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FBI Begins Kavanaugh Probe & Confirmation Vote Delayed One Week; Trump Sticks by Kavanaugh, to Hold Campaign Rally in West Virginia; How Will the FBI Investigation of Kavanaugh Play Out; NYT: FBI to Also Investigate Second Accuser's Allegations; How Kavanaugh Confirmation Will Affect Supreme Court & Future Nominees; Nearly 400 Dead After Earthquake & Tsunami Strikes Indonesia. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired September 29, 2018 - 13:00   ET



[13:01:14] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, hello again, everyone. Thanks so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in Washington, D.C.

Today, the FBI begins its latest investigation into 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, who was cornered in an elevator, hours earlier, by emotional protesters.


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


WHITFIELD: They were more than emotional. They were demanding and they were informative.

After hours of heartbreaking testimony on Thursday, Senators like Flake could no longer ignore the deep divide hanging over Kavanaugh's confirmation.


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

SEN. JEFF LAKE, (R), ARIZONA: I think everything that I've seen and viewed and experienced in the last couple of weeks has had an impact. But it's been everything. Just seeing yesterday, today, just the, you know, this is ripping the country apart. And calls I've been getting, e-mails, attacks, it's just, you know, it's been rough to see. And we haven't had a process we can be proud of and we can do it better.


WHITFIELD: All right, so now what? Where do we go from here?

CNN's Supreme Court reporter, Ariane De Vogue, joins me with that.

What can you tell us about the scope of the investigation?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, we know that Flake and a couple of other of the Republicans, they decided that they wanted to reopen this. They wanted a background investigation. They think this could be very limited in scope. They're limiting it to credible witnesses. So they told the White House and the White House then orders it.

But one issue we'll have to watch carefully is that -- did they specify particular people or is it really who is credible because --


WHITFIELD: How do you define that?

DE VOGUE: That's exactly right. They firmly believe this could happen in a week. But, for instance, the "New York Times" is reporting today the FBI may be in contact with one of the women, Deborah Ramirez. And that --


WHITFIELD: Went to school with Kavanaugh back at Yale and she claims he exposed himself to her.

DE VOGUE: Correct. If she's one of the ones, in that article, there were unnamed names. Does that lead to the FBI going further into it?

One thing's important to remember, Fred, we're not talking about a huge FBI criminal investigation here. We're talking about the FBI doing what it does, which is a background investigation. They go, they gather statements, and then they get it to the Senate. So we'll see where we are. But there are issues that could --


WHITFIELD: So traditionally, these background checks go back as far as the age of 18 for most candidates in which they're looking into. These allegations are spanning, including Kavanaugh, at the age of 17. So now will the FBI be using this like an extension of what they've already done and just probe a little bit earlier, or, you know, is it all completely new territory from bottom up, different teams? What do we know?

DE VOGUE: That's a good question because Kavanaugh and the president and the Republicans kept saying, look, this man has had these background investigations all the way back in his career. Don't forget, he sat on the circuit court. He worked in the administration. He worked in the White House. So they're all saying these investigations have -- these background investigations have come up and none of which --

WHITFIELD: Except that nobody made an allegation, then they wouldn't have a reason to look into certain things.

[13:05:04] DE VOGUE: Exactly right. So now that you have these three are saying, look, we have these allegations, let's look into this. Maybe the main allegation is from Christine Ford. Talk to her. She alleged that three people were at the party. Talk to them. And go from there.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll see.

Ariane De Vogue, thank you.

DE VOGUE: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Appreciate it.

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

Let's check in with CNN's Ryan Nobles at the White House.

Do we know what his message might be?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, we don't, Fred. It will be very interesting to see how the president responds tonight in West Virginia because this state is an example of a group of states where there are Democrats who are up for re-election in states where President Trump won. West Virginia's a state that he won handily in 2016.

The incumbent there, Joe Manchin, is in a tough race against Patrick Morrisey, and you can bet that is who he's going to stump for. And you can bet he'll put Joe Manchin on the spot and use this Supreme Court battle as an example of how Manchin isn't always on the same side as President Trump.

