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Kavanaugh Soon To Be Sworn In; Protests Outside SCOTUS as Kavanaugh Sworn In; Interview with Ana Maria Archila Who Confronted Sen. Flake. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired October 6, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: And it's 5:00 here in the nation's capital. I want to welcome our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Ana Cabrera. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
And it is a big breaking news day here on CNN. In the coming hours, Brett Kavanaugh will be sworn in as the newest associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. This after winning Senate confirmation nomination by a narrow margin, a vote of 50 to 48 just a couple hours ago. And this is a huge win for President Trump. It caps a bitter, divisive political battle that started with Kavanaugh's nomination back in July.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On this vote, the eyes ayes are 50, the nays are 48. The nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh of Maryland to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States is confirmed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Those words from the president just a few minutes ago, the vice president I should say. These are the words that the president just tweeted moments ago. I applaud and congratulate the U.S. Senate for confirming our great nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court. Later today, I will sign his commission of appointment and he will be officially sworn in. Very exciting.
Our Congressional Correspondent Phil Mattingly is on Capitol Hill for us. Phil, as we mentioned, Brett Kavanaugh expected to be sworn in any moment. What can you tell us?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. And I can tell you that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell actually spoke to Brett Kavanaugh, soon to be Justice Brett Kavanaugh, right after that vote. He also spoke to the president as well.
I can tell you, here on Capitol Hill, it's kind of a tale of two parties. And, obviously, given how divisive this fight was over the course of the last couple of weeks, couple of months even, Ana, that shouldn't be surprising. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just spoke to reporters. He had a little bit of a joke. He said, I was never a big fan of landslides anyway. I thought they were boring, given how close the vote was.
But then, he moved to the importance for the Republicans and the importance for the president. What a victory this is, in terms of how it tilts the court's ideological vent for a generation to come. He called it an important day for America and an important day for the Senate.
But, Ana, I asked him point-blank. Given how divisive this was, given how split not just the Senate but the entire country it seems, how do people recover from this? And McConnell said plainly, the Senate and the country will get through this.
I think there might be some Democrats who have a bone to pick with that idea. The Democrats that I have been speaking to throughout the day, some of whom went to the Senate floor were reading assault -- or letters from sexual assault survivors, continuing to voice their objections not just with Brett Kavanaugh but also with the process, with what was done in the wake of the allegations. They are angry. They are willing to fight back is what they've said to me.
And what Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, said on the floor just before the vote was, vote. He said, repeatedly, that if you have problems with anything that's happened over the course of the last couple of weeks, the answer is to vote. To go to the ballot box. We'll see if that all happens.
Obviously, Ana, we're keenly aware that there's a midterm coming in less than a month, at this point in time. And this is firing up both bases, at this point, with the long-term ramifications here. And not just electorally, but for this institution. For the institution across the street, the Supreme Court and, really, for the entire country. I think everybody is waiting to see what those are as the weeks, months and years play out.
CABRERA: What do you know about where Brett Kavanaugh was when this vote was happening and just how soon, conceivably, before he takes his seat at the Supreme Court?
MATTINGLY: Yes, I mean, he's going to a justice when the Supreme Court convenes next week. There's no question about that. We're told that he was actually watching at home with his family.
I will tell you that inside the Senate gallery, I was in there during the vote, you could see the White House confirmation team, White House Counsel Don McGahn and his team were inside there, several of Brett Kavanaugh's outside supporters were there as well.
But also, notably, just to my left sitting in the gallery were Deborah Katts and Lisa Banks, the lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford. It was just -- it was kind of an amazing scene, particularly these protesters popped up, and Senators were casting their votes, to see all of this playing out. Kind of emblematic of what of -- I'm trying to think of the best word to describe how incredibly divisive is probably the best way you could put it, the last couple of weeks have been.
And, yet, the end is what you saw, 50 to 48. Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed. Republicans have the victory that they have been pushing for.
MATTINGLY: Democrats, obviously, not in a great place with how things ended up. And we'll see what happens next.
