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Senator Collins, Flake, And Manchin Will Vote To Confirm Kavanaugh; Senator Grassley Walks Back Remark That Workload Discourages Women From Joining Judiciary Committee; Missing: A Top Official Of Global Police Group Interpol. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 5, 2018 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:11] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. The swing votes. After a day of very high drama, emotion and anger, undecided U.S. senators announce whether they'll vote to confirm the Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. The stage is now set for a final vote tomorrow. We're standing by to see if the president weighs in.

Court of opinion. After lambasting Democrats and blaming the Clintons for a so-called smear campaign overnight, Judge Kavanaugh began trying to repair his reputation for being impartial. But is his last-ditch effort too little too late to keep politics out of the Supreme Court?

Record low. The same day President Trump gets an apparent victory on the Supreme Court, the U.S. unemployment rate hits its lowest point in 49 years. Will voters give President Trump the credit? And after a rocky summer, is the president having his best day in office?

And the missing man. A top official of one of the world's leading crime-fighting agencies vanishes without a trace. Could a man known for solving international crimes now be at the center of one?

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news in the dramatic, very emotional fight to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Just a little while ago, Republican Senator Susan Collins announced she will support Kavanaugh in tomorrow's final vote. Another key Republican, Senator Jeff Flake, of Arizona, as well as Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, also say they will vote "yes."

Tonight, Kavanaugh's opponents are applying enormous political pressure, trying to change senators' minds, even at this very last moment.

We're going to get reaction from Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of the Judiciary Committee. And our correspondents, analysts and specialists, they're standing by to provide full coverage.

Let's begin with our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, up on Capitol Hill.

Manu, Senator Collins seems to have been the most important remaining question mark.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And for much of the day, Wolf, Republican and Democratic leaders did not know how she would ultimately vote. Everybody was waiting for her speech this afternoon. And after she made her remarks, the red-state Democratic senator, Joe Manchin, also announced his support and was shouted at by protesters outside his office as we were questioning him.

All of this capping a tumultuous confirmation fight, one of the most bitter in this nation's history.


RAJU (voice-over): After one of the most intensely fought confirmation battles in a generation, Brett Kavanaugh now headed to the Supreme Court.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.

RAJU: A key Republican senator, Susan Collins, announcing she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh for a lifetime seat and handing President Trump a historic victory --


RAJU: -- amid furious protests over Kavanaugh's nomination and sexual assault allegations.

COLLINS: We will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness, tempting though it may be.

The facts presented do not mean that Professor Ford was not sexually assaulted that night or at some other time. But they do lead me to conclude that the allegations fail to meet the "more likely than not" standard. Therefore, I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court.

RAJU: Collins had been under enormous pressure for weeks, facing angry protesters, storming her office and forcing her to be escorted by police who blocked anyone, including reporters, from approaching her. The senator even interrupted at the beginning of her speech.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Collins, please don't vote. I'm a voter from Maine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The senator will suspend. The sergeant at arms will suspend.

RAJU: Senator Joe Manchin, a red-state Democrat up for reelection in November, also announcing his intent to support Kavanaugh as protests broke out in front of his office.

RAJU: You can listen to the people here. Are you concerned about --?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I'm concerned, basically, with the sexual abuse people that people have had to endure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shame, shame, shame.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shame, shame, shame.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shame, shame, shame.

MANCHIN: And I'm very much concerned that we have to do something as a country, but I had to deal with the facts that I had in front of me.

RAJU: Kavanaugh now will be confirmed by one of the narrowest margins for a Supreme Court nominee in history, ending a fight that bitterly divided the country just ahead of next month's midterm elections.

[17:05:12] Behind the scenes, Republican leaders scrambled, after Collins said she'd announce her decision on the final vote later in the afternoon, with top Republican leaders privately lunching with her and hearing her concerns.

Both parties were on edge all day, as protesters hounded key senators after Kavanaugh's nomination barely cleared a crucial roadblock to advance to Saturday's confirmation vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On this vote, the "yeas" are 51; the "nos" are 49. The motion is agreed to.

