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FBI will investigate Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh; Two women confronted Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator; 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi; Aired 2-3p ET

Aired September 30, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday from Washington, D.C. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Right now, we are gearing up for another high stakes week on Capitol Hill. The FBI's latest background investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is quickly becoming the latest political pressure point dividing Washington. The big question, what is the scope of the investigation into the sexual assault and misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh.

Sources tell CNN White House council Don McGahn is working behind the scene with Republican leaders to narrow the scope of the investigation as much as possible, but President Trump and his team insist they are hands off in the process, saying the FBI has, I'm quoting now from the President, "free reign."

But listen to what Presidential counsellor Kellyanne Conway said.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: It will be limited in scope. It is meant to last for a week I believe beginning last Friday. And it will not meant to be a fishing expedition. The FBI is not (INAUDIBLE) here. The President very much respects the independence of the FBI and feels as he said last night that they should be looking at anything that they think is credible within this limited scope.


WHITFIELD: All Right. Let's begin with CNN's Boris Sanchez at the White House.

So what do we know so far about this discrepancy of the scope of the investigation? Free reign as the President said or limited?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's a good question, Fred.

As you heard from Kellyanne Conway, publicly the White House is essentially saying that this will be a narrow investigation. One that has you heard the President said yesterday, the FBI will have free reign over. Now according to a source close to the investigation, they have told

CNN that the White House is actually guiding this process with some input from senate Republicans. Ultimately, that would lead to a handful of interviews and they will not look into certain things about Brett Kavanaugh and his - specifically, his drinking habits in high school, something that he was grilled on during in his testimony on Thursday.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader actually put out a statement a short while ago. He was attempting to clear up some of these confusion. He said that this investigation will ultimately only look into current and credible allegations. From there the FBI will pass the findings along to the White House. They don't come up with any conclusions themselves. That is standard protocol.

Some Democrats are concerned about this, Fred. They worry that the White House may have too much of a say into what the FBI will be looking into.

Here's Senator Amy Klobuchar, one of the senators on the Senate judiciary committee who grilled Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday. Listen to me of this.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I know. And there was one thing she did say is that the hardworking men and women of the FBI should be able to do their jobs. And on that I agree. But what we are hearing are reports that they are somehow trying to limit this to a few witnesses or tell them what they should do, and while the White House decides who to nominate and that person is committed to a background check, I never heard that the White House either under this President or other Presidents saying you can't look at this person. You can't look at this time period. You can only look at these people from one side of the street from when they were growing up.


SANCHEZ: Now press secretary Sarah Sanders was on FOX News this morning. She was asked about this. She said the White House does not want to micromanage the FBI, though she acknowledged she was not aware of whether White House council Don McGahn has specifically told the FBI who they could and could not interview, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thanks so much from the White House,

All right. Joining me right now, a lot to unpack here. CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Alice Stewart, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategy, Hilary Rosen, CNN national security and legal analyst Susan Hennessey and defense attorney Randy Kessler. Good to see all of you.

OK. Where do we begin? Let's begin with, you know, reporting that we do have that Senate Republicans have drafted an initial list of people for the FBI to interview and then pass it on to the White House. So Alice, how you did this not look political?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look. Senator Graham was on television this morning and he talked specifically about some of the key Republicans on this committee -- Flake, Collins and Murkowski who - and Flake was the one that said, yes, let's move forward with this FBI investigation. They have made it clear they want to limit the number of witnesses for many reasons for expediency is one thing. But also to limit it to the people that Dr. Ford has named and others that may have been involved in the incidences that Dr. Ford is referring to. So just by the sure fact that the key Republicans on this committee have asked for that, that is important in moving forward.

And also, I trust that what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, as they are saying hands off. Kellyanne Conway said the White House is hands off. And we have to caution, as Sarah said, that this doesn't turn into a huge fishing expedition and anything and everything is out there fair game. I think for the sake of being respectful to Dr. Ford and her charges and her allegations and to judge Kavanaugh, it needs to be limited in scope.

[14:05:18] WHITFIELD: This is how the Presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway put it this morning. Let's listen.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: The White House is not getting involved in the FBI investigation in that way. The President very much respects the independence of the FBI and feels as he said last night that they should be looking at anything they think is credible within this limited scope.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: What are does that mean, limited scope?

