Return to Transcripts main page


CNN Obtains Kavanaugh Accuser's Opening Statement; Trump May Delay Tomorrow Meeting with Deputy A.G.; President Trump Holds Press Conference; Third Kavanaugh Accuser Comes Forward; First Kavanaugh Accuser Set to Testify in Front of Senate Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 26, 2018 - 18:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: From jobs and taking our companies and not paying the price, to so many other things, even military protection.

I told a number of countries over the last few days, I said, listen, you're a very rich country. We protect you. Without our protection, you would have real problems. You would have real problems.

QUESTION: I want to...

TRUMP: I said you should reimburse us for this protection. Why are we protecting you? And you want to know what they said? After about two minutes of talking, they agreed with me. And you can ask this group of very talented people. They agreed with me.

But they said -- one of them said, but Mr. President, nobody ever asked us for that. They never asked us for that. Nobody's ever said you should pay.

These are really wealthy countries. I mean, I will be honest. I just asked Japan.

I said, we're defending you. You're a very wealthy country. You're sending us millions of cars. You're making a fortune. We have a tremendous trade deficit with you. And we're defending you, and we're subsidizing your military with a massive amount of money.

I said it to South Korea. We have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea. They are very wealthy. These are great countries. These are very wealth countries. I said why aren't you reimbursing us for our costs?

And you know what? They look at me and they can't even answer, because there's no answer. If they're a poor country and they needed protection and people were going to die, I'm all for protecting them. I don't want 10 cents.

But when wealthy countries that have massive trade surpluses with us, massive, and then on top of that, we're paying for their military or we're paying for a lot of their military? That doesn't work.

How about two more, and we'll call it.

QUESTION: Mr. President, really quickly.

Mr. President, you said you feel a kinship -- you said you feel a kinship with Brett Kavanaugh and you -- Mr. President, really quickly, you said you felt a kinship with Brett Kavanaugh.

You said that you also -- your false allegations that you feel like were made against you make you feel like you don't want to believe these women. What message do you think...


TRUMP: No, I didn't say that. Why do you say that?

Fake news. Why? Did I say that?

QUESTION: Well, can you please explain then what you talking about on your own false allegations?


TRUMP: Excuse me.

By the way, I think you do a very good job.

But I didn't say that. I do watch you, and I think you do a very good job. But I didn't say that.

QUESTION: So, could you explain what you meant?

TRUMP: I said -- exactly. I look forward to watching her. I do want to hear what she says. And maybe she'll say -- I could be convinced of anything. Maybe she'll say something.

But, in the meantime, I have to tell you, he's one of the highest- quality human beings.

He's a tremendous man. He's a tremendous genius. He's a great intellect. He was, I believe, number one at Yale. Is that a correct statement? Number one in his class at Yale. He was a great student in law.


TRUMP: He was -- you know, I have heard his name. I didn't know him. Didn't know him. Until this whole thing, I didn't know him. But I heard his name for 10 years. And you know how I heard his name?

Everybody was saying he should be on the Supreme Court. I said, who is he? His name is Brett Kavanaugh, and he should be. He's the most brilliant person. He's the most brilliant lawyer.

They were talking about him on the Supreme Court 10 years ago. With all of that, I want to hear what she has to say. OK?

QUESTION: You said that you don't feel -- you said that you feel like there have been numerous false allegations against you.

TRUMP: Oh, I've had many false...

QUESTION: And you understand what he...

TRUMP: I've had many false statements against me. And if the press would have reported, I would have been very happy.

I think John Roberts would tell you that -- you covered the story where the women were paid to say bad things about me. Sean Hannity covered it. I will tell you, when I saw that on "Sean Hannity," I actually called him. Believe it or not, I don't speak to him very much, but I respect him.

I called him. I said, this is the biggest. This is a big, big story. He agreed with me. The next day, I picked up the papers, there wasn't one word about it. The next day, I watched ABC News, Jon. I watched NBC. I watched CBS. I didn't watch CNN, but next time I'm going to.

QUESTION: Are you okay with...

TRUMP: I watched everything. There wasn't one story, other than FOX, and it is a big story. It is a shame.

OK, enough. Thank you. Thank you.


QUESTION: Is it OK if I give it to The New York Times, Mr. President?

TRUMP: Go ahead. That's enough, please. Good job. Good job.

QUESTION: Mr. President, can I ask a question since I'm from The New York Times before this gentleman?

TRUMP: Since you're where? Since you're where?

QUESTION: I'm actually from The New York Times. Yamiche is my former colleague, and we miss her.


QUESTION: But I was hoping ...


TRUMP: I will let you do it after he does. Is that OK?

QUESTION: That's perfectly well.

TRUMP: I will do that in honor of a paper I once loved. Thank you.


TRUMP: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Mr. President, my name is Edward Szall with TruNews.

Today, you met with Bibi Netanyahu from Israel, and you brought up actually that you support a two-state solution for the Palestinian- Israeli crisis there.

TRUMP: I do.

QUESTION: Can you give us a preview of this great deal, the peace deal?


TRUMP: Well, I would love to make a deal with the Israelis and Palestinians.


My whole life, I was told, that's the toughest deal. And I disagree. I think health care is probably tougher, OK, you want to know the truth.

But it is tough, but we're going to take care of that too. That's going to get taken care of. We've already taken care of a lot of it. But the whole -- my life, I have always heard the deal between, as you know, Israel and the Palestinians, that's like the toughest deal.

Every possible thing is tough about that. I think we're going to make a deal. I think we're going to make a deal. So at one of our many meetings today, I was with Bibi Netanyahu, a man who I have a lot of who I have a lot of respect for, a man who's been extremely nice to me.

Very happy that I did the whole thing with Jerusalem and the embassy, which, by the way, we got open in four months for less than $500,000. And the budget was over a billion dollars, right?


TRUMP: So we saved, let's say, a billion dollars. That's not so bad. And it's open. And it's beautiful, by the way, Jerusalem stone, one of my favorite stones.

I will tell you the question -- somebody said today, well, this is the first news conference in a long time.

I said, what do you mean? I did like five today. Every time I sit, I take a lot of questions from people that are screaming like maniacs in the back of the room, meaning reporters.

And one of the reporters -- I won't say that it was John Roberts that said that. I refuse.

But one of the -- it was, but that's OK. Don't feel guilty, John.

