Return to Transcripts main page


One Law Enforcement Office Dead, Four Wounded in Shooting; Suspect in Custody for Sending Letters Initially Tested Positive for Ricin to Trump & Pentagon Officials; Sources: U..S Navy Has Classified Plan for a Global Show of Military Force in November. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired October 3, 2018 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And the reaction from three Republican senators who will ultimately decide if Kavanaugh sits on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mocking words. The president publicly ridicules Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, as his supporters cheer him on. Tonight, the White House is denying that reality, as even some Republicans call Mr. Trump's remarks wrong and appalling.

The boring defense. The president slams a new report in "The New York Times" that shows how much of his wealth came from his father and from dubious tax schemes. New York state is now investigating the allegations that Mr. Trump dismisses as dull.

And worldwide provocation? We're learning about a possible show of force by the U.S. military in November from Asia to South America. Did the idea for a global muscle-flex come from the commander in chief?

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 investigation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

A source tells CNN that the White House expects the FBI to turn over its notes on the probe soon. Then, the information will be sent to Capitol Hill. The report is key to the timing and outcome of the Senate vote on whether to confirm Kavanaugh.

At this pivotal moment, the White House is brazenly trying to deny that President Trump mocked Kavanaugh's accuser, Professor Christine Blasey Ford, at a political rally overnight.

But the three undecided GOP senators who will make or break Kavanaugh's nomination aren't buying it. They're calling Mr. Trump's comments wrong and appalling.

I will get reaction from Senate Judiciary Committee member Richard Blumenthal. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

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

Jim, you were in the room as the White House tried to spin the president's mocking of Christine Blasey Ford.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. They were trying to tell us that up is down and black is white.

The White House is not only defending President Trump's obvious mocking of Christine Blasey Ford. Aides to the president are telling the falsehood that the president wasn't mocking her to begin with. It is just the latest example, Wolf, 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.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How did you get home? 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.


TRUMP: I don't know.


TRUMP: 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 HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It seemed to me 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 is no time or place particularly to discuss something so sensitive at a political rally. It is 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 on HeToo movement, saying he too can relate to accusations of sexual assault.

TRUMP: Think of your son. Think of your husband. I have had many false accusations. I have had it all. I have 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, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: 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 yet spoken with FBI agents who are expected to release their expanded background check on Kavanaugh to the White House and then to the Senate as early as later on this evening.

Wolf, we just heard the White House try earlier to say that they're the ones who are trying to state facts around here, Wolf. As you and I both know, our experience covering this White House, that is just simply not the case -- Wolf. BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta at the White House for us, thanks for

that report.

Let's get the latest now on the Kavanaugh investigation as we await word on delivery of the FBI report.

Our senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, is here with me.

So, Drew, what is the latest? What are you learning?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Even though the FBI is expected to have this report within the hour perhaps or any minute, we are understanding from a government source familiar with the operation that the FBI is continuing to accept information, to get tips, to lead those tips down, and also presumably to interview people. It is just not clear which people they are interviewing.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Tonight, CNN has learned Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, are at this moment not on the list for the FBI to interview about what allegedly took place at a high school party.

But FBI agents are expanding their interviews concerning details of a high school gathering Kavanaugh provided himself. Kavanaugh's own calendar for July 1, 1982, includes this reference: "Go to Timmy's for skis with Judge, Tom, P.J., Bernie, Squi."

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: You drink on weekdays, yes or no, sir?

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: In the summer, when we went over to Timmy's house on July 1, that would indicate yes.

BOOKER: Yes, in other words, that -- that July 1 reference to skis -- went over for skis -- that's brewskis, correct?

KAVANAUGH: And after Tobin's...

BOOKER: Sir -- sir, I just need a yes or no. That is brewskis, right?

GRIFFIN: It is a Thursday night, and the FBI is or is attempting to chase down each individual named in Kavanaugh's own hand.

The FBI interviewing Tim Gaudette, Chris Garrett, or Squi, as well as Mark Judge and P.J. Smyth.

Meanwhile, even more evidence is being revealed disputing Kavanaugh's description of himself as a mild or occasional drinker, and the evidence is again in his own hand.

