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CUOMO PRIME TIME
Trump Mocks Christine Blasey Ford During Rally; Sources: FBI Interviewed Around 10 People for Kavanaugh Investigation; McConnell Speaks as Senate Waits for FBI Report on Kavanaugh. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired October 3, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Thank you, Anderson.
I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.
The FBI's Kavanaugh report is coming. It's going to be headed to the White House. It's going to be read by senators.
Will it build consensus or more chaos? How will we know what's in it? Because it's not coming to us.
But like I said, the senators are going to get it and we're going to have a key player in the Senate who helped create this FBI review. He's going to see it. Chris Coons from Delaware is here.
The president went low even for him last night, savaging the woman at the center of the storm. He was off on the facts. But is this his best offense for Kavanaugh or was he just being offensive? Imagine being Christine Ford and her family and hearing the president pillory you. Her sister-in-law is here and hopefully, the president will be watching and he will hear how his words landed.
And wait until you hear what the Democrats are now suggesting about some of Brett Kavanaugh's past background checks. What is it and why is it just coming out now?
Time to find out. Let's get after it.
CUOMO: All right. So, the FBI report on Kavanaugh could be sent to the White House, then Capitol Hill. It could happen any minute. We're telling -- we are being told that senators are expected to start being able to read it at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow.
So, if it weren't for my next guest, there may not have been a time- out, a time for more analysis by the FBI, for more information before a full Senate vote. He is Senator Chris Coons, Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, joining me now.
It's odd to see you without Jeff Flake standing next to you.
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It is. It is, Chris. Jeff and I have had an interesting couple of days. We've done quite a few interviews together. CUOMO: Good.
COONS: And I am grateful for the step that Senator Flake took last Friday.
I'll remind you, I think in the absence of his having done so, Judge Kavanaugh would have been confirmed and seated early this week, and instead the FBI has spent several days interviewing witnesses and now according to reporting is compiling a report that will be delivered to the White House probably tonight and to the Senate probably tomorrow morning.
CUOMO: Now, there are a lot of probablys in there. And I get that with the timing. But in terms of the context, do you know what the FBI has done and not done?
COONS: I don't. What I know is based on press reports and individuals who have been interviewed and who have said they've been interviewed.
COONS: But frankly even more concerning to me is individuals who sought to be interviewed who were relevant and who were not interviewed.
A number have contacted my office. I've heard from several other senators that they've got folks who are their constituents who tried very hard to reach the FBI or to contact through the Judiciary Committee chairman, the FBI, and were not interviewed, folks who had something directly relevant.
Now, there were lots of allegations and lots of folks trying to contact the FBI.
COONS: I'm not saying all of them were valid or all of them deserved an interview. But I know there were several that were directly relevant where an interview was not conducted. And obviously, earlier today, Dr. Ford's lawyer said that she had not been interviewed.
COONS: Pretty striking for me. Look, there are a lot of lawyers in the Judiciary Committee in the Senate. Even a few former prosecutors, but it's not like sitting before the FBI --
COONS: -- if you're going to test her allegations and in the case of Judge Kavanaugh, test his defenses. I would have assumed that an FBI investigation would include questioning these two key individuals.
CUOMO: Well, that's kind of the point, is like, why don't you know? I'm not accusing you of ignorance or misfeasance. I'm saying, you know, the president says, hey, the FBI can do whatever they want. I'm not controlling them. We don't know if that's true.
Sarah Sanders says it's totally open-ended and obviously it's about serving the Senate's aims.
Well, who decided? Do you know who decided what they look at and what they don't? So we know whom to hold accountable with whatever comes out?
COONS: My strong sense on that question, Chris, is that the undecided Republican senators speaking with the majority leader and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee communicated a direction to Don McGahn, White House counsel, who then sent a scope to the FBI that gave them sort of the framework for their investigation. There were early reports, I think it was on Sunday, that that scope was very narrow, that it included only four individuals to be interviewed. That's based on press reports.
And that after a number of Republican senators raised concerns that that wasn't what they thought was underway, that additional interviews were added. I don't have any insight for you, Chris, into how many additional interviews. The president certainly said repeatedly that the FBI would be allowed to follow investigatory leads to apply their own judgment or discretion about how far to go.
The fact that they didn't spend tonight and tomorrow doing more investigations --
COONS: -- doing more interviews that were stopping short of Thursday night concerns me. But we'll all know, I think, with far more clarity, all the senators will know tomorrow when we get to see what's in this report.
CUOMO: So, one more beat on this, then I want to ask you about something that crossed not too long ago. The report comes out. Let's assume -- not to be cynical -- but let's assume it doesn't change the calculus in terms of what we know and understand about the allegations as presented and probably has nothing as light stuff on Ramirez's allegation and nothing on Julie Swetnick's allegation. So you're kind of in the same position.
