Return to Transcripts main page


Senators Review FBI Report on Kavanaugh; Pence Set to Inflame China Tensions; Anti-Kavanaugh Protests Expected Nationwide

Aired October 4, 2018 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] JAMIE ROCHE, BRETT KAVANAUGH'S FRESHMAN YALE ROOMMATE: So I think this is not really about Brett. I'm hopeful that there are some senators who will think about this and decide that a different conservative justice would be a better idea. But I think what's happened is this has become about women and about things that happened to them and the way that they're treated and why they do or don't come out.

And I think that is a healthy and productive conversation. I've had lots of conversations with people who are my peers saying, you know, I'm looking back on this time and I'm trying to figure out whether there was something that I did that might be misconstrued as this, and I think that's a very, very healthy conversation.

You know, I sent my kids both back to school recently. And I found myself saying different things to each of them. I said to my daughter, you know, don't drink a drink that you didn't pour. Don't drink out of a red cup. And I said to my son, don't ever do anything that steals a woman's dignity or sense of safety.

And I don't think -- my dad never said anything like that to me. Right? And I think people are now saying this to boys. It's not a hunt. It's not a game. You know, these are people and they have feelings and the things that you do to them, whether you intended to do it or not, have long resonance. You know, they may be hurt by this for many, many years, and that's not OK.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're certainly having much different discussions now with our kids than we would have years ago, and maybe than we would have had a month and a half ago. No question about that.

Final question here, the Senate saw and the country saw a certain version of Brett Kavanaugh when he testified under oath on Thursday. An angry, incandescent and supporters -- his own supporters were, incandescent Brett Kavanaugh. I wonder if you can talk to his temperament that you saw in college

and if it's consistent with what we saw last week.

ROCHE: You know, I was worried about this. I mentioned in the first thing that Ronan wrote. I said that he was belligerent, and I had this conversation in my head when people say well, OK, justify that. Tell me something that he did that was belligerent. And I had heard stories of violence, not against women at that time, but other things. But I had never seen anything. And so I was worried about, how do you characterize the fact that you know somebody when they get past a certain point in drinking becomes violent and belligerent?

And I think what we saw on TV, in front of the Senate, is an illustration of that. That's what -- that is what belligerence looks like.

BERMAN: Jamie Roche, I appreciate you coming and telling your story to us on NEW DAY. Talking to Anderson last night. It's an important discussion to have and we value your input here. Thank you.

ROCHE: Thank you for having me.

BERMAN: And just a note, because we've been saying consistently, of course, Judge Kavanaugh denies this happened. He denies Jamie Roche's version of it and says among other things that Jamie has got an axe to grind. But an interesting discussion.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Very interesting. In fact I know that Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto want to talk to you about it. But I think that what Jamie Roche just said, if there is a silver lining to all of this drama and controversy that everybody has been living through for these past weeks it's the conversations that we're having with our own children.


CAMEROTA: And how important those are to start early.



COOPER: And be explicit.


SCIUTTO: You know, John, what struck me, as you talked to him there, his own willingness to acknowledge the limits of his knowledge. Right?


SCIUTTO: You know, he claimed to have memories of things, but in the places where he couldn't fill in the spaces, he said, listen, I can't fill in those spaces there.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: It seemed to be a -- he was doing his best to give a thoughtful account.

BERMAN: I have to say, you know, it strikes me. I asked him, does he have a specific memory himself of Brett Kavanaugh not remembering something the next day after drinking, and he said yes. He says he remembers vaguely sitting around a room and talking about things that didn't happen when he was drinking.

You know if -- Jamie Roche and Brett Kavanaugh both can't be telling the truth here. If Jamie Roche is telling the truth, Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath and committed perjury.


BERMAN: Before the U.S. Senate. This is not something that the FBI looked into. There are questions. There will be questions raised about whether or not they should.

HARLOW: And Berman, for people who may not have seen the full interview, 20 minutes that -- you know, that you just did with him, what stood out to you the most? What is the most important thing you think the American people learned from hearing from him?

BERMAN: I think his certitude that Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath. That is a serious claim to make. Serious and new and specific.


BERMAN: He says he specifically lied about his memory loss while drinking. Brett Kavanaugh then specifically lied about some of the terms he testified to, to the U.S. Senate.


BERMAN: And that's a very serious claim. I think that has the most lasting significance. And then I think just thematically why he chose to come forward and perhaps -- and I want to give Alisyn Camerota credit for this because she thinks -- she gave me this question, informed question to ask, does he worry that he came forward too late, and his answer to that was maybe, maybe yes.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean --

[09:05:01] SCIUTTO: Well, he also made the point that many witnesses in his view are scared to come forward because they're concerned --


SCIUTTO: -- about being attacked in public as many witnesses have in this case.

