Return to Transcripts main page


FBI Begins Kavanaugh Probe; Confirmation Vote Delayed One Week; Trump Orders FBI Probe into Allegations Against Kavanaugh; Trump To Hold Campaign Rally Tonight amid Kavanaugh Drama; GOP Senators Collins, Murkowski Support New FBI Probe on Kavanaugh; Facebook Hack Exposes Nearly 50 Million Users' Info; On A Mission to Help Sex Trafficking Victims. Aired 12-1p EDT

Aired September 29, 2018 - 12:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Hello again everyone. Thanks so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington, D.C.

Today the FBI begins its latest investigation into the U. S. Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh. His confirmation vote is now delayed another week as investigators look into sexual assault allegations against him by multiple women. The investigation was sparked by a last-minute change of heart from key Republican Senator Jeff Flake, the same senator cornered in an elevator just hours earlier by emotional protesters.


ANNA MARIA ARCHILA, PROTESTER CONFRONTING BLAKE: 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?


WHITFIELD: After hours of heartbreaking testimony from his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh vehemently denying the accusations senators could not ignore the deep divide beginning to swell over Kavanaugh's confirmation.


SEN. CHRIS COONS (D) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We are hearing those folks who've come forward with allegations of sexual assault that we are respecting them and investigating. This thing is tearing our country apart.



SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We're just seeing -- yesterday, today, since the you know, this -- this is ripping the country apart and calls -- I've been getting emails and texts, and just you know, it's been rough to see and...


WHITFIELD: All right, so where do things go from here? We know the FBI is focused on a week-long probe into Kavanaugh and recent accusations. Sources tell CNN, three key senators set the terms of the investigation. A GOP aide says the FBI's findings are expected to be private and available to senators but not to the public. Then senators will move forward towards a 'yea" or "nay" vote.

Meanwhile President Trump still unwavering in his support for his Supreme Court nominee, will hear from the president in a few hours perhaps when he holds a campaign rally in West Virginia.

Meantime, let's check in with CNN's Ryan Nobles at the White House, so what is the message we expect to hear from the president, will he even touch this Kavanaugh issue?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON: It's a great question Fred because the president has been uncharacteristically muted on this topic. He's still -- certainly supports his nominee, Brett Kavanaugh but he's held back from attacking his accusers or even speaking too broadly about this topic, instead he was the one who did order this next round of FBI investigations that must be completed in a week.

But the setting tonight will be an interesting one. The president heading to West Virginia which is the site of one of the very important Senate races in the midterms and could determine who controls the United States Senate.

Joe Manchin was the Democrat from West Virginia is trying to seek reelection, and he's facing Patrick Morrissey. The president is heading to West Virginia in support of Morrissey's campaign and one of the things the president is trying to do is tell voters in West Virginia, a state where he is beloved, where he did very well in 2016, that senators like Manchin are not supporting his agenda so does the president go after Joe Manchin in his stance on Brett Kavanaugh which at this point Manchin has not said whether or not he will vote yes or no on Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Meanwhile the president shows no signs of backing away from Kavanaugh as the nominee. He tweeted this just not too long ago, he said quote, "Just started tonight our seventh FBI investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. He will someday be recognized as a truly great justice of the United States Supreme Court."

Two messages the president is trying to send here, first that there have been extensive background checks into Brett Kavanaugh through his lengthy time sitting on the federal bench and number two, that he has shown no signs of backing away for his support for Brett Kavanaugh.

The timeline always short for the FBI. They have got to come up with some sort of a conclusion by Friday. It's then when it's expected that the Republicans will push forward with the final vote what we don't know right now Fred is whether or not the vote will be there to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. This next week will be pivotal.


WHITFIELD: It sure will. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much, from the White House.

All right so we're learning the scope of the FBI investigation will not only focus on Ford's allegations, according to "The New York Times" the FBI will also be looking into accusations by another woman, Deborah Ramirez, she says Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a dormitory party when the two were undergraduate students at Yale.

Joining me right now Ariane de Vogue, CNN's Supreme Court Reporter; and Tom Fuentes, Senior Law Enforcement Analyst and Former FBI Assistant Director. All right good to see you both.

All right so Ariane, let me begin with you because we talk about the scope of this investigation, expected to be limited but what might that entail besides the accounts of these two accusers?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well that's the really important question right now because we know that Flake and other -- these two other Republicans, they said that they thought that the FBI should look into credible witnesses, credible accusations. So they send it to the president and the president has descended to the FBI, that's how this works.

