Return to Transcripts main page


Senate Prepares to Vote to Confirm Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court; Protestors Gather in Washington to Oppose Kavanaugh Confirmation to Supreme Court; Senator Chuck Grassley Makes Controversial Statement about Lack of Republican Women on Judiciary Committee; Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor Discuss Partisanship on Supreme Court; Susan Collins and Joe Manchin Criticized for Supporting Brett Kavanaugh's Nomination to Supreme Court; Melania Trump Visits Egypt. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired October 6, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: Protests erupting in Washington ahead of a historic moment.


CROWD: We believe survivors! We believe survivors!

NOBLES: We are now just an hour and a half away from the final vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. That vote now set for 3:30 this afternoon. Senators believe they have the votes to push him through to the nation's highest court after weeks of tense debate and heightened emotions. Police are arresting dozens of protesters on the steps of the Capitol. They have now cleared everyone off the steps and are standing shoulder to shoulder at the base of those steps.

Let's check in now on Capitol Hill with our CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju. Manu, we know this whole vote is happening very soon. And you just caught up with the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley. What can you tell us about that conversation?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chuck Grassley defended the process going forward. He criticized the Democrats for sidetracking what was an orderly confirmation process in his view. But he also defended some of his remarks that he made yesterday that got a lot of attention after he suggested that perhaps the 11 men on the panel, when asked why there were not any women, there are 11 Republican men on his panel, he suggested, well, perhaps because of the intense workload of his committee.

Now he clarified that yesterday, saying he did not mean that just women didn't want to do work. He said men and women didn't want to do work. And when I asked him further about this, here is what he said.


RAJU: Can you explain the comments you made yesterday about women on your panel and workload? CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R) CHAIR, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Sure. You

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

RAJU: Do you need more women on the committee?

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


RAJU: Now, Grassley and the Republicans have been criticized sharply by Democrats for what their view is that of an FBI investigation into these allegations that was severely limited. Now, the White House has said that it was the Senate that took the scope of this investigation and provided names of witnesses for the FBI to investigate. Now, when I asked Chuck Grassley if indeed his committee provided the names for the White House, for the FBI, to investigate, he suggested they were not involved.


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

GRASSLEY: Get the elevator ready to go.

RAJU: The White House says 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: I was not on the telephone call with the White House after our meeting at 3:00 last week ago yesterday. I was not on that phone call.

RAJU: So who limited it? Who limited the investigation?


RAJU: And the process about how this all happened, of course, under fire from Democrats, who have taken the floor all night, last night, and today, to rail about what is happening here. But Ryan, this is not going to change the outcome by 3:30 this afternoon. The Senate will begin voting, and we expect Kavanaugh to be confirmed by a 50 to 48 vote, one of the narrowest margins in the history for any Supreme Court nominee, ending, as you can see there from his protesters, a very divisive and grueling process. Ryan?

NOBLES: A narrow margin but he will still be a Supreme Court justice regardless of that final vote. Manu Raju, thank you so much for that report on Capitol Hill.

And when Brett 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 replaced two justices on the highest court. CNN's Senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns joins us now live from the White House. Joe, what is the mood like there?

JOE JOHNS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a good question. There is a lot of a guessing game here, I tell you, Ryan, right now, about whether the president is going to talk about the Kavanaugh nomination on departure, as he heads out to Topeka, Kansas, for a big political rally later this evening, or if he is going to save it all for the crowd after it is all finished.

Of course, the president has been described as in a good mood after watching the nomination, I should say the speech on the Senate floor just yesterday by Senator Susan Collins of Maine, when she announced that she was, in fact, going to vote for the nomination. The president was surrounded at that time by members of the House of Representatives and some senators who were there to watch him sign the reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration. He did so. They watched. And then they signed the bill.

[14:05:10] So the president is said to be in good spirits over what has gone on here and gone on at the capitol, and a lot of people say they are hoping very much that this is all over, this long, brutal confirmation process today, and everybody can get to the business of the midterms. Ryan?

NOBLES: All right, no doubt, Joe Johns, we will hear from the president in some form or fashion later today, and we expect he will take a victory lap. Thank you, Joe Johns, for that report.

