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Trump: Dems "Don't Care Who They Hurt to Get Power; FBI Launches Probe Into Kavanaugh Allegations; Trump Turns Kavanaugh Fight into 2018 Rallying Cry; The Nation Stops and Watches. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired September 30, 2018 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:14] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King.
To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for sharing your Sunday.
An anxious wait now. The FBI ordered to reopen its background investigation into Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Dr. Ford, with what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?
CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, KAVANAUGH ACCUSER: One hundred percent.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: None of these allegations are true?
JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: Correct.
KENNEDY: No doubt in your mind?
KAVANAUGH: Zero, 100 percent certain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Republicans had a fast-track confirmation plan and had stubbornly resisted a new FBI investigation. But they had no choice when one of their own had an emotional encounter and last minute change of heart.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're telling all women in America that they don't matter, that they should keep it to themselves because if they told the truth they're just going to help that man to power anyway. That's what you're telling all of these women. That's what you're telling me right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The midterm elections now five weeks away. The bitter Kavanaugh divide now a major flashpoint and a major challenge for the president. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You see this horrible, horrible, horrible, radical group of Democrats. You see it happening right now.
You see the meanness, the nastiness. They don't care who they hurt, who they have to run over in order to get power and control. That's what they want, is power and control. We're not going to give it to 'em.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights, Julie Hirschfield Davis of "The New York Times", CNN's Phil Mattingly, Josh Dawsey of "The Washington Post", and Seung Min Kim of "The Washington Post".
We know the FBI is already at work, reaching out to key witnesses in just the past 24 hours, including two women who allege they were sexually assaulted by Judge Brett Kavanaugh back in his high school and college days. Friday is the FBI's deadline and Judge Kavanaugh can only wait, like the rest of us, to learn if the surprise, last- minute delay, helps clear the cloud over his nomination to the Supreme Court, or dooms it.
The senator, whose dramatic shift made all this happen, Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona, says ultimately he wants to vote for Kavanaugh. Yes, Flake says, I'm a conservative. He's a conservative. That's what he told "The Atlantic".
I plan to support him unless they turn up something, and they might. The "and they might" sounds ominous. On the other hand, the president says perhaps this will be a blessing in disguise and help remove the cloud over Judge Kavanaugh.
And so, the country will be on edge this week, throughout the workweek, wondering if the FBI can find anyone or anything to help settle this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORD: I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling. This is what terrified me the most and had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.
KAVANAUGH: My family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed. This confirmation process has become a national disgrace. The Constitution gives the Senate an important role in the confirmation process. But you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So, we wait, at least until Friday. But in meantime, already a debate over how broad in scope or how limited in scope the FBI investigation should be and we'll go through this as we get throughout the hour, a lot of politics, in part because of the divide of this and in part because of the calendar, five weeks away from the election.
On this Sunday morning, what has changed since Friday?
SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: So, what has changed since Friday is that the FBI has actually started to reach out to people. We do expect this to get done pretty quickly.
I think it's worth remembering that the Anita Hill FBI investigation took a matter of two or three days, including writing the report. So, I don't think the Friday deadline is unreasonable. We know the FBI investigation centers primarily around the first two allegations, Dr. Ford, which she recounted to us in "The Washington Post", and Deborah Ramirez, whose allegation was detailed in "The New Yorker".
The lawyer to the third accuser, Mr. Michael Avenatti, has tweeted repeatedly he has not heard from the FBI. So, it doesn't appear that's a major part of the FBI's investigation. But -- so, we'll have to wait and see what the FBI turns up.
And I think it's interesting how Senator Flake's comments to "The Atlantic" -- and I would imagine that is kind of the sentiments of someone like Susan Collins as well, is that they do want to get to a yes.
[08:05:01] They don't want to be a no on their own party Supreme Court nominee, a man who they think is very qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.
So, if the FBI turns up nothing and we obviously right don't know what they will find, I think this could help even -- you know, could help improve his chances to the court.
KING: Let's just listen briefly to the president. The president -- we'll get to some of his rally comments last night. You saw some at the top of the program.
