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Former Yale Classmate: I've Seen Kavanaugh "Quite Drunk"; Putin as Pinup, Poses Shirtless, With Animals in New Calendar. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired October 1, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Viciously and violently. That's how Mr. Trump is portraying the Democrats' treatment of Brett Kavanaugh, saying the judge suffered trauma, without mentioning what his accusers went through. Mr. trump Crossing a new line, implying that he has compromising information about a member of the opposition party.
Sparring with the press. In an off-the-rails news conference, the president first refused to talk about Kavanaugh, then unloaded. Did he do his nominee more harm than good in his newest attempt to defend him?
And Putin's pin-up pictures. The Russian president is a star of a just-released calendar aimed at showing his tough and his sensitive sides. How are the Kremlin chief's poses playing in Moscow?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news on the scope of the new investigation of the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. A White House official tells CNN the administration has made it clear to the FBI that agents are not limited in how many witnesses they can question about allegations of past sexual assault by Kavanaugh.
President Trump insisting he wants a comprehensive, but quick investigation during a news conference on trade that veered wildly off-message. Mr. Trump suggesting Kavanaugh had -- quote -- "difficulty with drinking in his youth," contradicting his nominee's depiction of his alcohol use.
I will get reaction from Democratic Senator Bob Menendez. And our correspondents and analysts are standing by.
First, let's go to our White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.
Kaitlan, the president initially refused to talk about Kavanaugh earlier in the day, but then all of a sudden he let lose.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. He was resistant at taking any questions on Kavanaugh at first, saying instead he wanted to stay focused on the topic at hand, but then the question about Brett Kavanaugh and the drama surrounding his nomination kept on coming.
And President Trump's own frustration with the whole process and how it has played out also showed through.
COLLINS (voice-over): Tonight, a White House official saying the FBI is not limited in their background investigation of President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. President Trump making that clear in the Rose Garden today.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want them to do a very comprehensive investigation. I want it to be done quickly.
COLLINS: Trump stating he's fine with Kavanaugh being interviewed by the FBI.
TRUMP: I think so. I think it is fine if they do. I don't know. That's up to them.
COLLINS: This after Democrats spent the weekend complaining that the White House is trying to limit the scope of the investigation.
TRUMP: I think the FBI should interview anybody that they want within reason.
COLLINS: Kavanaugh is now being accused of lying about his drinking habits by a former Yale classmate who says he wasn't honest when he testified in front of Congress. Asked today if he will pull Kavanaugh's nomination if it is proven he lied, Trump said:
TRUMP: I was surprised at how vocal he was about the fact that he likes beer and he's had a little bit of difficulty. I mean, he talked about things that happened when he drank.
COLLINS: Trump adding he was impressed by Kavanaugh's candor, but not answering the question.
TRUMP: This is not a man that said that alcohol was -- that he was perfect with respect to alcohol.
COLLINS: But Kavanaugh never described difficulty with drinking, and instead attempted to downplay his consumption, characterizing it as normal.
BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: I liked beer. I still like beer. But I did not drink beer to the point of blacking out.
COLLINS: Trump instead turning to his own sobriety today.
TRUMP: I can honestly say, I never had a beer in my life. OK?
It's one of my only good traits. Can you imagine if I had, what a mess I would be?
COLLINS: Trump also suggesting that Democratic senators who have raised questions about Kavanaugh's drinking are being hypocritical.
TRUMP: I happen to know some United States senators, one who is on the other side who's pretty aggressive. I have seen that person in very bad situations.
COLLINS: The White House has given the FBI a week to investigate Kavanaugh, and Trump says he's keeping an open mind depending on what they find.
TRUMP: Certainly, if they find something, I'm going to take that into consideration.
COLLINS: Today's Rose Garden event was supposed to be a victory lap for the president's new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, but Trump initially refused to even take questions on the Kavanaugh drama.
TRUMP: Do you have a question on trade? We're on trade.
COLLINS (on camera): You answered several questions on trade.
TRUMP: OK, don't do that. Excuse me. Don't do that. Do you have a question on trade?
COLLINS: So, Wolf, today, the president saying that the FBI should interview anyone they deem necessary, but saying that the third woman who has accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct isn't necessary.
That would be Julie Swetnick, who he said he just didn't see was credible enough. Now, Wolf, when the president was asked if there's a plan B for all of this if this nomination is in the end derailed, President Trump didn't say, no, that there wasn't one, but he said he wasn't ready to talk about that yet -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Kaitlan, thank you, Kaitlan Collins at the White House.
Also breaking, CNN confirms that the FBI has interviewed multiple witnesses in the Kavanaugh investigation, including the Supreme Court nominee's high school friend Mark Judge. We are told that the interview of Judge has not been completed.
Our senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, is joining us. He's got new details on the FBI probe.
Drew, tell our viewers what you are learning.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, CNN has learned that the FBI has interviewed Debbie Ramirez, the second accuser from Yale, along with Christine Blasey Ford's friend Leland Keyser and two of Kavanaugh's high school friends, P.J. Smyth and, of course, Mark Judge, the big news today.
But the question is if the FBI is investigating or even interested in interviewing several people who dispute Kavanaugh's claims about his drinking habits.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Tonight, sources say Republican senators are not limiting FBI agents in their investigation, but the FBI is concentrating on four key witnesses singled out by Republican senators, P.J. Smyth, Leland Keyser and Mark Judge, who, according to Christine Blasey Ford, were all at the party where she says she was attacked, and that they're also investigating a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, who came forward with a separate allegation from college.