Justice Elena Kagan admitted Friday that it is a, quote, challenge to keep up the Supreme Court's reputation of being neutral. And she and Justice Sonia Sotomayor also stressed how important the court's impartiality is.


ELENA KAGAN, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: 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 this 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.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Now we're eight justices, eight justices that we have to rise above partisanship in our 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.


NOBLES: Let's talk about this. Joining me now is CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane De Vogue, Lynn Sweet, who is a Washington Bureau Chief for the "Chicago Sun-Times," and Gloria Browne-Marshall. She wrote the book "The Voting Rights War" and is a constitutional professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Gloria, let's start with you. Once Judge Kavanaugh is seated, becomes Justice Kavanaugh, how does the court improve its appearance of impartiality, and can the court even do that?

GLORIA BROWNE-MARSHALL, AUTHOR, "THE VOTING RIGHTS WAR": I think it is nearly impossible for the court to still keep the same level of credibility and neutrality that it appeared to have before this fiasco around Judge Kavanaugh. And one of the major reasons is because the court is supposed to be apolitical. That's why the justices don't run for office, they are not supposed to put op-ed pieces in "The New York Times" as Judge Kavanaugh did. They are not supposed to be a part of the whole political movement, and they serve for life so that they are not part of any loyalty to a particular political party.

In this case, judge, if he becomes justice Kavanaugh, is seen as someone who is truly conservative and truly loyal to the Trump administration and those extreme conservatives, and that undermines his ability to be fair to liberal causes, women's causes, or the appearance of fairness for people coming before that court.

NOBLES: Ariane, you heard those concerns from Justices Kagan and Sotomayor. How worried do you think the justices are about how bitter this confirmation battle is in perhaps doing something to show this gesture that they still can be an impartial court?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Ryan, they were worried about that before the Kavanaugh nomination. They had already expressed concerns, because if you think back to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she was an ACLU lawyer, and she, only three people voted against her, and now look where we are. So they are worried about it.

But what I think is interesting about Kagan and Sotomayor there is they don't often speak out like that. And that was a long-planned speaking event, and it happened to fall on this critical day. But they wanted to make two things absolutely clear, is that they recognize that this court cannot be looked at as just a part of the political branch. That is what makes them so nervous about it. They can't be looked at as Republicans or Democrats. And right now, and this doesn't always happen, there are four members who were appointed by Republicans presidents, and four by liberals. That doesn't always happen. We have had that switch around before. So they are very, very concerned about this.

And they are also, I think that Kagan made that interesting note about the swing vote, because now Anthony Kennedy is gone. And before Anthony Kennedy, Justice Sandra O'Connor was the swing vote. And right now there doesn't look like there is going to be a swing vote. And she said that is another concern because it looks like one side one side of the bench would be owned in a particular issue. They are very nervous.

NOBLES: Now Lynn, let's talk about what is happening on Capitol Hill. There is obviously an optics problem for Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, which we saw Chuck Grassley attempt to explain, he kind of caught himself in a moment where he suggested that somehow women were not interested in serving on the Judiciary Committee because it was too much work. But we heard him state his position that he would like to see more women serve, but that both men and women don't want that opportunity. Should Republicans make a concerted effort to have a woman sit on this panel, this important Senate committee?

[14:10:05] LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Ryan, it wouldn't be a problem if you had more than 23 women in the Senate. We are at an historic high now. And I don't remember the partisan divide, but most of the women are Democrats. So the answer isn't workload. This has ebbed and flowed over the years. And when you look at this, Anita Hill was 27 years ago and there are no Republican women. There are one or two, no women on the panel.

So this has not come very far. And there have been more or less women through the years. So this workflow argument that he made makes him look ridiculous. And I don't know why he wanted -- he kind of took it back, saying both men and women. It still is a choice committee, there's 100 senator, somehow they fill up the committee. So it is just like, you know, Chairman Grassley, what on earth are you talking about? Because somehow or another these spots are filled. And we do know that women were recruited after Anita Hill. Look no further than Dianne Feinstein who came in on the year of the woman.

NOBLES: Who happens to be ranking member.