But as he was heading to West Virginia last night, he stopped in the South Lawn to talk to reporters. Again, it is limited in scope is what the directions to the FBI say, but if you listen to the president, he says start small but follow the leads.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They have free rein. They're going to do whatever they have to do, whatever it is they do, they'll be doing things that we never even thought of. And, hopefully, at the conclusion, everything will be fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Everything will be fine. Obviously they're trying to put their best spin on this. They fought this for a week plus. Now, they have no choice.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's worth noting this is the exact opposite of what they wanted to do, what the president wanted to do, what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted to do and they were left with no choice, and that was simply just a math equation. They didn't have the votes.
I will note, there's going to be a lot of talk and has been a lot of talk about the scope and who is being interviewed and how deep does it go and how much time do they have. For those key senators, that we're waiting to see where they go on this and ultimately who say they want to get to yes, the key for them, at least as far as I know, particularly for Senator Collins, is Mark Judge. And FBI is going to interview Mark Judge.
That has been the one outstanding issue that Senator Collins, behind closed doors, has repeatedly told Republicans. She doesn't understand why he hasn't been subpoenaed. She doesn't understand why he hasn't been interviewed. He is kind of a the center of all the stories, including the Avenatti issue as well. And so, that may go a long way to assuaging their concerns or answering questions that they need to know to go one or the other.
KING: And what's the standard? As we said, I just want to say, CNN's reporting is the FBI will start here. We don't know where they'll go. They'll start here.
Mark Ford -- Mark Judge, excuse me, Judge Kavanaugh's high school friend, Patrick Smyth, another high school friend who Professor Ford says it was at the party, Leland Keyser, who was her friend who she says that was there, and then, separately, the FBI wanted to interview Deborah Ramirez who says an incident happened at Yale.
They'll start there. The question is, as you get things, where do you go from there? But to that point, what is the standard that the senators want? Is it that if there's no corroboration of any sexual misconduct, they'll vote yes. But what if it comes back to the judge was disingenuous in trying to say, well, I was at church, I was doing my service projects, I wasn't doing all this drinking.
Is that enough or is the sexual misconduct allegations?
JULIE HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it's -- when the president says they have free rein, first of all, that's not the case. I mean, the White House, Don McGahn and Senate Republicans are keeping a very close eye on what the FBI is looking into, trying to prescribe what they're able to explores, but there's no question once they get these witnesses in a room, they can ask whatever they want.
And even though, I think you're right, they don't intend to ask about Julie Swetnick if you have Mark Judge, and you're interviewing him, and then there's a pattern of conduct that emerges, I can't imagine that any FBI agent or group of an investigatory team for the FBI will not just go there. I mean, they will go where the questions and answers take them. But I think it's a good question and I think the standard is really going to be what Jeff Flake and Susan Collins and some of these sitting senators are comfortable with.
At some point, there's going to have to be an exchange that happens between, you know, the FBI, the Senate Republican leadership and the White House, and these wavering senators about, do you feel like you have what you need now to make a decision? And Republicans and the White House we know are very much in a frame of mind of, this is it. This is what you're getting and then you're going to vote.
And so, I think there's going to be potentially another cliffhanger or a couple potential cliffhangers that we go through before, you know, like we experience on Friday before we know actually the answer to that question.
JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Some of the greatest concerns I heard from folks inside the White House last week was as you prolong this investigation for another week, they're afraid new women will come forward, new accusations, new lawyers, new accounts. You know, if you don't have a vote for 10, 15 days, I think for some people I've talked to, there's less fear about what this FBI investigation might show and more fear about dragging this out.
Dragging this out, you lose all momentum, lose control and you have news organizations, FBI, everyone, digging through that may have not come to the public heretofore. So, I think the concern among many folks in the White House is that the longer this goes, the worse it gets for Brett Kavanaugh.
KING: And to that point, the majority leader and the president just have to bet on the idea that Senator Flake, Senator Collins and Senator Murkowski said, do this for us and then we'll with you as long as there's nothing damning that comes up. This may still be a Republican only, a Republican plus one or two Democrats enterprise.
But in meantime, while we wait for the FBI -- we'll talk more about the nuts and bolts of that through the hour, you have an opening politically if you're trying to sway Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski. Both of whom back home are hearing this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SINGER, MAINE RESIDENT: I think Susan Collins has effectively won races in the past by capturing independents, moderates and a fair amount of Democratic women. I can't believe that constituency would ever vote for her again.
JOAN WILSON, ALASKA RESIDENT: I'm a Democrat and I voted for her. I was one of the people who signed in her name when she said she was going to stand up for women.