The most important of those is Judge, Brett Kavanaugh's high school friend who put his own hard-partying exploits in a book called "Wasted" and later posted a video tour of Georgetown Prep.
MARK JUDGE, FRIEND OF BRETT KAVANAUGH: Let me show you something interesting. This is the dean of student's office. Spent a lot of time in there.
GRIFFIN: Judge says he may have been wasted, but disputes Christine Blasey Ford's allegation he and Kavanaugh were involved in assaulting her at a party.
No other witnesses have corroborated Ford's story. The FBI has already interviewed Debbie Ramirez, who claims Kavanaugh, in a drunken stupor, flashed her at a college party. No other witnesses recall that event either.
At the center of both, though, excessive high school and college drinking, which under oath Judge Brett Kavanaugh says was to excess, but never out of control.
RACHEL MITCHELL, DEPUTY ATTORNEY, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: Have you ever passed out from drinking?
BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: Well, passed out would be -- no. But I have gone to sleep. But I have never blacked out. That's the -- that's the allegation. And that's wrong.
GRIFFIN: In addition to speaking to classmates who say Kavanaugh did drink to excess, CNN has spoken to a half-dozen college and high school classmates of Kavanaugh who say they never saw Kavanaugh drink to the point of blacking out, and never aggressive.
That was contradicted this weekend by Chad Ludington, the Yale classmate who released this statement. At Yale, he writes: "Brett was a frequent drinker and a heavy drinker. I know," he says, "because especially in our first two years of college, I often drank with him."
He goes on to write: "When Brett got drunk, he was often belligerent and aggressive." The Yale roommates of Debbie Ramirez, the woman claiming Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself at a party, said this about Kavanaugh at Yale.
LIZ SWISHER, YALE ROOMMATE OF BRETT KAVANAUGH: He was a sloppy drunk. He was more interested in impressing the boys than he was in impressing the girls. I never saw him be sexually aggressive, but he definitely was sloppy drunk.
LYNNE BROOKES, YALE CLASSMATE OF BRETT KAVANAUGH: I was witness to the night that he got tapped into that fraternity, and he was stumbling drunk in a ridiculous costume, saying really dumb things. And I can almost guarantee that there's no way that he remembers that night.
GRIFFIN: No one CNN has contacted claims to be a witness to aggressive sexual behavior or even unwanted sexual advances.
The issue for some is his drinking and whether Kavanaugh told the truth to Congress or tried to disguise a history of getting drunk.
On CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday night, Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who asked for the new FBI probe on Friday, made it clear where his critical vote stands.
QUESTION: If Judge Kavanaugh is shown to have lied to the committee, nomination is over?
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Oh, yes.
GRIFFIN: Wolf, based on the short list of witnesses the FBI is interviewing, it does not appear Kavanaugh's drinking habits and if he told the whole truth about them are even being looked at -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Drew Griffin reporting for us. Drew, thank you.
Even as the FBI investigation plays out, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is gearing up for a final vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination, promising it will happen this week.
Let's bring in our congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly.
Phil, both parties are trying to set the stage for whatever this FBI probe does or doesn't turn up.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right.
But, Wolf, you make a key point. The Senate majority leader says, no matter what is coming, the Senate is moving forward. As you noted, Mitch McConnell saying there will be a vote this week. And that's reflective of the broad base of the Republican Party in the Senate. Most of them are ready to move forward, but not all. I think that's
the key point here. The three senators that essentially helped launch the FBI investigation, Wolf, I'm told behind the scenes they have been in repeated contact with the White House over the course of the last couple of days and were in part responsible for the shifts on the White House's strategy in terms of the scope of the investigation.
Susan Collins now saying she is comfortable that she was heard and the investigation is going to provide the information senators need to make up their mind. Now, Wolf, it is key here that this investigation is not just about Republicans, but it is also about the Democrats as well.
And Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, is trying to lay down guidelines of his own. Both parties agreed this will be one- week-long. Democrats agree with that as well, but they want specific witnesses called. They want specific briefings from the FBI when that investigation comes back.
I think the big question now is the way senators are going to find out about this. Wolf, this gets a little bit technical, but it is also going to become very important in a couple of days. The way this actually works is once the FBI finishes their interview process and files their forms, it gets sent to the White House.
The White House then sends it to the Senate, where it is added to Brett Kavanaugh's background investigation. Then and only then can senators go look at that information, most of them with no staff. That information is not allowed to become public. So when Schumer asks for a briefing, when Democrats want a rundown exactly of what has been found, that will be different from the norm.
One of the key questions right now is, how are senators going to find out this information and will any of this information become public? Those will be key components of what happens over the next couple of days. One thing to keep in mind, Wolf, while Majority Leader McConnell has made clear Senate Republicans are moving forward, they also know for a fact at this point in time they don't have the votes.
They feel like the investigation will give them the grounds to have those votes, to be able to move Brett Kavanaugh's nomination forward, but there is a lot of, we don't know what's coming next. That, Wolf, is entirely up to what the FBI finds.
BLITZER: We will find out sooner, rather than later. Phil Mattingly, thank you very much.
Joining us now, one of the 100 U.S. senators set to vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination. Senator Bob Menendez is a Democrat. He's a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: So, from your perspective, what needs to happen for you to trust the findings of this FBI investigation this week?
MENENDEZ: Well, Wolf, it needs to be a full, thorough investigation.
