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THE SITUATION ROOM
Brett Kavanaugh Testifies Before Senate. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired September 27, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. MIKE CRAPO (R), IDAHO: You had a meeting with Senator Feinstein on August 20th?
KAVANAUGH: It's my understanding, yeah. Well -- I had a meeting, and that's my understanding of the date.
CRAPO: Of the date, yes. What was established earlier in testimony here today was that the ranking member's staff helped to -- helped Dr. Ford to retain the Katz law firm on -- sometime between August -- or July 30th and August 7th.
So I just wanted you to clarify one more time. In the meeting that you had two weeks or more later, this issue was not raised with you?
KAVANAUGH: The issue was not raised.
CRAPO: All right. Thank you. My time is up.
GRASSLEY: We'll take a five-minute break now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Once again, we have been watching the U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, respond to the sexual assault allegations by Professor Christine Blasey Ford.
The judge and the professor testifying separately today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. This truly has been an extraordinary day- long hearing. It started at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. What, now eight hours later, it continues.
They're in a brief break right now. It will resume shortly.
But there has been enormous fireworks throughout the day. And it continues at least for now with no end in sight.
Gloria, it looks like it's going to continue. And it looks like they got to make a major decision, whether to have a vote in the committee tomorrow or not.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And Phil Mattingly and Lauren Fox up on the Hill are reporting that
there's going to be a Senate Republican conference meeting tonight for leaders to take the temperature of the nomination and decide the next steps.
So once you're done with the hearing, they're going to have to get together and see if they have got the votes. If they have got the votes, then there will be a vote in committee tomorrow. Now, Ben Sasse was interesting, because he was one of those people we weren't sure about.
And it seems to me from listening to him and the watch he was -- that he's on the Republicans' side on this, that he feels that this was character assassination.
BLITZER: And it's interesting, Dana, that when Professor Ford was testifying earlier for several hours, the Democratic senators asked questions, made statements, but it was Rachel Mitchell, the outside -- the outside counsel who was brought in, Rachel Mitchell was brought in.
BORGER: There she is.
BLITZER: There she is.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She is still there.
BLITZER: She was asking questions of her, but all of a sudden it changed dramatically. She has been basically silent, except a little bit at the very beginning asking questions of Judge Kavanaugh.
BASH: OK. So the whole reason why the male Republicans on this committee brought a female prosecutor in to do the questioning was because of the optics of these men asking questions of this woman who says that she was attacked by Brett Kavanaugh.
But they completely undermined the attempt to correct the optics by pushing Rachel Mitchell aside and asking the questions themselves when it came to Brett Kavanaugh, because things were getting very down and dirty.
I mean, it all -- the tide changed, and the last time we heard from Mitchell was after Dick Durbin really pressed Kavanaugh on the question of an FBI hearing, FBI investigation.
Graham kind of took over, and then that was the last we heard of Rachel Mitchell. Now, it is the right and responsibility -- or certainly the right of these senators who are elected, Rachel Mitchell is not, is to ask the questions.
But if the whole point is to have somebody who is impartial who understands these questions to ask the questions, and who understands these issues, to ask the questions of both, boy, did they undermine that. JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Dana, another set of optics had
taken over, and that was that the Republicans were giving away the game.
BISKUPIC: We saw that in the morning, and I think -- and I was surprised that she was -- that they let her hang in there immediately after lunch, because -- or after the first break, because the reviews of the Republican stans were so critical.
It didn't last long, though.
BORGER: No, it didn't last long because they wanted to do what the Democrats had done, which was make their case, ask these questions of Kavanaugh and defend him, which Mitchell would not have done.
That wasn't -- that wasn't her job. But that's what they wanted to do.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It shows how political all of this is.
And it's all about that, which I know that's not groundbreaking, but that's exactly what they're doing here. They're not trying to get to the bottom of this. Did this alleged assault occur? What is the story for both sides? It is all about the process.
The Republicans complain that Democrats didn't tell them in time, needling Feinstein for not letting them know about this allegation in time. None of these questions are about whether or not he assaulted Christine Blasey Ford.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You are making such an important point here.
If you listen to these Republicans, they are not saying anything about whether there was this sexual assault. They are constantly talking about how Dianne Feinstein is the real villain here.
TOOBIN: That she's the one who we should -- I mean, you know, I have a very sophisticated view of this. The women always lose.
I mean, that's how these things go. The women always lose. Dianne Feinstein...
BORGER: The world is changing.
TOOBIN: Yes, well, keep watching.
BASH: By the way, you were -- just for the people who were out there making memes, you were being sarcastic.
TOOBIN: Not really.
TOOBIN: When it comes to fights like this in front of the United States Senate, I'm not sarcastic. I'm not sarcastic at all.
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: But it's not only the Republicans. We're also seeing somebody else fighting hard, and that is Kavanaugh himself.
The glare he's been giving to some of the Democrats, the pushback -- asking the questions, saying, I like beer, and again and again and again. He is making his case. And he was not like that during his first testimony.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But at some point he did realize he went a little too far with Klobuchar. Right? He came back. Maybe someone told him, sir, you seemed a little dismissive of Klobuchar.
TOOBIN: A little?
TOOBIN: Asking a United States senator if she's a drunk, and he's the witness?
BLITZER: Have you ever blacked out?
HENDERSON: After she talks about her father being an alcoholic.
COLLINS: She talks about her elderly father who is 90 years old, still attends Alcoholics Anonymous. That is why this was one of the most cringe-worthy moments.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For all the criticism of Mitchell, I do want to talk one thing that conservatives are talking about.
Most of them are vilifying her. But there are a couple of things she did do. Number one, to the part that she did have activity in the second half, she did ask Kavanaugh directly about the specifics to get -- from the Republican side, deny it happened emphatically.
And to make -- now this is he said/she said. The other point is what did Ben Sasse talk about, about Dianne Feinstein? In the earlier testimony, that Mitchell was able to get the testimony from Ford that Dianne Feinstein recommended that law firm at a time Dianne Feinstein was not telling the Republicans that she had that information.
That is being used by Republicans now to make this tribal and to make it a Democrat and without naming Ford to essentially say she was involved with the Democrats for weeks. And that is helping solidify Republican support.