Manchin has not said whether or not he supports Brett Kavanagh. And he has been a part of these discussions with a bipartisan group of Senators to try and find some way forward through this process. And it is that process that led to the delay in Judge Kavanaugh's vote in this week-long extension in Kavanaugh's -- the investigation by the FBI into Kavanaugh.

And the president is sticking by Kavanaugh. He did tweet about him late last night. The president saying, quote, "Just started tonight on our seventh FBI investigation of Judge Kavanaugh. He will, some day, be recognized as a truly great justice of the United States Supreme Court."

So the president saying there, reminding Americans, particularly his supporters, that Brett Kavanaugh has undergone quite a few background checking by the FBI over his lengthy career on the federal bench, and also that he is sticking by him, despite all the criticism that has come his way.

Of course, Fred they', there's a lot that can happen, but that is when the Senate is finally set to vote on the nomination -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: Ryan Nobles, thanks so much, at the White House.

All right, Senators making the decision on both sides have been weighing just what this means for this country, and how this ordeal may be harming it. Take a listen.


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

FLAKE: We have just seen yesterday, today, just the, you know, this is ripping the country apart. And calls I've been getting, e-mails, attacks, it's just, you know, it's been rough to see.


WHITFIELD: So after all of that yesterday, Senator Jeff Flake gave an interview to "The Atlantic" where he talked more about what happened, saying, in part, I'm quoting now: "I don't know if there was any one thing, but I was just unsettled. When I got back to the committee, I saw the food fight again between the parties. The Democrats saying they're going to walk out, the Republicans blame everything on the Democrats. And I thought, if we could actually get something like what he was asking for, an investigation, limited in time, limited in scope, we could maybe bring a little unity. We can't just have the committee acting like this. The majority and minority parties and their staffs just don't work well together. There's no trust in the investigation. They can't issue subpoenas like they should. It's just falling apart."

Well, McKay Coppins, is a staff writer for "The Atlantic" and interviewed Jeff Flake. He's joining me right now.

Good to see you.

Did it seem in your view, Flake was eager to explain the sequence of events beginning with, you know, that very tense elevator moment?

MCKAY COPPINS, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Yes, it was interesting. I mean, he called me just before midnight. It had been a long day, week for him and a lot of people on Capitol Hill. He was exhausted but he also saw the need to explain himself, since he had had a pretty, you know, jarring about-face.

And the thing that he told me was that, you know, no one thing changed his mind when it came to deciding that we need to delay the investigation. But it was a combination of these things. The protesters that he encountered on Capitol Hill. The way Senators on the Judiciary Committee were kind of sniping at each other. Even he said, you know, watching cable news and seeing pundits go back and forth. He said he came to the conclusion that this whole affair was ripping the country apart.

One thing I've learned about Jeff Flake as I've covered him and written about him over the past year and half, is that, above almost all else, he really cares about things like institutional authority and, you know, bipartisanship and decorum. He felt like he had an opportunity here to maybe create a little bit of bipartisan space where, even if Democrats didn't agree with the confirmation of this Supreme Court justice, at the very least, they could feel like the process was fair.

[13:10:23] WHITFIELD: So then that was by the afternoon when he was reflecting on all of that. And just prior to that, you know, the elevator, you know, moment in the morning. But then, even before that, Senator Flake, you know, telegraphed, he told everybody that he was going to be voting for the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. Did he express why he had such certainty seemingly after that statement? But then there was this space where he was receptive to these women in the elevator, and then he seemed, when he was sitting in the committee, so conflicted. I mean, you could visibly see on his face -- sometimes his face was in his hands -- what was going on with him before he got up and tapped Coons, Senator Coons, on the shoulder, and Senator Klobuchar also soon followed.


WHITFIELD: I know that's a lot, but it just seems like there was such a sequence of events.

COPPINS: There was a moment there, absolutely.


COPPINS: What he told me was, the night before, Thursday night, he had a sleepless night trying to figure out what he was going to do. And while he had his office kind of put out this statement in the morning saying he was planning to vote for confirmation, he told me that, in private, he still was very conflicted about it. And being at that -- after encountering those protesters and then being at the hearing and seeing the way that this was just so divisive and the committee was kind of losing respect by the minute, he said he just couldn't, you know, take it anymore. And that's when he reached out to his friend on the other side of the aisle, Chris Coons, and said, you know, let's go talk, let's see if we can figure something out. There was a mutual trust there. Jeff Flake and Chris Coons have known each other for a long time.