CAMEROTA: And they have. And furthermore, they haven't been asked to come forward. I mean, the FBI, as we know, is not casting a very wide net. HARLOW: Right.

CAMEROTA: And it was very interesting to hear Jamie Roche say that there are many more people at Yale that would have relevant information.

HARLOW: Mm-hmm. And the temperament question, I mean, you know, what we saw in the "New York Times" this morning, the letter signed by more than 1,000 law professors speaking to the temperament that he displayed under oath and what Jamie Roche knows about, his temperament in college, what he saw and what he heard as well, and how that all related.

Great interview all morning you, guys.

SCIUTTO: Thank you, guys.

HARLOW: I mean --


BERMAN: You're going to have a busy two hours here.


BERMAN: You're going to have a busy two hours.


BERMAN: They're starting to read these documents. Then we'll hand it over to you.


HARLOW: OK. Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Well, we'll keep that and we're joined now by CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers and CNN law enforcement analyst Josh Campbell, long history in the FBI.

Josh, if I could begin with you. So let's get to that issue. This is a background check because there's been a lot of back and forth here about what belongs in a background check and in this supplemental investigation that the FBI has now conducted.

Would the FBI normally be interested if a nominee like Brett Kavanaugh presents a certain account of the way they drank and so on? Even many years ago. And others who were there with them say the opposite?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It would, but you know, as I watched that interview, I couldn't help but think that, you know, it's illuminating, it's compelling, it's utterly inconsequential because as we speak right now senators are reading the final report that was handed over from the FBI.

That gets to your question, what's in that report? It doesn't include all this information. Now in a typical criminal investigation there are no limits. The FBI can gather, taking the facts wherever they lead them. In this case, the background investigation, they're set by the parameters of the White House. So although we've been seen this reporting that there all these allegations coming forward, it doesn't appear that the White House or Senate care enough about what's being said to incorporate that into the investigation.

HARLOW: To your point about FBI investigations having limits versus background checks being limited in scope by the White House -- to the control room, let's cue up if we can Raj Shah, the White House spokesperson this morning, his answer to that question. Let's play it.


RAJ SHAH, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The Senate has set a scope on what they are interested in. They have already investigated this matter through their own Senate process. They wanted interviews of additional individuals.

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


HARLOW: You are shaking your head. He chose intentionally to say the Senate set the scope.

CAMPBELL: Right. And as I listen to that, you know, he's half right. Yes, the FBI takes its direction from the White House. But when he said that every background investigation has to be limited in scope, that is not true. In fact, we want the opposite if you are the American people, if you are the Senate, if you are the White House who's appointing someone, you want to know everything about this person. Are they suitable for office? You don't have to set a limiting scope, as he says.


JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And the scope could have been the week that they had. Right? I mean, that is a limit in scope. So they could have said and at times they said that this is what was happening. You have a week. Go look into it and whatever you do in that week is fair game and then give us a report. That's what could have done here.

SCIUTTO: Well, Josh and Jennifer, please stay with us.

HARLOW: Stay there.

SCIUTTO: Because we have a lot more to discuss.

Whether Judge Kavanaugh -- actually let's go to the Hill first because whether Judge Kavanaugh gets a lifetime seat, and keep in mind, not just any seat, the swing seat on the highest court in the land, or if he goes back to his already very powerful position of being in the nation's second highest court.

All of this will almost certainly be decided today, and these are the senators who likely will decide it. They are three Republicans, two Democrats. And as we speak, Kavanaugh's supplemental FBI background check, the one that we've been discussing here, initiated less than a week ago, is in the hands of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Right? Members taking turns by party to look at the single printed copy.

That's right. Just one printed copy of a series of witness interviews and by series, let's specify that is nine witnesses.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: Not nearly as many Democrats and Kavanaugh's accusers as they have wanted.

HARLOW: Exactly. Even before the new FBI report arrived, it came at 2:30 in the morning. In the middle of the night to Capitol Hill. You see there, what happened around 10:00 p.m. last night. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set in motion a procedural vote for tomorrow, a very important procedural vote, which could mean a final vote on Kavanaugh's nomination to the high court on Saturday.

He is keeping his promise that this critical lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court will be decided this week.

Let's go to the hill. Manu Raju is there.

Moment by moment, take us through what's happening right now.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now Democratic senators are going behind closed doors in a secure location in the capital to get briefed about the contents of this FBI investigation. This came after Republican staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee spent the hour 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 hour just looking at it themselves, getting briefed and reading the contents of that one hard copy report.

