Return to Transcripts main page


Donald Trump Says Second Meeting With Kim Jong-un Expected Pretty Soon; Retired Supreme Court Justice Says Kavanaugh Does Not Belong On High Court. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 4, 2018 - 17:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Coverage continues right now. Thanks for watching.

[17:00:09] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Reading the report. Senators from both parties are taking turns reading the new FBI report on Brett Kavanaugh but with very differing takes on what the evidence shows. How will it impact the votes of key undecided senators?

Talking to the FBI. We're learning new details of who the FBI interviewed in an effort to corroborate allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. Were potentially key witnesses left out of the process?

Protesting Kavanaugh. With the nomination heading toward a vote this weekend, protesters flood the streets, making their way to Capitol Hill and the U.S. Supreme Court. Will their demonstrations impact the outcome?

And Russian spies targeted. The U.S. and governments around the world are going after Russia's intelligence agency for attempts to disrupt world affairs through aggressive cyberattacks. Have the Russians been caught red-handed?

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news. A remarkable process unfolding right now up on Capitol Hill. Senators there are taking turns reading the single copy of the FBI investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against the U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. This confirmation will be decided by a handful of senators.

Two key Republicans have called the report thorough, but one of them wants to take another look, while a previously undecided Democrat has now announced she will vote "no."

I'll talk about the breaking news this hour with Senator Jeff Merkley. And our correspondents, analysts and specialists, they are also standing by.

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

Jim, officials there where you are, they apparently now feel they have the momentum behind the Kavanaugh nomination.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Sources close to the nomination process tell CNN Republican leaders are feeling increasingly optimistic. Same goes over here at the White House about the prospects of Brett Kavanaugh.

But Democrats are crying foul, arguing that the Supreme Court nominee's background is being covered up.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Choosing his words carefully about his Supreme Court pick --

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he's doing very well. I think he's doing very well. The judge is doing well. Right?

ACOSTA: President Trump left it to GOP leaders to all but declare victory in the battle over Brett Kavanaugh.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-TX), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I feel very good about where this nomination is right now. Now, I don't say that from the standpoint of counting votes. I say that from the standpoint of the qualifications of this candidate.

ACOSTA: A big reason for the optimism: two undecided Republican senators sounded satisfied with the FBI's supplemental investigation into Kavanaugh's background that appeared to fall short of concluding that the judge assaulted Christine Blasey Ford back in the early '80s.

Senator Jeff Flake, who had asked for the expanded probe, told reporters, "We've seen no additional corroborating investigation," while Senator Susan Collins added, "It appears to be a very thorough investigation."

The White House continued to insist the FBI was given free rein to follow any leads.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We allowed the FBI to do exactly what they do best. We haven't micromanaged this process. We accommodated all of the Senate's requests.

ACOSTA: But Democrats are accusing the White House of standing in the way of the truth, stopping the FBI from interviewing both Kavanaugh and his accuser.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It now appears that they also blocked the FBI from doing its job. Democrats agreed that the investigation's scope should be limited. We did not agree that the White House should tie the FBI's hands.

ACOSTA: Ford's legal team fired off an angry letter to FBI director Chris Wray, offering names of people who her attorneys claim could refute Kavanaugh's account, writing, "The investigation conducted over the past five days is a stain on the process, on the FBI and on our American ideal of justice."

Republicans say Democrats are just trying to stall.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY, MAJORITY LEADER: What we know for sure is the FBI report did not corroborate any of the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. And the second thing we know for sure is that there's no way anything we did would satisfy the Democrats.

ACOSTA: Still, the final vote could be very close. One undecided Democrat in a tight race for re-election, Senator Heidi Heitkamp, is voting against Kavanaugh.

SEN. HEIDI HEITKAMP (D), NORTH DAKOTA: The process has been bad. But at the end of the day, you have to make a decision. I will be voting "no" on Judge Kavanaugh.


ACOSTA: With protests on the streets of Washington, the supreme circus is wearing down nearly everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why no polygraph?