[08:10:05] I would never vote for her again.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: On the flip side, those are voters telling Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, we want you to vote no. The question is, will that have an impact? They're certainly going to hear it. The volume will get -- you have a week now. So, the volume will keep going.
On the other side, you have Kavanaugh supporters and president supporters. This is Tucker Carlson on Fox saying this is an outrage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: At this point, Kavanaugh isn't just a Supreme Court nominee. He is a folk hero to many people, an inspiration to millions. People who spent the last two years being brow beaten and bullied by their moral inferiors were buoyed by what they said.
Kavanaugh stood for those people yesterday. He raised a middle finger to their tormenters and they love him for it. Kavanaugh is far more popular with Republican voters tonight than any single Republican senator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And so, as we wait, the political debate, which was loud enough to begin with, turned up the volume.
DAVIS: I mean, there's no question that Tucker Carlson is right about that, that he has become a rallying -- not just a folk hero himself, but a rallying point for the president, a rally point for Republican candidates in some House races about how Democrats are trying to take the party down, and Democrats don't stand for what you stand for and they are trying to destroy a good man in the eyes of a lot of these core voters.
But the reality is, the women who sound you just played, those are Democrats, those are independents, those are women who are needed in Senate races in places like Maine and Alaska for Republicans to win. So, the big question is, which of those things wins out? And both of them are -- I think if you talk to Senator Collins and Senator Murkowski and people in that sort of space politically, they're more concerned about the latter than they are about the former.
KING: I think -- go ahead.
MATTINGLY: I was going to say, I think Seung Min made a really good point. The Republican senators want to get to yes here, right? They think he's well-qualified. Susan Collins has said repeatedly what he said to her on Roe versus Wade, what he said to her on health care made her as comfortable as she could be made, given all the circumstances around.
That is something that can't be forgotten. They basically need to be pushed towards no, and that's going to come from whatever they find from the FBI, not necessarily from what they're hearing from both polls, because these senators are always in this spot. They always get this pressure. They're always the last votes to decide. So, I think that's kind of the way they'll look at this. Polls are
certainly very effective right now and they're very dug in. But it's what they hear and what their personal decisions are going to dictate.
KING: Very important point. You start with Flake, Collins and Murkowski as a tentative yes. The question is, can they move? And that's enough. Then we'll get into the red state Democrats conversation a bit later. But that would be enough, if nothing changes and if they accept the standard of what we hear from the FBI. We wait for Friday at least for that.
Up next, more on the FBI. The FBI once again in the middle of a major political debate. Some nuts and bolts about the Kavanaugh background check.
First though, politicians say and do the darndest things. "Murphy Brown" is back and she needs a secretary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess you've heard this is a pretty demanding job.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I have.
Your reputation precedes you but I want you to know I am not afraid of hard work. I'm qualified and ready on day one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I also assume you have had previous secretarial experience?
CLINTON: Absolutely. For four years I was the secretary -- I was the secretary of a very large organization.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you have all the requisite skills, computer, mail?
CLINTON: E-mails. Yes. I do have some experience with e-mails.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[08:18:05] KING: Limited in scope and completed in less than one week. That is the charge now for the FBI, laid out in a brief statement from President Trump Friday evening.
We know Professor Christine Blasey Ford's allegation of a sexual assault at a high school party 36 years ago is part of this review, a college incident alleged by Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez also part of the FBI investigation. The deadline is Friday and a seat of the Supreme Court hangs into balance, so too perhaps the credibility of an agency that prefers the shadows but yet again at the center stage now in a gripping and highly partisan political drama.
CNN law enforcement agent, retired FBI special agent James Gagliano joins us to walk through how this will work.
James, let me start here. These alleged incidents 35, 36 years ago, what can the FBI find and what can't it find?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, John, first of all, understand that Judge Kavanaugh has undergone six of these background investigations so the FBI will start there. What they'll do is look at about nine different character traits or characteristics -- everything from his character to his associations, his reputation, loyalties, finances, potential biases and alcohol or drug use. All those things are relative in investigation to potential judicial nominee, especially a Supreme Court's nominees background investigation.
To your point, 36 years ago, this is going to be daunting. Now, do I think agents can do this in a week? Absolutely. The FBI is going to follow every and any credible allegation and uncover, unearth, every -- turn over every stone in an effort to try to get to the bottom of this.