[09:10:12] Now, after the Republican staff read the contents, they will then brief the Republican senators when they have a chance to get briefed about this in the 10:00 a.m. hour. And that is expected to be the full Senate Republican conference. So that means the three key senators that we have been talking about for days, Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins who could determine whether or not Brett Kavanaugh gets that seat on the Supreme Court for life, they are expected to get that briefing starting at 10:00.

It could stretch up until noon. And within that time frame, expect Democratic senators led by Chuck Schumer to come out and brief the press. And you will expect to hear them to express some significant concerns about what they view as a probe that has not been done adequately. I'm sure they'll see things in there that they don't like.

Republicans already saying -- the White House already putting a word there is nothing to corroborates the allegations made against him, so expect today to be all sort of two narratives being pushed by each side. One on the Democratic side, completely opposite on the Republican side. But the focus on those key senators. How do they view this investigation, do they want more answers and are they going to be prepared to vote yes or no come tomorrow -- Poppy and Jim.

SCIUTTO: Manu, I want to ask your help in clearing up a question here. And there is some confusion about this, and some came out last night. On this question of whether there was any indication, any concerns about Kavanaugh's drinking habits raised in the previous background checks.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: You are aware the Judiciary Committee tweeted out that there was not a whiff of this.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: That was contradicted by several Democratic senators. And I just heard one on the air, Senator Coons, although he did not sign his name to this because at that point he says he hadn't been briefed. Reference something in previous background checks within the limit of saying, listen, I can't talk about it fully because this is private, confidential, et cetera. Can you help clear up exactly what the facts are on that?

RAJU: It's very uncertain what exactly the Democrats are eluding to there. This is something we are hearing very late in this process. And because they are bound by the confidentiality of the background investigation, they are not providing more details. So Republicans already are pushing back on this. We don't know how Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski or Susan Collins view that, if they are aware of whatever Democrats are referring to here.

HARLOW: Right.

RAJU: But I can tell you, in the last couple of days asking those three key senators about this issue, about drinking and whether or not they essentially investigated, they seemed to -- at least Jeff flake in particular poured cold water on an investigation into that aspect of Brett Kavanaugh's life.

HARLOW: Right.

RAJU: So how will that impact the final vote, uncertain at this point.

SCIUTTO: Right. All right.

HARLOW: Got it.

SCIUTTO: Well, we'll try to clear it up as best we can.

Manu Raju, thanks very much.

The administration says that it is now fully confident that senators will approve Kavanaugh's nomination. Officials telling CNN they believe the latest interviews show no corroboration of the allegations against the Supreme Court picks, specifically allegations of sexual assault.

Abby Phillip has the latest now from the White House.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jim and Poppy, the White House expressing so much confidence this morning about the Brett Kavanaugh nomination saying that they believe that whatever is in this FBI report is not going to stand in his way and also that the president, while he has not read the full report, has been briefed on it this morning.

But we were -- but we asked, CNN asked this morning Raj Shah to tell us whether the White House felt they had the votes because ultimately that's what matters here, and here is what Shah had to say.


SHAH: We don't necessarily know yet. Obviously the senators have just begun to review this information. But we feel very confident that we will have the votes.


PHILLIP: And the White House is also lamenting the effect of all of this, not just on Kavanaugh's reputation, but on the Supreme Court which they believe that he will be on fairly shortly. The president this morning also injecting some partisan politics in there saying that he believes the voters are with him. He says, "The harsh and unfair treatment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh is having an incredible upward impact on voters. The people get it far better than the politicians. Most importantly this great life cannot be ruined by mean and despicable Democrats and totally uncorroborated allegations."

Now that's going to become important particularly for some of the red state Democrats who are in the undecided column. And the White House says this morning that they are in close contact with those undecided senators trying to get this over the finish line likely by this morning -- Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes. All right. Abby, thanks for the update from the White House.

Our experts are back with us. And Jennifer, I also want to point people to what I brought up just briefly at the beginning of the show. And that is apart from the allegations of sexual assault, the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh, more than 1,000 law professors have now signed this letter in the "New York Times."

Let me read part of it, OK.


HARLOW: Because it goes to the temperament question. "At the Senate hearing on September 27th, Judge Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land. Do you agree from a legal ends from what you saw and is that germane to this?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I do agree. We have never seen a Supreme Court nominee behave that way. It is totally contrary to how you want a judge to behave. And the way that he was speaking about the partisan politics that he thought was attacking him means to me he really can't be fair in the most political cases that go to the Supreme Court, especially things like gerrymandering, where there are actually overtly political and you have a political party on one --


RODGERS: Side. So I agree, the problem is do the senators care? I mean, this all to me, I feel like senators are going to be saying we should have picked a different guy. I wish we could back it up and pick someone else. We can't, so are we just going to stick with him notwithstanding all of this and I'm concerned that the answer is going to be yes.