[17:05:03] SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Because you've humiliated this guy enough, and there seems to be no bottom for some of you. So why don't we dunk him in water and see if he floats?


ACOSTA: Even though the final vote is looking good for Brett Kavanaugh, there is still one final "X" factor, and that is President Trump himself.

Republicans were furious with his comments earlier this week when he mocked Christine Blasey Ford. The president still has one more rally in Minnesota tonight. That's expected before the senators decide Kavanaugh's fate. Wolf, the president could make more comments tonight that could anger Republicans up on Capitol Hill. Remember what Lisa Murkowski, the undecided senator from Alaska, said earlier this week. She said she is considering everything, and that includes the president's comments -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good point. All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

Let's go to Capitol Hill right now. Our congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly is standing by. Phil, Republicans appear to be doing a sort of victory lap. Do they have the votes to confirm Kavanaugh?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, there's no question there's optimism from Republican leaders.

But here's an important caveat: a senior Republican aide just a short while ago texted me "It's not locked in yet." They know for a fact that, at this moment, they don't have the 51 votes they need to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.

And while there were certainly positive signs this morning -- Jim talked through a couple of them. Jeff Flake saying that when he initially went through the reports briefing, he did not see additional corroborating information. Senator Susan Collins saying it was a thorough report. Those were positive signs.

But it is worth noting that those senators have gone back since and read the report individually.

Then you have Heidi Heitkamp, one of the undecided Democrats, come out with a very lengthy statement talking about why she opposed Judge Kavanaugh. Joe Manchin, he went in for a briefing earlier today. He came out saying he was still undecided. And Lisa Murkowski has been inside the room multiple times today, reviewing the report.

So while early returns, Wolf, were certainly positive for Republican leaders, it is very clear they're not there yet, and those senators, at least four now, still have to make up their minds before anybody knows where the votes are.

BLITZER: Yes. And they will make -- make the final decision. Do you expect the three key Republican senators -- Flake, Collins, Murkowski -- to vote as a bloc?

MATTINGLY: Wolf, this is a really important point. I've been talking to aides about this for the better part of the last two weeks, really. They are not a monolithic group. They have different issues. They have different perspectives. If you want to talk about one in peculiar, Senator Lisa Murkowski, while obviously health care and Roe vs. Wade, abortion rights, have been a key issue for her, when it comes to the state of Alaska, native issues, native Alaskans, who are crucial to her election victory a few years back, are very different than the issues that Susan Collins has in Maine or Jeff Flake has in Arizona.

Jeff Flake, obviously, is not considered a moderate Republican. He's said publicly Brett Kavanaugh is the type of justice he would want, were it not for this process or these allegations.

So they're going through very different processes right now. And I think it's worth noting that they have gone back multiple times to go through these reports. The expectation is at least two of the three can get there across the line. But at this point they don't know.

And it's worth noting that even top Republican officials, Wolf, that I'm talking to aren't sure that they'll get all three and make very clear they don't think the three are keying off one another. They're going to make their own decisions.

BLITZER: Good point. Senators, as you know, they're still reading the report in that secure room. Walk us through the process.

MATTINGLY: Yes, it's -- it's interesting, to say the least. Look, there's a single copy of this report that was delivered to Capitol Hill, and it's in a sensitive, compartmentalized information room, which is basically where people usually review classified information.

You have a group of staffers. There are four Republican staffers and four Democrats who are cleared to read this information. They have basically been taking turns reading through the report for senators.

Now, this morning there were briefings on these reports. Since senators have gone back, they've been able to read individually.

Now, the staffers are still reading pieces out loud to the senators as they're in the room, as the senators themselves, multiple at one time, are essentially separating interviews from the packets to read the transcripts, interviews like Mark Judge, the friend of Brett Kavanaugh who is alleged to have been in the room by Christine Blasey Ford during the allegation. The FBI interviewed him for more than three hours.

