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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Kavanaugh Writes Op-Ed "I Am An Independent Impartial Judge"; Kavanaugh Controversy: Impact On Midterms; 300+ Arrested In Kavanaugh Protests. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 4, 2018 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[20:00:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

With the first Senate vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh set for tomorrow and his confirmation hanging in the balance, Judge Kavanaugh has just spoken out, writing on the opinion page of "The Wall Street Journal," he addresses the tone of his testimony last week, which some, including one retired justice, have suggested should bar him from the high court.

Here are two key passages. He wrote: At times, my testimony, both in my opening statement and in response to questions, reflected my overwhelming frustration of being wrongly accused. Without corroboration of horrible conduct completely contrary to my record and character. My statement and answers also reflected my deep distress at the unfairness of how this allegation has been handled.

Judge Kavanaugh continues to write: I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.

I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad. I testified with five people foremost in my mind, my mom, my dad, my wife, and most of all, my daughters.

So this just was posted. Joining us now is Anne Milgram, Rich Lowry, Kirsten Powers and Tara Setmayer.

Kirsten, you read the op-ed. What do you make of what Judge Kavanaugh has written, and the reasons behind him writing it now?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think he's probably writing this because he realizes that there are people who are saying, including two people who supported his nomination, who have withdrawn their support over the issue of judicial temperament. And so, I think he's trying to do some cleanup here.

I know conservatives have argued that this is a normal way to react when you're under attack, and your whole life is, you know, being criticized and some pretty awful things are being said about you. But I have to say, I think that the way you see what someone's temperament is is to see how they act under pressure. It's not when people are being nice to them, because everybody can be calm and have a nice temperate when people are being nice to them. Everyone can't be calm and nice when they're under attack.

And it doesn't really matter how any of us would respond, because we're not up for the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the land. It matters how he would respond, and we have higher expectations for temperament for Supreme Court justices than most people in the country.

COOPER: It's interesting, Rich, because Judge Kavanaugh made a big deal of the fact that the prepared statement he gave, which is what really caught I think a lot of people's attention with the tone of what he was saying, and not only the words but also how he said it, he made a big deal as he started his testimony that he had written it, nobody else had seen it except I believe it was a clerk of his. These were his words.

Those were not off the cuff remarks, those were something he had thought out, he had planned. Is it now disingenuous for him to kind of be taking a step back from that?

RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, one, that's true what he says about how closely held these remarks were and he wrote them himself, and they were very personal.

I think it was a practical political matter, if he hadn't come out very strongly and very passionate, he'd be dead. He just would have been dead. You have to go back in time and remember how we all felt after Dr. Ford's testimony and how he instantly changed the political dynamic around this. And this is inherently a political process, so, you have to pay attention to that.

And the judicial temperament issue, I mean, we have ample evidence in judicial temperament in 200, 300 whatever decisions are they he wrote in the D.C. Circuit.

And when you're a judge, you're adjudicating your neutral party to other people's disputes and you adjudicate them. This is completely different, where his reputation was being torn to shreds in the most disgraceful manner, being accused of things up to and including being party to a gang rape ring in suburban Maryland county.

So, I think any fair-minded person, any human person would understand his reaction. He got too hot. I think in the Q and A, we saw that particularly, when he was asking questions of -- badgering questions of the senators.

I think after the second -- I believe it was the second break, so I'm going to sit back, I'm going to apologize to Senator Klobuchar in real time, because I don't think that was appropriate, and he was better from that point.

But the sexual misconduct allegations are either at a standstill or falling apart. So, it's become about alleged lies and his testimony and about temperament and he's trying to address this, especially with Senator Jeff Flake in mind.

COOPER: Anne, do you -- ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I disagree with almost

everything Rich said, though I respect him enormously. But, look, there are a few things. One, the ends don't justify the means. Even if your reputation is on the line, this is the United States Supreme Court. This is a hallowed institution that makes the law of the land.

You do not get to sit on that court, in my view, by going up and yelling at United States senators, by writing a speech for the first ten minutes where he talks about, I'm so qualified, I went to Yale, I worked so hard. None of that would negate the fact that he could have still engaged in a sexual assault, right?

And so, he went on for ten minutes talking about himself.

[20:05:02] It took 10 or 15 minutes before he even mentioned the victim. And to me, when it comes to the Supreme Court -- and this is hurting the institution of the Supreme Court. This feels also very political to me, that he's now -- justices don't write op-eds. Justices sit and they don't speak other than through their opinions. I'm troubled by so many parts of this. But this to me does not make it better, this college.

COOPER: It's interesting, Tara, because when you read it, and I encourage people to read it, it was just posted by "The Wall Street Journal." You know, he says he regrets some of the things he said, he went too far. He doesn't go into details.

But in that opening statement, I mean, he was talking about a conspiracy, in part, hatched by the Clintons and this was retribution. Does what he say now, does that, for you, does it convince you that he has the temperament?

