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Hours Away from Final Vote for New Supreme Court Justice; Protests in Washington Ahead of Senate Vote on Kavanaugh; First Lady Closes Out Solo Trip with Visit to Egypt; Protests Heat up Ahead of Final Vote Set for Today; Officer Found Guilty of Second-Degree Murder of Black Teen; Interpol Chief Vanishes during Trip to China. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired October 6, 2018 - 11:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:00:16] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. It is 11:00 on the East Coast. And I am Ryan Nobles in Washington.

And it is a historic day here in the nation's capital. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh expected to be confirmed to the country's highest court. We are now just hours away from the final confirmation vote, cementing Kavanaugh's place in history with a lifetime appointment as the ninth justice.

It certainly wasn't an easy road. We have seen weeks of divisive, partisan arguments amid a sexual assault allegation that divided the nation, explosive emotional testimony on the Hill from Kavanaugh and his accuser, and an unprecedented TV interview and op-ed from the nominee himself, plus a quick FBI investigation leaving senators with a high-stakes decision. After that whirlwind confirmation process, Republicans now have enough votes to barely slide his confirmation through.

This, of course, will be a major victory for President Trump -- getting two Supreme Court justices confirmed in less than two years leaving his stamp on history for decades to come.

Let's check in now on Capitol Hill for the latest on this confirmation fight. CNN's senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju, who I'm pretty sure hasn't slept in about two weeks, is still up on Capitol Hill. You know, you're not the only one that hasn't slept -- Manu. Senators have been up all night debating on the Senate floor. Give us an update right now as to where we are with the process?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right.

Democrats all night long railing on this he nomination, seizing on the allegations raised by Christine Blasey Ford to make the case that Brett Kavanaugh is not fit to serve on this court, even Jeff Merkley, the Oregon Democratic Senator, reading letters from sexual assault survivors on the floor. But they spoke to an empty chamber. They're not going to convince any Republicans ultimately to switch their votes against this nomination, so he is bound to get confirmed later today. Now, Democrats are starting to talk among themselves about exactly how -- what went wrong. Particularly they believe that these allegations were so credible enough to derail this nomination.

Now, I had a chance to talk to one Democratic senator a bit earlier about the third allegation that came out from the attorney Michael Avenatti's client, Julie Swetnick, who raised some very serious allegations, suggesting that Brett Kavanaugh was at parties in the 80s where gang rape was occurring.

I asked the senator, was that helpful.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Do you think that the allegation that came forward from Michael Avenatti, the one that's alleging that he may have been involved or was aware of gang rape -- was that something that was credible in your view?

SENATOR GARY PETERS (D), MICHIGAN: Well, you know, at some point there are a lot of folks coming forward, making all sorts of accusations then it turns it into a circus atmosphere. And certainly that's not where we should be.

These are very serious allegations. Certainly people believe that those allegations should be investigated. They should be done in a fair, impartial way.

But I understand that there's a lot of noise. Our job is to cut through that noise and get to the substance of what we're really dealing with.

RAJU: Did you think that Avenatti was helpful in this process?

PETERS: Well, I think we should have focused. We should have on the serious allegations that were certainly appearing credible to me -- that would be our best course of action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So the concern among some Democrats is that last allegation came in, gave the Republicans an effort to sort of conflate all these allegations as one, paint them all with a broad brush, rather than focusing on some very significant allegations like Christine Blasey Ford going before the Senate Judiciary Committee and alleging that she was nearly raped by Brett Kavanaugh when they were in high school.

Of course, Kavanaugh has furiously denied all those allegations and those denials seem to convince not just Republican Senators as well as the Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.

So today, Ryan -- this nomination will be confirmed by a 50 to 48 vote. One senator, Lisa Murkowski is opposed to the nomination, voting present just because one other senator could not return for that vote. So it will be a two vote margin, one of the closest ever in history -- Ryan NOBLES: All right. Manu Raju, tracking this historic day on Capitol

Hill. Manu -- thank you.