So it's a bit of a convoluted, different process, but senators say they feel like they're moving through the process, and they're getting the information they need. They're just not necessarily getting it all at one time, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. They're going to continue, even tomorrow morning before a procedural vote, to continue reading those documents. Phil Mattingly, thank you very much.

Reaction to the FBI's finding is falling along party lines. Our justice correspondent, Evan Perez, has more on that.

Evan, Republicans say that the report is comprehensive, Democrats say it is a sham. Is the FBI being used now as a sort of political tool?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I think that is the greatest fear for the FBI, and this is one reason why what they've been trying to do is stick to the process, the regular process for what is at most -- you know, it's an irregular situation. Right? This is not a normal situation.

But what the FBI has been doing is simply trying to make sure that they go along with what the client wants, which is the White House. The White House tells them what they need for this -- for this background -- supplemental background report, and that's what they sent up to Capitol Hill.

BLITZER: What have you learned about the report, what it includes?

[17:10:03] PEREZ: It's about 1,500 pages. So that's why it's taking so long for them to go through it. It includes -- it doesn't have any summaries. It simply is a listing of all of the interviews that they did and a summary of those interviews that they have.

We also know that, you know, it includes some of the information that came into the FBI tip line.

So this is one way that the FBI, Wolf, is simply trying to protect itself. They're going to make sure that they turn over all the information they have to the members of Congress. BLITZER: What are the parameters that the White House gave the FBI?

PEREZ: They've been all over the place as to whether or not they gave parameters. I think one of the -- what's clear that they are the client. They told the FBI what they wanted from this -- from this background investigation. And that's what the FBI completed.

Here's Raj Shah, though, giving a couple of different answers on what they told the FBI.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did not come up with a list of people who the FBI should interview.

RAJ SHAH, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There was an initial list of four provided to us by the Senate. They were interviewed, and then leads were followed up on.


PEREZ: And that's where you see, you see a couple of different versions of what exactly -- who told who what.

But the FBI really just was listening to what the FBI [SIC] told them. The White House says that they took instructions from what the senators wanted. You see now the key senators saying that they believe this was comprehensive enough. And I think the F-B -- the White House believes that they've done what they needed to do to try to get the support from at least two of those senators.

BLITZER: They needed -- two of those undecided Republicans, it's over and he is confirmed. Thank you very much for that, Evan.

Let's get some more on all of this. Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon is joining us. He's a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, tell us about your impressions of this report. I know that you spent some time in that secure room --


BLITZER: -- earlier today going through it.

MERKLEY: Well, what's deeply troubling -- and I can say this because we have this information from outside that room -- is that the FBI did not follow up with a single one of the eight individuals that Dr. Ford had said had corroborating information. They did not follow up with a single person of the 20 that Ms. Ramirez said had corroborating information.

And so this -- to -- for -- was simply, simply done to talk to a few individuals who they knew had no new information. It really is -- this is not the FBI's fault. Because the FBI followed the instructions of the White House. The White House gave scoping instructions that apparently made it so

limited the FBI could got follow up on those leads. That is a travesty. It is not -- the word comprehensive, how can that word even be used when not a single one of those 28 people were talked to?

BLITZER: As you know, two of your Republican colleagues who are still undecided, Susan Collins and Jeff Flake, they did say this report from the FBI was very thorough. They haven't said how they're going to finally vote, but they were pretty upbeat about their assessment.

Why do you think they came away with such a different impression than you did?

MERKLEY: Well, we went down to look at the report, we were not briefed by the FBI. We were briefed by Democratic staff members of Judiciary. And I assume that it was Republican staff members that briefed the Republicans. So I don't think that we had anything close to an unbiased presentation, maybe in either caucus.

This is information the Senate should all consider together and have a dialogue about together. But by isolating the Republicans from the Democrats, there was a real effort to be able to present a picture of this that probably was not too accurate.

BLITZER: Do you think that the report will change any minds?

MERKLEY: Well, the report itself is empty. It was designed to be empty. So, no, the report won't change any minds.