TARA SETMAYER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, GOP REP. DANA ROHRABACHER: No, absolutely not, because, if -- you made the point before I did that those were prepared statements, that he wrote that. So it wasn't in the heat of the moment. That tells me that he wrote that, read it, went there, and felt as though that was an appropriate way to conduct himself in the hearing. And -- no.

So, this is like saying you're sorry after you got caught. He's doing this as a PR move to try to convince people that no, I'm actually not unhinged and I can control my temper. I'm not a partisan hack. I'm none of those things that you saw me behave like a week ago, because he's been criticized justifiably by people within his own profession.

When you have 1,200 law professors coming out and the ABA coming out and now, Justice Stevens, former Justice Stevens coming out and saying, this temperament, this is a problem for the Supreme Court. He knew he had to do a cleanup job to try to convince folks that, no, I'm really not like that. I will be an impartial arbiter of the law.

But I've had my other issues with the way Kavanaugh has behaved, and the way that the Republicans have behaved with this entire incident. But his behavior during that hearing, in and of itself, was disqualifying. You cannot be that much of a partisan and bring that to the Supreme Court and expect people to think the integrity of the court has been maintained. You just can't.

COOPER: Rich, one of the things he writes, he says: I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad and that his main audience was his -- I think he said his wife, his kids and his parents. Testified with five people foremost on my mind, my mom, my dad, my wife, and most of all, my daughters.

Is that disingenuous? I mean, first of all, he was there, it wasn't testimony in front of his family, his family knows him. It was clearly an attempt -- I mean, it was a message to the president, it was a public statement in front -- you know, a televised statement. Is it disingenuous to say he was there speaking as a husband and a dad?

LOWRY: No. His reputation is being torn to shreds in the most public manner possible in front of the people he loves most. Again, any human being, if you subtract partisanship from it, has to understand the pain and agony he's been going through.

COOPER: Right, but in that moment, that was a job interview, wasn't it?

MILGRAM: That's right.

LOWRY: No. But, look, if he had been passionless and cold, everyone would say, you're passionless, you're cold, you're guilty.

COOPER: I agree with that.

LOWRY: He's passionate, everyone says he's too passionate. Now, he apologizes and said he was at times too passionate, everyone says, oh, you're apologizing, you can't do that, either.

POWERS: But, Rich --

LOWRY: They want to get him coming and going and coming and going because they opposed him from the beginning.

POWERS: That's not true.

LOWRY: They want to use any means to destroy him.

COOPER: Kirsten --

POWERS: Isn't there something in the middle, though?

SETMAYER: Right, that's right.

POWERS: I think you're picking out these two extremes, and even saying everyone's opposed him from the beginning. The people that Tara just mentioned weren't opposing him from the beginning. There are people who are coming out who actually supported him --

LOWRY: There's no Democrat on that committee who is going to support him. Come on.

POWERS: We're not talking about that. We're talking about other people.

LOWRY: They're the ones who handled this allegation, they held it for the 11th hour --

POWERS: Let me finish. Outside of the political process, you know, it's not this idea that -- what you just said, the only people who would see this way are partisans is just not true.

LOWRY: So, you don't have any sympathies then?

POWERS: Let me finish. I have never said anything negative about Kavanaugh. And I said before that if this was a Democrat, and I know you know this, this is a thing. I know that you know this. I would be saying the same thing.

There are some people who look at this and say, this is not a person who -- I certainly wouldn't feel good going in front of him on the Supreme Court after the things he said. And I also don't even understand the idea that somehow this was something he was doing for his family. I don't understand why anyone would feel reassured seeing their father screaming and yelling and crying.

LOWRY: He was accused of gang rape.

POWERS: I'm not -- but that's not --

(CROSSTALK)

LOWRY: He was accused of being party, that was taken seriously -- hold on, I let you speak. I'll quickly say something. And then I'll shut up again.

This allegation was taken seriously by Democrats. Chuck Schumer and the Democrats in the Judiciary Committee called for him to withdraw the day these scurrilous and ridiculous allegations were made.

[20:10:07] They were taken seriously by the media.

The slimy lawyer who made these charges plastered all over cable news. And it's very easy to be relaxed about someone else's reputation being dragged through the mud.

POWERS: Nobody said relaxed. You keep going to these extremes.

SETMAYER: You're focusing on one part of it. The Swetnick -- Julie Swetnick accusations that came out later with Michael Avenatti, cast that aside. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford had very credible accusations against Judge Kavanaugh that have gotten muddied in the waters here because of the other, you know, the more salacious side of this.

If I'm Brett Kavanaugh and I believe that I'm -- I've been wrongly accused, instead of losing control, because you are auditioning for one of the highest offices in the land next to the presidency, you can be passionate without being out of control. He was out of control.