CONWAY: That's up to the FBI. In other words, I am not involve in those specific conversation.

TAPPER: Yes. But did Don McGhan say you can interview these witnesses but don't interview these witnesses?

CONWAY: I don't think Don McGahn would do that but I did not talk to him about it. We are not trying to interfere. It is the President who is saying go ahead. And by the way, it's also the Republican senators as you saw including Senator Flake and others who said please go forward with this FBI investigation.


WHITFIELD: All right. So Susan, which is it? Because you know, some sources are telling us that Don McGahn does have his hand in this and the White House is crafting it in a very big way, the direction of the FBI might go.

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Right. So I think there is a little bit of confusion over the terminology here. Usually, whenever you talk about background investigations, you are talking about a full scope background investigation or a limited scope background investigation. So Brett Kavanaugh has already had a full scope of background investigation. So this is a limited scope background investigation.

Now there is two ways to think about the word limited. Usually, whenever you think about limited, it's investigating a specific thing, a specific period in someone's life, some new allegation, some specified (ph) drug use. Now within that, you are not limited, right. So you are supposed to be looking at a limited subject matter or discreet period, but the idea that then you are tying an FBI agent's hands or tying the FBI investigation's hands within their ability to fully investigate, that realty is not the ordinary operating procedures here.

WHITFIELD: Senator Lindsey Graham - go ahead.

HILLARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: First of all, even Kavanaugh's allies have acknowledged that he has not had a personal background investigation done. He had a FBI data professional background investigation prior to this nomination. So this really has to be driven by the Senate, not by the White House. And the Senate has to look at two things. They can't dog whistle to other women who have already reached out to the Senate as we know. Cory Gardner said that somebody had reached out to him. There were others. They can't dog whistle to people that their allegations are not going to be considered, only the one that Dr. Ford made.

And the second piece is that the lying questions have to be considered by the Senate. It has to matter, in my view, to the senators who are considering their vote whether or not judge Kavanaugh lied about his activities and his behavior over his younger days. That has to matter. This is not just limited to whether they can find a witness to an assault that Dr. Ford experienced because the likelihood of them doing that is pretty nil.


And Jim, you know, reportedly the drinking of Brett Kavanaugh might be overlooked at the urging of even some senators who said this really is not the measuring stick. But how can that be in this investigation when, you know, on display was his demeanor. On display was how he was reacting to the questions about alcohol use and how relevant that might be to any alleged blackout or control.

RANDY KESSLER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right. So absolutely, I mean, what we are looking at his truthiness in his testimony. And I do think, you know, on the one hand, you can you say his testimony was compelling, but there are other places where I though it seem like he was not forthcoming and he was not telling the truth. And the key really here is this investigation that the FBI is doing, it really has to be wide enough that we are getting answers here. Like they have to be -- the Senate is not capable of being the umpire in this case. So the FBI needs to have reign that is free enough that allows them to really look at the allegations and within his testimony to see where he was not truthful.


And what does that mean though? Because when you hear that the FBI is not going to be held responsible for giving a summary, you know, assess what is conclusive or not but simply these are the discoveries and hand it over to whom? To the body of the Senate who then has to extrapolate, you know, what is believable or not?

KESSLER: Right. They are not supposed they are going to do. I mean, that is how the process is. It is an imperfect process, but that is what the process is going to do and that is what they agree to. And that's in a lot of ways that the way these background checks work. But you know, they need to look at these allegations. They need to look at the other women that are voiced concerns and made some allegations as well. And it should not be so narrow that you can't find it.

WHITFIELD: And it seems to be that, you know, the primary focus of importance, but as Senator Lindsey Graham who was saying wait a minute, before we even tackle this, let's also talk about what happened or what didn't happen months ago with, you know, senator Feinstein not sharing this, you know, letter of anonymity. This is what he had to say this morning.


[14:10:15] SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I got a call for an investigation of what happened to this committee, who betrayed Dr. Ford's trust. Who in Feinstein's office recommended to Katz as a lawyer? Why did Ms. Ford not know that the committee was willing to go to California? Who released the anonymous letter given to the committee by Cory Gardner? We are going to have to do a whole so full scale investigation of what I think was a despicable process to deter it from happening again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you accept Dianne Feinstein's denial?

GRAHAM: Yes, I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That she says that --.