How will that sit with the Democrats and the undecideds if you're basically in the same place with just time having passed?
I'm not diminishing your efforts. It was a good thing what you and Flake did because you guys were too divided on this. People weren't seeing clearly. So, it was a good move if only for that politically in my estimation.
But how do you think that sits if it doesn't advance understanding?
COONS: Well, that's the challenge, is sort of how this is understood and how it's characterized.
Chris, I have had the most remarkable experiences over the last four days. I was just at a function where someone I don't know well, but who I know confided in me just a riveting story of sexual abuse that affected her daughter at a town hall I had back in Delaware Friday night, Delaware City. Someone I've known for decades came up to me in tears and said that she never told her son or her husband her story of sexual assault decades ago.
It's important that instead of Kavanaugh's confirmation having moved forward briskly after last Thursday's hearing, that there was at least several days of the FBI investigating and interviewing I think the message that we tried to send to those who are victims of sexual abuse, those whose families and lives have been touched by it was -- we are making an attempt and investigating and adhering you. And I'm more determined than ever, Chris, to make sure that that's a message that gets heard, that is made real and that we make changes in how systems and society works here in the United States --
CUOMO: Well --
COONS: -- so that real victims of sexual assault are heard.
CUOMO: You know, just so people -- we keep saying the numbers because you need to keep hearing them. One in six women are victims of an assault or an attempt assault, one in 33 men. RAINN, they keep those numbers, you can look at them for yourself.
Seventy percent of those who are victimized don't come forward because they are afraid of exactly what the president of the United States said last night. So, you better redouble your efforts, Senator, because he set us back about 25 years last night.
He went on a shame campaign against Christine Ford, and it happened in this context that I thought was very interesting in terms of what we know. He is who he is, you know? And you have to call it out when you can.
CUOMO: But -- so the Senate committee puts out a statement that, hey, you know, nothing ever came up, anything like this, about sexual assault or misconduct or drinking in any of these other background checks of Brett Kavanaugh. There it is up on the screen for people.
Then, Durbin comes out with a letter that some of the Democrats signed saying, that's not true.
What's he talking about?
COONS: I don't know. How recently was this posted, Chris?
CUOMO: Recent. When did the letter, control room, you can tell me. They're putting up right now. Here's the letter.
Senate Democrats on Judiciary tweet. While we are limited in what we can say about this background investigation in a public setting, we are compelled to state for the record that there is information in the second post that is not accurate. What information? Why is this coming out now? Why don't I know what
they're talking about? Why don't you?
COONS: That's a great question.
CUOMO: Come to think of it.
COONS: That's a great question. You know, Judge Kavanaugh was before the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation hearings in 2004 and 2006, and I will have to go and look at what it is that Senator Durbin has posted and what he is implying here.
COONS: It certainly suggests that some members of the committee who have been on the committee since those previous background checks have knowledge that, at least I am unaware of in terms of things --
CUOMO: Right, and it didn't come up in the questioning. I did a quick scrub of the transcripts to try to see if anybody was lacing anything in. I couldn't pick it up unless it was subtle for me to do, you know, a quick review search and find out.
And, by the way, I'm not trying to expose you as not knowing. This is about the process. This process is so woeful that I hope that's at least apparent to the American people.
Let me ask you one more thing before I lose you here, Senator. And thank you for making the time. I know you've been work being around the clock on this.
CUOMO: So, this comes in tomorrow morning. They're going to push for a vote. What do you think happens and do you really think that this happens this weekend?
COONS: I think it's going to be very close. I think there's a number of senators, both Republican and Democrat, who haven't yet made public what their final position will be. And I hope they're going to look at this report and I hope they're going to reflect on a number of other things, ways in which Judge Kavanaugh showed I think a partisan inclination, a lack of judicial temperament in how he conducted himself in front of the committee, and a number of other issues that have been brought forward both through this process and publicly.
And I hope they'll reflect hard on how this balances out against what they might hope to accomplish by having a conservative on the Supreme Court. Most of the undecided senators would prefer a conservative Supreme Court. But I think they have to weigh it against fitness and character and a number of things that were said in the course of the confirmation hearing process.
I think there's plenty of evidence out there that should give someone real pause about supporting the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh.
CUOMO: Well, we'll all be watching. This has been some process to behold. You were one of the bright spots, you and Jeff Flake. You did something that was about more than just partisan advantage.
COONS: And I'm grateful to Jeff for that.
CUOMO: And he, I'm sure, is grateful to you for making your side agree to it. Now, we'll see what happens when the report comes out, what's in it, how people feel about the timing and content at that point. And you're always welcome here to make the case. Thank you, Senator.