SWEET: Now, 1992, and Carol Moseley Braun who was elected in Illinois defeating a Democrat Allen Dixon in a primary because he was supportive of Clarence Thomas.

NOBLES: I want you all to listen to this key moment during Senator Susan Collins' speech. She is of course one of the key votes to cinch Kavanaugh's expected confirmation. Listen to what she says.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: I have been alarmed and disturbed, however, by some who have suggested that unless Judge Kavanaugh's nomination is rejected, the Senate is somehow condoning sexual assault. Nothing could be further from the truth.


NOBLES: So her point there, that voting yes to Kavanaugh is not the Senate condoning sexual assault, Obviously there are a lot of survivors that believe otherwise. Gloria, what message in your mind does his confirmation send to those who consider themselves a part of the Me Too movement?

BROWNE-MARSHALL: I think it is truly ironic that women would be the cornerstone to the Kavanaugh confirmation. You have to think about all of this work that went into getting women into positions of political power, and this is after Anita Hill, of course, and then to turn around and say that despite the Me Too movement, despite all that we learned as women, it would be women who put the vote over the top. It's so ironic, it's so disappointing.

And now we have to look at the right women. It is not enough to just be female. What are the politics? What are the -- what is the background, what are the values? It is not enough just to be a woman. You have to be a woman who is right for the issues that are going forward, representing women and not just representing themselves once they get into positions of power.

NOBLES: I want to talk again about the makeup of the court, Ariane, and you kind of talked about the fact that they are at this point, is a lack of a swing vote. And that brings me to Chief Justice John Roberts. Could he be that potential swing vote? He obviously cares a lot about his legacy as the chief justice, and his period of time as the Roberts court. Is there any chance that perhaps he would be the one to take on that responsibility?

DE VOGUE: It is an interesting question, because we don't know how Kavanaugh, if he makes the bench, we don't know how he will vote. It seems like, though, he might be to the right on Roberts. But Roberts is a very conservative justice, right? He is not where Anthony Kennedy was on those issues, LGBT rights, abortion, Affirmative Action. That's not where Roberts is.

So the one role that he cares about, more than maybe every other member, is the institution of the court. Roberts, more than anyone, it bears his name, he does not like these politics. He doesn't like five-four splits. He may try to guide things so that they are narrower, narrow ways for them to agree. But I don't really think it is fair to call him the swing vote.

NOBLES: All right. Did you want to make a point?

SWEET: I do want to say, I think the realistic thing, no matter what Justice Kagan says, this is seen through a political lens because they were appointed by four Democratic presidents -- I mean, four of the justices are by Democratic presidents, and the five are by Republican.

But a lot depends on really their views of precedent. I think this whole line of questioning about precedent is baloney, because they change precedent all the time. So you go there with just a few months ago, if you asked me, on Janus they unloaded 40 years of precedent. So if Kavanaugh could in a sense become a swing vote, unwittingly, if he truly, truly is the one on the court who truly believes in precedent, when the four incumbent conservatives on it seem not to.

[14:15:03] NOBLES: Gloria, a final word from you on that. How big of an impact do you think precedent could play in some of the decisions that Justice Kavanaugh will make, given what he has said about that topic?

BROWNE-MARSHALL: Well, we have voting rights, Affirmative Action, women's issues, the Affordable Care Act, there are so many issues that are considered liberal issues. We have Kavanaugh who goes on a rant and gives a basic diatribe around being anti-liberal. It's going to affect so many areas, especially voting rights, because voting rights will then affect who will then be the next president. So his burden on the one hand is to show neutrality, but unfairness

and of course the lack of neutrality is what might be in store for so many people who fall on the wrong side of the Kavanaugh viewpoint of how he ascended to the court in the first place.

NOBLES: We're going to have to leave it there. Ariane De Vogue, Lynn Sweet, Gloria Browne-Marshall, thank you so much for your perspectives. We appreciate you being here.

And happening now, we are monitoring protests in Washington, and the run-up to the final vote on Brett Kavanaugh. Some have been arrested outside the capitol building and we will take you there live.

Plus, a red state Democrat in trouble after voting for Brett Kavanaugh, but it is just not fellow Democrats angry with him. So are Republicans. We are going to explain why when we come back.


