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Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation Vote Just Hours Away; Democrats: Should Have Focused on Ford & Ramirez; Trump Places 2 Justices on Supreme Court in Less than 2 Years; Grassley Talks Kavanaugh, Protests, FBI Investigation; Kavanaugh Protesters Arrested on Steps of Capitol; Sister-in-Law: Senate Testimony & Trump's Comments Caused Ford More Pain; Ford Attorneys Blast Senators for "False Claims" About FBI Investigation; Protesters Arrested at Capitol After Collins' Reveals She Vote Yes on Kavanaugh; Melania Trump Talks on Africa Trip & Husband. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired October 6, 2018 - 13:00   ET



[13:00:33] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. Thank you for joining me. I'm Ryan Nobles, in today for Fredricka Whitfield.




NOBLES: That was just moments ago in front of the Supreme Court where protesters are rallying in Washington ahead of a historic moment. We're just hours away now from the final vote for Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Senators believe they have the votes to push him through to the nation's highest court after weeks of tense debate and heightened emotions.

Let's get to Capitol Hill where the vote is going to take place. CNN's senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju.

Manu, give us an update as to where we are in this process.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We expect, in a matter of hours, the decisive vote will happen putting to rest this very bitter and grueling confirmation process. He will be confirmed, Brett Kavanaugh, to the Supreme Court by a vote, as we're expecting, 50-48, with one Senator voting present. That's Lisa Murkowski, the Republican Senator, who opposes this nomination. But she's only voting present as a courtesy to one Senator, the Montana Senator, Steve Daines, who is not attending this vote because he is at his daughter's wedding. Therefore, to keep this two-vote margin, one of the narrowest in the history of any Supreme Court nominee.

Over the last day, Democrats have been taking to the floor, last night, this morning, railing against this nomination. The Republicans have appeared to defend this nomination. Some Democrats are starting to talk about what went wrong. One

question that's remained is whether or not, whether this third allegation that came forward, a woman named Julie Swetnick, who's represented by the attorney, Michael Avenatti, was used by Republicans as a way to contend this is all part of a Democratic smear campaign going after Brett Kavanaugh. Some Democrats said perhaps they should have focused instead on Christy Blasey Ford's accusations and Deborah Ramirez's as well.


RAJU: Do you think the allegation that came forward from Avenatti, the one he made, was aware of gang rape, is that something credible in your view?

SEN. GARY PETERS, (D), MICHIGAN: As some point, there were a of people coming forward, making all sorts of accusations. It turns it into a circus atmosphere. That's not where we should be. These are very serious allegations. Certainly, people believe those allegations should be investigated. They should be done in a fair, impartial way. But we understand -- I understand that there's a lot of noise. But our job is to cut through that noise and get to the substance of we're really dealing with.

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

PETERS: Well, I think we should have focused on the serious allegations that certainly appeared very credible to me. That would be our best course of action.


RAJU: The serious allegations that Democrats in particular are referring to, of course, Christine Blasey Ford alleging that Kavanaugh tried to rape her when they were teenagers, Deborah Ramirez, who alleged that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her while they were in college. All of which Kavanaugh furiously denied. His denials won over at least two key Senators who are going to turn this vote today. Joe Manchin, the Democrat from West Virginia, will vote yes. He said he believed Brett Kavanaugh did not do that to Christine Blasey Ford. Also Susan Collins, of Maine, questioning that on the floor today. Today's vote, almost along party lines, those two Senators defecting on each side, enough to give him that lifetime seat, ending this very bitty chapter over the Supreme Court nominee -- Ryan?

NOBLES: All right, probably not how any of us saw it playing out. That's where we stand today. We expect that confirmation happening later this afternoon.

Manu Raju, thank you.

When Kavanaugh is confirmed later today, it will 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 senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, joins me now. Joe, what's the story from the White House?

JOE JOHNS, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's certainly right, Ryan. This really will turn the administration of Donald Trump into a very consequential presidency, now, naming and getting through the second Supreme Court justice in his very first term as president of the United States.