COONS: Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. So, we do know for sure the report is supposedly about to come out. It can't be that long, right, because they only had until Friday. But if it comes early, what message does that send?
And the person at the center of it all as you just heard Senator Coons say, she was never interviewed. Now, you could say, well, she testified, why did she have to be interviewed? As you heard the senator say, it's different when you're sitting with the agency. It's different in that kind of setting versus the thunder dome of politics.
And what do you think it meant to Christine Blasey Ford and her family to hear the president of the United States shame her, mock her? Her sister-in-law is here. She's next.
CUOMO: Christine Blasey Ford is still waiting for the FBI to talk to her even as we hear they may be done with their extended check of the allegations. Odd.
While Ford waits, she's been viciously attacked by the president who just days ago called her credible. Now, he's citing her for not remembering anything and criticizing her for minimizing her drinking habits, her, not Kavanaugh. Holy hypocrisy. But that was the least of the onslaught for Ford and her family.
What is it like for someone who didn't want to come forward, who didn't want to be known, who just wanted to be helpful, to now be in thunder dome with the president of the United States?
Ford's sister-in-law Sandra Mendler joins us now. Thank you for taking the opportunity.
SANDRA MENDLER, CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD'S SISTER-IN-LAW: Great. Thanks for having me.
CUOMO: Well, look, I mean, you know what it's about. I mean, last night, I didn't even see that coming. You know, I thought that he would play to the advantage of Kavanaugh, say something about the process, but to openly mock your sister-in-law, it was a shame campaign.
What did that mean to your sister-in-law, to your family, to you? How did you process that?
MENDLER: Yes, well, it was really terrible and I think it's painful to have these difficult experiences shared and processed publicly. And then it's really terrible to be challenged and have the -- the key points misrepresented. I think for everybody who listened that there was a lot of discussion about how memory works in somebody who has experienced trauma.
Maybe there is a very strong consensus of how people retain memories after a traumatic event. And so, the president wasn't reflecting on that. He was choosing to not take in that information. And, you know, it's really a shame and a lost opportunity because this is really, I think, disappointing.
CUOMO: You try to go on with life in moments like this of such great expectation, but it's almost impossible, isn't it, for your sister-in- law and the rest of the family? You're pretty much frozen until this finishes, right?
MENDLER: Yes, it's very difficult. Life has been put on hold and turned upside down. And I think for a lot of people, too. People are watching and are reflecting on their own experiences. And I think it's a moment when there's a lot of disruption.
CUOMO: Let me give you a chance to respond to something that's in the news. It was anonymous, letter from some ex-boyfriend allegedly, of your sister-in-law, who came out saying nothing she says is true and she helped someone through a polygraph once.
Now, the woman whose name isn't redacted in the letter, she was a former FBI agent. She put out a statement that said none of what's in this letter about me is true.
What do you want people to know about what was said?
MENDLER: Well, what I want people to know about Chrissy is that she is a serious person who is very careful about what she says, and she is somebody who gave a strong testimony to share her experience with the hope and expectation that it would be part of a process that would be used to -- for the senators to make their decision about how they go forward. I think it was meant to help shed light on the character of Judge Kavanaugh, and I think that's what the focus should be on. It should be on the character of the person who is up for the Supreme Court nomination. Yes.
CUOMO: What happens if he's confirmed? What does that mean to Christine? What does that mean to the family?
MENDLER: Well, I think it doesn't -- I think at this point the conversation has been opened on this issue and she's shared her point of view. I think she said herself that it's up to the senators to decide what to do with this information and how to move forward. So, I don't think there is -- I think that's up to the senators to
decide how they move forward. But like I said, I think people are really watching and listening and wondering how we as a society respond to victims and whether we listen to them and really search for the answers to figure out what happened and how to factor that into the work that goes forward.
So, I think it's important to remember that the timeline right now is completely a self-imposed sense of urgency, and that -- you know, that it's helpful to take time and listen and get to a greater understanding of a person's background before putting them in a lifetime appointment.
CUOMO: You know, this is about Christine Ford, but really it's about the whole family now. You've all had to own this experience and pull together. And I know it wasn't easy for any of you, but I do know that your sister-in-law felt ultimately it was worth it, even though she was kind of shoved into the position of having to come forward to speak her truth and let it be known.
So, we'll see how the senators deal with what she said and how it's processed.
Ms. Mendler, thank you very much for taking the opportunity.
MENDLER: Thanks. Thanks so much.
CUOMO: All right. Be well.
Now, of course, I say something like that twice. You know why? That's very hard. Her family is going through a trauma. This is not easy.
As someone who grew up in public life, I never lived through anything like this. I feel for those people, whether you believe them or not.
So, the FBI report, is it going to change votes? Too dirty even for Trump to attack an alleged victim this way? Is it a matter of fact now that Trump is not a self-made man? Provocative questions. They need to be answered and we will do so in the great debate, next.
