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STATE OF THE UNION
Is White House Limiting FBI Investigation Into Kavanaugh?; Interview With Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar; Interview With Trump Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway; FBI To Probe Current Credible Accusations Against Kavanaugh; The Madman Theory In This week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET
Aired September 30, 2018 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Deeply divided. After all the emotion, anger and tears, the question still hangs over Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Did he do it?
CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, KAVANAUGH ACCUSER: One hundred percent.
BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: I never sexually assaulted anyone.
TAPPER: Kavanaugh's biggest backer acknowledging Professor Ford's bravery.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought her testimony was very compelling.
TAPPER: Without conceding an inch.
TRUMP: I don't need a backup plan.
TAPPER: Setting up a momentous week. Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway standing by.
Plus: search for truth. After a day of intense drama...
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: What are you hiding? What is he afraid of?
TAPPER: ... Democrats finally get the FBI investigation they have been demanding. Who might the FBI interview? What might they find? Judiciary Committee Senator Amy Klobuchar just moments away.
And culture clash -- a national debate playing out in the halls of Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're telling me that my assault doesn't matter.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This is hell. TAPPER: How will the passions on both sides impact the midterms, now
just five weeks away?
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is searching for answers.
Both Judge Kavanaugh and Professor Christine Blasey Ford say they are utterly convinced they are telling the truth, but both cannot be 100 percent accurate.
And now the FBI has until the end of the week to investigate current credible allegations, per the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The FBI already is reaching out to witnesses and intends to interview key witness Mark Judge, Kavanaugh's high school friend whom Ford said was in the room when Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted her. Kavanaugh denies that.
The probe comes after public allegations made by three women, Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and a third woman, Julie Swetnick. The FBI has contacted Ramirez, but there's no indication that the FBI plans to speak to Swetnick at this point.
Saturday, President Trump said the FBI has free rein to investigate Kavanaugh. But at a rally in West Virginia, the president also affirmed his support for the judge and cast the confirmation fight as part of a larger battle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: But a vote for Judge Kavanaugh is also a vote to reject the ruthless and outrageous tactics of the Democrat Party, mean obstructionists, mean resisters.
For the last 18 months, Democrats have spent every minute trying to overturn the results of the last election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Joining me now is counselor to President Trump Kellyanne Conway.
Kellyanne, thank you so much for being here. We appreciate it.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: So, clear up something for us, because there's a lot of questions about what the FBI has been instructed to look into.
The Senate has asked them to look into -- quote -- "current credible allegations." That's kind of vague, or at least subjective. I know the president has said the FBI has free rein.
What direction has the White House, whether it's White House Counsel Don McGahn or someone else, given the FBI? What are the contours of this investigation?
CONWAY: Well, as you know, it will be limited in scope. It's meant to last one week, I believe, beginning last Friday. And it will -- it's not meant to be a fishing expedition.
The FBI is not tasked with doing that here. And, as Joe Biden pointed out 27 years ago during the Clarence Thomas hearings, and as many people have pointed out in the last couple weeks, Jake, the FBI does not draw conclusions. It provides information.
CONWAY: As we know, Judge Kavanaugh has gone through six federal vets within the span of his public service career, including one that was completed this last July.
That is on the desk of every single senator to review.
TAPPER: FBI tests generally look at actions that a person has taken after they turn 18, though. And these allegations are when they're -- when he was 17.
Has the FBI been told, don't look into Julie Swetnick's allegations, we don't find them credible?
CONWAY: The -- 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 that they think is credible within this limited scope.
And I want to make...
TAPPER: What does mean, the limited scope?
CONWAY: Well, that's up to the FBI.
In other words, I'm not involved in those specific conversations...
TAPPER: Right, but did Don McGahn say, you can interview these witnesses, but don't interview these witnesses?
CONWAY: I don't think Don McGahn would do that, but I have not talked to him about it, let me make clear. But he would not -- we're not trying to interfere. It's 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 have said, please go forward with this FBI investigation.
But their incentive may be a little bit different than the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee who have been screaming and frothing for over a week talking about, we need an FBI investigation, we need an FBI investigation.
Is one single vote going to be changed? These Democrats said...
TAPPER: It's possible, actually.
CONWAY: Well, let's hope so.
TAPPER: Joe Manchin and Heidi...
CONWAY: He's not -- he hasn't been the Senate Judiciary Committee that, though.
My point is that those who have been saying, but only if there had been an FBI investigation. OK. Well, here it is.
TAPPER: But final passage is important. And there are at least four senators who are up in the air, Collins, Murkowski, Manchin, and Heitkamp, not to mention what -- whatever Jeff Flake decides to do. Ultimately, his fake could rest with this decision.
So, you said that the -- Don McGahn, as far as you know, has not said, interview these witnesses, don't interview these witnesses.
Is the FBI permitted to look into the testimony Judge Kavanaugh gave? As you know, some Democrats think that he wasn't honest under oath about the extent of his drinking, about other -- other parts of his testimony.