But one of the reporters that was screaming asked about the one- state/two-state. And I said I think the two-state will happen. I think it's one way more difficult, because it's a real estate deal, because you need meets and bounds, and you need lots of carve-outs and lots of everything.

It's actually a little tougher deal, but another way, it works better, because you have people governing themselves and -- so they asked me about that. I said, well, I think the two-state will happen. I think we're going to go down the two-state road.

And I'm glad I got it out. And Jared, who's so involved, he loves Israel. He loves Israel. But he's also going to be very fair with the Palestinians. He understands it takes two people to be happy, two groups of people to be happy.

Everybody's got to be happy. And that's why it's so tough, because there's been so much hatred and anger for so many years. That's what probably the number one ingredient of toughness is.

But they asked me. I said I think it is going to be a two-state...


TRUMP: And you know what I did today? By saying that, I put it out.

And if you ask most of the people in Israel, they agree with that. But nobody wanted to say it. It is a big thing to put it out. It is a very big thing to put it out.

Now, the bottom line, if the Israelis and the Palestinians want one state, that's OK with me. If they want two states, that's OK with me. I'm happy if they're happy. I'm a facilitator. I want to see if I can get a deal done so that people don't get killed anymore.

When we had -- in Saudi Arabia, we had one of the great conferences in history. Many of you were there. Probably all of you were there. It was one of the most beautiful two days, that and China, two of the most incredible events I have ever seen, saw. I have never seen anything like it.

And we had, I believe, 58 Muslim countries, the leaders, the kings, the emirs, the absolute leaders from every -- there was nobody in second place. They were the leaders, leaders of the whole thing.

And unbeknownst to anybody else, people would come up to me individually. It wasn't a setup. They would come up to me and say, sir, you can't have peace in the Middle East without peace between Israelis and the Palestinians.

I said, why? What difference? Why does that matter so much? They said, it just is impossible to make peace in the Middle East unless you have between the Israelis -- so I heard that from one, the king of Saudi Arabia, who is a great guy, King Salman, and then somebody else came up.

And he wasn't told, oh, go up and say it. I know where they're coming. And I must have had 12 leaders say it, and they just said it. And I started to realize that peace between Israel and the Palestinians for the Middle East is a very important thing, and we're trying very hard to get it. I think probably two-state is more likely, but you know what? If they do a single, if they do a double, I'm OK with it if they're both happy. If they're both happy, I'm OK with either. I think the two-state is more likely.

OK, how about one?


QUESTION: New York Times.


QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

TRUMP: I would have gotten a bad story in The New York Times, but I will anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter. We'll do you after, and then we will call it quits.

QUESTION: We're kind of thriving, not failing these days.

TRUMP: You're doing very well. Say, thank you, Mr. Trump.

QUESTION: I think I will stop short of that.

TRUMP: I wonder how you -- all my life, I have had very few stories, but I have had some on front page of The New York Times. Now I think I average about three or four a day, right?


Of the three or four, they're all negative. No matter what I do, they're all negative. But you know what? That's OK. I still love the paper. Go ahead.

QUESTION: I wanted to come back to China, because I think what you announced today was very important.

TRUMP: Yes. I agree.

QUESTION: You talk about this friendship you have with Xi Jinping, and yet essentially what you did today is accused his government...

TRUMP: Right.

QUESTION: ... of interfering in our internal affairs.

TRUMP: That's right.

QUESTION: ... subverting our democratic process, and doing it to hurt you, the Republican Party...

TRUMP: Doing it to help them.

QUESTION: ... and your backers.

TRUMP: You know what? Doing it to help them.

QUESTION: So, how can a guy who does that be your friend?

TRUMP: I think that we are able to -- and maybe he's not anymore. I will be honest with you. I think we had a very good friendship. I think we had a very good relationship. We understand each other.

They are doing studies on Donald Trump. They're trying to figure it all out, because this has never happened to them before. It has never happened. Think of it. You have never seen -- you have covered very well. You have never seen this happen. They're having big problems. I don't want them to have problems, but they have got to make a fair deal, just like Canada has got to make a fair deal.

I believe that he and I have a very good chemistry together, and I can tell you that about many leaders. I can also tell you a few where I don't feel I will ever have a chemistry with them, I don't want to have a chemistry with them.

And for those people, I will have Pompeo, Nikki, Bolton, Jared. I can go our general -- I will have our general, or if they can't do it, I will have Sarah Huckabee do it, right?

But for the most part, I have very good -- very good with Prime Minister Abe, very good with President Moon.

By the way, what President Moon said last night -- I know you won't report it, but Bret Baier interviewed him last night and asked him about me. I can't say because you would say I'm too braggadocios, but what he said about me last night was an unbelievable thing.

It couldn't have happened without President Trump and it never would happen without President Trump, and nobody else could do it. I mean, you will take a look.

But I will tell you, China is very special, very special. They're incredible people. It is an incredible country. What they've done is unbelievable.

QUESTION: How would ...

TRUMP: And it all started with the WTO. It was a defective deal, and it all started -- without the WTO, China is not China as we know it today.

And then it started also by our people that are standing right in this position that are in the Oval Office -- another way of saying it -- allowed them to get away with murder. Allowed a lot of countries to get away with murder.

I think we still probably have a very good relationship, but you know what? In honor of you, I will tomorrow make a call to him, say, hey, how you doing? OK?

QUESTION: Can I just ask...

TRUMP: You don't mind paying billions of dollars a month in tariffs.

QUESTION: I just have two small follow-ups. One is, how would you compare the level of interference you see today from the Chinese to what Russia did in 2016?

TRUMP: Well, I think it is different. If you look at "The Des Moines Register," they have ads that are made to look like editorials saying about, oh, you got to stop Trump, you got to stop him, you got to vote against him.

My farmers are so good. These are patriots. You know, on a network that doesn't like me very much -- which is most of them -- but a network that didn't -- doesn't really treat me very good, they interviewed farmers.

And they got hurt because, you know, all of a sudden China stops buying. By the way, they have started buying again. I don't know if you noticed. And soybeans are going up and things are going up, and we've had very little hurt from what I have done.

In fact, the markets have gone up and the farmers are going to do great, but ultimately. But they had farmers, and these guys are amazing. I love them. And they voted for me and they love me. And they said, we don't care if we get hurt, he's doing the right.