I mean, look, this investigation should have been called for before, once the allegations were already raised by Dr. Ford, and anything that has followed on. So there isn't a Cinderella moment here. Nothing is going to happen to the Supreme Court. The Republicans held up a seat when Justice Scalia passed away for nearly a year.
So there is no reason to ram this through. There is every reason, for the integrity of the court, for all of those who are sexual assault survivors, and even for Judge Kavanaugh, if he wants to have an opportunity to truly know what it is that transpired, and he doesn't fear anything, he knows all of the truth, then the truth would set him free.
That means that there should be a full investigation of all of the allegations that have been raised and whatever other witnesses follow on as a result of the discussion or the interviews of those witnesses.
BLITZER: Well, did your colleague Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member on committee, make a mistake two months ago when she learned about the allegation and she decided to keep it quiet and not to go, for example, to the FBI on a confidential basis to check it out?
MENENDEZ: No, I think she was honoring Dr. Ford's request at the time for privacy.
You know, when someone comes forward with one of the most searing moments in their life, something that is as consequential in their lives as what Dr. Ford -- and I believe Dr. Ford, I must say. I saw her testimony. I thought she was humble, she was transparent, she was powerfully honest at the end, even trying to help where her memory wasn't totally, you know, accessible in terms of remembering exact facts, talking about how they could, in fact, if they investigated, try to supplement her memory.
So this is a woman who has nothing to gain by what she's done. So I believe her. And at the end of the day, she's the one who asked for FBI investigations. Every time Brett Kavanaugh was asked about FBI investigations, he wouldn't embrace the concept. You got to wonder who is really telling the truth. I think she is.
BLITZER: Do you agree with most of the Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee who are now calling on the FBI to interview 24 people and entities on their list?
MENENDEZ: I do.
I think there is no reason this arbitrary, capricious, you know, ramming it through which has been the whole history of this...
BLITZER: Senator, I want you to hold on for a moment. A friend of Brett Kavanaugh's is speaking to reporters in North
Carolina right now. He went to Yale University with him.
This is Chad Ludington.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
CHAD LUDINGTON, KAVANAUGH YALE CLASSMATE: Give you a little bit of update of where things stand.
I do not believe that heavy drinking or even loutish behavior of an 18- or even 21-year old should condemn a person for the rest of his life. I would be a hypocrite to think so.
However, I have direct repeated knowledge about Brett's drinking and his disposition while drunk. And I do believe that Brett's actions as a 53-year-old federal judge matter.
If he lied about his past actions on national television and more especially while speaking under oath in front of the United States Senate, I believe those lies should have consequences.
It is truth that is at stake, and I believe that the ability to speak the truth, even when it does not reflect well upon oneself, is a paramount quality we seek in our nation's most powerful judges.
I can unequivocally say that, in denying the possibility that he ever blacked out from drinking, and in downplaying the degree and frequency of his drinking, Brett has not told the truth.
I felt it was my civic duty to tell of my experience while drinking with Brett, and I offer this statement to the press.
I have no desire to speak further publicly and nothing more to say to the press at this time.
I will, however, take my information to the FBI.
And on that note, I contacted -- the FBI contacted me this morning. I contacted them. I have received the form. I filled it out with the details, but I can't give those to anybody right now. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: His former roommate said he never saw him black out. He was with him when he got home at night and saw him when he woke up. Your response to that?
LUDINGTON: I, unfortunately, believe that my probably now ex-friend is lying.
QUESTION: Could you restate your first sentence again? I'm having a problem up on the microphone there.
LUDINGTON: My first sentence? QUESTION: The first two sentences.
LUDINGTON: I do not believe that heavy drinking or even loutish behavior of an 18- or even 21-year old should condemn a person for the rest of his life. I would be a hypocrite to think so.
QUESTION: What specifically did he testify to that you believe is a lie?
LUDINGTON: I have seen Brett drunk to the point he could easily be passed out.
QUESTION: But you never saw him passed out?
LUDINGTON: No, I never saw him passed out, but I saw him quite drunk. He saw me quite drunk.
QUESTION: And he testified that he did drink and wasn't proud of everything.
LUDINGTON: He did, but he also downplayed to a great degree the possibility that he could ever not know what was going on.
QUESTION: So you are saying there are omissions?
LUDINGTON: I'm saying there were omissions. There are certainly many times when he would not remember what was going on.
QUESTION: Has anyone at the FBI told you they want to hear from you?
BLITZER: All right. So there you heard Chad Ludington, who knew Brett Kavanaugh when they were both students, freshman, sophomore year at Yale University.
Chad Ludington is now a professor at North Carolina State University. You heard his statement, suggesting that Brett Kavanaugh during his sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee was not telling the truth when he suggested -- when he said he never blacked out.
We're going to bring the senator back in a moment, but let me bring in Evan Perez and Phil Mudd to get their reaction.
Phil Mudd, You used to work at the FBI.
What is your reaction to what this professor now says, that he doesn't trust -- in effect, he doesn't trust the judge because he lied?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Let's make very clear about the difference between what the senators have to look at, whether they see an air gap from what they're hearing from friends and what they heard from Brett Kavanaugh, and what the FBI is up to.
There are specific allegations obviously about sexual issues. One of the things I could see coming up is, what were the circumstances at those parties or events, was there drinking? But I don't think the FBI is going out there trying to figure out whether Brett Kavanaugh was a drinker at high school or college parties unless it relates to the ongoing allegations about sexual misconduct.
I think we have to keep those separate.
BLITZER: What did you think, Evan?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Look, I think this is a problem. I think people close to Brett Kavanaugh seem to know that this is a problem.