But the question is, is what's credible, right? And that's where I fear that there might be -- Kavanaugh and the Republicans might get really frustrated because one person's -- it's -- it's going to be up to them to decide what exactly is credible.

For instance, Michael Avenatti, one of the lawyers for one of the women, just tweeted, and he basically said I'm waiting for the FBI to contact me; he should.

WHITFIELD: You would think that is one of the recent accusations because that as far as we understand would help define the scope as well.

DE VOGUE: And I think that's the slippery slope that we're talking about here and I think that that's why the Republicans -- because keep in mind what the FBI is doing here Fred is not this huge criminal investigation, it's a background check, they're going to make calls and then they're going to report back to the Senate.

But the problem is, is you make a call and maybe you hear another lead and for instance, Ford testified that there was an unidentified person at the party so what if the FBI finds the name of the unidentified person? And then it's squeezed into this week-timeframe, it's something we're going to have to watch this week.


So Tom, under all of those considerations, then is a week enough. I mean might it be that they're going to be so many doors that investigators you know, encounter, they've got to open them, right?

THOMAS FUENTES, SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST & FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well not necessarily Fred. If the White -- if the White House put parameters on the investigation that it's just going to deal with the allegations made by Ford to figure out when, where, the authority curve, what happened at this party, who can verify the story, what have another party, then that certainly will take a lot less time than if they go after the other allegations by other people and expand it in that direction.

We just don't know and I think that you know, "The New York Times" may have reported that but you know, the president yesterday said that it was going to be a very limited scope and he's the one that determines how wide that scope is.


Except that as you mentioned Ariane, you know, these three senators helped to set you know, the parameters, really by recommendation of the White House, right, of the president saying, "OK what do we want to do," and it was their recommendation that you know, there will be recent accusations that will be you know, part of the scope. Does that mean that you know, the keys are in these three hands as well if they say, "The FBI needs more time. The FBI says, 'Yes,' that they need more time. We need more than a week"?

DE VOGUE: Look, President Trump has said and had said what, we don't need an FBI investigation but then he didn't have the choice anymore, he knew that he didn't have the votes so then he has to go ahead and recommend it.

And we know for instance the principal person, the principal case is Christine Ford and she alleges that three people were at this party, those three people have said that they weren't at the party but they've release statement saying, or "they don't recollect been at the party," they release statement saying, "We'll cooperate." So that's where we are.

WHITFIELD: Credibility is you know, paramount here, that's really what the Senate Judiciary Committee, U.S. Senate, all considering, you know, does this person have the temperament of a justice, you know, do they have the character of a justice.

A former Yale you know, classmate was on with Chris Cuomo last night, had this to say about her feelings of his honesty.


LIZ SWISHER, KAVANAUGH'S FORMER YALE CLASSMATE: 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 bombs, 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 "a sloppy drunk."

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: So Tom, you know, what are the parameters of who would be interviewed? Might she be someone that the FBI is interested in talking to further or are they looking for you know, accounts of someone else or different kinds you know, of threads or stories to be told?

FUENTES: Well they may be interested because it does go to his credibility. You know, he brought up when he testified, he liked to drink beers and still likes to drink beer and at the time saying that he was 17-years-old, when it wasn't even legal to be drinking beers so that's one aspect the Bureau could be looking at, is just how much drinking did he do.

Did he ever pass out drunk? Did he ever have a black out episode from doing it?

On the other hand, Ford is a witness, they're going to be looking at, if she is 15-years-old and she's at these parties where older boys are drinking beer, does she really belong there herself but -- to put yourself in that situation, how credible is she; does she have a problem with alcohol, was she drinking also?

She couldn't remember how she got to the party or where it was...

WHITFIELD: But then that...

FUENTES: She didn't...

WHITFIELD: wouldn't be...

FUENTES: ... have a (inaudible)...

WHITFIELD: ... interpreted -- but that wouldn't be interpreted as any kind of justification if indeed you know, this alleged incident happened?

FUENTES: ... No. I didn't say justification. I'm just saying that it is going to go -- you know her story was compelling and she seemed very credible and right now as a result of that, you know, the senators pretty much have a simple extortion (ph) going against President Trump. They're not going to give her the vote -- I mean give Kavanaugh the vote and he's not going to be a Supreme Court justice if they don't you know, get more out of the president in terms of ordering the background investigation reopened or re-extended.

