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Flake Says Will Vote Yes on Kavanaugh For Saturday; McConnell Optimistic About Vote After Lunch with Collins; Verdict reached in Chicago Trial of Cop Who Killed Teen; Unemployment Rate Falls To 49 Year Low. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 5, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Ana Cabrera in for Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for joining me on this critical news day as Senators voted to advance Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination to a final floor vote tomorrow. His confirmation is still hanging by a thread. Next hour Senator Susan Collins will announce if she is a yes or a no for tomorrow's vote, potentially making this margin even thinner. Now, to be clear, today's vote was to invoke cloture and to end debate and take up a vote, it typically mirrors how a Senator will ultimately vote in their final decision but not always. That's why there's so much anticipation right now. Senator Jeff Flake was one of the question marks. He told reporters he will vote yes tomorrow. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you plan to vote yes tomorrow?

SEN. JEFF FLAKE, (R), ARIZONA: Unless something big changed. I don't see what would.


CABRERA: Flake, Collins and Joe Manchin, the lone Democrat, all voted yes today. Lisa Murkowski voted no. But what Collins announces the next hour is what could ultimately be a game changer. Joining us now is Manu Raju. Are you hearing any more details about Collins' mindset right now?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, something potentially significant just happened. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell had lunch with Senator Collins just moments ago, along with other members of the Republican leadership like Senator John Cornyn, the number two Republican. Now, McConnell emerged from that lunch and said he was, quote, optimistic about the vote tomorrow. That's a rather surprising comment for this reason, McConnell rarely comments to reporters in the hallway about something so significant, something that's about to happen, something so sensitive. So potentially sending a message about what he may have learned from Susan Collins. Now, he did not say explicitly how Susan Collins is going to vote. Collins refused to comment until she makes her floor speech at 3 p.m. if she were to vote yes, Brett Kavanaugh would get confirmed to the Supreme Court. If she votes no, the focus shifts to Joe Manchin of West Virginia and will he that Democrat cast the decisive vote to essentially give Kavanaugh that lifetime seat. Manchin himself has not said how he would vote on confirmation. We probably are not going to hear from Manchin until after Collins speaks. All the focus will be on Susan Collins in just a matter of minutes when she goes to the Senate floor and makes the dramatic announcement.

CABRERA: Thank you for your reporting.

All eyes were on that reporting this morning, including President Trump's. Jeff Zeleny, is the President still feeling confident about this vote for his nominee?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I would say he's silently optimistic. We do know behind the scenes he's watching what is happening on the Senate floor very carefully. We did speak with White House press secretary Sarah Sanders a short time ago and she said "I hope so" when asked if the confirmation is going to happen, if Judge Kavanaugh is going to be confirmed. She said they certainly believe that he should be confirmed and they believe it's heading in that direction. An interesting thing that happened on the eve of this vote last evening, Brett Kavanaugh came out with an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" essentially apologizing for his heated rhetoric and heated comments in defense of himself last week in that hearing. He said if I became too emotional, essentially apologizing for that. Trying to respond to some serious concerns from some Senators about his temperament and if he can serve impartially. I asked Sarah Sanders about that, what the President thought of that apology. She said, look, he wants him to be confirmed. So, the reality here is there is a sense that the confirmation is happening regardless of what Susan Collins decides to do. But if she says yes and Joe Manchin says yes, the vice President will not be needed to break a tie. But he is standing by in Washington this weekend should he be need. And Sarah Sanders was also asked if that happened, will there be an asterisk on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh and she downplayed that and said if he's confirmed, he's conformed, it's a life time position. And that's true. The President will be watching Susan Collins at 3:00.

[14:05:00] CABRERA: The eyes of the nation will be watching. I want to bring in CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger and CNN Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic. Do you think Collins and Manchin are still weighing their final decisions?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's hard to know. We don't know whether it was arm twisting or saying thank you. We just don't know. And I think that -- I think that given the nature and the importance of this vote, I can't imagine that whatever each of them decides they didn't have second thoughts about it. It's just been that kind of a process here. And we know that Flake wanted to get to yes, we know that he voted for Kavanaugh in the committee, for example, so that was a clear sign. We know that both he and Collins came out of that secret room after reading some documents saying that they saw no corroboration and that it was a complete report, they believed. So that may give you a hint about Susan Collins. So, I think we're just going to honestly have to wait another little less than an hour to find out. But it would seem to me that they would be less likely to change their votes on final. CABRERA: Exactly. Susan Collins expected to make this announcement

at 3:00, less than an hour from now. You have to wonder why would she vote yes this morning if she had any intention of announcing something different later?