I was with a bunch of Republican women yesterday who told me -- who were supportive of him, even though they did want a more conservative justice from the other part of it. They wanted an Amy Barrett or someone, but they said, OK, we're supportive. Until they saw that, they cringed. They felt that performance was cringe-worthy for someone that's going to be a Supreme Court justice.

So, this whole -- if a woman had behaved that way, there's no way, Rich, that you or Republicans would be sitting up there saying, well, she was under attack. Could you imagine if Christine Blasey Ford acted that way? No way.

If Sotomayor or Elena Kagan had behaved that way during their nominations, there's no way Republicans would have been sitting here making excuses for it.

COOPER: Let me play a moment of his testimony when Kavanaugh got into a back and forth with Senator Klobuchar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: 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?

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: You're asking about 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: Yeah, nor do I.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I want to point out as rich also pointed out when he came back from a break, he apologized for that exchange. She accepted that apology.

Anne, I think Rich makes a strong point, which is, had he not -- I mean, if you remember the impact that Dr. Ford's testimony had, had he not come out, just from a strategic standpoint, now you can argue whether he should have been -- had he been the way he was in that Fox interview and just sort of, you know, judge-like, it's not clear that his nomination would be even being considered.

MILGRAM: I don't -- there are a couple of things that I think are worth saying. First of all, I think it is fair to feel personal sympathy for him and for everyone who's going through all of this. This is an incredibly difficult thing for everyone involved. So, none of it -- that's not what this is about.

This is about, does this man deserve to sit on the United States Supreme Court? And my problem, even looking at this Senator Klobuchar part, he does not get to ask the questions.

When you decide you want to be the nominee for the United States Supreme Court, the senators ask the question. And look, if you don't want that, you walk out. There is -- you know, there is a line in his op-ed where he says, I'm never going to bow to public pressure, and his testimony was exactly that.

He was emotional, he exploded. He acted exactly like a judge should not act. It's hard, but that's what those jobs are.

You're going to be constantly tested with the hardest, most controversial questions in the United States of America. It's just not appropriate.

LOWRY: He apologized in real time. Human beings occasionally get upset. Occasionally -- I'm going to apologize to Kirsten, I interrupted her, I shouldn't have done that. Heat of the moment.

It doesn't mean I'm a horrible person. It doesn't mean I don't deserve my job. It doesn't mean my name deserves to be dragged through the mud.

So, what's happened, the sexual allegations, the sexual misconduct were made, there's no corroborating evidence for the most credible and serious one. The Yale one, there's no -- even the accuser doesn't have a firm memory of what happened.

And the Swetnick one, we're all just saying cast that aside. It was just a gang rape accusation. But that was taken seriously as of a week ago. And her credibility is totally in shreds.

So since that stuff is going nowhere, now we have to dredge up other stuff. Now, it's, oh, my gosh, he asked a senator a question in a hearing. Now --

SETMAYER: We didn't drudge that up. He behaved that way, Rich.

LOWRY: But it's not disqualifying.

SETMAYER: So, we're supposed to -- apparently a former Supreme Court justice thinks it's disqualifying and hundreds of others who are in the legal profession think it's disqualifying.

And I think -- it's amazing to me how my fellow Republicans have decided to just forget that they actually questioned judicial temperament when Justice Sotomayor was going through her nomination, and she didn't display anything.

[20:15:04] It was because she made a comment about being a passionate Latina. And you're telling me that what we saw last week is something that would not have been alarming to you if a woman had done that?

LOWRY: Man, woman --

SETMAYER: I think it's something that's very off putting to women who are watching this process and seeing how righteously indignant all these Republican senators have become over this horrible treatment of poor Brett Kavanaugh, yet they -- what about the treatment of Dr. Ford? What about her family? Her life being destroyed?

She made the choice -- she actual didn't make the choice, because of politics, her name was revealed, but she at least came forward and said it was her civic duty to let people know what happened to her. And they say, oh, well, we believe her but not enough.

But this poor man, what he's gone through -- her life is just as valuable of his. Frankly, I'm tired of everyone making excuses for Brett Kavanaugh to lose it and go after senators like that, which is supposed to be a coequal branch, if he becomes a Supreme Court justice, for him to be able to get away with that.

(CROSSTALK)

LOWRY: Come on. He asked questions of senators doesn't mean he doesn't understand the --

SETMAYER: He didn't just ask questions, he was rude.

COOPER: He invoked the Clintons as though he's the victim he was a conspiracy --

LOWRY: That's not what he said, Anderson.

COOPER: Well --

LOWRY: That's not what he said. He was talking about the motives --

COOPER: Right, this was retribution.

LOWRY: -- why this has been such a toxic process.

And one of the reasons is the left is driven crazy by the fact that they lost this election they thought they were going to win, that Mitch McConnell held this open --

COOPER: Retribution by the Clintons?

LOWRY: For, on behalf of. Hillary Clinton ran, they all desperately wanted her to win. They all had, you know, 110 percent faith that she would win, and when they didn't, an element of the left has gone hysterical and nuts.

