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Trump Mocks Ford During Political Speech and Gets Cheers; Cell Phones Nationwide Receive National Alert Test; Key Republican Senators Find Trump's Mocking of Ford Appalling and Wrong. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 3, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. It can be challenging even exhausting covering the Trump presidency. Every time that we think we have seen a new low there is lower. One surreal day after another. There was a tendency for things to be normalized. That solicited a shrug. But today is not one of those days.

You can question the claims by Christine Blasey Ford, you can question whether Brett Kavanaugh is guilty of those claims, you can be torn on who to believe. But instead, the President of the United States mocked Blasey Ford, a woman who was terrified to tell her truth but pushed through her tears to do what she said was her civic duty for all the world to see.


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. I don't know. 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.


BALDWIN: I'll let his words speak for themselves. But here's the thing, we already know who President Trump is, how he feels about these things, that he can lack civility and decency on the most sensitive of issues. Then anything is consistent fashion, the President is using professor Ford's experience as a punching bag to gin up a base, play off their fears. So, what strikes me even more today is the crowd, these faces behind him as the President spoke last night. Look at them. Men elbowing each other in laughter like you'd nudge your friend at a comedy club over a joke. And the women doing the same.

An entire crowd cheering as if someone's life, her haunting, personal painful experience is all a show, a political punch line. What startles me most being look to the President's left, our right. There's this little head sticking up. It's a little boy. A little boy in the background, expressionless, taking it all in, on the same day the President says young men should be scared in America, a little boy listening to a crowd of adults cheering on this President who is attacking the credibility, the alleged experience of a woman who before a national audience described the worst day of her life. A day she says she was held down, sexually assaulted with a hand over her mouth, a day she feared she would be raped, perhaps killed. Again, this laughter comes just six days after Ford said this.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, (D), VERMONT: What is the strongest memory you have, the strongest memory of the incident, something that you cannot forget? Take whatever time you need.

CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, ACCUSING BRETT KAVANAUGH OF SEXUAL ASSAULT: Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter between the two and their having fun at my expense.


BALDWIN: No matter where you fall on this issue, the scene was absent of soul, absent of compassion, absent of decency and respect that we should all share, left, right, center as Americans. And while we're at it, we learned about this violent bar fight during which a bottle was smashed over someone's head. And again, no matter how you feel about Kavanaugh's involvement and what he did and whether it should be held against his confirmation, we're now hearing adults brag about their own bar fights, dismissing the seriousness of someone getting glass cracked over his head.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you got into bar fights?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, lots of them when I was a kid. Kavanaugh got in a few and that's essentially disqualifying of the supreme court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you say throwing a cup of ice in a bar in college is getting aggressive? When I think of getting aggressive, I think of throwing down.

[14:05:00] LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Maybe he lied about how much he drank in high school and maybe he threw ice in a bar in New York. Enough.


BALDWIN: Between this and the crowd last night, a little boy continues to watch, a little boy who represents a generation we're trying to teach to grow up to respectful men, not to mention also a generation of young girls who want to be strong enough to come forward and speak their truth. And I just have to ask, where are we? Where is the respect?


SEN. JEFF FLAKE, (R), ARIZONA: I thought it was obviously insensitive and appalling, frankly. There's no time or place particularly to discuss something so sensitive at a political rally. It's just wrong. SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R), MAINE: The President's comments were just

plain wrong.


BALDWIN: And Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski echoing those sentiments, I quote, I thought the President's comments yesterday mocking dr. Ford were wholly inappropriate and, in my view, unacceptable. Let's be clear, those are just hanging in the balance as we speak. The White House doesn't see it that way. Here is Sarah Sanders minutes ago.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President was stating the facts.


BALDWIN: With me now three CNN political commentators, Anna Navarro, Tara Setmayer, and Matt Lewis, director for Stand Up Republican, who is a senior columnist for the "Daily Beast." And I welcome every single one of you. Anna Navarro, I start with you on Trump last night and the crowd and that little boy. What were you thinking?

ANNA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, just this notion that when you think he can't go lower, he does. This notion that when you think you can't feel outrage, new outrage, you do. The lack of sensitive at a moment when a good half of the country is feeling the way it does. Look, Brooke, the flood gates are open on women telling their stories, on women sharing their pain. What he showed last night was a complete and utter lack of sensitivity. Worse than that, offensiveness towards the pain of those women. Women all around the country, when they saw him mocking Christine Blasey Ford and give me a break to all the people who say that's not mocking it. This is exactly what Donald Trump does. This is how he mocked John McCain when he pretended to put the thumb down. This is how he mocked the disabled reporter. He pretends to be that person. If he wants to be an impersonator, do us all a favor, go ask Lauren Michaels for a job on "Saturday Night Live" and leave the rest of us alone.