"The New York Times" obtained this letter written by Kavanaugh in 1983 discussing plans for a beach weekend with friends in which Kavanaugh writes: "Warn the neighbors that we're loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us."

He signs off, "FFFFF Bart." That nickname, Bart, is another potentially important lead. It is the name Kavanaugh's best friend Mark Judge used in his book "Wasted," describing a Bart O'Kavanaugh who puked in someone's car during beach week.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Judge Kavanaugh, I'm trying to get a straight answer from you under oath. Are you Bart O'Kavanaugh that he's referring to, yes or no? That's it.

KAVANAUGH: You'd have to ask him.

GRIFFIN: There are questions about what the FBI is asking concerning Deborah Ramirez's allegations Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a drunken student party at this Yale dorm.

Ramirez spent two hours with the FBI on Sunday, gave agents a list of 20 names of people who could possibly corroborate or provide further leads. CNN has contacted a series of people from that list who say either they never contacted or actually reached out to the FBI themselves, only not to hear back.


GRIFFIN: The FBI is not counting on any of this, Wolf, but we can tell you, based on the people I have talked to who they either called or tried to talk to the FBI or have talked to the FBI, it seems the FBI is very interested in what happened in Dr. Ford's allegations, not so much about what has taken place at Yale in those college days.

BLITZER: Important information.

Drew, thank you for that report.

We are also right now getting some more breaking news on the FBI investigation of Brett Kavanaugh.

Let's go right to our congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly. He's up on Capitol Hill.

Phil, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, they just sent a new letter. Tell us about that.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, just to give you a sense of how heated things have gotten on Capitol Hill and really the divide between Republicans and Democrats, Democrats -- at least eight Democrats on the Judiciary Committee now seizing on a tweet from the Republican staff of the Judiciary Committee which said in the tweet that in previous background checks from Brett Kavanaugh -- he's had six through his time in government service -- that there had been -- quote -- "no whiff" of sexual impropriety or alcohol allegations.

What those Democrats said in response in a letter to Chairman Chuck Grassley today was this: "Each of us has reviewed the confidential background investigation of Judge Kavanaugh before the hearing. While we are limited in what we can say about this background investigation in a public setting, we are compelled to state for the record that there is information in the second post that is not accurate."


The second post being the tweet about no whiff of allegations.

"We urge you to ensure these Twitter posts are promptly corrected."

Now, it is cryptic, and they're not going to go further into details because background investigations material is not for public release. It can only be read by senators and a small number of staff in camera. So, what do they actually mean by that?

That, we don't know. Now, Senator Grassley's staff has responded just a short minute ago on Twitter, saying -- quote -- Nothing in the tweet is inaccurate or misleading. The committee stands by its statement, which is completely truthful. More baseless innuendo and more false smears from Senate Democrats."

So, Wolf, it has been no secret that the Democratic staff, Republican staff, the Democratic members and Republican members of the Judiciary Committee have really kind of been part of an implosion over the course of the last couple of weeks as it relates to this investigation.

We have seen letters going back and forth. We have seen what appears to be opposition research going back and forth throughout the course of people reviewing these allegations. That clearly not only continuing, but kind of reaching a new level.

And it also raises another issue. Wolf, what the committee is expecting to get back, what the Senate is expecting to get back from the FBI is a supplemental background investigation. What that entails is similar to what they're going back and forth cryptically on right now.

It is information that can only be reviewed by 100 senators and eight declared staff members. That means, because it can't be released publicly -- and my understanding is there will be no release, no summary, nothing public related to what they get back related to the FBI's recent inquiry into Judge Kavanaugh -- it will likely only be known as it is characterized by senators, which opens the door to cryptic back-and-forths like this.

It only adds to the confusion as people are trying to decide whether or not to elevate Brett Kavanaugh to the highest court in the land. Look, the partisan back-and-forth and the heated partisan debate over this is no secret, but the way this kind of devolved over the course of the last couple of weeks just underscores, one, the stakes, obviously, with this position, obviously with the allegations and the moment that they're in as a country, but also the divide inside the committee, the divide between the parties, as this seems to have just gotten more and more heated every step of the way.

