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White House: Trump 'Stating the Facts' While Mocking Sexual Assault Accuser; FBI Report on Kavanaugh Expected Soon; Ford Still Not Interviewed by FBI. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 3, 2018 - 17:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: You can tweet the show, @TheLeadCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching.

[17:00:10] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Limiting the FBI. The White House expects to get the new FBI report on the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at any moment. And it denies limiting the probe, even though Kavanaugh and his accuser have not been interviewed. What will the investigation reveal?

Denying disparagement. The White House says President Trump was, quote, "stating the facts" when he mocked Kavanaugh's accuser at a rally. Republican senators critical of the confirmation are condemning his remarks. Is the president hurting his own cause?

The key three. Senators Collins, Murkowski and Flake will decide the fate of Kavanaugh and the nomination; and CNN has learned they've been consulting with the White House on the scope of the FBI investigation. Will the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, hold off on a vote until they're satisfied?

And Trump's declining wealth. The president's prize place on a list of the richest Americans falls for a third consecutive year, a sore spot for the image-obsessed billionaire, following a bombshell report claiming the Trump fortune was built on tax schemes and fraud. Is the Trump brand taking a hit?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news. Findings from the highly- anticipated FBI investigation into the sexual assault and misconduct allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh. They're expecting over at the White House at any time, with the Senate to receive them shortly thereafter.

And the White House is denying the president mocked Kavanaugh's accuser at a rally, saying he was, quote, "stating the facts," even though key Republican senators are calling his remarks appalling and wrong.

I'll speak about that and more with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. And our correspondents, analysts and specialists are also standing by.

First, let's get straight to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, the White House is defending the president's mockery of the woman who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her decades ago.


The White House is not only defending President Trump's obvious mocking of Christine Blasey Ford; aides to the president are calling the falsehood that the president wasn't mocking her to begin with. It's just the latest example of the White House playing fast and loose with the facts.


ACOSTA (voice-over): It was a stunning moment. With a crowd of supporters laughing along, President Trump, incredibly, mocked Christine Blasey Ford, the accuser who says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her.


"I don't remember."

"How did you get there?"

"I don't remember."

"Where is the place?"

"I don't remember."

"How many years ago was it?"

"I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know!"

"What neighborhood was it in?"

"I don't know."

"Where's the house?"

"I don't know."

"Upstairs, downstairs, where was it?"

"I don't know. But I had one beer. That's the only thing I remember."

And a man's life is in tatters. A man's life is shattered.

ACOSTA: The White House response: to deny reality and try to convince the public the president was only stating facts.

(on camera): Isn't there something wrong with the president of the United States mocking somebody who says she was sexually assaulted? SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It seemed to me that he

was stating facts that Dr. Ford herself laid out in her testimony. Once again, every single word that Judge Kavanaugh has said has been looked at, examined, picked apart by most of you in this room.

ACOSTA (voice-over): One big problem with the president's performance: He had just praised Ford as credible less than a week ago.

(on camera): What did you think of Dr. Ford's testimony?

TRUMP: I thought her testimony was very compelling. But certainly, she was a very credible witness. She was very good in many respects.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Key GOP senators who may ultimately decide Kavanaugh's fate aren't laughing.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I thought it was, obviously, insensitive and appalling, frankly. There's no time and place, particularly, to discuss something so sensitive at a political rally. It's just -- it's wrong.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: The president's comments were just plain wrong.

ACOSTA: Still the president appears to be following the lead of Kavanaugh's fiercest defenders like Senator Lindsey Graham, who are portraying the judge as the victim. But even Graham was critical of the president's comments.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't like what the president said last night. I'm the first person to say I want to hear from Dr. Ford. I thought she was handled respectfully. I thought Kavanaugh was treated like crap.


GRAHAM: Yes. Well, boo yourself.

ACOSTA: The president is all but attempting to start his #HeToo movement, saying he, too, can relate to accusations of sexual assault.

[17:05:04] TRUMP: Think of your son. Think of your husband. Think -- I've had many false accusations. I've had it all -- I've had so many. And when I say it didn't happen, nobody believes me.

ACOSTA: Even as his top aides are making the case that Ford has perhaps been handled too delicately.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: She's been treated like a Faberge egg by all of us, beginning with me and the president.