So that one little nugget, as everyone criticizes her, may help the Republicans.
BORGER: And that's what turned Kavanaugh from Clark Kent into sort of the guy with the cape, Superman.
He was Clark Kent originally in the hearing, and now he's fighting. He's fighting for everything, his career. This is beyond...
BLITZER: All right, Judge Kavanaugh is now returning. He's going to be seated. His wife is there, Ashley, as well.
I think they were waiting for Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat, to also come back. I don't know if she's seated yet. The chairman was waiting for her. Let's see if he resumes the hearing without Dianne Feinstein.
And you can see that Rachel Mitchell is seated there in the middle of your screen.
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Judge Kavanaugh, my colleagues on the other side are accusing the democrats of some sort of political conspiracy, but that's because they want us to distract - they want to distract us from what happened here this morning.
And what happened here this morning was that we heard from Dr. Christine Ford, who spoke to us, with quiet, raw, emotional power, about what happened to her. She said she was 100 percent certain that it was you who attacked her.
And she explained how she came forward, how she struggled with her decision, how she wanted the president to know so that he could make a better choice. So when you and my colleagues on the other accuse us of ambushing you with false charges, I think we all have to remember Dr. Ford's testimony and her courage.
Let me go back to something you just said in your opening. You said you thought, at your first hearing, the democrats were an embarrassment. We asked you a lot of questions in those days, and which of our questions do you think were an embarrassment? I asked you about dissents you had written as a judge, an amicus brief
you wrote as a lawyer and your knowledge of sexual harassment and abuse by your close friend and mentor, Alex Kozinski, all valid questions in the setting. They are valid because this is a job interview for one of the most important positions of trust in this country.
And earlier, you agreed that this process of advice and consent is really a job interview, certainly not a criminal trial. There's certainly no entitlement for you to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. Our credibility, character and candor of a nominee, things for us consider in your job interview?
KAVANAUGH: I think my whole life is subject to consideration.
HIRONO: Is that yes? Credibility, character and candor ...
KAVANAUGH: My whole life ...
HIRONO: ... are those specific traits that would be of interest to us, as we consider putting you, for life, on the highest court in the country? Credibility, character and candor.
KAVANAUGH: Of course. And as part of my whole life ...
HIRONO: Thank you. Is temperament also an important trait for us to consider?
KAVANAUGH: For 12 years, everyone who has appeared before me on the D.C. Circuit has praised my judicial temperament. That's why I have the well unanimous, well qualified rating from the American Bar Association and all of the people who have appeared before you...
HIRONO: So you agree that temperament is also an important factor for ...
KAVANAUGH: Yes. And the federal public defender, who testified to the committee, talked about how I had - was always open-minded and how I ruled in favor of unpopular defendants, how I was fair-minded. I think, universally, lawyers who've appeared before the D.C. ...
HIRONO: So the answer is yes. I am running out of time. You know, we only five minutes, so let me get to something else. In your Fox News interview, you said that you, quote, "always treated women with dignity and respect," end quote, and that in high school you never, quote, "drank so much that you couldn't remember what happened the night before." Would you say the same thing about your college life?
HIRONO: So I'd like to read your statements from people who knew you in college. And as ...
KAVANAUGH: Can I say one thing? HIRONO: ... Senator Coons noted ...
HIRONO: ... that James Roche said, your roommate, "Although Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time. And he became aggressive and belligerent when he was drunk." So is your former college roommate lying?
KAVANAUGH: I would refer you to what I said in the sealed or redacted portion about his relationship with the other two roommates, and I'm going to leave it at that. I will say - Senator, you were asking about college.
I got into Yale Law School. That's the number one law school in the country. I had no connections there. I got there by busting my tail in college.
HIRONO: I feel insulted, as a Georgetown graduate.
KAVANAUGH: Excuse me?
HIRONO: But go on.
KAVANAUGH: I'm sorry. It's ranked number one, that doesn't mean it's number one.
KAVANAUGH: And you know, in college - two things. A, I studied. I was in cross-campus library every night, and B, I played basketball for the junior varsity. I tried out for the varsity. The first day I arrived on campus, we had captain's workouts.
I played basketball everyday, all throughout - and then as soon as the season was over, in late February, captain's workouts started again. I was obsessed with being ...
HIRONO: So you were not ...
KAVANAUGH: ... the best basketball player.
HIRONO: I only have 23 seconds. So you were not a "sloppy drunk," and so, your roommate was lying.
KAVANAUGH: I will refer you - I will refer you, again, to the redacted portion. I'll say, look at my academic record, and I don't usually to talk about myself this way, but in response to your - you know, I - I - I worked very hard in college, in my studies, and I also played basketball, I did sports and I also did socialize.
HIRONO: OK, wait. Excuse me. I know that the chairman is going to stop me, but I do have some other references from people who knew you, who say that you were not the basic (inaudible) ... GRASSLEY: Your - your time is up.
HIRONO: ... but - hold on. I'm sorry, Mr. Chairman.
GRASSLEY: Senator - Senator Tillis.
HIRONO: I would like to - Mr. Chairman, OK, I'll wait until we finish because I just want to enter some letters into the record.
GRASSLEY: Oh, yes. I wasn't ...
HIRONO: Could I do that?
GRASSLEY: ... clear that's what you were doing.
HIRONO: It's not a question. I could go on. But Mr. Chairman, I'd like to enter into the record four letters - one is, dated September 18, 2018, to you, from all of the democrats on this committee, another is - another is a letter, dated September 18, to Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI and Don McGahn, council to the president, signed by all the democrats on this committee, a September 21 letter signed by Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein to the president, and a September 26 letter signed by all the democrats on this committee, all requesting an FBI investigation because you did say all we have to do is ask.
And the implication being that if we ask, an investigation will happen and it certainly has not happened. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
GRASSLEY: Without objection, that will be included. Senator Tillis.
TILLIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Judge Kavanaugh, thank you again for being here. And I apologize for what you're going through right now. I can't imagine it. I've gone through a campaign and had a lot of smears, but it pales in comparison to what you've had to deal with.