RAJU: Collins and Manchin, along with Republican Jeff Flake, all voted to advance the nomination. But Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska quietly voted "no."


RAJU: She later told reporters it was the most difficult evaluation she's had to make, saying, "He's not the right man for the court at this time."


MANU: And the vote tomorrow to confirm Brett Kavanaugh will occur tomorrow afternoon. We expect potentially one Republican senator, Steve Daines, to not attend that, because he's walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. So he will be confirmed tomorrow by probably a 50-49 vote. This would be tying one of the narrowest margin for any Supreme Court nominee in history.

And Wolf, in the aftermath of all this, this is now heading to the election. Expect a furious fight over the fallout of this. And Joe Manchin, the Democrat who's up in one of the toughest re-elections in the country, I asked him if he's concerned his base may revolt against him. He said he was not doing this for political reasons -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Manu, very dramatic moment indeed.

Meanwhile, President Trump is keeping a rather low profile, at least today, staying off camera as the drama plays out up on Capitol Hill.

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

Jim, you're getting some behind-the-scenes information about the level of concern over at the White House over the way Senator Collins would vote. But they must be very happy right now.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They are very happy. We understand the president was watching, and he's also happy. And so we're waiting to find out what the president says in terms of weighing in on all of this.

But Wolf, make no mistake. They were holding their breath during Susan Collins' speech there in the Senate, just a short time ago. I was talking to a GOP source familiar with the nomination process, talking about how the mood was on the GOP side of the Senate Judiciary Committee, inside team Kavanaugh, inside the White House. And this is what the source said, Wolf. It's very interesting.

The source said, "We were on the edge of our seats. Signs were good, but you never take those for granted until it's announced. We were thinking that it shouldn't have been this close."

And so, Wolf, this just gets to how, starting this day, the unpredictability of all of this. You know, yesterday we were talking about how there were signs pointing to Kavanaugh being confirmed, and they were feeling very optimistic. And then last night when that "Wall Street Journal" op-ed came out from Brett Kavanaugh, it led a lot of people to believe that perhaps this thing was too close to call, and perhaps may not go in Judge Kavanaugh's direction. Of course, it ended up doing that.

But according to the source we were talking with earlier this afternoon, they were certainly on the edge of their seats, Wolf.

BLITZER: Has the White House reacted since Senator Collins' commitment to vote "" tomorrow on Kavanaugh? What are they saying?

ACOSTA: So far, Wolf, pretty muted. We have not heard from the president yet, although we expect that to happen at some point.

They have called what they call a lid over here, so we don't expect to see the president coming out and making any kind of on-camera comment to the press, reacting to the likelihood that Judge Kavanaugh is going to be confirmed.

But we do have a tweet from Sarah Sanders, the press secretary. She put this out just a few moments ago saying, "Thank you to Senator Collins for standing by your convictions and doing the right thing to confirm Judge Kavanaugh."

Wolf, this is obviously a major legislative victory. Major legacy victory for President Trump. This was one of the bargains that was made by the Christian conservative movement in this country and, really, the conservative movement in this country, that they supported Donald Trump through that crazy election year in 2016, and stood by him through all of the embarrassing episodes of his administration, that they would get conservatives on the high court.

And now it appears in the second year of his administration, Wolf -- and that's a pretty unprecedented rate -- they now have a second conservative on the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, poised to replace Senator [SIC] -- or excuse me, Justice Kennedy, the swing vote, on the high court, Wolf. There's a whole slew of issues, from gun rights to health care reform, to abortion rights, which will definitely be something that could be very, very much impacted for the -- for years to come if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed to the high court, which we expect to happen tomorrow, Wolf.

BLITZER: Lifetime appointment. So he could be there for 30 years- plus.

ACOSTA: That's right.

BLITZER: Enormous consequences. Elections really do matter.

ACOSTA: That's right.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

[17:10:04] Joining us now, Democratic senator, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.


BLITZER: You're a member of the Judiciary Committee.


BLITZER: As you know, three of those four key votes, the undecided votes, coming in today, announced their support for Judge Kavanaugh. Do you believe there's any chance at all between now and the final Senate floor vote tomorrow, to change their minds?