And you know, it's simple, they may have read his book, "Art of the Deal," also and realize that they really have a lot of power over the president right now.

WHITFIELD: And Ariane there's also been some clarification you know, Ford's friend, Leland Kaiser said you know, while she doesn't remember the alleged incident, at the party. She's not necessarily refuting the allegation which initially people thought that because she didn't remember it, she was also saying it couldn't possibly happen, what is that -- why does that distinction you know, make a potential difference? DE VOGUE: It doesn't make a huge difference but Kaiser clearly was uncomfortable with -- when the testimony played out and she wanted to just tell the Senate, "Look, I don't have recollection of this but it doesn't mean that it didn't happen." She just -- she's a life-long friend of Ford and she thought that hadn't come out clearly.

But you know, one other thing I wanted to tell you is the fact that this whole FBI investigation could work in Kavanaugh's favor right, he doesn't like the fact that there is a delay, but if there's nothing there, then he can go on to the Supreme Court...

WHITFIELD: It might help remove that cloud that...

DE VOGUE: ... That's the thing.

WHITFIELD: ... seemingly, would forever be there, had not extended this additional investigation?

DE VOGUE: And without that he could of you know, may be taken the bench and then there'd always be this cloud over him, in another week he may be able to say, "OK...


DE VOGUE: ... You know, this cloud's gone."

WHITFIELD: What do you suppose the other eight justices are thinking, feeling as they watch this play out?

DE VOGUE: The justices of the Supreme Court do not like to see how political these confirmation hearings have become. Think about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, only three people voted against her and she was an ACLU lawyer. It has become increasingly political and they don't like it and they don't like it because then they think the average guy, looks at the Supreme Court through a political lens and that's -- that's very hard for them because they're not a political branch and so they must have really been shuddering to see some of this testimony play out over the last week.

WHITFIELD: And even say his demeanor, might they be making judgments just based on how he handled himself at that hearing?

DE VOGUE: Well keep in mind we did see two Brett Kavanaughs a little bit because the first four days, we really saw Brett Kavanaugh, the judge, and he was challenged on these constitutional issues, and he was pressed hard about the document (ph) issue, remember but then he got angry. He felt like, I think that maybe he wasn't getting enough support from the White House and from the Hill and I feel like at that point it -- for him, it probably wasn't just about the Supreme Court, it was about his honor, it was about his ability to stay on his current job, it was about his ability to continue to coach that basketball team he wanted and he got mad and he wrote that statement himself and he did not get clearance from the White House on it, he just -- that was -- that was all Brett Kavanaugh.

WHITFIELD: And might there -- while we even heard from the president and many people wanted to see that he was fighting for this as a judge, as things kind of evolved in that testimony, might there be a feeling by these justices that perhaps composure was a little bit different than what they might have expected?

DE VOGUE: There might be that sentiment. A lot of these justices have -- they know Brett Kavanaugh, it's a very small world, a lot of them have taken some of his clerks on the court who now work for them, he was what's considered a feeder judge so you know, it's -- it's hard to tell but in general the court just doesn't like you know...


DE VOGUE: ... A sense of politics for not like this.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ariane, and Tom, thanks so much, appreciate you both.

All right, still ahead it was an emotional week for senators on Capitol Hill and their constituents back home, the intense pressure facing key swing-vote senators, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, that's next.


WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. There's no question all eyes will be in two female Republican senators and whether they will vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are both under intense pressure from their voters back home. CNN's Kaylee Hartung is in Portland, Maine, Senator Susan Collin's District. What are you seeing and hearing?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Fred, Susan Collins is back in her home state of Maine now, for the weekend after being right in the middle of so much of the drama that we saw unfolding in Washington over the past week.

The streets of Portland right outside of Susan Collins Portland office, they're quiet now but there's no doubt that even about 10 states away, Collins heard the voices of her constituents here yesterday.


(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): There are several people in the hallway so if some wouldn't mind kind of trading places it would be great.


HARTUNG: Attention is so high in the Senator Susan Collin's Portland office today, cops were called to keep the peace.


(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): it's -- it's quite full at the moment. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HARTUNG: In Maine?


(CROWD): We say hell, no.

(CROWD): They say Kavanaugh.

(CROWD): We say hell, no.


HARTUNG: In Alaska, home of Senator Lisa Murkowski?