If the FBI finds that he gave answers under oath that were less than forthcoming, is that part of this?
CONWAY: We trust the hardworking men of the -- and men and women of the FBI to do their jobs in this case, Jake. And they will just -- they will determine what is -- what can be included within that scope.
Let me go back to something you said. We will remind the viewers politely that Senators Manchin, Heitkamp and Donnelly of Indiana did vote for Neil Gorsuch for confirmation within this same political term when they're running for reelection. That is relevant.
If they want to listen to the voters within their own states, they will see that the voters do want a Supreme Court justice confirmed sooner, rather than later.
But, again, those who are saying FBI investigation, FBI investigation, that was probably the most common thing said by members, Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
CONWAY: Not Cory Booker, who talked about me, myself and I, apparently his three favorite people. And now he's bothering Elizabeth Warren, because she felt, in the midst of all this, she had to say, I may run for president last night. That really helps a lot of victims.
TAPPER: I want you to take a listen, Kellyanne, to -- I want you to take a listen to what President Trump had to say this week about Christine Blasey Ford.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I thought her testimony was very compelling, and she looks like a very fine woman to me, very fine woman.
But, certainly, she was a very credible witness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, compelling testimony, fine woman, credible witness. Credible means...
CONWAY: Not what you were expecting, right, to the disappointment of many in the mainstream media.
TAPPER: I have been no feeling one way or the other.
But credible means believable. That's the definition of credible. Does President Trump believe her?
CONWAY: Credible and compelling is -- are words that many of us have used to describe her testimony.
But she also does -- she also didn't corroborate her testimony. The people that she said were at the party said that they weren't, that this didn't happen. Brett Kavanaugh has said under oath, a man who has been under oath many times in his career.
TAPPER: That's not exactly accurate. That's not exactly accurate.
And Kavanaugh has said that under. Kavanaugh says it didn't happen. Judge says he has never seen him, Kavanaugh, act that way and doesn't remember it.
The other two, P.J. Smyth, and Keyser, Leland Keyser, say they have no memory of it. That's not the same thing as saying it did not happen.
CONWAY: Well, they're not corroborating it. It is the same thing as not being able to corroborate it.
TAPPER: I know, but Judge Kavanaugh said under oath that they denied it, that they refuted it. They didn't all four refute it. They didn't all four deny it.
They -- two of them said they have no memory of it. But that's not the same...
CONWAY: Which means they can't confirm it, Jake. And let's not parse words here.
Just because they can't remember it also means they haven't confirmed it. And that's what we're saying. That is the lack of corroboration.
TAPPER: I agree, but that's not the same thing.
CONWAY: But, look I have been first among equals in giving this woman the respect and deference, saying, don't ignore her, don't insult her, let's have her be heard.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, the Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee gave her, her voice, let her come to Washington to testify.
If it were up to the Democrats who sat on this information, sat on that letter, they're the ones who have made her a household name. They're the ones who caused her in front of the whole world, 20 million viewers, to become a household name, to become recognizable now.
Even to people who support, her life will never be the same because they...
TAPPER: But does President Trump believe her? If he says she finds her credible, does that mean he finds her believable?
CONWAY: He found her testimony to be credible and compelling.
Judge Kavanaugh himself said something that we have all said. And he said it under oath. And I will say it again here. They both could be right that something truly awful happened to her in the summer of 1982 by someone, somehow, somewhere, and that Judge Kavanaugh was not involved.
TAPPER: That's possible.
CONWAY: And I suspect that's part of what the FBI will now investigate.
TAPPER: It's certainly possible that her memory is faulty. It's also possible that his memory is faulty.
Do you believe that somebody who drinks a lot has never, ever had a memory loss the next day, not even a short one?
CONWAY: Well, you're asking me a general question about drinking and blacking out.
TAPPER: Yes. CONWAY: But you want me to ascribe it to Judge Kavanaugh.
TAPPER: No, I'm just asking you as a general note.
CONWAY: I can speak -- generally, sure.
As goes Judge Kavanaugh, he testified under oath that he doesn't recall ever blacking out or drinking to excess where he was -- you can go back and pull his testimony.
CONWAY: That is not what this is about. You know that is not what this is about. This man -- excuse me.
Let's go back to the beginning, because we are losing sight of what this is and what this is not.
TAPPER: No, this is about whether or not he committed a crime, right?
CONWAY: No. No. He's -- no, it's not whether or not he committed a crime. That's false.
Nobody has filed a crime in Montgomery County. The -- Rachel Mitchell, whom the Republicans brought in, the sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona, told the senators -- it's been reported, including by CNN and others, I hope -- that she said, if this were a court of law, you couldn't prosecute this. There's not enough evidence.
So nobody's being accused of a crime.
TAPPER: Right. So, is it not also relevant whether or not he's telling the truth,.
CONWAY: And it's also not a meeting of MeToo movement. OK, if we're having a watershed moment in this country, great.