And I guarantee you, Director Wray has put the appropriate resources on this. This will be run out of FBI headquarter. It will be considered a special inquiry and then individual field offices -- for instance, the allegation that Dr. Ford makes took place in Montgomery County, Maryland. Baltimore field office would supply agents to run those leads down.
[08:20:00] But trust me when I tell you this, John, it is an all- hands-on-deck investigation.
KING: So, they start with the short list, the president says they have free rein. What if you're an agent involved in this and sure, you're looking at Mark Judge, you're looking at the people that Professor Ford alleges were at that party and somebody says something else that's outside that box. Are you free to pursue it or do you say no, can't do that?
GAGLIANO: Absolutely. The president, no one else can come down and say, FBI, you are not allowed to follow credible allegations into potential violations of federal crimes. So, they will be able to go where they want to.
Now, John, here is one sticking point, though. No one that's interviewed by the FBI on a background investigation can be compelled to cooperate. So, unless, Professor Ford goes to Montgomery County PD and they open up a rape case, rape investigation and then use grand jury subpoena powers or Congress comes forth and issues subpoenas and says this person, this witness, Mark Judge would be a perfect candidate for this, you've got to come testify in front of Congress.
If he doesn't or another witness potentially doesn't, then you can be held in contempt of Congress. That's the only kind of exposure these people would face. If they elect not to cooperate there's nothing that the FBI can do since this is not a criminal investigation, to compel them to talk. KING: Let me ask you a bit about the politics of the moment. One of
the questions here, is you mentioned the previous six background investigations. One of the questions here, is wow, did the FBI blow it, did they miss something huge about Judge Kavanaugh, whether it's sexual misconduct or heavy drinking, how will that, if you will, affect the impact of this agency and what is the credibility at stake, at least the credibility of the guy who did this before me?
GAGLIANO: John, that's a fair question, and here's how I'll answer it. Generally speaking in background investigations, you are only going back to somebody's 18th birthday. We investigate individuals that are up for positions on the Supreme Court or circuit court or to be federal judges while they're adults.
Now, the allegation stands that Judge Kavanaugh was 17 years old and I believe the victim accuser was 15 years old. So, would FBI have gone back to his high school and interviewed people there? Probably not. That's not within the scope.
However, now that we have an allegation and now that this supplemental inquiry has been opened, I imagine that will occur.
KING: James Gagliano, appreciate your time on a Sunday morning. We'll keep in touch throughout the week.
GAGLIANO: John, thanks, John.
KING: It's a fascinating week ahead for the judge, for the agency, for the country.
Quickly in the room here, this is -- the FBI has been in the middle of this. The president has tweeted for a year now about how he thinks it's an incompetent group of people who are conspiring to get him in the Russia investigation. Democrats think they blew it in the previous background investigations of Judge Kavanaugh.
Next week's conversation, if they find something, the Republicans say it's the deep state conspiring against the president, if they don't find anything, Democrat also say they were hamstrung by the Republicans in the Senate and the president, or might there be a happier solution?
DAWSEY: Well, I think both sides will politicize the findings. But, you know, one of the things that effort consistently is that findings maybe murky. The FBI is going to go back and interview these people. They're going to look up summaries of the interviews. They're going to note what they know as facts and what folks are saying.
But they're not going to say explicitly, we think he did it or we think he did not do it. It's going to be vague. And the senators will have to decide what they're going to take. FBI findings will not be a clean-cut solution that everyone is looking for.
They're going to be an amalgamation of witnesses and things they found now, 36 years later. But it may not be the answer anyone wants. MATTINGLY: Right. I think this is the key point -- this is most
likely the outcome is going to be wholly unsatisfying to absolutely everybody, right? It's just interviews and also the process is complicated.
When the FBI is done, they send this to the White House, who then sends it to the Senate where it can only be read by senators and four staffers on each side. There's not going to be a report handed out by everybody. It could end up being released, I suppose.
But the process here, the actual investigation, what a background information is, a lot of these things haven't been really focused on right now. The most likely outcome by the end of this week will be really unsatisfying and probably not add a lot of clarity.
KING: Which then gets you back to the question, what standard do those key senators who say they're open-minded about it? What standard do they apply? Because they're not going to get what they're looking for.