NOBLES: Happening right now, you're looking at live pictures outside the capitol, where police arrested dozens of protesters before that final Senate vote on Brett Kavanaugh that is set to happen about an hour from now. Police are now lined up shoulder to shoulder at the base of the capitol steps trying to keep order. We did hear from Senator Chuck Grassley and his message to the demonstrators outside. Keep in mind, this is a Republican saying this. Go ahead.


CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R) CHAIR, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thank God that you're willing to exercise your First Amendment rights of association and free speech. Keep it up, because it is going to make America stronger.


NOBLES: In an interesting wrinkle to what these protesters are dealing with today, there are repeat offender, meaning if they were arrested earlier in the week, if they're arrested again today, they are going to go straight to jail and perhaps not be released until Tuesday, so that is part of the calculation for some of these protesters that may want to stretch the limits of the situation there. Our national correspondent Tom Foreman is at the capitol. Tom, you have been out there all morning. What is the feeling like there right now?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of the folks here who are protesting are pleased I think with what happened here at least, in that they got heard, that many people made it up onto the steps of the capitol. They have been led away here to big cheers from the crowd as they have been handcuffed and taken off. At least they will have that with them if they stay locked up to Tuesday, as you mentioned. But the people feel like at least they're getting their voiced hard, they're getting their message out there. Lois Ross (ph) is one of those who has come out here to protest. Tell me why you bothered to come out here to join the crowd. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I think that a lot of women see Brett

Kavanaugh's behavior as sort of mirroring behavior that they have had to tolerate from other men at various points in their life, and it is very frustrating to see another man appear as though he's getting off without any sort of consequence.

FOREMAN: You know the vote is likely to go in his favor right now, so what do you hope people take away from this knowing that you can't probably take it at this point?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That it is a demonstration of frustration.

FOREMAN: And thoughts about the midterms, that sort of thing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. With that, I think we will just have to wait and see. I think this is a particularly polarizing moment in American politics. I think that it go either way. I think that when people are energized about politics, that has the potential to be a good thing. But what happens, we will just have to wait and see.

FOREMAN: Did you see this as in some ways in the Senate a vote on just a Supreme Court nominee, or did you see it as a vote on something bigger than that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that right now, yes, I think this is functioning kind of as a proxy for other issues. I think that people are reading into this much bigger things.

FOREMAN: Does it feel bigger to you because of the Me Too movement, that sort of thing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think for myself and for most of my female friends, it has been a moment of reflection. And there has been sort of a lot of kind of retroactive processing of things that have happened at various points in careers and in lives more generally. So yes, I absolutely think this is much bigger than Brett Kavanaugh.

FOREMAN: Thank you so much. We appreciate that.

And that's the sort of sentiment you hear from an awful lot of people out here, Ryan. We have been hearing from several days, and if it goes the way they hope, we will be hearing more in the next months as we head to the midterms. Ryan?

NOBLES: Tom Foreman live outside the Capitol Hill with those protestors.

Let's now go to CNN's Miguel Marques. He's live on the other side of the street at the Supreme Court, protesters there staging a sit-in before the final Senate vote on Brett Kavanaugh. Miguel, describe what you are seeing.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so we are on First Street, just in front of the Supreme Court. As you can see, and protesters have lined up right down the middle of the street. They want to block it all off. The U.S. capitol police came over quite concerned for a little while, trying to keep people off the street, and now they have just relented essentially. This is First Street this. This goes down to union station right here. This is also the area where if the vice president or other officials were coming for this vote, this is the area where they would be coming.

The message here in front of the Supreme Court, and many of the people who are over at the capitol steps have now come over to the Supreme Court, the message here is not that they hope to change any minds or see any votes change. They expect that it will not go their way. But they want to go noisily. They say they want everyone to know that they are watching and that this is on the Senate, and those few senators that they had hoped would vote the other way. And so they just want to be basically on the record with their voices, taking over the streets right now.

[14:25:03] The chant here in front of the Supreme Court, is our streets, and support for victims of sexual assault. So that is the scene here. It is not very clear where it is going. It looked like it was getting sort of intense for a moment when the U.S. capitol police rushed over, tried to stop them from taking over. But now, essentially, the streets out here in front of the Supreme Court are just closed. Ryan?