But I hardly see CNN doing big town halls with victims of rape and sexual assault and sexual harassment, sort of like, here it is, we plop it, and then we move on. There's a school shooting. We talk about it for a week. We move on.
TAPPER: We have done a town hall on sexual harassment and sexual assault.
CONWAY: I will help you with it, but...
TAPPER: But I want you to take a listen...
CONWAY: But that is not what this proceeding was about. TAPPER: ... to a classmate from Judge Kavanaugh from -- at Yale.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYNNE BROOKES, YALE CLASSMATE OF BRETT KAVANAUGH: There had to be a number of nights where he does not remember.
In fact, I was witness to the night that he got tapped into that fraternity, and he was stumbling drunk in a ridiculous costume, saying really dumb things.
And I can almost guarantee that there's no way that he remembers that night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Do you have any concerns that Judge Kavanaugh, in asserting that even though he has been a heavy drinker in high school and college at times, his assertion that he has never, ever had any memory loss the next day, do you have any concerns that that's not true?
CONWAY: Jake, I didn't go to college with him. I have never been out drinking with him.
This is what he has said under oath. And that has got to matter more than you're allowing here.
TAPPER: But she -- but she -- but that woman...
CONWAY: That would not be admissible.
TAPPER: ... is a Republican. And she says that she doesn't believe him.
CONWAY: OK. She doesn't believe in.
And many people do, including the 100 women who still stand with him, many of whom didn't vote for President Trump, who nominated Brett Kavanaugh, a number of them who, frankly, are Democrats and will tell you that, who have been out there writing op-eds, giving sworn testimony.
Why doesn't that matter to anybody? Not a single parent whose young daughters Judge Kavanaugh has coached in basketball has come forward and said, you know what, I now have second thoughts.
So we can cherry-pick people's comments all day long. While I was waiting to come on an interview with you this morning, I was looking over the shoulder of one of your researchers, who had a very rough tweet up about somebody basically trying to recount for Dr. Ford things that they had done together.
Do you remember this, Christine, threatening her on Twitter. So you're always going to find somebody to try to impugn the integrity of either Kavanaugh or Ford.
That is not what this is about. This is about whether or not this man and his impeccable judicial temperament and qualifications in 12 years on the second highest court in this country is qualified to be on the United States Supreme Court.
What you saw the other day, even though a lot of it was a national disgrace, what you saw the other today is a Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing. It is not a criminal or civil proceeding.
And let me just say also it's not a meeting of the MeToo movement. I feel very empathetic, frankly, for victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment and rape. That -- I'm a victim of sexual assault.
I don't expect Judge Kavanaugh or Jake Tapper or Jeff Flake or anybody to be held responsible for that. You have to be responsible for your own conduct.
I -- this is not Bill Cosby. Those -- those comparisons on your network are a disgrace, and the anchor should have called them out. This is not even Bill Clinton.
You have -- you have Senate Judiciary Committee members who refused to remove Bill Clinton from office after he received oral sex in the Oval Office and lied about it to a grand jury as president of the United States.
The hypocrisy is ridiculous. And if not one Senate Judiciary Committee member changes his or her vote because of what they learn from the FBI investigation, that tells you all you need to know about what the president and Judge Kavanaugh has said is a sham.
Let's just be honest what this is about.
TAPPER: Well, so...
CONWAY: This is all partisan politics. All women can't -- you know, I want those women who -- who were sexually assaulted the other day who were confronting Jeff Flake, God bless them.
But go blame the perpetuator.
TAPPER: But can I ask you a question. First of all...
CONWAY: That is who is responsible for a sexual assault, the people who commit them.
TAPPER: The first time -- this is the first time I have ever heard you talk about something personal like that. And I'm really sorry.
CONWAY: Well, I have just had it. I have just had it with it all being the same.
TAPPER: But I'm really sorry that you went through that, but what -- what -- you work for a president who says that all the women who have accused him are lying.
There have been a number of people...
CONWAY: And don't conflate that with this, and certainly don't conflate it with what happened to me. It would be a huge mistake, Jake.
TAPPER: I don't know what -- I'm not conflating it, but that...
CONWAY: Let's not do it. Well, let's not do it. Let's not always bring Trump into everything that happens in this universe. That's mistake number one.
TAPPER: Do you -- President Trump said his personal experiences have informed his view of us. That's the only reason I'm bringing that up. He was asked about that. And he said, yes, it informed how I look at it, because I have been accused -- I have had so many false allegations against me. That's what he said.
So my question is, as a survivor of this -- and, again, I'm deeply, personally very sorry about whatever pain you have gone through.
CONWAY: Thank you.
TAPPER: But does that not make you think, when you -- when you hear somebody like Professor Ford or -- or other people make allegations, does that not make you think these women need to be heard, and even if there are not corroborating witnesses, that is not -- absence of evidence is not evidence of absence?
CONWAY: Jake, they should all be heard, and they should be heard in courts of law.