And when Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed later today, it will certainly be a big moment for President Trump. After less than two years in office he will have successfully placed two justices on the highest court.

CNN's senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns joins us now. He is at the White House. What's the perspective there from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue -- Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR Washington CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ryan -- the President has broken his tweet silence. He had not tweeted for just about an entire day until just a few minutes ago. And it was about the Kavanaugh nomination. I'll just read it to you.

[11:04:53] "Women for Kavanaugh and many others, who support this very good man, are gathering all over Capitol Hill in preparation for a 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. vote. It is a beautiful thing to see," he writes. "And they're not paid professional protesters who were handed expensive signs. Big day for America."

Now a couple of notes on that as we often do when the President tweets. I have been out and talked to some of the protesters and there has been some reporting especially of conservative media about cash exchanging hands out during the marches.

What the protesters tell me that's about is bail. Essentially a lot of people get arrested and they have to forfeit -- put up $50 bail in order to get free of the police. So that's one of the issues on paid protesters.

The other an issue of signs, they all point out that these are organized protests with some often very large organizations involved and they do put together pretty professional signs because it is organized.

So we are expecting to see the President this afternoon, early this afternoon, heading out to Topeka, Kansas where he's going to participate in a political rally there, so a couple of opportunities to hear from the President. When he leaves, it will be before the vote on the Senate floor, but when he hits Topeka, Kansas it will be after the vote.

So that is the most likely time we'll hear something from the President about the Kavanaugh vote -- a huge day for this White House. And they've had a few successes recently -- certainly the issues with NAFTA the President has worked through with Mexico and Canada. And they've had some really good job numbers, too-- the biggest drop in joblessness in 49 years.

So a lot for this president to crow about as we head into the stretch of the midterm elections. Back to you.

NOBLES: And you can bet, Joe -- we're going to be hearing the President talking about that quite a bit on the campaign trail over the next several weeks. Joe Johns from the White House -- thank you.

Two sitting justices of the Supreme Court emphasize how important it is to keep the country's legitimacy and impartiality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: Part of the court's legitimacy depends on people not seeing the court in the way that people see the rest of the governing structures of the country now. In other words, people thinking of the court as not politically divided in the same way, as not an extension of politics but instead somehow above the fray.

JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now we're eight justices -- eight justices that we have to rise above partisanship, personal relationships; that we have to treat each other with respect and dignity and with a sense of amicability that the rest of the world doesn't often share.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: All right. Let's open this conversation up. Joining me now CNN political commentator David Swerdlick who's also an assistant editor for the "Washington Post"; CNN Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic who's covered the high court for 25 years; and former U.S. attorney Harry Litman who once clerked for Justice Kennedy, he's now a political science professor at UC San Diego.

Joan -- I want to start with you because I want to tap into your wealth of knowledge in the Supreme Court. I mean it's pretty fair to say we've never seen a confirmation process like this.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Yes.

NOBLES: Put it into perspective for us. I mean spell out why this was so unique compared to past confirmations.

BISKUPIC: Ok. First of all, when you take all of, you know, the last century most of the early Supreme Court nominees were approved on voice vote. It wasn't a big deal, you know.

Going back -- let's just 50 years -- and we had in 1968, '69, the Abe Fortas confirmation flack where LBJ tried to put -- elevate Abe Fortas who was then a sitting justice to the chief justice spot. That was the last time we've really had a knock-down, drag-out that had these kinds of huge consequences.

A lot of people will remember Robert Bork in '87 when he didn't get on, and then of course, Clarence Thomas is in 1991 when he did get on.

But this was unprecedented for a couple of different reasons -- how partisan it was. If we end up with a two-vote margin as Manu just described, that will be definitely very different for any other confirmed nominee in this century and last century, too.

Also, where the court is at this moment -- right now all of the conservatives were appointed by Republican presidents, all of the liberals by Democratic presidents. That's different.