And, you know, a lot of people -- it is a complex game. A lot of people don't know exactly what it is. They don't know how to define tariff. They don't know -- it is really different than a tax, although it is getting close. But they know that for the first time in many, many years, they have a president that's fighting for them, that's not letting their jobs be taken to other countries, that's not allowing the kind of abuse that we -- I mean, when you look at what happened as an example with NAFTA, and for years, because it was never changed.

NAFTA was a defective deal the day it was signed. You know why? Because they had a VAT tax of 17 percent, and nobody from this country knew that. And by the time they found out, which was about a week later, nobody went and changed it. So you went many years, and they never changed it.

It was a VAT tax that Mexico got. So, we were 17 points or 16 points behind before we even started.


NAFTA was a horrible thing. So, the farmers and, by the way, the steelworkers, you know, I stopped the dumping. The dumping was horrible. And now, if they want to dump, that's OK, but they've got to pay the United States of America 25 percent on everything they dump. That's OK.

But as I told you before, steel is doing phenomenally well. But the farmers say, this man's fighting for us. No president has ever fought for us before.

And you really have to study what has happened over the 15 years with the farmers. The farmers have been decimated over a 15-year period. They've been decimated.

The farmers are going to come out great. These are great people. They're great, great patriots. I think we should finish with that one.

Is that OK? Go ahead. Let's go. Fast.


TRUMP: I always like to finish with a good one. Elton John said, when you hit that last tune, and it is good, don't go back.

QUESTION: Well, let me ask you...

TRUMP: I've seen -- have you ever seen? They do great. They're great. They hit the last tune, and everyone goes crazy. Then they go back for an encore, right, and they don't hit it. And they leave. Everyone leaves, they said, that wasn't a good concert, was it?

Let's go.

QUESTION: Well, I will ask you one question.

TRUMP: Don't make me wrong. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Ahead of tomorrow's hearing, because you were asked in the news conference by...


TRUMP: Say it again? Say it again?

QUESTION: About the hearing tomorrow.


QUESTION: You were asked by my friend from Sky News about the message that you are sending to the women of the country.

TRUMP: Yes. Right.

QUESTION: What about the message that you may be sending to young men? You're a father. What does the moment that we're in, this cultural moment...

TRUMP: It is a very big cultural moment.

QUESTION: Right. So, what message do you have for young men of America?


TRUMP: It's a very big -- it's also -- you're right. I think it's a great question.

This is a very big moment for our country, because you have a man who is very outstanding, but he has got very strong charges against him, probably charges that nobody is going to be able to be -- to prove.

So I could have you chosen for a position. I could have you or you or you, anybody, and somebody could say things -- and it has happened to me many times -- where false statements are made, and, honestly, nobody knows who to believe.

I could pick another supreme court judge, justice. I could pick another one, another one, another one.

This could go on forever. Somebody could come and say, 30 years ago, 25 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago, he did a horrible thing to me. He did this, he did that, he did that.

And, honestly, it is a very dangerous period in our country. And it is being perpetrated by some very evil people. Some of them are Democrats, I must say, because some of them know that this is just a game that they're playing.

It is a con game. It is at the highest level. We're talking about the United States Supreme Court. This can go on forever. I can pick five other people.

At a certain point, people are going to say, no, thank you.

This is the most coveted job probably in the world. And you know what? I would honestly say, because I interviewed great people for this job -- he's great. But I interviewed other great people for this job. I could conceivably imagine going to one of them and saying, it is too bad what happened to this wonderful man, but I'm going to choose you number two.

I want you to go. And I could conceivably be turned down by somebody that desperately wanted this job two months ago.

QUESTION: With respect, sir...

TRUMP: So this is beyond Supreme Court.


TRUMP: There's nothing beyond Supreme Court. This is beyond Supreme Court.

This has everything to do with our country. When you are guilty until proven innocent, it is just not supposed to be that way. Always, I heard you are innocent until proven guilty. I have heard this for so long, and it is such a beautiful phrase.

In this case, you are guilty until proven innocent. I think that is a very, very dangerous standard for our country.

With that being said, I look forward to what she has to say. I also look very forward to what Judge Kavanaugh has to say. I think it is going to be a very, very important day in the history of our country.

I want to thank you all.


TRUMP: We'll do it again.

QUESTION: The message to young men? Sir, young men, young teenage men, nothing to say, sir?

TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, ladies and gentlemen, remain seated as our delegation departs.


We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world.


We have just been listening for an hour and some 20 minutes to a rare solo news conference by President Trump, coming right in the midst of some sharply escalated controversy over the U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

Our correspondents and analysts are all standing by.

First, I want to bring in CNN's Jake Tapper.

So, Jake, what did you think?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I think we can see why his aides don't push him to do more solo press conferences like that.

I mean, it was fairly -- it wasn't the most coherent presidential address I ever heard. He rambled quite a bit. He said a lot of things that were not true, including this claim that he consistently says that he won 52 percent of the women's vote in 2016. He did not. He lost the women's vote to Hillary Clinton.

He did win 52 percent of the white women's vote, so it is odd that he continues to make that claim. It is almost as if he's not including non-white women as legitimate voters.

But, beyond that, let's focus on the Kavanaugh issue, because that is one of the most important things on the plate and why I think he was -- he wanted to have this press conference.

He said, first of all, in yet another falsehood, he suggested that more than one woman was going to be able to tell her story tomorrow. It is actually just one. It is Christine Blasey Ford, not the other two women who have come forward.

But beyond that, looking at his address and what he had to say as if I were a member of the Senate, you have, you know, a solid number of Republicans who are with the president no matter what, who don't believe the allegations, who are with Kavanaugh. You have a solid number of Democrats, probably almost all of the Democrats, who are against him.

We had all 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee call for Kavanaugh's nomination to be withdrawn, and you have a few in the middle. You have maybe a couple of red state Democrats, but most importantly perhaps, because he cannot lose them, Lisa Murkowski, the senator from Alaska, Susan Collins, the senator from Maine, maybe Jeff Flake, the senator from Arizona.

Trying to think what they made of the president's comments about this. He called these accusations from these women false. He said they were part of a big fat con job. He said that he was inclined to not believe them because of the many, many allegations that had been made against him, sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations.

He was not honest about how many there were. He said there were four or five. It was actually at least 15. He suggested that there had been payments made to these women. That's not true. There was a GoFundMe for one of the women, but that's not what I want to talk about right now.

More importantly, he continued to hit the idea that because Christine Blasey Ford and maybe the other women didn't go to law enforcement when these alleged attacks happened, that therefore there was something not to be believed about their accounts.

