAKES, FORMER FEDERAL AND STATE SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR: No. Kate, I really don't think things have changed at all. This is just a delaying tactic. What you have are obvious allegations that have no credibility, and that is the allegations specifically by Julie Swetnick, which Mark Judge has also denied, by the way. So he's denied it.

I don't expect him to say anything but I didn't do it or I wasn't there to the FBI and Greg is completely correct. It is probably impossible for the FBI to conduct any kind of a thorough investigation if you're talking about all three of these women's allegations. If you're just talking about Dr. Ford's allegations, I think that's an easier matter and I think the FBI can talk to people that have already been named in a week. But as Greg pointed out, interviews often lead to other interviews, so where does it end?

BOLDUAN: Let's dig into this a little bit more. Because the White House, in talking about the additional -- this additional investigation, it describes it, and I've heard it from senators as well, that must deal with current and credible allegations. That's the terminology that they're using, Greg, and also limited in scope. And you mentioned scope. So, does this reach beyond Ford's allegations? Do you think this does include Debbie Ramirez and Julie Swetnick?

BROWER: Well, we don't know at this point, but I would suggest that that may set up the next fight within the Senate Judiciary Committee. I suspect that if the Democrats on the committee believe that the scope is too limited to fairly and adequately follow up on these new allegations and all of them, I suspect they will squawk about this being just more of a -- an unfair rushed process and it puts us right back to where we were today, which is a stalemate on the committee and a lot of discomfort on the part of even some Republicans. And so it sort of depends. If Democrats don't think this is a full, fair reopening, I just think we're going to be right back to fighting about this or at least the Senate Judiciary Committee will be, when it's finished.

BOLDUAN: So Francey, who decides the limited scope here? Who decides? HAKES: Well, that's a great question, Kate. Normally, it would be the FBI agents conducting the background investigation or the criminal investigation. But here you had Senator Flake say very clearly on the Judiciary Committee floor that he expects it to be limited in scope, so someone besides the FBI has to decide what the scope is. I haven't heard anyone yet say what the scope is, and can I just say, with respect to Julie Swetnick's allegations, these are absolutely incredible on their face.

You have a woman claiming that she was an 18-year-old attending high school parties with 14, 15, and 16-year-old boys running rape gangs that she continued to attend to the tune of more than 10 times and watched minor teens being raped. That is absurd on its face. So, no, the FBI should not look into that allegation.

BOLDUAN: Greg, but is that -- do they decide it? Go ahead, Greg.

BROWER: Yes, Kate, let me help out with this one. In the normal course, in my experience, in watching background investigations at the FBI, this is really a process that's run by the White House. The White House essentially tells the FBI what it wants done, what scope of investigation it wants done, and then the FBI agents go out and do that work and if necessary, even make preliminary reports back to the White House Counsel's office.

BOLDUAN: But it's not that the problem, Greg? The President didn't even want the additional background check in the first place.

BROWER: Well, that is the problem. And let me suggest that had the background investigation -- was it -- if it was reopened, let's say a week ago, and it was conducted in a way that Democrats on the committee thought was fair, then likely, the Democrats would not have had that particular process foul to call -- to throw a flag on today and we'd likely be looking at a vote with democrats voting no if they oppose the nominee, but not because they thought the process was unfair.

[19:25:32] So I think in retrospect, it looks like the misstep was not reopening last week when it could have been done.

BOLDUAN: I'm starting to wonder --

HAKES: Kate, the misstep was that the Democrats sat on this for six weeks. That's the misstep.

BOLDUAN: But I'm starting to wonder will people think that there's going to be clarity, I'm sorry (INAUDIBLE) this conversations, if the cloud is going to be lifted at all at the end of this coming week. You guys will be back and you can tell me. Great to see you. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it, on this important night.

Out front for us next, Christine Blasey Ford's family speaks out after she tells her story, their reaction to the new FBI investigation, her sisters in law join me next.

Plus the outrage over Brett Kavanaugh's hearing, protests shouting down a senator. Is this the new normal?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have two children. I cannot imagine.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, Christine Blasey Ford's attorney says that she welcomes an FBI investigation into the allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, but doesn't want a time limit put on how long that investigation lasts. Debra Katz saying in a statement this, I'll read this to you in part. "Dr. Christine Blasey Ford welcomes this step in the process and appreciates the efforts of Senators Flake, Murkowski, Manchin and Collins and all other senators who have supported an FBI investigation to ensure it is completed before the Senate votes on Judge Kavanaugh's nomination.