CABRERA: All right. Phil Mattingly, thank you very much for that reporting.
Joining us now in our nation's capital for this historic moment, former Democratic Ohio state senator, Nina Turner; Republican Strategist, Alice Stewart; Washington bureau chief for "The Associated Press," Julie Pace; and CNN Supreme Court Reporter Ariane De Vogue.
[17:05:05] Ariane, I know you have some new reporting, too, about how Kavanaugh has been preparing to take his seat and be ready to rock and roll on day one.
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Right. Well, he's going to take the bench on Tuesday. And we've learned, like you said, he was at home. And he -- in anticipation and hopeful anticipation that he'd make the bench, he's read all the briefs. He's ready to go.
And he's -- don't forget, during his hearing, he said that he would be the first justice to hire all female clerks. I'm told that's done. That's in the works.
He's going to be sworn in sometime -- he'll take the two oaths at the Supreme Court behind closed doors. And here's what's really poignant. One of the oaths will be read by the chief justice, John Roberts. The other, of course, Anthony Kennedy, his former boss. The man whose seat he's going to take. That's got to be a really poignant moment for Kennedy there.
CABRERA: No doubt about it. The interesting thing about this moment, too, Alice, is, if you recall, more Americans were against Kavanaugh than were for him in all the recent polling. We have a president whose approval rating is under water. We know women, the majority of women in this country, say they believe Ford over Kavanaugh on the sexual assault accusations.
And, of course, this is a moment in which we have this me-too movement. And a lot of men in power have suffered consequences in this me-too movement. And, yet, we have Kavanaugh now confirmed. You wrote in your piece, just today, that Kavanaugh's confirmation will hurt Democrats. But could it do the exact opposite and actually galvanize them?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It remains to be seen. If the frustration, on the part of the Democrats, is more of a galvanizing force than the wind beneath the wings of the Republicans. In my view, this in -- this will galvanize the Republicans. It energizes the base.
And I think Mitch McConnell said it very well. The Republicans are feeling more empowered and it's due, in large part, to two things. The Democrat tactics that were used to smear Judge Kavanaugh and the mob rule that went out there and attacked him. And took his name down for their political end.
And what happened is, this united Republicans. It united the base of Trump's party. And I think that will help us, as we move closer to November.
CABRERA: It does seem, Nina, that this contentious confirmation battle, the president was able to turn into a rallying cry for conservatives. Do you think Democrats made any strategic mistakes?
NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, what comes up, will come down.
And I want to draw to something that Alice said and what I heard, you know, Senator McConnell. To refer to citizens taking to the streets. To speak their truth to power. To refer to them as a mob, as a gang of mobs, a mob is really wrong. And it really shows the level of disrespect that Senator McConnell, and the rest of the Republicans, have for everyday citizens, particularly women who have stepped up to speak their truth.
There was nothing violent about these protests. If you don't -- if you can't handle it, if the heat is too much, then stay out of the kitchen. And Senator McConnell has just really vilified women, and the folks who support women, to stand up and speak their voice.
And it really is disheartening to have him refer to other Americans, who are exercising their First Amendment right, as a mob. We will not be -- we were not intimidated by the mob is what he said.
CABRERA: He also called protesters, earlier this week, troublemakers.
TURNER: Yes, absolutely, making good trouble. That's what this country is about. That's what the First Amendment is about.
CABRERA: And forgive me, I want to correct myself.
CABRERA: It was the president who called protesters troublemakers. Obviously, (INAUDIBLE) it was McConnell who said on the mob.
TURNER: Yes. They're speaking the same language. They're speaking the same language.
STEWART: You'll have to keep in mind, you refer to this as disrespectful.
TURNER: Very much so.
STEWART: Do you -- it is disrespectful for Democrats, the way they attacked Judge Kavanaugh, created -- and false allegations. Look, I believe that Dr. Ford suffered something traumatic. I believe that she is dealing with something that happened to her a long time ago.