You have noticed in the past hour the White House has put out a statement from people who are trying to back up Brett Kavanaugh's version of his account of his drinking and how far he went in that. That tells us that they know that there's an issue here.
And, again, this is a political process. This is not so much a legal process. And what the FBI is doing is obviously trying to do a background investigation, but this, you should not divorce it from the politics, and the politics here are very, very important.
Even before the judge testified, I think there were people who were uncomfortable with his categorical statements about the fact that he had ever black out. I mean, you know, a witness -- when you prepare a witness, you often want them to just avoid making such categorical statements.
And I think people, most of the Kavanaugh team knew that that FOX News interview could present an issue, and I think this where it is coming back.
BLITZER: Let's bring in Jeffrey Toobin, our chief legal analyst.
Jeffrey, you heard Chad Ludington say that he doesn't think he told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, basically, before the Senate Judiciary Committee when he said he never passed out.
In his testimony, he said he did get drunk, he fell asleep, but he denied that he ever -- quote -- "passed out."
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the complexity of this situation is that the drinking is really relevant to the question of sexual assault. It is not an offense in and of itself.
So the senators are going to have to decide, is this a relevant fact to consider whether he was involved in the sexual assault or -- because the difference between having -- of Kavanaugh having admitted having drunk too much sometimes and what the -- and what the friend said today, I mean, it is somewhat significant, but that in itself I'm not sure is going to be enough to persuade any senators that this was an outright lie at the hearing.
BLITZER: Yes. And Gloria is with us as well.
What was your reaction, Gloria? GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, my reaction was
that the White House put out these statements saying that -- basically that Chad Ludington was wrong and that Ludington came out and said, I wasn't wrong, although he stopped just short, if I'm not mistaken, of saying that he had actually witnessed him black out.
PEREZ: He said he didn't. That's right.
And so what he's trying to prove is that Kavanaugh lied to the committee, basically.
PEREZ: Right. And keep in mind, the lack of candor is an important issue.
PEREZ: It is an important issue for lawyers, certainly an important issue for a judge. And -- but if you take a couple of steps back here, there's the former deputy FBI Director Andy McCabe, who got fired from his job for his lack of candor and is -- now may well be charged by the FBI.
Keep in mind there's a lot of other issues here that the FBI and everybody involved has to pay attention to.
BLITZER: Let me get Senator Bob Menendez's reaction.
Senator, you are one of 100 senators that later this week, if all goes according to Mitch McConnell's plan, you are going to have to vote yea or nay. I know you're going to vote against confirmation.
What was your reaction to what we heard from his Yale University classmate?
MENENDEZ: Well, it just made the case why a full and thorough investigation is necessary.
It goes to credibility. It goes to his honesty before the committee. And if in fact he was an excessive drinker, to the point he says he would fall asleep, but not black out, but maybe he blacked out, then maybe some of these incidences are true, that other incidences that have been raised are true.
I think it goes to the very essence of why a full and thorough investigation is necessary. But we have the Republican leader in the Senate ramming this through. They tried to get it through even before Jeff Flake finally raised the concern about having an FBI review.
Now, before we even have the FBI review, McConnell has said he's going to have a vote. This is just simply not the way that we appoint someone for a lifetime position to the highest court in the land that will make crucial decisions that affect all of us.
The Supreme Court deserves much better than this. BLITZER: Senator Menendez, thank you so much for joining us.
MENENDEZ: Thank you.
BLITZER: All right, Sabrina is with us as well.
Sabrina, this is a sensitive issue, because you heard Jeff Flake say, among others, say that if in fact he lied under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Kavanaugh, that's the end of the game, as far as he's concerned.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, "THE GUARDIAN": Absolutely.
And you have two different portraits of Brett Kavanaugh that have emerged. There's his version of his youth where he says occasionally that he had one -- a couple, too many beers, but that he never engaged in any form of excessive drinking.
But you had multiple former classmates, some of whom were friends with Brett Kavanaugh, say otherwise, that there were times where he really did drink into excess.
And I think it is important, because people like Senator Flake, as well as Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, are looking for some of those discrepancies in Kavanaugh's testimony.
I think, if there's anything that's going to change their mind at this stage, it is going to be if they do believe that he lied or misled the Senate Judiciary Committee while under oath. And some people say that the drinking isn't really relevant to the case, but that is very much central to the allegations, that he was inebriated at the time and perhaps it would make his account less credible if, in fact, there was reason to believe that he's the one who may have had a memory lapse, not Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
TOOBIN: But is it really fair...
BLITZER: Go ahead, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: Well, is it really fair to Judge Kavanaugh that he says, I drank to excess sometimes, the friend says, well, he was really drunk sometimes?
Is that a meaningful distinction that shows he was lying? I mean, I don't think it is. I mean, you know, it is a difference in emphasis, but I just think, in fairness, if that's the biggest discrepancy, that seems fairly minor to me.
SIDDIQUI: Well, I think the question he was specifically asked was whether or not he ever drank to the point that he blacked out. And that's what I believe he denied when he was testifying. The question is does he perhaps remember some of these alleged
incidents that either Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has alleged or Deborah Ramirez has said that he exposed himself to her while he was inebriated?
There's drinking a little bit too much and then there's perhaps not remembering some of the incidents.
BLITZER: Well, he says he never blacked out, but he did fall asleep.
MUDD: I'm with team Toobin on this one. Let's be clear about the difference between what's going on and what Senator Menendez said, because I think he is dead wrong.