SCIUTTO: Josh Campbell, could I ask you a very basic question? The FBI for the purposes of this supplemental investigation did not interview the two key witnesses, Kavanaugh and his accuser Blasey Ford. Is that -- what they say in effect is, listen, they already gave their testimony, that's enough --

HARLOW: Sure --

SCIUTTO: Is that -- is that protocol? Is that normal?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it's either one or two things. It's either what you said there that they thought maybe there's enough on the record testimony that's been taken in front of the Senate that they have a body of information that they can draw from and use to actually interview other witnesses and ask questions about or it's something else.

And this is the part that's troubling, that there is this one week deadline that's been imposed on this investigation. And so obviously, we talked about these parameters that were very tightly scripted by the White House, that's all a factor. We've been reporting our sources the last couple of days, they're familiar with the investigation.

One of them actually described the process, saying that just because the FBI hasn't interviewed Dr. Ford yet doesn't mean that they wouldn't want to interview her at some point. In fact, a key witness you might want to save to the end after you've gathered a lot of information. The problem is, time's up.

The reports over --


CAMPBELL: With the Senate right now, so even if they wanted to, it doesn't appear that either they were allowed to or that it would fit within this narrow one week window that they -- that was prescribed by the White House.

HARLOW: Yes --

SCIUTTO: Senators, you're going to have to make the decision without that, it appears and remains a difficult decision. Josh, Jennifer, thank you --

HARLOW: Thank you both --

SCIUTTO: Very much. We are following all the breaking news this morning on the Hill. There's lots of it where right now senators reading that FBI report on Kavanaugh. Protesters as they do that are gearing up to fight this nomination, we're going to stay on it.

HARLOW: Also major headlines from the Vice President this morning taking tension with China to a whole new level. In hours, he will deliver a speech just slamming Beijing for aggressive moves against U.S. military, and trying to, in his words, undermine the president.


SCIUTTO: Happening right now as we speak, senators on Capitol Hill pouring over the FBI's report on the sexual assault allegations made against Brett Kavanaugh. There he is, only one copy, they're handing it back and forth between party --

HARLOW: Yes --

SCIUTTO: And party.

HARLOW: In a locked box, meantime, this is happening. Thousands of protesters across the country descending on Washington, taking part in this cancel Kavanaugh march, a last second show of force hoping to pressure those five key senators who will decide how they will vote on this nomination. Let's go to Athena Jones, she's on a bus right now with them heading to Washington. What are they saying?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Poppy and Jim, I'm on a bus, one of several busses heading to Washington to protest the confirmation of Kavanaugh. These folks on this bus are angry, they're sad, they want to do something. They want to deliver a message to this group of undecided senators.

As I mentioned, one of several buses heading down, this is one organized by the women's march, there's also a bus, there are a group of people, the American Civil Liberties Union has pulled together 130 folks coming in from Alaska, so this is taking place all over the country. I talked to -- we're talking about these undecided senators, and I've spoken with Elizabeth Kennedy, she was one of the first to arrive at 4 O'clock this morning.

She's from Maine, and while she's registered in New York, she has family in Maine who are constituents of Senator Susan Collins. You talked to me earlier about the impact Susan Collins vote on Kavanaugh for or against, will have on her legacy. What is the message you want to send to her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I know that a group of survivors came down all the way from Maine to D.C. yesterday for a scheduled visit with Senator Collins, and he did not make that visit with those constituents. So if she's not representing the constituents and their survivors of Maine, then really, it goes down to what is the legacy.

Is it going to be a shameful one that does not represent the constituents of Maine and honor those voices, or will it be one that impacts the survivors in a positive way and sends a clear message for generations to come.

JONES: So that is some of what we're hearing from folks on this bus, they're sad, they're angry and they want to take action. This will be a day of action with a rally outside of the Supreme Court and also outside the Capitol steps. And one more I want to say to you, you heard the other day President Trump saying this is a difficult time, a scary time for young men in America. How did that make you feel?

Did that add to sort of the anger that drove you to join this protest?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's deeply problematic and concerning because it's sending a message that it's not just about believing survivors, it's about the fact that we don't care about their experiences, and that includes men. It is not just women.