(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Kavanaugh has got to go, hey, hey; ho, ho.


HARTUNG: Tears and bullhorns.


(CROWD): Just vote no.


HARTUNG: 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 you know, 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 -- 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. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): Susan Collins, it's your party that's mistaken.


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


(CROWD): No (ph) Susan Collins...


HARTUNG: Instead, hundreds showed up.


(CROWD): ... in November.

(CROWD): We will never.



APRIL HUMPHREY, PROTEST ORGANIZER: To have so many people come out on such short notice, it just was organic, it's -- this was not some sort of concerted effort to mobilize people and get people out.

People are -- want to come out and they want their voices to be heard and they file their voices aren't being heard.



(CROWD): What do we want?

(CROWD): Justice.


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



Sarah, I'm right here -- I'm right here, it's OK.


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


(STAFFER): OK, I'm happy to -- again, to pass on comments Senator Collins.



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


HARTUNG: We've also spent time speaking to people in Portland who aren't here to protest, the people who simply live here and work here and vote here. We found mixed opinions among them about Brett Kavanaugh.

But generally, among them a very similar opinion of their Senator Susan Collins, one of respect for a woman who has served this state, in the United States Senate for more than two decades. One voter summing it up by saying, he can't tell her how to vote one way or the other, he says that's why he voted for her because he trusts her to make the right decisions for the people of Maine.

But Fred there was a concern, that many people voiced that being that if she votes yes on Brett Kavanaugh, people fear it could be damaging to her political future here.

WHITFIELD: Yes. All right. Clearly pressure is mounting.

Kaylee Hartung, thank you so much in Portland.

All right Collins is not the only Senator facing the pressure, protesters rallied outside of Arizona Senator Jeff Flake's office demanding he vote no to Kavanaugh. A very specific message, women were hoping to send, next.


WHITFIELD: U. S. Senator Jeff Flake stunned everyone yesterday when he said he would vote to approve Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh but still calling for a limited FBI investigation. It was a remarkable turnabout by Flake who had earlier said that he was in full support of Kavanaugh's nomination as is.

Well CNN's Manu Raju takes a look at how this turnaround happened.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Republicans were confident that they had the votes to quickly confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court but a late twist now could put the nomination in jeopardy.

In a move that stunned his colleagues, Republican Senator Jeff Flake demanded a week-long delay to give the FBI time to investigate whether Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when they were teenagers.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I can only say that I would be only comfortable moving forward on the floor or move it out of committee but I will only be comfortable moving on the floor until the FBI has done more investigation than they have already.

It may not take them a week. I understand that some of these witnesses may not want to discuss anything further but I think we are -- we owe them due diligence.


RAJU: In the 12 days since Ford made her allegations public, Republicans had time and again rejected calls for an FBI probe but when Flake called for a delay backed by other key senators like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Republican leaders had no choice but to delay the nomination vote.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What happens is FBI is not done with this background check or investigation within a week?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: They're saying -- for one, you can have the FBI, the CIA, and the foreign Legion, and they're not going to tell you any more than you know, now. That's my view but we'll see what happens.

RAJU: If they're not done, then what's going to happen?

GRAHAM: He said, he's going to -- a week is enough for him or maybe less so we're not playing this game of opening this up and it goes on forever. What he said was, that I would feel better if they had a week to look at what's in front of us, no more.


RAJU: The Senate Judiciary Committee did approve the nomination on a party-line vote Friday but it's fate in the full Senate will now depend on the results of the probe.

Friday's developments were just the latest twist in a nomination battle that has left the Senate and much of the country bitterly divided.


(CROWD): Vote no. (CROWD): Vote no.



RAJU: All playing out just weeks before the midterm elections.

After Ford and Kavanaugh both delivered emotional and riveting testimony, Thursday about the alleged incident which Kavanaugh strongly denies, key senators like Flake were deeply torn. The Arizona Republican issued a statement Friday morning, saying he would support Kavanaugh because he deserved a presumption of innocence, with Ford's allegation uncorroborated. But just moments later, angry protesters confronted him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's telling the truth. What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit in the Supreme Court. This is not tolerable.

RAJU: Flake entered the hearing room ahead of the committee vote visibly shaking often times frowning and resting his head on his hands. He later abruptly left his seat and asked to speak privately to his close friend Democrat Chris Coons. The Delaware Democrat later told CNN Flake said he was concerned the nomination battle was tearing the country apart.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Senator Flake and I share a deep concern for the health of this institution and what it means to the rest of the world and to our country.