No longer is there someone like a John Paul Stevens who was put on by Republican Gerald Ford. You know, a lot of Republicans like to talk about David Souter who was put on by George H.W. Bush and, of course, turned out very liberal.

But let's forget about that. Let's just think of like Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O'Connor. Those were Republican appointees who straddled the middle.

NOBLES: Right.

BISKUPIC: We no longer have that at all with the departure of Anthony Kennedy. And what's most significant is it will change the law of the land dramatically.

NOBLES: Well, we can't -- we really cannot understate that.

[11:10:01] And David -- I want you to listen to Senator Susan Collins. She's talking about this as yet unidentified leaker who revealed Christine Blasey Ford's name to reporters. And then listen to Ford's attorney talking about it and if she has any regret about coming forward. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: To that leaker -- what you did was unconscionable. My only hope is that your callous act has turned this process into such a dysfunctional circus that it will cause the Senate and indeed all Americans to reconsider how we evaluate Supreme Court nominees.

LISA BANKS, CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD ATTORNEY: I don't think she has any regrets. I think she feels like she did the right thing and this was what she wanted to do which was provide this information to the committee so they could make the best decision possible.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Would Professor Ford like impeachment proceedings to begin?

DEBRA KATZ, CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD ATTORNEY: Professor Ford has not asked for anything of the sort.

BASH: So no, she is not going there on impeachment?

KATZ: No.

BASH: She does not want him to be impeached?

KATZ: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: Amazing these questions are even being asked. They're appropriate. There are some Democrats that's talking about this. But David -- let's put this in the context of the midterms, who does this galvanize more? Are Democrats going to be fired up because he's going to get through? Or are Republicans going to be excited because this is another win for President Trump?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So Ryan -- let's assume that Kavanaugh was going to get confirmed all along. If he had been confirmed last weekend which seemed very possible up until last Friday, then I think it would have maybe benefitted Democrats. The process would have just ended right after all of that testimony. Democrats by and large were unhappy with how things went but process- wise and with the outcome. And Democrats would have had an issue to take to their base.

I think now it is a little more of a toss up. Republicans went through this past week where their nominee was under and FBI -- additional FBI investigation and they came out on top. Democrats got this extra week of sort of overtime, if you will, and they still got the same result -- not the result that they wanted.

I don't think that means that they're sunk in the midterms but I do think that's a little deflating to their base.

Here's the key to remember. Look, the President is almost surely going to lose seats in Congress in his party. But the President has a 43.5 percent approval rating in the Real Clear Politics average. That's barely below where he was on inauguration day.

Democrats have a seven-point edge in the generic congressional ballot. But that's not a big enough edge for them to say in these individual races in swing seats that's going to get them over the top.

So I think we are where we were. It is going to depend on which side can turn out their vote.

NOBLES: It's hard to believe with so much that's happened, that you can say we are where we were. But it does seem that at least the polling bears it out.

Harry -- I want to turn to you now and Joan talked about how unprecedented this was from a political perspective. But we also need to talk about the nominee himself and how different he handled this situation.

He did a television interview which has never happened before. He wrote an op-ed. Is it possible to go back and get partisanship out of this confirmation process or is this the new normal now for these nominees?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I don't see how it gets out of the confirmation process which seems broken beyond repair. And vestiges of it I think will dog the court perhaps for years because it will erode the legitimacy particularly of any five-four decisions in which Justice Kavanaugh joins.

I think as Justice Sotomayor said, it will be possible to remove the sting within the court. I think they will do their best to accept him as a colleague and be a functioning set of nine.

But the real challenge to the court, the real blow that the court has sustained, will be in the public sentiment and view which is after all the coin of the realm for the Supreme Court. That's all they really have to sustain themselves.

And this is a pay down of their capital of the sort we haven't seen since Bush v Gore. And of course, it comes not from them but from the actions of the other political branches. It is going to be a challenge for the court going forward.

NOBLES: I wonder here -- I mean so much has been said about now the court being, you know, a five-four solid conservative edge at all times.