And what people don't have are answers to whether the allegations are true, to who might be right and, frankly, how people are going to vote and if Brett Kavanaugh is going to have the votes to be confirmed -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What do you know, Phil, about the timing on the releasing of this FBI report?

MATTINGLY: Yes, Wolf, just a short while ago, I spoke to a senior Senate aide who said basically everything is frozen right now. The Senate needs to move forward if it wants to have a vote this week, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said throughout the week will actually happen, kind of basically doing something procedural on the floor to start the clock on that.

But they have decided not to move forward until the FBI gets the report to Capitol Hill. Now, the process here is once the FBI has finished doing all of its interviews as part of its inquiry, it will send that package of interviews up to the White House, who will then probably within the course of an hour or two send it to Capitol Hill.

When it reaches Capitol Hill, it will be a single document -- numbers of pages, but a single document that senators will be able to go into a room to read. Obviously, as I said earlier, they won't be able to bring all of their staffers. Only eight total staffers, four on each side, will be able to have access to it.

If they bring in notes, they're not allowed to take them out of the room. They're not allowed to take their phones into the room. But in terms of what the vote timing is, while Leader McConnell has made clear they want to do it this week, so far that process has not started and I'm told that process will not start, Wolf, until that FBI report makes its way to Capitol Hill.

BLITZER: We will see when it arrives at the White House and then when it arrives on Capitol Hill.

Phil, thank you very much, Phil Mattingly reporting.

Joining us now, Senator Richard Blumenthal. He's a Democrat who serves on the Judiciary Committee.

Senator, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: I'm hoping you can clarify this latest issue.

The Republican majority on your committee, the Judiciary Committee, they posted this tweet: "Nowhere in any of these six FBI reports which the committee has reviewed on a bipartisan basis was there ever a whiff of any issue at all related in any way to inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse."

What is inaccurate about that tweet?

BLUMENTHAL: The clarification of the tweet would require me to go into the FBI report, but what that tweet highlights very dramatically and directly is the need for a full investigation and for the public to know what's in that investigation, which is why it should be made public and why the facts here are really so important.

We ought to have a common goal here of all of the witnesses, including the 25 on the list that we submitted to the FBI and to the White House, we as the Democratic members, most of us, and those witnesses still have not been interviewed.

I'm told that there are 40 more witnesses who have relevant information still not interviewed.

BLITZER: But you heard Senator Chuck Grassley, who is committee chairman, say that tweet is absolutely accurate, nothing inaccurate about it.


As you know, there were six previous FBI background checks of Judge Kavanaugh.

So you got to tell us, what exactly are you suggesting is inaccurate? Was there ever any raising of the issue of alcohol or sexual assault, anything along those lines in the previous six background checks?

BLUMENTHAL: Here's what I can tell you about those six background checks.

I have seen them. And talking generally, without going into what is in them, the general practice of the FBI is, number one, to begin the FBI background check at age 18. So, nothing before age 18 generally is covered.

Second, the general practice is to go to professional colleagues, co- workers, supervisors, people involved in those kinds of formal relationships, and then individuals who are submitted as references by the nominee himself.

So you know from that general practice that pointing to lack of information about alcohol abuse or sexual contacts or experience might never be covered by those six background investigations, because, as a general practice, the FBI would not go back earlier than 18 or cover those kinds of friendships that might give rise to that information.

BLITZER: Because in this letter that you wrote, together with seven of your Democratic colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, you write: "While we are limited in what we can say about this background investigation in a public setting, we are compelled to state for the record that there is information in the second post, the post by the Judiciary Committee, the majority, that is not accurate."

Why didn't you raise these issues earlier, the concerns that you apparently have right now about the previous six background checks, and what was included in those background checks?

BLUMENTHAL: We did raise them earlier. In fact, from day one, we asked for an FBI investigation.

Just last weekend, I read a letter that was released on Monday asking for specific witnesses to be interviewed who would not have been covered in the previous background check investigation. The FBI has time or should demand time to make this investigation complete and thorough.

BLITZER: But in all of the interviews that you and I have done, your Democratic colleagues have done with us, I don't remember anyone raising -- suggesting that perhaps there were previous allegations of alcohol or sexual misconduct in the earlier background checks of Judge Kavanaugh.