RAJU: It was a rare moment of bipartisanship during one of the most divisive confirmation battles in history.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We didn't have emotion. This is all a gentlemen and women's agreement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentlemen and women's agreement.


RAJU: Now after Jeff Flake met with the Senate Majority Leader McConnell, I had a chance to ask him directly, is there anything that could change your vote after you said you would vote for Brett Kavanaugh? Could you vote no now? He said perhaps. He said, we'll see what the FBI investigation brings. He left open the option changing his vote.

But one thing that he made very clear, he expects this investigation to be done within a week. And I asked him what happens if it's not? He said well, it needs to be and we're going to be prepared to move forward if it is not.

So we'll see if the FBI does its investigation within a week and we'll see what they find, but a lot of uncertainty about Brett Kavanaugh's nomination here on Capitol Hill. Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks so much, Manu.

I want to bring in CNN's Dan Simon now who is following the developments from Arizona. Senator Flake, that's the home state. What kind of reactions are we seeing from people there?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Fred, the most immediate reaction has been decidedly mixed. And the most visible reaction has been here at Jeff Flake's office in Phoenix where we saw a number of protesters here yesterday. We saw a whole range of emotions on display. But obviously the mood changed a bit when he forced that seven-day delay.

These were Democratic protesters out here. As for Republicans, this is not likely to play well with him here in Arizona. I want you to listen now to what one longtime political consultant had to say. Take a look.


SIMON: Jeff Flake's move calling for this delay, how is this sitting with constituents in Arizona?

STAN BARNES, POLITICAL CONSULTAN: I think Jeff's having a bad day back home. I don't think he can show his face in the local grocery store right now. I think it's a fresh wound. I think he's out of step with his own hometown constituency that think rightly or wrongly that Kavanaugh's being smeared by the Democrats unfairly. And Jeff, Senator Flake, is enabling this smear by going with the one week delay. So back home I think he's out of step with his constituency.


SIMON: Well, as we know, Jeff Flake has been a polarizing figure here in Arizona with Republicans, largely because of his criticism toward Donald Trump. It is against that backdrop that he decided not to run for re-election.

Meantime, as this Kavanaugh process rolls on, some have noted Flake is acting like his former colleague, the late Senator John McCain, acting like a maverick.


WHITFIELD: All right, Dan Simon, thanks so much for that perspective.

All right, still ahead, after all the turbulence over Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, what does success look like for Republicans after all is said and done?


[12:38:35] WHITFIELD: The FBI is now investigating sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. And the outcome of this high-stakes probe could be a make or break moment not only for him but for the upcoming midterms. In just over five weeks from now, voters will head to the polls. Republicans are in a fierce battle to hold on to the House and Senate in November.

Let's talk about the prospects now. With me now to discuss this is Tara Setmayer, a CNN political commentator, Alice Stewart who is also a CNN commentator and Republican strategist. All right, good to see you both.

A lot is on the line with this confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh. So Tara, you first, the FBI investigation getting underway. If -- I guess depending on the outcome of that investigation, if Brett Kavanaugh is not confirmed, what's at stake?

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if he's not confirmed, you're going to see that enthusiasm gap on the part of Republicans that they've been worried about compared to Democrats exasperate itself extremely. Because they're going to say Republicans and the president, they're going to have the opportunity to say look what Democrats did. They took down a good man.

Supreme Court nominations are always motivating forces, how is going to test (INAUDIBLE) it's probably why she voted for Trump only because despite all the other things it was -- you know, the evangelical community looked at the Supreme Court issue as of singular issue of importance.

[12:40:03] So I think if he goes down, you're going to see a huge momentum shift in the favor of Republicans getting out to vote.

Now, the other side, if he does get confirmed, you're -- I think you're going to see women come out in droves because of how they viewed the way that Republicans have handled this issue of sexual assault being believed. And in suburban swing districts and places like Ohio or New Jersey, California where what used to be Republican districts are now toss-ups, those suburban women could make a difference in swinging the House for the Dems.