GRAHAM: To her, but only to her.


WHITFIELD: So Alice, why does that matter right now at this juncture?

STEWART: It matters because we have Democrats saying why are you trying to rush this through? Why are you sticking to an arbitrary timeline when Dianne Feinstein had this for almost two months now?

And look. I completely respect her promise to Dr. Ford that she would keep her confidential and keep her name out of the news, but at the same time, she could have asked judge Kavanaugh about this when she had private meetings that could have begun an investigation, keeping Dr. Ford confidential and private and out of the headlines. And now we are at the point where on top of that we heard from Democrats through this entire process and specifically at the beginning when judge Kavanaugh was named. They will do anything and everything to derail and make sure that he is not confirmed. And this is so part of it.

WHITFIELD: So Feinstein explained the sequence of the events, but why does that seem to supersede the importance of the allegations and what is behind the allegations and where the investigation goes at this point.


ROSEN: These process issues are crap. But it completely irrelevant to whether or not Brett Kavanaugh is, you know, qualified to be on the Supreme Court. And Jim said something I want to follow up on.

Indeed, the Senate are the umpires here. And I think even Alice would agree with me on this. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, they actually do have to call some balls and strikes here. They have to say this is what matters to me that the FBI found and maybe this is not what matters to me. But they can't just throw up their hands and say, well, because the FBI didn't find everything, then I'm just going to ignore it all. In fact, the largest paper in Maine today came out with just that comment to Senator Collins and essentially said we don't think Brett Kavanaugh is telling the truth and we think he ought to be voted down for that reason alone.

HENNESSEY: But I think it is important to understand all of these various allegations, they are all tied together. Questions into his drinking is irrelevant to the substance of allegations. Questions into whether or not he lied to this testimony is relevant to his broader credibility. And so the notion that this become a tangential to the core question here, you know, no, this is actually central to the inquiry of whether or not this happened, whose testimony is more credible and whether or not Kavanaugh ultimately is fit.

WHITFIELD: And Jim, what about temperament? On display was his temperament, was anger, was pain, I mean, you could use a lot of different adjectives about what we saw during his testimony. But how important --?

KESSLER: And partisan. Very, very partisan.

WHITFIELD: How important is that for all these senators to take that into consideration along with allegations and, you know, his judicial record.

KESSLER: Right. So it is very important, but we have a broken Senate right now where, you know, it's all but a handful of people who made up their minds. Some for good reasons, I believe them. I don't think judge Kavanaugh is right for the Supreme Court. So that temperament issue isn't going to swing Susan Collins, isn't going to swing Jeff Flake and swing a handful of others.

The issue that Lindsey Graham brought up about process, that is a political spin issue. It is completely irrelevant. It is trying to turn Republicans into victims, the most grieving (ph) sound in Washington is Senate Republicans complaining about process because they have been process abusers for the last decade, so.

WHITFIELD: How do you suppose the eight jurists are looking at this on the Supreme Court as they are about to embark on a new session, right, going to church to get things started this week. How are they looking at this?

ROSEN: Imagine they are looking at this, number one, saying I'm so glad my confirmation hearing was years and years ago. They are just getting harder and harder as well. But I think they are also looking at this as, you know, is this the third broken institution in Washington? Congress is broken. The White House is broken. Are the courts now broken?


ROSEN: Elena Kagan was subjected to much more in many ways than Brett Kavanaugh was. We found this out about Brett Kavanaugh because people came forward. But she had hundreds of thousands of emails, all of her personal correspondence and everything was, you know, was played out for the committee, documents that the Republicans have refused to hand over from Kavanaugh. So you know, in many respects, her vet was harder. It is just that he is on bound something.

[14:15:13] KESSLER: Absolutely. I don't mean to underplay that at all. These are very, very serious allegations. These are disqualifying allegations and they need to be investigated absolutely fully.

WHITFIELD: We will leave it right there. Perhaps, what everyone does agree that this is much more magnified than anything we have ever seen as it pertains to the confirmation of the Supreme Court justice.

All right. Thanks you all of you. Alice, Susan, Hilary and Jim, thank you.

Straight ahead in the NEWSROOM, it was one of the most emotionally charged moments that we saw this week. Two women confronting Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator, telling him of their stories of being sexually assaulted. Our own Suzanne Malveaux was right there. She and her crew were responsible for allowing us to see that as it was happening.