They should be heard in depositions. They should be heard in proceedings. Those who -- who can prosecute, those who have civil and/or criminal causes of action should pursue that.
But we do treat people differently who are either the victims or the perpetrators of this based on their politics now and based on their gender. That is a huge mistake.
America, it's a huge mistake. Don't make the mistake. You want to have the same kind of conversation with your daughter that you have with your son. And I don't mean to get so personal (INAUDIBLE).
But I want to everybody asking me, what do you think of your daughters, how do you talk to your daughters, how do I talk to my almost 14-year-old son?
This is Judge Kavanaugh now.
TAPPER: But how do you -- how do you talk...
CONWAY: Excuse me, but this is Judge Kavanaugh now.
It could be anybody by next week. Respectfully, it could be any man in any position now. What would be the defense? It was 36 years ago. It -- what would be the defense? There was nobody else to corroborate it. Not good enough. I didn't do it under oath. I was 17.
TAPPER: But is that the conversation you're having with your son?
Because the conversation I'm having with my son...
CONWAY: No, that's not the conversation I'm having with my son.
But we -- if we're going to have a national conversation, let's stop judging the victims and the perpetrators according to their -- to their politics, according...
TAPPER: But who is doing that?
Al Franken lost his job. Harvey Weinstein lost his job. All these members of the media lost their jobs.
CONWAY: Oh, my God. Let's not -- and let's not compare Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby and a few others to what has happened here.
TAPPER: I'm just saying -- you're saying that people -- you're saying that society or the media or someone is looking at these things through a political lens.
And I'm pointing to...
CONWAY: I think this week was that way. This week was that way. And it shouldn't be that way.
TAPPER: But it hasn't been that way in the last year.
I don't disagree with you about what you're saying about Clinton and his behavior in -- back...
CONWAY: It just shouldn't be a footnote. And what about those women?
TAPPER: It's not a footnote. There was a huge investigation. Brett Kavanaugh worked on that investigation.
CONWAY: But those women...
TAPPER: And he was very strongly of the opinion that Bill Clinton needed to answer for what he did.
CONWAY: Do you know what a liberal Democratic women told me this week who supports Brett Kavanaugh because she's worked with him for a long time?
She said, Kellyanne, I'm so -- obviously, everybody's so either emotionally drained or disgusted, depending on the range of emotions.
TAPPER: Or both.
CONWAY: Or both.
However -- and I feel badly -- I'm going to say it again. I feel badly for both Ford and Kavanaugh. We said it from the beginning. I know the president feels that way.
Everybody has been dragged -- but I think the Democrats could have avoided all of this just by coming forward earlier and asking Dr. Ford and/or Judge Kavanaugh in those private phone calls, sensitive hearings.
CONWAY: So this woman got a say because of the Republican Party. And Judge Kavanaugh is right. They can vote him down, up or down, ultimately, Jake. He could sit on the United States Supreme Court or not, but they're not going to force him to quit.
Let me just say this to you, that my liberal Democratic friend said something I totally agree with and I hadn't thought about quite the way she did, which is, she feels so badly for the way she rolled her eyes and treated people like Paula Jones and Juanita Broaddrick.
And these people had true claims, and they were dismissed, again, on the altar of a presidential debate.
TAPPER: I completely -- I completely agree with you.
But we are not now where we were then.
CONWAY: Two years ago.
TAPPER: Where we were then.
And I interviewed Juanita Broaddrick two years ago. So, I mean, we are not -- we are not as a society and we are not as the media where we are.
Let me just ask you, as a final question, you have said that you found her credible, Professor Blasey Ford. CONWAY: I said I found her compelling. And I'm glad she had -- had
her voice, yes. And I think they could both be right. I think something terrible could have happened to her...
TAPPER: Something happened.
CONWAY: ... the same summer she and I were 15, and that Judge Kavanaugh was not involved.
And I think that is why you have sworn testimony. That is why you have corroborating evidence, if you can find it. And that's why I suppose the FBI will continue to investigate.
I -- I'm a big fan of transparency and accountability, so I'm happy, although I think it was torturous for both Ford and Kavanaugh, and people should stop using both of them for their own political gains, may I say, but I'm happy that, if they were willing to do, that they came forward and testified under oath.
But it's got to matter. The whole thing has to matter. It has to matter who they have been throughout their lives, who he's been, that he's gone through six FBI vets.
We can't just -- and people are afraid, Jake. People are afraid that they will never be able to defend themselves against 36-year-old allegations from when -- from before they were adults.
TAPPER: That's true. But there are also -- as you know, and as I certainly don't need to tell you, there are also people who are afraid that they're going to be sexually assaulted.
CONWAY: Yes, and let's -- people on Twitter and elsewhere right now saying, oh, well, she's -- how could she work for Donald Trump?
I work for President Trump because he's so good to the women who work for him, and he's so good to the women of this country who are much better off...
CONWAY: ... with security and prosperity because of his leadership.
So, I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear it from any of them.