ACOSTA: Now Christine Blasey Ford's legal team says she stands by her testimony, but as of earlier today, Ford's team said she had not spoken with FBI agents who are expected to release their expanded background check on Kavanaugh to the White House and then the Senate as early as later on this evening, Wolf. We don't have an exact timing as to when that report will come out.

But Wolf, getting back to the White House denying this reality that the president was mocking Christine Blasey-Ford last night, even Lindsey Graham was critical of what the president said last night. And just last week, as you recall, Sarah Sanders was tweeting, "God bless Lindsey Graham" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta at the White House. Thank you.

Let's go to Capitol Hill right now. CNN congressional correspondent Sunlen Serfaty is on the story for us.

Sunlen, when should senators expect to receive this FBI report?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, likely very soon, Wolf. Potentially at any moment, according to multiple sources up here on Capitol Hill and those close to the process.

Now, once the White House gets this report, we likely will -- believe it will be sent to Capitol Hill in less than an hour. And after that, the expectation is that all 100 senators will have access to this. They will be able to sit down and read it in a secure location.

And at this hour yet it is not known whether parts of that will be made public or all of it kept private tonight.

Now very soon after that, the person to watch is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He has been very clear that he intends to move very quickly on this, to essentially start the procedural wheels turning.

Now, his first move would be filing cloture tonight on the Senate floor. If the report comes out, and we believe that it likely will tonight, we expect to see the majority leader set up that vote. And that means potential Friday cloture vote.

Now that is the vote to watch. That is the one where we will see what senators will vote for Brett Kavanaugh, what senators will not vote for Kavanaugh. And that sets up, potentially, a final vote, likely, on Sunday. But likely -- could not underscore enough, Wolf, how tonight everything is certainly fluid and certainly depends on the timing of that FBI report that everyone is bracing for up here on Capitol Hill.

BLITZER: And a lot depends on those three key Republican senators, who were deeply angry. They're angry about President Trump's mocking Christine Blasey Ford last night. Could it impact their vote?

SERFATY: It absolutely could. And that's why we're watching each and every one of those Republican senators' words so very closely up here on the Hill today.

And at least one of those senators, a key voice, Lisa Murkowski, indicated that she likely would be taking the president's comments into consideration as she deliberates over her ultimate decision. Murkowski saying that she's not happy. She called the president's comments inappropriate and unacceptable, and she said she's looking at everything as she inches toward her final decision.

And I think it cannot be overstated how we're talking about the FBI report, all these accusations, all the back and forth, all of the politics. This, at the end of the day, comes down to such a very, very small group of people. We're talking about three undecided Republican senators, and to some extent two undecided Democratic senators.

And certainly, the feeling among Republican leadership tonight here, Wolf, is that as they're trying to get people in line and trying to make them feel comfortable about their votes for or against Brett Kavanaugh, that certainly, the president's comments just did not help.

BLITZER: All right, Sunlen, thank you. Sunlen Serfaty on Capitol Hill.

Let's get some more on the FBI investigation. Our justice correspondent Jessica Schneider is working that part of the story, as well.

Jessica, there's new information, I take it, about who the FBI has interviewed.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. New information about who they have interviewed but notably also who they have not interviewed.

So Christine Blasey Ford's attorneys, they're complaining that she still hasn't been contacted by the FBI. And now top Democrat Dianne Feinstein, she's saying any FBI investigation that doesn't encompass views with both Ford or Brett Kavanaugh, she's saying it won't be credible.

But the White House counsel's office has decided that both of their sworn testimony is enough. While at the same time tonight, the FBI's list of interviews, it has expanded slightly.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Tonight as senators wait for word from the FBI, the bureau's background investigation has expanded beyond the interviews the FBI was initially directed to conduct.

Special agents are talking to additional people about a July 1, 1982, party that was listed on Kavanaugh's high school calendar. Already interviewed: two people allegedly at that party, Tim Gaudet, who's referred to as "Timmy" and who hosted the get-together, plus Chris Garrett, another Georgetown Prep student who Ford says she went out with for a few months.