Obviously, the Kavanaugh confirmation is on the president's mind today. Me tweeted out the very same message twice. Apparently the second time just to correct a spelling error. Here's that message: "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's a beautiful thing to see. They are not paid professional protesters who are handed expensive signs. Big day for America."

[13:05:13] We do expect to see the president of the United States as he leaves the White House today on his way to Topeka, Kansas, where he's going to hold a big political rally there, trying to shore up support for some members of Congress who, apparently, need it. The president will speak this evening after the vote. He's expected to leave before the vote. So a couple of opportunities. We hope to be able to see the president.

He was described as in a good mood, yesterday, after watching Susan Collins, the Senator from Maine, give her speech on the Senate floor and then say to America that she will vote for the nomination of Mr. Kavanaugh. So that's the story from the White House.

Back to you.

NOBLES: All right, Joe Johns, thank you for that report. We appreciate it.

Now, let's expand this conversation and discuss what Kavanaugh's confirmation will mean. Joining me now, Lydia Wheeler, a legal and regulatory affairs reporter for "The Hill," and CNN presidential historian, Doug Brinkley, who's also a professor at Rice University.

Lydia, I want to start with you.

From your perspective, how does this nomination change the Supreme Court?

LYDIA WHEELER, LEGAL AND REGULATORY AFFAIRS REPORTER, THE HILL: Kavanaugh is a staunch conservative. He's replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is a more moderate judge. He was known as it is swing voter on the bench. This nomination, this confirmation, is going to shift the Supreme Court decisively to the right for about a generation to come.

NOBLES: Doug, let's turn to you now.

I want you to listen to what Brett Kavanaugh from just two weeks ago when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Listen to what he had to say.


BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. 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. The behavior of several of the Democratic members of this committee at my hearing a few weeks ago was an embarrassment. What goes around comes around.


NOBLES: So that was obviously an unprecedented style of delivery by a Supreme Court nominee, Doug. Do you think that that vitriolic confirmation process will change how the future proceedings will be conducted?

DOUG BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I'm afraid not. At least not for a while. Every time an election is lost, like when Al Gore wins the popular vote and lost in 2000, or Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and Donald Trump is president, people talk about, let's do away with the Electoral College. I go to campuses and talk about it. Right now, in the heat of the moment, people want to reform the Supreme Court justice process. But the Republicans have power and they're looking to get yet a third Supreme Court justice in the coming years, so they're not going to be in the mood for doing massive reform on a process that's given them Gorsuch and now Kavanaugh.

NOBLES: Right, right.

Lydia, I mean, how do you think the Kavanaugh confirmation process could impact the midterms? Obviously, there was a degree of enthusiasm from Democrats. Many are upset with the way this played out. We could also see a bump in enthusiasm from Republicans as well.

WHEELER: I think there's a lot of Republican voters that are angry about this. They see that -- they think that Democrats orchestrated this political hit against their guy, Brett Kavanaugh. And I think what we're going to see, and what pollsters are saying, is that the GOP is going to use that anger and try to harness it to drive enthusiasm and get their voters out to the polls to match the intensity that we've seen from Democrats. Whether or not they will be able to maintain that leading up to the midterms remains to be seen. We're still about five weeks out. And that is an eternity when you think of news cycles, especially in the Trump era.

NOBLES: There could be four controversies between now and Election Day.

Doug, I wonder, from an historic perspective, if this, now, puts a new level of scrutiny on the chief justice, John Roberts? We've seen in the past he's been willing to not necessarily go down the political party line with some of his votes. He obviously cares a lot about the legacy of the Supreme Court and his court, as it were, long term. Could this perhaps change his behavior as chief justice and perhaps make him look at some of these cases a bit differently? BRINKLEY: Well, it's a good question. I think a key one. John

Roberts, because of his -- some of his decisions on the Affordable Care Act, seen as perhaps the new swing vote on the Supreme Court. I wouldn't be, too -- if you're on the liberal side or a progressive, I wouldn't be too hopeful about that. Roberts is a rock-rib conservative Federalist, you know, society jurist, but he is a person of great intellect. And somebody who very well may surprise us. I do think he's a person of historic stature. Meaning, he wants to go down in history like a great judge, like Brandeis or Scalia. He might be somebody we can count on to try to make the Supreme Court less partisan.