To me, Jeff Flake said, this is an example of why we still need these bipartisan relationships to exist because change can actually happen when there's a mutual trust and mutual good faith there. That's not widespread on Capitol Hill these days.

WHITFIELD: Is it too much to say that this really kind of exemplifies, you know, a conflict between his heart versus the party?

COPPINS: Yes, you know, Jeff Flake has been somebody who's kind of been out of step with Donald Trump's Republican Party from the get-go. He's never been in line with Trump. And I think this was a moment where, you know, he talked a lot about the need to put conscience over party and principle over partisan loyalty. And he thinks -- at least he sees this as a moment where he did that.

WHITFIELD: McKay Coppins, of "The Atlantic," thank you so much.

COPPINS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, so how will the latest investigation into Kavanaugh's past play out? And what key evidence will the FBI be looking for? And what will they discover? We'll discuss next.


[13:17:18] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in Washington, D.C.

The FBI's latest investigation of U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh is under way. We know the probe will be limited to one week and limited in scope. It will include Christine Blasey Ford's allegations from when they were in high school. And according to the "New York Times," the FBI will also look into accusations by former Yale classmate, Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were in school at Yale. So how will this all play out?

Let's bring in CNN reporter, Kara Scannell, CNN legal analyst and attorney, Areva Martin, and CNN legal analyst, Ross Garber.

Good to see you all.

Kara, you first.

We keep hearing this terminology limited in scope. What does this mean exactly?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, it's limited in scope, meaning it is not a complete revisionist history of Kavanaugh's life where they go and they look into all the past activities of him, his life in full. This is limited in scope in that is focused on these allegations that have been revealed through the allegations by Christine Blasey Ford and as the "New York Times" is reporting into Deborah Ramirez. So looking into these fresh allegations. It's a lot to cover in this week period of time.

WHITFIELD: These investigators will not just be making phone calls, they will show up on the doorsteps of -- and based on what they hear from anyone who might have any knowledge about these accusations involving these two women, they could potentially -- that could potentially lead them in other directions, reaching out to other people, but then where's the limited in scope part? Just that it involved these two ladies that are accusing Kavanaugh?

SCANNELL: Well, that's for the FBI to decide with any sort of direction or guidance from the White House. These two women's allegations are the heart of it. Like you were saying, once they track down people, three of the individuals who Ford said were at the party, their lawyers are willing to talk. That could be so illuminating to the FBI investigators. At the end of the day, they might end up where they were, where many of them said they don't remember this party, this event.

But, you know, that's different than a legal document or a declaration that you submit to Congress. This is going to be a one-on-one interview. You know, they might jog some memory. They might learn something from one interview they want to run down by seeking out another student who was at the school. These allegations are also likely to include the yearbook entries, the calendar. That then enters a lot more people they might want to talk to.

WHITFIELD: Does limited in scope also mean geology? While these alleged incidents happened in New Haven, Connecticut, or Montgomery County, Maryland, people move over a 30-year span, so it may mean it's going to cost a lot of money and resources to reach people who are at other places on the map.

[13:20:09] SCANNELL: And the time to find them because people do move so not everyone is going to be sitting here in Montgomery County, Maryland, where they were in high school.

WHITFIELD: OK, all right.

So now we know that Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, you know, accusations, the investigation will stem from them.

But then now we also receive a statement coming from attorney, Michael Avenatti, of, you know, Stormy Daniels fame, the lawyer who is also now representing the third accuser, Julie Swetnik. He is saying he has not received add phone call. His client has not received a phone call from the FBI and he is waiting. You see his tweet right there: "We have yet to hear from the FBI. When and if we do, we will probably disclose them, all information and witnesses in our position. We continue to request this opportunity. My client is telling the truth and deserves to be heard and not shamed."

Areva, when we hear limited in scope, credible accusers, would she fall into that category?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, O think absolutely. There's no reason to determine -- for there to be a determination that Julie Swetnik should not be a part of this investigation. She's come forward with a statement that she signed under the penalty of perjury. She signed an affidavit, according to her attorney. I think her allegation deserves to be investigated just like Deborah Ramirez and just like Dr. Ford.