I think one thing - one point that I'd like to make, from the onset. If we go back and review how this committee processes work, we've got a lot of work to do. We've had members take it on themselves to release committee confidential documents instead of respecting the process.
We've had an allegation held for nearly seven weeks that would've given us plenty of time to investigate, and then when we finally got the information, I invite everybody, particularly the American public, there is an investigation going on. And a lot of it's been documented.
There's a chronology on the website that says that each and every time an allegation was made, the staff followed up on it. And sadly, in several different instances, the democrats declined to participate. They listened in on at least one interview with you, didn't ask a single question.
If they wanted to find other leads and other things to do, why not ask, if you're really trying to get to the facts, if you're really trying to do your job to investigate? We're investigating, it's our job. I think in response to the ranking member's questions that Judge Kavanaugh said, "I'm here, you're asking me questions." But you know what?
When the committee staff, I assume, directed by the ranking member says, no, we're not going to ask questions to Judge Kavanaugh when he wanted to come in and clear his good name.
What are you really after? You may not be after the truth, maybe you are. Maybe you're after executing some sort of a political agenda. Maybe it's a mix of both.
But I think you've been treated unfairly and I'm amazed that after 32- hours of testimony, one and a half hours I sat in the room, that none of these questions came up when it was all fully known. Lawyered up, as a matter of fact.
I also want to go back to the comments this morning. I think I heard -- and we can go back to the record if someone disagrees with me -- I think I heard Dr. -- Dr. Ford say that she wasn't aware of the fact that we said we'd come to California. We'd make it confidential. We'll completely depose and ask any questions you want to.
I think I heard her say she wasn't aware of that. I don't know where that came with counsel (ph) or whether counsel just neglected to tell her -- her counsel.
But the fact of the matter is that offer was out there. We were moving heaven and earth and even moving the schedule to get to the schedule to get to the truth. We're doing an investigation. We're doing our level best.
I hope that the American people who are watching this will go out to the Senate Judiciary website and take a look at this chronology. Take a look at the lack of investigation on the part of the people who want the investigation. It doesn't make a lot of sense.
Every opportunity you have to go and question a witness. Every opportunity that we've had to find more truth, to find more facts, we've done it. It's documented. We've got sworn statements. We're doing our job. We're doing the committee work.
Judge Kavanaugh, I also have to say I believe you're a part of -- you're -- you're the first major target of a new strategy that's developed here. And I think you're right. I think it's just basically attack, attack, attack. It's not advise and consent; it's search and destroy.
And maybe one of the best evidence of this is one of the websites -- one of the groups that are out there, attacking you and trying to create fodder and all of these red herrings, has already acquired a URL for the next judge that they're going to attack.
URL's right here. They've already purchased it. They're ready to go. This is the playbook. This is the way we're going to run this committee from this point forward? Take a look at it. I'll -- I'll make sure we get it out on our website.
We've already got a stop another judge who hasn't been nominated URL, from the same people that are trying to mobilize people to attack you. There are some people here who may sincerely have concerns.
I would tell you to pound the table with your ranking member and the leadership on your side to say: why didn't we ask questions? Why did we listen in and differ? Why didn't we do our part of the investigation while this leader did everything he could to accommodate Dr. Ford and to run down every single lead that's been presented to us weeks after it was known to the minority?
I look forward to supporting your conformation. I believe that you're going to be on the bench. You know as Senator Cornyn said, these are allegations that can be pursued through the courts if they actually rise to a level to where they can be prosecuted. And everybody on the other side of this dais knows that that's not going to happen.
GRASSLEY: Senator Booker.
BOOKER: Judge Kavanaugh, you drank on weekdays as well in high school, not just weekends. Is that correct?
BOOKER: Yes, sir.
KAVANAUGH: I'd say that's rare. Are you talking about during the school year?
BOOKER: I'm -- I'm talking about the calendars that you provided during these dates.
KAVANAUGH: Oh, that's in the -- in the summer after a football work out when we went over to...
BOOKER: You drank on weekdays, yes or no, sir?
KAVANAUGH: ... In the summer when we went over to Timmy's house (ph) on July 1st, that would indicate, yes.
BOOKER: Yes, in other words, that -- that July 1st reference to skis -- went over for skis -- that's brewskis, correct?
KAVANAUGH: And after Tobin's (ph)...
BOOKER: Sir -- sir, I just need a yes or no. That -- brewskis, right?
KAVANAUGH: ... Well, I need to explain context.
BOOKER: You just said sir that you drank on weekdays. That's all I was looking for. KAVANAUGH: Well, no, that's -- you're...
BOOKER: If I may -- if I may ask -- if I may ask the next question, sir? You said clearly on the record, I just want you to restate it that you never in your life, after drinking heavily to the point of throwing up -- and, again, you said you had a weak stomach -- you said you never had gaps in memories. Never had any loses what so ever. Never had foggy recollection about what happened. Is that correct, sir, yes or no?
KAVANAUGH: ... That's -- that's what I said.
BOOKER: OK. Sir, you also said that this past two week -- this past two weeks has been a two-week effort calculated and orchestrated as a political hit.
Are you saying that Dr. Ford's efforts to come forward, to prepare for the very difficult testimony she gave today, to travel to Washington, D.C. and tell us about her experience, have all been part of an orchestrated political hit? And -- and are you basically calling her some kind of political operative?
KAVANAUGH: I've -- I've said my family has no ill will toward Dr. Ford. She wanted confidentiality. Her confidentiality was blown by the actions of this committee. And it's caused -- it's turned this into a circus...
BOOKER: So sir, let's just be clear. In other words, your -- your -- you have problems with the senators that are up here and how we conducted it; but, you're not saying in any way that she is a political pawn, political operative. You have sympathy for her. She is talking about a sexual assault. Is that correct?
KAVANAUGH: ... I said all allegations should be taken seriously, should listen to both sides...
BOOKER: OK. Do you -- do you -- do you wish...
KAVANAUGH: ... My family has no ill will toward her.
BOOKER: ... Thank you, sir. Do you wish that she never came forward?
KAVANAUGH: Senator, I did not do this. The witnesses...
BOOKER: That -- that's not my question, sir. Could you try to answer my question, sir? Do you wish she never came forward?