BALDWIN: I wonder if Lauren is watching what he would think. Tara, to you. What do you think, what Trump did last night is like looking women in the eye and telling them their sexual assaults doesn't matter?

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's what he did. I harken back to those women who cornered Senator Flake in an elevator last week and compelling him to they will them their sexual assaults don't matter. Donald Trump is a malignant narcissist. What he did by mocking her was basically tell all the women who have suffered through the trauma of a sexual assault, like my mother, and I talk about what happened to my mom in her 20s when she was pregnant with me, how she survived an attempted sexual assault with a gun to her head. She didn't tell me this until after -- I didn't know. I'm 43 years old. I had no idea. She didn't tell me this until after the hearings last week because she was so upset with everything that happened and the way that Republicans reacted, and we're lifelong Republicans here, she said I can't be silent about this. This happened to me, too. What kind of messages are Republicans sending to women in this country? The President talks about it's a scary time for men in this country? No, it's a scary time for young men who are looking at this President and the people around him who are enabling him, telling them that it's OK to mock sexual assault victims. This is a despicable, despicable act of enabling by the Republican party and it's become bigger than just some kind of political brinkmanship about a Supreme Court nominee.

[14:10:00] And I think it's going to have long lasting effects not only in November, but long term for Republicans with women and shame on them for allowing them to do it. We expect it from Trump but the people who enable him are worse.

BALDWIN: Matt, I thank you as the man here coming on because I think your perspective is incredibly important, too. I read your peace. Harkening back to Benjamin frankly and your notion that, yes, in this age of me too, you should always believe the woman, I want you to explain your perspective. And as you do, how do you reconcile believing a woman with innocent until proven guilty?

MATT LEWIS, DIRECTOR FOR STAND UP REPUBLICAN, WHO IS A SENIOR COLUMNIST FOR THE "DAILY BEAST": Right. Well, look, obviously nobody's entitled to a supreme court seat. That's not Brett Kavanaugh's birth right, so he has no expectation that that should just be handed to him, and he's not in a criminal trial where you have the, you know, presumption of innocence technically speaking. But having said that, look, there's a long tradition in America, ben franklin said I would rather for ten guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to be convicted. This has kind of been the ethos of America, the presumption of innocence, that the burden is not on the accused but on the accuser to produce some sort of evidence. Brett Kavanaugh is being tried in the court of public opinion right now. His political future hangs in the balance, and I do think that we have these two competing values right now. Either you believe the women or you believe in the presumption of innocence. You really can't do both. I think it's mutually exclusive. By the way, I think that most of the time women are telling the truth. But not always. There are cases like a duke lacrosse case, several examples where people do lie. I fear that we are headed in a direction where if, you know, you've got a big tv show coming out next week or a book's about to drop or you're about to get elected to something, anybody could lodge a charge against you. And if we just assume that you're guilty, that could torpedo your chances. I don't think we want to live in a country like that either.

BALDWIN: Sure. And is that a justified fear? Matt's point?

NAVARRO: Yes. Look, in some senses, yes. But let's not conflate it with what's happening now. I think what is possible to say that you believe Dr. Blasey Ford and you believe judge Kavanaugh. I've heard a lot of Republicans trying to say both and come up with lame, ridiculous explanations as to how they justify this in their mind. If Kavanaugh did this, he's not innocent. So, it's quite possible and consistent to be able to believe Blasey Ford, as I do, and believe that he is not innocent. Because matt is right, innocence and believing her simply make no sense. It's one or the other.

BALDWIN: Hang on. Let me hit pause. Let's get a commercial break in. We have much more to discuss. Tara's up next. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Be right back.


BALDWIN: We're going to come back to that conversation we were just having in just a moment. But first, any second now, 2:18 p.m. eastern time, every single American with a cell phone, whether you want it or you don't, is about to get a Presidential alert. It is a nationwide test of the national wireless emergency alert system. It was built by the federal government and cell phone carriers, and when news came out about in alert, a lot of people were not too thrilled, claiming an invasion of privacy, among other things. It's 2:18. I'm waiting for my alert. Shall we go to Kaitlan? Kaitlan Collins is our CNN White House correspondent. I got nothing.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, they are said it could take about 30 or seconds ago before everybody gets this alert.

BALDWIN: I hear it in the newsroom.

COLLINS: Here we go. It's going off right now, right here.

BALDWIN: The whole newsroom.

COLLINS: It's a test of the national wireless emergency alert system. No action is needed.

BALDWIN: That was wild. I just heard a whole cacophony of alerts going off in the newsroom. Everyone is buzzing. What is this we're getting?