These are the kinds of things that President Trump has said that have upset Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and Jeff Flake. Jeff Flake on the Senate floor today made the point that whether or not you believe Kavanaugh or believe Christine Blasey Ford, the idea that you should doubt a woman's allegation because she didn't go to law enforcement, when we know how rare it is that that actually happens, most sexual assaults are not reported, it is stunning.

So I think he did hips no favors when it came to the idea of supporting Kavanaugh. And he did a few times during this press conference say things to try to suggest that he had an open mind about it, he wants to hear, he could be persuaded.

But I think, overwhelmingly, the idea was, this is a con job, these women are lying, their accusations are false, I don't believe it. And he started going into this whole rambling affair about, and what happens if I -- if I pull his name and then I go to somebody else, and then more false allegations.

He painted this picture of sexual assault as if it is just a world full of women waiting to make false accusations against men, and none of them are accurate, none of them are true.

BLITZER: And he said that what they have done, from his perspective, this big, fat con job, what they have done to this wonderful man, Judge Kavanaugh, in his words, is incredible. Clearly, he is siding with Judge Kavanaugh, although he says, as you

pointed out, I'm willing to listen to what this woman has to say tomorrow.

TAPPER: And one other thing.

We should point out he goes farther in condemning Christine Blasey Ford than Judge Kavanaugh goes. Judge Kavanaugh has repeatedly said that he is not doubting, he is not expressing doubt that something happened to her. He is just saying it wasn't him, but he's not doubting her, the sincerity of her belief.

And, in fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee today got some letters from individuals whom Dr. Blasey Ford had told about this assault years before Brett Kavanaugh was nominated. That doesn't corroborate the incident, but it does corroborate the idea that she had been saying this long before he was named as a Supreme Court nominee.

So President Trump goes further than that. Brett Kavanaugh is there playing to the jury of Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Jeff Flake, and not doubting her pain, not accusing her of being a liar.


President Trump says, oh, I'm not going to play that game, I'm not going to call them liars, but then he says everything other than calling them liars by making it clear it doesn't believe their accounts, and saying that it -- that the charges against him, many credible charges, by the way, impact how he views this all.

BLITZER: Why do you think he decided to hold this rare solo news conference today, on the eve of this hearing tomorrow morning?

TAPPER: I don't know. I mean, I don't think it is so unusual to have one after the U.N. General Assembly, and I think that there were things he wanted to talk about when it came to foreign policy, when it came to China. And he did get some questions on those.

I thought that, based on CNN's reporting, the idea was he wants to take control of the pushback for Kavanaugh, he wants to fight for Kavanaugh, partly at least because he knows that if Kavanaugh's name is withdrawn, it is going to be very demoralizing to his base, whom he values quite a bit.

So I think he went out there to do that, and I don't think he did himself any favors with the senators whom he needs to win over, with the suburban women who need he needs to vote Republican in November.

BLITZER: The whole notion, though, of the president of the United States doing this news conference on the eve of this critically important hearing that will determine presumably the fate of his Supreme Court nominee, the president clearly thinks he is best at defending Kavanaugh, and that others have not necessarily stepped up and done a good job.

TAPPER: And he probably is when it comes to defending Kavanaugh in a way that pleases his base.

He probably is when it comes to defending Kavanaugh in a way that pleases red state senators that are ride or die, they're with President Trump no matter what. But where I question his political acumen on this is, is he actually best at figuring out how to talk about these issues when it comes to appealing to Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, any of the swing votes in the Senate and suburban moms?

Mona Charen, who is a conservative commentator, was on my show earlier today. And I said, what should President Trump say about these allegations? And she said -- she's a conservative, not particularly a Trump fan -- she said, he shouldn't say anything about them, because every time he does -- this is her talking -- he puts his foot in his mouth.

That's a conservative who theoretically would want somebody like Brett Kavanaugh on the court, who defended Brett Kavanaugh, but says President Trump doesn't have the skills to talk about these issues.

And I think we can see why, because he thinks, because all allegations against him, in his view, are false, he thinks that the tape -- the "Access Hollywood" tape that we all heard, he's now telling people privately that it is not even his voice. He has this alternate reality.

And that doesn't play well with people he needs to support Kavanaugh.

BLITZER: Another major headline out of this news conference, all of the sudden, the president is saying his preference is not to fire the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. He may even delay the meeting he had scheduled with Rosenstein tomorrow. He doesn't want to necessarily step on the hearing itself, and maybe it will wait a few more days.

TAPPER: Well, he's a showman, as we know, and he probably realizes that a double bill on one day is a waste.

You would have a good story to play out on Friday if he keeps Rosenstein or if he fires Rosenstein. That's what it seemed like he was talking about, the idea that he didn't want to step on one story with another story. Both of them, of course, are indicative of the chaos that marks the Trump administration.

BLITZER: Gloria Borger, what did you think of the president's news conference?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, if I'm a Republican sitting in the Senate right now, I would not be pleased. I think Chuck Grassley has tried to kind of be fair in his own way, reaching out to Professor Ford originally, trying to talk to the other accusers.

Then the president comes on today and says, I don't believe them. They're fake. Why do I think they're fake? Because I have been through it myself. He turned the story to himself. He said, it has happened to me. He talked about the woman on an airplane and then said, does it affect me? Absolutely.

So then he -- you know, he turned it into a story about himself. And then he also used the word women. He said, we ought to give the women a chance to hear -- I want to hear from the women.

And so Deborah Ramirez's attorney tweeted, well, the president indicated that the committee should hear from the women, but we haven't heard from the committee, nor have we had an FBI investigation. Their staff lawyers won't talk to us.

So you have the president of the United States using the plural. And tomorrow, of course, is just Professor Ford. So if you are a Republican in the Senate now who has been arguing that you want a vote on Friday in the committee, that you want a hearing just with Professor Ford, you have the president of the United States saying now, "Well, no, I think I want to hear from all the women."

[18:30:11] And on Rosenstein, I would just say that I think he's listened to his attorneys. I think he's listened to people who say, "This will backfire against you politically" -- not the timing of it, but just the firing of Rod Rosenstein -- and it could affect the Kavanaugh votes, in fact, particularly among some red-state Democrats. It may give them an opportunity if they -- you know, if they want to vote against Trump, so -- I mean against Kavanaugh.