Up next for us, the calendar makes this is Supreme Court stakes even more enormous. The midterms just five weeks away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[08:28:56] TRUMP: We are just five weeks away from one of the most important congressional elections in our lifetimes. I'm not running, but I'm really running. That's why I'm all over the place, fighting for great candidates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Saving the Republican Senate long has been President Trump's midterm election rally focus. Now, add saving Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The entire nation has witnessed the shameless conduct of the Democrat party. They're willing to throw away every standard of decency, justice, fairness and due process to get their way. They don't care how they get it. I just hope you don't sit home because bad things will happen if you sit home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: An extra week now for the Kavanaugh debate means extra focus on key senators like where the president was last night, West Virginia and its Democratic senator, Joe Manchin.
[08:29:54] Senator Manchin wanted the new FBI investigation. But he also was open to voting yes, which could still be the safe vote in a state the President won by 42 points.
We don't know, emphasis -- we don't know how the politics of this will shake out. But we do know from Pew that the Supreme Court had climbed to the top of the midterm issues list even before the dramatic hearing this past week. And we also know the Supreme Court now a backdrop to races everywhere in 2018 and, listen to this, beyond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: To go to Washington and fix our broken government and that includes a woman at the top. After November 6th, I will take a hard look at running for president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Not the best audio there. But if you couldn't hear Elizabeth Warren, clearly comfortable about her re-election race, says after November she will think about running for president.
We don't know -- we don't know what the vote on Kavanaugh is going to be. We don't know what the FBI is going to say come Friday night. But we do know that you could pick -- West Virginia is one, North Dakota is another, Indiana is another -- that's a question of key senators, vulnerable Democrats.
Then there's the whole question of Democrats already thought they had this blue wave fueled by suburban women and they think the Kavanaugh debate makes it a better environment. But now we have a week -- a key week you're running into -- you're heading into the last week of an election cycle. Voters are starting to make up their mind. And what's the political argument?
SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, I think one key test case that I'm going to be watching really closely is Indiana to see the impact of the Kavanaugh vote because Joe Donnelly, which is one of the three Senate Democrats who supported Neil Gorsuch, he was definitely one of the ones we were watching as a potential yes vote for Brett Kavanaugh.
He announced on Friday that he would actually vote against him. And if you read his statement, what I thought was really interesting is that he doesn't mention some of the other issues that have animated Democrats.
For example, would Judge Kavanaugh vote to overturn protections of the Affordable Care Act? That was a concern for -- that was a major concern for red state Democrats but Joe Donnelly did not mention that in his statement. He actually mentioned the lack of an FBI investigation, which was fascinating because four or five hours after he issued a statement we got the path forward to an FBI investigation.
We've seen Joe Donnelly actually has been doing pretty well in public polling. But now that he's a no and that one of the reasons why he was a no is no longer a reason, I would be really interested to see how that impacts his standing in the polls.
KING: It's a very good point. I assume he reserves the right to switch back now that he got his investigation, if it comes up with no corroborating evidence, he could conceivably say well, that's what I asked for, now I'm going to vote yes.
But his opponent jumped in on that statement. "Donnelly's decision to oppose President Trump's highly-qualified nominee is a grave mistake that proves he's more concerned with standing with his liberal Democrat leaders than standing for Hoosiers."
That's, you know -- that's the logical argument for Republicans but again, Republicans who are planting their flags so firmly for Judge Kavanaugh also do run a risk.
JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK TIMES": No question. And you know, it was mentioned earlier that, you know, you have some Republicans sort of on the fence here who really want to vote yes for Judge Kavanaugh who've signaled that before.
I think you know, the Red state Democrats are the other side of that coin. They didn't want to vote for Judge Kavanaugh but they thought politically that they might actually have to hold their nose and do so because they're in these states where you have a lot of Republicans, a lot of Independents, even some conservative-leaning Democrats who would want the President to have the nominee that he wanted.
The problem now for them is we're so close to the election, it's so unpredictable. Depending what comes out of this investigation, depending on how conclusive it is or not, they will really have to decide whether they think that their voters, the ones that they're really going to need to get them across the finish line, are going to be more satisfied or less.
And right now this has been really an animating issue for the left. I think we're starting to see that the right is really rallying around this more so and they're more likely to turn out.
But if Kavanaugh were to go down, the right would be I think incredibly motivated to show up at the polls. And if he were to be confirmed, I do think that Democrats would show up in even larger numbers than we already expect them to, to protest.