KAVANAUGH: ... The witnesses who were there say it didn't happen.
BOOKER: OK, sir. Do you wish she would've just remained silent then?
KAVANAUGH: I wish -- the witnesses who were there say it didn't happen. All allegations should be taken seriously.
BOOKER: So -- so even if it's in the final days -- days before a vote, if someone has a credible allegation of experience that they held for a long time, that person should be allowed to come forward. And in fact, as she said, it was her civic duty. You're not questioning her sense of civic duty are you?
KAVANAUGH: She did come forward and then the -- then the -- it was...
BOOKER: I know you have a lot of political animus, you've stated it very clearly towards my colleagues and I on this panel. What I -- what I'm trying to get to the bottom of is you -- you do not see her, specifically, as part of an orchestrated event...
BOOKER: ... she's not a political pawn.
KAVANAUGH: ... I don't know her. But I've also said that we bear no ill will toward her. She wanted confidentiality. This could have been handled...
BOOKER: And -- and -- and I understand. But she came forward. She took a great extent...
BOOKER: ... Your family has gone through hell. Her family has gone through hell. She sat here, she told her truth. And -- and you made the allegation that she was coordinating it. I do not think she was coordinating with her therapist...
KAVANAUGH: I -- I did not say that -- that's...
BOOKER: ... You said -- I'm sorry. So you said that others were making a coordinated...
KAVANAUGH: ... Coordinated by people in this room.
BOOKER: ... Forgive me. You were talking about us and not her. So she was not -- she was not doing this for a political effort in 2012 when talked to her therapist about this attack. She was not coordinating about this painful -- when she made -- painful experience when she made revelations to her husband.
She did coordinate in 2013, '16, 2017, before you were even nominated when she revealed that it was you -- with three different people -- that had sexually assaulted her. That wasn't coordination. And (inaudible)...
KAVANAUGH: All the witnesses who were there say it didn't happen. Ms. Keyser's her longtime friend, said she never saw me at a party with or without Dr. Ford...
BOOKER: Sir -- sir, and Ms. Keyser has said clearly, and I will quote what she said, she said she does not remember the night in question that -- that -- that supports what you said. But she also says that she believes Dr. Ford.
And so my -- my colleague Lindsey Graham, who I -- I respect, and have admiration to and has been a partner of mine. He said voting no would be legitimizing the most despicable thing in American politics.
Do you think that people who believe Dr. Ford are -- are legitimizing despicable things? Those of us who think she's a credible witness, the allegations against her (ph) are credible. Do you think that somehow we are engaging in something that's despicable?
KAVANAUGH: Senator, I -- I say listen to both sides before you make a bottom-line conclusion. And look at the...
BOOKER: That is fair.
KAVANAUGH: Look at the...
BOOKER: I -- I have 10 seconds left, sir. You can answer after I finish, I have 10 seconds left. That is fair. Listen to both sides, this is not about somebody -- one side being despicable, the other side not.
Listen to both sides. She was a credible -- I'm -- I'm -- let me finish my question, you can answer -- she -- she gave credible, meaningful testimony, a woman who had the courage to come forward and tell her truth, sir.
And -- and that's what I'm just asking you, is say she is not a political pawn. She is not orchestrating, she is not part of the Clinton's efforts to get some kind of revenge. She is a woman who came here with corroborating evidence to tell her truth.
KAVANAUGH: Is that a question?
BOOKER: No, sir. It was a final statement.
GRASSLEY: Senator Cruz...
BOOKER: Just on one thing, Mr. Chairman...
BOOKER: That the evidence is not corroborated at the time. The witnesses who are there say it didn't happen.
GRASSLEY: Senator Cruz.
[18:25:00] CRUZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Judge Kavanaugh, you and your family have been treated incredibly poorly by Senate Democrats and by the media. And let me say also I think Dr. Ford and her family have been treated incredibly poorly by Senate Democrats and the media.
You have both seen your good names dragged through the mud. And this has been sadly one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the United States Senate. Let me say to you and your family, thank you for a lifetime of public service.
I will say watching your mother's pained face has been heart-wrenching as she's seen her son's character dragged through the mud after not only your lifetime of public service but her lifetime of public service as well.
And I know as a father, there's been nothing more painful to you then talking to your daughters and explaining these attacks that the media is airing. I also believe though that the American people are fair minded people, that the American people can set aside the partisan warfare of Washington and look to substance and facts. And that is the charge of this committee.
Now there have been three different sets of allegations that have dominated the media.
I think it's important to note that two of those sets of allegations had so little corroboration that even the New York Times, which is no conservative outlet, refused to report on them because they could find no basis for them.
And it was striking in this entire hearing that not a single Democrat in this committee asked about two sets of those allegations, Ms. Ramirez's allegations and the allegations of the client of Mr. Avenatti, not a single Democrat.
I don't know if they were just too embarrassed. Mr. Avenatti's allegations were s scandalous that the ranking member omitted his client's most scandalous accusations of you as a criminal mastermind essentially, omitted those scandalous accusations from a statement.
This hearing has focused rightly so on the allegations Dr. Ford presented. And let me say, I think the committee did the right thing in giving Dr. Ford a full and fair opportunity to tell her story. That's what we needed to do when these allegations became public.
And the committee treated her with respect, as we should. I do not believe Senate Democrats have treated you with respect. What do we know? We know that her testimony and your testimony are in conflict.
A fair-minded assessor of facts would then look to, "What else do we know when you have conflicting testimony?" Well we know that Dr. Ford identified three fact witnesses who she said observed what occurred. All three of those fact witnesses have stated on the record under penalty of perjury that they do not recall what she is alleging happening.
They have not only not -- not corroborated her charges, they have explicitly refuted her charges. That's significant to a fair-minded fact finder.
In addition, you've walked through before this committee your calendars from the time. Now I will say you were a much more organized teenager than I was and than many of us were, but it was a compelling recitation of night-by-night-by-night where you were in the summer of 1982. That is yet another contemporaneous piece of fact to assess what happened.