What should change people's minds, though, is to follow up with some of the public information that's provided, for example, by Dr. Kenneth Appold, the doctor who is now a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, who testified to -- well, sharing his story in the press that he heard about this information when it happened. He heard about the story when it happened. He said it was extremely troubling to him. It was so troubling that later he shared it with his -- his first-year graduate school, shared it with his roommate. The roommate has come forward to say, yes, he remembers that being shared.

So here is somebody who heard it when it happened or shortly after it happened, heard about it, who was a suite mate of Kavanaugh's. And for the FBI, under the instructions from the White House, not to talk to that individual, says that this investigation was a complete coverup, a complete sham.

BLITZER: Some senators are still waiting to read the report. They'll have later tonight, tomorrow morning before the procedural vote. It's a rather unusual situation, as you know, because there's only one copy, about 1,500 pages, of this report inside a secure room. Senators aren't allowed to even take any notes on what they read. Take us inside the room without revealing any classified information.

[17:15:09] MERKLEY: Well, it's a limited number of interviews that have been publicly estimated -- and I can say that, because it's been publicly estimated -- to be around nine or ten. So there you have nine or ten documents that are a couple pages. So we take -- split those up so that two or three senators are sharing

a single document, looking over each other's shoulders and then passing the documents around the room as they complete reading them.

Now, this was not highly systematic, and some, they went to whoever was without one at any one moment, so it was a very chaotic situation. I think that I was able to read all of them. I wouldn't swear to that, but I think I read all of them.

The -- and -- but the point being that there is nothing in them, because they didn't interview the relevant people.

BLITZER: Well, they did interview Mark Judge for three hours, the FBI. And he was there -- he was there with his friend, supposedly. And when these allegations against Professor Ford were done, when they were in high school.

MERKLEY: And this apparently was condensed down to just a very, very short report. Just a couple pages. And nothing -- nothing new to share.

But they already knew -- they thought they knew what he was going to say, because he had submitted a statement in advance.

The point was they didn't go to a single one of the corroborating witnesses proposed by Ms. Ramirez and not to Dr. Ford's list of eight individuals. And how can that possibly be fair to these individuals? Nobody can look at that and say that that was a serious effort to get to the bottom of the validity of their testimony.

BLITZER: Do you think he'll be confirmed?

MERKLEY: It would be a travesty on many levels. Remember, that long before we got to this discussion, we had the fact that he had misrepresented the facts back in 2006 on multiple occasions, and those who were there like Senator Durbin have relayed those.

When he testified just last week, he again mis -- well, he lied a number of time to the committee. It's been laid out. I saw one document, like, 29 lies of Judge Kavanaugh, and I read through them. And you know, many of them were substantial prevarications. It's just -- you can't put somebody on the court who is not honest.

BLITZER: Senator, we're out of time, but yes or no, will he be confirmed?

MERKLEY: I hope not. And I pray not.

BLITZER: Senator Merkley, thanks very much for joining us.

MERKLEY: You're welcome.

BLITZER: The breaking news continues next as we wait to hear how key undecided senators will vote on the Kavanaugh confirmation after reading this FBI report. Plus, we have more on the protests that were rocking Capitol Hill

today. Demonstrators voicing their opposition to Kavanaugh's confirmation.


[17:22:12] BLITZER: Breaking news up on Capitol Hill where U.S. senators are reading the FBI report on sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a key undecided Republican, returned to the room this afternoon telling reporters she isn't going to draw conclusions before she finishes reading the entire report.

Let's get some more from our reporters and our analysts. And as we speak, Gloria Borger, senators, they're rotating through this secure room. They're going through it. They're trying to read it seriously. It's pretty long, about 1,500 pages. But there are summaries, as well.

Four key senators remain in the balance. We'll put them up on the screen. Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski, Joe Manchin. So it's still -- Heidi Heitkamp has already announced she's voting no. It's still up in the air.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It is up in the air because none of those -- those others, the four have committed one way or another.

We do know that earlier on in the day, Flake and Collins said that they didn't see any corroborating evidence in what they -- in what they had read.