But I think Senator Collins made a very eloquent and very factual, detailed explanation for why Judge Ford can be true and she can feel that. But Judge Kavanaugh was not the one to do it. And the character assassination and the -- and I'm not talking about just Dr. Ford. I'm talking about the other accusing him of being involved in gang rape.
TURNER: Judge Kavanaugh attacked the members of the Senate. He attacked the Democratic members of the Senate. In his speech, he basically said, I will have the last word and I'm going to get revenge on you.
He was the one that invoked politics into this. When he said the name of the Clintons, he invoked politics into this. He did that. He did that.
CABRERA: And that is one of the reasons we saw Supreme Court -- former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens come out later saying he believes Kavanaugh wasn't fit.
TURNER: Was not fit.
CABRERA: He's also seen incredible opposition, even from "The Washington Post," the editorial board, Julie, which has not opposed a Supreme Court nominee, liberal or conservative, dating back to 1987 with Bork.
[17:10:00] And the board wrote this about Kavanaugh. It's worth noting that of the five justices picked by Republicans, including Judge Kavanaugh, four were nominated by presidents who first took office after losing the popular vote. And the slim majority of senators who said they would vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh on Saturday represents 10s of millions fewer Americans than the minority of senators who voted to reject him.
So, will the Supreme Court, with the addition of Kavanaugh now, mirror the country it serves?
JULIE PACE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, certainly, it doesn't, when you look at the makeup of the Supreme Court. Racially, it does not look like the country.
But it does -- you know, to the point that "The Post" made in that editorial, it does, I think, highlight the stakes in our elections. In the 2016 election, there were Democrats that did not feel particularly motivated. They did not show up to vote in large enough numbers. And you saw that the margin of Trump's victory was so narrow. He didn't win the popular vote.
What Democrats are counting on this time around is that the lesson of the 2016 election and the prospect of Republicans maintaining majorities will give the Democrats a bigger boost. I think, you know, to Alice's point. I think there are going to be bumps on both sides coming out of this. I think Republicans feel more motivated now. They understand, more clearly, why they may back President Trump, even if they don't particularly agree with a lot of his tactics.
And, certainly, Democrats, I think the enthusiasm that we've seen through the summer with Democrats is just going to be manifested even more, based on the defeat in -- on the Senate floor.
CABRERA: I mentioned John Paul Stevens and what he brought up in his comments. I want to play it for everybody real fast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN PAUL STEVENS, RETIRED SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I think his performance during the hearings caused me to change my mind. He has demonstrated a potential bias involving enough potential litigants you reward (ph) the court that he would not be able to perform his full responsibilities. For the good of the court, it's not healthy to get a new justice that can only do a part-time job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: A part-time job. Do you think, Ariane, that Justice Kavanaugh will have to recuse himself from cases?
DE VOGUE: That's so interesting. That's so rare for a justice to saying something like that. To suggest that he's not qualified. A retired justice, 98-year-old Stevens. And when I first heard it, I thought, oh, maybe it was a slip of the tongue. It wasn't. That was a very calculated speech. And he does believe that.
And we're going to see people calling for him to recuse. For instance, what happens if some of the Mueller-related investigation, some of those issues go to the court? Or what happens if other investigations or, say, some of the groups that he's criticized? They'll all build this, sort of, cloud around him. Recusal is very difficult, once you get to the Supreme Court. They don't like to recuse.
So, it's unlikely that he would actually recuse. But it goes to the cloud that will be over Kavanaugh's head as we takes the bench. Even if he doesn't have to physically recuse, there will be people who will bring this hearing back over and over, particularly that statement that he made, talking about politics. And so, he'll have to deal with that.
CABRERA: I mean, he used the words, what goes around comes around, Alice. I mean, does that perception concern you? How will anybody know whether or not his rulings are motivated by political revenge?
STEWART: Well, people talk about his jurisprudence or judicial temperament based on him defending his honor at the hearing. And I think it's really important, the best way to judge the jurisprudence is to look at his 12 years on the bench.
Look at how he's ruled on cases in the past. Look at his precedent in different cases. That's the best way to determine how he will be on the high court is how he has done in other courts. And that's what we need to look at moving forward.