CUOMO: Last Friday, the president called Christine Blasey Ford a, quote, very credible witness. That seemed unusually fair minded for him, and you know why? Because it was.
How do we know? Because the real Trump came out last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How did you get home? I don't remember. How did you get there? I don't remember. Where is the place? I don't remember.
How many years ago was it? I don't know. What neighborhood was it in? I don't know. Where's the house? I don't know.
Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? I don't know. But I had one beer. That's the only thing I remember.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: His delivery is good. His fact placement is horrible. He's way out of line and he knows it. You know what that's called? Lying for effect. And what do we do in this White House when you want to cover for a president who has treated the truth like a trash can, you cover for him.
And that's what counselor Kellyanne Conway did, putting another layer on the lasagna of lousy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: She's been treated like a Faberge egg by all of us beginning with me and the president. He's pointing out factual inconsistencies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Faberge egg made of rubber.
So, is Trump just questioning facts? Is the FBI going to expand our understanding of the same?
And is he, another topic but an important one, don't forget about that "The New York Times" story. Is he the wonder boy of business he claims or just daddy's boy?
Let's put it to the debaters. Ana Navarro and Steve Cortes.
Let's start first with the line. Steve Cortes, would you stand up in front of any crowd and say the kinds of things about an alleged victim that the president said last night?
STEVE CORTES, FORMER HEAD OF TRUMP HISPANIC ADVISORY COUNCIL: I would not, Chris. I said this on CNN last night. By the way, I love the line, the lasagna of lousy.
CUOMO: You can have it. That's a present to you for telling the truth on this first one. Go ahead.
CORTES: I appreciate it. My mother is an Irish woman and she cooks unfortunately like the Irish. She boiled everything so she would make the lasagna of lousy.
CUOMO: Now he's in the hole, Ana. Diss your mama's cooking you're going to take a beat down.
So, you don't like what he said and that shows you have a touch -- your hand on the pulse of decency. But he said it anyway.
CORTES: A touch of decency. CUOMO: Why?
CORTES: I've got a lot more than a touch, Chris.
Listen, this was unhelpful for two reasons. I first of all politically, I think it's a mistake because the momentum is moving toward the nomination. Don't step on the momentum, OK? Let the process work because I think it's working towards confirmation.
But, secondly, and more importantly, I think that it was -- I wish he had stayed where he was last week when he talked about her testimony being compelling because I think it was. I think Brett Kavanaugh was very compelling by the way.
But even if you disbelieve her and he clearly, and I think he probably has reasons to, but even if you do, I think it's important, Chris, that we as a society treat accusers, even ones we don't trust or believe, we treat them with respect. Why? Because when there are actual victims, we want to make sure they're not reticent to come forward because they're afraid that they'll be ridiculed.
So, I think respect for the accusers, and the presumption of innocence for the accused. To me, those should be the twin principles by which we should apply -- we should approach all of these cases.
CUOMO: So, Ana, why doesn't Trump get it?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Because he's Donald Trump. How many times has he shown us exactly who he is? Like Maya Angelou said, when they show you the first time, believe them.
Look, if he wants to be entertainer, and that's what he was doing last night, right? He was obviously feeding red meat to this crowd, he was being entertaining. He wanted to get them to laugh. He feeds off of that energy.
He should go on "Saturday Night Live". He should go and do a skit like that if he wants to do it, but he has no business being president of the United States, a role which requires a level of unifying Americans and respecting victims, respecting Americans.
It is to me another notch on his belt. It is yet another dark moment in the record of Donald Trump as president, which you can now add to mocking John McCain, mocking the disabled reporter, attacking the Kahn family, attacking judge curio, attacking Rosie O'Donnell, attacking Megyn -- you know, we could go on and on and on. You can now add this to the list of shameful, disgusting, outrageous things that Donald Trump has done.
But he's also doing it just a few weeks before an election and he's doing it in midst of a conversation that has grasped the country, the entire country is talking about sexual harassment and sexual assault. If you guys haven't read it, I suggest that you read a column that Connie Chung --
HAYES: Yes, I saw it today. NAVARRO: -- respected journalist and reporter, wrote today about telling her -- sharing her trauma, telling her pain, her sexual harassment story which happened not 36 years ago.
NAVARRO: Happened over 50 years ago. And you hear the pain.
Well, that's happening all over America. Victims of sexual assault all over America are identifying with Christine Ford and her pain. And so, for him to trivialize it and make fun of it, you know, it's disrespecting all of those people.
CUOMO: Yes. What do you think about it coming back to haunt -- do you think that Kavanaugh if confirmed, that will be such succor for the base that it will overwhelm whatever damage is done, Steve, with the insensitivity and the lack of empathy for a group of people that we're trying to encourage to come out?
