Return to Transcripts main page

STATE OF THE UNION

Interview With Maine Senator Susan Collins; Interview With Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono; Interview With Ohio Governor John Kasich; Brett Kavanaugh Sworn In As New Supreme Court Justice; First Lady Melania Trump's First Solo International Trip. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired October 7, 2018 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:04]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Done deal. Key Republican Senator Susan Collins makes the decision on the Supreme Court.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.

BASH: And the GOP is now facing fierce backlash from women and political opponents. Senator Collins is here to explain her vote next.

And we will get a response from Judiciary Committee Democrat Mazie Hirono in minutes.

Plus: final stretch. With a month to the midterm elections, both sides are trying to get out the vote. Will the bruising fight for the court rev up the GOP base?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats have become to extreme and too dangerous to govern.

BASH: Ohio Governor John Kasich will be here in moments.

And political safari? First lady Melania Trump embarks on a goodwill tour of Africa. But even an ocean couldn't keep her out of the political fray.

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: I'm glad that Dr. Ford was heard.

BASH: How is Melania Trump handling the world stage solo?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is still bitterly divided, after one of the most bruising confirmation fights ever.

Last night, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a United States Supreme Court justice, ending the delicate balance on the nation's highest court, securing a conservative majority, and delivering President Trump a resounding win just one month before November's midterm elections.

As protesters descended on the Supreme Court Saturday night, President Trump took a victory lap, declaring he is 100 certain that Christine Blasey Ford named the wrong man, rallying supporters at a campaign event in Kansas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

D. TRUMP: I stand before you today on the heels of a tremendous victory for our nation, our people and our beloved Constitution.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: The president also heaped praise on Republican Senator Susan Collins, one of the key senators who, in the end, voted yes on Kavanaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Joining me now is Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine.

Senator, thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate it.

You say that you wrestled with this decision for a long time. Was there ever a moment when you were actually thinking, I'm a no?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I was an undecided, because I felt that we needed to interview some of the witnesses that Professor Ford said were present that night at which she believes a sexual assault occurred.

And I was disturbed that they had not been interviewed by the FBI. Now, the committee staff had interviewed them and gotten very clear statements. So there was no corroboration.

But I pushed, along with Senators Jeff Flake and Lisa Murkowski, for the FBI to do an interview of those individuals.

BASH: As you were going through that week, and as you were learning information, and as you were hearing the allegations, was there ever a time when you thought, I can't vote for this guy?

COLLINS: Well, I was certainly undecided.

And after hearing Christine Ford's very compelling and painful testimony, I thought, Oh my goodness, he perhaps needs to withdraw. And -- but then when he came back with such a forceful denial, and the anger and anguish that he showed, and then the lack of corroboration, led me back to the fundamental issues that are fundamental to our legal system, a presumption of innocence and fairness.

BASH: And you talked about that in your Senate floor speech.

It was 44 minutes' long. It was incredibly detailed, very well- thought-out, not something that was written on the fly after a last- minute decision.

And I'm sure you've seen, just as I have, some of your critics are saying that that's proof that you were putting up an appearance of being undecided to placate Democrats and independents that make up a majority in your state of Maine.

COLLINS: Well, nothing could be further from the truth.

We have to remember that this hearing unfolded in two parts. In July and August and early September, I was focused on the judge's record, on his position on issues like Roe v. Wade, his judicial philosophy, whether he respected precedent, and that was my focus.

[09:05:02]

So after I'd had a two-hour interview with the judge, and seen the hearings, which were extensive, I felt that I was very likely to vote for him. And we were drafting the statement, and, indeed, all that detail in the statement, I think, shows that.

BASH: So that was done before the allegations?

COLLINS: Absolutely.

Then the allegations came forth and put the whole confirmation system in a tailspin. So, part of the speech was written prior to the allegations of sexual assault.

BASH: So, let's talk a little bit more about those allegations. On the Senate floor, you said -- quote -- "The facts presented do not mean that Professor Ford was not sexually assaulted that night or some other time."

But, as you remember, Ford was really clear, under oath, under pain of perjury, that she was 100 percent certain that it was Brett Kavanaugh who sexually assaulted her.

So, given the decision you made, do you not believe her?

COLLINS: Let me say this.