SCHNEIDER: Democrats have pointed to the July 1 get-together as possibly the same party where Ford says she was sexually assaulted, even though Ford has not been able to provide a date of the alleged assault.

[17:10:12] SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Here are all those three named boys and others at a house together, just as she said. She said Kavanaugh and Judge were drunk and that she had a beer.

SCHNEIDER: At least two others listed on Kavanaugh's calendar for that date have already been interviewed: Mark Judge and P.J. Smyth, plus Leland Keyser, who Ford said was at the party where she alleges she was assaulted. All have previously denied any recollection of the party or any incident. But what they told the FBI is unknown.

Kavanaugh's second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, has also been interviewed by the FBI, concerning her claim that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a Yale dorm party. The FBI may also be interviewing Yale classmates who could corroborate portions of Ramirez's story.

Ramirez's attorney says the FBI has the names of more than 20 witnesses who could provide information but only a small number of them may actually have witnessed the alleged incident.

KAVANAUGH: Mark Judge.

SCHNEIDER: At a hearing last month, Kavanaugh deflected questions about a character in Mark Judge's memoir named Bart O'Kavanaugh, who got sick in someone's car after a night of drinking.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Are you the Bart Kavanaugh that he's referring to? Yes or no?

KAVANAUGH: You'd have to ask him.

SCHNEIDER: But "The New York Times" obtained a 1983 letter Kavanaugh wrote to fellow classmates about a Beach Week trip in Ocean City, Maryland. Kavanaugh signed off as "Bart" after writing, "Warn the neighbors that we're loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us."

Meanwhile, a long-time friend of Christine Blasey Ford is disputing a statement from Ford's ex-boyfriend that claims Ford coached that friend on how to pass a polygraph test. Monica McLean is a retired FBI agent who says the allegations are completely false and is furious that her reputation has been called into question.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley sent a letter to Ford's attorneys Tuesday, demanding more information about Ford's own polygraph, saying, "The full details of Dr. Ford's polygraph examination are particularly important, because the Senate Judiciary Committee has received a sworn statement from a long-time boyfriend of Dr. Ford's stating that he personally witnessed Dr. Ford coaching a friend on polygraph examinations." Ford's legal team says she stands by her testimony.

MITCHELL: Have you ever given tips or advice to somebody who was looking to take a polygraph test?



SCHNEIDER: So tonight, even with more people being questioned, interviewed, the question does remain: Will it be enough for the senators who are crucial to this "yes" vote? Like Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Jeff Flake, especially, Wolf, given all of these outstanding questions about Kavanaugh's candor? How exactly will that affect this vote, especially as we await this FBI report.

BLITZER: Yes. We should know soon enough. Thanks very much, Jessica Schneider with that report.

Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now, Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. She's a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.


BLITZER: You told reporters earlier today that you passed along a letter to the FBI from one of your constituents regarding the Kavanaugh investigation. Can you tell us more about that?

GILLIBRAND: I passed on the letter to the FBI of someone who wants to be interviewed, who has relevant information, and has asked to be part of this further background check.

BLITZER: And what -- do you know if the FBI has agreed to interview this person?

GILLIBRAND: Up until now, no. And that's why I forwarded the request. Because this individual has been asking a lawyer to do that work for her, and it's not been done.

BLITZER: But do you know -- has this individual shared with you the details?


BLITZER: All right. So you don't know how serious these details might be?

GILLIBRAND: Yes, and I've also heard of other witnesses who have asked to come forward with relevant information that have not been followed up. People who have information from Yale, people who have substantiating information and relevant information.

BLITZER: So based on what you know, is the FBI doing a thorough investigation as we speak?

GILLIBRAND: Unfortunately, I don't believe they are. The fact that they were limited on who they could talk to, the fact that they don't have the authority to even go back to Judge Kavanaugh if they have further questions, in light of these additional interviews, the fact that they can't even go back to Dr. Ford if they want to. That doesn't sound like the complete, thorough investigation that, frankly, senators deserve and would be due if you had a thorough background check.

BLITZER: We're told that this FBI report maybe momentarily, very soon, as early as later today, will be released to the White House, then to the senators. How much time do you believe senators will need to go through this FBI report before the procedural voting begins in the Senate?