Joe Manchin is interesting because he's a Democrat. He could become the only Democrat to vote "yes." He's in a race in West Virginia in which he is ahead, but if somebody like Senator Murkowski, a Republican votes "no," what's the -- you know, Manchin doesn't suffer, then, and he gets sort of a freebie on voting -- on voting "yes" for Kavanaugh.

Flake, we know wants to get to "yes." He voted "yes" in the committee. Collins again pretty much up in the air. So we've got to watch those four.

BLITZER: Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat from the red state, made -- from a red state, she said this -- let me play the clip -- in announcing that she will oppose the nomination.


HEITKAMP: If this were a political decision for me, I certainly would be deciding this the other way. But, you know, there's an old saying: history will judge, but most importantly, you'll judge yourself. And that's really what I'm saying. I can't get up in the morning and look at the life experience that I've had and say "yes" to Judge Kavanaugh.


BLITZER: You see she was getting emotional.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And for Senator Heitkamp, it was a tough political vote, as she was saying, and this is why. She is on the top of the list of Democratic incumbents in deep-red states who is running a little bit behind by all measures there.

And she did vote "yes" on the first Trump Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

So when I talked to her earlier this summer on the eve of many of presidential visits to Fargo -- and President Trump has been out there a lot -- she said she was going to look at all the evidence and try and see. At that point it seemed like she would vote for the nominee. But so much has happened.

And she what she was saying there is that "I can't look at myself in the morning." So she is a professional woman. She's a mother. She, you know, has been following all this very carefully.

[17:25:05] So I think politics is not at play in her decision, as much as the fact that she, you know, is doing what she believes.

But it is still very important here. The White House is in a much better mood about this confirmation than it was some 36 hours or so ago, but there is still a sense of uncertainty here. Again, it gets back to Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, as it often does.

BLITZER: Jeff Flake, too. We'll see what he does. If they --

ZELENY: He's voted "yes" already, so I bet he's a "yes" on this, but we'll see. We'll see.

BLITZER: He could change his mind, though.


ZELENY: He could. He could. And he's the only -- he's not up for re-election. Of all of those, Manchin and Heitkamp are up for reelection. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are not in this cycle. But boy, this is a vote that is going to follow them in previous [SIC] cycles.

BLITZER: Everybody stand by. There's a lot more we're watching right now. Democrats are criticizing the scope of the new Kavanaugh investigation. Where potentially witnesses key excluded?

Plus new details involving the arrests as hundreds of demonstrators up on Capitol Hill voice their opposition to confirming Kavanaugh.


[17:30:41] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're back with our reporters and our analysts. Now we've just seen a report in the Palm Beach post, a newspaper quoting the retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens who initially supported Kavanaugh is telling an audience that the judge should be disqualified because of his performance in the Senate hearing. Let me read the quote.

Laura Jarrett to you. At that time I thought Kavanaugh had the qualifications for the Supreme Court should he be selected. I've changed my views for reasons that have no relationship to the -- to his intellectual ability. I feel his performance in the hearings ultimately changed my mind. And he said the criticism that Kavanaugh received for his temperament when he came out swinging the way he did I think the Senators should pay attention to that.

That's what Stevens said.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: It's a huge deal for a Supreme Court Justice, even a retired one as outspoken as Justice Stevens to come out and say something like this, especially before a vote. But I think that temperament issue and the impartiality issue is a real thing that we certainly talked about a lot coming out of last Thursday's hearing. We haven't heard as much of it lately.

But, you know, one of the things that I think has gotten lost here is that there is a difference between ideology and pure partisanship. And that's I think one of the criticisms that people had over what Kavanaugh said in that hearing. And the danger is that if you become a pure partisan, if the Supreme Court is no longer special and the roves are just another cover for a partisan who is just like someone on the Hill.

And the danger is that you no longer listen to the Supreme Court anymore. The President doesn't, the American people doesn't because it's no longer special.