So I think the president did a disservice, actually, to his Republican side, because he believes he is the best spokesman; he is always the best spokesman. What we heard today is the real Donald Trump that you see written about in so many books from anonymous sources, et cetera, et cetera.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's what he's like in private.

BORGER: This is what he is like, and this is what we heard.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta is our chief White House correspondent. You were there at the news conference, Jim. So give us your thoughts.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I'm not sure that this press conference was ever on the rails. As you heard numerous times during this press conference, the president was just not in touch with reality.

I asked him, you know, that question why he always seems to stand with the accused and not the accuser, and he really just did not want to answer these questions.

Finally, one of my colleagues picked up the question and pressed him on, you know, what is it about your past? Is it your past that makes you sympathize with Brett Kavanaugh? And he essentially said, yes, that that is the reason why. He feels he's had false charges leveled against him over the years, and that is the reason why he seems to always stand on the side of the accused and not the accuser.

I think that's a pretty extraordinary, you know, exchange that the president had with us, an acknowledgement on his part that he essentially just does not believe accusers when they come forward, accusing powerful men like himself of sexual misconduct.

I think, you know, when it comes to what's going to happen tomorrow, I thought it was also very interesting that the president is going to be watching this.

But, again, Wolf, time and again he referred to what's happening to Brett Kavanaugh as a con job, as a con game. He said it was a dangerous moment for the country, because -- and you could see his sympathies really on display, maybe more in this room than to our viewers, but I think it was -- it was just plain to see to our viewers he was really sympathizing with Brett Kavanaugh in all of this and not really with any of these accusers.

One thing that he did not really specify -- I tried to press him on this -- is whether or not he would be comfortable hearing from all of these accusers, all three of these accusers testifying publicly. He did not really give us an answer on that.

Although I think it's -- I think Gloria is right in pointing out he did make some rather interesting comments on Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, making it sound as if perhaps Rod Rosenstein may be staying on and that this phone call or this meeting, whatever they're going to have, is going to take place Friday or later than that because, you know, the president wants to be able to sit there and watch what happens in the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow.

But, Wolf, just on a personal note, as I was standing in this press conference, it -- you know, it seemed to me it was just a no-brainer for a female reporter to be able to ask the president of the United States some of these very important, critical questions. And I don't -- I think this is a moment that we're going to see captured in time here, Wolf, in that the president of the United States just doesn't seem to get it when it comes to this issue.

And he was going from male reporter to male reporter to male reporter on these things. And it just occurred to me at one point, you know, gee, perhaps a female reporter should be able to ask the president, press the president on this issue.

So, yes, I think, Wolf, this is a president that seems to be caught up in this #MeToo moment like a lot of, you know, Brett Kavanaugh's defenders up on Capitol Hill. We'll have to see how it plays all out tomorrow. Of course, we know the president acknowledging here he's going to be watching, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta, stand by. I want to bring in more of our correspondents and our analysts. Nia-Malika Henderson, did the president help or hurt the prospect of Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think in his mind, he probably helped the process. He's rallying the base, all of the folks who thought that the defense of Brett Kavanaugh should have been stronger over these last days.

But I think when you think about that five or six or seven senators that we're -- really been watching over the last couple of days, of people like Lisa Murkowski, people like Susan Collins, people like Jeff Flake who gave a very impassioned speech on the Senate floor today, I don't think this helps with -- with those folks in terms of making up their mind.

We saw before that Mitch McConnell has reached out to the president after he tweeted some pretty harsh things about the accuser, pretty harsh things about the process and condemning Democrats, basically saying, "Mr. President, you aren't helpful to this process." I wonder what these calls are going to be tonight after this. Does the president say anything more?

[18:35:05] I mean, if you think about it, this is sort of the last message that we're going to hear from this White House about Brett Kavanaugh, and then tomorrow morning, the first thing we're going to hear is from this woman.

And some of her testimony is already out. We've heard some of it in "The Washington Post."

So I don't think it's helpful when you are thinking about the people who are really going the make the decision after this testimony that we're hearing tomorrow, first from Professor Blasey Ford and then from Brett Kavanaugh.

BLITZER: Kaitlan Collins, you've been checking in with your sources. What are you hearing?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, some of them think that he did a good job. It depends on if you're asking people who are still in the White House, people who were in that room or people who have left the White House.

But what we saw President Trump do there was not an attempt to save Brett Kavanaugh, to get his nomination through. It was looking out for President Trump.

He made very clear he is ready for this to go either way, that his nomination could be confirmed, and he's right there to say, "I defended him, I stood by him. I said that he's wrongly accused." And he also left room to drop Brett Kavanaugh by saying, "I can easily be convinced. I can be persuaded. I'm going to listen. I want to hear these women."

That reflects what we've heard President Trump say all week, privately voicing his complaints that he didn't think Brett Kavanaugh did a good enough job defending himself, that he hasn't been forceful enough and aggressive enough. And President Trump set up the room there where he can be with him if he gets confirmed or drop him if it looks like he's not going to get confirmed and he's not going to get those votes.

But that's the smaller message here. The overall message, which was really reflected there at the end, is this is the president of the United States, who is about to have his party go through a pretty rough midterms from what we are expecting, especially when it comes to women. We are in the middle of the #MeToo movement, and there at the end President Trump made pretty clear -- who we know has privately voiced suspicion about the #MeToo movement -- pretty clear what he thinks about all of this, when he was asked what is your message to young men? He was asked twice a sentimental question like this: "You have daughters of your own. How would you feel if they went through something like this?"

But he was asked, "What is your message to young men out there, in light of allegations like this?" His message was that you are guilty until proven innocent and that they should be very concerned about something like that going forward.

Not a word about women who are sexually harassed on a regular basis, sexually assaulted, raped, anything like that. And it was a pretty clear message from President Trump.

BLITZER: Our political director, David Chalian, is with us, as well. David, Mitch McConnell, he's looking at this closely. There are 51 Republicans, 49 Democrats. If two Republicans decide to vote against the confirmation and all the Democrats vote against the confirmation, it's over.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. I mean, I agree with Nia that I don't think anything the president did today is bringing undecided, critical senators -- Collins, Murkowski, what have you -- to a "yes" vote on Kavanaugh. I'm not sure anything he said today moved him further away.

I think if you're Mitch McConnell you sat there and watched that, and said, "This is precisely why I've been asking you to stay out of the process. You're a flawed messenger on this." And so I think that's probably is what's going through McConnell's mind.