Is there a chance that there is a justice, perhaps the Chief Justice John Roberts, that becomes a new swing vote? I mean is it difficult to predict this future as to how these justices will act? And could their behavior change now that the makeup of the court has changed?

LITMAN: A little. I mean I think Chief Justice Roberts already takes very seriously his role as chief. And he is keenly aware of the need to portray the court as non-partisan. And I actually think Justice Kavanaugh will be something of an ally of his in this regard.

[11:14:55] But all they can do is their work and issue their decisions. And there's a kind of stench from the process that will be very hard to erase. So even if they do their job, even if there's some sort of centrist decisions people will be more likely to see them as partisan than they otherwise would have. And that's just very hard to undo.

(CROSSTALK)

SWERDLICK: Ryan -- can I just add one thing quickly.

NOBLES: Yes.

SWERDLICK: I'm sorry Joan -- just one quick point. I agree with Harry that, you know, that Roberts will probably be the swing now, but even for court watchers, right, I think Americans can see. When you talk about this, you talked about it a minute ago, Joan that most of the conservative justices were appointed by Republicans, and also by Republicans who didn't win a majority of the popular vote.

NOBLES: Right.

SWERDLICK: Most of the women on the court were appointed by one president -- President Obama. President Obama appointed half of the women who've ever served.

NOBLES: Right.

SWERDLICK: And I don't think you have to be a lawyer or a legal scholar to look at say the court is slowly losing this edge as the idea of this neutral arbiter. NOBLES: Ok.

BISKUPIC: Let me just say one thing about Chief Justice John Roberts -- to play (ph) it up again.

NOBLES: Yes.

BISKUPIC: He's not in play with a fluid vote the way Anthony Kennedy was. But I do want to remind everyone of 2012 when he voted by casting the key vote to uphold Obamacare.

NOBLES: Right, right -- very important point.

We could talk all day but unfortunately we've got to go. David, Harry and John -- thank you so much for being here. We certainly appreciate it.

And protests are expected in multiple cities that are going to run right up to that final vote on Brett Kavanaugh. The latest one happening right here in Washington, right outside where the senators will cast those crucial ballots.

Plus, Melania Trump on her first solo overseas trip as first lady. What she had to say about Brett Kavanaugh -- very interesting. The President's tweets and comments about what she's wearing.

And the head of the International Police agency known as Interpol goes missing during a foreign trip -- the multi-country search for clues into his disappearance.

[11:16:54] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: And you're looking live at pictures outside the Supreme Court where protesters are gathering ahead of today's Senate vote on Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. This follows days of protests at Capitol Hill, more than 400 people arrested over the last two days.

CNN's Tom Foreman is live outside the Supreme Court. Tom -- tell us what you're seeing there.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ryan -- what we have been seeing this morning is the protesters started gathering around 9:00 or so and they have been slowly growing a little bit in numbers since then. And they've really coalesced here in front of the court where they've been making speeches and shouting about their unhappiness over this decision in the Supreme Court, a lot of other things as well.

And you can see many, many different signs addressing the idea that they feel that Kavanaugh is dishonest. They feel that he does not women. And they feel the decision itself does not respect women.

And they've also been calculating how later today, they're meeting and talking about how they might be able to get into the Capitol and to some degree disrupt the proceedings. We'll see how that goes. There are a lot of police around here too, so it's not sure it's going to work the way they think -- Ryan. NOBLES: All right. Tom Foreman, live for us outside the Supreme Court. Tom -- thank you for that update. We appreciate it.

And still ahead, as Melania Trump wraps up her first overseas trip as first lady, she's firing back over criticism that her outfit in Africa evoked colonialist comparisons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to talk about my trip and not what I wear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[11:22:35] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: First Lady Melania Trump is now heading back to the United States, closing out her African tour with a stop in Egypt where she met with her Egyptian counterpart and toured the ancient pyramids. However, she can't escape the political debate happening back in Washington over Justice Kavanaugh's nomination.