And clearly that is part of this process. Again, I think that's just --

SETMAYER: It's not the nominee's job to be a partisan hack. Let other people defend him. It's not a potential Supreme Court justice nominee's job to be a partisan hack.

LOWRY: He had to defend himself at that point.

COOPER: OK.

LOWRY: No one else was going to defend him.

SETMAYER: No, not like that.

LOWRY: I thought, Anderson, you mentioned the Fox interview, when he was dispassionate, I thought it was terrible and I thought he wasn't going to survive this testimony exactly because that interview was so bad.

COOPER: Jim Acosta is joining us as well.

Jim, is there any sense of whether the White House wanted Judge Kavanaugh to put this op-ed out at the 11th hour and I think he would have at least notified them of this.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think -- I think they did, Anderson, and I think we're going to find out this was part of the plan. I think it is an indication, Anderson, that perhaps they are a little more concerned about this vote than what we previously thought. We thought earlier today they were very optimistic about this vote.

But when you have a retired Supreme Court justice like John Paul Stevens putting out a statement like he did earlier today, which essentially says that he doesn't know where things stand in terms of the accusations against Judge Kavanaugh, but based on his performance at that hear egg, which a lot of people on both sides of the aisle, despite what you hear from partisans, both sides of the aisle, people feel as though Judge Kavanaugh just sort of lost his cool and did not display the kind of judicial temperate that one expects from a Supreme Court justice.

And I think that this, this op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" is trying to some extent clean up on aisle six when it comes to these questions of his judicial temperament because -- I mean, despite what Rich was saying about the way Judge Kavanaugh responded to Senator Klobuchar, I mean, I talked to a lot of Republicans and Democrats over the last several days, Anderson, who just thought that was way over the top in his comments about the Clintons. It just sort of came out of left field.

And so, I do think there is a great deal of damage control going on. And perhaps they're looking at these votes right now and saying, you know what, this just may be too close to call.

COOPER: Jim, do you have any idea sort of what role the White House is playing now in -- I mean, obviously, look, this boils down to what happens in the Senate. But is the president making calls on this? They're obviously closely monitoring where the votes would be.

ACOSTA: I think at this point, they're adhering to the practice of do no harm. We understand he's been making some phone calls. But they've essentially been check-ins with loyal Republicans like Lindsey Graham.

I understand yesterday there was a phone call between Senator Graham and President Trump, according to a source, and it was essentially an opportunity for Senator Graham to pass along the message, Mr. President, please, in this process, do no harm. They are concerned about the X factor and that being the president what he says at these rallies and what he sees on Twitter, and so on, because as Lisa Murkowski said yesterday, she's taking all of this into consideration.

I mean, if Judge Kavanaugh is putting out an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal", talking -- defending his temperament, and he has a president who nominated him who has no -- has no value when it comes to temperament, that's an issue and I think they realize that.

COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, appreciate it.

And, everybody on the panel, thank you.

A lot more ahead as the Senate vote draws closer. Coming up next, plenty of officials and lawmakers pointing with pride at the FBI investigation. The question: why are so few lawmakers and key officials actually taking responsibility for how it was conducted?

[20:20:03] We're keeping them honest on that.

Also ahead, how one of the key undeclared senators might be leaning. We have a new window into what may be her thinking tonight on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Supreme Court nominees don't normally speak out on the eve of Senate action on their confirmation. Then again, nothing about this process has even been slightly typical.

Brett Kavanaugh not only is speaking out. He's got an op-ed running tonight in "The Wall Street Journal" that just went online. He writes that his testimony last week reflected his frustration, his word, of being wrongly accused.

The remarkable development comes at the end of quite a day and the advance of another one tomorrow. Tomorrow, one of just four senators who have not said how they'll vote on Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination will return to a secure room on Capitol Hill. There, with only a pen and paper to take notes that cannot leave the room, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, will review the FBI report he began looking at late today.

Manchin is a red state Democrat and he's up for re-election. He and three Republicans, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Jeff Flake are all the wild cards here.

For now, at least, that FBI report in that secure room, which the public will likely never get to see, appears to be the focus for at least some of those undecided members. For them, it may decide Judge Kavanaugh's fate or at least be what they point to to justify their vote.

Which is why keeping them honest, we're focusing on it now, because the question of who the FBI did and did not talk to, that's hotly disputed, and no one seems willing to step up and say exactly what the bureau's marching orders actually were.

Now, if you believe the president on Saturday, there were no FBI restrictions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have been all over it already. And they have free rein. They're going to do whatever they have to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Free rein, no restrictions on the FBI, he said. Yet in the days that followed, potential witnesses began coming forward to say that they had yet to be contacted or that they had reached out to the FBI and not heard back.