But I want to underscore something Kaitlan said. I think this is very, very important. We first saw this a week ago on the South Lawn, the president open to this notion that he wants to watch Dr. Blasey Ford speak, and then maybe he'll have to make a decision. Again today, "Perhaps I'll have to make a decision."

If you are to the mat, 100 percent convinced that Brett Kavanaugh is getting on that Supreme Court no matter what, there's no more decision to be made. You made it when you nominated him, and Mitch McConnell told you that the votes are there for it, so there is no more decision. But that is not the reality.

And Donald Trump fully acknowledged the reality in his remarks today by holding open the possibility of a replacement nominee, that a decision may have to be made and that he may be swayed after this meeting. That -- I know the White House says that he's backing Kavanaugh 100 percent, but that is not the sound of somebody who believes 100 percent that Kavanaugh is guaranteed that seat on the Supreme Court.


BORGER: We know how loyal the president is.

BLITZER: It's going to be close. Jeffrey Toobin is with us. On the one hand the president says this

whole attack against Judge Kavanaugh is a big fat con job. On the other hand, he says he wants the hear what this woman tomorrow has to say.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: You know, in Donald Trump's world in the relation between the sexes, it's always 1957, and he's the head of the Rat Pack. That's how he sees relations between men and women.

Everything we've learned about how women are sexually harassed, how they respond to sexual harassment and sexual violence, he doesn't buy any of it. It's like, deal with it.

And the victims here, the only victims he ever talks about are men, including today. It's like, "Oh, well, the terrible message." He's not going to get anybody to serve on the Supreme Court, because they're all so afraid of being accused of committing sexual violence.

I don't think there's a chance in the world he's going to watch the testimony tomorrow and say, "Hmm, you know, I think she is telling the truth, and I think Brett Kavanaugh is lying." It's never going to happen. He's going to say, "That was great. She's part of the Democratic con job." He is sticking with Brett Kavanaugh. Mitch McConnell is sticking with Brett Kavanaugh.

[18:40:15] This is how he sees relations between the sexes, and he is going to go down with Brett Kavanaugh and probably he's going to win with Brett Kavanaugh, because he's in charge of the Republican Party. And most of the Republican senators -- all of these so-called independents, you know, Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse, Corker, they all fold. They are complete political cowards. And you know, maybe Murkowski and Collins, like with ACA, will stand up, but there's no chance these Republicans will defy him on this.

BORGER: You know, what Trump was always trying to do today was to play to the base, obviously, when he talked about Schumer and his buddies, laughing at how they con you all, you know, and it's a shame and this is this big fat con job. That's not directed, really, towards the Senate, which it actually takes the votes. It's directed towards the base, which was getting worried, if you listen to Rush Limbaugh, which is getting worried that the president, you know, could lose this or was going soft on this.

But, you know, he's talking out of both sides of his mouth, as David -- as David points out, saying, "These are false accusations, it's a shame. He's a brilliant jurist, he ought to be confirmed. On the other hand, you know, if he's not, I've got -- you know, I've got a list -- I've got a list this long." So he's with --

COLLINS: He's with Brett Kavanaugh until he's not.

BORGER: Exactly.

COLLINS: I don't think President Trump would go down with Brett Kavanaugh. I think if Mitch McConnell and said, "Murkowski is a no, Collins is a no, Flake is a no," Trump would be ready to drop Brett Kavanaugh. Just like you heard him there talk about Roy Moore. He was with Roy Moore until he lost, and then he distanced himself from him. And today, he said, "I didn't like Roy Moore," but he stuck with him because he's Republican.

He's with Brett Kavanaugh because he thinks he can get the votes. If Brett Kavanaugh, it seems, is not getting the votes, I guarantee you President Trump will be ready to drop him and say, "I had no idea that -- how was I supposed to know about these allegations." And he'll go down that list. He'll pick Amy Coney Barrett, Kethledge, anyone else to be and take that seat on the Supreme Court.

HENDERSON: Yes. And you'll imagine he'll still likely blame Democrats at well. At some point, he tried to, I think, give some distance between himself and GOP senators saying, at first "We delayed the process." Then he said, "No, no me, it was the GOP senators who delayed the process."

So he's always, I think pretty much obviously angling for the adoration and closeness of his base, and he's able to do that, I think, in many ways by distance from these GOP senators.

And listen, I mean, if it's Murkowski and if it's Collins, I think he'll go around and bad mouth them --

TOOBIN: Can I --

HENDERSON: -- in the way that he bad mouthed McCain.

TOOBIN: Can I make a suggestion? Maybe the base is much of the United States. Maybe this country is a lot more racist and sexist than we thought. Maybe a lot of people find this -- this allegation preposterous.

CHALIAN: Well, Jeffrey, the president made that point.

TOOBIN: I mean, you know, who won the election? The guy who -- the guy from the "Access Hollywood" tape won the election.

CHALIAN: But going back to 2016, Jeffrey, I think the president was making that point. I agree with your assessment of where the president is on gender politics, and he's not subscribing to the #MeToo movement and what it -- what it stands for.

But he said very clearly in his remarks, he thought it was a little underhanded, but he said, "You're going to see this in the midterms," because he firmly believes that the country, a big swath of the country, sides with him on this notion, that this is a world upended if you are guilty, if you are presumed guilty first and have to prove your innocence.

The way he was talking about the cultural moment -- and when I went back and thought to what he said at the top of the press conference, that you're going to see that the way the Democrats have handled this and the way that this confirmation process has gone, that this is going to benefit the Republicans in the midterms. This is the president's thinking on this.

He believes he's got -- because, I think, of his victory in 2016, he believes that the country is where he is on this.

BORGER: Well, and he said women are very angry, and so he made a point using an inaccurate number.

COLLINS: Well, they are angry.

BORGER: About how many -- how many women that he won. Because it was 52 percent of white --

COLLINS: White women.

BORGER: Right. But in any case, he said women are angry. And, you know, his point is, "They're with me. They're with me on this," and that they think these accusations, you know, coming up at the last minute, whatever, are -- are false.

So I think the president feels that he's the only one who can actually make this case, because Kavanaugh has been very careful not to discredit Professor Ford in any way, shape or form, except saying, "It wasn't me. You have a memory, but it wasn't about me."