First of all, I found Dr. Ford's testimony to be heart-wrenching, painful, compelling, and I believe that she believes what she testified to. I don't think she was coming forth with a political opponent, although I do not think that she was treated well by those who breached her confidence.

But we also had case where Judge Kavanaugh came forward and said, I'm 100 percent certain that this did not happen.

So, here you have two people who are each 100 percent certain of what they're saying under pain of perjury.

So, then I had to look at the other evidence and was there corroborating evidence? And that's why I pushed hard for the FBI to do a supplemental background investigation. BASH: So, do you still think that it is possible that he did it; you

just don't have the proof to back that up?

COLLINS: I do not believe that Brett Kavanaugh was her assailant.

BASH: So...

COLLINS: I do believe that she was assaulted. I don't know by whom, and I'm not certain when, but I do not believe that he was the assailant.

BASH: So, people watching you, hearing you say that, you understand that they'll think that you're saying you don't believe her, that she -- I know you say that she believed that he was, but maybe she was wrong.

But if she said that under oath, that he said that under oath, you made a decision that he said is more valid than what she said.

COLLINS: In this country, we have a presumption of innocence.

And, as a matter of fairness, what I decided to use as a standard was the question of, is it more likely than not that Brett Kavanaugh assaulted Christine Ford? And there was no corroborating evidence that he did so.

Each of the people that Professor Ford said was present that night have testified under oath, both to the committee, through the declarations that they submitted, and to the FBI now that this -- that they have no memory of this happening. And that includes Dr. Ford's best friend.

BASH: So -- and I'm sure you heard this from people who have experienced these assaults -- that it is possible -- and it's happened before -- that the person who is the victim remembers very clearly, because they were assaulted, and especially when you're talking about 36 years ago, it's not unusual for people who were apparently at a party as teenagers, they just don't remember because it was unremarkable.

Is that possible?

COLLINS: I really don't think that is possible.

When Christine Ford testified that she ran down the stairs and out the door, surely, her best friend who was there would have followed her and asked her what was wrong. Nobody's come forward to say, I'm the one who gave you a ride home, or I was the other person at the party.

I'm -- I'm not saying that she was not sexually assaulted. I believe that she was and that that horrible experience has upended her life.

But it does not mean that Brett Kavanaugh was her assailant.

BASH: So, you mentioned -- what you just said is also something that you said on the Senate floor, that there was no corroborating witness or somebody to say, I drove her home or I saw her leave.

And President Trump said virtually the same thing the other night, that she doesn't remember key details about where the party was and how she got home.

[09:10:07]

You said that, when he was talking about that, he was plain wrong.

What's -- tell me what the difference is.

COLLINS: Well, I think there's a big difference.

BASH: Yes.

COLLINS: I felt that the president was not respectful to Dr. Ford.

I had always been respectful toward her. I'm the one who pushed for a hearing where she could, once her identity was compromised, which was a terrible thing, and not what she wanted -- but once that happened and she was willing to come forward, I said she should be given a hearing.

BASH: So, it was the president's tone more than the words?

COLLINS: It was his tone, but also he's not involved in the advice- and-consent constitutional duties.

So, I believe he should have said nothing.

BASH: One of the major concerns that came up after the hearing was Brett Kavanaugh's temperament.

And I want you to listen to what your fellow Republican Lisa Murkowski had to say about that temperament in a floor speech on Friday night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: After the hearing that we all watched last week, last Thursday, it became clear to me or was becoming clearer that that appearance of impropriety has become unavoidable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: She was giving voice to the fact that Kavanaugh was outwardly partisan, talking about the Clintons in his testimony, really went after once of your colleagues, Amy Klobuchar, which he apologized for later.

But do you have any concerns at all about Brett Kavanaugh's temperament?

COLLINS: Well, I put myself in his shoes.

He is coming forth and answering an allegation that includes that he was involved in gang-raping and doping girls. I mean, that is so devastating. And I think he reacted with anger and anguish as a father of two young girls, a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old.

I did believe that he should not have taken the shot at the Clintons and that in his questioning with certain senators, responding to their questions, particularly Amy Klobuchar, that he stepped over the line.

BASH: I want to ask you -- and you know this because you're witnessing this happening at your home, at your offices, in Washington and in Maine -- women saying that you betrayed women all across the country.

Planned Parenthood gave you an award last November for your work on protecting reproductive rights.