BORGER: Well, you know, it's interesting. I mean, usually these procedural votes mean that you're going to go with it on final passage. But if you go back to health care reform, for example, John McCain we all remember voted yes on the procedural vote to get it to final passage because he thought maybe the bill could get worked on a little bit and then you remember the famous thumbs down that he gave on final passage. This is a little different because it's not a piece of legislation, it's actually just voting on one person. And one confirmation. So, it would seem less likely to me.

CABRERA: And to that point, both Murkowski and Collins have broken ranks before. There's the Betsy Devos nomination, the Russians sanction bill, health care was another one where they had broken ranks earlier. But, Jeff, does any other vote really compare to this?

ZELENY: I think it's different in every respect because it is Justice Kennedy's seat. That's what I think we have to take this back to. That is what we are talking about here, that is why this is such a big moment, why you see those protests on capitol hill, why you see this -- such app emotional outcry. That is what -- I mean, the stakes could not be higher. It's the pivot al position on the Supreme Court. That's why it's such a tough position for the Senators. I don't think it's akin to any of the legislative votes we discussed there. Usually the Senators vote the same to advance the debate as the final passage, but not necessarily. The reality is, like Joe Manchin I've seen him repeatedly during my time covering capitol hill, he generally votes to proceed to the final bill because he does not believe that the Senate should be delaying things. So that's what that vote was this morning. Usually we don't even pay attention necessarily to those votes because it's just a vote to have the vote. So, it would be unusual, I guess, in this case because it's not legislation. But, look, all eyes on Susan Collins this afternoon. And when you talk to people in Maine and others, they think she, you know, had a good rapport with Judge Kavanaugh when she had a meeting with him. She has said privately that she believes it's probably one of the best nominees, in her view, that she will get from this administration on a variety of things. So, I think you have to take it back to that as well. And don't discount that essentially apology in "The Wall Street Journal" this morning. He might as well have been addressing that to Susan Collins and sending a postcard to her because that was the audience for that op-ed, no doubt about it.

CABRERA: But you have to remember that this is bigger, this conversation is bigger than this one nominee. It's not just about sexual misconduct allegations that Senators have been weighing heavily, but also now Kavanaugh's testimony just last week that came across rather partisan and that has really unleashed some new considerations for these Senators. Listen to this.

[14:10:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election; fear that has been unfairly stoked; revenge on the Clintons. This is a circus. The consequences will extend long beyond anyway nomination. As we all know in the political system of the early 2000s, what goes around comes around.


CABRERA: Joan, Jeff is mentioned that the op ed Judge Kavanaugh wrote last night to try to reassure Senators and Americans that he would be an impartial jurist. Do you think it was enough to put those concerns aside?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: He might have satisfied a sufficient number of Senators, such as Susan Collins, to clear confirmation tomorrow, but I think that op-ed was more forward looking to a wider audience also. You mentioned the American people. I would add law professors, Judges and his soon-to-be colleagues likely, the other eight justices. And after that display, you know, immediately that Thursday night there was a lot of criticism of him and it did not die down. It only got louder and louder, that I thought the only step he could take was what he did last night. And I think the message he wanted to send, not just to key Senators, but to would-be colleagues is that I will be independent, I will be impartial, please think of me the way you might have thought of me before this whole thing burst forth three weeks ago. So, I think this is the first step of what will probably be a Justice Kavanaugh's effort to restore his reputation in the greater public and in the third branch with lawyers.

BORGER: And, Ana, I want to correct myself here because Collins did end up voting with the administration on health care in the end, but she voted against them on the procedural motion. And so, she had a little bit of leverage there and they had to give her something in order to get her vote. Here she voted with them on the procedural motion. So, we'll see if she votes with them again on Kavanaugh.

CABRERA: And again, we're going to await her big announcement coming up at 3:00. Jeff, on this broader issue of sexual assault and women in America, President Trump traveled to Minnesota yesterday. He called out their former Senator. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: He was whacky. Boy, did he fold up like a wet rag, huh? I don't want to mention Al Franken's name, OK, so I won't mention it. He was gone -- he was gone so fast. It was like, oh, he did something, oh, oh, oh, I resign, I quit, I quit.


CABRERA: Jeff, is he saying that anyone accused of sexual misconduct should just deny, deny, deny and fight back?

ZELENY: We certainly know that's the President's position. He's made that clear repeatedly when he has been accused extraordinarily and often by many women he's been in contact with throughout the years. Throughout the week he's been saying only that men are victims here and talking about young men and how their lives could be ruined. He didn't necessarily seem to be coming to Al Franken's defense there of course. He was mocking him for being weak. The thing that struck me the most at that Minnesota rally last evening in Rochester, Minnesota, the President did not repeat his mocking of Christine Blasey Ford that he had done earlier in the week in Mississippi.

CABRERA: And yet he is --

ZELENY: He was roundly criticized. He did not say that last night. That could have been certainly dangerous when you have Senators who are trying to make up their minds here. They didn't like that at all.