GILLIBRAND: Well if it's as thin as we fear, then it won't take a long time. And the concern I have is that they haven't taken the time to do this thoughtfully and to do this thoroughly.

[17:15:08] I'd like to see the floor plans, for example, of Timmy's house. I'd like to know if it's consistent with what Dr. Blasey-Ford said. I'd like to know what those other people say. I'd like to know what the other classmates from Yale have said. I'd like to know the details of the text messages that Judge Kavanaugh sent to classmates at Yale before the "New Yorker" article came out about Dr. -- about Ms. Ramirez's allegations.

So, there's a lot of questions I personally have. And if the answers or at least facts related to them aren't even in this FBI report, I'm concerned it won't do the work it's supposed to do to answer some of these basic factual questions.

BLITZER: It appears, at least as of now, Senator, that the report, the FBI report, will only be made available to the White House and to senators. Should the results of this investigation be made available to the American public?

GILLIBRAND: I believe they should. I think these are extraordinary circumstances. I think the American public intently watched those hearings and heard for themselves Dr. Blasey-Ford's testimony. They heard her talk about what she remembered most, laughing.

They heard Judge Kavanaugh got angry and really disregard senators like Senator Feinstein and Senator Klobuchar in such an inappropriate way. I think they want to know the rest of the information. I think they want to know if these stories are being corroborated by other people. And so I think in this example, it should be made public.

BLITZER: Have you had a chance to speak with Senator Murkowski, Senator Susan Collins, Senator Flake? Those are the three Republicans who are still on the fence. Have you had a chance to speak with them and explain your concerns?

GILLIBRAND: I've certainly talked to all my colleagues, including those three. This is an important moment for America. There are women who are watching what's happening.

The reason why President Trump's comments were so disgraceful is because he was mocking a survivor. And it wasn't just about Dr. Ford. It was about every other survivor in America who heard our president, our commander in chief, mock her with such disdain.

It's been a painful few weeks for a lot of people, certainly in my state, because they're reliving their worst moments, as well. And to have our president be so dismissive and so insulting is not only a slap in the face to Dr. Ford but all survivors and women in general. And it really goes to the core of who he is and whether he values women, and my answer to that is no.

BLITZER: Were you surprised by his mocking of Professor Ford last night?

GILLIBRAND: No, I wasn't surprised by it. I mean, he's denied and mocked people who have forward making allegations against him, multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault. So from his record and what he's done, he doesn't value women. And it's one of the reason why I just oppose so much of what this president is doing. Because what he's trying to do is not going to make America stronger.

BLITZER: You think that moment yesterday, that mocking will have an impact on Senator Murkowski, Senator Collins, for example?

GILLIBRAND: Well, I think they're already showed their own words about how they viewed those comments. I think they're very harmful to anyone who hears them.

BLITZER: Senator Gillibrand, thanks so much for joining us.

GILLIBRAND: Thank you.

BLITZER: There's more breaking news. The White House and the Senate standing by for the FBI investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Kavanaugh.

But with neither the judge nor his accuser interviewed, how comprehensive will this FBI investigation really be?


[17:22:46] BLITZER: The breaking news this hour, a source telling CNN that the White House expects to receive results from the new FBI investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh at any time, that the information will then be sent to Capitol Hill.

Let dig deeper with CNN law enforcement analyst, former FBI supervisory special agent Josh Campbell.

Josh, what have you learned, first of all, about where the FBI is right now in its investigation?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Hi, Wolf. There appears to be conflict, because as the clock continues to tick

on this Friday deadline that Mitch McConnell has instilled here, saying that there will be a vote on the judge this week, no matter what. And then additional information we're hearing to say that the FBI report could come as early as this week. That appears to conflict with sources are telling us that are familiar with the investigation, that say the FBI is still very much in collection mode. They're gathering information, primarily from three different buckets, the first being that first mandate that was provided by the White House to interview these four people as part -- as part of these original allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.

Secondly, there's information that has since come to light during the course of those interviews that the FBI still has to run down and suss out. And then third, all the leads and tips that are coming into the bureau through their tip line, through their online portal and through field office throughout the country.

The question, Wolf, is will they be able to get through those before the clock runs out and provide a full picture of Judge Kavanaugh?