Here's what their political arm had to say about your vote: "This isn't just another vote. Senator Collins has made it clear that she can no longer call herself a woman's rights champion. She has sided with those who disbelieve, disrespect and even mock survivors. We deserve better. Women won't forget."

COLLINS: Well, first of all, I had never disregarded, disrespected or mocked survivors. That is just plain untrue.

And I would note that Planned Parenthood opposed three pro-choice justices just because they were nominated by Republican presidents, David Souter, Sandra Day O'Connor and Justice Kennedy. They said the same thing: Women will die.

BASH: Yes.

COLLINS: And this is just outrageous.

I have worked to preserve funding for Planned Parenthood over and over again, and I'm going to continue to do so.

BASH: And I understand that you're upset -- I can see that -- about Planned Parenthood.

But just generally to women who are saying this, who have no connection to Planned Parenthood, that feel that you betrayed them, what do you say to them?

COLLINS: I have met with so many groups of survivors.

I've talked to friends that, with one exception who confided in me years ago, I had no idea that they have been sexually assaulted. So, I have learned how pervasive this terrible problem is in our society.

And, clearly, we need to step up and do something about it, and every survivor deserves to be heard and respected.

This is a case where there is an incident that happened allegedly 36 years ago where there is no corroborating evidence. And it is not fair to Brett Kavanaugh for this to be disqualifying, in the absence of evidence. But that does mean that I don't believe that Dr. Ford was not a victim

of sexual assault. I think she is a survivor.

[09:15:07]

BASH: Beyond the allegations, of course, are the questions about Roe vs. Wade.

While you were giving your speech on the Senate floor, your friend, a top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein tweeted the following: "When I asked Judge Kavanaugh about whether Roe and Casey were settled law and whether they were correctly decided, he refused to answer. He would only say these cases are entitled to respect."

How can you be or are you 100 percent, without a doubt, that Brett Kavanaugh will not overturn Roe v. Wade?

COLLINS: I do not believe that Brett Kavanaugh will overturn Roe v. Wade.

BASH: Because precedents are overturned all the time.

COLLINS: They aren't overturned all the time.

BASH: More than...

COLLINS: And listen to the standards that he put forth, again, in his conversations with me and also in the hearing.

He says, for a precedent, among established precedents like Roe, to be overturned, it would have to have been grievously wrong and deeply inconsistent.

He noted that Roe had been reaffirmed 19 years later by Planned Parenthood vs. Casey and that it was precedent on precedent.

He said it should be extremely rare that it'd be overturned. And it should be -- an example he gave...

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: You have obviously full confidence?

COLLINS: I do.

BASH: One last question.

The political backlash, I don't have to tell you, has been fierce. We saw a tweet from Susan Rice saying that maybe she would run, the speaker of the house in Maine. A crowdfunding Web site has raised $2.6 million for whomever your opponent will be in 2020.

Could you lose the seat over your vote?

COLLINS: You know, I have to do what I think is right. And over the years, the people of Maine have trusted me to exercise my

best judgment. That's what I did in this case.

BASH: And you're prepared to lose your vote if...

COLLINS: I'm -- whatever the voters decide, but I'm going to do what I think is right. That's what I owe my constituents.

As far as Susan Rice is concerned, her family has a home in Maine, but they don't -- she doesn't live in the state of Maine. Everybody knows that.

But the irony is, back in 2009, when she was nominated to be ambassador of the U.N., she came to me, even though I did not know her back then at all, and pleaded with me to introduce her before the committee, which I was happy to do because her family had links to the state of Maine.

BASH: It sounds like the beginning of a campaign speech, but I won't -- I won't ask you.

Senator Collins, I know this has been an exhausting week. And I appreciate you coming and taking the time to speak with me.

COLLINS: Thank you very much, Dana.

BASH: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono said men should shut up and step up in the wake of the MeToo movement.

Well, what message does she have for her colleague Susan Collins?

I will ask her next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:21:48]

BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.

There were angry chants and there were tears on Capitol Hill, as protesters gathered in opposition to Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court.

What does his confirmation mean for Democrats and the MeToo movement?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Joining me now, Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, who sits on the Judiciary Committee and strongly opposed Kavanaugh's nomination.

Thank you for joining me this morning. SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: Good morning.

BASH: You heard Senator Susan Collins, your colleague, say she doesn't believe that now Justice Kavanaugh assaulted Ford.