This was a very emotional hearing. This was a very emotional time. And as Senator Collins said and McConnell said, when passions are most inflamed, fairness is most in jeopardy. And I think a lot of people are unfairly accusing him of things that he has not guilty of because of the --
CABRERA: But I think that's why people are also so concerned, because he was -- he was so passionate in his defense and went after -- on the attack after Democrats. That's the concern about whether he will be fair as he looks at some of the cases that come before him.
But, Nina, let me just move the conversation forward and look ahead to mid-terms. Because we see people, now, fired up on both sides on the aisle after this -- after everything that's taken place with this process. Do you think it is better for Democrats to try to hang onto Kavanaugh, continue the battle against him, or should they move onto a different issue, in order to have the momentum going into mid-terms?
TURNER: It's all of the above. And I would argue that Judge Kavanaugh showed his true nature in those hearings. Who he really is came out in those hearings.
But to answer your question directly, it's all of the above. The ballot box is the greatest equalizer that we have. And I am hoping that everyone that is frustrated, that is angry, that is upset about this unfair process will take that anger and that frustration and take it to the ballot box. Not just in the mid-terms, but in 2019 and 2020.
[17:15:14] We will keep this momentum going. The droves of the women that you see out there, all the people who support them, this is not going to dissipate. I do agree. It is a storm cloud over Justice Kavanaugh, and there will be no rest after this. None.
CABRERA: OK. I've got to leave it there. Unfortunately, I wish we could continue the conversation. It's all so interesting. Thank you for being with me. I really appreciate it.
Kavanaugh's confirmation, the cherry on top of a winning week for Donald Trump. And, tonight, he'll tout those wins at a campaign rally in Kansas. Live to Topeka, next.
And don't forget, tomorrow morning, Senator Susan Collins will join our colleague, Dana Bash, on "STATE OF THE UNION" 9:00 Eastern and Pacific here on CNN.
[17:19:50] CABRERA: One could argue, this was a week of winning for President Trump. A new trade deal to replace NAFTA. A strong jobs' report with the lowest unemployment rate in 49 years. And just moments ago, his pick for the Supreme Court was officially confirmed after a tumultuous confirmation process. And the timing, it couldn't be more perfect for the president and Republicans with just 30 days until the mid-terms. He has momentum heading into his rally later tonight in Topeka, Kansas.
CNN's Sarah Westwood is joining us now from the rally. Venue, we're already seeing a pretty packed crowd there, Sarah. What's the mood?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana. And the excitement level here seems like it could not get much higher, although I'm sure that will change once President Trump takes the stage a little over an hour from now.
At the moment when Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court, there were cheers among the growing crowd here. There's no T.V.s in the venue but people were watching the vote unfold on their phones and by word of mouth spreading the news.
And by any objective standard, as you mentioned, this was a successful week for President Trump from striking those new trade terms with Canada and Mexico, to those eye-popping job numbers released earlier this week. And finally, with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh capping off this successful week.
Now, Trump did acknowledge, earlier today, just how ugly the confirmation process did get. Because today, as you know, for millions of people, is not victorious, as excited as many others may be. Here's what Trump had to say about it this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He will be a great justice of the Supreme Court. People have thought that for 10 years. They thought he's an extraordinary person, a great talent. And I think he's going to make us all very proud. I also feel very strongly, in the end, maybe the process, it was really unattractive, but the extra week was something that I think was really good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WESTWOOD: Now, that was Trump departing the White House for the fund- raiser and rally that he'll have here in Kansas. And perhaps a preview of what more we could here from President Trump.
He did tell "The Washington Post" in an interview today that he doesn't think Senator Lisa Murkowski will ever recover on her no vote on procedural grounds for Justice Kavanaugh. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, as you know, is a Republican who voted no during the procedural vote for Kavanaugh, she voted present during the final confirmation. President Trump touting his victory in her home state.
