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Senate Judiciary To Take Key Vote on Kavanaugh. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired September 28, 2018 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:00] SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: I have now been in numerous caucus meetings where politics has not been discussed. For what has been done was most -- some of the most eloquent speeches I heard in our caucus meetings from my colleagues about issues of sexual assault, issues of rape. I heard colleagues read letters that had been written not by a Democrat or Republicans but by Americans who are concerned by the issue.
This is not a partisan moment for our country. Back in the early 1990s, I was a student during the Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas -- during those hearings. And I think there's people on both sides of the aisle that agree that that was dealt with wrong. That the process then did not merit the dignity and decency of the folks involved or of the issue of sexual harassment. But yet that involved multiple hearings.
That involved multiple witnesses. That involved an FBI investigation. And yet we still criticized that process. But now we're here today and we have fallen even far short of what I believed was an inadequate process.
Sir, this is not about partisanship. And a lot of folks are trying to make this about the -- whether she was flying to California or not. Whether the letter was authorized or released or not. Whether the process served her or not.
That seems to be stripping away the heroism of Ms. Ford -- of Dr. Ford to come before this committee willingly, even under circumstances that she said herself were not her wishes. She asked for an FBI investigation. She asked for more witnesses. She wasn't given what she asked for and she still came here and sat before this committee.
And what did she say, sir? When someone has the courage to speak to one of the most powerful bodies in the land, what did she say? She shared a raw and visceral, incredible, a profoundly powerful testimony with this committee and the world and she was believable. I believe her.
She told us of her indelible memory, using words like seared into her memory. Speaking to brain chemistry in a way -- she spoke of uproarious laughter of Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge being pinned to a bed, being -- hand over the mouth, fearing for her life that she was terrified of being raped or accidentally killed.
When asked by this committee what level of certainty, this wasn't I don't know, I'm not 100 percent sure. She said I'm a 100 percent certain that it was Judge Kavanaugh. Consistent with other folks who experience sexual violence, it was seared into her memory. She knows 100 percent.
And that's credible because she knew him. She'd interacted with him socially before he attacked her. She didn't need to pick him out of a lineup of teenagers in some random attack. She knew him.
Dr. Ford's credible testimony does not stand on its own. It is bolstered by significant corroboration. In 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, she spoke of it, she told it to five people, long before Judge Kavanaugh was nominated for the Supreme Court. She told multiple people that she had been sexually assaulted as a teenager. I some instances, she identified him specifically by name. In others, she described her attacker as a federal judge.
Each of these individuals have provided this committee with their sworn statements attesting to these facts. We could have called those individuals to testify that this was not what I heard, part of a coordinated attack and something to do with the Clintons and all the other allegations. This is somebody in the early years had talked about Brett Kavanaugh assaulting her. It's not some kind of political attack. This is consistent not only with her statements that are been corroborated. It's consistent with what we know about other people who've undergone sexual attacks. And beyond the corroboration of outside witnesses, Dr. Ford's attack -- account is also corroborated by independent facts. Facts, not opinions.
The fact that Dr. Ford identified Mark Judge and PJ Smith as others who were friends of Kavanaugh and present at the gathering is corroborated.
[12:35:02] It's also corroborated in Judge Kavanaugh's own calendar as we've seen. Judge Kavanaugh documented a gathering on July 1, 1982 that included Mark Judge and PJ Smith and a reference to alcohol. Dr. Ford testified that shortly after the assault around six to eight weeks later in her estimation she ran into Mark Judge at a local grocery store and that he seemed very uncomfortable to see her.
In his book, "Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk", Mark Judge described working at a local grocery store in the summer of 1982. It's all consistent. The circumstances surrounding her coming forward to this committee also support her. First, she made contact with elected representatives before Judge Kavanaugh was even nominated. This isn't some political hit job. Before he was even nominated, she came forward with this testimony.
Second she submitted to a lengthy, intrusive, emotional, as she said, polygraph record. We didn't call for the polygraph tester to sit before us so we could question them. The report concluded that she was truthful and now a part of the committee's record.
Third, number three, she reportedly called for an FBI investigation into her claims, fully understanding that a false statement to the FBI could subject her to criminal penalties. We all know what it means when you get a call from a committee staffer or partisan in this case, versus when you get a call from the FBI. Where lying to them is a felony.