[13:10:14] NOBLES: And the partisanship of the Supreme Court is a concern for a lot of Americans but it's also a concern for some of those justices that are currently sitting on the Supreme Court.

Elena Kagan, who, of course, is an Obama appointee, she stressed the importance of the impartiality of the Supreme Court this week. Take a listen.


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


NOBLES: Doug, do you think the Supreme Court is becoming more partisan or has it been like this all along and the nation is more divided so we're paying more attention to it?

BRINKLEY: I think it's been like this all along. Obviously, it has up, and downs. I'm a scholar of Franklin Roosevelt and, you know, he famously tried to pack the Supreme Court, go from nine justices to 15. And he had a big impact, FDR, for generations. You wouldn't have the 1960s counterculture movement without supreme -- people like William O. Douglas who was appointed by FDR, you know, to continue the progressive movement. So I think the court's been fairly politicized. They used to form their own little club, their exclusive club, of deep self-respect with each other within their nine. I think that may continue. They're all brilliant people on the Supreme Court. They have to realize that part of their job is to help our country heal from this kind of neo-Civil War that's going on right now.

NOBLES: Wow, that's a great way to put it.

Lydia, I want to talk about the 2,400 law professors that signed a letter opposing Kavanaugh's nomination. They say, due to his judicial temperament, including some of the things they claim they believe he lied about in his background. He's going to become a Supreme Court justice as soon as tonight. Should we be concerned these issues are lingering in his background and perhaps Democrats may use that to do something as drastic as impeach him or at least investigate him while he's sitting on the Supreme Court?

WHEELER: I think that remains to be seen once he gets on the bench how Democrats will react to this. My sources are telling meg that, yes, he showed a level of partisanship that is unusual for nominees to the Supreme Court. And that they're concerned that maybe he will carry over some of those biases on to the bench. And so we can be assured that outside groups are going to be calling for him to recuse himself from certain issues, particularly those that -- where a Democrat -- or democratically aligned groups are challenging Republican action.

NOBLES: I think often times, after these votes, even if they're divisive, we kind of assume this person goes on the court and then we just move on. There's a chance in the case of Kavanaugh this could potentially linger on into the future.

Doug, did you want to make a point on that?

BRINKLEY: Yes. It's just like Clarence Thomas. If you say his name, we don't really know about his decisions. People just remember Anita Hill. This is the stigma, the stain that Justice Kavanaugh's going to carry for the rest of his life. Can he make -- can he kind of erase it and make it better? We'll tell in coming decades. Right now, he's been bruised and battered in the annals of history. This fight will be in the opening paragraph of his obituary someday.

NOBLES: No doubt.

Great conversation. Lydia Wheeler, Douglas Brinkley, thank you so much for joining me. Appreciate it.

This is CNN's Manu Raju with the Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley. Let's take a listen.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R-IA), CHAIRMAN, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I get mad at people downstairs doing that so --


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you talk about the process that got us here? Regrets about the process and the nature of it?

GRASSLEY: Yes, that we couldn't keep on the qualifications of the man going to be on the Supreme Court. I think it should have been focused on that. And for two months it was, and when that didn't work, they dug up everything they could, including the legitimate accusation of sexual assault.

RAJU: Senator, can you explain the comments you made yesterday about women on your panel, workload?

GRASSLEY: Sure, sure. You know what I should have done is I'll give you at least one sentence and I'll back it up with one sentence. And that is, I should have said that it's even hard to get men to serve on the committee. And three people are on the committee because the leader had to talk them into being on the committee because nobody wants to serve on the committee. For two reasons. One, it has executive session every Thursday or at least most Thursdays. And another thing is it's so ideologically divided.

RAJU: Do you need more women on the committee?

GRASSLEY: I would encourage women to get on the committee. I asked a woman yesterday if she'd like to be on the committee next year. She said no.