BLITZER: You know, Phil Mudd, the FBI over these past few day interviewed nine people as part of the investigation. They didn't interview Judge Kavanaugh or Professor Ford. Was that a mistake?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I'm not sure and there is one reason why. I want to see the scope of what they were asked to do. That is if they're asked to conduct a very narrow investigation and they conducted a very narrow investigation, I am sympathetic with no Senators who say, wow, I expected chicken salad and I got chicken manure.

Well, I mean, if you ask for something that's extremely narrow and you want to get a background investigation, a background investigation involves looking at all aspects of somebody's life including lifestyle, things like drinking. My initial background investigation took nine months. This investigation was 72 hours, three working days and out. So for Senators who want to complain, my first question, show me what you asked and then I'll judge what the FBI --


BLITZER: But the White House isn't saying what Don McGahn, the White House Counsel asked in terms of the FBI investigation.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They're not saying directly but if you read between the lines of what are the parameters they had, you know, you know that it was very limited in scope. A, it was supposed to be less than a week. Last Friday when the President first issued this directive, he said it was limited in scope. So we do know that Don McGahn, the White House Counsel who is -- you know, his top is perhaps final job in this administration is getting the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh through.

Making him a justice. So to get to that end, you know, they definitely wanted to limit it in scope. So the White House did not want either Professor Ford or Judge Kavanaugh to be a part this FBI background check. You know, the White House has said, oh, it's the Senate, the Senate is always the White House. The White House is the one that orders all of this. So at some point we'll find out how limited it was.

But we do know it was very limited.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: The White House is the client here. And so, the White -- it seems to me that while they keep playing no, they decided, no, they decided, it seems to me in the -- in the, you know, in the end, the President is the client in this. The White -- Don McGahn.

MUDD: Right.

BORGER: And if were -- if it was limited, it was limited --

MUDD: We know it was limited --


BORGER: Right. The President said, well, I'm giving them free rein.

MUDD: That was never true.

BORGER: Right.

JARRETT: But what would have been the downside of interviewing Kavanaugh? Once again, I know that he's been through countless interviews, countless background checks, he's been on the Hill but what would be the downside given all the questions about his lack of candor during that hearing, all the conflicts, all of the different pieces that we saw, what would have been the downside in having him go once again before the FBI, before agents for a thorough --


MUDD: It's a good question. The question I hear more than anything inside the White House, why didn't they order this up initially?


ZELENY: The day after that Washington Post story came out. It was almost three weeks ago.

[17:35:00] Had they done that initially, it would have taken an issue off the table for Democrats and they would likely already be on the Supreme Court and that hearing may not have happened in that respect. So if we, you know, sort of look back at after-action report of this, if he is confirmed, that will be a central decision where Don McGahn decided to not have an FBI --


BLITZER: Because it's one thing to be interviewed in Q&A at a hearing before Senators or the Democratic Senators, the Republicans Senators. They each get five minutes. It's another thing to be interviewed on a T.V. interview. But it's a very different thing to be interviewed as you well know by the FBI.

MUDD: Heck, yes. I've been interviewed by the FBI. I would not want to be interviewed about dry cleaning. Though guys are really good. It goes back to my point saying if they conduct and interview just narrowly, Chris Wray, the director is not stupid. The reason it was conducted narrowly is an explanation he will eventually have to offer to the Congress and that better airtight. I think airtight is going to be -- that's what we were told to do.

One final point. Laura nailed this. This is not the story. What the former justice said that we're speaking about a couple moments ago is the story. The Senators are kicking this ball down the field and avoiding the question. When you look at temperament, when you look at the air gap between what he said about his life and what he with found out about his life in high school and college, are you comfortable with him as a justice?

These cowards are saying you're saying the FBI gave us a narrow response to the investigative questions, therefore now I feel OK to vote with it, that's not the --


BORGER: Because they wanted to get a yes.

MUDD: That's correct.

ZELENY: And some are comfortable with him as a justice. So to be fair, some Republican Senators and, you know, perhaps even a Democrat are comfortable with him as a justice. They say that he was defending himself, you know --


ZELENY: They're not talking about it but the only thing they're talking about is we were given a gift by the FBI, now we can vote yes.