BLUMENTHAL: Well, we are constrained as to what we can say in public about those background checks. They are generally not released, available only to committee members.

My feeling is that this next one has to be released publicly in some forms.

BLITZER: But you and your colleagues have written this letter now.

All of a sudden, this may or may not be a significant moment. You had a chance to meet privately with Judge Kavanaugh, right?

BLUMENTHAL: I had an opportunity. I did not do so because I wanted his answers to me to be in the public under oath.

BLITZER: But do you know if any of your colleagues who met with him behind closed doors raised this issue?

BLUMENTHAL: I don't know whether my colleagues did, but they are pertinent and relevant now.

And before we make this decision about a lifetime appointment on the nation's highest court, where literally generations in the future may be affected by his decisions as a swing vote on reproductive rights or workers rights or the environmental rights and health care, which is a major issue -- health care may be determined by his vote -- we ought to have the full story.

BLITZER: Because you know that your Republican colleagues, the president, others, supporters of Judge Kavanaugh, are going to suggest what you are doing now smacks of desperation.

BLUMENTHAL: You know, what's important here, Wolf, is the facts. We have an interest, as the United States Senate, to uncover all of the facts, to give the FBI the time that it needs, as well as the authority and the resources, to uncover all of those facts, whenever it may be.

And the person who is responsible for this FBI investigation, Jeff Flake, correctly and courageously asked for a fair, full investigation, ought to join us, I think, in asking for all of the facts.

BLITZER: But Senator Jeff Flake, the Republican who pushed for this additional FBI investigation, together with your colleague Chris Coons of Delaware, a Democrat, they both said publicly at the time, everyone said the investigation would conclude within a week.

So, it is now almost within a week. That was the time limit that the Democrats and Republicans accepted.

BLUMENTHAL: It was, but without White House interference, without the White House constraining this investigation, without the White House without dictating that Dr. Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh were not to be interviewed.


And there are other witnesses, in fact, one of my constituents, who came forward with very relevant information about a potential outreach by Judge Kavanaugh, potentially witness tampering, trying to constrain or urge one of his former classmates to speak on his behalf.

These kinds of witnesses need to be interviewed. The original understanding was that it would be full and fair.

BLITZER: Have you asked now the FBI to circle back and go back and review what you're clearly -- you and your Democratic colleagues are suggesting is something maybe untoward that occurred in the previous six background checks?

BLUMENTHAL: We have put those potential witnesses in touch with the FBI, and they have the responsibility to make a decision about whether they have relevant information. I hope they will interview them.

BLITZER: So there are witnesses, potential witnesses out there at large who have made serious, from your perspective -- and I know you can't discuss this publicly -- serious allegations of sexual impropriety or alcohol abuse in earlier, in earlier background checks?

BLUMENTHAL: There are witnesses who can corroborate and possibly substantiate those kinds of allegations that still have not been interviewed, and they need to be.

BLITZER: Are you going to -- let's say the FBI investigation comes back as early as tonight or tomorrow morning. You will read it in confidence. You and your colleagues and some staff members will be allowed to read it as well. Will you accept it as definitive?

BLUMENTHAL: It depends on whether it has interviewed all of those witnesses that we think are essential.

If it neglects to interview, for example, Dr. Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, then it will be incomplete, in my view. We have told the FBI and the White House from the very start they are two essential witnesses, and so are others who would offer corroboration on those key points of sexual activity or excessive drinking.

And the FBI, to its great credit, in my view, will want to do those interviews. Only interference from the White House, straitjacketing from the president or his people will stop that from happening.

BLITZER: Before I let you go, I got to let you respond. The president has really been going after you rather bluntly over these past few days for misleading your Connecticut constituents about your service.

You served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, but never in Vietnam, although you suggested you had served in Vietnam. The president is really saying you can't believe a word that Senator Blumenthal, Da Nang Richard, he calls you, because of that.

Your response?

BLUMENTHAL: This is a pattern. It won't stop me. It won't distract me or silence me. He is distorting. His falsehoods are easily apparent. He received four Pinocchios from "The Washington Post."

And "The Hartford Courant" has detailed the facts. And I will stick with those facts.