And we also know that the Democrats on this committee engaged in a profoundly unfair process. The ranking member had these allegations on July 30th and for 60 days -- that was 60 days ago -- the ranking member did not refer it to the FBI for an investigation. The ranking member did not refer it to the full committee for an investigation. The ranking member -- this committee could have investigated those claims in a confidential way that respected Dr. Ford's privacy.
And some of the most significant testimony we heard this morning is Dr. Ford told this committee that the only people to whom she gave her letter were her attorneys, the ranking member, and her member of Congress. And she stated that she and her attorneys did not release the letter, which means the only people that could have released that -- that letter were either the ranking member and her staff or the Democratic member of Congress, because Dr. Ford told this committee those are the only people who had it.
That is not a fair process and we should look to the facts, not anonymous innuendo and slander.
FEINSTEIN: Mr. Chairman, I ask for a point of personal privilege to respond.
[18:30:00] FEINSTEIN: Mr. Chairman, let me be clear: I did not hide Dr. Ford's allegations. I did not leak her story. She asked me to hold it confidential and I kept it confidential as she asked. She apparently was stalked by the press, felt that what happened -- she was forced to come forward, and her greatest fear were realized -- was realized. She's been harassed, she's had death threats, and she's had to flee her home.
In a -- in addition, the investigation that the Republican majority is heralding is really nothing that I know about other than a partisan practice. Normally all the witnesses would be interviewed. However, that's not happened. While the majority has reached out to several people, they did not notify me or my staff that they were doing this, and so to argue that we would not participate but not tell us what they were up to is somewhat disingenuous.
I was given some information by a woman who was very much afraid, who asked that it be held confidential and I held it confidential until she decided that she would come forward.
CORNYN: Mr. Chairman, would -- would the ranking member answer a question, please?
FEINSTEIN: If I can.
CORNYN: I -- I have great respect for Senator Feinstein. We've worked together on many topics, and I believe what you just said. Can you tell us that your staff did not leak it?
FEINSTEIN: Oh, I don't believe my staff would leak it. I have not asked that question directly, but I do not believe they would.
CORNYN: You -- you -- you know that? I mean, how in the world could that get in the hands of the -- of the press unless...
FEINSTEIN: The answer is no. The staff said they did not (ph).
CORNYN: Have you -- have you asked you -- have you asked your staff or other staffers on the Judiciary Committee?
FEINSTEIN: I just did. They -- they -- pardon me?
(UNKNOWN): You've asked me before.
FEINSTEIN: Well, Jennifer (ph) reminds me I've asked her before about it, and that's true.
CORNYN: Well someone -- well somebody leaked it. If it wasn't you...
FEINSTEIN: Well it was -- I -- I'm telling you, it was not -- I did not. I mean, I was asked to keep it confidential, and -- and I'm criticized for that too.
CRUZ: Mr. Chairman, could I ask the chairman a question? Which is does the committee have a process, if there is an allegation against any nominee, to assess that allegation in a confidential forum rather than in the public -- since Dr. Ford requested that it be kept confidential, is there a process for the committee for considering confidential allegations?
GRASSLEY: Yes. Yes it's -- and the answer is yes, and I sent -- Senator Tillis pointed out the document that I put out to show of all the things that we've done along the lines of your question.
CRUZ: And Mr. Chairman, what would you have done if, on July 30th, the ranking member had -- had raised this allegation with you? As the chairman of this committee, how would you have handled that (ph)?
GRASSLEY: We would have done like we have done with every background -- or, let's say FBI report that comes from the White House with a nominee, and then subsequent to that, because maybe the FBI got done with it three months ago, we do through the FBI or information comes to us, then we have our investigators, in a bipartisan way, both the Republicans and the Democrats, follow up on those -- whatever those questions are or those problems that have to be worked out.
CRUZ: So bipartisan investigators could have investigated this two months ago and it could have been heard in a confidential setting without Dr. Ford's name or Judge Kavanaugh's name being dragged through the mud. Is that correct?
GRASSLEY: And except -- and except for one or two conversations that we had with the judge through our investigators, Democrats didn't participate except in those two, but in those two -- or, one or two, they didn't ask any questions.
CRUZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
GRASSLEY: I want to...
FEINSTEIN: Mr. Chairman...
GRASSLEY: Yes, go ahead.
FEINSTEIN: May I -- may I -- may I respond? It's my understanding that her story was leaked before the letter became public. And she testified that she had spoken to her friends about it and it's most likely that that's how the story leaked and that she had been asked by press. But it did not leak from us, I assure you of that.
CORNYN: Well Mr. -- Mr. Chairman, I -- I'm a little confused. I thought only the member of the House and Senator Feinstein and her lawyers had the letter, so her friends she might have talked to about it couldn't leak the letter if they just had a verbal conversation, unless she gave them a copy of the letter.
FEINSTEIN: Senator, I don't think the letter was ever leaked.
CORNYN: Well how in -- how did the press know to contact her about her complaint?
FEINSTEIN: She -- apparently she testified here this morning that she had talked to friends about it, and the press had talked to her.
GRASSLEY: Senator -- or, Judge, since there was some reference to the problems -- the legitimate problems and the -- and the change of lifestyle that Dr. Ford, if you want some time to say the impact on your family, I'd be glad to hear you. If you don't want to talk about it, that's OK.
KAVANAUGH: I've -- I've talked about that, Mr. Chairman.
GRASSLEY: OK, then Senator Harris.
HARRIS: Thank you. Judge Kavanaugh, have you taken a professionally administered polygraph test, as it relates to this issue?
KAVANAUGH: No, the -- I'll do whatever the committee wants. Of course, those are not admissible in Federal court, but I'll do whatever the committee wants, they're not admissible in Federal court because they're not reliable --
HARRIS: Thank you -- thank you.
KAVANAUGH: As you know.
HARRIS: So you've not taken one?
HARRIS: All three of the women who have made sworn allegations against you have called for an independent FBI investigation in to the claims. You've been asked during the course of this hearing -- by four different members by my count, at least eight times today, and also earlier this week on national television whether you would call for the White House to authorize an FBI investigation. Each time you have declined to do so. Now you know, I know you do --
that the FBI is an agency of men and women who are sworn and trained law enforcement who in the course of conducting background investigations on nominees for the Supreme Court of the United States and others, are charged with conducting those background investigations because they are sworn law enforcement and they have the expertise and the ability and the history of doing that.