CORTES: Well, listen, I think the Trump base is motivated by this whole saga, but not by what Trump said at the rally. I think they're motivated by --
CUOMO: They were cheering like crazy.
CORTES: OK --
CUOMO: The more he mocked her, the more they cheered.
CORTES: I think the base is very motivated by the reprehensible conduct of the Democratic senators on that committee, particularly Senator Dianne Feinstein who, by the way, if you want to talk about abusing Professor Ford, no one abused her and used her more than Senator Feinstein did.
She could have done this privately. She could have done this early. She told -- chose to sit on it. She chose to play this card from the bottom of the deck and she abused --
CUOMO: He mocked her. Said she knows nothing, said she was lying about her drinking.
NAVARRO: If I may --
CUOMO: Go ahead, Ana.
NAVARRO: Listen --
CORTES: Chris, I just told you I didn't appreciate the president's comments.
NAVARRO: There is no reasonable person in America --
CORTES: You asked about -- NAVARRO: Who would tell you that --
CORTES: -- motivating the base. In terms of what would motivate the base, I believe --
CUOMO: You made a point. Let Ana respond.
NAVARRO: Yes. The point he made was that nobody had abused Christine Ford more than Dianne Feinstein. That is an abominable thing to say.
This woman just told you about the pain that she's had for 35 years from suffering from being a victim of sexual assault. If you think that however this has been handled, and it may not have been --
CORTES: I mean the process, Ana. I mean in the process.
NAVARRO: We don't know. OK, well, let me tell you this and I didn't interrupt you. We don't know that Dianne Feinstein leaked this.
This is something you want to set as fact. We don't know. I don't know. We don't know. I wish we knew.
CORTES: We know it came from the Democrats because they're the only ones who had it.
NAVARRO: I know this much. Being the victim of sexual assault and enduring that pain pales in comparison and is no comparison to being a victim of process or having some muddy process in Congress. If you think they are the same, if you think that what's happened in the last few weeks --
CORTES: I never said anything like that, Ana, don't put words in my mouth.
NAVARRO: Go look at what you said. You said nobody had victimized her worse than Democrats and Dianne Feinstein. Take it back. Take it back. That's exactly what you said.
CUOMO: You did say it. Maybe you didn't mean, but you said it.
CORTES: You were comparing --
NAVARRO: That is exactly what you said.
CORTES: No, it had nothing to do with what happened or didn't happen to her 36 years ago.
CUOMO: Make the point again. CORTES: I'm talking about in this process, today, in this political
saga that this country has endured that they have endured, the principals in this case, she has been, and both Brett Kavanaugh and Professor Ford have been totally used and abused by Senator Feinstein and the Democrats. Why? Because they will run over anyone, even --
NAVARRO: Do you have proof she's the one that leaked the letter?
CORTES: We know it's from the Democrats --
NAVARRO: Do you have proof?
CORTES: Yes, I do have proof that the Democrats leaked it? Yes.
NAVARRO: Nobody else has it. There has been no proof put out that it was the Democrats who did this.
CUOMO: Well, it is fair to assume -- it is fair to assume two things.
CORTES: It's impossible for them to leak something they don't have, Ana.
CUOMO: Well, we don't know that they didn't have it, because we now know that staffers had notice of different allegations. Whether they acted on them or not, we won't know until people start leaking. Luckily, people leak plenty down in Washington, D.C.
But here's what we know. It is more likely that it would be leaked by the Democrats than the Republicans because the Republicans had nothing to gain. And that goes to a main point here, Steve, that I think you have to be careful about in your calculus of massaging the process and good guys and bad guys.
You guys didn't want the truth in this process about this allegation. You did the exact minimum you could do and you fought it the entire way because what you really wanted was the easiest path for Kavanaugh you could find. That's what it was about. No self-respecting Republican who cared about Christine Ford would have handled it even close to this way.
So, you've got to own that, too. The Democrats may have played it poorly, but the Republicans were happy that they did --
CUOMO: -- because they didn't want to deal with this any more than they absolutely had to.
CORTES: Well, listen, Chris, you keep saying you. I'm not part of the Senate. I will tell you, by the way --
CUOMO: Your party.
CORTES: Well, on the Republican -- well, but on the Republican and Democratic side, that entire committee to me is a campaign -- is a commercial, brochure practically for term limits. We need term limits for a lot of people. .
CUOMO: Certainly need a better process.
CORTES: Whether R or D on that committee. But my point is the Republicans as far as we know, the Republicans did not have this information early. Only Senator Feinstein did, when she could have handled it confidentially and privately. Instead, she chose to sit on it.
CUOMO: But we know this, Republicans had --
CORTES: -- play it at the most opportune political opportunity for her --
CUOMO: All right. I hear you, Steve.