Here's James Roche, a freshman roommate of Judge Kavanaugh, they actually slept in the same room at Yale, who said that Kavanaugh didn't tell the truth under oath about his drinking habits or what he wrote in his high school yearbook.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So, just for the record, you've never been contacted, either now or in any past investigation?

JAMES ROCHE, KAVANAUGH FRESHMAN ROOMMATE: I've never been contacted about Brett by the FBI, ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And he's not alone in not being interviewed or contacted by the FBI. Neither was a classmate named Richard Oh (ph), nor was the former FBI special agent who administered Professor Ford's polygraph test or quite a few others that Senate Democrats believes should have been spoken to, even if they didn't have direct knowledge of a specific incident. They never spoke to the accuser herself, Dr. Ford, or to Judge Kavanaugh.

Now, it's not our business to tell the FBI certainly how to conduct an investigation. That said, we can say when it comes to who, if anyone, actually did tell the FBI how to conduct the investigation, key officials and lawmakers are not exactly tripping over themselves to say or take any spot for it.

So, listen to the White House spokesman Raj Shah today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Did the White House put limits on what the FBI could look into?

RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: So just to be clear, and this is something that's been lost in the process. A background investigation is not, you know, an investigation or criminal probe, for example. It doesn't seek to find a specific outcome. It seeks to find information for decision makers. The Senate has set a scope on what they're interested in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So there he says the Senate set the scope. But in the very same briefing, he also said this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAH: Any background investigation has to have some form of limiting scope, and this time it's always in these matters set by the White House, but we deferred to the Senate's requests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: All right. So, if you're confused by that, just wait and let Judiciary Committee member Mike Lee tell you who decided which potential witnesses the FBI should talk to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We did not come up with a list of people who the FBI should interview. The FBI was requested to conduct an investigation into any and all credible, current accusations of sexual misconduct by Judge Kavanaugh. And the FBI made the decision from there as to who to interview.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So according to him, it wasn't the Senate Judiciary Committee that shaped the FBI investigation, it was the FBI. The president said they had free rein, but his spokesman said the White House limited its scope but also deferred to the senator's requests. Doesn't clear it up.

One thing is clear. The White House and most Senate Republicans are pointing with pride to the investigation. What no one seems to be doing is taking real responsibility for it.

Late today, Senator Heidi Heitkamp, the red state Democrat from North Dakota, said she'll be voting no on Judge Kavanaugh. Senators Collins and Flake both expressed confidence in the FBI probe but have not declared publicly their preference.

We'll have some late reporting on Senator Murkowski. And what would be her current state of mind in a moment. But first, a last-minute twist, possibly big one.

For that, we turn to CNN's Manu Raju at the capitol with protesters certainly made things loud all the day and the arrests made as well.

So, Manu, what's the latest?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Republicans have no margin for error, as they head into a critical vote tomorrow to advance the nomination, to a final confirmation vote Saturday. And that is underscored by a Republican senator who supports Brett Kavanaugh's nomination, Steve Daines from Montana.

We have learned that Daines will not be in attendance for that Saturday confirmation vote because he's attending his daughter's wedding that day in Montana, walking down the aisle with her. He will not be in attendance.

So, what does that mean, Anderson? That means tomorrow's vote, so much riding on it. The Republican leaders know if they lose one Republican vote and all Democrats vote no, then Daines won't be there on Saturday and they won't have enough votes to confirm Kavanaugh on Saturday. They may have to delay the vote until potentially next week.

But if they do have the votes, if all the Republicans are lined up, 51 Republican senators vote yes, maybe they pick up a Democrat. Danes' absence on Saturday won't matter. But underscoring how narrowly divided this vote is, and how much of a cliffhanger it, is as we head into a crucial vote tomorrow morning, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I mean what are the votes looking like? Do we know where things stand with the undecided senators?

RAJU: Well, we know that those four senators have not declared their intentions. We know -- we spoke to all four of them today after they got their FBI briefings. Senator Susan Collins went in three times for briefings today. She said that the FBI investigation was thoroughly conducted. She had said that she is done with her review. She said she had not made a decision yet. It would been way -- probably way till tomorrow to announce that Jeff Flake said there was nothing to corroborate the allegations made against Kavanaugh.

And, he also suggested this was thoroughly done. Lisa Murkowski we tried to talk to her about this, she was noncommittal, she said she still reviewing this and Joe Manchin, that red state Democrat, also noncommittal, he said he's going to go back tomorrow morning to review this material further, Anderson.

COOPER: And just in terms of the FBI report, I mean clearly there are different narratives from Senate Democrats and Republicans today.