So I'm going to ask you one last time, are you willing to ask the White House to authorize the FBI to investigate the claims that have been made against you?
KAVANAUGH: I'll do whatever the committee wants, of course --
HARRIS: And I've heard you say that --
KAVANAUGH: The witness statements --
HARRIS: But I've not heard you answer a very specific question that's been asked, which is, are you willing to ask the White House to conduct an investigation by the FBI to get to whatever you believe is the bottom of the allegations that have been levied against you?
KAVANAUGH: The FBI would gather witness statements, you have witness statements --
HARRIS: Sir, it's -- I don't want to debate with you how they do their business, I'm just asking are you willing to ask the White House to conduct such an investigation? Because as you are aware, the FBI did conduct a background investigation in to you, before we were aware of these most recent allegations. So are you willing to ask the White House to do it -- and say yes or no and then we can move on.
KAVANAUGH: I've had six background investigations over 26 years --
HARRIS: Sir, as it relates to the recent allegations are you willing to have them do it?
KAVANAUGH: The witness testimonies before you know a witness who was there, supports that I was there --
HARRIS: OK, I'm going to take that as a no and we can move on. You have said in your opening statement, you characterized these allegations as a conspiracy directed against you. I'll point out to you that Judge -- Justice now, Neil Gorsuch was nominated by this president.
He was considered by this body, just last year. I did a rough kind of analysis of similarities -- you both attended Georgetown Prep, you both attended very prestigious law schools, you both clerked for Justice Kennedy, you were both circuit judges, you were both nominated to the Supreme Court, you were both questioned about your record -- the only difference is that you have been accused of sexual assault.
How do you reconcile your statement about a conspiracy against you with the treatment of someone who was before this body not very long ago?
KAVANAUGH: I explained that in my opening statement, Senator. Look at the evidence here, the calendars, look at the witness statements, look at Ms. Keyser's statement.
HARRIS: OK. And then, do you agree that it is possible for men to both be friends with some women, and treat other women badly?
KAVANAUGH: Of course, but the point I've been emphasizing and that is if you go back to age 14 for me -- you will find people, and not just people, lots of people who I've been friends with. Some of whom are in this room today, starting at age 14, women. And who've talked about my friendships with them through my whole life, and it's a consistent (ph) pattern all the way through.
Sixty-five women, who knew me more than 35 years ago, signed a letter to support me after the allegation was made because they know me, and they were with me, and we grew up together, we talked on the phone together and we went to events together. That is who I am.
What the people who worked with me in the Bush White House, the -- the women there, look at what Sarah Day said in CentralMaine.com. Look at the -- what the law clerks -- I have sent more women law clerks to the Supreme Court than any other federal judge in the country.
HARRIS: I only have a few seconds left and I'll just ask you a direct question. Did you watch Dr. Ford's testimony?
KAVANAUGH: I did not. I plan to...
HARRIS: Thank you, I have nothing else...
KAVANAUGH: ... I plan to...
HARRIS: ... Thank you.
KAVANAUGH: ... I plan to. But I did not because I was preparing mine.
GRASSLEY: Our last five minutes will be, Senator Flake, one minute.
GRASSLEY: And Senator Kennedy, four minutes.
FLAKE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
When Dr. Ford came forward with her account, I immediately said that she should be heard and asked the chairman to delay the vote that we had scheduled. And the chairman did, and I appreciate that. She came, at great difficulty for her, and offered compelling testimony.
You have come and done the same. I am sorry for what's happened to you and your family, as I'm sorry for what has happened to hers. This is not a good process but it's all we've got. And I would just urge my colleagues to recognize that, in the end, we
are 21 very imperfect senators trying to do our best to provide advice and consent. And in the end, there is likely to be as much doubt as certainty going out of this room today.
And that, as we make decisions going forward, I -- I hope that people will recognize that. And in the rhetoric that we use and the language that we use going forward that we'll recognize that, that there is doubt, we'll never move beyond that. And -- and just have a little humility on that front.
So thank you.
GRASSLEY: Thank you, Senator Flake.
Now, Senator Kennedy.
KENNEDY: I'm -- I'm sorry, judge, for what you and your family have been through. And I'm sorry for what Dr. Ford and her family have been through. It could have been avoided.
Do you believe in God?
KAVANAUGH: I do.
KENNEDY: I'm going to give you a last opportunity, right here, right in front of God and country. I want you to look me in the eye. Are Dr. Ford's allegations true?
KAVANAUGH: They are not as to me. I have not questioned that she might have been sexually assaulted at some point in her life by someone, someplace. But as to me, I've never done this; never done this to her or to anyone else.
And I've talked to you about what I was doing that summer of 1982. But I'm telling you I've never done this to anyone, including her.
KENNEDY: Are Ms. Ramirez's allegations about you true?
KAVANAUGH: Those are not. She -- no -- no -- none of the witnesses in the room support that. The -- if that -- that had happened, that would have been the talk of campus in our freshman dorm.
The New York Times reported that as recently as last week, she was calling other classmates seeking to -- well, I'm not going to characterize it -- but calling classmates last week and just seemed very -- I'll just stop there. But that's not true. That's not true.
KENNEDY: Are Ms. Swetnick's allegations, made by Mr. Avenatti about you, true?
KAVANAUGH: Those are not true. Never met her, don't know who she is. There's this (ph) -- a letter released within two hours of that breaking yesterday, from I think 60 people who knew me in high school. Men and women, who said it was -- their word's nonsense -- totally, you know, the whole thing that -- totally ridiculous. KENNEDY: None of these allegations are true?
KENNEDY: No doubt in your mind?
KAVANAUGH: Zero, I'm 100 percent certain.
KENNEDY: Not even a scintilla?
KAVANAUGH: Not a scintilla; 100 percent certain, senator.
KENNEDY: You swear to God?
KAVANAUGH: I swear to God.
KENNEDY: That's all I have, judge.
GRASSLEY: Judge Kavanaugh, thank you very much.