The Senate is trying the say this is a difficult case and we expect the FBI to come up with answers so we can make a tough decision. Here's the tough decision. The judge said things in the hearing that don't accord to what the friends are saying.
The FBI is not going to solve that for senators. They have got to look in the mirror and say, do we want to vote or not?
BORGER: And they have to decide what it is about.
Is it about sexual assault, or is it about, as Evan was saying, lack of candor, not telling the truth to the committee? And, you know, the Democrats, who are -- don't want the approve him anyway, are going to say, look, it is both, and the Republicans -- now, we will see what Jeff Flake does and we will see what Murkowski and Collins do.
I mean, senators don't like to be lied to, and you're testifying under oath and you are going to the Supreme Court. So it is not a minor -- it is not a minor thing. The question is should this stop him from getting to the Supreme Court, which is what I think Jeffrey's question is? The sexual assault is a separate matter.
TOOBIN: But we have so many people that you could talk to about this issue.
TOOBIN: And that's what makes this Friday deadline so crazy.
BORGER: I agree.
TOOBIN: I mean, FBI investigations in the normal course -- and this is hardly a trivial matter -- they take weeks. And what's the rush here?
I mean, the rush here is that Mitch McConnell has a political desire to beat the midterms, but that's not a legitimate concern when you are talking about the future of the Supreme Court.
BLITZER: I want to go to Jean Casarez, our correspondent. She's in North Carolina over at Chad Ludington's place.
We just heard what he had to say. What are you hearing over there, Jean?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of questions at him.
And, first of all, I asked him if he had ever specifically seen the judge pass out during the college days, black out. And he said that, no, he had not. And I said, well, his college roommate who said that he went to sleep with him and saw him when he came home and was up when he got up in the morning, that he said that he had never seen him black out.
And I see that Mr. Ludington is out of his house again right now. But he said that his ex-friend, meaning Dan Murphy, the ex-roommate at Yale of the judge, he said he's lying, he's a liar.
So then I said specifically, what did he lie, Kavanaugh, about under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee? He said, well, he didn't explain the extent of his drinking, what I saw. And I said, well, he admitted he drank, he admitted that everything he wasn't proud of, and he said, well, he didn't go far enough.
I said, so in other words there are omissions that he made during his testimony? In other words, he didn't go to the full extent? And he said yes.
So he couldn't specifically pinpoint an out-and-out lie, but taking an omission as not going far enough when he's under oath -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Quickly, I see he's still speaking. I don't know if he's speaking to a reporter back there. He said he's only going the make one statement, but be precise.
I know he has contacted the FBI. He wants to give them some sort of statement. Has he been formally questioned by FBI agents as part of this new background check?
CASAREZ: It doesn't look like it. He just read his statement that he had issued yesterday.
He ended it with saying, this is what I would like to tell the FBI, and then it was asked, have you given a statement to the FBI? And he just turned around and kept walking. So it doesn't appear as though he did.
BLITZER: Yes. All right. Well, if you get some more information, we are going to come back to you, Jean Casarez, reporting from North Carolina.
Is the FBI -- Evan, you cover the FBI for us. Are they going to be able to complete their investigation by Wednesday or Thursday? Because we know Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, he wants a final vote, I think, on Friday, so that all of the senators can get out of town and have a long weekend, Columbus Day weekend.
PEREZ: I do think that there's a lot that they can do in a week.
Now, to Jeffrey's point, I mean, if they come across a witness on -- let's say, on Thursday who gives them a lot of new information to -- for them to follow up on, that's where having a deadline like this is a difficult thing for the FBI.
But I do think that they can do a lot of this work by then. I mean, look, the initial list, right, was Mark Judge, who has now, according to his lawyer, sat down for an interview with the FBI, although he says it has not been completed.
There's Leland Keyser, who said she -- her lawyer has said that she has been interviewed, and Patrick Smyth also has been interviewed. Those are the three people, in addition to Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, allegedly, who were inside --
BLITZER: And Deborah Ramirez. The other woman from the --
PEREZ: -- the room. Right, and Deborah Ramirez, who's another accuser. But again, those first three were at this party that's in question. Correct?
And so now we have those four people, who have been interviewed, and it's only been since Friday. Right? So it is possible that the FBI could do a lot of this work before Friday.
The question is, and again to Jeffrey's point, is you know, when you have such a tight deadline, whether -- if you have new information, will the FBI be able to go to the White House and say, "Look, we just need more time"? That's the question.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And then, you know, you heard -- you heard Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader today, saying, "Well, they're going to move the goalposts. This is what's going to occur."
And this is what Republicans will charge, if the FBI were to come back and say, "You know what? We have some more leads. We're not done. We need some more time," or go in two different directions, for example, sexual assault and the question of his candor before the committee.
You know, the Republicans are going to charge, "That wasn't -- that wasn't what we tasked you to do. We tasked you to do one thing. We tasked you to find out about sexual assault."
BLITZER: Go ahead, Jeffrey.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: And well, just the other issue, you know, the -- if the interviews are completed by Friday, aren't the senators supposed to look at what they found?
BORGER: Yes. Yes.
TOOBIN: I mean the interviews are finished on Friday and then they just vote? I mean, the point of this is so that the senators can evaluate the information.
The idea that they sort of finish it on Friday morning, and the Senate votes on Friday, you know, right afterwards, what's the point of that if they can't even look at what was found and ask follow-up questions if necessary?
I mean, it's just this crazy sprint that is being done for political, not investigatory reasons.