RAJU: Yes, Democrats are say thing was an incomplete report. There were dozens of witnesses who needed to be interviewed. And Republicans saying this was a thorough investigation, the seventh background investigation he's undergone through his public service. Now, when I asked the Republican leadership today about concerns from Christine Blasey Ford's camp that eight witnesses were not interviewed, and from Deborah Ramirez's camp, that 20 witnesses were not interviewed, I asked them why that did not happen and should they have green lighted the FBI to do more, this is how they responded.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAJU (on-camera): Why not green light the FBI, tell the White House to green light the FBI and interview these additional witnesses? SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) TEXAS: The FBI has gotten all the -- all the permission they need in order to interview whoever they think is necessary. There has been no one to corroborate any of the allegations made by Dr. Ford or by Ms. Ramirez. And the FBI has reported that back to us. They have followed additional leads. But the whole purpose of this is delay. This is not a search for the truth anymore.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJU: So, clearly not answering directly about why that didn't happen but trying to make the case it's a fishing expeditions. The ultimate question now Anderson, where do those key senators come down, do they agree with John Cornyn, or they agree with some the Democrats now.

COOPER: Of course that's what involves. Yes, Manu Raju, thanks very much.

I want to go to Anchorage Alaska. And now we're Gary Tuchman has been talking to some of Senator Murkowski's constituents who met actually with her today. Gary, I'm wondering what they said to you, I guess you talked to them after they had met with her. What did they tell you?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, we do now have a window into the senator's decision making process, but it doesn't come from the senator, it comes from those Alaskan women who visited with her in her office today. On Tuesday night Anderson, we were at the Anchorage Airport, dozens of women were flying to Washington, hoping to meet with the senator. They weren't sure. The meetings did happen today. So many women came. It split in to two sessions. The first session was 18 female lawyers who went to her office to talk to her. The lawyers did not want their names used. But they are fine with the information being use. One of the lawyers told me when they got out of the office today, just a couple of hours ago that she was convinced that the senator was going to vote no on Kavanaugh, that she would be very surprised the she voted yes.

The other lawyer I talked to just a short time ago, wasn't as strong about that but says she's hopeful now optimistic that she will vote no. They wanted the lawyers to talk to the senator about two specific topics, one, how credible they believed Professor Ford was, and two, about how appalled they were about the Judge's temperament during the recent Senate hearings, you know, it wasn't worthy of someone who wanted to be on the Supreme Court. They say the Senator's said temperament is an important issue to her, and regarding Professor Ford, they said the senator said she was compassionate and understanding about the whole situation, about why the lawyers were there.

They say the senator told them that this was an intense experience. The lawyers told the senator that when she comes back here to Alaska after she votes no, they will have her back.

Now, it's very important to point out that she hasn't said she's voted no but she hasn't said she's voting yes. She said that point during the meeting, she hadn't finished the FBI report, but she will make a decision soon and then she will release a statement. Is it wishful thinking for these Alaskan women? We don't know. But this is a slight window on the senator's process.

COOPER: So just a couple of things. First of all, be interesting to see if Judge Kavanaugh's op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal," which he basically addresses the temperament issue, would affect Senator Murkowski in any way, because as she, according to one of the women, she had talked about temperament being one of the issues she's looking at in addition to what's in the FBI report. But I just want to drill down. So, specifically, you heard from two women in this group, attorneys -- Alaskan attorneys who met with Murkowski. One of them told you, after meeting with Senator, she believes the Senator will vote no, that's just her belief, not anything that the Senator directly said to her, and the other woman you talked to was not sure. Is that correct?

[20:35:04] TUCHMAN: Well, No. I think one of the women said, you know, she went into the meeting thinking that the senator was definitely going to vote yes. She came out of the meeting now thinking preponderance of the evidence, she's a lawyer, so she talks like that, she thinks she'll vote no now. The other woman I talked to is reasonably sure. She said i think based on what she said to us and based on her attitude, I do believe firmly that she's going to vote no on Kavanaugh. I would be very surprised if she votes yes.

COOPER: All right, Gary Tuchman, we'll see. Thanks very much.

Coming up, speaking to senators, more reaction from Capitol Hill. We hear from Judiciary Committee Senator Richard Blumenthal live, next.

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COOPER: In just the last few minutes, we've seen a Supreme Court nominee make closing arguments for his confirmation in the opinion pages of a national newspaper the "Wall Street Journal." We heard that one senator's daughter's wedding could stand in the way of a vote on Saturday, and we watched the battle royale play out all day over the FBI investigation with Republicans defending it and Democrats vocally offering a criticism.

Joining us now is Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator, so in this op-ed from Judge Kavanaugh that's on line now in the "Wall Street Journal," he writes going forward, you can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I've been for my 28-year legal career, hardworking, even killed, open minded, independent, and dedicated to the constitution and the public good. And he said basically he kind of -- you know, there were some things he regrets that he went too far in his testimony. But he was there testifying as a father, as a son, and sort of just -- is trying to explain why he had the temperament on display that he did.