NOBLES: Miguel Marques live outside the Supreme Court. Miguel, keep us updated if anything new happens there, we appreciate it.

And we will continue to monitor breaking news out of Washington where protesters are out in force, ahead of the Kavanaugh vote, which is now just about an hour away. Keep it here on CNN. We are back in a moment.


NOBLES: We are about one hour away from the Senate confirmation vote for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The vote has angered protesters in Washington who are out on force on the capitol steps and in front of the Supreme Court. Dozens have been arrested. A key vote, Senator Susan Collins, helped clinch Kavanaugh's confirmation, and protesters showed up in throngs at her offices in D.C. and Maine 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 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: We should point out before we go to Polo Sandoval who is in Portland, where there have been protests this week, that some of these protesters that we're hearing from, Polo, in Washington, not only calling for Brett Kavanaugh to be denied his seat on the Supreme Court, but also making specific mention of Susan Collins as well. Polo, you are there in Portland, where she represents her constituents there. What is the reaction from the folks that you have talked to over the past few days?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is like about what is being talked about here now in her district. I can tell you after speaking to constituents, there is little to no expectation that the senator from Maine will change her mind before submitting her vote here, which is, as she mentioned on the floor yesterday, will be a yes.

So what many people here have been focusing on now is really just that last-minute push, though. Nonetheless, they say it is still worth trying to sway their senator to vote no. But really, the long-term effects, that's what people have been talking about, especially after Susan Collins made her announcement yesterday. That is the political price that the senator will likely have to pay according to them, when, after she submits that yes vote. There are many people who say that some of that bipartisan support that she has been able to get from her district may potentially go away. That's something that constituent, April Humphrey, told us, after she found out her senator would vote yes today.


APRIL HUMPHREY, MAINE RESIDENT: I think there is a very good chance she won't be reelected because of this. I think that it's not only is it a vote that is out of step of what the people of Maine want, I think she has activated a ton of activists who are going to work to elect her opponent, whoever that may be.


SANDOVAL: I should mention Kavanaugh, Judge Kavanaugh does have some support here however. The staff of Senator Collins telling me that they did receive phone calls and visitors from people who were urging the senator to vote yes. But again, that gives you an idea of what is happening on the ground here. Obviously two very different sides of this issue and a big political price that the senator may have to pay after she submits that vote. Ryan?

NOBLES: Polo Sandoval with a view from Susan Collins' home state of Maine. Polo, thank you for that report.

Still to come, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin's last-minute decision to support Brett Kavanaugh's nomination has outraged some Republicans, including the president's son. But why? We will discuss, next.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: I am very much concerned basically with the sexual abuse that people have had to endure, and very much concerned that we have to do something as a country. But I had to deal with the facts I had in front of me.


NOBLES: That is Senator Joe Manchin, and his decision to break away from Democrats on the Kavanaugh confirmation vote isn't only drawing criticism from his own party. Many Republicans are questioning the timing. Donald Trump Jr., of course the president's son, tweeting yesterday, "A real profile in courage from lyin' liberal Joe Manchin, waited until Kavanaugh had enough votes secured before he announced his support. I bet he had another press release ready to go if Collins went the other way."

But how will Manchin's breakaway play with his home state ahead of the midterms where he is up for re-election? Let's talk about that with Jake Zuckerman. He's a politics reporter at the "Charleston Gazette- Mail." Jake, first of all, top line it for me. How are voters reacting right now to Senator Manchin's decision to support Kavanaugh?

JAKE ZUCKERMAN, POLITICS REPORTER, "CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL": I think at the end of the day people really saw it coming, and when they saw that he was going to be one of the last votes to go, especially when, as Susan Collins spoke yesterday, they saw that she might have buried the lead a little bit, but she was really going to get to that yes, I think people generally knew that Manchin was going to be a yes.

Really, the question is, what will this do to Democrats? Will they still come around for Manchin, or are they just kind of leaving this race alone? Are they going to drift over to Patrick Morrissey or maybe find a third party candidate?