KING: And that's sort of the tug of war, if you will. Here's Democratic strategist Alixandria Lapp (ph). "It's like they have a strategy to drive their support among suburban women down into the teens and they're executing it brilliantly." That's the Democratic perspective.
The President's going to be on the road several times this. Tennessee Monday, Mississippi Tuesday, Minnesota Thursday, Kansas on Saturday. He was in West Virginia last night. He has been careful, even his own aides surprised, by how he has said let the FBI investigate; Professor Ford was credible, I still stand by Judge Kavanaugh, and slammed the Democrats not her.
As this high-stakes week plays out the President is going to be right out there in the middle of the political debate.
JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, that's the perpetual question. Can it hold? The President has obviously -- he tweeted a few times about Kavanaugh, about Christine Blasey Ford, the accuser. But you're right. He's been more disciplined that in almost any other issue on the Supreme Court.
[08:35:03] He has left it to Mitch McConnell. He's left it to Don McGahn, his chief White House lawyer. He's weighed in occasionally. He's not calling senators frequently to whip votes because he doesn't have clout with the Senators who are on the fence.
He is, in a way, removed from this process and it's a process that, you know, a lot of Republicans will want to vote for Trump over Clinton in 2016 because of the Supreme Court, because of Gorsuch, because of the judges they thought he would put. And it's again at the forefront.
But it's interesting on this defining issue for the President we normally see him out, you know, aggressively tweeting, talking at rallies and doing basically the whole full Trump. And on the Supreme Court we just haven't seen that.
DAWSEY: There are lots of theories for it. Is it because he realized it's so important? Is it because he just thinks it's under control? It's really hard to discern why he's not behaving like he normally does on many other issues.
KING: And it's fascinating. We could talk for hours just about the politics.
Elizabeth Warren saying I'm going to think about running for president. We all know she's going to think about. The fact that he would publicly say that, a, means she's comfortable in her reelection. She's not nervous at all.
But also if you're a Democratic woman, you see this environment and you think this is -- you know, you think 2018 is going to be good -- Kamala Harris another one, Amy Klobuchar we'll have with Jake Tapper in a few minutes another one. Democratic women who have presidential aspirations think this is an environment that's going to last past 2018. We'll keep an eye on that as well.
Next for us, a week of raw and riveting moments here in Washington and ample evidence the nation was captivated and keeping close watch.
KING: It was a week like no other. Professor Ford was riveting and heartbreaking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, KAVANAUGH ACCUSER: Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter -- the uproarious laughter between the two and their having fun at my expense.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've never forgotten that laughter? You've never forgotten them laughing at you?
BLASEY FORD: They were laughing at each other. I was, you know, underneath one of them while the two laughed -- two friends having a really good time with one another.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Judge Kavanaugh, when he got his turn was angry, indignant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: My family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional accusations.
Your coordinated and well-funded effort to destroy my good name and destroy my family will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out.
You may defeat me in the final vote, but you'll never get me to quit -- never.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Raw emotions and plenty of raw politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[08:39:57] SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: What you want to do is destroy this guy's life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. You've said that, not me.
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And if you think your vote or your story can't change anything, well think again. It was one senator who changed everything. And it was this poignant encounter with two determined women who helped switch Jeff Flake from full speed ahead to calling the FBI.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANA MARIA ARCHILA, WOMAN WHO CONFRONTED JEFF FLAKE: Look at me when I'm talking to you. You're telling me that my assault doesn't matter, that what happened to me doesn't matter and that you're going to let people who do these things into power. That's what you're telling me when you vote for him.
Don't look away from me. Look at me and tell me that it doesn't matter what happened to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: I mean we use "unprecedented", "never seen this before" too often. But this past week was just emotion after emotion after wow. And that encounter with Jeff Flake, those women -- again, Republicans at home are going to say that's calculated. It changed his mind and it changed the dramatic arc of the story.
KIM: Well, I think it was fascinating. Clearly, you will see -- I mean I sat through the hearings on Thursday, sat through the business meeting on Friday. And you could just see the torture and the agony and the pain in Senator Flake's face throughout those two days.
And not only the elevator encounter, but also he talked to -- when he talked to reporters on Friday afternoon. He said, you know, friends that I didn't even expect came up to me over the past week and told them about their stories, like he had no idea.