[18:45:04] BLITZER: What a day, wrapping up hours and hours of testimony, testimony from Professor Christine Blasey Ford first, now testimony from Brett Kavanaugh. Totally, totally different stories of what happened, what didn't happen. Now these senators are going to have to make a major decision.
The first decision will be whether or not to hold a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee as early as tomorrow morning, as the chairman earlier suggested would be the case. That could set the stage for a full-scale vote on the Senate floor as early as next week. But now, the Republican majority, they have to make a major decision.
Gloria Borger, let's start with you.
BORGER: Well, let's start where the hearing ended with Judge Kavanaugh saying he is 100 percent, 100 percent certain this never happened. Think back to this morning with Professor Ford. She said it was 100 percent, same phrase, that it did happen with Judge Kavanaugh.
So, you know, the Republicans on this committee decided to kind of abandon their hired outside counsel, Rachel Mitchell, take -- you know, do what the Democrats did this morning and hug Kavanaugh, which most of them did. Flake was vague and just said we're all imperfect and there's going to be as much doubt as certainty, you know, and that was it. And Republicans -- most Republicans expressed sorrow for him. Some did not talk about their sorrow for what she has gone through, but I think you saw kind of the mirror image here of the Democrats in the morning hugging her and the Republicans in the evening hugging him.
And there's going to be a conference tonight so that Republicans can explain to their colleagues, the Judiciary Committee Republicans can explain how their process was not flawed, how they did an investigation, but beyond that, we know the president is happy with this. We think that Kavanaugh did well.
And you're about to add something.
COLLINS: The president actually just tweeted, we were expecting him to say something moments after this was over, a formal White House statement maybe. But he just tweeted this is a president who is getting ready to go to a dinner at a roundtable with supporters here in D.C. tonight.
He said: Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest and riveting. Democrats search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct and resist. The Senate must vote.
So just what you were saying there, sending a clear message they want to vote on this soon.
BORGER: Right, and we haven't heard --
BLITZER: Hold on, Senator Cornyn, the number two Republican, walking out. Let's see what he says.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, we're going to go meet. The Republican conference is going to meet about 7:15 and see where we are, but the plan is still to have a markup tomorrow morning.
REPORTER: Do you think that he can pass out of committee? Are you confident that you have the votes?
CORNYN: Well, I'm optimistic. I thought the judge did well. We gave Dr. Ford a chance to have her say and I think it's time to vote. The longer that the nomination remains open, we know that more and more of these scurrilous allegations will be made. Unfortunately, that's part of the search-and-destroy process that frankly I think is an embarrassment to the Senate.
REPORTER: Senator Flake said you'll never move beyond doubt --
BLITZER: So, you heard John Cornyn saying when he expects a markup, that means a vote at the Senate Judiciary Committee as early as tomorrow morning. But the full Republican conference is about to get together and meet.
We were talking about the president of the United States, he sends the Republicans, a pretty strong message, same message we heard from the judge. This has all been a Democratic strategy of search and destroy.
COLLINS: That's right. And that was after the White House believed that Christine Blasey Ford gave pretty compelling testimony today. There was a little bit of concern when they took that long break in between the two of them. White House officials speculating, asking us how we thought it was playing out because of course they think a lot of this will come down to the coverage of it. But then once Judge Kavanaugh came out there, he seemed to follow what
President Trump had sent that message. Come out, be aggressive, be forceful and push back on these allegations. We saw that from him.
BLITZER: All right. Let's see if Senator Patrick Leahy stops at the microphones.
REPORTER: Do you think that Republicans would make a mistake to proceed to a mark-up vote tomorrow?
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I thought they were making a mistake to block a Supreme Court nominee for over a year, somebody that many of them had said they would vote for.
[18:50:00] But they're going to do whatever the -- whatever the White House and Mitch McConnell tells them to do.
REPORTER: Did you find Judge Kavanaugh's testimony credible today?
LEAHY: I found it well-rehearsed. It brought me back to memories of Clarence Thomas.
REPORTER: Thanks, Senator.
BLITZER: You know, Dana, it looked like the Republican strategy shifted after Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, he spoke. He didn't allow Rachel Mitchell, the outside counsel, who had been brought in, she asked all the questions of the professor, but all of a sudden, Lindsey Graham came out and delivered a fiery attack on the Democrats.
That opened the door. We didn't hear anything else from Rachel Mitchell after that. We just heard from Republican senators and Democratic senators, making their respective cases.
BASH: Democrats were coming out guns blazing on Kavanaugh, as one would expect. And Republicans -- it was abundantly clear to everybody, obviously them as well in the room, that he needed some back-up, and that's exactly what they provided, which is why they clearly shifted strategy.
It seemed as though they did it on the fly and they just stuck with it because of that. Look, at the end of, what, eight hours ago, almost nine hours ago, that this hearing started.
BLITZER: Ten a.m. Eastern.
BASH: And it is pretty remarkable that I think we're kind of where we are where we started.
BORGER: That's what I think.
HENDERSON: I think that's right.
BASH: And after a day of dramatic testimony, of must-see TV to the nth degree, we are where we started, which is it is still going to be up to these senators, particularly those few who have not declared how they're going to vote, to make a judgment call.
And I thought it was very interesting that one of the key Republican senators, the only one who's actually on the committee, Jeff Flake, gave a one-minute speech about how sorry he is about this process, about how sorry he is for both Kavanaugh and Ford, and gave no tells about what he's going to do but also didn't ask any questions.
TOOBIN: What a profile.
BASH: Which he could have. He could have asked questions.
BORGER: He should have.
BASH: And he also could have asked questions and not given a tell on how -- on what he was going to do, and you know, there are going to be questions to him.
BLITZER: He was the one who pushed for the hearing.
BASH: He pushed for it.
BLITZER: All of a sudden, he gives a 60-second statement without asking questions.
BASH: There are going to be questions to him, legitimate questions, about why he didn't ask. He might say he heard what he need to hear or, you know, we just don't know the answer to that but it was his opportunity to dig in to perhaps better inform his vote and he didn't do it.
HENDERSON: But I think his speech was exactly like his Senate speech. You talk about somebody, this idea that we began where we ended, I mean, Flake sounds like he began where he ended. This was basically a cliff's notes version, you already said that.