I think this whole process -- one thing that the GOP Senators and Trump, they don't want to do is continue to say to women that your stories don't matter. And I think that was such a defining moment for Senator Flake, when he raised his head in that elevator, after the women asked him to look at them in the eyes. I think that what's women are saying to those GOP Senators and Trump, look at us as women. Listen to our stories. Believe our stories. Give us an opportunity to be heard. So I can think of no legal reason. Obviously, there's some time

constraints. But there's no legal reason that Julie Swetnik should not be included in this investigation.

WHITFIELD: Ross, how problematic is it if she is not included, given that the president has already expressed via tweet and other ways his disdain for the attorney, Michael Avenatti, who is representing Swetnik? If she is not included in this scope, how could it not look political?

ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I imagine, at some point, Michael Avenatti will get a call. But it's really for the FBI at this point to decide if an allegation is credible or not and whether it deserved follow-up or not.

I think the limited in scope piece means that in this kind of situation, it's not unusual for, you know, lots and lots of people, for lots and lots of motivations, to kind of come out of the woodwork. I think that's the thing that Republicans in the White House were concerned about is that, for political reasons, people would be coming out of the woodwork and raising all sorts of issues to try to slow it down. I think the notion from the Republican Senators and the White House is we don't want the FBI sort of chasing down every single lead that comes out of any place now.

But in terms of the credible allegations that have already been made, you know, follow those up, get to the bottom of those, ask the questions --


WHITFIELD: Can it be done in a week? Is a week enough?

GARBER: A week is enough. A week is a long time. The FBI has substantial resources. They've got people who do this for a living. I do internal investigations for companies. This is a relatively, you know, limited fact set, a relatively limited set of witnesses. You know, with enough resources, think a week can accomplish a lot here.


MARTIN: I wish there were more time. I don't see -- there's an arbitrariness about this one-week process. Women are glad we got the week process, it at least slowed, for the investigation to take place, but Dr. Ford's attorney put it best when he said there's no reason for this arbitrary time period of one week. If the leads take them to creditable information and other credible witnesses that may require them to go past the week, I can think of no good reason why they should not. That's one thing we should to keep in mind. Once they start interviewing witnesses, those witnesses' testimony might lead them to other credible information. There were so many points brought up during Dr. Ford's testimony as well as Brett Kavanaugh. We've talked about the calendar, the yearbook, the allegations about drinking. Some of the Yale classmates of Kavanaugh have now come forward to say that his testimony, that he misrepresented the facts during his testimony about his time at Yale. So those allegations deserve to be investigated.

Because we're not just talking about the sexual assault, although that's the central point. Now we have the issue of veracity. Did he lie to Senators when he lied about his drinking during high school and college? Both of those leads deserve to be followed up on.

WHITFIELD: A lot on the table. I know you've already said there's a possibility. You never know. The FBI or someone may say let's extend it past that one-week mark.

All right. Kara Scannell, Areva Martin, Ross Garber, thanks to all of you. I appreciate it.

[13:25:11] MARTIN: Thanks, Fred.


WHITFIELD: All right, this very contentious confirmation process also comes at the height of the "Me Too" movement. Coming up, we'll talk to the creator of that campaign to find out what all this means to young women around the world.


[13:29:52] WHITFIELD: Christine Blasey Ford's testimony on Capitol Hill about an alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanagh has inspired women to speak out. One of the most powerful moments came Friday when two protesters confronted Senator Jeff Flake in the elevator.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their names came up during the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. Two other Kavanaugh accusers. One is Julie Swetnik.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D), CALIFORNIA: She recounted seeing Kavanaugh engage, and I quote, "in abusive and physically aggressive behavior towards girls."

TODD: That allegedly occurred in the early 1980s. In a declaration released through her lawyer, Swetnick also claims Kavanaugh was present at a high school party around 1982 where she was the victim of a gang rape. She did not identify Kavanaugh as one of her attackers.

JULIE SWETNICK, KAVANAUGH ACCUSER: From what I experienced firsthand, I don't think he belongs on the Supreme Court. I just want the facts to come out. And I want it to be just. And I want the American people to have those facts and judge for themselves.

TODD: Then there's Deborah Ramirez. In an interview with the "New Yorker," Ramirez accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her at a party at Yale University in the 1980s.