So you do see how deep this has resonated with the senators and why this debate has been so emotional for everyone and why, particularly those senators in the middle are not just balancing politics but they're balancing these really raw emotions.
KING: And there are a lot of debates in Washington that we think are the biggest things since sliced bread that the country yawns at. They don't like politics. They don't' like what's happening. But the country was paying attention here -- 20 million on the six networks covering this testimony. That doesn't count millions more who were streaming this in today's world. Twitter -- 8.8 million tweets sent during the hearing -- the day of the hearing from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday. Calls to sexual assault hotlines spiking; this call, (INAUDIBLE) on C-Span -- this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a 76-year-old woman who was sexually molested in the second grade. This brings back so much pain. Thought I was over it, but it's not. I thought I was over this and I have not brought this up for years until I heard this testimony. And it is just breaking my heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What comes of it, we don't know. But this is something different, very different.
HIRSCHFELD-DAVIS: I mean whatever else happens with Judge Kavanaugh's nomination, obviously we're all very focused on whether he will be confirmed or not confirmed. But this was a moment, an incredible moment for someone who's been on Capitol Hill for a couple of decades covering these people to see the outpouring publicly and what that did to, you know, lawmakers; the fact that it actually was having an impact. And I do think that the fact that, you know, we have social media, we have the ability for someone to have held out a phone and recorded that exchange with Jeff Flake in the elevator and then, you know, tweeted out minutes later, and for people to see that kind of confrontation that public officials are having with constituents and people that they know. I mean he's not the only senator who I have heard this week talk about you know, my constituents have called me; my friends, staffers have told me about experiences they've had because of what Dr. Blasey did and because of this, you know, this nomination fight.
I do think that this was a moment that will last long after the Judge Kavanaugh debate is done. And it will be interesting to see, to your point earlier, whether that actually has a tangible effect on politics and on who gets elected and who runs.
KING: And do they and do we for that matter. You're in the middle of a Supreme Court fight. You're down here, focusing on your partisan objective if you're the Democrats or the Republicans. And you lift your head and try to comprehend -- can we comprehend the bigger moment?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. What I was struck by most is the sheer number -- and obviously you put out the stats, it's obvious, but of people that were friends that I haven't talked to in a while or friends that frankly have said for months or more than a year. They are totally tuned out, right, of the insanity that going on in Washington, of the chaos of all the news stories. They can't keep up.
They don't know what's going on in the Russia investigation. They don't know what's going on in the Hill. They don't care anymore. They have real lives. Who were texting, e-mailing constantly their thoughts, their opinions -- their opinions were not aligned. Their opinions were often diametrically opposed which was kind of the amazing thing to come out of a hearing like this.
But just how tuned in everybody is. And I think you make the great point. We have no idea what this is going to mean a week from now, two weeks from now, two years from now.
What we do know is this was an extraordinarily tough week for the country; that people were very much so paying attention. And that it's going to turn into something in the future. What that is, I think we still need to wait and see.
KING: What that is, we'll still need to wait and see. Obviously, we'll keep track of this during the week.
[08:45:00] Up next our reporters share a page from their notebooks including other politics.
There's a big question -- Nancy Pelosi trying to keep control over a restive House Democratic caucus.
KING: Let's head one last time around the INSIDE POLITICS table, ask our great reporters to share a little something from their notebooks to help get you out ahead of the big political news just around the corner -- Julie.
[08:50:00] HIRSCHFELD-DAVIS: Well, remember Rod Rosenstein? Before all of this Kavanaugh situation sort of exploded this past week. It's easy to forget that Rod Rosenstein was sort of agonizing just a week ago calling Don McGahn, calling John Kelly, White House chief of staff saying that he really thought he should resign after that story that my colleagues did that talked about how he had discussed potentially recording the President wearing a wire because he was afraid of his conduct, potentially recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove him.
They had obviously schedule this meeting on Thursday -- the President and Rod Rosenstein -- to discuss all of this and what his fate was going to be. But the President actually, contrary to his typical reputation, doesn't relish firing anyone. And certainly right now doesn't relish firing Rod Rosenstein.