BLITZER: Senator Blumenthal, you got a lot of work to do. Thanks very much for joining us.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

BLITZER: Appreciate it.

The breaking news continues. Next, we're going to have more on the Democrats' letter suggesting there was evidence of inappropriate behavior by Brett Kavanaugh in prior background checks.

Plus, what exactly will senators be looking at when the results from the Kavanaugh investigation are handed over? You're going to hear from a former FBI supervisory special agent.



BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news.

The FBI report on its new investigation of Brett Kavanaugh may be turned over to the White House and to senators at any moment, this as Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are now suggesting that there could have been something in previous FBI background checks -- there were six of them -- on Kavanaugh related to inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse.

We're joined by a law enforcement analyst, Josh Campbell, who was a supervisory special agent at the FBI.

Josh, these new claims by Democrats about Kavanaugh's past background checks, what do you make of that?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So, Wolf, I think this is proof and evidence of what transpires whenever politics collided with an ongoing law enforcement investigation.

Now, we have to understand that neither side is pure here. On the Republican side, they appear to be trying to ram this thing through, this nomination, without regard to some of the questionable activity that are in the judge's past, and Democrats for their part appear to be bringing to light new revelations that probably should have been made public a long time ago.

And somewhere in the middle, you have the FBI that's trying to conduct a thorough review while this political theater continues to play out. Now, I will say, Wolf, that even if new information comes the light late in the game, that is not necessarily an excuse to dismiss it. I think it shows that we need a thorough and comprehensive investigation.

I don't know if we will in fact get that when there's a clock ticking away up to Friday in this potential nomination vote, Wolf.

BLITZER: The FBI hasn't interviewed Judge Kavanaugh or Professor Ford.

And Senator Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, is now questioning the credibility of the investigation, saying last week's hearing is no substitute for FBI interviews. Do you agree with her?

CAMPBELL: Yes, I agree with Senator Feinstein.

I mean, if you look at what our colleague Phil Mattingly was reporting earlier, where you have senators that are now in Twitter spats with each other -- and, obviously, we saw the hearing, where they are just lobbing grenades on either side.

And, again, somewhere in the middle, you have witnesses that the American people want to hear from. So, that's much different than a witness sitting in front of a pair of FBI agents and going through a thoughtful interview, gathering information, asking follow-up questions.

Again, it shows the distinction between politics and law enforcement. And I think the rest of the country is sitting there waiting for this review, waiting for this information to come to light.

[18:30:11] But again, we have the artificial one-week deadline that has been placed on the FBI to conduct this investigation. And with so many new questions coming up, so many new potential witnesses we don't know if the FBI will get through that, through the thorough review or if they'll be limited to what the White House had initially set as far as the parameters that they can look at.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Josh Campbell, thank you very much.

Just ahead, we're going to have more on the FBI investigation of Brett Kavanaugh: what's in it, when will senators see it, how might it influence their final votes.

And after the president ridiculed Christine Blasey Ford, is it more difficult now for the undecided Republicans to vote for Kavanaugh's confirmation? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:35:29] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are suggesting that evidence of inappropriate behavior by Brett Kavanaugh was uncovered in past FBI background checks. This as senators are waiting to see a new report on the FBI's current investigation of the Supreme Court nominee, and that could happen at any moment.

Let's bring in our correspondents and analysts.

And Kaitlan, let me start with you, because you're getting some new information on where all this stands.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. My colleague, Ariane de Vogue, and I are finding out that the FBI interviewed more people today as part of this investigation, this additional background investigation into the allegations made against Brett Kavanaugh.

It's unclear how many people or who it was that they interviewed, whether they were people who are on Brett Kavanaugh's side or Christine Blasey Ford's side. That's still unclear, but what we do know is they interviewed more people today.

And as of the last hour, Wolf, the White House has still not received this updated background file from the FBI.

Now, that comes after we saw a lot of confidence today, not just from the White House but also from Senate Republicans that they were going to get those 302s, those interviews that the FBI conducted with these people, by this afternoon.

Of course, they've got to go to the White House first. The White House thinks they will have this for less than an hour before they send it to the Hill for the senators to be able to look at this file with the updated information. But as of right now, they still do not have this information, so it still has not made its way up to Capitol Hill.