CORTES: -- it was a devious and diabolical move by her.
CUOMO: All right. Final word to you and then I got to go.
NAVARRO: Here's the bottom line. This entire discussion about process is a nice distraction and deflection. But the issue at hand is whether we are going to put on the Supreme Court a man who had been credibly accused of sexual assault and after that has been revealed to be something very different than what he has painted himself as for the last several weeks. A man who has now been revealed as being a liar, a liar in front of Congress, a man who is tearing this country apart, the social fiber of this country, and a man who has been revealed to be a partisan attack dog who is going to be incapable of the judicial independence required to sit in the highest court in the land in a lifetime appointment.
CUOMO: Well, let's see what happens when the report comes out. The votes will be cast and then all will be judged.
Steve, Ana, thank you.
The FBI report could be headed to the capital any moment. Senators are told to get cracking first thing tomorrow. How long will it take for us to hear? Probably not that long.
But here to walk us through what to expect what's possible, what's probable, the man who did this type of job for the FBI, former special agent James Gagliano, next.
CUOMO: Some new reporting for you on this much anticipated FBI report. Here's what we know. That the interviews ended today, and according to two sources, the FBI has interviewed around ten people in this supplemental background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh. The last interviews, again, completed today. So supposedly it is done. Sources also say it's unclear if all the interview reports are fully
written. OK? So, that would be the lag in timing. So, it is possible only some of them will be submitted to the Hill at first.
Lots to break down, what to expect, what not to expect. Former FBI supervisory agent Jimmy Gagliano.
It's good to have you, Jimmy. Thank you.
JAMES GAGLIANO, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Good to be here, Chris.
CUOMO: So, that's good to know. Still leaves one question mark who they interviewed, and who they didn't. We don't know the names. Blasey Ford, I'm assuming, was not interviewed. I just spoke to her sister-in-law and she had the same reckoning.
GAGLIANO: The word we are hearing is Judge Kavanaugh and the victim accuser Dr. Ford were not interviewed. I cannot imagine the FBI not interviewing them if agents felt that that was pertinent to the investigation.
I understand they have the testimony and I'm trying to look at this, being on the outside --
CUOMO: Sure --
GAGLIANO: -- not on the inside, how would I handle this. Would I want to talk to them?
Personally, yes, but not being in the investigation, they might have determined that they got enough substantive material from the people that they interviewed and they decided that the testimony in and of itself was necessary -- was as much as they needed and decided not to.
CUOMO: Straight talk. If you were in their situation and you're tasked with doing this, don't you go into it?
You're going to do your job, but don't you see it as a no win? You don't have the time. It's not a criminal investigation. You don't even have the DOJ there for subpoena power.
You can I guess ask the Senate Judiciary to use their civil subpoena power. They're not going to do that. They don't even really want you to do this. They only did this because they're afraid of Jeff Flake.
So, where is the upside in terms of what can come out in this that has any chance of making people go, whoo, look what they found?
GAGLIANO: People want one of two things. Exoneration --
GAGLIANO: -- or corroboration. And the FBI is going to be looking for two things -- something
inculpatory or something exculpatory. What can find that is going to show that Judge Kavanaugh did not definitively do this? It's going to be an impossibility.
Three and a half decades, Chris, and we're living in an era now where we just trust, hey, every time you turn your phone on, there is a geo- locator. Every time you send a text, social media platforms, easy pass scanners, plate readers, everything we do now, the digital exhaust we put off makes things infinitely easier for police scientists and for investigating things.
To go back three and a half decades, Chris, where that didn't exist, and there are vagaries as far as exactly where the neighborhood was, exactly what the house was, exactly who was there, it's going to be an uphill battle.
Now, do I believe they gave it the full effort and it's a fulsome investigation? I don't know Director Wray personally. I don't know the deputy director, Dave Bowdich, personally. Their reputations precede them.
They are no nonsense guys. They are folks that are going to put the right people on this and uncover anything that's out there, but it is an uphill battle.
CUOMO: Why do you think Christopher Wray didn't say the reality, which is, I need more time? Yesterday, the day before it came out, that they may be tracking something else down that came out when they were talking -- they don't have time to do that.
GAGLIANO: Chris, I can tell you right now, Director Wray doesn't suffer fools and Director Wray is not afraid of the White House. If that was the instance -- and that's a good supposition. If the instance was, hey, Jimmy, more actionable leads came out. Are we to believe they're being stonewalled or stymied, I would say the FBI would push back on that and say we need another day, another week or another ten days, whatever it was.
CUOMO: So, this comes out. They give it to the White House. The White House filters it down and senators come and read it. We'll start hearing about it real quick.
But at the end of the day, what are we looking for here? Are we just really looking for a record, an organized record? Like here are ten people whose names were mentioned.