What is your reaction?

HIRONO: She said that she thinks that -- she said that Dr. Ford thinks that she was assaulted, which is even more insulting than saying that she gave a very credible account.

I certainly believe Dr. Ford. Anybody watching her testimony would know, I would say, would conclude that she was being very truthful.

And the one thing that she recollects with 100 percent accuracy is that Judge Kavanaugh, Brett Kavanaugh, assaulted her.

BASH: Do you think that Senator Collins is insulting to Professor Ford?

HIRONO: Well, to say that she thinks that Dr. Ford thinks that she was assaulted, what is that? Is she mistaken?

She herself said that she served -- so many survivors from her state and elsewhere. All of us have been hearing stories of -- and accounts from survivors going back many, many years, where they kept all these painful, traumatic accounts to themselves.

And this is what happens with sexual assault survivors, that they do not come forward.

I also note, that in your interview, that she kept saying that there was no corroboration. There was no corroboration on Brett Kavanaugh's bald assertion that he didn't do it, because the people that the FBI interviewed, which was a -- just a small number of the dozens that they should have interviewed, they all said that they have no recollection.

That is hardly what I would call exoneration.

But, on her side, there was corroboration, because she had talked about this assault to her husband, to others before Brett Kavanaugh was ever nominated to the Supreme Court. She took a lie-detector test.

Corroboration was there.

BASH: Senator, I want you to listen to what President Trump said when he was asked about how women are reacting to this confirmation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

D. TRUMP: The women, I feel were, in many ways, stronger than the men in his favor, because they're thinking of their sons, they're thinking of their husbands and their brothers and their uncles and others.

And women are, I think, extremely happy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: What about women who don't see this the way you do, see it differently?

HIRONO: Well, obviously, there are a lot of women who think that sexual assault is not a huge problem in our country, and that the way we deal with survivors of sexual assault is not a problem.

They certainly have that view. But, believe me, I have heard and all of us have heard from literally thousands of survivors who have come forward to tell us their accounts.

And this is a under-reported crime. We know this.

BASH: But women...

HIRONO: So, I am saddened when women themselves who I'm sure they have all experienced sexual harassment, unwanted words said to us, all of that, it's all...

(CROSSTALK)

[09:25:07]

BASH: And they argue -- they argue not that -- many of them I have talked to you -- probably you have too -- and even Susan Collins said -- not that -- that the victims are making it up, but that you can't be sure -- that people who are accused of doing it should be presumed innocent.

HIRONO: This is not a court of law.

And I want to ask Susan Collins, if you were interviewing someone for a lifetime position to some company or some interest that you had, would you hire somebody with this kind of a cloud over their heads?

This is for the United States Supreme Court, nine people who are going to make decisions that impact all of our lives for life.

BASH: I want to ask you about the atmosphere. The president and Republicans, what they are saying is that Democratic protesters are -- quote -- "an angry mob."

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: And what I want to ask you about is, you know, it is one thing to protest at the Supreme Court, to do it at the Capitol. That's been done for generations...

HIRONO: Yes.

BASH: ... and, frankly, since the founding of this country.

HIRONO: Yes. BASH: It's another thing to run senators out of restaurants, go to

their homes. Is that going too far?

HIRONO: I think that it just means that there are a lot of people who are very, very much motivated by what is going on, because what is -- what happened with Judge Kavanaugh is, from the very beginning, this was not a fair process.

What the Republicans did was to telegraph -- after Dr. Ford's account came forward, what they telegraphed was, one, Dr. Ford, we don't want to hear from you. Two, if we have to hear from you, we're going to rig the hearings, so that there...

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Should the going after people at restaurants stop?

HIRONO: Well, this is what happens.

They -- because when you look at white supremacists and all of that, this is what is coming forth in our country. There's a tremendous divisiveness in our country. But this is the kind of activism that occurs.

And people make their own decisions. If they violate the law, then they have to account for that.

BASH: One last question.

Some of your Democratic colleagues have been saying that the Democrats, your fellow Democrats' case against Judge Kavanaugh was weakened by Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing a woman who claimed that Kavanaugh facilitated gang rape.

Did he hurt your cause?

HIRONO: There were enough other aspects and allegations and reports that we wanted the FBI to investigate, and they did not. Why? Because the White House very much limited the scope of this so-called investigation, which was a sham.