BLITZER: And Laura Jarrett, you cover the Justice Department. Amidst all of this, all of a sudden some of the Democrats -- I think eight Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- are raising a very significant new, potential threat to the confirmation.

They're saying that, in the previous six background checks by the FBI of Judge Kavanaugh, there may have been some disturbing information about sexual misconduct or alcohol abuse, although they're saying they can't discuss this, because it's confidential.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: But it makes you wonder why are we hearing about in just now when they've had him on the Hill repeatedly. And it appears that this all stems from some sort of tweeting match between Senator Durbin and Senator Grassley. And obviously we'll have to learn more about, you know, exactly what's at the bottom of this. And to the extent that we see those additional background checks that happened in the past, they may shed light on this.

But, you know, at the end of the day, this will come down to three senators: Flake, Collins and Murkowski. And Senator Flake told our Manu Raju today he is not as concerned about the lack of candor, the drinking allegations, as he is on Dr. Ford's allegations. That really appears to be what's at the heart of this. And so unless something explosive comes out, it doesn't seem like this is going to change where he stands at the end of the day.

BLITZER: Because Rebecca Berg, the Republican majority of the Judiciary Committee, they posted this tweet: "Nowhere in any of these six FBI reports which the committee has reviewed on a bipartisan basis was there ever a whiff of any issue at all related in any way to inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse," to which these eight Democrats on the committee wrote to Chuck Grassley, "While we are limited in what we can say about this background investigation in a public setting, we are compelled to state for the record that there is information in the second post that is not accurate."

When they're talking about the second post, this Twitter post, to which the Republican majority has since come back and said they stand completely by their tweet.

COLLINS: Right. This, Wolf, is all about winning the argument right now. This isn't going to change the process. The FBI report will be presented to these senators. They will make their decision based on that.

There will be a vote, if you believe Mitch McConnell, in the coming days, and Republican senators who are on the fence will make their decision based on the information that's available.

What this tit-for-tat is about is about winning the political argument, about rallying voters who are considering this as they go to the polls in the midterms in just a month. This is a huge issue looming over many of those races. And so this right here is a political argument that's not going to have, really, any bearing on the votes of these senators.

BLITZER: In the eyes of senators, this seventh FBI background check that's been going on over these past few days, how credible will it be?

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think particularly for the senators who are undecided or at least on the fence, this investigation is really, really key, because it will give them some kind of protection once they are ready to make that decision.

I think putting the politics aside, there are genuinely senators who feel torn at having watched that hearing last week. They feel like they watched Christine Blasey Ford and saw someone who was credible, saw someone that they were sympathetic to, and then they saw how extremely forcefully Brett Kavanaugh denied the allegations.

So when the time comes, they want to be able to point to this FBI investigation and say, "See, we did our extra due diligence. We made sure that there was an extra investigation."

[18:40:14] But this is also why, Wolf, the scope of the investigation is so, so important. And obviously, we are seeing right here in this Twitter fight why the Republicans and Democrats are so not on the same page when it comes to the size and scope of the investigation.

Democrats and the -- Christine Blasey Ford's team, they would like something wider and broader and that is broader and that gets to Brett Kavanaugh's conduct.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by for a moment, because there's breaking news is coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now, very disturbing news. Five -- five law enforcement officers have been shot in Florence, South Carolina.

I want to bring in CNN's Jean Casarez. What are you learning, Jean?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (AUDIO GAP) -- are confirming with us that five law enforcement officers have been shot, and this is in the vicinity of Florence, South Carolina, specifically three Florence County Sheriff's deputies, two city police officers. They are now being treated at the hospital. We do not have confirmation on any fatalities at this point.

But according to the Florence County Emergency Management, the shooter is now in custody. A crime scene investigation is beginning.

Now, this all took place, according to our affiliates, at the Vintage Place subdivision. So it was a residential area. Once again, five law enforcement officers were shot, according to our affiliates. We do not know if any more were shot at this time, but the shooter is currently in custody -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And, once again, the condition of these five law enforcement officers who were shot?

CASAREZ: We do not have an official determination on their -- we've heard serious at this point.

BLITZER: In serious condition.


BLITZER: And is there any information at all about, if the shooter is in custody, about a motive?