FEINSEIN: She recalls pushing him away and then seeing him laughing and pulling his pants up. TODD: Kavanaugh vehemently denies both women's allegations.

BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I've never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not in college, not ever.

The Swetnik thing is a joke. That is a farce.

TODD: Lawyers for both Swetnik and Ramirez sparred with Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee over whether they would testify. The Republicans accusing the women's lawyers of stone-walling requests for information.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R-IA), CHAIRMAN, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: And they've made no attempt to substantiate their claims.

TODD: The lawyers for the women denying that.

Michael Avenatti represents Swetnick.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR DEBORAH SWETNICK: We have been asking for an opportunity for her to not only testify but to sit down with FBI agents and disclose what she knows, together with witness identities that have witnessed many of these events.

TODD: But analysts say Senate Republicans have viewed Ford as the more credible accuser.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: They believe the other ones are full of holes and potentially even lies.

TODD: Swetnik was herself accused of domestic violence in Florida in the early 2000s. An ex-boyfriend alleging she threatened to harm his family. The case was dismissed. And Michael Avenatti claims the ex- boyfriend has no credibility.

Avenatti told CNN that because the Judiciary Committee wouldn't have her testify, Swetnik will tell her story in an interview before the full Senate vote on Kavanaugh.

(on camera): Do these other women have an effect on this whole thing in some way?

STODDARD: The allegations about Judge Kavanaugh's conduct and behavior, the fact that he was at parties where people were very drunk, had friends that were very drunk, that they became very aggressive and rowdy and irresponsible, that is part of a collective cumulative sort of portrait of Judge Kavanaugh's conduct in those days and could loan credibility to the accusations from Dr. Blasey Ford.

TODD: And there's another woman whose information could shed new light on these allegations. A lawyer for Elizabeth Rasor, an ex- girlfriend of Mark Judge who was allegedly in the room when the alleged incident between Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford took place, said that Rasor was willing to share her information with the FBI and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Rasor told the "New Yorker" that Judge told her of an incident where Judge and other young men took turns having sex with a drunk woman. Rasor says Judge regarded the incident as consensual. And she says she has no information that Brett Kavanaugh took part in that incident.

Neither Rasor nor Mark Judge ever appeared before the Judiciary Committee but Judge's lawyer now says he'll cooperate with the FBI.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: And political parties aside, how will the fight to confirm Brett Kavanaugh affect the future of the court and other nominees in the future? Legal experts weigh in after this.


[13:38:24] WHITFIELD: The FBI investigation of U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh is under way. President Trump ordering the last-minute probe after Senator Jeff Flake and other key swing Republicans requested it. It will be limited in scope and completed in less than a week. So now the clock is ticking for FBI agents to get to the bottom of allegations from more than 30 years ago.

With me now to discuss this, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, and Richard Herman, a criminal defense attorney.

Good to see you both.



WHITFIELD: Richard, do you think this FBI probe can get to the truth of these allegations from three decades ago and really potentially sway any of the Senator's votes?

HERMAN: Fred, can you imagine? Do you know what you had for dinner three weeks ago Wednesday night? Just what you had for dinner? I mean, the FBI will reach out to people, they're going to ask people their recollection of events that took place 36 years ago and they're going to rush and do this in less than a week. Can you imagine if the president said, finish the Benghazi investigation in less than a week and give us your report. You can't do this in less than a week. You do it for the amount of time that's necessary. It's a farce, Fred. The whole thing is a farce. They're going to vote Kavanaugh in no matter what. Dr. Ford could have produced a videotape, it wouldn't have mattered. All because of this, get your pen out, tribalism. This is what controls politics today.


HERMAN: Behavior and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to one's own tribe or social group with strong negative feelings for people outside the group. That's it, Fred. He's in. There's nothing that's going to change that. No FBI investigation. And the three votes, those Republicans, Flake, Murkowski and Collins, they're absolutely going to vote for Kavanaugh, 100 percent.

[13:40:20] WHITFIELD: So, Avery, during the Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, the three-day FBI investigation, this one, a week. Is it your opinion that it just won't be able to produce enough information, perhaps some corroboration, but not enough information that would constitute a thorough investigation?