GRASSLEY: Well, I don't want to identify --


[13:15:07] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Senator, what do you make of the -- the protests outside, there's a lot of really angry people about the way this has gone down. How do you fix this process? How do you get people to feel like this is a legitimate thing they can buy into?

GRASSLEY: I have to give you an historic answer. Maybe some of you have heard me say this in the last four or five days. I'm one of four or five people who are still around from the Clarence Thomas thing. And young journalists like you are young today were back there asking me the very same question. I was very concerned about it. Looking back 28 years, you don't see the partisanship that was predicted at that time evolve. I don't expect it to happen after Kavanaugh because these justices are insulated from public opinion. And they have to operate within their agenda. And they'll do their work and they don't worry about politics.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Justice Kagan says the court has no center and that's regrettable at this point. Do you agree?

GRASSLEY: All I can say is, no, I can't judge that. Because I've seen at least three occasions since Roberts has been chief justice that I expected him to rule otherwise. But he ruled the way he did because he thought -- he thought it was different and it pointed towards the center. So just who's going to create the center? It's going to be Judge Roberts.

RAJU: The White House -- Senator, the White House has said there were four witnesses that the Senate gave --


RAJU: The White House said there were four witnesses that the Senate gave to interview as part of the FBI investigation. Did you provide witness names for the White House?

GRASSLEY: No, I was not on the telephone call with the White House after our meeting, 3:00, last week ago, week ago yesterday. I was not on that phone.

RAJU: Who limited it?

GRASSLEY: You'll have to ask -- you'll have to ask --


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- the message to the protesters who are still so upset about this?

GRASSLEY: Thank god that you're willing to exercise your first amendment rights of association and free speech. Keep it up. Because it's going to make America stronger.

Thank you, all.

RAJU: Thanks, Senator.

NOBLES: OK, so that was the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley speaking to reporters in the Senate ahead of this important and crucial vote of Brett Kavanaugh to become the next Supreme Court justice.

Among the things he talked about, Manu Raju asked him about the comments he made about it being difficult for Republicans to find women to sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he attempted to clarify that, saying it was difficult to find men as well. He also said he actually asked an unnamed Republican female Senator to serve and she told him no.

I believe now we're going to go to Tom Foreman? Is that where we're headed next?

Oh, the panel. The panel's still with me, Lydia Wheeler and Doug Brinkley.

Interesting, from your perspective, Lydia, what you heard there from Grassley, we talked a little bit about this idea of the comments that he made. I know you're responding to that. These comments he made about Republican female Senators not being willing to serve. Do you think he's explaining this any better than the original statement?

WHEELER: I think he might be trying to walk back that original statement a little bit that seemed to have gotten him into trouble, especially in this era of the "Me Too" movement where women feel empowered. Might offend, in ill taste, so I think he's saying now he didn't mean that. But what he really meant, I'm not sure we can tell.

NOBLES: Right.

It does seem, Doug, to be to a certain extent an image problem for Republicans when questioning someone like Dr. Ford when there were only male Republican Senators available. Do you think that the Republicans have gotten the message at all about what this looks like and how this may impact these conversations going forward?

Oh, we don't have Douglas. I'm sorry.

OK, but Manu Raju is ready. Sorry about that. Let's go to you on Capitol Hill. Some fascinating stuff there from Chuck Grassley. What stood out most to you during those comments from the Judiciary Committee chairman?

[13:19:28] RAJU: A couple of things. One, he had gotten under a lot of criticism over last day because of comments he made yesterday to reporters when asked why there weren't any women serving on the Judiciary Committee. He clarified that yesterday, saying his workload was too intense for men and women. That's why they didn't want to serve. He didn't seem too disturbed, the fact we were asking about, that he actually welcomed the opportunity to say he tried to get women on the committee. But men and women did not want to serve on such a labor-intensive committee. And, also, the last question that I tried to put toto him about this investigation that occurred by the FBI. There's still a lot of questions about limits that were placed on it. Certainly, Democrats have raised a lot of those concerns. The White House has said it was the Senate that put those limits on. It was the Senate that initially gave him a list of only a handful of witnesses to interview. I asked Chuck Grassley. He said he was not on any sort of phone call with the White House to limit witnesses. I said, well who limited it. He said, you'll have to ask them. Referring to the White House. We continue to have some back and forth about the extent of that investigation. But at the end of the day, perhaps that issue all moot, because we're headed to that confirmation vote in just a matter of hours. They just announced that vote, 3:30 p.m., will start this afternoon -- Ryan?