TAPPER: Preemptive -- preemptive message for the tweeters out there.
CONWAY: Thank you.
TAPPER: Kellyanne Conway, thank you so much for your time.
CONWAY: Thank you.
TAPPER: We really appreciate it. It was a jaw-dropping moment, Kavanaugh questioning Senator Amy Klobuchar about her drinking habits.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAVANAUGH: It's -- you're asking about, you know, blackout. I don't know. Have you?
KLOBUCHAR: Could you answer the question, Judge?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: We have an exclusive with Senator Amy Klobuchar just minutes away.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KLOBUCHAR: You're saying there's never been a case where you drank so much that you didn't remember what happened the night before, or part of what happened?
KAVANAUGH: It's -- you're asking about, you know, blackout. I don't know. Have you?
KLOBUCHAR: Could you answer the question, Judge? I just -- 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.
KAVANAUGH: Nor do I.
KLOBUCHAR: OK. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: One of the most notable personal moments in a hearing full of high emotion, anger and tears.
Judge Kavanaugh later apologized to Senator Klobuchar for that interaction. But the exchange has led some to question Kavanaugh's temperament for the Supreme Court.
Joining me now is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. She is, of course, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator, thanks for joining us.
He apologized for asking you that question. KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: But do you agree with some of your colleagues who say that the fact that he made that comment to you, and his general tone and tenor and demeanor at the hearing, demonstrated a lack of judicial temperament?
KLOBUCHAR: I was really stunned by how he acted at that hearing.
This is a -- 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 is 90 now, struggled with it throughout his life, and finally got treatment and is sober and got help from A.A.
And so I was actually trying to get at the truth. And so that's why I was stunned by how he answered it. But then, of course, he later apologized.
TAPPER: Do you think that he was telling the truth when he said that he has never had any memory loss after a night of drinking?
KLOBUCHAR: It doesn't quite make sense to me, because, first of all, you have these other people from parts of his life who have said that he was belligerent when he was drunk and other things.
Now, they have not been interviewed by the FBI. And so that was my hope and why, when he apologized, I said, look, I just want to see an FBI investigation here. We know the she passed a polygraph test, which, while not admissible in regular court, is used all the time for FBI, for CIA, for Defense Department.
And she passed it with flying colors. So, these are things that the FBI could look as they evaluated the credibility of the witness.
TAPPER: Are you confident -- you just heard Kellyanne Conway say the FBI can investigate whatever they want to investigate. Do you -- are you confident that the FBI will be able to explore everything they want to, including, if they are interested, the Julie Swetnick allegations, including whether or not he was honest to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his drinking?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, based on some of the reports that we have seen this weekend, I'm very concerned about this, because the White House should not be allowed to micromanage an FBI investigation. TAPPER: She says they're not. Kellyanne said they're not.
KLOBUCHAR: I know.
And there was one thing she did say, and that 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're 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 then that person is submitted to a background check, I have never heard that the White House, either under this president or other presidents, is saying, well, you can't interview 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.
I mean, come on. They can't do this.
TAPPER: Is there evidence that that -- beyond -- beyond the...
KLOBUCHAR: And so that's why we have to allow them to -- go ahead.
TAPPER: Beyond -- beyond the reports, do you know of evidence that that's the case?
Because Kellyanne Conway said that's not the case, that she doesn't think the White House is -- is telling the FBI, don't look into this, don't look into that, don't interview these witnesses.
KLOBUCHAR: Exactly. I am basing this on reports.
And then I'm listening to her interview, which was really interesting, when she said at the end that victims of sexual assault should be able to come forward and have their stories and their claims investigated.
And so many people, including Senator Grassley, the chairman, during the hearing respected -- said they respected Dr. Ford and talked about how brave she was.
And what I said at the hearing was, if you truly respect her, then you just can't say it. You have to follow up on the evidence. She actually said that she ran into Mark Judge, the other person, she said was in the room, at a Safeway. But she doesn't know the time period that he worked there. And she -- that was one thing that she specifically asked be followed up on, because she said he was so uncomfortable when she saw him.
He is, of course, a key witness and has not been interviewed by the FBI. But, according to reports, they plan to interview him.
So, I just want to see this be conducted in a fair, independent way, which Senator Flake has asked for. And, by the way, the people who have real leverage on this thing are
the three Republican senators who are still undecided. They have to make sure that this is a credible investigation from beginning to end.
TAPPER: So, Senator, you used to be a prosecutor, as you know.
As of now, with the evidence that we have, which is no corroborating evidence from the time, nobody who was at the party being able to back the story, which is not a refutation, but it's also not a corroboration, lots of questions about when and where this would have happened, we know that the prosecutor the Republicans brought in, Ms. Mitchell, has said that she would not have enough to take this case to even get a search warrant.
Do you disagree with that assessment, as a -- as a former prosecutor?
KLOBUCHAR: First of all, I want to make clear this isn't a criminal trial. And that -- again, Kellyanne and I agree on that. This wasn't a criminal trial.