Plus, a desperate situation in Indonesia where the death toll from that earthquake and tsunami has topped 800. The government there telling victims to take what they need from local stores to survive.


[14:20:22] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington, D.C.

So the FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is the result of one Republican senator's surprise request. Arizona senator Jeff Flake called for a one-week delay of the full Senate vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation. People have pointed to one very emotional moment between him and two women who say they are sexual assault survivors as being pivotal to changing Flake's stance.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not tolerable. You have children in your family. Think about them. I have two children. I cannot imagine that for the next 50 years they will have to have someone Supreme Court who has been accused of violating a young girl. What are you doing, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was sexually assaulted and nobody believes me. I didn't tell anyone and you are telling all women that they don't matter. That they should stay quiet because if they tell you what happened to them, you are going to be ignore them. That's what happened to me and that is what you are telling all women in America. That that they don't matter. They should keep it to themselves because if they have told the truth, they are going to help that man to power anyway. That's what you are telling all of these women. That's what you are telling me right now.

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


WHITFIELD: It is moving every time you see it.

CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux and her crew are largely responsible for showing us that moment at that elevator and witnessing this unfold. She is joining me right now to kind of help us understand.

This was not just a pivotal moment, but there were things that preceded it and things that followed nearly immediately. And you know, as reporters, you know, we are positioned sometimes in anticipation of an event, but this was also a confluence of things that broad serendipity, right. You met these women.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I never have seen anything in my career quite like this. It was extraordinary. But it started early in the morning. It was 7:30 in the morning. We were essentially camped outside of Senator Flake's office with my crew and producer Jasmine Wright, and hoping to get him, you know, what was his vote going to be and everyone was anticipating that. And there were two young women who were there with us, Anna Marie and Maria Gallagher. We got to know both of them.

And so one of them, Maria, she is just 23 years old, local from Virginia, recent grad, had never publicly told her story. And she was a survivor of sexual assault. The older woman, Anna Maria, she is self-described activist and had been to Flake's office earlier in the week on Monday to tell her story to Flake because she wanted to -- saw him as an ally, a potential ally. He was not there so she told her story to the staff earlier that week.

But these had two never met before. They just met earlier that morning. They didn't know each other. They decided that they had a common pain and they realized that portraying their stories and went up to Flake's office that morning.

WHITFIELD: And went that morning because as you and your crew were staked out because it had already been made clear that he was going to vote for the confirmation of Kavanaugh. So those ladies went there. And when I saw the interview of Anna Maria later, she said, you know, she was just hoping he would become a hero. This might be a moment, but she didn't know it would unfold this way.

So you saw him leave the office and then pursued. So what happened?

MALVEAUX: So what happened was it was five minutes before the Senate Judiciary Committee vote that was happening, we didn't know if he was in the office. There was coming and going. The office was very dark and quiet early in the morning. So essentially, he had been there for many, many hours and staffers were coming and going.

Five minutes. The press release all came on our cell phones at the same time and they gasps. You know, we told them, yes, he was voting yes for Kavanaugh. He has darted out of the office. So we were eight different doors. We pursued him and that is when the elevator moment occurred because --.

WHITFIELD: You didn't know that was going to happen?

MALVEAUX: They didn't know that it was going to happen. It wasn't their plan. Someone stopped that elevator.

WHITFIELD: Or kept the door from shutting.

MALVEAUX: Yes, one of the women did. She literally and figuratively put her foot down and the doors opened and he was there at that moment stuck in the elevator and he was there really to deal with his own position. And there was pain. You could see pain on his face. You could clearly hear pain in the voices of these women. It was courage, it was rage, it was pain, a very small enclosed setting where he was forced to answer those questions. Answer for his position and he bowed his head. He didn't really respond.

[14:25:27] WHITFIELD: And I really encourage people to read Suzanne's write because it really takes you through the timeline. It puts you in that moment at that place. And you very succinctly write this is about rage and pain all coming together.

But then, you as a reporter and your crew also had to make a decision because you could have stuck the mike in there, you know, pressed for senator Flake for a response, but you made a decision to say I'm going to let this play out. Here it is unfolding. Tell me about that.