COLLINS: It's a test of this wireless emergency alert system where essentially at the direction of the President, these alerts can go out to everyone who has a cell phone and you cannot turn these alerts off. They're not just for any impulsive message at the President's whim. It's for a terrorist attack, pandemic, any natural disaster to alert the country.

[14:20:00] Today is to test the readiness so they can make improvements to this, something that has been years in the works. It goes off on cell phones first. They're hoping they can reach about 75 percent of the country, which is quite a large number. TVs and radios will be next. They say no land lines are going to get this alert. Of course, this didn't come out with some controversy. There's already been a lawsuit filed by three people who live in the state of New York essentially saying this is an invasion of privacy. They're concerned because these messages come at the direction of the President, President Trump, and he is someone who is also impulsive with his own alerts, he could also be with something like that. But FEMA officials have warned there are pretty strict guidelines for

these alerts and the conditions which they will be sent out. As you just saw there that was the test. It has that ominous ringing noise and it is there to alert the American people to some kind of disaster or something they believe that they should know about. But Brooke the questions on this are just about President Trump and his twitter feed.

You'll remember in Hawaii when that push alert saying there was an incoming missile headed for Hawaii, it set off a wave of panic, and it ended up being a false alarm. That is the concern where a message like this can go out to such a large number of people so easily. They're hoping it can be something that can actually help people in situations where there are hurricanes, like in North Carolina, things like that, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thanks for sharing that moment with me. I do want to pick up where we left off with our voices here. We were talking about watching Trump last night and how he mocked Blasey Ford and the faces just jeering behind him. Tara, you wanted to jump in. I wanted to stop with you.

SETMAYER: I wanted to respond to Matt's concern about the innocent until proven guilty principle here. Yes, that's true in a court of law. But this is not a court of law. This is a court of public opinion. This is a job interview. People say it's not just a job -- Yes, it really is. It's looking for a job promotion because he's already a circuit court judge. In the court of public opinion, the standards are not the same. The Republicans are trying to adjudicate this as if it is in a court of law and that you're innocent until proven guilty. Well, if that is the case then Dr. Ford should have all of the accommodations of the sixth amendment.

LEWIS: Where I think Heidi Heitkamp is going down in North Dakota because she's going to vote against Kavanaugh. In terms of whether it sways any votes, I don't think. It's all about that FBI report. Flake, Collins, Murkowski. They want to vote for Brett Kavanaugh. I am a little afraid that Jeff Flake might bump into someone who is mean to him in an elevator.

BALDWIN: Ooh, come on.

SETMAYER: Matt, don't diminish --

LEWIS: My big fear is that Jeff Flake is intercepted by someone mean to him. I give him a 70 percent chance of confirmation within the week.

[14:25:00] NAVARRO: That diminishes what those women went through. That's exactly what's wrong with what men were doing. Those women were honest about their experiences and you're saying because someone was mean to them. They weren't mean. They were raw and real about their experiences.

LEWIS: I think you should care about people being abused, whether or not they confront you in an elevator. I don't think that should be the thing that suddenly changes their mind. They should be thinking these things through before.

NAVARRO: Even if Jeff Flake takes the stairs that day, on the day of voting, I frankly hope that Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, Joe Manchin realize this has become so much more than Kavanaugh versus Ford. This has become so much more than Democrat versus Republican. This has become for women, like the women who confronted Jeff Flake in the elevator, told him about whether you care about my pain, does my pain matter. Whether fair or not, whether you think it's fair or not, confirming Kavanaugh right now sends a message to a great deal of victims of sexual assault that their pain does not matter. And I also think they need to think about his judicial objectivity and independence. What we saw from Brett Kavanaugh at the last hearing was flippancy, we saw disrespect, we saw partisanship, we saw attack mode against Democrats. You have to ask yourselves, as a Republican, do I want someone capable of judicial independence. If this were a Democratic nominee, and I have to tell you, when RBG, Ruth Bader said the comments against Trump during the campaign, I thought that was wrong.

BALDWIN: She apologized for it.

NAVARRO: But the same exact thing is happening now, much, much worse. How indebted is Kavanaugh going to be to Republicans, how many issues that come before the Supreme Court are partisan ones? I want a court that's capable of thinking for their own selves without having these emotional scars and vendettas going on. And we saw that right now judge Kavanaugh is nothing but, you know, emotion and partisanship.

SETMAYER: The integrity of the supreme court is at stake here as well. It's a shame that Republicans bargaining with Donald Trump will not allow them to recognize that. Our systems are suffering as a result of it. It's awful.

BALDWIN: Ana and Tara and Matt, thank you, all of you very much. Coming up, we were talking about the FBI investigation. It expands now in allegations against President Trump's supreme court nominee. Why the two people at the center of this whole thing, Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh have yet to be interviewed. Why is that and will they ever be?