She spoke with reporters earlier and addressed whether she agrees with her husband that it is a tough time for men. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Back home, MeToo is a huge debate and your husband says it is a tough time for men. Given that your trip here has (INAUDIBLE) on children and girls what -- do you agree with him?

TRUMP: What I will say that if you're talking about the Supreme Court and Judge Kavanaugh, I think he's highly qualified for the Supreme Court. I'm glad that Dr. Ford was heard. I'm glad that Judge Kavanaugh was heard. The FBI investigation was done, is completed, and Senate voted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you believe Christine Ford?

TRUMP: I will move on that. I think all the victims, they need -- we need to help all the victims, no matter what kind of abuse they had. But I am against any kind of abuse or violence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: Joining me to discuss this more is CNN contributor and the author of the books "First in Line", "First Women" and "the Residence" Kate Andersen Brower. Kate -- we should first point out that this is rare. We rarely hear Melania Trump speak on the record and answer these tough questions that a lot of us are wondering what she thinks about. I mean what do you make of what she had to say on this particular issue?

KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I thought it was really incredible and I was surprised that she actually did take questions on this trip. I think she answered it in a brilliant way because she didn't really come down on either side. She didn't say whether she believed Dr. Ford or not. She says she's against abuse. She tends to take these kinds of blanket statements. Of course, anyone is against abuse I would hope.

But you know, I think the trip has been so largely eclipsed by the Kavanaugh hearing that hasn't gotten the kind of play that it normally would have. But overall, I think it has been a success for her.

NOBLES: And she also talked about that she wished the President tweeted less. That she sometimes advises him not to tweet the things that he says. And sometimes he listens to her, sometimes he doesn't.

BROWER: Yes, she kind of jokingly light-heartedly about asking him occasionally to put down his phone. I think we saw her like with the baby elephants, with the children in the orphanage dancing.

Kate Bennett, who's the CNN reporter who was there, said it was the happiest she's ever seen her in almost two years of covering her.

NOBLES: Right.

BROWER: So I think that says something. She's outside of D.C. She's not in this sort of prison-like house that she lives in. I mean she's under siege every day.

[11:29:59] NOBLES: Yes. And there was a bit of criticism about her trip. Some critics saying that her fashion, which is one of the ways that she expresses herself obviously is through her clothes.

She wore a white pith hat which -- during the safari in Nairobi and that was symbolic, some thought, of European colonialism. This is how she responded to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You know what, we just completed an amazing trip. We went to Ghana, we went to Malawi, we went to Kenya, here we are in Egypt. I want to talk about my trip and not what I wear.

And that's very important what I do, what we are doing with USAID, and what I do with my initiatives. And I wish people would focus on what I do, not what I wear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: I just think this is a fascinating aspect of her persona because her supporters will say she says so much in her clothing. This is her way of telling people what she thinks about things. But then when asked about it, she's like don't focus on my clothes. Can she have it both ways?

BROWER: Right. No. And the short answer is no. I mean look at what she was wearing there in Egypt -- a man's wear outfit.

NOBLES: Yes.

BROWER: And I think that that is setting the sign that women are equal to men. I mean this was an unusual outfit to wear in Egypt.

And look at what she wore at her husband's -- you know, the State of the Union, the white pant suit. Everything she does is well thought out. She clearly loves fashion. She's a former model.

So I think a lot of first ladies say focus on what I do, not on what I wear. But it's obvious that a lot of thought is put into that. And it's really powerful what she decides to wear.

And look at what Michelle Obama did showcasing, you know, American designers and making people's careers. So you can't really have it both ways.

NOBLES: I mean do you think she needs a better explanation for that when she's pressed on those questions? You know, there was so much controversy when she wore that coat that says "I don't care, do you". And there was so much uproar from her supporters that there was focus on that.

But yet, you know, the fact of this idea that at the same time she's trying to send a message through her clothing, do you think she with her own voice needs to explain exactly what she's trying to say?

BROWER: I think with that jacket I still will never understand it. And I don't think many people do because clearly it was a message to someone about something. You can't wear something like that and not explain it.