And we're also learning, via Reuters, that he had spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One that he believes 100 percent that Kavanaugh did not commit the sexual assault that he was accused of by Christine Blasey Ford. So, we are getting a little bit of a preview of the kinds of things we're definitely going to hear from him tonight at this rally -- Ana. CABRERA: And despite the wins, as you point out, he is ramping up the
rhetoric again. And he's been getting some slack for calling demonstrators against Kavanaugh paid professional protesters. It sounds like he may go there with some of the so-called red meat tonight.
WESTWOOD: That's absolutely true. This is a very friendly district for President Trump. He's here not just to tout his own wins, but also to boost some Republicans who are running in Kansas, one for governor and one a candidate for a Congressional seat here in Topeka.
President Trump did tween yesterday, without evidence that a lot of the protesters who have been gathering around Washington and cities around the country are being paid to oppose Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court. Obviously, there's no evidence that these protests around the country are somehow being organized by George Soros, as he claims.
But, certainly, this is a friendly crowd that will be receptive to that kind of rhetoric from President Trump. And, already, he's been very eager to get his message out to anyone willing to listen between his departure from the White House and here. So, certainly, he's going to have a lot to say about the confirmation that we witnessed unfold just hours ago -- Ana.
CABRERA: All right, Sarah Westwood. We know that his remarks are scheduled to happen sometime around 7:30 and you'll be there to cover it for us. We appreciate it.
Moments ago, by the way, Judge Kavanaugh just arrived on Capitol Hill. He's set to be sworn in today by Chief John Roberts and former Justice Kennedy. We'll continue to follow these developments as emotions are running high in cities all across the country.
Anti-Kavanaugh protesters gathering to make their voices heard. One of the largest crowds in front of the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. Where their message goes from here, we'll discuss.
And this is the moment that likely forced the pause in the Kavanaugh confirmation process and the launch of the FBI investigation. This protester's reaction to today's vote, next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
CABRERA: Moments ago, Judge Brett Kavanaugh arriving at the Supreme Court. Set to be sworn in by chief John Roberts and former Justice Anthony Kennedy. Of course, that's the seat he will be replacing.
It's a historic day in Washington. Just a short time ago, he was officially confirmed to the Supreme Court. The final Senate vote 50 to 48. Kavanaugh will, again, soon be sworn in. We will continue to let you know when that happens. Meanwhile, protesters, before and against Kavanaugh's confirmation, are making their voices heard. In Washington, large crowds have spent the day, the entire day, rallying outside the Supreme Court.
[17:30:00] That's where find CNN's Miguel Marquez who's watching these demonstrations. Miguel, did the mood of the crowd change at all when Kavanaugh was officially confirmed?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: While that roll call was going on, there was anger, defiance and tears in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Much of the crowd came over from the capitol earlier.
I want to show you what's happening out here right now. They're making as much noise as possible, because they know that Brett Kavanaugh has arrived to be sworn in. Can you see a few protesters up there? An act of civil disobedience. They have climbed the stairs of the Supreme Court. Police have asked them to leave. If they do not, they will be arrested. One person was arrested. Two more follows. As they go up, the crowd cheers. And what they hope and Brett Kavanaugh, wherever they are swearing him in will hear this. The three points they had made is that they believe survivors, that this is our court, as they have been chanting all day, and remember in November. We certainty heard that on the floor the of Senate. And we have heard that out here over and over again throughout the day. This is a rallying cry for the people here. Whether or not that happens is the big question -- Ana?
CABRERA: Miguel, do you get the sense there's a goal, or is it just to release emotion?
MARQUEZ: They want the Supreme Court, they want the Senate to know that they are watching, that everything that has transpired during this bitter nomination process is remembered, and that they are here to witness what they are doing, and are vowing revenge at the ballot box. That is the gist of it. Nobody that I spoke to today thought that they were going to change any minds, or were hoping for one last minute change of a vote, but they just want to be here to represent their feelings, their anger, their beliefs in what they feel has gone wrong here, and hope that what we see here will translate to votes come the midterms on November 6th -- Ana?
CABRERA: Miguel Marquez, a lot of energy. We hear all those voices behind you as well as the beat of the drum. We'll check back in with you.