This is a job interview. And, so, many of us have already decided, because of this nominee's expansive view of presidential power, that he doesn't belong on this court to be handpicked by a president who has continually undermined the FBI, said he wants to fire the -- everyone from the attorney general to the deputy attorney general.
We have issues with putting someone on the bench with those views.
KLOBUCHAR: And a number of us have voted -- said we're going to vote against him.
What this was about was is dignity of the court, the dignity of the Senate, that we get to the bottom of facts.
So, I have not looked at the evidence in that way, because I haven't been able to interview the witnesses that are there. But what I did find was that she seemed very compelling. She answered the questions with grace and dignity.
And all we want to do -- and this is why Senator Flake made what I considered a courageous move in standing up and saying, I can't stomach this anymore. This is beneath the dignity of this country. This is dividing the country. Let's at least have an impartial fact- finder -- and they better be impartial, and I believe they can be -- the FBI, follow the evidence.
TAPPER: Senator, you and the other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee signed a letter to President Trump this week describing Julie Swetnick's allegations.
There were not a lot of questions asked about Swetnick's allegations in the hearing. Do you think her allegations that Kavanaugh was involved in facilitating women getting so drunk, they could then be gang-raped, do you think those allegations are credible?
KLOBUCHAR: I don't know, Jake. That's why I think she has to be interviewed by the FBI.
I haven't met her. I do believe in due process. And she did sign an affidavit. And I think it needs to be looked into. And that is all I will say, because we are not a detective agency in the U.S. Senate.
And that's why I have repeatedly made the case that, just like even in the Anita Hill hearing, George H.W. Bush reopened the background check investigation to look at those allegations. And numerous times, even in the last few months with nominees, those background checks have been opened.
That's why we made that strong case to our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. The issue is not, when did evidence come out? The issue is, what do you do when it comes out? The justice system is always messy. And the issue is, when you have power, what do you do with that power?
And I am very glad that Senator Flake saw this and called for this investigation. But now it is on him. And he worked with his friend Senator Coons.
KLOBUCHAR: And it was a good moment, when we got that reopened.
But now it's going to be on him to make sure this is a credible investigation.
TAPPER: But you're not saying -- you're not asserting anything one way or the other about Julie Swetnick's claims.
I want to ask you one last question, Senator. You said that you find it hard to believe -- I'm paraphrasing -- that Kavanaugh has never had any memory loss from drinking.
I want to ask you about when he was asked to explain some of the terms listed in his yearbook, which, of course, gets to state of mind, what kind of person he was during this era of his life, devil's triangle, Renate alumnus, terms that many believed referenced crass or sexist jokes.
He insisted they were much more innocent explanations. Did you believe that?
KLOBUCHAR: I -- I don't know what those terms meant at the time, but there is evidence that they meant other things that were much different than what he said.
And I think their way you get to the bottom of it, honestly, is you ask other people, his friends at the time, under oath or with the FBI, what those terms meant, and then you're able to assess -- much better assess his credibility. TAPPER: I guess the thing that is interesting to me about the
Kavanaugh debate, the Kavanaugh -- the allegations against him is, there are a lot of suspicions against him about whether or not he ever had memory loss, about whether or not he's not telling the truth or being completely forthcoming about what his yearbook jokes meant.
But it doesn't seem to me that any of that, necessarily, especially when it comes to the memory loss, can be proven. And if you can't prove that -- and I get this is not a court of law, but it is a court of public opinion.
And if you can't prove that he's not telling the truth, is that enough, even though I know you opposed him already based on policy grounds, is that enough to urge that his nomination be withdrawn, based on suspicion?
KLOBUCHAR: Again, I don't want to engage in hypotheticals here, because, in the end, this is really going to be the decision of Senator Flake and Senator Collins and Senator Murkowski, Senator Manchin, some of the senators that are still undecided.
They are going to have to look at the whole record here, at his demeanor. They're going to have to look at those decisions he made, like finding the net neutrality rules unconstitutional, or finding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unconstitutional, his views of executive power, his views, for Senator Murkowski, on Native American rights.
KLOBUCHAR: His views on what happened here, and was he telling the truth or not?
And just for the country, a number of us said, whether we supported him or not, at least give them those facts as they make a decision on who they want to serve on the highest court of the land.
TAPPER: Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, thanks so much for joining us today. We appreciate it.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Jake. It was great to be on.
TAPPER: Turn the other cheek or hit them where it hurts? As some are criticizing Kavanaugh's angry tone one leading Christian conservative says his party needs to stop electing nice guys. Coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL DRATCH AS AMY KLOBUCHAR: I asked if you drank in high school and you said, I like beer, 10 times. That leads me to the next question, did you ever drink too many beers?
MATT DAMON AS BRETT KAVANAUGH: You mean was I cool? Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Matt Damon as Brett Kavanaugh. Rachel Dratch as Senator Amy Klobuchar last night on SNL show casting the rollercoaster nature of his testimony on Thursday. Let's discuss.