BASH: Should Brett Kavanaugh be impeached if Democrats take control?

HIRONO: I'm much more focused on the here and now, which is that we have an election coming up.

And I said to the women who are justifiably angry, but determined, and I said they should be just focused like a laser beam on the elections, because they have connected the dots.

They know that the senators who are making these confirmation decisions are the people who were elected by their voters. And so, as voters, they have a role to play.

BASH: Senator, thank you so much. Thank you for your time this morning. HIRONO: Thank you.

BASH: Appreciate it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Voters across the country head to the polls in just one month. And President Trump is on the campaign trail telling his supporters -- quote -- "In a certain way, I'm on the ballot."

Is President Trump hurting or helping his party?

Joining me now is Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio.

Good morning, Governor. Let me get straight to it.

The Senate has confirmed Brett Kavanaugh. He is now a justice. Are you happy about that?

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Well, I'm not happy about the process, Dana.

We are operating...

BASH: Are you happy? Let's just start with him. Are you happy he's on the Supreme Court?

KASICH: Well, it's not about a matter of happy.

I mean, he's on the Supreme Court. We have to respect the fact that the Senate made that decision. We had two people who I deeply respect, Murkowski and Collins, two Republican senators, that saw it differently.

I have not had a chance to read that report, as have the rest of Americans. But the decision has been made. And I respect that decision. And we would hope that the court will now move in a direction where they can make decisions.

And I would hope that the court will not become ideological. That would begin to erode confidence in the court. In fact, confidence in the court has already been eroded.

But, Dana, let me tell you what I'm particularly worried about. Our leaders need to stop playing a zero sum game, like a -- flipping a coin, you know, I win, you lose.

Leaders need to figure out a way to bring people together. Now, they can have a victory, but they can't leave the person who loses vanquished. And that's so much of what we're seeing.

And in a zero sum game, we get to a point where any tactic is acceptable, and then we use our tongues and we say things that we ultimately can deeply regret. And the tongue can also be powerful through the use of social media.

Now, what's required? It requires leadership to stabilize, to make sure that they're not vanquishing their opponent.

And I'm going to give you a perfect example. I was thinking about this morning on the ride over here, John McCain, in the middle of a presidential campaign -- remember, that's a guy who we memorialized about three weeks ago, where Republicans, Democrats celebrated his life and his leadership.

[09:30:03]

He was a town hall meeting, and somebody started viciously accusing Barack Obama. McCain, in the middle of a campaign, said: I don't agree with you, and knock it off and stop it.

BASH: Senator...

KASICH: And, as I recall, there were people who -- there were people in that meeting who booed him.

But, you see, it wasn't: I need to win at all costs.

And that's where we're operating today, Dana. And it needs to stop, and our leaders need to lead the way.

BASH: Talking so much about the Senate, I accidentally called you senator.

Governor, my question for you is, you have been talking about this, frankly, as you know, sort of screaming into the wilderness about this need to step up.

What makes you think now is going to be any different?

KASICH: Well, look, the first thing is, when people ask, why should they vote, now they have a chance in November to vote and declare their message loud and clear.

But it -- what has to happen, Dana, and at all levels -- you know, if you're the CEO of a company, because the Kavanaugh situations has got people yelling and screaming at each other who are just next to each other's offices. CEOs need to calm it down.

You know, the business leaders are important. Our religious leaders should be calming this down and offering respect for others.

And our political leaders, they need to realize that, at the end, they're going to be out, and no one is going to remember them.

BASH: So...

KASICH: I saw George Mitchell the other day. And he was a fine leader. He could be partisan, but he was a fine leader. No one remembers who he is. All he has is his reputation.

And so what I'm suggesting is, our leaders need to be bigger than themselves. I was there at a time when I saw leaders who could embrace and make sure that it wasn't a win-loss situation. BASH: So, Governor, you're talking about the midterms. We are one

month away from the midterm elections.

KASICH: Yes.

BASH: President Trump racked up some pretty big wins this week. Unemployment just hit a 49 year-low. He got Mexico and Canada to come to the table on trade, two Supreme Court justices so far.

Is President Trump, do you think, going to help Republicans now in November?

KASICH: OK, well, I mean, first of all, the court, it could be a short-term win.

If the people this country are so divided, because -- let me tell you what I think a president should do. You're going to nominate a Supreme Court justice, and you're a Republican, you know you're going to have a conservative. I support conservatives on the court.