BLITZER: Yes, Phil, you read James Comey, the fired FBI director's, op-ed in "The New York Times" in which he said the FBI, they've got a lot of manpower, women power. They can go out there and get the job done within a week if they -- they're determined to do so.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Sort of. I'm again with Jeff. This is too fast. They can get it done if you have a very narrow scope.
We're not spending five days looking at who was -- who was Judge Kavanaugh in high school and college. You can't do that in five days. If they're just looking at the several allegations of assault and talking to the immediate circle, I suppose so.
But, remember, to get that report over there on Friday morning they've got to spend some time collating it, looking at every sentence. Five days is not really five days. Initially, they had to locate people who I assume are across the United States.
So the most interesting thing I'm watching, in addition to the report, is I bet there're going to be a cover letter. And if I'm the FBI director, I'm very clear in the cover letter about what the FBI did not try to do in that time period. They're going to try to make sure everybody knows this was pretty limited.
BLITZER: And it comes down to two or three, or maybe four U.S. senators, because everybody else basically, Sabrina, has made up his or her mind.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, "THE GUARDIAN": Absolutely. And this is where the clout that Jeff Flake, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski is considerable, because obviously, Jeff Flake did say he wanted a weeklong investigation that was limited in scope. But at the same time he and Collins and Murkowski are saying that they believe investigators should be able to follow their leads. They don't want too many constraints on the investigation and its outcome. They're going to want to have time also to review the findings.
So if Mitch McConnell does push forward with a vote by the end of the week, do these senators feel like they have enough information to make an assessment as to whether or not they should confirm Brett Kavanaugh to what is a lifetime position on the Supreme Court?
BORGER: You know, to Jeffrey's point and to your point, it has to be done by Thursday. I mean, they -- people have to read it, and this is -- you know, this is reams and reams of information.
PEREZ: There's only four people who have to read it.
BORGER: Well, that might be true.
PEREZ: The others have already made up their mind.
BORGER: Exactly, but they're going to want to read it, because they're going to want to use it if they -- you know, to convince others.
And you have Jeff Flake saying, look, if he lied before the committee, it's gone. And they have to go in there and read it for themselves. It's not like they passed it out on -- and they Xerox it and they pass it around the Senate. So they're going to have to go in. They're going to have to read it for themselves.
And you know how these things are done. They're just kind of stream of consciousness, right? I mean, this is what this person said in this interview. So it's not as if there's a Cliff's Notes here. And this takes -- this takes time if you're taking your job seriously.
BLITZER: It's called a 302, these reports, these background checks. Phil used to work in the FBI. What us through what this report is going to look like.
[18:35:05] MUDD: Look, the 302s are the interviews. You're supposed to go into an interview and write a version of a sort of transcript. This is a fact-based report that the Senate should be getting.
Let's be clear. It's not about judging whether the judge, Judge Kavanaugh, was truthful in the hearing or not. It's not about judging whether testify witness is truthful. It's about saying, "This is what people said on the issues you asked us to speak about."
So I think the senators, I'm going to guess, are going to sit there and say, "I didn't get everything I wanted from the FBI. It didn't scratch my itch." And again, they've got to look in the mirror and say -- Jeff Flake, for example, "Is hearing this but also hearing the friends who say he lied, Judge Kavanaugh lied, is that enough for me to say no?"
BORGER: Yes. And they've got a different interpretation of what they're reading.
PEREZ: You know, the FBI interviewers and the people who write these reports also, look, if they have a witness who tells them, in addition to their questions, that tells them specifically that they believe that Judge Kavanaugh was not fully -- did not give full candor in that -- in his testimony, what are you going to do? Are you going to ignore that? You have to put that in. I mean, it's not something you can ignore.
TOOBIN: You know, this is actually a controversy that's gone back for several years. The whole institution of 302s are actually somewhat controversial.
PEREZ: Right. TOOBIN: Because the FBI has long had a policy that they don't tape-
record interviews and that the only record is the 302. Well, those are just summaries, and there are often controversies about what's in a 302 and what's left out and whether the agent correctly recorded what was said. So that, too, could come up in all of this, because 302s are not transcripts.
TOOBIN: They are not verbatim. They are summaries. And what's in and what's out and whether it's accurate or where it's not, all of that has been controversial in the past.
BLITZER: You know, but Jeffrey, you heard Evan say that the three witnesses who were supposedly at that party where he allegedly assaulted Professor Ford -- P.J. Smyth, Leland Keyser and Mark Judge -- they've already been questioned now by the FBI. The FBI wants, according to Mark Judge's lawyer, Mark Judge's lawyer wants to do another round of questioning with him.
If all three of them come back and say, "We have no recollection of this allegation that Professor Ford has leveled. We didn't see that happen. We have no memory of that," what does that -- what does that do to this investigation?
TOOBIN: It probably means he's confirmed. If you are a senator who wants to take a narrow look at the issue of sexual assault exclusively and -- you know, Judge Kavanaugh was pretty misleading in his testimony when he said those three exonerated him and said it didn't take place. Obviously, Mark Judge certainly said it did not take place.
The other two simply said -- and as I understand they're continuing to say -- they are unaware of this -- of any such assault. But that's very different from saying that it didn't take place at all.
But certainly, if you are a senator looking for reasons to vote "yes" the way Susan Collins appears to have been looking for reasons to vote "yes," those three witnesses might be enough for you, and you're not interested in drinking and you're not interested in, you know, blackouts or not blackouts. So, again, it depends on what perspective you have going into the process, what conclusions you reach.