MALVEAUX: Well, absolutely, Fred. I mean, you know that as a journalist, part of our jobs is to listen and to realize that there was really nothing in that moment that I could say or ask that would be more impactful than what was taking place and unfolding before our eyes because you had two sexual assault survivors who essentially - who demanding to be heard. And that is something that so many women throughout the week have been asking, you know. Experiencing that type of pain and it took a lot of courage for them to do that.

And so, yes, it played out. And I talked to both of them afterwards. And one of them, she was on the floor. She was crying. A friend was consoling her. And she told me that initially she felt nauseous and powerless. And then after that moment when she told her story for the frost time, her mother called her and said she saw her on live television. Her mother saw that moment and said how proud she was, how courageous her daughter was. And that was so impactful. And that's the kind of thing that happens organically. And you don't want to interfere and interrupt in just how powerful it was.

WHITFIELD: It was incredible. And then later when you would see senator Flake - everyone would see senator Flake in committee and see his face, did you have a sense that you knew what might be going through his mind as a result of what happened in the elevator? That it resonated and was still with him.

MALVEAUX: He looked anguished and he looked (INAUDIBLE) in the elevator.

WHITFIELD: That was a good word.

MALVEAUX: And there was definitely a sense of tension about whether or not he was not answering their questions and he just put out a statement and he just referred to the statement, but he couldn't explain his position. And I think there was a sense of being torn and literally being confronted with the power and the emotion of these women's experiences.

WHITFIELD: Wow. That was a pivotal moment. It continues to be a pivotal moment because so much hangs in the balance as a result largely because of that and it still resonates.

MALVEAUX: I and I think it underscores just what one moment in time who impactful that can be when people speak up and are heard. And it can change the course. We don't know.

WHITFIELD: Well, thanks to you and your crew. Great journalist instincts to be there. Timing is everything and at the same time real decisions were made. Instincts came into position in order for everyone to be an eyewitness to something so pivotal.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Fred. Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much.

All right. Still ahead, more than 830 people dead in Indonesia after a massive earthquake and tsunami. Now the race against time to save those trapped in the rubble. We will take you there live, next.


[14:33:14] WHITFIELD: The death toll is still rising in the wake of a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia. The images of damage are heartbreaking but the numbers even worse. More than 830 people dead, hundreds more hurt and millions impacted.

Here now is CNN's Matt Rivers.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A body is pulled from the rubble of the hotel where 50 people are thought to be trapped. A desperate search for survivors continue after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, triggering a tsunami.

This cell phone video captures waves as high as 10 feet rolling towards the shore as people are warned to run for higher ground. The force in the water sweep through the streets carrying anything and anyone in its way. In its aftermath, destruction. A wrecked car showed just how violently the waves hit. In a hospital in the coastal city of Palu, survivors are attended to - the power cuts. They are the lucky ones.

SUTOPO PURWO NUGROHO, NATIONAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT AGENCY SPOKESMAN (through translator): We are expecting a rise in the number of dead victims, but we hope the data remains as it is. However, looking at the conditions there, there are still bodies unidentified as well as victims buried under ruins. There are also remote areas yet to be reached by joint SAR teams.

RIVERS: Indonesia's President Joko Wododo visited Palu Sunday and ordered rescuers to work day and night to search for the missing. A state of emergency has been called for 14 days and central to the west sea as crews work to restore electricity and communication and repair damage on the roads and bridges.

But in Palu, people say they don't have enough basic food or medicines and have been allowed to take away supplies from supermarkets.

[14:35:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There has been no aid. We need to eat. We don't have any other choice. We must get food.

RIVERS: Indonesia's disaster management agency estimates that 2.4 million people were affect by Friday's earthquake. And as they await help, residents comb through the debris of what was once their homes.


WHITFIELD: Matt Rivers --

RIVERS: And Fred, you know, really the biggest issue right now is access at this point, really. It's going to be getting those rescuers, those charity workers in there. And we have seen our firsthand today in our travels how difficult it is to get there. We are about 500 miles south of the earthquake zone right now. We left Jakarta around 1:00 p.m. local time. It's now past 2:30 a.m. here. We will be able to get there, if all goes well, until midday, some 10 to 12 hours from now. So we are having trouble and certainly others in this part of the world are having trouble as well. And it's the help from those rescuers that are desperately needed right now -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes. This will be painstaking.

Live from Indonesia, Matt Rivers, thank you so much.