But it would make sense to work with a Democrat who would say, OK, I know it's going to be conservative. All right, let me help you to pick somebody so that we don't go through this.

We didn't go through this with Gorsuch.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: So, should they not have pushed Kavanaugh the way that they did? Was it shortsighted?

KASICH: I just -- I think the whole process -- look, it's both sides. A pox on both houses for the way this was conducted.

And people in the country are appalled. That's because it's like, I got to win, and you got to lose.

So that is not -- look, sometimes, you can have a short-term win, and the long term, you have to wonder about the soul of our country.

Let me ask you this, Dana. We have very low unemployment. Why are people so unsettled? You know why? Because people don't feel as though they're being included. They don't feel they're being given a fair shake. People, to some degree, have become tribal. And our leaders have encouraged it.

So, what do I think's going to happen in the midterms? I think it's going to be a good year for Democrats. How good? I'm not so sure, because if their message is abolish ICE and things like that, if -- they're not going to have a big wave.

But Republicans, they need -- look, I got Republican candidates running out here. And they say, frankly, when they talk about the approach in Ohio, which is include everybody, to make sure people at the top and people at the bottom can be hopeful, they do better when they're out campaigning door to door. It's -- the natural progression of things is, when the president's in two years out, the other party does well. I don't know how big the wave is going to be. So we got to see what happens in November, but then we have to move beyond that election and try to get this country unified.

Think about it. The Congress is disrespected. The press is disrespected. The Justice Department is disrespected. And the court is beginning to lose respect.

That is a bad place for our country to be. And we have got to stop it. And it starts, Dana, really with you and me.

BASH: Perfect way to leave it.

Governor John Kasich, joining me this morning from Ohio, appreciate it.

KASICH: We will fix it. We will fix this.

BASH: Thanks.

KASICH: We all have good hearts. We will fix this.

BASH: Thank you, Governor. Thank you.

And Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell says, the fierce opposition to Brett Kavanaugh is a political gift for the GOP ahead of the midterms. Is it? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:38:26]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Each of you will have a chance, in just four weeks, to render your verdict on the Democrats conduct at the ballot box.

Got to vote. Got to vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go, 31 days left. How long? Amen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: With the Kavanaugh battle now over, leaders in both parties are turning to rallying their base, as you just saw, to get ahead of the vote next month, the midterm vote. Which side will take their message to the voters? Which side will be more successful?

Let's talk about that with our amazing panel here. What do you think, Van? I'll start with you.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all I'm still I think pretty heartbroken because -- listen, this is the collision of two nightmares if you're a parent. One nightmare is that your daughter is attacked, nobody believes her. The other nightmare is that your son is attacked and nobody believes him.

So you had on the national stage a train wreck. Two nightmares that has divided the country. But what I'm most present too is how many women -- forget the politics of it -- have to go back and personally relive stuff? Some people reliving stuff that they literally hadn't let themselves think about for decades. And it gets pulled out and it gets drawn out, it gets politicized.

And I don't know what we do with all that hurt. The political process will try to absorb it and people will use it for this, will use it for that. But there is a lot of people out there this morning that are just hurt.

And before we get to who's going to vote for who, I'm just going to acknowledge that the vote was taken but now people are wondering around with a big open wound that we do not have the ability to heal.

[09:40:09]

BASH: People are walking around with a wound but they are -- we saw it yesterday, you know, loud and clear channeling it. And what they have, the tool that they have is the ballot box.

JONES: Here's what I think will happen is that there are going to be people who go from, you know, marching and protesting and Facebooking and tweeting to registering voters and turning out. Whether there's an equal and opposite reaction from the other side, I don't know. But I've talked to many, many people who feel like it is a defining vote for them, it is a defining issue for them. It is the beginning of a long process of trying to take it back.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And I agree with Van that the very emotional time and clash but I don't think at least for Republicans -- and I think for many independents they are not ignorant to the fact that that was caused by the Democratic Party leaking this information and bringing forward someone who didn't want to be out there, who didn't want to be testified before Congress, but was used as a political pawn to do so.

I mean, that -- Susan Collins was very clear about that in her brilliant statement on the floor, that Dr. Blasey-Ford wanted to remain anonymous. She didn't -- she wanted an investigation of this, which could have been done anonymously. But the Democratic Party decided to have this clash for political purposes and that has backfired on them. Because you see for the first time in this election passion on both sides now. And that's important for Republicans.