NOBLES: And I wonder how this impacts the midterms, is what you're alluding to, and really, was there anything for Joe Manchin to gain here. If you're a hard core Republican, aren't you going to vote with President Trump's candidate, Patrick Morrissey? Does this, you think, really change the calculus at all for voters in West Virginia?

ZUCKERMAN: Well, I don't know that it changes the calculus, but I think what it might do is it might lead to kind of a slog in the voter process. Are Democrats really going to want to go out and door knock? Are they really going to want to get up off their couch to vote for Joe Manchin? This is one of the most important things they want from a Democrat in the Senate, and if he is going to vote for Republican nominees to the Supreme Court, especially such high-wire nominees like Judge Kavanaugh, they might just stay home on Election Day.

But that being said, it should be pointed out that after Susan Collins, the Republicans have 50 votes. Joe Manchin's vote really was ideological in either direction. It didn't have an effect on the outcome. So I think there are 30 days, and I think it might cool down, and I think what you are going to see is Senator Manchin really try to drift the conversation away from this and towards things like health care, things he's kind of found more of a sweet spot on. NOBLES: Joe Manchin is one of those politicians who to a certain

extent transcends party because he has been known for so long in West Virginia. I remember flying into Charleston on the same flight with him and then walking through the airport terminal there and him being able to shake and know the names of so many people inside that airport terminal.

Is he able to reach out to voters and kind of step aside the fact that he is a Democrat, despite it being such a heavily Republican state? Or has the partisanship there grown to the level that regardless of how well they know Joe Manchin, the fact that he is not a Republican is going to make it tough for them to vote for him?

ZUCKERMAN: Right, well, I think he has really found this good mode of likeability, and he has had a lot of success in elections where Republicans have performed pretty well on the ballot. So I think he has found his niche. He identifies himself as a West Virginia Democrat. And I don't know exactly what that means, but it's something to the effect of I'm not this monolithic national Democratic Party shill. I am my own person. I vote for some of President Trump's conferees and I vote against some of him. I think he is in the middle. He might have voted for Neil Gorsuch or Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, but on the flip side he was a key vote on things like the tax reform package, health care repeals, et cetera.

So I think it is kind of this centrist role, and there aren't a lot of centrist left in the Senate, and I think he has found his niche. Maybe it has burned some people out, but I think it keeps some more conservative Democrats or some more progressive Republicans over in voting for him, over a guy like Patrick Morrissey, who is really a much more solid partisan type.

NOBLES: Excellent perspective. We will have to see, Jake, if the voters in West Virginia want someone who is going to continue to stay in the middle of the road, or if they're ready to send someone that is going to vote for President Trump's agenda lock, step, and barrel. That answer we won't have for another 30 days. Jake Zuckerman, thank you so much for your perspective. We appreciate it.

Still to come, Melania Trump on her first solo overseas trip as a first lady. What she has to say about Brett Kavanaugh, the president's tweets, and comments about what she is wearing.


[14:48:02] NOBLES: This is a look at protests taking place up on Capitol Hill, some in front of the Supreme Court, others in front of the capitol. These protesters have been at it for the last several hours. They are there ahead of the final vote of confirmation for the, what will likely be the newest associate justice of the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh.

Interestingly, we should point out, these protesters, if they were already arrested earlier in the week, and they are arrested today, they won't be just given a fine and released. They will actually be booked in jail over the weekend and not have the opportunity to post bail until Tuesday because, of course, Monday is Columbus Day.

First lady Melania Trump now heading back to the United States closing out her tour of Africa. She made a stop in Egypt where she met with her Egyptian counterpart and toured the ancient pyramids. However, she really can't escape the political debate happening back in Washington over Judge Kavanaugh's nomination. She did speak with reporters earlier and addressed whether she agrees with her husband that it is a tough time for men.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Back home, Me Too is a huge debate and your husband says it's a tough time for men. Given that you're trip here has centered on children and girls, do you agree with him?

MELANIA TRUMP, U.S. FIRST LADY: Well, what I will say that, if we are 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. And the FBI investigation was done, is completed, and Senate voted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you believe Christine Ford?

MELANIA TRUMP: I think that all the victims, we need to have all the victims, no matter what kind of abuse they had. But I am against any kind of abuse or violence.