And we will be right back.



[14:40:46] SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: You are saying there has never been a case where you drank so much you didn't remember what happened or part of what happened.

KAVANAUGH: You are asking about - yes, blackout. I don't know. Have you?

KLOBUCHAR: Could you answer the question, judge? So you -- that's not happened? Is that your answer?

KAVANAUGH: Yes. And I'm curious if you have.

KLOBUCHAR: I have no drinking problem, judge.



WHITFIELD: OK. So that was one of the more memorable exchanges in a hearing full of emotion, anger and even tears. Brett Kavanaugh later apologized to Senator Amy Klobuchar, but the contentious exchange and some of Kavanaugh's other politically charge statements during the hearing has led some to question his temperament for the U.S. Supreme Court. Earlier today on "STATE OF THE UNION," Senator Klobuchar responded to that moment.


KLOBACHUR: I was really stunned by how he acted at that hearing. This is basically a job interview for the highest court of the land. And all I was trying to get at are some of the issues you were discussing with Kellyanne Conway. And that is that everyone has said that they respected Dr. Ford for coming forward. That her testimony was compelling and credible.

Well, both accounts can't be true. And so, one idea here is that he simply was drinking more than he was saying over this time period and that he didn't remember what happened. And so, I was just simply trying to get at that and really couching it in the fact that I had alcoholism in my own family. My dad who is 90 now struggled with it throughout his life and finally got treatment and he is sober and got help from AA. And so, I was actually trying to get at the truth. And so that is why I was stunned by how he answered it.


WHITFIELD: All right. Let's discuss this now. With me right now, Michael Caputo, he is a former campaign adviser to Donald Trump.

Michael, good to see you. So did Kavanaugh's fiery defense raise grave concerns, you know, asking Senator Klobuchar about blackouts, you know? Haven't you and all that? Does this raise concerns about his judicial temperament?

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Like a lot of us here fly over country, I think that judge Kavanaugh had pretty much had it with the lack of decor over the senate to begin with. Senator -- sitting I think right next to Senator Klobuchar, are Senator Booker had called him evil. Some of the outrageous accusations made that were being entertained by these senators. But of course, interestingly, not asked about and had been, you know, designed to completely ruin his reputation. I think most Republicans and a lot of Independents out here considered his reaction to be pretty visceral and - but at the same time pretty understandable.

WHITFIELD: So, but as a judge, isn't the expectation that you are going to be cool, even a poker face? I mean, no one should be able to read you.

CAPUTO: Right. I suspect in the courtroom, I have been to several Supreme Court hearings. I don't I think anybody will ever call him evil when he is on the bench. No one will accuse him of standing in line for 10 different rape parties and all the other outrageous accusations that have been made against this good man. So I'm not concerned about his reaction here in this disgraceful Senate confirmation process will ever be come up, you know, and forever be compared to what goes on in the hallowed halls of the Supreme Court.

WHITFIELD: So should his temperament, should his mental fitness be among the criteria in which the senators decide whether he is fit for the high court?

CAPUTO: Sure, of course. I think he has more than a decade in the federal appeals court in D.C. to look at. I think no one has ever been -- I don't care what anybody says in your show, Fredricka, no one has ever been through this kind of scrutiny and allegations of disgraceful process in Senator - Kavanaugh has unfortunately. We will see going on in the future.

WHITFIELD: But this is a job interview.

CAPUTO: No, it's not a job interview.

WHITFIELD: Yes, it is.

CAPUTO: It's a constitutional --. WHITFIELD: Really?

CAPUTO: Well, I know -- I get the talking point. I get the talking point. I know that's out there and all the Democrats are saying it. But this is a constitutional process of advice and consent. It's not just a job interview. And when senators are calling you evil, I think all bets are off.

But having said that, I think Brett Kavanaugh really regrets that exchange with Senator Klobuchar. I certainly would if I were him. You don't want to give your opponent something to throw at you, but at the same time, you know, this thing is really off the rails and I think it could be understood why he was pretty upset.

I mean, the guy broke down twice and cried in that hearing when he talked about his young daughter praying for the accuser. And he couldn't get out the words that he wanted to be like his father that is why he kept a calendar. This has been absolutely gut-wrenching for Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford both.

