Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Claims "Compromising" Info on Unnamed Democratic Senator; Trump: FBI Should Do What It Needs to Do in Kavanaugh Probe; Kavanaugh Accused of Lying to Judiciary Committee About Alcohol Use; Trump Expresses Sympathy for Kavanaugh But Not Ford. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 1, 2018 - 14:30   ET




[14:33:01] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I tell you what, I happen to know some United States Senators. One who is on the other side, whose pretty aggressive. I've seen that person in very bad situations, OK? I've seen that person in very, very bad situations. Somewhat compromising.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Who was he talking about, David?

DAIVD CHALIAN, CNN POLITICS DIRECTOR: I have no idea. And I'm not going to start a guessing game. But I would -- I would imagine every democrat on the Judiciary Committee right now is thinking through every possible interaction they've had with the president in his presence to see if it at all they could be the person he's talking about. I would imagine, also, the president just launched a bunch of reporters to look into that.

BALDWIN: Bingo. Yes.

CHALIAN: Obviously, he took on Blumenthal by name, about his Vietnam

BALDWIN: Vietnam.

CHALIAN -- War history in the past, that tripped him up in his Senate election. But he seems to be holding someone out. And I think he even suggested, he might wait to reveal it in a book someday -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Tune in.

I can hear Dana say, tune into the next episode.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Tune in to the next episode. But I think, David, you nailed it in that that was sort of a classic, Trumpian move in that he throws a conspiracy theory out there and something that he thinks that reporters -- a challenge that reporters can't refuse to -- or can't refuse to take, which is to go after the red bouncing ball over here, instead of focusing on what is at hand, which is the nomination of the swing vote on the Supreme Court of the United States.

CHALIAN: Chum in the water.

[14:34:38] BALDWIN: David and Dana, thank you. I'm staying focused.

Coming up, we're digging into the specifics on what exactly FBI agents are doing right this very moment to look into these allegations between -- against Brett Kavanaugh, as Senate Democrats have released this list of 24 people they say they want interviewed. We'll talk to a former FBI agent next to discuss.


BALDWIN: Back to our breaking news. President Trump insisting he is hands-off in this whole FBI background investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. He says the agency should do what it needs to do.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Should Brett Kavanaugh be interviewed by the FBI?

TRUMP: I think so. I think it's fine if they do. I don't know. That's up to them. I think that he spoke very conclusively and very well. I think it's been a very rough period of time. I guarantee, he's never had a period of time like this.


BALDWIN: With me now, CNN law enforcement analyst and former FBI supervisory special agent, Josh Campbell, and former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig.

I just got this. So one White House official says the White House has made it clear to the FBI that agents are not limited in their expanded background search.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So we have two interpretations here. Either the White House is caving and they're moving beyond this narrow scope that we've been reporting through the weekend.

[14:40:01] BALDWIN: Kind of sounds like it, from what the president has said earlier today.

CAMPBELL: That's what it sounds like. And I think they're probably updating their messaging on depending on what he just told the entire world. If you look at that press conference, which is fascinating, he went from saying that, you know, yes, they can do whatever they want with the caveat, what is within reason, to now it appears according to the reporting that they're letting the FBI take those handcuffs off, actually do a thorough investigation. We'll see if this is just spin or if this is a new avenue of investigation for the bureau.

BALDWIN: What are you thinking?

ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think that's the case. Any limitation, whether it's four witness or 24 witnesses is hugely problematic.


BALDWIN: Because the Democrats have released this list of 24 people they want to review.

HONIG: Yes. Even that 24, to me, seems unduly restricted, because you cannot script out -- and Josh can tell you -- you cannot script out an investigation. It's going to go where it's going to go. And every witness can lead you, that's why we call them leads, down other paths. And those need to be pursued. And there's also the legitimacy concern. The American people, and I guess the three or four Senators here, Flake and Murkowski and Collins, have to believe that this is a true and impartial and full investigation. And I think Jeff Flake just sort of signaled in his press conference that if I'm not satisfied that this investigation has been thorough and open, then I may not be onboard.

BALDWIN: I want to ask you guys, too -- we're going to take a quick break.

One of the big questions after Judge Kavanaugh's testimony is, what about some, according to some folks, perceived little lies when it comes to his drinking, right? He talked about beer, he talked about liking beer. Might that in the end through this FBI investigation get him into trouble? I want to find out, next.


[14:46:02] BALDWIN: All right. Josh and Elie are still with me.