The last piece on that, Wolf, is -- pertains to Dr. Ford. Now, obviously, we've been reporting that she has not been interviewed yet. Sources that we talked to say -- that are familiar with the investigation, that just because the FBI hasn't interviewed her to date doesn't mean that they wouldn't want to interview her later on. In an investigation, sometimes it's typical that you would wait to interview a key witness until later on, after you've gather the full body of evidence.

Again, all eyes go back to that clock. Will the FBI be able to finish this work in a comprehensive way before the Senate votes?

BLITZER: Well, let me ask you and press you, when the FBI investigation is complete, do you expect it will appear to be really comprehensive?

CAMPBELL: So I think if you look at the original mandate, the information that the FBI had to look at from the White House initially, it appears as though that work is done very narrowly.

And I think that's what we may see here as far as the scope of the investigation and what might be going over to the White House and then to the Senate.

But again, that causes and casts into question whether or not there will be this comprehensive review. Because you have all this information that's still out there.

Now, we talked about some of the spinning earlier on from the White House, as far as opening the aperture, but the FBI still has to get permission. What I suspect at the end of this, Wolf, if we're going to find that the White House is saying one thing publicly and one thing privately, and it still is going to cast lingering questions as far as whether this was very comprehensive into these very serious allegations, Wolf. [17:25:16] BLITZER: Yes. Once again, we're expecting that report

very soon. Josh, thank you very much.

CAMPBELL: Thank you.

BLITZER: There's more breaking news ahead as the White House and Senate await this new FBI report on Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Is the FBI's credibility, right now, at stake?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The breaking news: we're awaiting word on whether the FBI has finished its investigation into the sexual assault allegations against the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

[17:30:19] A source close to the process tells CNN the White House expects to receive the results the FBI investigation very soon and that the information will then go to Capitol Hill within an hour of so when it is received at the White House.

Let's talk about this and more with our experts and our analysts. And Phil Mudd, as someone who once worked at the FBI, do you think the FBI could wrap up this part of the investigation without actually sitting down with Judge Kavanaugh or Professor Ford?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: That would surprise me. But there's a couple things I want to see. I hope there are two pieces of the report. That will be the piece on -- the substantive piece about what they found during the interviews. I'd like to see something that was readily available to the general public, and that is, what exactly was the FBI asked to do? What parameters were they given?

I'd say one other thing. Remember, we're talking about 35 years ago with relatively few witnesses back in high school and no digital media. I can't look at your cell phones, your e-mail. For them -- I suspect these witnesses are saying, "I don't remember very much." What are you supposed to tell Judge Kavanaugh? "Nobody remembers anything. You want to change what you said?" And he's going to say no.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Will they do a summary so the -- for the senators.

MUDD: Yes.

BORGER: A Cliff's Notes version?

MUDD: Yes.

BORGER: Because otherwise this is just all hundreds of pages of interview transcript.

MUDD: Yes. Yes, and in fact I'd take a step further. I wouldn't want all the information about the interviews going out. Because the interviewees have a right to anonymity. You can say, "I don't want everybody to know what I told you about my friend, Brett Kavanaugh."

BLITZER: They have a right to privacy. They could redact some of those things as part of -- part of a report.

You know, Gloria, the White House denies that it has limited at all the extent of this FBI investigation. You buy that?

BORGER: Well, we're going to have to wait to see what Phil Mudd is talking about.

But I noticed today when Sarah Sanders was talking, she was trying to have it both ways, it seemed to me. That she said that the president has said -- and the White House has said -- whatever the FBI deems is necessary.

And then she said, "Well, you know, after all, the Senate is determining the scope."

So I don't know. Is it the FBI deeming what's necessary or is the Senate determining the scope or is it both, or is it what the White House wants, which is -- which is what we originally thought?

MUDD: Just one point of technical clarity. Remember, we've said 100 times, this is not a criminal investigation.

BORGER: Right.

MUDD: A branch of the executive -- that is the White House and the Senate -- has gone to the FBI and said, "As a matter of courtesy and professional duty, can you investigate this person, whom we want to nominate?"

BORGER: Right.