Survivors touch every gender identity, and so it's important to remember that, and it's important to remind us that we need to value those voices.

JONES: Great. So, this is the group we're heading -- we just passed Baltimore, arriving in Washington soon for what they're calling a day of action. Jim, Poppy?


SCIUTTO: Athena Jones, thanks very much. This morning, we continue to watch closely for a reaction from several key senators to this FBI report. They have said they are waiting to read the latest FBI interviews on Brett Kavanaugh before deciding how they're going to vote.

HARLOW: And as Democrats also are getting a first look at this report, remember the full Senate will see it before they vote on the nomination.

[09:25:00] Will they accept the finding? Joining us now Senator Ed Markey; Democrat of Massachusetts, sits on the Foreign Relations Committee. Nice to have you this morning, senator. Thank you for joining us.


HARLOW: Let's begin with the facts. We know that the FBI had extensive conversations with nine people, OK? Nine. In -- nowhere near this full list of those who were turned over to them, recommended to them by Democrats and Republicans that they should talk to. We know that Ford and Kavanaugh did not speak to the FBI. They did not interview them. In your view, is this a fulsome and credible investigation?

MARKEY: It's obviously a cover up. The Trump White House working with the Republican leadership in the Senate have deliberately circumscribed this investigation so that only a small handful of people will be questioned. And if any leads are in fact developed that the FBI is not allowed to follow them in order to determine the truth of what happened.

And whether we're talking about Debby Ramirez or we're talking about James Roche or we're talking about many other people who have come forward --

HARLOW: Well --

MARKEY: To say that they are willing to give information. The FBI, the White House and --

HARLOW: And senators --

MARKEY: The Senate leadership are just turning a deaf ear.

HARLOW: Senator, it's quite an accusation to say this is a cover up by the White House, and I would just say in response to the question about limiting the scope of the investigation we're saw this morning on "NEW DAY", told Alisyn Camerota, look, the Senate has to put boundaries on this and has to put limits on this and that's what the Senate did. To that you say?

MARKEY: I say they're making a mockery of the constitutional requirement that the Senate provide its advice and consent. They're limiting how many people can be interviewed in the wake of the Kavanaugh testimony. They're not even interviewing Kavanaugh or Dr. Ford.

And then they're handing us a document this morning that 100 members of the Senate must read. They've only made one copy of it for the United States Senate, and then scheduled a vote tomorrow on this issue. This is making a mockery of the constitutional responsibility of the Senate, the Trump White House has orchestrated it, the Republican leadership has acquiesce to it.

But ultimately, it is the American people who are being disserved by not allowing their elected senators to even read or understand what in fact this -- the total comprehensive body of knowledge is about this man.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this question because what we know and we don't know everything about of course what's in this report because we haven't read it ourselves, but we believe that the FBI at least reached out to potential witnesses to the alleged sexual assault.

It's the White House's reading and I suppose we take that with a grain of salt, but still none of those witnesses corroborated Ford's account. If it is true that the limited number of witnesses to that did not corroborate the account, does that in your view present enough doubt or questions about that account to move on?

MARKEY: No, not at all. The veracity of Judge Kavanaugh at the hearing is clearly something that is questionable, given the dubious answers that he gave to the Democratic senators about the information back from when he was younger. That's not to say that a young person isn't capable of making mistakes.

But you should not be telling lies about it to the United States Senate in your confirmation hearing. And his temperament before the Senate during that hearing, that also clearly in my opinion disqualified him. When he's talking about everything that goes around, comes around, making references back to the Clintons, when we're just trying to get to the source of the truth of who he is, what his background is and what his temperament is, clearly he got disqualified.

And the reason it's so important is that Donald Trump promised the American people that he was going to name a justice who would repeal Roe versus Wade, who would repeal the Affordable Care Act and the pre- existing condition coverage that every American is entitled to.

So the consequences of having a cover up, not having all of the information be made available to the senators could lead to someone who is serving on the Supreme Court who in fact does not have either the credibility or the temperament, but is nothing more than a political appointee to effectuate the political agenda of Donald Trump.

SCIUTTO: All right, Senator Ed Markey, thanks very much for taking the time today. We will continue to monitor as your colleagues are getting their first chance to read this FBI report.

HARLOW: You know, then it ends up in the hands of Congress, if he is confirmed, then it's up to, you know, the house will be moved to impeach, which is something --

SCIUTTO: If they won't --

HARLOW: We haven't seen in a long time if Dems retake control --

SCIUTTO: That would depend on Dems of course retaking --

HARLOW: Of course --

SCIUTTO: Control.

HARLOW: All right, quick break, we're back in a moment.