HIRONO: Well, I'm very disappointed, and the three people who kept us on pins and needles, and then they did what they did.

I'm really glad that Heidi Heitkamp had the courage to follow her conscience, and my friend Joe Donnelly also, and, of course, Lisa Murkowski.

We're going to put on the Supreme Court for a lifetime appointment someone with this kind of cloud over his head. I don't think this is going to be helpful to the institution of the Supreme Court and how people view the Supreme Court, because if there's one thing that is really clear, Judge Kavanaugh made it very clear what a partisan operative he is. And that's what he's going to take to the United States Supreme Court upon his confirmation.

BLITZER: Were you surprised by Senator Susan Collins's decision to support him?

HIRONO: I was very disappointed, because I know that Senator Collins very much cares about women's reproductive rights. And in her remarks, she cited a case without naming the case. But the bottom line of that case was Judge Kavanaugh's position was that the Catholic church should not have to file even a two-page form to not provide reproductive coverage for -- insurance for their employees.

But one of the things that she didn't cite, one of the cases she didn't cite, which is much more indicative of where Judge Kavanaugh is on the issue of reproductive choice, which she is very concerned about, is a case called Garza, where he actually made up the law to get to the result he wanted. The bottom line being that the 17-year- old girl would be denied the abortion services that was her right to have.

So I thought it was very telling that she didn't cite that case, because she has said that she cares about abortion rights.

You know, we're way beyond the point of being lulled into some sense of -- I don't know -- safety by anybody coming to say that Roe v. Wade is settled law as he seems to have said to Susan Collins. But we know there are lots of states -- Texas, Louisiana -- that are very busy passing all kinds of laws that would limit a woman's right to choose. And many of these will go to the Supreme Court, where there will be a Justice Kavanaugh with his -- I know that he is not a supporter of reproductive choice.

So he will be sitting there making those decisions that will probably support all of these limiting laws that will be passed by these states.

BLITZER: So what's next, Senator, for Democrats like you and others who oppose Judge Kavanaugh? Are there any other options down the road?

HIRONO: You know, I am more determined than ever to let everybody know that court packing will continue. The Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation have spent decades grooming their people to fill the district courts seats, circuit court seats and, obviously, now a Supreme Court seat with their very ideologically-driven, outcome- driven judges. And that is happening. So the battles will continue.

BLITZER: As you know, Senator, Democrats probably share some of the blame for the current breakdown, the civility or lack thereof, that's going on, right?

HIRONO: It all started with the fact that this nomination, there was nothing normal about it.

It was not normal that we would not have access to thousands and thousands of documents that we should have had. It's not normal that, when this credible report came forward, that there would not be an FBI investigation, which even in the Anita Hill time, there was. And it's not normal that there were no other witnesses called.

And of course, it's not normal for senators to hide behind a hired gun, their female prosecutor, to question Dr. Ford as though this was a criminal proceeding, and she had to go after her. You know, nothing about this has been normal.

But it has all been laid out by the Republicans. And really, the message to survivors like Dr. Ford is, one, "We don't want to hear from you." Two, "If we have to hear from you because we're forced to, we're going to rig it so that there is no FBI investigation and there will be no witnesses." What kind of message is that to all of the people in our country?

And believe me, Wolf, the women and the people and the men who support the women are not just angry; they are determined. Because they are connecting the dots. Court packing is going on with all of these ideologically-oriented -- with ideological agendas getting placed on the court for life. This is Trump's lasting legacy.

And as you note and your previous speaker noted, there are going to be cases coming before the Supreme Court that will impact our lives in terms of our health care, in terms of reproductive choice, in terms of environmental decisions.

[17:15:05] And, of course, in my case, Judge Kavanaugh's attitude to our native peoples and original people is very troubling. I believe that that is one of the reasons when Lisa Murkowski heard from all of her constituents, Alaskan natives, that she heard their concerns about Judge Kavanaugh, and they came out to ask her not to vote for him.

BLITZER: Let me get your quick reaction before I let you go, Senator Hirono. A tweet that just was posted by Donald Trump Jr., the president's son. Among other things, he writes, "You better believe that Democrats are going to do everything in their power to impeach Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court if they take control of Congress."