[20:40:04] SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT: That op-ed piece is a pretty obvious effort to clean up the debacle of his testimony to the judiciary committee a week ago. And that testimony was really profoundly revealing. Almost like taking the mask off the judge and showing the real person. And what he did this that testimony was show someone who was angry, vengeful, self-pitying, and threatening. Literally he looked at the Democratic side of the committee and said what comes around, goes around. He blamed the witness' testimony before him, the brave survivor who offered credible and powerful testimony about the sexual assault, blamed that testimony on left wing cabal and the Clintons.

So this op-ed in no way removes the issue of temperament and it is the reason that former Justice John Paul Stevens today said that performance last week was disqualifying, and why thousands of lawyers and former Judges around the country are writing to us, asking us to disapprove this nomination.

COOPER: Just about because I should point out, because I made this mistake earlier, what he said about the Clintons was that the opposition to -- by the Democrats was on behalf of the Clintons. It's a small point, but an important one. What about his point that it was the importance of what was at stake, and emotions involved with it that was behind some of the more contentious moments of his testimony.

Essentially saying, look, his reputation was on the line. You know, horrible allegations being made about him. And if he hadn't been, you know, some Republicans say look if he hadn't been as aggressive, he wouldn't be up for a vote.

BLUMENTHAL: That's a really important question, Anderson. And there are two points in response. Number one, that testimony was written, carefully prepared, planned, premeditated. Not some emotional outburst. And second, judges are supposed to put emotions aside. They're supposed to, in effect, be objective, impartial. Judges often become angry, believe me. I've litigated close to 40 years. I've seen some angry judges when they make their rulings, when they speak publicly, they're supposed to put those emotions to the side. And this op-ed in no way, in effect, cleans up that basic failing.

COOPER: I want to ask you about the report from the FBI. You read it. I know there's a lot you can't talk about when it comes to the report -- the FBI report. What can you say about it?

BLUMENTHAL: What i can say about it is that it leaves many questions unanswered. Many witnesses uninterviewed. And many leads unpursued. And it actually raises more questions than it answers. The other point to make is that the claim made by my Republican colleagues that there is no hint of misconduct in this report is absolutely untrue. I can't go into the contents, but I can tell you, the failure to seek witnesses and interview them. Witnesses who called in, I've seen the mounds of paper that record the FBI's tip line. People with relevant information, who were never contacted, let alone interviewed.

Dr. Blasey Ford, Judge Kavanaugh himself, never interviewed. Kerry Burcham from Connecticut, who offered very relevant information about outreach by Judge Kavanaugh before that "New Yorker" piece on Deborah Ramirez, possibly contradicting. His testimony before the committee, never interviewed. So there is a lot of work left undone, and it amounts to, unfortunately, a whitewash, not because of the FBI, but because of straitjacketing from the White House.

COOPER: And that's -- you believe the White House is the one who put a straitjacket on the investigation, who limited the scope, the scale of the investigation.

BLUMENTHAL: The White House is really responsible for circumscribing the witnesses, limiting the time, refusing, at our request made last Monday, the Senate Democrats gave him a list of 25, including Dr. Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh and Kerry Bircham who should be interviewed at a minimum. They got other lists, as well. And they had the tip line. They had suggestions from the interviews that they did do. And the White House was the one who, in effect, straitjacketed it.

COOPER: Senator Blumenthal, appreciate your time, thank you.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, what impact will the Kavanaugh controversy have on the midterms? We'll talk it over, David Gergen and Cecile Richards, next.

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[20:48:34] COOPER: More than 300 people were arrested during protests over the Kavanaugh controversy in the Senate office buildings today. The scene is just one indication of how strongly people feel about the nomination and sexual assault allegations against him. We have yet to see how that will translate to the voting booths but we'll soon find out.

Joining us now are David Gergen and former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards.

Cecile, before we talk about a possible midterm implications, you know, you've read Kavanaugh's op-ed. I want to ask you and David about it. You know, he says that he was there testifying as a father, as a husband, as a son. I'm wondering what you make of what he's saying in this op-ed?

CECILE RICHARDS, FMR PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Well, it's sort of an incredible campaign for a job that is supposed to be impartial and above politics. But I was actually sort -- as I was reading it, I was thinking of all the women judge, I can't imagine a woman being basically perform the way he did, which he clearly was not impartial. I think some people question his temperament. Certainly his honesty.

COOPER: You're saying if a woman applicant for the Supreme Court was yelling like that, was crying like that --

RICHARDS: It would be completely disqualifying. And we certainly a woman could never go back and then rewrite a story and say well, I was just being a mother or a daughter, or a sister, or a wife. I think that this is a desperate effort by Brett Kavanaugh to rewrite history. He wrote that testimony. He actually, proudly said those things. I think if the sexual assault concerns an allegations weren't concern enough, I think the fact that this is a man who clearly doesn't have the temperament. As I think Justice Stevens has said, does not have a temperament to be on the United States Supreme Court.