NOBLES: That is new information. Manu, glad you pointed that out. The vote officially set to take place at 3:30.

Manu, before you go, I also thought his comments about the protesters were interesting. You know, there have been a lot of Republicans who have been -- maybe annoyed is the right word -- with the volume of people in the halls of the capitol. We've seen intense moments between Senators and some of these protesters. Senator Grassley seemed to think their contribution to this conversation, even though they might be on the other side of him, was still a positive thing.

RAJU: He certainly did. Perhaps one reason why they're feeling good right now is because they're going to win this vote this afternoon. So clearly the Judiciary chairman in a very good mood today. This, after he himself, his office, has been flooded by protester, mostly anti-Kavanaugh protesters. He has faced a lot of that pressure and criticism itself. But trying to tamp things down a bit as we head into this decisive vote this afternoon. No question about it, sending a positive note ahead of what will be a positive result for the Republicans in just a matter of hours.

NOBLES: No doubt about that.

Manu Raju, again with that breaking news. A vote set to take place at 3:30. He just spoke with the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley.

Manu, thank you.

Still ahead, we have protests from the steps of the Supreme Court to the offices of Senators across the country. Activists outraged over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. We'll take you inside those protests when we come back. See you.





[13:26:36] NOBLES: These are live pictures. Protesters outside -- this is outside the capitol ahead of today's Senate vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh. This follows days of protests on Capitol Hill where over 400 people were arrested in just the last two days.

CNN's Tom Foreman is live outside the Supreme Court. That's right across the street from the capitol.

Tom, what is the scene like there?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ryan. This may well have been the high-water mark of the past few days. Finishing up arresting what looked like probably 150 people or so, who actually made it up on to the steps of the capitol and sat down. The crowd out here, of course, cheering for them and waving signs to them. But capitol police have taken it sort of slowly here. Let them sit for a while. They've let the crowd gather here for a while. They have, however, also made it very clear that this is an illegal gathering. That's what they're basing these arrests on. There's no permit for people to be up here so they're not going to let people stay but will push them back. Nonetheless, after what was several hours of very quietly gathering and just chanting in front of the Supreme Court, the quick march over here is clearly being seen as a victory of sorts by protesters to get close to the capitol so they can let people know how angry they are about this decision and how they hope they'll carry that energy into the elections coming up in about a month -- Ryan?

NOBLES: Tom Foreman, live in front of the capitol where the protests are intensifying.

We now know, two hours away from the start of the voting process to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court justice.

Coming up, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford says she has no regrets about speaking up about an alleged assault. But her attorneys say she does feel very hurt by something President Trump had to say. We'll hear from those attorneys next.


[13:33:01] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: In just a few hours, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. You're looking at pictures of protesters from just moments ago, outside the capitol, ahead of today's vote, which is now scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Eastern. Kavanaugh is likely to be confirmed, despite Christine Blasey Ford's

accusation that he assaulted her while they were in high school. Kavanaugh denies the accusation.

Ford's sister-in-law says her testimony at the Senate hearing and President Trump's reaction to it at a rally has caused Ford more pain.


UNIDENTIFIED SISTER-IN-LAW OF CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: I think when her sexual trauma, you know, involved being laughed at and being helpless and both of those things have happened. She's been laughed at by the president of the United States with people applauding and laughing. She is probably feeling a whole host of terrible feelings right now.


NOBLES: Dr. Ford's lawyers say she has no regrets about testifying but they're blasting Senators for false claims about the FBI investigation into the allegations.

CNN's Dana Bash spoke to them earlier.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Have you heard any regrets from her about coming out the way she did?