CASAREZ: No. I think it's too early to determine motive at this point. I mean, there's a lot of things flying around right now. Very few questions are answered and confirmed.

But the shooter is in custody. But they did deem it as an active shooter situation. That's why we don't have a total of how many were potentially shot.

BLITZER: Do we expect a statement from police, any news conferences coming up any time soon? Obviously, five law enforcement officers shot in South Carolina, that's extremely disturbing and very depressing.

CASAREZ: That's right. Well, just minutes ago the governor has issued a statement of South Carolina, saying this is simply devastating news from Florence, asking for the prayers of all law enforcement involved in the situation. So I'm sure he is getting the latest at this point, as is everyone else.

BLITZER: All right. We're stay in close touch with you. Jean Casarez working her sources. We'll take a quick break. Much more on all the breaking news right after this.


[18:47:40] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're getting more information on the breaking news on the multiple shooting in South Carolina.

We want to go back to CNN's Jean Casarez.

Jean, what are you learning?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have been able to confirm, our affiliates are saying that one of the officers has died. One of the five that we have confirmed have been shot has died in Florence, South Carolina -- Wolf.

BLITZER: There were five law enforcement officers shot. One is now confirmed dead, the others we don't know their condition?

CASAREZ: No, we do not. We know they're being treated at McLeod Regional Medical Center. That's where they were all taken.

This is Florence, South Carolina, which is 70 miles from Myrtle Beach and about 80 miles from Columbia, South Carolina, just to show you exactly where it was. This apparently happened in a subdivision in that area, and at this point, they called it an active shooter. The shooter now has been taken into custody, but at least five officers have been shot.

Three of the Florence County sheriff's deputies, two city police officers, and we have been able to confirm through our affiliate one is now deceased.

BLITZER: And are they saying there is one shooter and that shooter is in custody, that's it?

CASAREZ: They're saying one shooter is in custody, a shooter is in custody. We've gotten no word there's more than one shooter at this point, but it is an active crime scene and investigation.

BLITZER: Very disturbing information indeed. I know you are working your sources. We'll get more information.

Jean, thank you very much.

I want goat back to our analysts right new and talk about the very disturbing development that occurred last night when all of a sudden, the president of the United States mocked Professor Ford at a political rally in Mississippi. Watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How did you get home? 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! 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 would one beer, that's the only thing I remember.


BLITZER: You know, and then you heard all of those people at that political rally laughing and it reminded me of one of the most poignant moments in her testimony last week. Watch this.


SEN. PAT LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: What is the strongest memory you have, the strongest memory of the incident, something that you cannot forget?

[18:50:07] Take whatever time you need.

CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, ACCUSES KAVANAUGH OF SEXUAL ASSAULT: Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two and they're having fun at my expense.


BLITZER: I can only imagine how painful for her to hear the president of the United States ridicule her and mock her like that.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: But what's more telling, that he said it or that everyone applauded, Wolf? We've seen this before. He says something that's shocking, lawmakers come out, condemn it, wring their hands, and then within days, everyone moves on.

We've seen this from Charlottesville to Helsinki and we saw it again today with Flake and Collins and Murkowski. They all came out and they all disavowed it, but you have to wonder, at the end of the day, if they all vote for Brett Kavanaugh, what was the president's -- I mean, what effect did any of this have on how they ultimately voted?

Now, the issue to me, I think, will be really interesting is what does this do in November? How much does this energize female voters who are furious when they see him say something like this? How much do college educated women come out to the polls after watching something like that's night. REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL REORTER: Although the amazing thing is

you talk to Republican strategists and the party today and many of them believe that those suburban women who would be offended by something like what the president did last night are already so offended by this administration and by Republicans in this administration, that they've already left the Republican Party behind. And so that's why Republicans and the president are trying so hard to rev up their reliable base voters and that's exactly what the president was doing last night, because they know they will be there for them if they only turn out to vote and that enthusiasm gap is the big problem for them right now.

BLITZER: And you can understand, M.J., why Professor Ford testified that she was terrified about going public, because she suspected her reputation would be destroyed, although I sense -- I don't believe she necessarily thought the president of the United States would mock her, humiliate her the way he did last night.