So, Trump doesn't care. He's not up for confirmation, he won an election. So he feels like he can do it, so he did.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The president kept suggesting -- let's see if the Republicans win tomorrow. Tomorrow there's a hearing.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford will testify. She will answer questions.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: And then Judge Kavanaugh will testify. He'll answer questions. But he kept suggesting, let's see if the Republicans win tomorrow.

BORGER: Of course --


DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I took it to mean win the news conference, win in the headlines. He detailed every network that he watches constantly at length, and so when he was saying that, he was saying who gets determined in that news conference to be the winner out of tomorrow's hearing.

BLITZER: Go ahead.

TOOBIN: And this preposterous and absurd investigation that's supposedly going on is being conducted by the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans whose whole job it is to get Brett Kavanaugh confirmed. What kind of investigation is -- it is like, you know, it's like if the Yankees play the nationals and the umpires are the Yankees. I mean, it is like -- I mean, it just makes no sense.

BORGER: I also got the feeling that the president actually didn't know that only one woman was testifying as we were talking about earlier, that he thought we were going to hear from three women. Of course, we're not. So if you are Grassley right now, if you are Senator Grassley --


BORGER: Yes, your head is exploding because, you know, you want this done. You have said one woman, you've said Professor Ford, that's going to be it. Now the president comes out and talks about, I want to hear from these women, those women.

BLITZER: What struck me, Nia, also, at the beginning of the news conference, one of the first questions, why not have the FBI investigate? It is the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Do another background check to see if there's truth to the allegations.

The president said, and I'm looking at my notes, he said, there's nothing to investigate. It happened so long ago. There's really nothing to take a look at.

HENDERSON: Yes, this is not something that the FBI would do. He cited Biden who at some point during the Anita Hill hearings, there was an FBI investigation into that. It took something like three days and Biden at some point said, it is not for the FBI to make an assessment of the veracity of what people are saying.

CHALIAN: No conclusion.

HENDERSON: No conclusion about this investigation.

BORGER: Which they don't.

HENDERSON: Which they don't, right. So, yes, I mean that's been his stance all along, this idea that the FBI doesn't have any role here, but it is not other people's stance, right? Certainly, Democrats want an investigation. You have heard some -- from some Republicans, particularly Lisa Murkowski, that maybe an investigation is something that needs to happen in this case.

CHALIAN: And the accusers asked for it.

HENDERSON: And of the accusers as well, yes.

BLITZER: And he suggested people will be scared to accept appointments because they will go back to their high school years, their college years and look for dirt. He said at would be point --

HENDERSON: And he minimized it. TOOBIN: No one is going to want to be a Supreme Court justice

anymore. It is like to hell with that job.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That speaks to the president's tactic. I get it is humorous, but it speaks to the president's tactic, that he is trying to put fear into people that if you believe that people have accused Brett Kavanaugh, then you believe you yourself can be accused of sexual assault. That's obviously not the case.

A lot much people hopefully do not sexually assault people. People who accused of sexually assaulting people, those accusations if credible should be looked into. But President Trump is using a tactic here because this is going to come down to the court of public opinion. What do the constituents of Lisa Murkowski or Susan Collins say to them about whether or not they voted yes or no in his confirmation?

These people -- look at Brett Kavanaugh and they say, well, he's been accused of sexual assault and they are listening to President Trump saying, if he can be accused of sexual assault, so can you, that puts fear into people.

BORGER: So was I, remember?

COLLINS: They are more likely to side with him.

BORGER: So was Trump, right?

COLLINS: Exactly. President Trump himself was also been accused of sexual assault. He said, look at me, I denied those allegations, they did it for money. That's going to put a lot of doubt on sexual assault, period, which is not something I think a lot of women in this country hope is the result of things like the #metoo movement. It is so women will be believed when they make these allegations.

HENDERSON: But it does feed into conservative narrative and sort of a narrative that's been fed by Fox News, it is like there's a war on men and this idea that the #metoo movement has gone too far and now at any point, any man can be susceptible to these sorts of allegations. I think he's feeding into that narrative as well.

CHALIAN: And mention the court of public opinion, I think it is worth noting where we are in the context of this confirmation. Kavanaugh has been losing the battle of the court of public opinion throughout this process. The numbers have been going -- he is one of the most unpopular nominees in the history of modern polling on Supreme Court nominees and it has been getting worse, and specifically among women since the allegations have come out.

So I do think there's no doubt it is a battle in the court of public opinion, but it is one Kavanaugh has been losing there for the last -- since his hearing.

BORGER: And that's what Trump was trying to do today, save it, because he thinks he's the best spokesman for Kavanaugh. [18:50:02] And he feels Kavanaugh did not do well on his Fox News interview and that Donald Trump is the one who can be his best spokesman and can rescue him. And that's what he was attempting to do today and he's saying it happened to me. I got elected. He didn't say that.

But it happened to me. There were false accusations. These are -- first he said I'm not going to play that game then he said these are false accusations.


BORGER: So, he was just making the case.

BLITZER: Kaitlan, first, there was one woman, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who made these serious accusations. Then Deborah Ramirez, a Yale University classmate of his, made serious allegations. And today, we learned of Julie Swetnick also making serious allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.

And the president -- when he was asked about the latest charges from Julia Swetnick, he referred to her lawyer Michael Avenatti at one point saying her lawyer is a low life, at another point saying that this is just another beauty today by Avenatti. He was really ridiculing the lawyer, and Michael Avenatti, as our viewers know, is Stormy Daniels lawyer as well.

COLLINS: Right, and that's why he had a lot of bad blood toward Michael Avenatti regardless of his numerous television appearances or what people think about him. That's what brought a lot of the Stormy Daniels stuff to light which brought Michael Cohen and what his practices were violating the campaign finance laws, which implicated -- he implicated President Trump in that.

So, that's why the president feels the way he does about Michael Avenatti, after he saw him repeatedly on TV. He associates him mentally with Stormy Daniels, the woman who says she had an affairs with President Trump and was paid over $100,000 to be quiet about it.

But what was saw today was President Trump helping Brett Kavanaugh. He told aides he wanted to hold this press conference because he didn't think Brett Kavanaugh was doing enough to defend himself. He wasn't being aggressive enough in the way that President Trump was been forceful in rebutting allegations made against him, saying they're liars, they're doing it for money, et cetera.