LISA BANKS, ATTORNEY FOR CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: 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. And I think she still feels that that was the right thing to do. So I don't think she has any regrets.

BASH: If you were to do it over again, knowing what you know now, could this have been done in a different way? With regard to Senator Feinstein, the fact she didn't tell anybody? She says it was because she was abiding by the wishes of Professor Ford, Congresswoman Eshoo and so forth. In retrospect, knowing what you know, could it have been done differently?

[13:35:00] DEBRA KATZ, ATTORNEY FOR CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: I can't speak to the process. What I can speak to is when victims of sexual assault and violence go to their Congress people, when they go to their Senators, and they ask for their information to be kept confidential, I think that that's a request that needs to be respected. Victims get to control when and how and where their allegations get made public. Now, if we want to look at all the things that went wrong in in this process, there are many. There are many process issues that need to be addressed. But I think Senator Feinstein respected the wishes of her constituent. That was the right thing to do.

BASH: Does Professor Ford feel that way as well?

KATZ: Absolutely.

BASH: President Trump, I'm sure you saw, mocked your client's testimony at a Mississippi rally Tuesday night. The crowd, obviously, big Trump supporters, applauded. Did you speak to Professor Ford Did she see that? And what was her reaction?

BANKS: She did. She was upset by it. It was very hurtful, as it would be, to any survivor who had the courage to come forward, only to be mocked and belittled by anyone really. Certainly by the president of the United States. It was very upsetting. It was very hurtful.

BASH: So one of the things that has gotten Republicans really enraged is the fact that, during her testimony, Professor Ford told the committee that she wasn't clear that there was an offer to you, her legal team, from committee to have the committee fly out to California and have a private conversation with her, interview with her, as opposed to flying her for a public hearing. Is that true?

BANKS: No. As her counsel informed her of all options made available to us by the committee, we showed her all of the correspondence and what they were offering was to send staffers to California to interview her. Dr. Ford wanted to speak to the committee members themselves. And I think what you saw in the hearing was that Dr. Ford got a little confused and thought that Senator Grassley was suggesting that he himself would have come to California, which was not what he offered at all.

BASH: The allegation that they're making very blatantly is she has lawyers, you two, who are Democrats, who wanted to have a public spectacle.

KATZ: Dana, that is such ludicrous accusation. We've been listening to it. We have not wanted to respond to it because it's such a distraction, deflection. Our client was advised of every single option given to her by the committee. She saw every single communication. She's a smart woman. She wanted to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

BASH: If Judge Kavanaugh becomes Justice Kavanaugh, or even if he stays on the federal bench he's on now, would Professor Ford like impeachment proceedings to begin?

KATZ: Professor Ford has not asked for anything of the sort. What she did was come forward and testify and agree to Cooperate with any investigation by the FBI. And that's what she sought to do here.

BASH: She's not going there on impeachment?


BASH: She does not want him to be impeached?


(END VIDEOTAPE) NOBLES: Senator Susan Collins is a critical vote in the confirmation of Kavanaugh. How are her constituents reacting to her yes vote? We're going to take you to Maine when we come back.


[13:43:14] NOBLES: In about two hours, Senator Susan Collins will vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, pushing the number of votes needed over the top. At the capitol now, protesters are out. Some have been arrested. Some protesters showed up in the throngs of the offices of Senator Collins' in D.C. and in Maine as thing reached a fever pitch when she revealed her position in a long-awaited speech yesterday.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R), MAINE: Mr. President, we've heard a lot of charges and countercharges about Judge Kavanaugh. But as those who have known him best have attested, he has been an exemplary public service, 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 5-4 decisions and so that public confidence in our judiciary and in our highest court is restored. Mr. President, I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.


NOBLES: Polo Sandoval is in Portland where protesters are expected to make a final plea.

Polo, you've been around Senator Collins' office talking with constituents the past couple of days. Just give us the view of what's happening in Maine.