Among the Senators on the fence for a while was Senator Jeff Flake. He eventually went yes. That same Senator, who insisted on an FBI report after a protester confronted him just eight days ago. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANA MARIA ARCHILA, CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POPULAR DEMOCRACY: What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit in the Supreme Court. This is not tolerable. You have children in your family, think about them. I have two children. I cannot imagine that for the next 50 years they will have to have someone in the Supreme Court who has been accused of violating a young girl. What are you doing, sir?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: With me now, the woman you just heard in that video, Ana Maria Archila. She confronted Republican Senator Flake in that elevator. And she's co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy.
You're here, you're continuing your protest, and now Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court. Flake eventually voted to confirm him. How are you feeling right now?
ARCHILA: I'm feeling enraged. I'm feeling very disappointed. I think that Senator Flake had a tremendous opportunity to model for the country how men who are discovering that that this experience of sexual assault is so shared, and they cannot look at the it as the experience of not one person, but a collective, and he had an opportunity to signal with his vote that he understood it, and would not reaffirm a culture that doesn't believe women, a culture that keeping affirming the voices of men over women.
CABRERA: How do you read this vote? Do you feel like it's a slap in the face?
ARCHILA: I feel that it's a demonstration that we have elected officials who don't know how to listen. I think that the fact that so many people went to Senator Collins' office to tell their stories of their fears of losing their health care. I was in that elevator deadly afraid that my children will have fewer rights than I do today, and also extremely worried about a country that was willing to put someone who was accused of sexual assault in the highest court of the land. I feel, you know, a combination of pain and frustration. And I also know that women and survivors are doing in these moments is we are transforming that pain and that rage into power. Just yesterday, immediately after Senator Collins gave her speech, close to 30,000 people donated to a campaign, a crowd PAC campaign to support someone to run against her. I am absolutely confident that we are not going to sit base and allow the rollback of our rights to continue or to happen in Kavanaugh's hands. We are going to hold elected officials accountable. We are going to election people who know how to govern by listening. This is a fight obviously of our lives, but it's a fight about our country. It's one in the same. Democracy is how we take care of each other.
[17:36:07] CABRERA: Let me read something the president tweeted. The president writing: "The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don't fall for it. Also look at all the professionally made identical signs, paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love, #troublemakers."
What is your response to that?
ARCHILA: I have spent my entire life building community organizations are where regular people who do not have power, do not have money find community and build power together. That work has been public for as long as I've been in it, since I was 23, and I am incredibly proud to have created spaces for so many people to tell their stories. Listen, community organizations play a really important role in advancing social change.
CABRERA: Are you paid to be here?
ARCHILA: I am the executive director of one of the organizations that has been fighting for the elimination so I show up as an activist that's been doing this work. But first and foremost, as a woman, as a survivor of sexual assault, as a mother, and someone who believes that fundamentally when we tell our stories, we create an opportunity for our democracy to be more real and more grounded.
CABRERA: OK. Thank you so much, Ana Maria.
ARCHILA: Thank you.
CABRERA: Good to have you with us.
Much more on the breaking news. These are live images at the U.S. Supreme Court. And you can see the emotion and the crowd. You see chanting. You can obviously tell these are live images with our camera moving all over the place.
We're going to stay on top of this breaking news. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
[17:42:36] CABRERA: These are live images, folks, at the doors of the Supreme Court, where you can see protesters have gathered. They are demanding that their voices be heard, as they anticipate the person who will be a new Supreme Court Justice, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to be sworn in any moment. A bigger picture, you can see approximately how many who have gathered. They are chanting, "Kavanaugh has gotta go." There's high security there.
As we look at these pictures, I want to bring in with me here Ariane De Vogue and Julie Pace.
Ariane, when you look at this, have you ever seen anything like this?
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Usually, you're not allowed on the stairs. We did see that the night he was nominated there were peaceful protests. People were allowed to stand and sit on the stairs, but we haven't seen anything like this. Why it's particularly interesting is we believe he's going to be sworn in behind closed doors with Chief Justice Roberts given him one oath, Justice Kennedy declaring the -- providing the other oath. This is very unusual. We don't see these protests.