MUDD: So they have a right to circumscribe in some sense. It's their nominee. It's not a criminal --

BLITZER: Because if the FBI hears the president of the United States say they have free rein to look into whatever they want, they hear the White house press secretary, Sarah Sanders, as she said today, they can pursue whatever interviews they deem appropriate, can't they take that as instruction?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure and could probably get those interviews done in about an hour. Right?

Because, you know, the whole idea is that is this an investigation or not an investigation?

We're not parsing words here. Phil is absolutely right. And we've discussed this. This is an inquiry, a directive given to the FBI by the executive branch to look into one of their nominees.

It is not to do an investigation on behalf of the Judiciary Committee members to find out exactly what happened. That is not what we're seeing here right now.

And, unfortunately, politics is so woven through this right now, is that Democrats and Republicans both look bad in all of this and, in the end, no one is going to be happy.

BLITZER: Sabrina, is the White House trying to have it both ways?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, "THE GUARDIAN": Well, it's important to remember that neither the White House nor Republicans on Capitol Hill, for that matter, wanted this investigation in the first place. They only ordered the investigation when Senator Jeff Flake said that he would not vote to confirm Kavanaugh absent one, and it appeared that they didn't even have the votes. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski also took a similar position.

I think the question is, by setting this arbitrary one-week deadline, was the bureau, in fact, given the time it needs to, in fact, call and interview all of the witnesses necessary and to follow any leads that may have come its way?

And in terms of the Kavanaugh/Ford question, as Phil said, it's possible that the witnesses they did interview said, "We don't have any recollection of the events," so there may not be much to go back to Ford and Kavanaugh with.

But if any of the witnesses did, in fact, contradict the testimony of either Dr. Ford or Brett Kavanaugh, then there would be real questions as to why the FBI did not follow up with either of them. And we, of course, will have to wait and see if they address the process and the parameters in the report.

BORGER: Well, one thing we have to make clear is the FBI does not draw any conclusions here.


BORGER: They will not come out and say that Brett Kavanaugh is right and that it never happened, or that Dr. Ford is right and it did happen. They're not -- they're not going to do that.

PRESTON: But it will point out any inconsistencies if there are any.

BORGER: Exactly.

PRESTON: And then allow for, of course, Republicans and Democrats to make their own determinations.

BLITZER: You once worked at -- you worked at the FBI.

MUDD: Yes.

BLITZER: Is the FBI's credibility now at stake?

[17:35:05] MUDD: I don't think so, because if you look -- these senators are looking for the FBI to solve their problem for them.

BORGER: Right.

MUDD: They have a difficult vote. Man up and make the vote. They gave the FBI a week. They said go back 35 years on information

that the Senate had midsummer and they failed to pass along to the FBI. And the people who proposed this, as we discussed, said there's very limited information we want you to look at.

How can you tell the FBI you didn't conduct a full background investigation? They didn't have time to do it, and they weren't asked to do it, by the way. So I don't think their credibility is at stake. They weren't asked to do much.

BORGER: So that's why in the end it could be just as muddled from both sides' point of view as it is right now.

MUDD: And I think -- let me be ugly about Washington, D.C. They knew this and some of these senators said we're going to get a he said-she said and then they're going to vote and say the FBI didn't solve this for them. "This is on the FBI, so I've got to go with Judge Kavanaugh."

SIDDIQUI: Some have said that this investigation was designed to give cover to some of those Republicans who are on the fence by giving them the opportunity to say, "Well, we called for and supported an FBI investigation. It was ultimately inconclusive. Therefore, we have no choice but to --"

PRESTON: Three votes. They only need two of them.

BORGER: Well, and it makes -- it makes it easier for red-state Democrats to vote for the nomination, because they can go home to their conservative constituents and say, "Well, you know, we had an FBI investigation; it was inconclusive. So I like Kavanaugh on the issues." That's it.

BLITZER: Everybody stand by. There's more news we're following. The president setting off another political firestorm last night when he mocked Christine Blasey Ford during a political rally in Mississippi. Today the White House insisted he was only, quote, "stating the facts."

And later, the president's standing in the "Forbes" 400 list of wealthiest people in the United States, that standing takes another hit.


[17:41:21] BLITZER: We're back with our experts and our analysts.