[14:45:40] WHITFIELD: OK. So now as a result of the very serious accusations, there is an additional FBI probe. We are hearing everything from limited in scope to the President himself saying, you know, a free reign. Do you see that a confirmation of Kavanaugh could mean lost seats this mid-term election?

CAPUTO: No, I spent the other night with the Wyoming county Republican committee out here in New York 27. It's a seat that is now being rated a tossup by RealClearPolitics and every Republican in there is incensed about the way Kavanaugh has been treated and they are coming out like never before.

I think the Democrats are going to be surprised about the backlash that has been created by this. And I believe that even though it's - listen, there is no blue wave. There is also no red wave. This is a knife fight for about 35 districts, 25 of which Hillary Clinton won in 2016. It is going to be hard for Republicans, but the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings are going to be a driver for get out the vote in the Republican Party.

WHITFIELD: So is it your feeling that among the electorate there is no expectation to scrutinize a U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee?

CAPUTO: No, I think there is an expectation to scrutinize a Supreme Court justice nominee, of course. I think that they don't expect somebody to be absolutely stripped down and marched around like Brett Kavanaugh was. I don't think they expect senators to call him evil. I don't think that they expect, you know, activists to be screaming at them as they walk down the hall.

I don't think anything about this is normal at all. And I have to tell you when he is confirmed and I think he will be, we don't know what is going to come out of the FBI investigation. I think it will be over in a week. We know that we have been hearing for a week about who Clarence Thomas' FBI investigation only took three days. And we all know that the FBI looked at 650,000 of Hillary Clinton's email in just 24 or 36 hours. So it will just take a week.

But when he is confirmed, and he is, I'm concerned we see, you know, social media accounts associated with black lives matter talking about how they are going to riot. So that is apparently we are going from here.

WHITFIELD: All right. Michael Caputo, thanks so much.

We will be right back right after this.


[14:52:29] WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

President Trump raising a few eyebrows with comments he made about North Korea during a rally in West Virginia last night. Here's what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know the interesting thing? When I did it and I was really being tough and so was he. He have a back and forth and then we fell in love, OK. No, really. He wrote me beautiful letters and they are great letters. We fell in love.


WHITFIELD: Both countries still appear to be at odds over what it means for North Korea to denuclearize.

Joining me right now, CNN global affairs analyst David Rohde.

David, good to see you. What does that mean to you? We fell in love?

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I want to be fair. Maybe it was a joke, you know. He was speaking in front of a live crowd. But you know, being the President of the United States is about protecting the national security of the United States. It's not about falling in love with, you know, one foreign leader or another. So, you know, I want to be fair to President Trump. Maybe he was joking. But it's a confusing signal at least. If we are trying to be tough on North Korea and get them to denuclearize, that's not the kind of statement that is going to make them feel pressure.

WHITFIELD: Might he be saying he has got North Korea in the palm of his hands, you know, as a result of a good relationship with Mike Pompeo. Scheduled next month to go to North Korea?

ROHDE: It could be. I mean, he could be rewarding, you know, Kim Jong-un of North Korea for the dialogue that is happening. But you know, the bottom line is that no real progress has been made since the Singapore summit on what denuclearization means.

The key issue here is unfettered access by American inspectors or foreign inspectors across North Korea. There has been absolutely no movement on that key issue. We have no idea how many nuclear weapons North Korea has or where they are, how many missiles they have. This is all a complete mystery and without, you know, a more detailed agreement, this talk is empty.

WHITFIELD: And if there were a second summit between Kim Jong-un and President Trump, what would need to come from it, in your view?

ROHDE: I think a concrete agreement. There is signals from the North Koreans that they would like the U.S. to formally declare the end of the war, the conflict in Korea which is just an arm as this (ph). There was a call of the United Nations by North Korea's foreign minister for an easing of sanctions against North Korea.

So if any of those things happen, if President Trump make in those concessions to Kim Jong-un, there has to be an agreement for inspections. That's the first step is to just get a declaration by North Korea followed by inspections of how many weapons they have just as a basic starting point and then how they will give them up.

[14:55:21] WHITFIELD: David Rohde, good to see you. Thanks so much.

Still so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

But firsts a quick programming note. Catch an all-new episode of "PARTS UNKNOWN," Anthony Bourdain visited the Spanish region of Astoria. The final episode of "PARTS UNKNOWN" continues tonight at 9:00 on CNN.