CABRERA: Dozens have been arrested at the capitol today. Are you surprised that the security is just letting this take place now? DE VOGUE: Well, I guess they're trying to manage it, as best they
can, but this is unusual for the Supreme Court, and it just highlights what we've been talking about today. That's the fact that the Supreme Court, the Justices don't like to be looked at as a political branch. That's why several of them must be so worried about those these last set of confirmation hearings turned so political. When you heard earlier, Chuck Schumer saying repeatedly, vote if you want to change it, that's not what the Justices like. They do not like this process to be infused with politics, because then people misunderstand what the court does.
CABRERA: Julie, is this the, quote/unquote, "mob" that Mitch McConnell referenced in his remarks?
[17:45:02] JULIE PACE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think you would say yes. I think when the parties look at this kind of scene, they see two very different things. Democrats see voters who are motivated to show up in November, who view this confirmation hearing as not just a fight for a Supreme Court seat, but really as much as much bigger, something that's tapped into this cultural movement, with the way we treat sexual assault victims. When Republicans look at this, though, they see liberals, Democrats who are trying to politicize the court, who are, to Ariane's point, trying to turn the court into a group of nine Justices that are political figures, not neutral arbiters of the Constitution.
CABRERA: And look at these women, and there are men in the crowd as well, but these are protesters who are wanting to know their voices are heard. Women who want to feel supported. Yet, you have the president mocking Christine Blasey Ford earlier this week, and calling other survivors, including the woman who was sitting next to me, Ana Maria, paid protesters. Framing men as potentially victims of false accusations. Who wins the messaging war?
PACE: I don't think anybody wins in this situation. It's been a pretty ugly two weeks for our politics. I think the president as comments when he was mocking Christine Blasey Ford are going to resonate and lift above a lot of the noise we have seen. From Democratic operatives I've heard as they've been talking in focus groups, that's something that's broken through. Again, it's not just because of politics. It's tapped into a broader cultural moment, where I think there's a new reckoning with what a lot of women have gone through for years, things that women have never spoken about publicly, only now coming forward. So I think that set of remarks, where he took on Blasey Ford directly and cut holes in her argument is going to resonate.
CABRERA: I want to go live to Miguel Marquez, who is in the middle of the protesters.
Miguel, this was quite the scene, and it changed from just moments ago when we were talking to you. Explain to us what's happening.
MIGUEL: What started as a trickle of civil disobedience has become this, outright anger and upset that Brett Kavanaugh is being not only confirmed today but is being sworn in right now. Those are the very doors of the Supreme Court. There are hundreds of protesters who have come up on the stairs. They are pushing towards the door. There's the security officers for the Supreme Court, who are in front of the doors trying to keep that crowd back. What they want is for anyone inside this building to hear that they are out there.
I want to show you the steps just down from us as well. The steps they have tried to keep clear all day long as these protests have unfolded. For the most part they have stayed off the steps. Now most have come up onto the steps, and lit really making as much noise as they can essential to make sure that Brett Kavanaugh can hear them as he's being sworn in. What they are chanting is, "We believe survivors," for the most part. We'll let you listen to that right now.
MIGUEL: That's the level it has gotten to. That's what they want the newest associate Justice of the Supreme Court to hear. That's what they want the Senate to hear. And this is what they wanted country to hear and to see, as this very rancorous debate over Brett Kavanaugh comes to an end, at least on the procedure part of it. But clearly, for the people gathered here today, this is just the beginning -- Ana?
CABRERA: It seems like their passion is only growing.
Miguel, thank you. We'll continue to check in with you.
Ariane, what are you thinking?
DE VOGUE: I've covered so many cases out of there, the gay marriage case, the Texas abortion law, and you never saw people protesting up on the steps like that. They're weren't allowed to. And I'm thinking about Bush v. Gore, and Kennedy said, after Bush v. Gore, there weren't protests in the streets. And look where we are now. Look where we have moved in and out. These are protests. They're at the door. That shows how things have changed, and how these confirmation hearings are forever changed, it seems to me. It's hard to put this back into the bottle a little bit.