[19:30:12] No artificial limits as to time or scope should be imposed on this investigation.

OUTFRONT with me now, Deborah Ford Peters and Sandra Mendler, they are Christine Blasey Ford's sisters-in-law. Their brother, Russell Ford, is Christine's husband.

Thank you both for being here.



BOLDUAN: Deborah, let me start with the news that we're talking about this evening. Your sister-in-law has said that she is absolutely willing to cooperate with an FBI investigation. The president just ordered one.

Do you think this is a good faith effort at getting to the truth?

PETERS: I think it's essential and very positive. I think Christine presented her accounting of the events that happened to her and she deserves for others to be interviewed and for the truth to come out.

BOLDUAN: Sandra, your sister-in-law described her -- she says she experienced in pretty -- in vivid detail. And one of the most emotional moments during her testimony was when she described -- she was asked and described what she remembers most from the night of the alleged attack. Listen to this.


CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, KAVANAUGH ACCUSER: Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two and their having fun at my expense. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: What was it like listening to that for you?

MENDLER: I can tell you I had tears running down my cheeks. It was so difficult to listen to. And I know a lot of people around the country felt the same way and so it was -- she was speaking from the heart and it was a really raw and difficult moment. It was really, really tough.

BOLDUAN: Deborah, I want to know what you felt in that moment, what you feel even hearing it again. I mean, this is your sister-in-law. And she said this before Senate panel, before the country, before the world. I mean, you now see the images of how many people were listening in. What were you feeling at that moment?

PETERS: I was extremely moved. I love Chrissy. I've heard her talk about many different kinds of feelings very genuinely. I can feel her pain, really. And I just was impressed by her bravery and I just felt like I was right there with her in the pain as I think a lot of people probably felt.

BOLDUAN: Did you both listen then afterwards to Judge Kavanaugh's testimony?



BOLDUAN: All the way through?


I listened to most of it, not all of it all the way through. Yes.

BOLDUAN: Is it because -- because you couldn't or you just --

MENDLER: I actually had a commitment and I couldn't listen to the rest of it. It was difficult to listen to.

I think if it's OK to just continue a little bit, I think when I listened to Judge Kavanaugh speak, to me, it was so different than listening to Christine speak, and it was hard in the evening to hear the discussion about the two of them speaking, because I felt like the two experiences of listening to them were so different. One was offering to share everything she could recall, and the other was evasive and a very different tone.

So I felt like they were very different testimonies. It was interesting to hear commentary that they were both so similar in their emotional impact. I wonder, I think, you know, that was just something that was very confusing to me, reflecting on this.

BOLDUAN: There was a --

MENDLER: After the fact. BOLDUAN: I'm sorry.

Deborah, there was a moment when Judge Kavanaugh talked about your sister-in-law. He became emotional when he did. I want to play that for you. Listen to this.


JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: And little Liza, all of ten years old, said to Ashley, we should pray for the woman. We mean no ill will.


[19:35:02] BOLDUAN: What do you say to that?

PETERS: I had a hard time understanding his emotions. So, I think it sounds nice that he has no ill will, but it seemed kind of out of place and I didn't feel like he was really relating to her as a person most of the time. There wasn't much narrative about how they knew each other or how this might have gotten interpreted by him versus her. So, I felt like he was extremely defensive even to the point of being belligerent earlier and then he would come out with this emotion. It just didn't seem very cohesive in the narrative.

BOLDUAN: Deborah, how about you? I mean, Sandra, how about you?

MENDLER: Yes, I thought it was a really confusing set of ideas that were being put forward, and it is hard to explain to a 10-year-old what's happening, and I'm sure that it's really difficult to be confronted with experiences from earlier in his life and there may be, you know, really a lot of feelings about confronting that experience earlier in his life. And I think the important thing is that this testimony and this hearing was about his character, and that, to me, seemed like an attempt to show a side of his character, and it wasn't very persuasive to me.