BORGER: But even Clarence Thomas who you could say was the precursor of this, when he was undergoing questioning and he called it a circus and a high-tech lynching and all the rest, the temperament that he displayed in responding to Senators' questions very was different. ZELENY: Yes.

JARRETT: Can you imagine if Justice Sotomayor had given that performance? I think we will be having a very different conversation.


BORGER: Or if Justice Thomas have given them (INAUDIBLE) by the way.

BLITZER: Everybody stand by. There's more news we're following. We have a new information on the FBI's report on the accusations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh as the clock ticks down to Friday's crucial U.S. Senate vote. And new accusations as well as new indictments exposing the global danger post by cyberattcks by Russia's military intelligence.


[17:41:57] BLITZER: In an unprecented move today, the U.S. and its allies accused Russian military hackers of targeting global agencies that release chemical weapons (INAUDIBLE) by athletes and more. The U.S. charged seven Russians including three already indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is in Moscow for us tonight.

I mean, Matthew, the Russians, they are denying everything I take it.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely and categorically. As they always do when they confronted with any of these allegations of malign activity, wherever this takes place in the world. But remember, this is part of a new western coordinated strategy to push back against alleged Russian cyberattacks around the world. The U.S. and its allies are accusing the Russians of organizing a series of global cyber plots involving agents from one of Russia's most secretive spy agencies, the GRU.


It is Russia's most shadowy secret service, a military intelligence agency now suspected of a global campaign of malign activity. From fanning a pro-Moscow rebellion in Eastern Ukraine to the latest revelations of GRU spies. Hacking sports anti-doping agencies, the U.S. nuclear energy company, the investigation into the downing of a Malaysian airliner over Eastern Ukraine and the global chemical weapons watchdog, the OPCW in the Netherlands.

MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN MILITARY MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN (through translator): The OPCW was a target of undermining by the Russian Military Intelligence Service. The MIVD stopped a cyber-operations and full involve Russian intelligence officers that same day were expelled from our country.

CHANCE: The Dutch in coordination with British and U.S. agencies making public their evidence. Multiple mobile phones and electronic Wi-Fi hacking equipment were seized from a car allegedly rented by the Russians. Investigators also say they found this Moscow taxi receipt on one of the suspects showing the ride from a street near the GRU headquarters in the Russian capital to the city's main airport.

Russia has rejected the evidence as crude disinformation aimed at confusing public opinion.

ZAKHAROVA: Without any regard to anything, in one bottle maybe even in a (INAUDIBLE) perfume bottle, everything was mixed. GRU, cyber espionage, criminal hacker (INAUDIBLE) the reach imagination of our U.K. colleagues thoroughly knows no limits.

CHANCE: Investigators suspect the poisoning in Britain of the former GRU defector and his daughter Sergei and Yulia Skripal may have motivated the GRU's interest in the chemical weapons watchdog. The Kremlin has categorically denied any involvement but U.S. and British officials concluded GRU agents were behind it.

[17:45:02] THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: So this was not a rogue operation. It was almost certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state.

CHANCE: GRU agents were also among those sanctioned for meddling in the U.S. political system accused of targeting the Hillary Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election. And releasing damaging information via WikiLeaks. With the U.S. and its allies now accusing the GRU of a series of global cyber plots, that now seems like just the tip of the iceberg.


CHANCE: Well, the U.S. says that it will no longer allow this kind of Russian behavior to continue unchecked. The western diplomats tell me tonight, Wolf, that much tougher sanctions are being actively discussed should for instance Russia be judged to have hacked or otherwise meddled in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections next month.

BLITZER: Matthew Chance in Moscow for us. Thank you very much for that report. Coming up, we're keeping our eyes on the handful of undecided U.S. Senators as they review the FBI's report on the Kavanaugh investigation. Also coming up next, the Trump team changes the time line for Kim Jung-un to get rid of his nuclear weapons. Will the change make Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's upcoming trip to North Korea less difficult?