That is a powerful difference between a committee investigation and an FBI agent interviewing people. Chasing after facts, pulling on the loose threads that have been evident in Judge Kavanaugh's record.
And fourth, she came forward publicly despite knowing she would face harsh public scrutiny, threats, relentless invasions of privacy that her life would be forever altered. We heard a lot about the effect on Judge Kavanaugh which is real and not exaggerated. But the effect on her as well and what she had to submit to by coming forward and making that courageous testimony.
Now Judge Kavanaugh's testimony regardless of the allegations stands in sharp contrast to Dr. Ford's testimony. First Judge Kavanaugh has everything to lose should these allegations be fully investigated and proven true. Everything to lose. And that's why I don't think he wants a full investigation.
Second, he has given numerous opportunities time and time again to call for an FBI investigation. Call for an independent investigation to clear his name but he's refused to do so. If I was in the balance and was being accused of things that I knew were lies, I would be demanding every bit of evidentiary investigation possible. Not just the FBI, I'd be calling for independent investigators. I'd be calling on every loose thread but he hasn't. He's refused to call for this committee to hear even live testimony from witnesses that could corroborate his story or the doctor's.
Third, his testimony and claims regarding his drinking habits and behavior in high school and college and beyond have been contradicted by so many people. His statements have just proven to be not true. Judge Kavanaugh's freshman college roommate James Roche has said that he was frequently incoherently drunk. And that he became aggressive and belligerent when he was drunk.
But that's not the only one that said this. Liz Swisher, Judge Kavanaugh's friend from Yale College to whom he referred to numerous times said it's not credible for Judge Kavanaugh to say that he has no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess. And I tell you this. Mr. Chairman, Lynn Brooks who said she did not want to come forward, another friend from Yale and showing that this is not partisan, she is a Republican, Mr. Chairman. She did not want to come forward, but last night after listening to his testimony, was so offended by his lies that this is what his friend from Yale, a registered Republican said.
"There is no doubt in my mind that while at Yale he was a big partier. Often drank to excess. And there had to be a number of nights he does not remember. In fact, I was witness to the night he got tapped into his fraternity and was stumbling drunk and he was in a ridiculous saying really dumb things. And I can almost guarantee that there is no way that he remembers that night."
[12:40:05] This is a registered Republican who didn't want to come forward until he heard the lies of Judge Kavanaugh. Brooks said last night in an interview that there were multiple e-mails and texts circling amongst her classmates about how Kavanaugh was, quote, lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee in his testimony. That's from a Republican who did not want to come forward until she witnessed those lies.
Judge Kavanaugh's testimony yesterday also mischaracterizes what three other people Dr. Ford indicated were present last night. He told us as his exonerating evidence kept mentioning three names over and over again. Judge Kavanaugh repeatedly said that four people who knew Dr. Ford, who Dr. Ford said were present at the gathering where she was sexually assaulted said it didn't happen. That's just patently untrue.
Mark Judge said, I have no memory of this alleged incident. This is not it did not happen. PJ Smith said, he has no knowledge of these allegations. That is not it did not happen. Leland Kaiser has said through her attorney she has no recollection of being at a party or gathering where Kavanaugh was present. That is not it did not happen. In fact, Leland Kaiser has said she believes Dr. Ford.
The only person who has denied the event has taken place, who said it did not happen is Judge Kavanaugh. And so now this is the real point, sir.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Can you --
BOOKER: I would like to finish, sir. I understand that, but may I finish my segment?
GRASSLEY: OK. I want to ask you a question. You've gone 17 minutes. I got three other people who would like to speak.
BOOKER: Sir, I understand that. I'm going to be closing my comments soon and I'd like to continue.
GRASSLEY: Are you willing to let three other people speak?
BOOKER: Sir, I want to finish my comments and you can let whoever speaks, sir. You're the chairman.
GRASSLEY: Go ahead, sir.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Mr. Chairman, he can take my time as he wishes.
BOOKER: So this nation now is watching. Not in a partisan way. We just saw one Republican so offended because she knows Kavanaugh. This is not Democrats and Republicans watching, this is Americans watching right now to see what this body will do. This isn't about politics or partisanship.