I don't think Julie Swetnick, Avenatti's client, I don't think she got interviewed. Ramirez, I don't know how deep they looked at that, a former roommate of Kavanaugh was on with Anderson tonight who said I know all about Ramirez. They didn't come to me. If they didn't find out about Ramirez is because they weren't looking.
So, it really winds up being about Kavanaugh and kind of memorializing, here are the main players, here's what they said, here it is all in one place. GAGLIANO: It is about two words: credible allegations. And I believe
if I'm reading the judicial tea leaves, the FBI looked at the Swetnick allegations and probably determined those not to be credible.
The Ramirez and the Ford allegations -- here's what you have to understand about the six prior background investigations that were conducted on Judge Kavanaugh. The FBI hands out a sheet of paper and says, fill this out. Your first job, were you employed, give us three people that are points of contact. The neighborhood you grew up in, give us three neighbors.
Your college roommates, give us three people because no one has one roommate throughout college. You have multiple ones. Give us three people to start with. That's a starting point.
GAGLIANO: Then the FBI goes to those people, talks to them --
CUOMO: Not here, though.
GAGLIANO: That's a home game, because that's somebody the person gives you. Then you go beyond that and you ask, who else can we talk to?
CUOMO: Now, one other quick thing. A letter came out righty media loved it. Ex-boyfriend of Christine Ford said, hey, I dated her 20 years ago.
I didn't know about short small spaces, I didn't know about the fear of flying. I never heard about Brett Kavanaugh. And I was told that she coached one of her friends. You know the friend by reputation.
She put out a statement today saying, I had nothing to do with anything like what he's saying in this letter.
What's the value of that that comes anonymously?
GAGLIANO: So, I don't know just of Monica McLean. I know her personally. So, our careers paths crossed. I was serving Mexico City as a legal attache.
GAGLIANO: She was working with the international operations division. She was at GS-15.
CUOMO: You believe her?
GAGLIANO: I do. I had a conversation with her this morning. She is distraught over this, the way their name has been pulled out. I mean, they blacked out the name of the boyfriend but her name was put out there.
And I understand people are arguing and say, well, she signed onto a letter from folks that went to school with Christine Blasey Ford and were supporting her. I read the letter. The letter didn't say that we agree with the allegations.
GAGLIANO: It said she is a credible person. Her voice should be heard.
As I know Monica McLean, I cannot imagine any instance where she would do something like that and, Chris, a polygraph examination, the accusation is, she's getting ready to put an application in with the FBI. You have to take a polygraph. So did I.
Monica spent 24 years in the FBI, I spent 25. We took the polygraph around the same time. I asked people, what are they going to do?
I never had a polygraph exam. She did the same.
CUOMO: But she says Ford is no expert. Ford didn't coach me. This isn't true. And if he's lying about that, who else knows what you can put on, especially if his name is not on it?
Jimmy, thank you.
GAGLIANO: Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: When we get the report, we'll digest it together. Thank you very much.
GAGLIANO: Sounds good.
CUOMO: All right?
James Gagliano, thanks very much to him.
Now, when we come back, what is the line for us these days? What is the line that you just cannot cross? It's just wrong when it comes to politics. I think I know what it is, next.
CUOMO: All right. The reports are in. Ten people have been interviewed. That's what we're told from two sources. Kavanaugh, Ford, they were not re-interviewed after their testimony by the FBI. They weren't interviewed at all, not re-interviewed.
So what will it mean? Not that much. Wasn't that much time. Didn't have the tactics.
And that wasn't the intent. This has never been about finding the truth, my friends. It's been trying to get past what may be true to get Kavanaugh in.
How do we know? Listen to the president last night. Listen to Baby Trump, out campaigning for Ted Cruz and what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: I know that in this week in particular, you're not allowed to have a beer if you are a conservative. Now, if you're a liberal, you can do cocaine and you can be the president but -- but that's OK. It's OK. We'll hold ourselves to a higher standard. It's fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Baby Trump, Don Jr. You know, he's a baby version of his dad. You know, baby version, you know, just a little bit short of how offensive. A little bit short of how abusive of the facts.
The biggest question is why is he even out there? Why does Ted Cruz want him when he was talking about the guy's father during the election, calling him the biggest bum to ever run for president? Now he wants his son to come? It tells you everything you need to know about politics, my friends.
Let's bring in Don Lemon.
So, Senate Leader McConnell, we heard that he is going to go to the Senate floor. We will monitor that. It will be on our watch or certainly on yours if it happens anytime soon.
The report is coming in. The politics is being played out. You hear Don Jr., right? Baby Trump saying, hey, you know, if you're a Democrat, you can do cocaine and do whatever you want, but not if you're a conservative.