[17:51:12] BLITZER: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leaves tomorrow for North Korea where he is expected to make arrangements for President Trump's next summit with Kim Jong-un. This trip comes just as the Trump team is changing its timeline for Kim to get rid of his nuclear weapons. Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. Brian, what are you hearing?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is a big turnaround for the Trump team which had been pressing for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons by the end of the President's first term. Now the Trump team is saying we'll take our time with Kim which some are warning will give the dictator too much leeway.


TODD: Tonight, just days before a crucial meeting between Kim Jong-un and President Trump's top diplomat in Pyongyang an important change in tactics for the Trump team. As he prepared to leave for North Korea, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. won't put deadlines on Kim's regime to get rid of its nuclear weapons.

MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: We want it fast but we're not going to play the time game.

TODD: Pompeo had said more than once that the Trump administration hope to have North Korea give up all or most of its nuclear arsenal by the end of Trump's first term in office. Only about two weeks ago a Pompeo statement referred to, "rapid denuclearization of North Korea to be complete by January, 2021." But then at the U.N., Trump said this.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not playing the time game. If it takes two years, three years or five months, doesn't matter.

TODD: Then when Democrats give President Trump credit for being flexible with Kim but they're torn on whether he should give the dictator deadlines.

DANIEL RUSSEL, VICE PRESIDENT, ASIA SOCIETY POLICY INSTITUTE: Based on my own experience negotiating in past with the North Koreans, it's not a good idea to make arbitrary and impractical, unenforceable deadline but neither is it a good idea to keep changing your story.

EVANS REVERE, FORMER U.S. DIPLOMAT IN SOUTH KOREA: For as long as the United States is prepared to wait and the President has suggested that we are prepared to wait a long time, it enables the North Koreans to in effect continue to improve their nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

TODD: President Trump is also getting caution by a political ally regarding his personal glowing over Kim.

TRUMP: He wrote me beautiful letters, they're great letters. We fell in love.

TODD: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says that's a dangerous tie.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I'm worried that we're being played here. So I'm telling President Trump enough with I love you. From my point of view this love crap needs to stop. There's nothing to love about Kim Jong-un.

TODD: While the Trump team tries to strike a diplomatic deal with Kim, new evidence tonight that the dictator is still acting aggressively in cyberspace. The cyber security firm FireEye has a new report saying a shadowy network of hackers has tried to steal over a billion dollars from banks around the world on Kim's behalf. Aggressive attacks against financial institutions in at least 11 countries according to FireEye which says it's likely Kim's hackers have successfully stolen $100 million over the past four years.

Experts say this is likely the work of an elite hacking unit called Bureau 121 from North Korea's top intelligence agency.

DAVID MAXWELL, AUTHOR, WAR ON THE ROCKS: They attack banks and financial institutions, infrastructure, nuclear power plants in South Korea as an example. And so they are very, very, very good.


TODD: Analysts say Kim Jong-un is likely going to continue to have his hackers move aggressively against banks and against the U.S. and its allies and they're probably going to target cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Not just because it's a quick source of much-needed cash for Kim but because it's also tough to trace these cyberattacks back to Kim. Experts point out, it took four years for the U.S. to criminally charge a North Korean hacker for the devastating 2014 cyberattack on Sony pictures, Wolf.

[17:55:02] It's very hard to trace these attacks back to the dictator.


BLITZER: All right, Brian, good report. Thank you very much. There's more breaking news. Key undecided Senators are now taking another look at the FBI's new Kavanaugh report. We're waiting to hear what their votes will be as they try to decide the judge's fate.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, awaiting the undecided as Senators continue to read the FBI report on Brett Kavanaugh, three key Republicans will determine whether President Trump's nominee is confirmed to the Supreme Court. We're standing by for their decisions as the former justice is weighing in on whether Kavanaugh should be on the court.

[18:00:05] Thorough or incomplete. The Republicans pushing toward a vote on Canada -- on Kavanaugh I should say are praising the FBI probe.