[14:50:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mrs. Trump, can you describe your role advising your husband? Some people interpret some of the decisions you've made such as coming to Africa and some of your tweets as a way of not necessarily undermining but poking at him a little bit, trying to influence him. Can you describe that?

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So sometimes you're trying to scare him to be a little more polite in public discourse and maybe be a little bit more sensitive to some of --

MELANIA TRUMP: No, I tell my opinions, what I believe, and maybe in some of them we don't, maybe don't agree. He will do. He is -- I'm not elected. So he is the president.


NOBLES: Let's talk about this now with the Washington Bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun-Times," Lynn Sweet. Lynn, we don't often see the first lady speak like this, answer questions from reporters on the record. But she didn't really take a firm stance on many of these hot button topics back here in Washington. What do you make of the comments that we just heard her make? LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": I make it

she tried to be very careful, not to be controversial, to try and be sympathetic in the age of sexual abuse, knowing the backstory that her own husband is accused of sexual, at the least sexual insensitivity to sexual escapades of his own, and you have to have some sympathy, that's the context that she is in right now.

But she knew what she was getting into when she took questions in the context of the Kavanaugh hearing and Dr. Ford. So I think she went as far as I think she felt she could go, and it wasn't very far.

NOBLES: Right, right. Exactly. I want to get your take on this, what critics are saying about her fashion. She obviously talks a lot, she uses her voice through her clothes in many ways. And when she was on safari in Nairobi, she wore a white pith hat. And there were many people that accused her of echoing European colonialism with this garb, and she was actually asked about that this morning, and let me play for you what she said.


MELANIA 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 U.S. aid, and what I do with my initiatives. And I wish people would focus on what I do, not what I wear.


NOBLES: So focus on what I do, not what I wear. Can she have it both ways? She sometimes wants people to interpret something out of what she is wearing, and now she is saying don't focus on it.

SWEET: I disagree with her on this, because she is putting together a costume. So she is asking not to be focused on. Now, I have been in Cairo. I have been by the pyramids. You wear whatever you're wearing that day. You don't have to dress up like you're a character out of Indiana Jones, OK? If this is what I was wearing in Cairo, you could motor out to the pyramids and wear the same thing. And the pith helmet is just not something that people wear every day. I have been to Kenya. I have been on a safari, actually with then Senator Barack Obama. No one put on pith helmets and a costume.

So I want to, in the abstract, of course we should focus on what a first lady says. But what the first lady wears is something that is an important part of the whole story of the first lady. That's why the gowns of the first ladies are in the Smithsonian. So it sends a signal. And so she did want it -- if I sat here and I wore like a dirty t-shirt that said something that would be distracting from our conversation.

NOBLES: My guess is people would probably talk about that on Twitter, wouldn't they?

SWEET: Yes. So she knows it. She has been a model. And it looked like a costume put together out of a scene from a movie that some of us have seen.

NOBLES: Lynn Sweet, thank you so much for being here. We appreciate it.

SWEET: Thank you.

NOBLES: And we're going to continue to monitor the breaking news out of Washington where protesters are out in force ahead of the Kavanaugh vote which is now an hour away. Stay with CNN. The next hour of our coverage continues with Dana Bash here in Washington.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: For Stuart Murdoch, playing for crowds just feels right. He is the charismatic front man of the Indy pop group Belle and Sebastian. But back in his 20s, something felt very wrong.

STUART MURDOCH, MUSICIAN: I became increasingly ill.

[14:55:00] GUPTA: Murdoch was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, a complex condition that left him exhausted and in pain.

MURDOCH: One by one, I gave up on university, then I had to give up working. I sat down one day at the piano and very gingerly put my thoughts into music and realized that I could write a song. I did feel that I have been given a secret weapon.

GUPTA: Murdoch found his cause, and his career. But he still struggles.

MURDOCH: I have an occasional happy moment when maybe I'm on stage in Radio City, and just thinking, wow, I never planned this. Perhaps as soon as the concert is over, I am going to feel sick and I'm going to look line an invalid for the next 24 hours.

We did talk about Emmy. We were swept under the carpet.

GUPTA: He now speaks to others about his experience to help raise awareness.

MURDOCH: It could be the most important thing that I ever do.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.