CABRERA: But what I was going to say is he did go after other sexual assault victims or survivors, including the two protesters who encountered Jeff Flake in that elevator today. He tweeted calling them actors and Democratic pawns.

[14:15:00] Stand by with me. Coming up, what does all of this mean heading into the mid terms, which is just 32 days out now? We'll discuss who has political momentum and the significance of today's jobs report as unemployment is now at its lowest point in 49 years. Plus, just in, a verdict has been reached in the murder trial of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. He's facing murder charges of the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.


CABRERA: Breaking news out of Chicago where we are getting word a verdict has been reached in the trial of a police officer who killed a Chicago teen-ager four years ago. Jason van dyke faces multiple counts. Van dyke shot Laquan McDonald 16 times, saying he fired in self-defense. Ryan Young has been covering this case for us in Chicago. Ryan, what can you tell us?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This one has been a tough one for the city. This all comes down to what you believe. When the video was released four years ago, it set the city in a shock wave. It shut down the city. It appears Laquan McDonald is walking maybe towards a fence. Jason Van Dyke's attorney said they believe Laquan McDonald was years ago, it set the city in a shock wave. It shut down the city. It appears Laquan McDonald is walking maybe towards a fence. Jason van dyke's attorney said they believe Laquan McDonald was walking with a knife toward the officer. There were ten other officers standing around him, none of the others fired. Yesterday something very strange happened. Two alternate jurors were released from the jury, and they gave some sound about how they felt about how this case was moving forward. It's pretty extraordinary. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel like you had an idea if you were deliberating which way you would go? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes, definitely. Most definitely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which way would you go?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would have said guilty.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of things. For me he should have waited a little bit longer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would have leaned towards a guilty verdict.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was there a particular moment that solidified that to you or a particular piece of evidence?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the fact that other officers having encountered Laquan McDonald that night and this didn't feel the need to use deadly force.


YOUNG: There a lot on the line here. A something police officer has not been charged with murder in some 40 years. So much has changed. All Chicago police officers where body cameras, they use tasers. But you think about everything else, the ramifications. In the courthouse behind us, all nonessential employees have been let go for the day. Police officers are going on 12-hour shifts. All off days have gave them cancelled, gave them an addition 4,000 officers they can call on. The Chicago marathon is this weekend. Laquan McDonald's family has stepped forward and asked for no protests while the trial is going on. Activists are talking if this goes one way or the other, they plan to hit the streets and let the city of Chicago know that they won't stand for this moving forward without this officer being found guilty.

CABRERA: We will see in a matter of moments. Meantime, crowds of anti-Kavanaugh protesters gathering inside and outside the Senate office building, this as President Trump calls them paid professionals used to make them look bad. And protests are growing outside Senator Flake's officer where a sit-in is planned. Stay with us.


CABRERA: As we await Senator Susan Collins to take the Senate floor to explain how she plans to vote on Judge Kavanaugh, expected to happen in about a half an hour from now, we are covering another major story today, good news for the U.S. economy. Another strong jobs report. The unemployment rate dropping to a 49-year low, at 3.7 percent. President Trump is touting that accomplishment. The string of positive job reports will be a main subject among congress as they fight to hold jobs in the mid terms. Christine Romans breaks it down for us.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN MONEY CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I want to give you this another first, the unemployment rate, 3.7 percent. That is the lowest unemployment rate since 1969. I just want you to think about that for a minute. This is a generational low here that we're seeing. This is essentially full employment. You have 6 million people who want a job, 6 million people looking for a job. That's essentially a match in the labor market. Job created was a bit lighter. That's because of hurricane Florence. That compares with last September when there was also a hurricane. You can see how those numbers play out there. These months were revised higher. You have really strong job creation.

[14:30:00] Let me show you how that fits into the overall picture. With this new number, you're going to appear almost 2 million jobs created. We have had years now of steady, steady job creation. The sectors here that are important to look at, business and information services, tend to be high paid jobs, health care, up-and-down spectrum, all kinds of jobs there in healthcare, that has been the case for about eight years. Manufacturing, 18,000 net new jobs there. For the year 278,000 manufacturing jobs. Also, some jobs in mining. I think you can see the president's trade policies there. So, looking at a little bit of resurgence in manufacturing. For more in-depth coverage, go to the new CNN business,

CABRERA: Christine romans, thank you. OK, so this jobs report obviously is coming at a good time for President Trump and Republicans are just 32 days away from the mid terms now. Brett Kavanaugh is one step closer to getting confirmed. Gloria, does President Trump now have wind at his back?

This could be if not the best week of his presidency if Kavanaugh gets confirmed, then one of the best weeks of his presidency. Getting Kavanaugh confirmed, should that occur, would be something that would be so important for Donald Trump, particularly with his base, his evangelical support, which has been very, very important.