BLITZER: You know, if the FBI is asking these questions of these three people who were there at that party, and they say, "We don't have any recollection of that. I don't remember that. I didn't see that," what does the FBI ask next? Is it just that statement and then they move on?
MUDD: Heck, no. I'd ask a bunch of questions. What's the environment at the party? That's where the drinking issue comes in. What's the likelihood that people there would have a clear recollection of this? What was the environment that summer and through high school, including in instances when Judge Kavanaugh was present?
What did people talk about when they spoke about women and men, or boys and girls, actually, interacting in these parties?
The other thing I'm asking is who also knows? I want to get one step away from them at least and say who else do you know, in the event that you're talking to someone who either wants to attack Judge Kavanaugh or who wants to protect him.
BORGER: What about -- what about --
BLITZER: Hold on. Jeffrey, you were saying what?
TOOBIN: I was just -- I was just agreeing with Phil, particularly on his last point, which is who else was around in this period? Who did you see hanging out with Brett Kavanaugh? Tell us names.
I mean, that's how you do an investigation, is you find out people to talk to.
You ask about the phone. Now, obviously, you're talking about pre- mail, pre- pre-cellphones, but, you know, were there any phone calls? Were there any letters? Was there any documenting, did anyone take photographs? These are the questions that a thorough investigation pursues.
BORGER: Well, and what about the other -- you know, the other women? I mean, they were not a subject at the hearings --
PEREZ: Keep in mind, by the way --
BORGER: -- but they are investigating -- they are investigating at least Ms. Ramirez, correct? So that's a whole other can of worms.
PEREZ: Just to bring it back to the politics of this, remember that the Democrats have already said that, no matter what happens, if they take over the House, they are going to investigate how this was done. So we're going to have an investigation of the investigation, because this is Washington in 2018, and things never end.
[18:40:08] SIDDIQUI: And, look, the Senate Republicans --
SIDDIQUI: -- can only afford to lose one vote here. And so this is where it will be interesting to see if Flake, Collins and Murkowski feel like they have enough information.
Because one of the challenges that was raised when they called for a limited investigation that was only one week in nature was whether or not they were doing this, or this move was designed for political cover. That by endorsing an FBI investigation, they could then, at the end of what is a very expedited FBI investigation, say, "Well, they looked into it. Nothing has really changed since what we heard from the hearing." Therefore, we feel confident in, albeit reluctantly, voting to affirm Kavanaugh. Now, obviously, if the FBI indicates that it needs more time, that
there are other witnesses that they might want to agree, that there are follow-up interviews that need to done, then it becomes an open- ended question as to whether Flake, Murkowski and Collins make some sort of unified statement.
BORGER: Well, it's got to be unified, and that's -- and that's really the key. And they've been talking to each other constantly. And I think that -- I think that they will do something together, if they -- if they do something.
I think, however, Democrats I spoke to today are sort of saying, "Look, Flake is going to be a 'yes.' He wants to get to 'yes.' We know that he wants to get to 'yes'."
Murkowski, they're not so sure about. Collins, sort of somewhere -- somewhere in the middle. So they're not quite clear how they -- how they get to unity, but they know they're trying to. They know that they're -- that they're trying to.
And I -- look, I think it depends, again, on what the FBI comes up with. And when Flake, Murkowski and Collins go look at this stuff, what do they do? What do they feel? Do they feel they've been lied to? That's what Jeff Flake was talking about on "60 Minutes" last night, right? That's -- that's a no-go for him.
So there's -- you know, there's a long way for this to unspool itself still, and it's -- it's only Monday.
BLITZER: Yes, this was -- this was -- this was exactly what Mitch McConnell was worried about. You give it another week, who knows what's going to happen during the course of that week?
BORGER: He's a smart man.
BLITZER: Everybody stand by. We're staying on top of the breaking news. Much more right after this.
[18:46:42] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: This hour, we're learning more about the FBI investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as key witnesses are being interviewed about the allegations against the Supreme Court nominee.
In just a few moments ago, you saw it live here in THE SITUATION ROOM, a former college classmate spoke out, describing how he saw Kavanaugh, quote, quite drunk when they both were students at Yale University.
Let's bring back our analysts as we're covering the breaking news angles of the story.
I want you to listen, Jeffrey Toobin, the president earlier in the day saying that Judge Kavanaugh has been treated unfairly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Certainly, if they find something I'm going to take that into consideration, absolutely. I have a very open mind. The person that takes that position is going to be there for a long time. I have a very open mind.
I just think he's an outstanding person. I think he has been treated horribly. Even if you were going to bring up some of the subjects that were brought up, they didn't have to treat him so viciously and so violently as they've treated him. What his family has gone through, the trauma for a man that's never had any accusation, any -- he's never had a bad statement about him. It is unfair to him at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What did you think, Jeffrey?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Vicious and violent? I didn't see any vicious and violence. You know, politics ain't bean bag. I mean, this is a tough situation and I certainly feel for his family.
But the -- the always-present fact when Donald Trump talks about any sort of sexual harassment, sexual violence, is there's utterly no concern for the woman, for the victim. I mean, if you believe, as he has said, that Dr. Ford was a sympathetic person, what about a word of sympathy for her? Never. Whether it is Bill O'Reilly or any of these people, he's always sympathetic to the alleged harasser and never to the alleged victim.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: I think that Jeffrey's point is spot-on. He defended Roy Moore up until the very end. You know, just last week he spoke about the fact that he's been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen women, has really shaped how he views the Kavanaugh controversy, and he went into, of course, a long tirade trying to discredit his own accusers and he was trying to do the same in terms of those women who come forward against Kavanaugh.