FRIEDMAN: No, I think they can do it. Look, you had 21 witnesses in Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. You got a week. Actually, I believe it's going to be sufficient. I think important information, new information, will generate.

But I think what's very important to focus on, and credibility is critical. That's what most people are talking about. As one that's appeared before federal judges appointed by 10 U.S. presidents, I must tell you, the focus now, I think, should be on judicial temperament. And what we saw in that testimony reflects a real problem with temperament. Frankly --


WHITFIELD: Actually, you read my mind. I thought, you know, I was thinking if it's not enough to learn about these allegations, will at least Senators be weighing the temperament of this individual composure? All of those things are really important, Avery.

FRIEDMAN: Well, those are two issues, credibility and temperament. Most of the focus has been, as you say, on credibility. But without judicial temperament, that's the difference between a judge, a good judge, and a great judge. If you're going to be on the U.S. Supreme Court, you need temperament. The hearing proves to the entire United States that judicial temperament is absent. That shows that this is a candidate that should not be on the Supreme Court, Fredricka. Tribalism notwithstanding. That's political. Legally, I think its temperament. This case should rise or fall on the question of judicial temperament.

WHITFIELD: So then, Richard, where are you on that? Because the flip side to that is he's fighting for his, you know, political personal life, his judicial life. And so people can understand that, you know, he was very emotional and upset. Flip side to that is so many years, you know, on the bench as a judge, don't you have to keep your cool?

HERMAN: Yes, you have to keep your cool. I've been before many federal judges who have lost their cool. And yet, you know, I have respect for them. They're still very good judges. He's looking to be a Supreme Court judge. He lost his cool. He attacked Senators' questions. Asked them questions about their drinking history, which is not relevant to these proceedings.

FRIEDMAN: Right. That's right.

HERMAN: Two good important points to raise, Fred. And judicial temperament is critical, as you and Avery said. But two other points. One, when the investigation -- when the FBI does their investigation, if they come knocking on your door, you can tell them, no thank you, I don't want to speak to you, and they have to leave. There's no grand jury. They can't subpoena you. You can just decline to speak to them. That's number one.

FRIEDMAN: That's right, sure.

HERMAN: And number two, what you're going to get if people would do agree to speak to them is the classic what lawyers tell their clients all the time, just, if you don't know, I don't recall. And that's what you're going to get in these interviews, I don't recall.

But the most important thing that goes into it in addition to judicial temperament, Fred, is the judge be independent, not a puppet of the president.

FRIEDMAN: That's true.

HERMAN: If you don't know the words that were said and you read what Kavanaugh said to the Senate, when you read him saying that this is in revenge for Trump winning the 2016 election and that this is Clinton revenge, and that this is a political hack job, if you close your eyes, that's Trump talking. He's being trained in the White House. He's babbling Trump stuff --


WHITFIELD: Right, so --


HERMAN: If he wins, what does he owe Trump if he wins? What does he owe Trump if he wins?


WHITFIELD: Did he just defy his eligibility because of those statements?



HERMAN: Yes, I think precludes him.

FRIEDMAN: I think there's no question about that.

HERMAN: I mean, it seems to me, Fredricka, that once he's committed to a partisan position, the whole issue of judge being neutral, the whole issue of a judge being impartial, goes right out the window.


HERMAN: Credibility notwithstanding, there's no impartiality. I think that's one of the stick-a-fork-in-it moments. That's what's happened here.

WHITFIELD: How do you see all that's transpired thus far? And whatever happens, you know, whether there's a yea or nay, you know, on his confirmation, how do you see this shaping, coloring, if in anyway, any, you know, nominations in the future of the Supreme Court, Avery?

[13:45:03] FRIEDMAN: Oh, my goodness. There are so many wonderful potential nominees, candidates, for the U.S. Supreme Court. If this individual is confirmed, I'm not sure I can answer that question, Fredricka. But, frankly, if it isn't, there are superb candidates out there that will do well that have temperament, that have credibility, that will maintain the majesty of this great institution of our country.

WHITFIELD: And, Richard, how does this shape future nominations?