And Gloria, just the other day, the president was calling Professor Ford's testimony compelling and credible. But that tone shifted dramatically last night at a political rally. Watch this.



"I don't remember."

"How did you get there?"

"I don't remember."

"Where is the place?"

"I don't remember."

"How many years ago was it?"

"I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know!"

"What neighborhood was it in?"

"I don't know."

"Where's the house?"

"I don't know."

"Upstairs, downstairs, where was it?"

"I don't know. But I had one beer. That's the only thing I remember."


BLITZER: Today the White House insists the president was not mocking Professor Ford, merely stating the facts.

BORGER: First of all, that's ridiculous. Of course he was mocking her. And he wasn't stating the facts.

Secondly, because when he went to the part of this upstairs, downstairs, she knew exactly where she was. She was upstairs. She spoke about how she heard them. She ran into the bathroom, and she heard them coming down the stairs and knocking into the walls kind of in a drunken way. So she knew where she was. She didn't know where the house was, et cetera, et cetera.

So, you know, come on. I mean, you can rationalize things any way you want when you stand at that podium. But the notion that the president wasn't playing to this audience and he wasn't playing for some kind of bizarre laughter is just ludicrous.

SIDDIQUI: And when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was asked about some of these details which she couldn't recall, one of the most striking elements of her testimony was she drew from her own expertise as a professor in psychology citing the ways in which the brain processes traumatic memories.

And she was able to describe the alleged assault in vivid detail, but some of these other questions about how she got home, how she got to the party in the first place, those were perhaps processed differently, because there was a way for the body to shut those memories out.

And in fact, that's why Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor who wrote the report for the Republicans, has come under criticism. Because her own former -- the people who she mentored have said that she taught them that when prosecuting sex crimes, some of those details are, frankly, irrelevant. What is more important is what the victim remembers about the alleged assault itself.

BLITZER: Why would the president do what he did last night?

PRESTON: I mean, I don't know. I mean, because that's what he does. I mean, he --

BLITZER: Because it's such a sensitive moment right now.


BLITZER: You've got three Republican senators on the fence. They're all angry at him now. It would only hurt the possibility that would vote -- they would vote for -- they may still vote for confirmation, but it certainly it isn't helping.

PRESTON: This is the thing that most worries me about -- about President Trump. And I understand that a lot of people might not see it this way.

I don't care what he does with his policies. I could care less. He was elected to be president of the United States.

It's when he does these things right here. When he goes out and mocks a woman who says that she was sexually attacked and has carried this weight on her shoulders for so many years, what he's doing there is telling other women, "You know what? You may not want to come out and tell your story." That's what he's doing right there.

Why does he do it, Wolf? I paused when you asked me that question at the beginning, because at this point none of us never really know other than to think that he really, really is classless sometimes, and that was classless.

BLITZER: Do you want to add anything?

MUDD: Let me tell you something. Let's take the gloves off for one second here.

I love all these Republicans complaining. We went through a campaign where a man mocked somebody for a disability, mocked candidates repeatedly with fourth-grade names, talked about on tape grabbing a woman's crotch, talked about the face of an opponent; and the Republicans, not just the American people, the Republicans said, "This is the candidate we want." They knew who he was, and now they're saying, "Wow, he was a circus clown at an event in Mississippi." No surprise here, Wolf. None.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But that's who he is playing to. He's playing to the base of the party. WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right.

BORGER: That's what he was doing. He has decided, you know, over unity in the country -- and Senator Jones said this, he has chosen to divide and to use this for the midterm elections because he needs those White, noncolleg- educated men, which he may get.

BLITZER: We're going to have a lot more on this coming up. Also some other news, the President losing ground on the Forbes 400 list of richest people in the United States as "The New York Times" raises questions, very serious questions, about how exactly he made his fortune.


[17:50:31] BLITZER: The latest rankings just came out and President Trump is losing ground on the Forbes' list of the 400 wealthiest people in the United States. The news comes in the wake of a "New York Times" investigation that's raising serious questions about the President's money.

Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd. Brian, what's behind the President's drop on the Forbes 400?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of dissatisfied customers and declining property values, Wolf, are apparently behind that drop. Take a look.