I will forever remember what Dr. Ford said when she came before us. She said she was performing her civic duty, she wasn't trying to destroy a man. She was a courageous, heroic woman telling her truth of sexual assault and harassment. This is what was done to me, she said. Many of my colleagues yesterday said they found Dr. Ford credible. But to confirm Judge Kavanaugh, you would have to say not only that you don't believe her, Dr. Ford, but that you are so certain this didn't happen that you're willing to force a vote now without any further investigation. At best, this means you think somehow she was confused, that she doesn't really know what happened to her.
Even though yesterday she told us that she remembers Brett Kavanaugh covering her mouth, seared into her memory, expressing fear at the time that he might accidentally kill her. She told us details from 2012, '13, '16, and '17, talked to a therapist, to her husband.
And so this is where we are in the United States of America right now. This is not a partisan moment. This is a moral moment in our nation. We do not have to have this vote today. We can correct from the mistakes of the past in this nation.
There are millions of people, men and women, survivors of sexual assault who are watching this body of powerful people and what will happen. This toxic culture, this pernicious patriarchy in this country has to stop. It's real in this country and people are suffering and they're watching this body right now.
Children abused watching what powerful people and religious institutions and how they sweep it aside and deny, attack. People in corporations or news media outlets who are abused and harassed for years. And their testimony, their truth was swept aside, belittled. They were attacked, they were vilified, they were followed by investigators.
Millions are watching this body and how we act. Do we rush to a vote? Will we brush aside a credible witness's testimony? Will we belittle an attack of credible testimony? Will we ignore credible testimony? Will we listen? Will we believe?
In the United States of America right now, there are dark corners of our culture. The Center for Disease Control reports one out of every three American women, one out of three American women will experience some form of sexual violence.
[12:45:10] One out of six men. Sixty percent of them go unreported. And there are those right now watching this group of powerful people. How will we deal with a privileged man? A seat on the Supreme Court is not an entitlement. Just because he went to Yale Law School or the captain of your basketball team This is not -- the Supreme Court is not an entitlement.
And Mr. Chairman, I'll tell you this, this is not a court of law. We're not saying that this man is it guilty of what he said. The question is, do we know enough now to delay this or are we going to rush to put someone on the Supreme Court with this cloud hanging over them?
I cannot stomach that we are going move forward. That we are going to say to women across this country that say to men across this country -- GRASSLEY: I think that question you just asked is a good place to
BOOKER: Sir, I will stop with this. I will stop with this. With respect for this committee and respect for you.
I cannot sit here. I cannot participate in what I know history is going to look back as a dark moment again in the same way we look back at the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings. I cannot participate in that.
I conclude my remarks, sir. We should not brush aside her comments, we should not belittle her testimony. We should listen to her, we should listen to women, and we should thoroughly investigate this before moving forward. Any other thing is to diminish the truth, diminish the issue of sexual harassment in this country, and to again, relegate ourselves to what I believe is a dark, dark element of our society.
With that, sir, I will leave.
GRASSLEY: Senator Kennedy.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: In my judgment, there were no winners in this room yesterday. None. All I saw were two people, two human beings in pain.
All of us in my opinion, including Dr. Kavanaugh or Dr. Ford rather, and Judge Kavanaugh have a blinkered perspective. Whatever happened happened 40 years ago. And that's just a fact.
I don't know what happened to Dr. Ford. I don't know if we'll ever know what happened to Dr. Ford. I do believe that something very, very, very bad happened to Dr. Ford and I am very sorry. But I do not believe that Judge Brett Kavanaugh was involved. And that's why I will support his nomination.
Now let me talk about something that I'm a little more certain of, and I will be brief, Mr. Chairman. This has been as someone put it in an article this morning, a grotesque carnival. In my opinion, this has been an intergalactic freak show. As far as I'm concerned, Congress has hit rock bottom and started to dig. And all of this could have been avoided, every bit of it.
The other thing I'm certain of is that the cynical gain, this character assassination has damaged Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh and their families irreparably.
[12:50:02] And it could have been avoided.
Now, Senator Feinstein talked about this earlier and she's right. How we treat women in America does matter. This is no country for creepy old men. Our young men. Our middle-aged men. But this is no country at all, in my opinion, at least not the kind of country I want to live in, without due process. Both the accuser and the accused is entitled to -- are entitled to respect and fairness and, yes, to due process.