WHITFIELD: And Alice, women have already been galvanized. I mean, just look at, you know, leading up to and post-Roy Moore, Alabama in that race. But if confirmed, what is at stake in your view for the Republican Party?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It will be a shot in the arm. It will be a huge boost for the base and rallying cry for them. That's why we have the president going out being in West Virginia tonight rallying the base. Because many Republicans including the president, ran on supporting Scalia-like justices, more conservative- leaning justices to the Supreme Court. As Tara said, I'm one -- that was one of the top issues, being able to support Donald Trump was this issue. And this will be a confirmation for these voters that, look, our support for this president was -- has paid off. We got him and now let's continue to support conservative people in the midterm elections so we can continue this movement for issues that are important. WHITFIELD: And that's primarily the lens, conservativism, not necessarily this accusation of sexual assault which will be most prevalent to voters?

STEWART: Love polling on this issue. Of course, the Republicans have lost a lot of women support anyway since the president has been in office for a variety of reasons. But this specific issue, polling indicates -- it's a better indicator on how people feel about Kavanaugh and all that's gone on this week with regard to the confirmation and sexual assault. It's a better indicator looking at a person's politics as opposed to their gender.

And what we're seeing is that many Republicans, as upsetting and disturbing as a lot of this testimony is, they're still seeing this as a reason to stand behind Judge Kavanaugh, and many of them do view this as a Democratic smear campaign. In order to take him down, in order to save this spot, keep this open, delay it. So they can potentially put a liberal justice on the court.

SETMAYER: I think that this conversation about sexual assault, women, Me Too, is such a much larger epidemic in this country that unfortunately a lot of people have only been able to look at this through a very myopic lens of partisanship. And the byproduct of that, the -- people suffering the consequences are women who have experienced this or there -- or people who know people with women, you know, that have friends or family members that have experienced this, not being believed. And that is a larger problem.

Too many people are unable to take their partisan hats off to really give the credibility and the consideration to the issue of sexual assault and women coming forward and challenging men in power.

WHITFIELD: And that's clearly impactful because you're talking about a 250 percent increase in calls going to hot lines, et cetera, as it pertains to sexual assault. So I mean --

SETMAYER: It's a problem that's being held hostage by the political partisanship of a Supreme Court nomination which is why those two women, who confronted Jeff Flake on that elevator yesterday, was such a powerful moment in this country because when that woman said to Senator Flake look me in the eye and tell me my sexual assault didn't matter, that sent chills -- I was in tears because my own mother was a victim of sexual assault and didn't say anything because she didn't think her voice mattered and she never told me about that experience until this came up on Thursday and then obviously yesterday. She finally felt comfortable after 40 years to tell me.

And so that resonates with a lot of people. And I think that the American public, especially men, have not yet really reconciled how prevalent this is and the impact on people's lives. If they did, and they appreciated it, they would not be dismissing Christine Ford as some political operative and why --

WHITFIELD: And that reference to the elevator, it was so powerful too because you saw Flake who seemed uncomfortable in that moment, and that she would say look at me -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right, right.

WHITFIELD: -- which really was an attention grabber of for too long, the stories, the women, dismissed, overlooked, not considered an equal, and that's really, you know, at the core here. And he was visibly shaken while back at the dais and he looked like he had something on his mind before he left, you know, tapping Coons and, you know, Klobuchar then also exited.

But when Senator Lindsey Graham spoke and he did speak to the partisanship, I mean, does this kind of underscore how people are looking at it so differently?

[12:45:11] This was Senator Graham.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), ARIZONA: To my Republican colleagues, if you vote no, you're legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics. You want this seat, I hope you never get it. I hope you're on the Supreme Court. That's exactly where you should be.

And I hope the American people will see through this charade. And I wish you well. And I intend to vote for you. And I hope everybody who's fair minded will.


WHITFIELD: So it almost seems as though -- I mean, there will be a distinction, either you're with what Lindsey Graham is saying or you're with what Senator Flake said which was we got to look at everything first.

STEWART: I think we can have them both. I think all of Americans to Tara's point, we are all in this Me Too era where we realize these women and in many cases men deserve to be heard, they deserve to be in many cases that we need to follow through on what they're saying and certainly take action.

But during this time, looping this in with the Supreme Court nominee, obviously Lindsey Graham was the day before the Jeff Flake incident and he was frustrated. He was frustrated with what he saw as the Democrats trying to delay and stop this nominee in attempts of taking over the House and the Senate and putting a liberal-leaning justice in the court. That being said, I think we can sit back, listen to these women, let the Me Too movement make its progress and giving these women a voice. But at the same time, Lindsey Graham is frustrated as many conservatives are, as an attempt to hold back and delay in my view a qualified justice for the Supreme Court.