Tonight, Donald Trump is only 258 places behind Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Forbes' list of the 400 wealthiest Americans. Between this and "The New York Times" piece on the Trump family tax schemes, well, those who've chronicled the President say he's just got to be seething.


TODD (voice-over): He has built his professional and political reputation on projecting his business savvy and his self-made wealth.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I started off with $1 million, and now I'm worth over $10 billion.

TODD (voice-over): But tonight, that reputation is taking a hit. In its new list of the 400 wealthiest Americans out today, "Forbes" Magazine puts President Trump's ranking at number 259, the third straight year it has dropped, down 11 places from last year. A development his biographers say will drive Donald Trump crazy.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, "THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP": He isn't concerned about his character. He is concerned about the presumed contents of his wallet. So to go down on the list that he has fought from the get-go to be on, even when there's no evidence he really should be on it, this is going to irritate him to no end.

TODD (voice-over): Since the 1980s, his biographers say Trump has been obsessed with getting and staying on Forbes' list of America's financial elite, once taking Forbes' reporters on a tour of his Trump Tower penthouse, complaining when his stature with them plummeted.

TRUMP: And I thought Steve Forbes liked me. And they put me down at $4.5 billion net worth. I'm not complaining, but it is much more than that, OK?

MARC FISHER, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP REVEALED: AN AMERICAN JOURNEY OF AMBITION, EGO, MONEY, AND POWER": The Forbes list had a special meaning to Trump, much like the cover of "TIME" magazine. It was a marker, a way of determining where he really stood in the perceptions of those who determined who the world's richest men were.

TODD (voice-over): The magazine says Trump's presidency has hurt the Trump brand. Many of his golf courses, condos, and other properties declining in value.

JOHNSTON: Organizations that used to book Trump hotels for conferences, businesses and trade groups, have backed off. And that's because many of the statements and policies Donald Trump has been espousing offend people.

TODD (voice-over): Trump's lower Forbes 400 ranking comes on the heels of a 14,000-word "New York Times" investigative piece that further unravels the myths of Trump's finances, saying the President and his father committed tax fraud and used other schemes to avoid gift and inheritance taxes.

The "Times" reports Trump's father, Fred, was the real source of his wealth, giving him at least $413 million in today's dollars. Just one example, "The Times" reveals Fred Trump set up a shell company called All County Building Supply and Maintenance that was owned by his children.

"The Times" says Fred Trump bought refrigerators and other supplies for his buildings under the name of All County, then sold those items to himself at jacked up prices, allowing him to pay his children the difference, not as a heavily-taxed gift but as profit.

FISHER: It was a way of passing on the family fortune to the next generation without accumulating massive tax bills.

TODD (voice-over): A Trump family tradition, biographers say, of deceiving the public and the government about their true wealth.

JOHNSTON: You know, when the Trumps present themselves to tax authorities, they're paupers. They own golf courses that are worth the equivalent of a house or two on the fairway. But when they present themselves to the public, why, then, they are the richest people you can imagine around.


TODD: Trump's lawyer and his brother are refuting "The New York Times" report, denying tax fraud.

Now, a key question tonight, will "The Times" and Forbes reporting on Trump's finances hurt him politically? Well, Trump's biographers say probably not. They say his core political supporters will still feed off his strategy of channeling their own frustrations and of portraying much of the media as out to get him -- Wolf.

BLITZER: As you know, Brian, the President is facing a lot more pressure tonight to release his tax returns. What is the latest?

TODD: Right, Wolf. And Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, just a short time ago, said that, quote, Trump may have to release his tax returns. And Hatch says he himself would be happy to look into them. That's significant. Hatch is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

[17:55:00] Also tonight, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city is going to work with the state and will, quote, look under every stone to recoup Trump's unpaid taxes.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you very much. Good report.

There's more breaking news just ahead. The White House is expecting the FBI's findings on the Kavanaugh sex assault allegations at any moment. We'll go live there. We'll go to Capitol Hill where the Senate is also standing by for the results of the investigation.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Awaiting report. At any moment, the FBI may turn over its notes on the Brett Kavanaugh investigation. We're standing by for the results and the reaction from three Republican Senators who will ultimately decide if Kavanaugh sits on the U.S. Supreme Court.

[18:00:08] Mocking words.