Brett Kavanaugh, instead, has not been very angry. He's been pretty calm and measured, denying the allegations. But what we saw President Trump was not really doing that. I don't really think he convinced the people who matter, the small amount of people who matter. Not the Lindsey Grahams who agree with him that the allegations are bogus or they're questionable because they are coming up after three decades. President Trump didn't really I don't think soothe the fears of the people whose vote he needs on Capitol Hill.

BLITZER: Ariane de Vogue, hold on for a moment, because Ariane de Vogue covers the Supreme Court for us. I understand you've got some excerpts from Professor Ford statement that she will deliver before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. This is first time we're hearing what she will say. And she starts off with a strong statement. She says I'm here not because I want to be. I am terrified. She said she's coming forward because she feels like it's her civic duty.

She talks about the fact when she was 14 or 15, she knew Brett. She went to this party with him. She says she doesn't have all the details. She said, I don't have all the answers and I don't remember as much as I'd like to and at one point he was visibly drunk. She said she thought he was going to accidentally kill me.

And at the end, she gives a really strong statement. She said it's not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves the sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.

And, Wolf, we've also gotten a little bit of advance of what Kavanaugh will say. Remember, he has categorically denied this all along. He says in his statement sexual assault is horrific. It's morally wrong. But he says that he categorically and unequivocally denies the allegation against him by Dr. Ford.

So, that's the preview of what we're going to see tomorrow when this historic hearing happens, Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, Gloria, when the hearing does happen, Professor Ford is going to be questioned not by the 11 Republican senators, all male, on this judiciary committee but they are bringing in an outside counsel to go ahead and ask some questions. A female from Arizona.

BORGER: Yes, obviously, they thought that the optics of having only men on their side. I don't think there's been a Republican woman on the Senate Judiciary Committee. And they wanted a woman. She is -- so, this is a sex crimes prosecutor with apparently a good reputation. And so, she will be questioning Professor Ford. The Democrats, of course, will be questioning Kavanaugh.

But I think we have seen a shift a little bit in Kavanaugh himself, because when he went on Fox News, he basically described himself as a choir boy.

[18:55:02] In his statement, his written statement that we've also received today, he said and acknowledged that he did some things he regrets when he was in high school. That maybe he drank too much or things he did that made him cringe. So, he kind of admitted a little bit that, you know, he wasn't the perfect person in high school.

I think the question senators now have to grapple with is not so much the detail but whether they figure out if he's lying.


BORGER: If he's actually lied to them while under oath. And that's the issue.

HENDERSON: And who is he? Is he Brett Kavanaugh or is he Bart O'Kavanaugh. This figure described in a book by one of his friends. They talked about sort of rowdy drinking. It's something that Kavanaugh also talked about in his yearbook.

I think this opening that he talks about, this idea he did some things he might regret, I think that's the opening you're going to see Democrats try to walk through.

BLITZER: Very quick, Jeffrey. Go ahead.

TOOBIN: Just think about how important this allegation is and how devastating and how completely irresponsible this lack of investigation is. There's a third person allegedly in the room during this alleged assault and the Senate Judiciary Committee isn't even talking to him. How can you do an investigation? How can you claim that you're seriously considering this basic cu -- accusation and not talking to the third person allegedly in the room?

This is a behind covering exercise by the Republicans who run the committee. This is not an investigation.

BLITZER: I want to bring in Evan Perez, our justice correspondent.

Evan, there was some significant news on the future of Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. It appears, according to the president, he's not inclined the fire Rod Rosenstein at this moment. He's saying he wants to delay this Thursday meeting that he was scheduled to have with the deputy attorney general.

Now, behind the scenes, Wolf, the president was being told not to do this meeting on Thursday. Essentially that it could be a bad idea to have a one-on-one with Rod Rosenstein. Some people were joking if he were to have such a meeting they might want to search Rod Rosenstein for a wire because of the comments he allegedly made that were reported last week in "The New York Times".

So, it appears the president is listening to some of that advice to not do that meeting, at least not on Thursday when the Brett Kavanaugh hearing is going on.

BLITZER: Let me get Phil Mudd to react to that as well.

What do you think, Phil?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Pretty straightforward on the Rosenstein issue. Let's cut to the chase. The president makes decisions based on what makes his look good. He talks repeatedly on the campaign trail about the success of the Gorsuch nomination and confirmation.

The president knows this is not about being polite to Rod Rosenstein. He doesn't want a diversion because I've got to assume Mitch McConnell said, hey, Mr. President, I got the votes, don't divert attention. The president smells success, he doesn't want to divert from the success. I don't think it's that complicated.

BLITZER: David Chalian, what do you think?

CHALIAN: I think clearly he wants no distraction. The import of the Kavanaugh moment, he had to clear the deck. And not have anything cloud that.

I think he understood how big tomorrow was. And he couldn't play games with that. I think, as Gloria said before, I think it's been made very clear to him that his world gets so much more painful if he gets rid of Rosenstein right now.

I do like he made sure in the press conference we all knew Rosenstein was begging for his job is how he made it sound in the phone call, explaining how much he didn't say anything. Trump wanted to make sure everyone knew that Rosenstein was on the phone saying this did not happen.

BLITZER: Kaitlan, you cover the White House.

COLLINS: Trump had no intention to fire Rosenstein after that "New York Times" story was reported even though people predicted he would and would have this volcanic outburst over it. He actually had no plan. He was too busy over the weekend preoccupied with the drama surrounding Kavanaugh, but Rosenstein was under the impression that President Trump was going to fire him. He expected that. And that's why he offered to resign to the Chief of Staff John Kelly. Why we had that botched resignation on Monday and now that's why we're here where we, because President Trump wasn't going to.

I talked to someone before Trump held this press conference and they said, when they meet tomorrow, there's no plan to fire Rod Rosenstein. That's why he had the phone call with him in New York. It was very calm and collected, said let's talk about this on Thursday and now they are delaying this meeting.

BLITZER: Very big day tomorrow as far as the future of the U.S. Supreme Court is concerned.

BORGER: Well, we know the president is going to be watching.


BORGER: And, yes, it's a huge day. It's a cultural moment in this country just in many ways like Anita Hill was. And I think it's going to turn into a he said/she said at this point, and I don't know that it's going to change anyone's mind.

HENDERSON: Yes. Who knows what happens between now and then. Does the president say anything?

BLITZER: We alert our viewers. Our special coverage tomorrow morning will begin at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. All of us will be back. Special coverage will be there every step of the way. I'm sure our viewers in the United States and around the world will be watching.

In the meantime, our special coverage on all of this continues right now.