I think that what would have been more persuasive to me would have been to hear him being open to exploring and open to having point of views and open to having a greater conversation with more people involved. That would have been way more persuasive.

BOLDUAN: Deborah, given all that your family has been through, your sister-in-law, your brother and children have been through, if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court, will it have been worth it?

PETERS: It's interesting. I had my sons with me yesterday, home from school, 12 years old and 15 years old, and they were watching the whole thing, and they were so impressed by their aunt, and so learning about this process and what it's like to be brave, what it's like to speak publicly, what it's like to have emotions and try to manage that. Their hearts were just bursting for her.

And so, I feel like there's tremendous learning in all of this for all of us, and I felt grateful that we could do that together, and yes, I think, absolutely, that speaking your truth and not being silenced and not being intimidated, not hiding your truth has been an amazing lesson for my kids and for myself as well.

BOLDUAN: Deborah, Sandra, thank you so much for sharing with us tonight. I appreciate your time.

MENDLER: Thank you.

PETERS: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us, OUTFRONT next, outrage across the United States as Senator Flake warns the country is being torn apart. Is he right?

Plus, two key Republican senators who could decide Kavanaugh's fate. Hear from their voters.


[19:42:33] BOLDUAN: It was an extraordinary moment caught on tape today, two women who say they're survivors of sexual assault confronting Republican Senator Jeff Flake as he was getting into an elevator on Capitol Hill. This was just minutes after he'd announced his intention to vote in favor of Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not tolerable. You have children in your family. Think about them.

I have two children. I cannot imagine that for the next 50 years they will have to have someone in the Supreme Court who has been accused of violating a young girl. What are you doing, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was sexually assaulted and nobody believed me! I didn't tell anyone and you're telling all women that they don't matter, that they should just stay quiet.


BOLDUAN: Fast forward a few hours, Flake spearheads a movement to force the additional FBI investigation that is now under way. OUTFRONT with me now, editor of "The National Review", Rich Lowry, and host of "State of Resistance" podcast, "The State of Resistance" podcast, Sally Kohn.

Great to see you guys. Thanks for coming in.

First, Rich, the video you saw of Jeff Flake, and that was a cut-down version of it. It went on. And it was uncomfortable. You can see it on Jeff Flake's face. He later then tells Jeff Coons that he's concerned that they are tearing the country apart, this whole thing, I think.

Do you think he's right? Do you think this episode is doing that?

RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Yes. Well, I think our politics is more emotional and vitriolic than ever and you see more of these personal confrontations. These women, obviously, they weren't threatening but you see things like Ted Cruz in a restaurant where you have goons confronting him and you're a couple inches away from some sort of physical confrontation.

So I think we're going down a road where public officials will probably need almost constant security and it's a very bad thing for this country and a sign of how the political debate is going off the rails.

BOLDUAN: Do you think it's a bad thing for the country? Yesterday you were arrested protesting outside the Capitol between the Supreme Court and the Capitol. Do you think it's a bad thing where this is headed?

SALLY KOHN, ARRESTED AT KAVANAUGH PROTEST OUTSIDE SCOTUS BUILDING: I think there are a lot of things headed a bad direction. I don't think the American people standing up and fighting back and demanding a country that respects women and a court process, a court appointment process that considers the facts and weighs the evidence, I don't think that's part of the problem. I think that's part of the solution.

This is a country that was founded on protest, literally.

[19:45:02] I mean, if we've been having this conversation back during the Boston Tea Party, you'd be saying, well, they were destroying private property. This is how change happens. It's uncomfortable. It's ugly. It's messy. It's just like democracy.

And if you don't like the people that are showing up and protesting, then you know what? Don't do the stuff they're protesting. Those people are using outrageous tactics because what's happening in our country is outrageous. And people are incredibly upset and feeling incredibly kicked out of the process by Republicans and by Trump.

LOWRY: I don't have any problem with protest. You can carry all the signs you want, you can have a demonstration. I don't like going into people's private space and confronting them at their homes or at restaurants.

And you say we should have process about what the facts are. What are the facts that support Dr. Ford's accusation?

BOLDUAN: I want to focus, though, on --

LOWRY: That's the question that I don't think really can be answered because there are no facts to support her version of the story.