[20:50:13] COOPER: David, I mean how much do you think this is a reaction to, you know, Justice Stevens and what we heard even from some on Capitol Hill about raising concerns about temperament. How much of what -- I mean, Judge Kavanaugh deciding to put out this op-ed tonight, is it a response to those -- to that, to try to kind of nullify that?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely, it is -- this issue has become front and center over the last 72 hours. I think the letter has come in signed by what 1,700, 1,800 law professors around the country, who knew that there are that many people studying constitutional law or teaching and colleges and university and law school.

But I think that John Paul Stevens former Supreme Court Justice, appointed by a Republican President changing his mind, all of that has put enormous pressure on, and could cost him. Yes, this hour of the night, there seems to be less certainty about which way this going to go and we woke up this morning as Jim Acosta said, it appeared that very likely the Republicans were going to win this, in the next day or two, and now not so clear.

COOPER: What do you think Cecile, the -- if he is confirmed.

RICHARDS: Yes.

COOPER: What the impact might be on midterms? I mean does it energize Republican voters who support them or independents who support the judge and want him on and think this has been a travesty or what -- whether they say Democrats have done? Does it mobilize women and Democrats to at the midterm?

RICHARDS: Look, I think women were already motivated in this election. And now they're on fire. I've been all over the country and the midwest, this is all women are talking about, and I think that were -- you know, I actually was just looking at the most recent NBC poll which shows that college educated women are now more than 20 points in favor of Democrats taking back the House of Representatives, which is -- I mean in the last midterms it was maybe two points. This -- that's what I'm seeing is now the intensity is on the side of women, we've seen women do historic things already this year. Elect the first, you know, Democratic senator in Alabama, women running for office in historic ways. 80 women of color now nominated for Congress.

I think this whole matter. And frankly, it was one thing when the President says things he does about women which were so disparaging. But to see United States senators, like Senator Graham, like Senator Hatch say this list of things about the issues of sexual assault, it's really inflaming women around the country. COOPER: David, I mean for public and private pollsters are showing their Republicans are basically caught up to Democrats when it comes to voter enthusiasm. How much could what's happening with Kavanaugh actually be a good thing for Republicans heading to midterms?

GERGEN: Well, it's interesting, Anderson, the polls would suggest here in recent days, that they're Republicans as a result of this are solidifying their lead in the Senate, they may even pick up some seats like North Dakota, seems to be going heavily now for -- as a flip toward Republicans. At -- but at the same time, the Democrats have been hardened by the energy of women and others that -- and I think they're in stronger positions to take back the House. Women feel so -- just that I talked to just feel disgusted, angry, they want to do something. You know, it's reflected in the number of women that want to run for office already this year. The Kavanaugh stuff is really -- I think highly energized.

I mean if the vote is to confirm Kavanaugh, I think the likelihood and Cecile talked to this, I think it likely is that women will remain energized from now until election day. And, you know, a lot of the House seats are in where -- are suburban seats that are in play or suburban areas where women have a very, very loud and powerful voice. A lot of the Senate seats that are competitive they're in more rural states. That's why I say there may be this split. David Wasserman is a Cook reports man writing about that for that a while.

COOPER: Do you hear that Cecile?

RICHARDS: Well, I think it's -- I mean I think women are motivated. I think this is one of the mistakes that really the Republicans in the Senate have made is that sexual assault and sexual harassment is not a partisan issue. This is an issue that every woman in America has faced or know someone who has. And that's why they're making a mistake making this political.

COOPER: Cecile Richards, thanks very much. David Gergen as well.

I want to check on with Chris, see what he's working on for "CUOMO PRIME TIME" at the top of the hour. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We're drilling down, my brother. We're drilling down tonight. I mean this is one of those issues that is totally filtered to the lens of your partisan disposition. But this is one of those nights, instead of flying to the different silos, people are going to have to exercise reason. We have look at what's in this op-ed and it tells the story of who Kavanaugh is and how he should be measured.

We have Mike Mukasey the former A.G., he's going to be a great reflection of where people are on the right. We have Alyssa Milano tonight to show this ethos that you're just talking about there, how women are getting riled up and, why and what it means to them. So we're going to take it all on, we're going to go deep.

[20:55:08] COOPER: All right, a couple minutes from now, Chris, thanks very much, we'll be right. More news ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Scarlett O'Hara said tomorrow is another day, she didn't know the half of it. Because tomorrow in Washington is not another day, not in the Senate where the first vote on Brett Kavanaugh's scheduled shortly after the opening gavel drops tomorrow morning. Not another day either at the White House were so much is riding on the President second, perhaps defining Supreme Court pick and all across the country. People will be watching and we'll be there live bring it to you, minute by minute.

Also a reminder, don't miss "Full Circle" our daily interactive newscast on Facebook, you can pick some of the stories we cover. You see it weeknights at 6:25 eastern every weekday at facebook.com/andersoncooperfullcircle.

[21:00:06] The news continue right now. I want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME". Chris?

CUOMO: Thank you Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Prime Time".