[13:45:03] POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ryan, except for the occasional protester outside Collins' office, things have been quiet here in Portland. I can tell you, of course, everything is possible. But there's this consensus here, and everybody seems to know, there's little to no expectation the Senator will change her mind and vote yes for the nomination and the appointment of Judge Kavanaugh. I think what we've seen here the last 18, almost 24 hours here, have been -- many of her constituents bracing for that vote. And we have seen disappointment, anger, and to a certain extent, even a galvanizing cry from some of the progressives here to essentially gather funds and donations for somebody who could potentially run against the Senator, should she choose to run for re-election in the next two years. So I think that's what we're seeing here on the ground. There's no expectations she will change her mind. But at the same time, that last-minute push certainly is something that we continue to see here, is to try to convince the Senator to do otherwise. But it's really what we've been noticing the last day or so.

For now, in Portland, it is quiet. Not a whole lot going on. People are waiting to see if she will vote the way she said she would yesterday. NOBLES: Polo Sandoval, with the view from Susan Collins' home state

of Maine. Polo, thank you for that report.

And we will be right back.


[13:50:55] NOBLES: Melania Trump is heading back to the United States after her first solo trip overseas. She made her final stop today in Egypt, visiting ancient pyramids and her Egyptian counterpart.

Overseas, she couldn't escape the debate happening back in Washington. She spoke with reporters about disagreements with her husband and even responded to criticism that her outfit evoked colonialist comparisons.





UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How has your time in Africa been so far?

TRUMP: Incredible. Unforgettable.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What is the message you want to send to the world on behalf of your husband's administration with this trip?

TRUMP: That we care, and we want to show the world that we care. And I am working with USAID, and I am meeting some of them here as well. And that's all I want to show, that we care.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you plan to push for more funding for USAID when you get back?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you plan to ask your husband for more funding for USAID when you get back?

TRUMP: We are having planning, so we are helping the country. And we are working help for helping them and we will continue to do so.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mrs. Trump, given your husband's comments --


TRUMP: I will when I come back to Washington, D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Given some of the derogatory reports reported about African countries, what will you tell them in response to that? And did you discuss that on your trip? Did anybody discuss that with you? TRUMP: Nobody discussed that with me. And I never heard him saying

those comments. And that was an anonymous source and I will leave it at that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Back at home, there's a huge debate when your husband said it's a tough time for men. Given your trip has centered on women and girls, what -- do you agree with him?

TRUMP: Well, I will say that, if we're talking about the Supreme Court and Judge Kavanaugh, I think he is 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 REPORTER: Did you believe Christine Ford?

TRUMP: I will not say (ph) on that. And I think the older victims -- we need to help all of the victims no matter what kind of abuse they had. But I am against any kind of abuse or violence.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mrs. Trump, can you describe your role advising your husband? Some people interpret some of the decisions he has made, you have made, such as coming to Africa and your tweets, as a way as not necessarily undermining but poking at him a little bit, trying to influence him. Can you describe that?

TRUMP: I don't always agree with what he tweets. And I tell him that. I give him my honest opinion and honest advice. And sometimes he listens and sometimes he doesn't. But I have my own voice and my opinions, and it is very important for me that I express what I feel.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So sometimes you are trying to steer him maybe to be a little bit more polite in his public discourse, and to maybe be a little bit more sensitive --


TRUMP: No. I tell him my opinions, what I believe. And maybe in some of them, we maybe don't agree. He will do. He is -- I am not elected. He is the president. But --

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you ever told him to tone it down?





UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yesterday, you were in Kenya. And we had a discussion about your hat yesterday --

(CROSSTALK) 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 is very important what I do, what we do with USAID. And what I do with my initiative. And I wish people would focus on what I do, not what I wear.



[13:55:08] NOBLES: That is Melania Trump. She leaves Egypt after a long trip through Africa.

Protesters arrested on the steps of Capitol Hill with just a few hours before the expected confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. We have live updates coming up next.


[13:59:55] NOBLES: Hello. And thank you for joining me. I'm Ryan Nobles, in today for Fredricka Whitfield.

Right now, protests erupting in Washington ahead of an historic moment.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we believe them.