Here's my next question for them. Another Yale classmate is now coming forward to call Judge Brett Kavanaugh drunk and disorderly from their college years at Yale. He says he saw firsthand what Brett Kavanaugh was like in college. Quoting Chad Ludington, telling CNN, "I can unequivocally say in denying the possibility that ever blacked out from drinking and in downplaying the degree and frequency of his drinking, Brett has not told the truth." Yes.

How do they figure this out?

HONIG: So there's a spin out there coming from some quarters, oh, their persecuting him for liking beer. But it's so much more than that. It's not just about drinking in college --


BALDWIN: It's about lying.

HONIG: If he did drink, and drink to excess to the point of memory loss, "A," that is a central feature of Dr. Ford's testimony. She said the two boys were very drunk at the time. "B," it completely undercuts Kavanaugh's own defense. And the statements from him and judge and others that "I have no recollection of that," it's completely consistent with them being blackout drunk. And that's why he's fighting it. Can Kavanaugh knows that. He recognizes it's a third rail. Because when you watch his testimony, when Senator Klobuchar pressed him on that, he was completely nonresponsive. He's a judge. He knows what it means to respond to the question. He got nonresponsive. He got sarcastic in the, "I don't know, did you," response to her. Because if he knows he touches that, if he admits, yes, there were times I had memory loss, he's cooked. He has a perjury problem. Dr. Ford is strongly corroborated and his own defense is seriously undermined.

CAMPEBELL: And Elie knows, from working investigations as well, in prosecutions, you often start by asking the little questions. Things that aren't as big and consequential. If someone's going to lie about something small, there's the likelihood they're going to lie about something big. So that makes it even tougher.

BALDWIN: What was the point you wanted to make about the White House and the FBI?

CAMPBELL: We have this new report saying that now the White House is saying, no, they're not handcuffed. They can go forth and prosper. But one interesting part about reporting is that we're saying that, according to sources familiar with this investigation in the White House, that the FBI must go back to the White House if they want to expand the aperture here and expand the scope. So the if during the course of these investigations they learn new information or witnesse, find new potential witnesses, the White House is kind of hedging their bets a little bit and saying, no, they can do that, but the problem is, they still have to go back to the White House. Right now, this appears a window dressing. Until we see them greenlight additional investigation, right now it appears to be window dressing.

BALDWIN: Right now, here's what so many people want to know. In seven days, max, will these agents be able to get what they need?

CAMPBELL: I have strong opinions on this.


BALDWIN: That's the question.

CAMPBELL: This idea of a one-week deadline. First of all, one week is completely arbitrary. Secondly, if you think about the --


BALDWIN: Because I read Comey's op-ed over the weekend, and he says it's enough. CAMPBELL: He says it's enough. My former boss, Jim Comey, wrote that

the FBI has the resources. My only issue with that and where I would disagree with him is that you can throw all 13,000 FBI agents at this investigation and you could conduct a robust review, but the problem is, it's not about quantity, it's about quality. You want to be able to add a little bit of strategy to talk to one witness, to talk to another, to compare notes, to figure out, are there other people? I don't see with an issue like this, that's of great consequence, how you can cram that into one week. But again, that's the deadline the FBI has imposed. I will say that if we get to the end of the week and the FBI is pushed into doing this, there will always be lingering questions, whether they could have done more, whether the White House was setting up these guardrails in order to check the box.

BALDWIN: At least, perhaps, fewer questions than had they not done it period.

Elie and Josh, thank you guys so much.


[14:49:26] BALDWIN: Coming up next, President Trump shows great sympathy for Brett Kavanaugh and the trauma -- his words -- that his family has endured. So we'll talk about that.

And how, also, the president treated female reporters. How he talked to them during that news conference. Stand by for that.


BALDWIN: Besides calling for a comprehensive, a quick FBI investigation into the president's Supreme Court pick, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump also expressed quite a bit of sympathy for his nominee and his family. He decried the trauma that his -- that Kavanaugh has endured, along with his family, during this entire confirmation process. But did not offer the same for the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.


TRUMP: This is our seventh investigation of a man who has really -- you know, you look at his life, until this happened, what a change he's gone through. What his family's gone through. The trauma for a man that's never had any accusation, any -- he's never had a bad statement about him. He's led -- I mean, I think he was number one in his class at Yale. He was number one in his law school at Yale. And then, what he's gone through over the last three weeks is incredible.

I just think he's an outstanding person. I think he has been treated horribly. Even if you were going to bring up some of the subjects that were brought up, they didn't have to treat him so viciously and so violently as they've treated him.