KOHN: You know what? This is so interesting. There's this thing called an FBI investigation. We managed to do it.

LOWRY: What are the facts? You said it's about facts. What are the facts that support her story?

KOHN: Oh, I don't know. I'm actually -- we can have that conversation if you'd like to have it.

LOWRY: Can you name one? Just quickly name one.

KOHN: We haven't subpoenaed any of the people and had --

LOWRY: So, in other words, there are none. At the moment, there are none. That's what you're telling me.


BOLDUAN: But, Rich, where we are today is the American Bar Association wants more investigation. Jeff Flake wants more investigation. Others are welcoming more investigation. Something's changed, something's convinced them that they want to have more investigation.

I mean, you look at the video of Jeff Flake being confronted, Phil Mattingly just spoke with Jeff Flake, asked him if these protesters were what impacted him in this evolution, if you will, on how they got from point A to point B and back to point A. I don't know where they got today. But listen to what Jeff Flake said today. Listen to this.


REPORTER: Did the protesters that you encountered play a role at all?

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R-AZ), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think everything that I have seen and experienced in the last couple of weeks has had an impact. But -- so it's been everything.


BOLDUAN: If it did impact him, do you fault Senator Flake?

LOWRY: I think he's making a mistake. I think clearly the Democrats have a partisan interest in delay, which they've attempted to do throughout this process.

As a practical matter, what the FBI will do in this week-long investigation is end up interviewing the people who have already been interviewed and interviewed under penalty of felony. There so far is no fact as even Sally by implication admits to support this account from 36 years ago that is only her memory and her memory was contradicted by the people she places at the party.

All four people that she named either denied or say they have no memory.


KOHN: Don't remember is different than contradicting. First of all, I'm disturbed and I think the American people are disturbed and certainly women are disturbed. One in three women in this country will be subject to sexual assault in their lifetime, and you had Republicans, Hatch, Graham, you had Republicans on the committee saying, we'll hear the testimony but we don't care.

Or even in Kavanaugh did this, even if -- Orrin Hatch said -- Grassley said, we should consider he's still a good man today. Now, that is ridiculous and offensive.

There are two things that the Senate has to do. One is, they have to decide if this man is qualified, both technically and ethically and morally to a lifetime appointment.

Second of all, wait a second, Rich, second of all, do this in a way, and we have to do it in a way that makes it clear to the American -- to the women in this country that if they are assaulted, they should feel comfortable speaking up and not smeared and insulted the way you're doing.

LOWRY: The FBI finds no facts, you'll support his confirmation.

KOHN: Listen --

LOWRY: Do the facts matter to you?

KOHN: Wait a second.

LOWRY: Do the facts matter to you? Do they matter?

KOHN: Rich, I was not supporting this nomination before these allegations came out.

LOWRY: You do not care. You will oppose him no matter what.

KOHN: Not for those reasons. Not for those reasons. I was opposed to his nomination because we only have 93 percent of his record.

LOWRY: The facts don't matter to you and you'll oppose him no matter what.

BOLDUAN: In fact, let me just lay one thing out in terms of facts. It does sound like there could be. None of us know the scope of this investigation. There could be additional people that are interviewed. Mark Judge could be interviewed in this investigation.

So, in saying they're only going to interview people who have -- they've already interviewed, that's not true.


LOWRY: He's given a statement to this committee under penalty of felony.

BOLDUAN: But that is not being interviewed or having follow-up questions asked by the FBI.

LOWRY: He's made a statement that goes to --


BOLDUAN: And he says he welcomes it and he will.

KOHN: If you like facts, how about we have an investigation. You support that gets them --

LOWRY: You don't care what the facts are one way or the other.

KOHN: Stop smearing women.

BOLDUAN: One thing we know is there will be an investigation.

LOWRY: I'm not smearing women. How am I smearing women?

BOLDUAN: Stop, guys. Listen to me. They're going to have an investigation. We'll see where we end up after that. And we'll have it back and have another fight about it.

Great to see you. Thanks so much.

LOWRY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up tonight, one of the women who confronted senator flake joins Anderson Cooper in the next hour. You want to see that. We'll be right back.


[19:52:36] BOLDUAN: Tonight, all eyes on two female Republican senators and whether they will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, both under intense pressure from their voters back home right now.