HERMAN: Fred, it's -- we're in such a crossroads right now with our democracy and our political partisanship. You can guarantee, if he does get it -- and I do think they're going to vote him in -- if the Democrats take over the House in the midterm elections, they're going to institute impeachment proceedings against him. This story is not over. U.S. Supreme Court --

FRIEDMAN: Oh, I don't know about that.

HERMAN: -- judges can be impeached. They will bring impeachment charges. Then to the Senate. If he doesn't win the Senate, he will not be convicted. But this story isn't over.

And what it says for the future is, you know, we have to get our stuff together because it's just disarray and it doesn't do any party any service.


HERMAN: And it doesn't do the American people any service, Fred. It's horrible.

WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there for now. It's been an intense week. It ain't over.

HERMAN: You bet.

WHITFIELD: Richard Herman, Avery Friedman, good to see you both. Thanks so much.


HERMAN: Nice seeing you, Fred. Nice seeing you.

WHITFIELD: Ahead, nearly 400 people dead after a tsunami rips through parts of Indonesia, sweeping away homes. Rescuers now in a frantic hunt for survivors. The very latest, next.


[13:51:05] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. Dramatic video of the moments a tsunami comes ashore following a devastating 7.5 earthquake in parts of Indonesia. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



WHITFIELD: Incredible moments as it happened. At least 384 people now are dead and hundreds injured. Before and after shots of a bridge in Palu show the level of destruction.

CNN international correspondent, Alexandria Field, joining me now.

Alexandria, how difficult is it going to be to find people and those affected?

ALEXANDRIA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We cannot overstate the difficulty at this point. And frankly, officials have no idea about the scope of the devastation brought by not just this hurricane, also the tsunami. You see those horrifying pictures, that wall of water slamming into coastal areas. What we're see right now is the city of Palu, a city of about 300,000 people. They are hundreds that have been killed by tsunami and the earthquake there alone. But officials say they can't even reach another city not far off that's also in the heavily affected area. The population there another 300,000. So they are saying with certainty that they expect the death toll to increase in the next few days. Search-and rescue- teams, they face a number of obstacles. They're trying to sift through debris, find people trapped in homes. Thousands of buildings destroyed. They're also trying to get through the heavy water to find people who could still be alive and trapped and in need of help. Reaching this area, also difficult. The airport shut down, of course. The next closest airport, some 10 to 12 hours away by car. Roads are compromised. There are landslides that have made travel difficult. There are bridges down. And also just the fact you have power out and communication down is slowing the process. This is incredibly difficult work for rescue crews to do. But they're trying to reach the affected areas. And frankly, Fred, we have to prepare for the fact it will take days to understand exactly how much damage has been done here.

WHITFIELD: Yes. A terrible situation.

Alexandra Field, thank you so much.

Let's take a look at our top stories now, other top stories. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has agreed to meet with House Republicans in the next few walks. He will talk about his reported comments where sources say he discussed wearing a wire while talking to President Trump and he reportedly also talked about recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office. House Republican leaders struck an agreement to hold the meeting to avoid a potential impeachment vote against Rosenstein.

And a federal judge has cleared the way for Democrats to sue President Trump over the running of his businesses. At the center of the lawsuit is a provision of the Constitution called the Emoluments Clause, which states office holders cannot do business with foreign governments without getting approval from Congress. And 200 Democrats in Congress sued the president saying the president is violating the Emoluments Clause by not seeking their approval for his businesses, specifically his hotels, to receive payments from foreign governments. When the president took office, the president removed himself from the day-to-day operations of his businesses but remained an owner.

Media mogul and CNN founder, Ted Turner, revealed in an interview set to air on CBS tomorrow that he is battling a brain disease known at Lewy body dementia. Although the disease is not like Alzheimer's, Turner says it still leaves him feeling tired, exhausted, and mainly forgetful. Turner led Turner Broadcasting Systems before launching CNN in 1980. He stepped down as chairman in 2003, but his legacy continues to resonate here and everywhere.

[13:55:12] All right, tonight, CNN's Van Jones sits down with diverse female candidates shaking up the political establishment in a very big way on both sides of the aisle. Plus, he talks to actress, author and activist, America Ferrera. Don't miss the next "VAN JONES SHOW," tonight, at 7:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

Coming up, the latest development as the FBI begins investigation into sexual assault allegations against U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh. What could it mean for his confirmation? More straight ahead.