[14:55:28] BALDWIN: With me now, M.J. Lee, CNN national political reporter. Tracey Shors is a neuroscience and psychology professor at Rutgers University, who studies how stress and trauma disrupt mental health and women. And Sara Azari is a white-collar criminal defense attorney.

And, Sara, I just wanted to start with you.

Just listening to, obviously, the president wants Judge Kavanaugh on his Supreme Court, right?


BALDWIN: But the way he speaks about the trauma, his word, that he and his family have endured, and I don't doubt that they've been through it, right, in this whole process. But then when he's speaking about Dr. Ford, he says, "We gave the doctor" -- he doesn't name her - "tremendous time, she spoke well, but there are questions that haven't been answered."

AZARI: Right. There's an investigation that has not been done. And the White House is limiting the parameters of what the FBI should do. So it's more like, it's not like the FBI should interview this person, this person, this person. It's what they should not do. You know, don't subpoena the records of Mark Judge from Safeway, which corroborates Dr. Ford's testimony. Don't interview Julie Swetnick, don't interview all these people that have come out and actually talk about Judge Kavanaugh's intoxication and his behavior back in the day, which refutes not only what he has said, but also goes to Dr. Ford's testimony, which is that he was completely intoxicated during this assault. So, yes, of course you can be dismissive about this woman's, you know, testimony when there's no investigation. And he's not allowing this investigation to be, conducted in the way that it should be. And I also just find interesting that Rachel Mitchell has come forward, making a statement --


BALDWIN: Rachel Mitchell, the woman who the Republican men on the Senate Judiciary --

AZARI: Correct.

BALDWIN: -- had come in, and she was the one who questioned for the first half of the hearing, questioned Dr. Ford.

AZARI: Dr. Ford.

BALDWIN: You were in the room. You know, but then didn't with the --


AZARI: Did it with -- yes, exactly. And I think her statement is extremely political, not prosecutorial. She's saying --


BALDWIN: Go ahead. You explain that. AZARI: You --


BALDWIN: No, no. She says a, quote, "reasonable prosecutor would not bring a case against Brett Kavanaugh based on Ford's sexual assault allegation." Which, you know, you can say provides cover for Republicans. You know, she's been working in this space for a long time.

AZARI: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: Why would she come forward and say that?

AZARI: Because as a prosecutor, she has to conduct an investigation with the proper law enforcement agency. She can't be dismissive of some of these allegations. She said this is a "he said/she said" case, which I agree with her, and those cases are more challenging to prosecute, to find evidence on, but they're brought all the time, every day. And they're brought to conviction. So, again, this requires an investigation, which they don't want to do. They're limiting the FBI instead of taking what she said, and pursuing every single thing, and not leaving a stone unturned. That's the frustration here, is that she is an extension of the Republican Senators, who were questioning her, and questioning -- I'm sorry, questioning Judge Kavanaugh and in response to her testimony, all of the people and all of the information that needs to be uncovered is being prevented from being uncovered.

BALDWIN: I wanted to ask Tracey, because this is the space in which you work, right? And if you're brought in, it's hard for us to imagine being in her shoes and being brought into this, millions of eyeballs, watching her, try to do her job, right? And questioning and being sympathetic with Dr. Ford, but also asking some tough questions of Judge Kavanaugh, which she never did, and the fact that she's come forward saying, a reasonable prosecutor wouldn't bring a case.


BALDWIN: What do you think of that?

SHORS: -- you know, in my work, we are interested in the memories that women acquire during the sexual violent experiences and how they learn how to kind of live with those memories. So we actually don't ask for specifics. We don't ask the women to say, like, where were you and what day was it?

BALDWIN: And the fact that she doesn't remember.

SHORS: Yes. Well, the fact that she doesn't know the day is not that surprising. I mean, she -- that was so many years ago. It would be like if I asked you, you know, what did you have for lunch on 1982 --


BALDWIN: Well, I can't even remember yesterday, so --

SHORS: Yes. It would be very difficult. But if you got sick during lunch, then you would remember. So the day -- I think what's more important is that she remembers the location, the spatial location of the room. We just conducted a study and found that women who have sexual violence history, that's what they find most vivid, are the memories of the room and also the temporal sequence of events.


SHORS: And she seemed to have quite a bit of memory of those. She knew from the time she was -- remembers being pushed to when she escaped.

[15:00:07] M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: And speaking of Rachel Mitchell, you know you have to wonder whether she would have been able to put up out a report.