Kaylee Hartung is OUTFRONT.


POLICE OFFICER: There are several people in the hallway.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tensions so high in Senator Collins' Portland office today, cops were called to keep the peace.

POLICE OFFICER: It's quite full at the moment.

HARTUNG: In Maine -- and Alaska, home of Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Tears and bullhorns, part of the public campaign to convince the two undecided Republican senators to oppose Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.

HILLARY SHENDE, MAINE RESIDENT: It's huge in some ways because it all comes down to the senators from Maine and Alaska. And yet on the other hand, she just needs to do the right thing, like this shouldn't actually be a discussion. It shouldn't even be -- it shouldn't even be a difficult decision.

JOAN WILSON, ALASKA RESIDENT: I'm a Democrat, and I voted for her. I was one of the people who signed in her name when she said she was going to stand up for women. I would never vote for her again.

HARTUNG: The effort to persuade Collins and Murkowski also playing out on television in their home states.

AD ANNOUNCER: Susan Collins, it's your party that's mistaken.

HARTUNG: In Portland, April Humphry organized a sit-in she hoped would draw 15 to 20 people.

PROTESTERS: Recall Susan Collins.

HARTUNG: Instead, hundreds showed up.

PROTESTERS: In November, we will remember.

APRIL HUMPHRY PROTEST ORGANIZER: To have so many people come out on such short notice, it just was organic. This was not some sort of concerted effort to mobilize people and get people out. People want to come out, and they want their voices to be heard, and they feel like their voices aren't being heard.

PROTESTERS: What do we want? Justice!

HARTUNG: Protesters gathered outside the plaza and soon packed inside the senator's office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sarah, I'm right here. I'm right here. It's okay.

HARTUNG: One staffer inundated, patiently taking notes and trying to keep order.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. I'm happy to, again, pass on comments to Senator Collins.

KRISTEN SMITH, MAINE RESIDENT: I have called her office 17 times a day. I was traveling overseas and even trying to call through my Skype account. And her voicemail boxes have been full, but I wanted my face to be seen and my voice to be heard.


[19:55:06] HARTUNG: Protesters came out en masse in Portland today to voice their passionate opposition to Brett Kavanaugh, but we also spent time speaking to people who weren't here to protest, just the people who live here, work here, and who vote here. While there was mixed opinions among them of Judge Kavanaugh, what we found was generally a very similar opinion of their senator, Susan Collins. One man saying he can't tell her which way to vote one way or the other. He said that's why he voted her into office, to make those difficult decisions. But, Kate, another similarity among many of them, the concern that if

she votes yes for Brett Kavanaugh, it could be incredibly damaging to her political career here.

BOLDUAN: And one similarity there as all over the country, is how many people are watching and paying attention to this decision?

Thanks, Kaylee. I really appreciate it.

OUTFRONT next, why sexual assault survivors are now flooding phone lines and sharing their stories.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was sexually assaulted at 15, and I was told by adults to keep my mouth shut.


BOLDUAN: Is this because of Christine Blasey Ford?


BOLDUAN: For so many, listening to the heart-wrenching testimony of Christine Blasey Ford has reopened some deep and very painful wounds. People across the country are now sharing their own stories of sexual assault on social media, women even calling into C-Span to talk about their experiences. Watch this.


BRENDA, SEX ASSAULT SURVIVOR: I'm a 76-year-old woman who was sexually molested in the second grade. This brings back so much pain. You never forget what happened to you.


BOLDUAN: You can hear her pain.

And the national sexual assault hotline is now reporting a 200 percent increase in calls yesterday compared to a typical day, 200 percent.

Keeli Sorensen, she's the vice president of victims service for RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network, it runs the hotline. She says workers are reporting unprecedented wait times.


KEELI SORENSEN, VIP OF VICTIM SERVICES FOR RAINN: What's really interesting is the number of people reaching out to us in this moment with a variety of stories but particularly over a third of them are making a first-time disclosure to us. And so, we are hearing a lot of the same threads that we see in the media right now through Dr. Ford's story also playing out in the national sexual assault hotline.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: And Sorensen tells us she expects the extreme volume of calls to continue. We just thought it was important that you know.

"AC360" starts now.