SETMAYER: But their righteous indignation over the, you know, idea that Brett Kavanaugh's life is being ruined and how dare this woman come forward with her allegation and derail this guy's path that he was entitled to have to the Supreme Court, you know --

STEWART: Versus the hardship that she -- SETMAYER: Exactly --

STEWART: -- for decades.

SETMAYER: That's right. And it's a point that I've been making from the beginning that her life is just as valuable and matters just as much in what she went through as what Brett Kavanaugh is going through. I have compassion for his family and his wife. But at the same time, you don't come out like the way Lindsey Graham did and others railing against because Democrats are using this as for political brinkmanship. It looks like you're devaluing what Christine Ford has gone through in her life and all of those other thousands and thousands of women and sexual survivors.

This matters too, you know. And that's I think what's creating this tearing apart of our country that Jeff Flake was talking about because they've seen that they're incapable of having that empathy too (INAUDIBLE) the political context.

WHITFIELD: So the pressure's on in a very big way. Is this all predicated on Flake, Murkowski and Collins?

SETMAYER: Absolutely.

STEWART: Absolutely. And they clearly feel the pressure. And you could see that clearly Jeff Flake had heard the testimony from Dr. Ford and sat through the entire day of testimony, but those women going in there, in the elevator, and really making him sit back and take a stand, clearly that was the tipping point, for him to say, OK, stop, time-out, let's let the FBI come in and listen to this, and hear more --

WHITFIELD: And the big question is going to be whatever the findings are from this FBI investigation, how impactful will it sway --


WHITFIELD: -- any opinion that senators have right now today, prior to that investigation, will it in any way sway them?

SETMAYER: Well, I'd like to hear from the Republican women. Where are the Republican women senators? They've kind of been hiding in the corners here and I think that's unfortunate because they do have a lot of sway.

But it is important I think for their male colleagues to hear from these Republican women about what women go through, about validating the seriousness of what Dr. Ford has gone through and what others are going through and why we have to take a step back and take a breath, that all things are not so political. I wish they would step up a little bit more.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now. Tara Setmayer, Alice Stewart, good to see you both. Thank you.

All right, we'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:53:48] WHITFIELD: Nearly 50 million Facebook users have been targeted by hackers. The attack potentially allowed those hackers to take over the accounts as well as other sites and apps that users log into via Facebook.

CNN Reporter Donie O'Sullivan is following the story for us. So Donie, you know, how extensive is this attack in terms of what was exposed?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Hey, Fred. Yes, well, this is bad for Facebook, but it could even be much worse for their users. What we learned yesterday was that 50 million Facebook users' data was exposed to hackers. Essentially what that would have allowed those hackers to gain access to 50 million user's accounts and to log in as them, seeing what those users see and not only just logging into Facebook, but also being able to log into sites and apps that are connected to Facebook. So a lot of dating apps sites, a lot of money transfer websites also used that Facebook log-in.

WHITFIELD: So what do people do? Can they protect themselves at this point?

O'SULLIVAN: Well, yes. Well, right now, Facebook says do nothing. And they say that this

hack -- that the hackers didn't have access to your passwords but had managed to get into accounts in a -- through a different mechanism.

[12:55:02] So they said there's no need to change your password. But that if you were logged out of Facebook yesterday or any time over the past 36 hours or so, you are probably among the 90 million people who are in some way impacted by this.

Fifty million people were impacted. Their data was exposed. And Facebook took precautionary steps on another 40 million users who they think data may be exposed.

Right now, we don't know who the hackers are. Facebook is still trying to figure that out. They've reported this to the FBI. Also, interestingly, among those users who were logged out yesterday and whose accounts may have been targeted were Mark Zuckerberg and Charles Sandburg, two of the most powerful people at Facebook.

WHITFIELD: Wow. How can that be?

All right, Donie O'Sullivan, thank you so much.

All right, still so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. But first, meet this week's CNN hero.


SUSAN MUNSEY: Nobody wakes up and just decides one day I'm going to go sell my body and give the money away. Traffickers or pimps know exactly what they're doing. Much of it's on the internet now. They're going on dating websites and they're gaming. They're looking for young vulnerable women. Anywhere where young women might hang out.

My vision was to have a home where women could come and find safety and find themselves.


WHITFIELD: To hear more of the stories of courageous women, go to