NOBLES: Right.

BAIER: It doesn't make sense. But I think she should own it. I mean look, Jackie Kennedy loved fashion and enjoyed it. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. And I think that she should not deflect it because it does-- it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense.

And this is an important trip for her. And look, I think she did a great job. And I think obviously, she's going to these places where she's focusing on USAID, and important issues, and really charting her own course.

NOBLES: Right. Right. Kate -- thank you so much. We appreciate you being here.

BROWER: Thank you -- Ryan.

NOBLES: All right.

Senator Susan Collins, obviously a critical vote in the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. But how are her constituents reacting to her decision to vote yes? We'll take you to Maine when we come back.

[11:32:51] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) NOBLES: In just a matter of hours, Senator Susan Collins will vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court pushing the number of votes needed over the top.

And the reaction has been swift. Protesters showed up in throngs at her offices in D.C. and in Maine. And things reached a fever-pitch when she revealed her position in a long-awaited speech yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Mr. President -- we've heard a lot of charges and counter charges about Judge Kavanaugh but as those who have known him best have attested, he has been an exemplary public servant, judge, teacher, coach, husband, and father.

Despite the turbulent, bitter fight surrounding his nomination, my fervent hope is that Brett Kavanaugh will work to lessen the divisions in the Supreme Court so that we have far fewer five-four decisions and so that public confidence in our judiciary and our highest court is restored.

Mr. President -- I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: CNN correspondent Polo Sandoval is in Portland where protesters are expected to make a final plea. Polo -- Senator Collins has been really under assault by her constituents over the last few days. Tell us what it is like there.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Ryan -- the way they put it, if Senator Collins votes yes as everybody expects her to do today, she will have a lot of explaining to do when she returns here to her home district because though it is a fairly liberal part of the state of Maine, there are still many Democrats here who have actually voted for the Republican senator before in the past because of her positions on health care, of course, and women's rights as well.

So what happened yesterday, Ryan, was really something truly remarkable. We joined a group of constituents who have been opposed to Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation here. They were extremely vocal just before they heard from their senator and then things went dead silent.

They were watching on their smart devices, on their phones, some of them even held them up to bull horns, so the large group could actually hear. They were watching, waiting, and listening for the senator to make that announcement that she does intend to vote yes on Judge Kavanaugh today.

[11:40:06] So what we expect to take place in the next few hours -- we are expecting another group of demonstrators just outside of the senator's office as they try to make, as you well put it, that final plea with their senator.

And also to a certain extent even the threat saying that if she votes yes, then some of this bipartisan support -- bipartisan support will not be waiting for her when she returns to her district. Of course that means that that if she does intend to run again come 2020 then they may not vote for her -- Ryan.

NOBLES: Definitely a lot on the line. A lot of protesters here in Washington --

SANDOVAL: Yes.

NOBLES: -- the ones back in her home state probably mean a lot more. Polo Sandoval -- thank you for that report.

So let's talk more about how this decision is resonating with voters in Maine. And joining me now is Michael Shepherd. He's a reporter with the "Bangor Daily News" in Maine. He's covered Senator Collins extensively.

Michael -- I've read your reporting. You seem to have the pulse of what's happening with Senator Collins and her constituents. We saw her give that 45-minute point by point defense of Kavanaugh before revealing her yes vote. I mean what is your sense right now of how voters are responding?

MICHAEL SHEPHERD, "BANGOR DAILY NEWS": I don't think it is uniform -- Ryan. I think -- I think she made the Democrats -- she gave them something to take home to their base to say maybe Senator Collins isn't so moderate after all.

I think Republicans are very happy with the defense she gave of Judge Kavanaugh. It was great -- it was great for them, I think, to see a moderate, centrist senator from Maine give that defense of the judge. So I don't think it is playing uniformly.

NOBLES: Yes. I can imagine. And you wrote that there were signs, you could see that she was likely going to vote this way. Tell us those signs that you recognized.