That meeting is now on again for this week, while this FBI investigation is going on about Brett Kavanaugh and to try to update the background investigation. And who did Senate Republicans call when they couldn't get Chris Wray on the phone last week when they were trying to allay Jeff Flake's fears about this investigation? Rod Rosenstein. So it will be really interesting to see how that meeting goes this week.
KING: Six degrees of Rod Rosenstein -- will become a new D.C. game.
MATTINGLY: So key observers will note that when the clock strikes midnight tonight the government will not be shutting down, which is a great thing. Low bar for success but it also kind of characterizes what has been a very quiet success story over the last couple of months.
The appropriations process has moved forward. And it's not just that they're funding the government through December 7; 75 percent of discretionary spending will be funded for the entire fiscal year. That's the first time that's happened to that degree in 22 years. That's a serious success story, a serious bipartisan success story.
But there is a catch -- 25 percent will only be funded through December 7th. Included in that -- the President's wall funding, the DHS spending bill and I'm told that sources actually moved the date to December 7th from later in the month acknowledging the fact that everybody thinks there will be a government shutdown on December 7th.
Why did they move the date? They wanted to give themselves a couple of weeks before Christmas, acknowledging that there will at least be a one or two-week shutdown. So there's some good news but guess what -- we're going to go back to shutdown watch in just a couple of months.
KING: Yes. He's making a list, the walls on it twice.
DAWSEY: While D.C. was driven by Brett Kavanaugh this week, President Trump was at the U.N. and it was hardly even a top five story in this administration. But he made a number of interesting proposals there. He was trying to cut foreign aid to a lot of different countries. He's brought that to other world leaders doing more loans and fewer grants. You know his comments that were stridently trying to end the E.U., trying to go after WTO, scaring (ph) these kind of European leaders.
But we saw, you know, one indication at the U.N. of kind of where the President is in the minds of others. When he made those comments there was uproarious laughter throughout the room and it seems that after almost two years, you know, a lot of the leaders still are a little (INAUDIBLE) with him and perplexed by him but there's a little less fear of him than there was before.
I think people are acclimating to President Trump and the fact that, you know, he sees foreign policy totally different than any of his predecessors and we'll see going forward what that looks like. But you know, it was totally unpredictable; and really didn't even get much attention because everyone in D.C. was, you know, on Kavanaugh nonstop.
KING: On Kavanaugh -- although it was fascinating to watch. I think that chapter will be reopened to the future.
KIM: A bit of an update on the House leadership -- Democratic leadership fight. So the Democratic caucus successfully delayed a fight on a change of leadership roles that would make it effectively easier for Nancy Pelosi to lose her job at the top of the caucus.
So clearly punting that to November was a win for Pelosi but it does underscore this restiveness within the Democratic caucus, whether it's the sitting lawmakers or the dozens of candidates on the campaign trail about their leadership and specifically about Pelosi.
We have about more than three dozen Democratic candidates who have distanced themselves from Pelosi somewhat either saying outright they will not vote for her or they just generally speaking they want new leadership.
And if Democrats take back the House, which they look like they have a very good chance of doing, we'll really be watching that margin of victory for Democrats to see if Nancy Pelosi can really get that 218 votes on the floor to become speaker again.
KING: That one's another -- government shutdown, the President's foreign policy, this. A lot of drama being kept, shall we say down because of other news at the moment? But we'll get to them.
I'll close with this. The battle for the House and the Senate understandably get most of the national attention. But Republicans are now bracing for a very tough year in governor's races, especially in the Midwest.
Most Republicans think, for example, their one-time rising national star Scott Walker is headed to defeat in Wisconsin, and smart GOP strategists already predicting Democrats, as of this moment anyway, likely to flip Illinois, Michigan and Iowa. The Ohio race? A dead heat into the stretch.
Insert cliche here, five weeks is an eternity in politics. But flipping three, four, or even five of those Midwestern governors office would be a giant trophy for the 2018 Democratic rebuilding effort and if that happens it would also change the heartland landscape heading into 2020.
[08:55:01] That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Again, thanks for sharing your Sunday morning. Hope you can catch us weekdays. We're here at noon Eastern.
Up next "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER". Don't go anywhere. His guests include a key player in the Kavanaugh drama, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
Have a great Sunday.
[09:00:03] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Deeply divided. After all the emotion, anger and tears the question still hangs over Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Did he do it?
BLASEY FORD: 100 percent.
KAVANAUGH: I've never sexually assaulted anyone.