BASH: And, Jen Psaki, I want you -- I want you to listen to -- that was one point that Senator Susan Collins made. The other she said to me this morning was simply that she believes Brett Kavanaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: I found Dr. Ford's testimony to be heart wrenching, painful, compelling. And I believe that she believes what she testified to. I do not believe that Brett Kavanaugh was her assailant. So I do believe that she was assaulted. I don't know by whom. And I'm not certain when.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know I think this -- Susan Collins has really struck a nerve to me and I think millions of women across this country including in Maine because she's trying to have it all ways, and you can't say somebody is credible and then completely question their story.

The reality here I totally disagree. I don't think this is about how this was handled. You can argue Democrats mishandled things. They certainly did.

But this is about a woman who is accusing someone of sexual assault, something that often many, many women do not come forward to do. It's much more likely that women hold back and they don't put these accusations forward then they don't. That is the issue in this country, not being falsely accused.

So when we are saying, on one hand this women are, you know, where women are going to be out there, on the other hand, men are at risk. That is absolutely irresponsible, that is not the issue in this country.

So she struck a nerve to me in what she said and how she voted because that's political cowardice. That is somebody who is pretending to be a feminist but that is fake feminism. And that's why I think that she is going to be defeated in 2020 if she decides to run again.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think when we look back on this confirmation battle, we are going to see this as a test of how we handle sexual assault accusations in this country. And I think everyone would agree this turned into a true spectacle truly on both sides and I question the reasoning behind holding that hearing because it produced nothing but heat, not much light. And at the end of the day you just had a he said, she said.

And Susan Collins, I think, approached this in a very deliberate and reasonable matter. She sat down with you and said, we have one person saying 100 percent this happened, the other person saying 100 percent it didn't. So I attempted to find evidence.

Now Democrats want to say this is a job interview. If he threw a fit during the interview, he should be disqualified.

Republicans took a different approach. And this is how we resolve these kinds of allegations because it's not an easy question.

And, yes, Republican did get their judge confirmed. But the larger question of how women are heard, how serious we take them and how we test those findings and what we do about it will broil this country for years and years to come. JONES: Well, I see it slightly differently. In that there was no rush to get Merrick Garland even a hearing. Somehow this had to go rapidly forward.

Everybody keeps saying there wasn't evidence, there wasn't evidence, there wasn't evidence. It was a he said, she said. But that's just not true.

There were -- there were corroborating witnesses that were never talked to by anybody who called the FBI. Who said, I want to be --

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: No firsthand accounts. No firsthand accounts.

JONES: In this situation this is --

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: This is hard. It's years and years. I mean, we don't have text messages.

SANTORUM: And they said --

JONES: Well, they said they didn't remember --

SANTORUM: They didn't remember. Or in fact, one case her best friend said she never met Judge Kavanaugh. That's a big deal.

JONES: I think you raise an important point.

[09:45:00]

I just want to respond I think to the way that Democrats see it. You are correct, trying to figure out the right standards, the right process, et cetera, is the most important thing and what we got were seven days where a short list of people to be interviewed by the FBI and not a full process. And I don't think it makes sense to have now a judge who is going to be a justice where you have dozens people --

SANTORUM: He is a justice.

JONES: He is a justice now? He has been sworn in?

SANTORUM: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH (ph): -- by the White House this coming week.

JONES: So you now have a justice on the Supreme Court where there are literally dozens of people who will say, I have things to say and I never got a fair hearing for. That's going to undermine his court.

BASH: Let's talk more broadly about the week. And I want to put up a statement from David Axelrod, who helped get President Obama elected and has some positive things to say about President Trump's week. "From his standpoint it's been a good week after many bad ones. For a self-proclaimed perpetual winner, he will have had some big wins to tout."

PSAKI: I think if the bar is that you get a Supreme Court justice who has been accused of sexual assault and who has gone out there and testified and been angry and partisan, that you put him on the court and that you've somehow moved forward from a devastating "New York Times" taxes story, then I suppose the bar is pretty low.