[17:50:09] CABRERA: Do you agree, Julie?
PACE: I think that's the concern a lot of people have. You saw it in the Gorsuch nomination, just about a year ago. It was a much different situation. So I don't think we've moved on completely to a point where we can't have a confirmation hearing where a Justice could get some votes from the other side but certainly, I think over the last several years, we've seen the confirmation hearings have gone the way as the rest of our politics, much more divisive and partisan.
CABRERA: We heard Susan Collins say this is rock bottom. We heard from Justice Elena Kagan, where she says, quote, "It's an incredibly important thing for a court to guard is this reputation of being fair, being impartial, being neutral, and not be an extension of the terribly polarized political process and environment that we live in."
Do you think that's already happened? DE VOGUE: Here's what's interesting. You had, yesterday, Justice
Kagan and Sotomayor. They could have said quiet but instead, said politics, they don't want politics to infect it. But you also had in the last couple of days, retired Justice John Paul Stevens, he's 98 years old, and he did something you rarely, rarely see. He said because of what he thought was Kavanaugh's judicial temperament that came out during the last half of those hearings. He said he thought he was unqualified for the court. So likely every norm I can think of is being broken. We've never seen that, the op-ed with the scathing language. This is new territory. And we've seen, we saw with Clarence Thomas, certainly, Clarence Thomas had his share of controversy during his hearings.
But I'm looking at the woman there sitting in the lap of lady Justice and that's something we don't usually see.
CABRERA: I'd be curious to get your take on how you think Kavanaugh is received by Justices, given the turmoil. And they don't like to be seen as political figures.
PACE: Kavanaugh knows these justices, right? He worked in the confirmation of Roberts. He was hired by Elena Kagan when she was dean at Harvard to be a law professor, went to the same high school as Gorsuch. He knows these people.
One other thing that's sort of inside baseball, but he's what's called a feeder. Lots of his clerks go on to clerk at the Supreme Court he. He's one of the rare people who knows a lot about the court and the confirmation process and Justices and, of course, he was Justice Kennedy's clerk.
CABRERA: And Justice Kennedy will be one of the two men swearing in now, Justice Kennedy was more of a centrist. That's what has a lot of people concerned. What does this mean, this 5-4 court, for a lot of American lives when it comes to women's rights and LGBTQ community, as well as Obamacare and immigration and prison reform. Do you see some of those areas as shifting or is the court going to shift or will we see more of a, maybe, somebody else becomes that center?
DE VOGUE: I have to say, keep in mind, with President Trump, with his first nominee. He was able to swap Justice Gorsuch, who was much of the same but that wasn't the case here. Kennedy is a centrist and Kavanaugh is to the right. As Justice Elena Kagan said, she said we're used to having a swing vote. We had Justice O'Connor and Kennedy and now that means that we won't have that anymore. That means feeling like we're owned by one side or the other of the debate. They're worried that they don't usually talk about this and several Justices have.
CABRERA: We have about 30 seconds. I want to get your reaction real fast, Julie, to comments we learn from the president saying he's 100 percent confident that Christine Blasey Ford named the wrong person when she said Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, according to Reuters. Your thought on that?
PACE: I think that's going to inflame more of the passions you're seeing here from opponents of Kavanaugh. The president has stood by Kavanaugh throughout this process. He wavered a bit privately, but he's 100 percent with him. And echoing things that Susan Collins said in her speech as the deciding vote, that they believe that something happened to Christine Blasey Ford but not at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh.
[17:55:19] CABRERA: Julie, Ariane, thank you both so much.
Breaking news coverage continues here on CNN. We're learning the president has now spoken to Judge Brett Kavanaugh. We'll continue to follow this. They are signing paperwork.
I'm Ana Cabrera, in Washington. We're continuing our coverage of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, being sworn in as we speak.
I'm Ana Cabrera, in Washington. I'm back in just an hour.
[18:00:11] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.