To the person who leaked Dr. Ford's letter, to the person who breached Dr. Ford's anonymity, and to the person who did not tell her she could have avoided this by testifying privately in her home in California, you know who you are. You should bow your head in shame, in my opinion, and you should hang your -- hide your head in a bag every day for the rest of your natural life. And you also ought to read something.
I don't know if you believe in God or if you read the bible. But there's wisdom in a passage whether you read the bible or believe in God or not. And I'd refer you to Matthew 16:26. For what is a person profited? For what is a person profited if he gains the whole world and he loses his soul.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
GRASSLEYL: This (INAUDIBLE) fall the gavel.
GRASSLEY: You yielded your time, you told me.
BLUMENTHAL: I yielded part of my time to Senator Booker. Do I have any left?
GRASSLEY: You may proceed.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
KENNEDY: I yield my time to him, Mr. Chairman.
BLUMENTHAL: I appreciate that graciousness. And I hope it is a sign that we will rebuild across the aisle.
Yesterday, there were words spoken and we know in families that words are spoken in anger, and sometimes in the moment that we later walk back. Those words yesterday from members across the aisle to this side were extraordinary for a confirmation hearing and I know they would say that some of our words to them may be on the same level.
But we have worked together, and we have traveled together. We have a responsibility together to do the business of the United States Senate. And Mr. Chairman, I know you may not agree with me, but I think in the spirit of working together, a delay in this vote would be appropriate.
I'm here to make a last appeal that we avoid a rush to judgment with great respect for your position. The session yesterday was a job interview. And it's a job interview for a position unlike any other. I have tremendous reverence for the United States Supreme Court, I was a law clerk there, I've argued four cases there. I've spent most of my career in the courts.
[12:55:08] And my belief is that this decision on how to vote and I will vote no, is among the most important that I will make as a United States senator.
The United States of America deserves not just a good nominee but the best person for the job. And the person that we saw come before us yesterday was filled with such ranker and animus. Such anger that I cannot accept that he would be an impartial and objective justice on the United States Supreme Court. To describe members of this committee as a left wing conspiracy to threaten, literally to threaten United States senators, I simply cannot accept.
We are interviewing Judge Kavanaugh for a position that is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. He cannot be removed except through impeachment. And he will be there for decades to come.
I made no secret of my opposition to him based on his out of the mainstream views and judicial philosophy. His apparent goal to chip away if not overturn Roe v. Wade and the guarantees that allow women to decide when and whether they become pregnant and have children. The decision by millions of Americans to marry the person they love, consumer's rights, worker's rights, the powers of the president, which I think would become an imperial presidency if he becomes a justice on the Supreme Court.
But yesterday, my opposition solidified because of temperament and fitness which I believe he lacks. By virtue of sitting the screed that he sat here and gave us his views still are disqualifying for me, but his character and fitness ought to be a reason for everyone to vote no.
We saw a witness yesterday of an entirely different character and temperament. A woman who told us her story in steady, even helpful terms. A story that was deeply painful for her. And she has endured threats and public assassination, character assassination and public shaming that no one should have to suffer. My heart goes out to her as well as to Judge Kavanaugh's family.
These kinds of vile comments or threats have no place in our public discourse. She has every reason to remain silent and no incentive personally to come forward except to do a public service for the nation as she stated. And her story was powerful, compelling, personal. I believe her.
I have to disbelieve an angry and defined man whose story simply does not hold up. He claimed that the FBI investigated him because they did a background check six times. The FBI never investigated Dr. Blasey Ford's allegations. It never investigated Debra Ramirez's allegations, it never investigated Julie Swetnick's allegations. Those are gaps in our work that remain to be done.
In fact the ABA issued a statement this morning supporting an FBI investigation into Judge Kavanaugh. According to one of our colleagues, the ABA's rating is the gold standard. The committee investigators may be conscientious and dedicated, but they are simply no substitute for the trained professionals with the expertise and experience of FBI agents.
A person who is innocent would want the FBI to investigate their claims and clear their name. Judge Kavanaugh refused to make that request Dr. Blasey Ford did so.