Us versus them, my friend. That's what this is.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT": I hate to waste my breath and give Don Jr. any credence about anything. But he's probably read -- a little bit because there have been Republican presidents as well who have been accused of doing cocaine and not denied it. So, just do a Google search on not so long ago presidents who happened to be on the Republican side, and you can deal with that. But go on.
CUOMO: We got McConnell on the Senate floor. Let's see what he says.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: This information comes on top of what has already been one of the most thorough and exhaustive Senate reviews of any Supreme Court nominee in the entire history of our country. Five days of public hearings, 65 private meetings with senators, more than 1,200 responses to written questions from members, more than 500,000 pages of documents for review. The most produced for any Supreme Court nomination in our history. And the 300-plus opinions Judge Kavanaugh has issued during his 12 years on the D.C. Circuit.
And now, senators will have the evidence collected by this additional background investigation for their consideration as well. Members will have the opportunity to review investigators' records, and as is the standard procedure designated, judiciary staff members with the required clearances will be authorized to brief members. There will be plenty of time for members to review and be briefed on
the supplemental material before a Friday cloture vote. So I'm filing cloture on Judge Kavanaugh's nomination this evening so the process can move forward as I indicated earlier this week.
So, Mr. President, what is the pending business?
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court.
MCCONNELL: I send a cloture motion to the desk for the Kavanaugh nomination.
SCOTT: The clerk will report.
SENATE CLERK: Cloture motion. We, the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of Rule 22 of the standing rules of the Senate do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, signed by 17 senators as follows.
MCCONNELL: As consent reading the names be waived?
SCOTT: Without objection.
MCCONNELL: As unanimous consent, the Senate proceed the legislative session for a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak their end for up to 10 minutes each.
SCOTT: Without objection.
MCCONNELL: So, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to when the Senate completes its business today and adjourn until 11:00 a.m. Thursday, October 4th. Further that, following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired. The journal of proceedings be approved to date. The time for the two leaders be reserved for use later in the day. And morning business be closed.
Finally, following leader remarks, the Senate proceed to executive session to resume consideration.
CUOMO: All right. There's Senator McConnell.
Don, I wanted to bring you back in here. You know, it's very interesting. There is first the facts that people need to know. They are going to have business skipped tomorrow after business ends today, which should be any moment now, once cloture is filed and the president of the Senate says, all right, this is what's going to happen. This is our schedule. We're going to have the vote for Kavanaugh on Friday.
They're not going to be in work tomorrow, I guess to review, to think about what's in the FBI thing. Then they're going to have some period to be able to make speeches on Thursday, and then Friday they vote. This is what McConnell promised. LEMON: Yes. And that's what they want as quickly as possible. I
have to say, I mean, it's Wednesday now. On Friday, all this drama played out, and I guess the investigation started after that -- Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
I mean, that is a very short time for an investigation. Listen, I'm not in law enforcement, but it just seems like it's a really, really short time.
LEMON: Regardless of what's in the report, Mitch McConnell is saying -- and you see it there -- they're going to vote on Friday, and all of us will know.
Here's what I'm saying. It's going to be Justice Kavanaugh. I think that's what's going to happen.
CUOMO: That's where the odds are right now.
Let's take a quick break. When I come back, we have a closing argument for you.
CUOMO: All right. Switch of closing argument, but more important given what we just heard from Senator McConnell.
This is it. They're going to go to vote. The FBI report is all but done. Will it change votes? Probably not. Why? Time, tactics, the tenor of the whole process.
This has never been a truth campaign about getting to the bottom of the allegations. It's about getting Kavanaugh through at any cost. It always has been.
Now, well, this investigation wasn't long enough. The pushback will be it only took three days with Anita Hill. It was very different. There were different parameters and there were different expectations.
Democrats are going to be dissatisfied but they made a deal, and they don't have the votes to make a difference. This is about the GOP and whether they lose any of their own.
So will they? It's a hard bargain. Here's the case. If you decide to act on conscience here, why would you act on conscience?
Well, you would think about the way Kavanaugh handled this situation. Is that evidence in this setting if not of proof of guilt regarding Ford's allegations, evidence of showing that he will treat the truth as malleable when convenient.
And in terms of temperament, was this process proof that he sounded more like a riled up chief of staff than a chief justice someday? But that act of conscience will come with a big consequence for a GOP senator because if they vote against Kavanaugh and they lose the Senate -- unlikely but if -- you would cost your party a generation of jurisprudence. At what cost conscience?
Several senators will be answering that question in just a couple of days. They're probably hoping the win offsets the ugliness of the process and ignoring something that should matter more than a SCOTUS seat. Empathize with victims, even alleged victims.
How we do that says a lot about us, and that's what this vote should be about. Will it? We'll see.
Let's pick up our coverage with "CNN TONIGHT" and Don Lemon right now.