SHEPHERD: Yes, early in the process she talked to Judge Kavanaugh in her office and came out and praised his commitment to precedent. And you saw that in her speech yesterday. It almost seemed like she was using the same argument that she was back in -- back in August. And it seemed that these allegations against the judge sort of were stalemated in her mind by what she called a lack of corroboration.

So it seemed like she went back to square one, and ended up where we sort of thought she was going to end up before the allegations.

NOBLES: So she's up for re-election in two years. She played with the idea of running for governor but decided against it probably because she thought she couldn't win a primary there. I mean what do you think the calculus is for her in terms of re-election? Is there a chance she just might not run at all? Will she get a primary challenge? Will she get a legitimate Democratic opponent?

SHEPHERD: Well, I think the lesson here is that Susan Collins waking up today will face a stiffer challenge in 2020 from a Democrat than she would have, you know, a week ago. And this is one of two landmark votes she's had in the past year or so, you know.

Obviously her vote to preserve the Affordable Care Act angered a lot of conservatives here. And maybe it was a factor in her deciding not to run for governor, but she maintained that she thought she could win that primary, of course. And maybe she could have.

But now I think she's looking at a stiffer challenge in 2020. Maybe she beat back the chance of a Republican primary in 2020, but I don't know who is going to run against her.

I think there's a lot of noise now right now and a lot of people looking to recruit strong people to run against her. But we're still two years from that, and there are some really tight races here in Maine in 2018.

NOBLES: Right. Speaking of noise as it relates to potential challengers, we saw a tweet from former Obama adviser Susan Rice suggesting that she may challenge Collins. We know that she has a connection to Maine, a house there. Do you think that this would ever actually come to fruition? And how would the voters receive someone like Susan Rice?

SHEPHERD: Well, Maine -- we are very parochial up here in Maine. You know, a lot of Mainers don't like the idea of someone coming in and, you know, running for office right off the bat. Susan Rice has family ties here. Her mother was raised in Portland so she's not such a Johnny-come-lately to Maine. But she immediately walked back, you know, that potential interest in a subsequent tweet yesterday, too.

NOBLES: Right.

SHEPHERD: I don't know quite what to make of that. And you wonder how much the moment is really motivating some of that.

Another name from outside of Maine, you know, we heard yesterday was Cecile Richards, formerly of Planned Parenthood. So, you know, I'm not sure what to make of that.

Yesterday we had the House Speaker here in Maine Sara Gideon, a well- known Democrat; she was really the only one to say that she's considering a run. A lot of it -- almost no one else refusing to take their name off the table, you know, why would you take your name off the table at this point? There's a lot of energies.

[11:45:01] And you just don't know this is going to play. So I think 2018 will send a signal to the people who may be thinking about it, that it maybe ok to run against Senator Collins rather than someone else.

NOBLES: All right. Michael Shepherd, I think you described it aptly when you called it all noise. A lot still to flesh-out there in the state of Maine -- we appreciate you joining us.

And speaking of Senator Collins -- big interview tomorrow. She's going to join Dana Bash on "STATE OF THE UNION". That's scheduled for 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Still ahead, a Chicago police officer convicted of murdering a black teenager. Jason Van Dyke is the first Chicago cop to be found guilty in an on-duty killing in 50 years. How the victim's family is responding to the news and how the city is reacting.

[11:45:44] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: A Chicago police officer could face decades in prison after being convicted in one of most closely-watched trials in the city's history. Jason Van Dyke is the first Chicago officer to be convicted of murder in an on-duty shooting in nearly 50 years.

CNN's Ryan Young has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, find the defendant, Jason Van Dyke, guilty of second degree murder.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nearly four years after the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, a jury found Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of second degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery on Friday. The verdict marking a culmination to the racially-charged chase that became emblematic of decades of tension between Chicago's urban communities and the city's police force.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

YOUNG: The shooting was captured on a grainy police dash cam video with no audio. Van Dyke told investigators he fired in self-defense after McDonald lunged at him with a knife. The video shows Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times. None of the other officers at the scene fired their weapons.