So it's a better week than he has but that's where we are in this country. What was also striking -- let me just add about this week is that people, many Republicans, Democrats, said she was credible, but it didn't matter. And that reminds me of 2016 and when people went out and elected Donald Trump, even though he was talking about grabbing women's genitalia and he expressed himself as a racist and a misogynist on the trail. It really speaks to where we are as a country. And that's also troubling.

SANTORUM: He did get a Supreme Court justice which is a very important thing. It's what he's base -- the base vote and the Republican Party voted for Donald Trump because of Supreme Court. And the fact that he was able to get that done is an incredible win and a very energizing win.

He also got a trade deal done. He also had great economic numbers. You know, survey showing that 35 percent of African-Americans now view the president in a favorable way.

I mean, this is -- this is a very, very important week for this president to pivot with a message on election day that -- that could very positive. If he can stay on the pivot, if he doesn't get distracted again, this is a very good message to go into the election.

JONES: Look, bigger picture, at what cost?

BASH (ph): Yes.

JONES: We've got now all three institutions of government with a cloud over them from the point of view of millions of people. The presidency, you know, with this -- with the ongoing investigations people -- listen, I don't believe necessarily this was the right kind of election we had in 2016, with Congress, you have gerrymandering, the voting rights act is not being enforced anymore. People say, I don't trust Congress.

Now you've got the cloud over the Supreme Court. At what cost? When you have got termites eating into every pillar of your government, that is a dangerous thing.

So he had a good week. I don't know if we're going to have a good decade given this level of --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: OK. Let's lighten the mood before we go to break because everybody needs to laugh. SNL last night, I'm not sure if you all saw it. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

There are a lot of pace makers being put to the test tonight. And I see Mitch McConnell here. Mitch, how are you feeling?

That was awesome! Whoo!

Do you feel like this is a win you can be proud of.

Oh, hell, yes, Dana. Everyone is pumped from white men over 60 to white men over 70.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Yes or no, is that really what the senator Republican (INAUDIBLE) looks like?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: -- anything like that and I've never seen Mitch that excited.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: All right. Everybody thank you for that great discussion.

First lady -- excuse me -- Melania Trump flew solo in Africa this week, taking questions about Kavanaugh and whether she ever takes her husband's phone away. Her answers are next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:53:15]

BASH: Here is a pick me up you might need after this week. First lady Melania Trump feeding baby elephants on her trip to Africa. But even while standing in front of an Egyptian sphinx, the first lady couldn't avoid questions about politics. CNN's Kate Bennett has the report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: First lady Melania spent the week a world away from Washington, trekking through several African nations on her very first solo international trip.

The often reserved and quiet first lady was as delighted as we have seen her when she fed baby elephants in Kenya. And in contrast to her husband's tough talk on foreign policy, she took a softer approach, offering her thanks to countries hosting her and promoting her campaign, Be Best. MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you for educating them to Be Best.

BENNETT: But in a rare Q&A session with reporters before her tour of the Egyptian pyramids and the Great sphinx the enigmatic Mrs. Trump could not escape questions about her husband's political controversies, including comments he reportedly made earlier this year about -- quote -- "shit hole countries" to describe Haiti and some African nations.

MELANIA TRUMP: Nobody discussed that with me. And I never heard him saying those comments.

BENNETT: The first lady also weighed in on the MeToo movement and the confirmation of her husband's Supreme Court nominee.

MELANIA TRUMP: I'm glad that Dr. Ford was heard. I'm glad that Judge Kavanaugh was heard. FBI investigation was done, is completed. And Senate voted.

BENNETT: And shared her thoughts on the president's Twitter habit.

MELANIA TRUMP: I don't always agree what he tweets. And I tell him that. I give him my honest opinion and honest advice.

[09:55:00]

And sometimes he listens and sometimes he doesn't.

BENNETT: And once again, Mrs. Trump's wardrobe stirred controversy. She wore a pristine white pith helmet on a Kenya safari. An attention grabbing choice that seemed to veer toward costume, reminiscence of the film "Out of Africa."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Careful the wind is behind us.

BENNETT: Europeans wore the hats in Africa and India in the 1900s and they have come to symbolize white rule. But later on the trip the first lady wore a men's wear inspired outfit, perhaps sending a message to each of the presidents about equality in a country with a poor record on women's rights.

Kate Bennett, CNN Egypt.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: How are President Trump's policies playing on the world stage? Former secretaries of states Colin Powell and Madeleine Albright join Fareed Zakaria exclusively next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)