Governor, what if this happens? The FBI report comes back, it's basically all the same things we know now except the investigations have been done by the FBI. What then?
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I hope he's voted down then. I mean, I think -- as you know, I was not in favor of him to begin with, for a variety of reasons, but I do think that this is a moment that was really a watershed for people who have not been heard. When Flake -- when Senator Flake was in that elevator and Maria -- Anna Maria and Maria Gallagher said, look at me. Are you telling me that my experience doesn't matter?
Women have felt that way for so long. And these two spoke for so many that the ability to have an investigation -- this is before -- of course, we knew that the investigation was going to happen, I cannot tell you the palpable pain that existed among people who felt like this notion of plowing over, plowing through women. There we had the most credible witness we could possibly have and it wasn't going to be good enough.
TAPPER: Let's show that sound just because you were referring to it and Senator Flake had said that it affected him -- Senator Flake after he announced he was going to vote for Kavanaugh but before he pushed this compromise leading to the delay and the FBI investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANA MARIA ARCHILA, CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE CENTER FOR POPULAR DEMOCRACY: 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)
TAPPER: Heart rending. And, Carrie, I know that you want a speedy confirmation process and you support Judge Kavanaugh. Could it not be argued that ultimately this is actually the function of the Senate to cool things down, to take its time and that President Trump has said maybe this is a blessing in disguise to at least let people know that the FBI has looked into these charges?
CARRIE SEVERINO, JUDICIAL CRISIS NETWORK: Yes. Well, I think, as you said, it's very likely, I think, in my case I think it's going to be clear that the FBI is going to interview the same people that the Senate Judiciary Committee has already interviewed under the same penalty --
TAPPER: Well, they haven't interviewed judge -- I mean, they've only interviewed --
SEVERINO: Well, right but the FBI, if those people want to submit statements to the FBI that's what -- the FBI has no power to subpoena them any more than the Senate Judiciary Committee has done. The -- we're going to -- what I predict at the end of the day we're going to see the same information we have.
We'll have two very compelling stories. We'll have no actual contemporaneous corroboration of them. I think we're seeing some Democrats already preparing the ground for say -- after saying for two weeks the FBI is the gold standard. You know, you have Senator Schumer saying the FBI isn't biased, it's professional. They can do that soberly, effectively and discreetly.
Senator Coons saying, four days a delay should be enough. Now they're starting to say wait a minute, actually we think that they're not going to be doing this completely.
Let's -- let's not, you know, buy into the FBI is only for delay here. I think it will be good to have everyone -- there were a lot of senators who said we're still not quite settled until we hear from the FBI about it. I think we're going to hear a lot of these witnesses and they're already starting to come out with repeated testimony, Leland Keyser, Dr. Ford's long time friend who said I still support her but I also still don't remember the events that she described.
So, again, we're going to see the same -- the same kind of result here. At the end of the day. People will be -- maybe have more confidence because they saw the FBI involved and then we'll move forward to a vote.
TAPPER: So moving forward to a vote, millions of Americans, tens of millions of Americans are going to look at this process. And I have to wonder what Chief Justice John Roberts thinks about this process also as somebody who care deeply about the integrity of the court and not wanting it to be political. Tens of millions of Americans are going to look at Justice Kavanaugh as somebody who got away with it.
LINDA CHAVEZ, DIRECTOR, BECOMING AMERICAN INITIATIVE: As they did Clarence Thomas. This is process a Rorschach test and I mean, this process was so badly bungled, by both sides. You know, the minute these allegations came out, I said get the FBI out again and do an investigation.
That should have been done actually before the hearing. I think it's unfortunate that it happened here. That is what's normally done. I went through -- not accusations of sexual assault, obviously, but I went through accusations against me when I was up for secretary of labor. And by the time I got off the telephone and drove home, the FBI was practically on my doorstep waiting to reinterview me and reinterview other people.
Had this process taken the right form, had it not been politicized, I think we would have a lot more confidence. And it isn't just not coming up with corroborating evidence. I want questions asked of Dr. Ford as well. We can't live in a society in which accusations of this kind of activity are enough to ruin --
TAPPER: Give me one question you want to ask her.
CHAVEZ: I want to know -- she has a clear recollection of going down the stairs and going outside. This was a woman who didn't drive. Somebody drove her home.
CHAVEZ: We didn't have cell phones. We didn't have Ubers. There are other people who need to be questioned.
And I can remember as a 15-year-old who used to drive me. Not to every single event but there were just, you know, a handful of people who drove when I went to parties and my father. And so, I mean, I do think more questions -- this idea that we have to believe Dr. Ford just because she testified about what happened in that room, obviously one of these people does have -- one of these people does have a faculty memory.
TAPPER: And Senator Turner, let me ask you because this is -- it has, in many ways -- one level it's about Kavanaugh and Professor Ford. On another level I went to a party last night and heard women telling these stories about their experience and we heard Kellyanne Conway this morning.
NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Yes. And I did just a couple of days ago.
TAPPER: Yes, and you did it as well a few days ago on my show. And -- but let's run a little bit from Kellyanne Conway if we can because that was remarkable moment I was not expecting just minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONWAY: I feel very empathetic, frankly, for victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment and rape. That -- I'm a victim of sexual assault. I don't expect Judge Kavanaugh or Jake Tapper or Jeff Flake or anybody to be held responsible for that.
You have to be responsible for your own conduct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What was your reaction when you heard that? TURNER: The assault part, you know, touched -- you know, this whole situation has triggered lots of emotions and people are bubbling up. You know, just a maelstrom if you will of emotion. I felt empathy right away.
I'm not sure what she meant about people have to be responsible for their own actions. Now in a lot of ways, you know, victims of sexual assault and rape, you can't say that that person is responsible for that happening. I'm not saying that's what she was trying to say but right after that -- and I think, you know, being able to reveal that just like that, she probably wasn't planning to reveal that and then she immediately went to the next.
But this is -- I do agree with the governor, this is a watershed moment for this country. And I hope more good can come from this. Not only listening to women, Kellyanne brought up great points about what happened. You know, some victims are listened to and some are not. And we have to stop that in this country.
And especially if you're poor, and especially if you are of color. In my hometown of Cleveland Sowell murders where you have poor, black women, some drug addicted, some, you know, alcoholics who were raped, murdered, kept in this man's house, even when they went to the police some of them who got the opportunity nobody believe them. Why? They didn't believe them because of their status in this country.
So we have lots of work to do even beyond what is happening in this Kavanaugh hearing.
TAPPER: And I think what Kellyanne meant was the perpetrator is responsible for their behavior --
TAPPER: -- and other men aren't responsible for --
TURNER: And not -- not to put all of that on this one situation --
TAPPER: On some other man which what she says --
TAPPER: -- and she -- she obviously thinks that something happened to Professor Ford but Brett Kavanaugh did do it.
Carrie, it does seem like they're both credible. They're both -- they both believe what they believe. It's possible that Professor Ford remembers wrong. It's also possible that Brett Kavanaugh remembers wrong. Do you find it credible that he has never had any memory blackout at all? Even though he (INAUDIBLE) admission he sometimes drinks to excess. SEVERINO: Sure. He said that under oath. And here's someone who take that very seriously. We have who knew him from the time, dozens of people who say that they find him credible, that they -- that this is -- that allegations here don't line up at all with what they're saying.
So as well as everyone that she places at the scene doesn't remember it. Some of them also say, you know, her friend even says, I don't think I even knew him. Other people say this sounds nothing like Brett Kavanaugh.
So we do have a lot of corroborating testimony. I think that he said it under oath. I think as Kellyanne was trying to say with horrible things that happened to a lot of women we need -- we can't hold him responsible for them. We have to look at each case to stand --
TAPPER: I'm afraid -- I'm afraid that we have to cut it off. Because we went long with Kellyanne because after what she said, we wanted to give time to talk about it. So I'm sorry that we have to cut the panel short.
But we'll have you all back. Thank you so much for being here.
Passion, anger, emotion. Marketing? The madman theory of politics in the Senate hearings that's this week's "State of the Cartoonion."
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Twenty million Americans watched the Kavanaugh hearings, and some found the opportunity for cross-promotion impossible to resist apparently. That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."
TAPPER (voice-over): Emotions were running high this week but we were caught off guard by this headline in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Coca-Cola in spotlight at Supreme Court hearing with Christine Blasey Ford.
FORD: I anticipate needing some caffeine.
TAPPER: Really? I mean, I get looking for local angles but is that where we are, branding opportunities for gut-wrenching testimony.
KAVANAUGH: We drank beer. I liked beer, still like beer.
TAPPER: Kavanaugh didn't wear his Yale sweatshirt to the hearing, but he may as well have.
KAVANAUGH: I got into the Yale law school, that's the number one law school in the country.
TAPPER: I suppose it can be a way to look at some of the major issues being dissected here without really actually addressing them.
KAVANAUGH: Some combination of Animal House, Caddyshack, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
TAPPER: Such as the crass movies comedies that Kavanaugh said inspired his less than chivalrous yearbook entries.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Have you -- I don't know if it's buffed or boofed. How do you pronounce that?
TAPPER: At time frankly it felt like we were in one of those movies.
KAVANAUGH: That refers to flatulence. We were 16.
TAPPER: And while we're at it, I mean, the hearings didn't have ads for HBO, Netflix, or Cinemax but I supposed they could have --
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: This is about the closest I'll probably ever have in my life to an "I am Spartacus" moment.
TAPPER: And they really wouldn't have been much more upsetting or dramatic than what we did see during this process.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Boy, you all want power. God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham.
TAPPER: President Trump slammed Iran this week at the United Nations. Iran's foreign minister responds, next.