It wasn't until 13 months after the incident that a judge ordered the city to release the vehicle.

CROWD: Sixteen shots and a cover-up.

YOUNG: The video ignited protests, a Justice Department civil rights investigation, criticism of the city's mayor and eventually the ouster of the police superintendant.

JASON VAN DYKE, FOUND GUILTY OF SECOND DEGREE MURDER OF LAQUAN MCDONALD: I shot him.

YOUNG: In an unusual move Tuesday, Van Dyke took the witness stand in his own defense.

VAN DYKE: His face had no expression. His eyes were just bugging out of his head. He had just these huge white eyes, just staring right through me.

YOUNG: At times becoming visibly emotional as he alleged the 17-year- old ignored repeated commands to drop his knife before the officer opened fire.

VAN DYKE: He waved the knife from his lower right side upwards across his body, towards my left shoulder.

YOUNG: Prosecutors sparred with Van Dyke over discrepancies in his testimony, that the teenager raised his knife towards officers which cannot be seen in the dash cam video.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you ever seen Laquan McDonald do that on one of those videos?

VAN DYKE: The video doesn't show my perspective.

YOUNG: Van Dyke's lawyer says he was not surprised by the verdict and plans to appeal.

DANIEL HERBERT, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: If police officers think that they can never fire against somebody that is acting the way Laquan McDonald did when they're 12 feet away from them, I think that what we are going to have is police officers are going to become security guards.

YOUNG: But for Laquan McDonald's family, they hope this verdict will finally help bring them some closure.

REV. MARTIN HUNTER, LAQUAN MCDONALD'S GREAT UNCLE: This trial today did two things. Again, it gave us justice, of which we seek; and it also set a precedent across this country.

YOUNG: Van Dyke faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for second degree murder and six to 30 years for each of the 16 aggravated battery convictions. He is scheduled back in court October 31st.

Ryan Young, CNN -- Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: Coming up, an international mystery. The world's top cop goes missing. Where he disappeared and what Interpol is doing to track him down.

[11:53:31] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: The search is on for Interpol's top official. The global police agency's chief has been missing since a trip to China late last month. His wife reported him missing after more than a week without contact.

CNN senior international correspondent Sam Kiley is live in Hong Kong.

Sam -- this is an incredible. Local media reporting that the Interpol official was taken away for questioning when he arrived in China last week. I mean what do we know about this mysterious story?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think we know above all that it remains a mystery -- Ryan. The only source we have for his whereabouts is the "South China Morning Post", which is the local English language, big English language newspaper here in Hong Kong. Pretty close to the government in Beijing so unlikely to publish malicious rumors about what's going on in China. But there has been no official response whatsoever from the Chinese authorities.

In fact, their silence has been so provoking that Interpol itself has asked the Chinese to respond to questions about his whereabouts since he disappeared at the end of September. And on top of that, and this is where things are starting to take a sinister turn, the French Interior Ministry has confirmed that his wife, who remains in Lyon, in France which is where the Interpol headquarters are, has been receiving threats both over social media and over the telephone.

So, all of this is really very deeply mysterious and so mysterious indeed that it seems that the Chinese authorities, Ryan, want to keep it that way. They have indeed been censoring certainly CNN broadcasts earlier on today, local time.

One of our correspondents on the ground there in Beijing was covering this story and while he was speaking, the screen simply went blank as the Chinese authorities blocked the transmission about Mr. Meng's whereabouts to his local citizens. So in that context, there is enormous amount of speculation but no real understanding of where he might be.

The other famous case of a recently disappeared person, of course, was Fan Bingbing, the Hollywood and China actress, very famous actress indeed, who went missing for three months, but she is on the verge of release we understand, following demands for back taxes of $130 million -- Ryan.

[12:00:08] NOBLES: Sam -- fascinating story. Thank you for staying on top of it for us. We'll check back with you with any new developments.