But at the same time, he said an open mind, so there's some reports that he is privately souring on Kavanaugh. So, I think a lot depends on the investigation and how it plays out.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Trump was completely off message when it came to Kavanaugh. I've got an open mind, and then he said he's had a little bit of difficulty. He talked about things that happened when he drank. Well, actually, he didn't talk about things that happen when he drank. When he was asked, did you blackout? He turned to Senator Klobuchar and said, no, have you ever blacked out.
So he didn't actually answer those questions whereas the president said he did.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So, I think the president not being on message was even more of a problem yes he said he thought, you know, he would be fine with the FBI interviewing Brett Kavanaugh. Let me tell you, that is not the answer that Brett Kavanaugh's team wants and certainly did not want from the president at that press conference at that moment.
BLITZER: Yes, you heard the president also go after the Democrats, mentioned several by names.
[18:50:04] But he also mentioned an unnamed Democrat. He said he's got compromising information about this Democrat that he's not ready to release it. He didn't name the Democrat. But that Democrat better watch out.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: That's right, like he's got the Comey tapes as well. I mean, we want see what he's talking -- is he making a suggestion somebody committed something illegal?
One closing thought by the way on this. The president said Kavanaugh was treated unfairly. I agree with the president, so was Dr. Wood. The Senate had the easy option to say there's an open investigation and new information --
BLITZER: You mean Dr. Ford?
MUDD: Dr. Ford, yes.
There's an open investigation, and we have information that should lead to reopen. Now we're supposed to say Coons and Jeff Flake did a wonderful job piecing this back together. Absolutely not. They should have followed the process earlier so that circus on Thursday never had to happen.
BORGER: Do you think that Feinstein should have released this July when Dr. Ford asked it be kept private?
MUDD: No, she should have said, I'd like you to be interviewed by the FBI, these allegations relate to the nomination process, done.
BLITZER: What did you think, Jeffrey, of his suggestion that he's got some compromising information about a Democrat who's been outspoken on this issue? He said he's not ready to release it.
TOOBIN: Well, you know, he studied at the knee of Roy Cohn who was one of the architects of McCarthyism. And to suggest, you know, I hold in my hand, like Joe McCarthy said, you know, so many names of people at the State Department who are disloyal was all fiction, it was all lies. And that's how Roy Cohn made his name as a lawyer. That's who Donald Trump studied with, the blind accusation that some United States senator has a skeleton in his or her closet is in keeping with his mentor.
BORGER: Then he attacked people by name. He went out and did that, it's very Trumpian. I mean, we heard it all during the campaign. This is sort of his characteristic, and whether it's real or not real, we'll never know, but he's probably telling people at the White House who it is. BLITZER: We're going to hear a lot more, I'm sure.
Just ahead, there's more news, Russians reacting to see Vladimir Putin baring his chest and his love of animals in the pages of a brand new official Russian calendar.
[18:56:57] BLITZER: Tonight, Russians are getting an eye full of their president as a pinup model. Vladimir Putin's annual calendar has just been published and it shows the Kremlin boss in a variety of poses, some with animals, others without his shirt.
Our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is joining us live from Moscow right now.
So, Fred, tell us more about this Putin calendar and the reaction to it?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPODENT: Yes, Wolf, it's usually around this time of year that the Vladimir Putin calendar comes out, and they're always a popular item here in Russia. They always sell very well, and, of course, many Russians here, you know, they are quite interested in what sort of poses there's going to be, what sort of settings their president is going to be in. And certainly, this year, like in most years, Vladimir Putin did not disappoint.
Here's what's coming out.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): The Kremlin cover man is back. Brand new 2019 Vladimir Putin calendars fresh on the stands in Russia. And many Russians proud of their president's posture.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I think not many countries have a president as strong as ours. I think many people like to have such a president in their countries. It's always good to see and hear from our president. His statements and appearances are always so well done.
PLEITGEN: There's Putin with a pup, Putin with a cub, Putin on a horse in winter, and even colder, Putin taking the epiphany dip in ice water.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If a foreigner buys this calendar, they will have a good impression of our president, they will see he can do it all. He loves animals. He can shoot. He looks good and loves sports.
PLEITGEN: A nearly omnipotent president. That is how Putin is portrayed.
Whether it's at international summits like earlier this year with President Donald Trump or taking his top officials for a tour of the hills and rivers in the Siberian outback, Putin is the one leading the show leading the pack.
But despite the fact that the Kremlin controls much of the media in Russia, Putin's popularity has declined recently, because of a bad economy and an unpopular pension reform. New calendars important to help shore up the image of a strong leader and a man of the people.
Shop and kiosk owners we spoke to say this batch will sell out fairly quickly as well, but there's always a strong supply of calendars for those who miss out now, once again, giving Russians and many tourists a glossy reminder of the brains, the brawn, the bravado and, of course, the beef of President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
PLEITGEN: And, apparently, there's people not just in Russia but especially in Russia, Wolf, who want to see that all year round in their kitchen or wherever else. They want to hang up that calendar, and the shop owners we spoke to say it's already selling pretty well, even though as we just noted, their popularity ratings taking somewhat of a dip here in this country, Wolf.
BLITZER: Interesting indeed. I like to get a copy of that calendar. If you can send over here, we'd love to see it.
All right, Fred. thank you very much.
Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.