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Right, this is a woman who only just recently, actually, told her own husband about this alleged assault. She had kept this as a deep dark secret that she couldn't bear to think about, that has haunted her throughout her adult years. So it's especially painful to see the president in such a public way talking about this and making light of it.

And in addition to, you know, thinking back on that moment too from the hearing where she said what was indelible to her was the laughter of the boys in the room, I've also been thinking a lot about the women who confronted Senator Flake earlier in the week. They said to him, crying, and very emotional, obviously, that they feel like their voices are not heard, that when they say they are victims, they don't feel like, particularly men, are hearing them and people in power are hearing them.

So you have to think about these women and what they must be thinking when they see the president of the United States making light of this alleged assault, and I think we just have to call it for what it is, and it is callous and it is cruel and it is completely lacking in empathy.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we should also note, regardless of whether you believe Christine Blasey Ford or Brett Kavanaugh and the White House's defense of what President Trump said last night was that he was just telling the facts about what happened. But he actually wasn't. He said that she could only remember that she had one beer but she didn't remember how she got to the party whether it was upstairs or downstairs or any other details.

But if you watched her testify last Thursday, you saw that she actually remembered a lot. Not just the laughter in the room but she remembered what she was wearing, that it was upstairs in the house, who was in the room that she said and what exactly it was that Brett Kavanaugh did to her, what she alleges. So she actually did remember a lot more than what President Trump alluded to last night. So when the White House says President Trump was laying out the facts, not ridiculing her, he's actually not laying out the facts, so regardless of who you believe, that wasn't a full account from President Trump last night. But surely, a lot of people in that arena probably believe that's what happened and that's all she remembers.

BLITZER: Yes, a few days ago, he said he was moved by her testimony, it was compelling. But then all of a sudden, last night, that changes in a rather awful way.

Everybody, stand by. There's more breaking news we're following.

A suspect is now in custody in the investigation of suspicious letters sent to the White House and the Pentagon that initially tested positive for the deadly poison ricin.

BLITZER: And we'll also tell you what we're learning about a potentially provocative show of force coming up by the U.S. military.


[18:57:19] BLITZER: We have breaking news right now in that poison scare over at the White House and the Pentagon after a suspicious letters initially tested positive for ricin. A suspect has been taken into custody.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

Barbara, tell us about the suspect and where the investigation stands right now.


William Allen, a former navy sailor, in custody tonight, being questioned by federal agents, taken into custody in Utah. We have images of the letters he sent to the Pentagon, also to the White House. The Pentagon now says the letters they got contained seeds that could be used to make ricin, a deadly agent.

But we are still awaiting that final testing from the FBI as to exactly what was in the letters that William Allen sent to President Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and the chief of naval operations. Those results are still to be forthcoming and the investigation goes on. What was this man up to and what was his motivation? Wolf?

BLITZER: Lots of questions still need to be answered.

Barbara, another story that we're following right now -- what are you learning about these plans, apparently, for some sort of global show of force by the U.S. military?

STARR: Well, the U.S. Navy in the Pacific called the Pacific Fleet has a draft classified proposal for a global show of force during one week in November. We don't know the dates yet. Don't forget, that's the midterms in November when no matter what happens, the world will be assessing the strength of the Trump administration before and after that midterm election. What they are proposing, the Navy, to the Pentagon is that they fly

warships, planes, close to China and also all the way over to South America where the Chinese are making increased investments. Now, look at some photos we have of an incident between the Chinese Navy and the U.S. Navy, just a few days ago when the Chinese reacted to a U.S. warship sailing what the Chinese said was way too close to waters that they were claiming. These two ships came within 45 yards of each other.

These kind of operations, these show of force operations, can become incredibly dangerous if one side miscalculates what the other side is up to.

So, all of this still has to be approved by the Pentagon. Why is this happening? It's because the Defense Department and the Trump administration very much focus on what they think is both China and Russia, their military forces in engaging in a little too much adventurism, if you will, out there on the world stage. They want to show that the U.S. Navy and the U.S. military can respond around the world very quickly if the Chinese or the Russians were to make a move -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara, we'll get administrator information on that. Thanks very much.

And thanks to our viewers for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.