And I think this idea that this is the only process we have, that's in some ways -- I mean, if you're Senator Collins, that's a message to her. There is no other process, no other FBI investigation.
TOOBIN: Dana, I think, is exactly right that from a political perspective, we may be where we were at the beginning of the day. However, as an evidentiary matter, we're not. We have heard a woman who has no motive to lie, who has no reason to come forward, who does not have a political agenda, who has been keeping this secret except in certain very limited circumstances, giving a vivid and dramatic and highly believable description of a sexual assault by this nominee for the Supreme Court.
We have then heard from a belligerent, angry, enraged Brett Kavanaugh, challenging United States senators about how much they drink. I mean, I think that actually is relevant to what the judgment is.
TOOBIN: That may be but I mean, you know, it's worth pointing out that the world looks different now in terms evidence before it.
BISKUPIC: But Senator Flake might be waiting to see how that plays out. Dana, I heard him a little differently than you.
TOOBIN: What a profile in courage that is.
BISKUPIC: I actually thought that he was suggesting he was with them, with his people. I mean, I actually heard that.
BORGER: With Republicans?
BISKUPIC: I heard that a little differently, staying with the Republicans. But he obviously has a little time. He can see what the reviews are, see how people -- how people react. But if I had to bet money right now, I bet he'd stick with it.
VOGUE,: Can I just say one thing. We all sat here after ford finished and we thought, what can he do? We thought, what could he do? I mean, we thought, wow.
And he did come back and he came back blazing. And he did take it over, and I got e-mails from a couple of the Republicans in that room who suddenly had air in their tires and he did -- he came back in a way I don't think that we expected.
[18:55:03] KING: There's no question. He was listing his nomination. He had not gotten a chance to speak yet. He was listening to the testimony this morning.
They were very nervous in the White House, Kaitlan is being kind. They were very nervous in Republican circles because Professor Ford was so compelling. The question is how he saved himself, how he got back to where we were at sun-up.
Does that make a difference with those key Republican senators? Because he did it by going full partisan. It's the Clintons, the Democrats, it's a conspiracy, you're calling me evil. It was full partisan. Yes, he defended himself. Yes, he said this never happened. But in addition to that, he went --
BLITZER: You see Judge Kavanaugh walking outside of the hearing room. I suspect he's not going to stop at the microphones but you can see him walking out.
Go ahead, John.
KING: You now have this Susan Collins this morning said, I want to bring Mark Judge. I don't know why. How do we explain that we're not bringing an eye-witness, at least a potential eye-witness, how do we explain that? How do I go home and explain that? This is not a complete process. You're asking know cast a vote without critical information. That was her position this morning. Now, it was the one answer where,
you know, he did stumble. Judge Kavanaugh did stumble in a very powerful performance this afternoon. Why not ask the president? Just one week.
The Democrats, that's the one thing they did reasonably effectively from their perspective this afternoon with him was, what's the harm in having one week or ten days to have the FBI look at this and Kavanaugh's answer there was you can ask the questions, the Republicans said the FBI doesn't do this but the FBI could do this. We could have a partisan debate about that.
The thing that's most striking to me this morning was civil, it was interesting, it was fascinating, compelling. This afternoon was tribal. It was complete partisanship and polarization.
Kavanaugh going a route that he has not gone publicly throughout his life, being a very polarized partisan, again, invoking the Clintons, a left wing conspiracy, you're out to get me.
Again the question is, the key votes here are two or three Republicans. Do they accept that?
TOOBIN: And what did the 11 Republican men on the Senate do? Did they defend Brett Kavanaugh's honesty? No. They attacked another woman, Dianne Feinstein. She's the real villain here because she didn't handle the procedure properly.
I mean, you know, it happens over and over again. There's always some woman to attack and the woman always loses in this group.
COLLINS: Well, actually a follow up to that. Can we just stepping back from who you think is right, who you think is wrong, the dynamics of this? If Christine Blasey Ford had come out and acted the way that Brett Kavanaugh did, we would be talking about this very differently.
BORGER: Oh my god.
COLLINS: If she had yelled, if she had interrupted, if she had asked the senators the questions they were asking her, I think the reaction would be a lot different to this. But instead, the woman who has accused him of sexual assault comes forward, she's very mild, she's very pleasing to the senators who are in front of her, asking her questions. And it was just a completely different dynamic, and I think it says a lot about the current state.
BORGER: Both of their opening statements, they were both emotional, I would say.
BLITZER: He was crying.
BORGER: She was teary. He was definitely teary. And you watched him, and you know, if you didn't have any sympathy for him sort of sitting up there and having to go through this -- I don't know, you're not human. I mean, you had to feel some sympathy for him and, of course, you had to feel some sympathy for her. Where he sort of got in a mess was being as belligerent as he was
towards the Democrats who were questioning him, where she was not belligerent toward Republicans. I think the big issue here and with the FBI investigation is his friend, Mark Judge. I mean, he talked about Judge's problems, but I think they don't want an FBI investigation to go talk to Mark Judge, and we know about the book that he wrote and all the rest and I think that's a problem.
I think there are a lot of other people that Republicans would like the have interviewed. I think Judge may be problematic for them, and I think that's behind a lot of this.
HENDERSON: I think Flake is giving them a permission structure to essentially say the process isn't perfect, none of us are perfect, we're never going to get clarity, even if we bring in the FBI.
BORGER: We saw that.
HENDERSON: And I feel like that might be relevant to Murkowski and Collins.
BASH: That might be the message that he was trying to send. I'm not so sure it's going to be convincing to Collins and Murkowski. It could be, but every signal that they were giving before this hearing was that they want to hear from Mark judge. Never mind an FBI investigation. They want to hear from Judge.
He could, you know, they could force a subpoena. They could force him to come and potentially plead the Fifth. I don't think that they'll be successful at convincing Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell to do that unless it requires -- the only way that they will get their votes is to complete that process.
TOOBIN: Maybe it's significant that Brett Kavanaugh's alibi witness has fled, has, like, run away to Delaware where he's trying not to be found. Maybe that's relevant.