Your reaction.

HIRONO: You know, they continue to fan those flames so that they can get their base -- continue to be fired up. Because I think their fear is now that if Kavanaugh does get appointed to the court, that their base will flex. So they just want to continue to inflame.

I'm going to be very much focused on the fact that court packing is going to continue and that the battles continue. And the people out there who are upset and ready to anger are going to be very, very determined in November to make the change. They will be the change that this country needs.

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

HIRONO: Thank you.

BLITZER: Up next, we're counting down to the final showdown vote on Brett Kavanaugh. Will President Trump weigh in before the big vote? And are there any surprises left that could convince one of the senators to change his or her mind?


BLITZER: And counting down to tomorrow's final vote on confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. It was set up today when Republican Senator Susan Collins and Jeff Flake, joined by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted to advance the judge's nomination.

There's a lot to discuss with our political and legal experts. And Gloria, let's talk a little bit about what happened today. It looks like the nomination is going to be confirmed.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. You know, she was the big question mark out there, and then Manchin, of course, waited for her to go first, and then the -- the path was cleared for him to go second and say yes. So I think the White House must be thrilled right now, right?


BORGER: And that barring any craziness, which you can never rule out, given the United States Senate, he will get confirmed tomorrow.

BLITZER: It looks like the vote is -- it passed today 51-49. If one senator is absent because he wants to attend his daughter's wedding, it will pass 50-49 tomorrow morning.


BLITZER: I want you to listen, Kaitlan. This is Senator Collins, she delivered a speech, went on for 45 minutes on the Senate floor. Listen to this.


S. COLLINS: The presumption of innocence and fairness do bear on my thinking, and I cannot abandon them. In evaluating any given claim of misconduct, we will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness, tempting though it may be. We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy.


BLITZER: How do you interpret that?

K. COLLINS: Safe to say that passions have been inflamed over the last few weeks. But she's really making the argument that the White House and Kavanaugh supporters have been making for the last two weeks. And that's that they believe that right now we've been existing under this world where you're guilty until you're proven innocent. That's exactly what they thought had happened to their nominee.

That's what they decried every day, sending out a dozen White House officials constantly to say the same thing, to say that he has denied his allegations. How does that not count as much as her testifying that he did this?

And so the White House is likely really happy to hear that. They felt pretty confident all along that they were going to have Senator Susan Collins in their pocket. They also thought, though, that they were going to have Lisa Murkowski be a "yes" vote, as well.

So I do think that it put the White House on edge today when they heard Lisa Murkowski say that she was going to be a "no" on Kavanaugh. Because they thought maybe that could sway Senator Susan Collins, as well.

But as we're seeing there today, of course, she made that "yes" decision; she came to that on her own. But she's echoing exactly what Kavanaugh supporters have been saying.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Susan, that she seems so sure of her position throughout that 45-minute speech, as if she had no doubt at all. But she waited for a long time. As Kaitlan says, she kept everyone, including her fellow Republicans, on edge, wondering what she was going to do.

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. So Senator Collins said she actually made up her mind yesterday based on that speech today. That's pretty difficult to believe. She sounded overwhelmingly sure.

You know, I think what happened here was she thought that, by holding her -- keeping an open mind, or at least pretending to keep an open mind, she was going to allow a process to unfold. And this process was going to maybe tamp down on some of the tension, you know, give additional confidence to the American people so that this nominee would be sort of less contentious.

I really think that backfired on her, because the FBI investigation was so unsatisfactory, because of the heightened drama that, actually, her waiting caused. I think what ended up happening is, instead of bolstering the institutional legitimacy of the Supreme Court, not only is the legitimacy of the court harmed, but that of the United States Senate and the FBI, as well.

BLITZER: And immediately after she finished her speech, Sabrina, Joe Manchin walked into the hall over in the Senate. A s protesters were screaming and shouting at him, "Shame on you, shame on you," he announced his support for Kavanaugh.

[17:25:13] SABRINA SIDDIQUI, "THE GUARDIAN": Yes. And I think that Joe Manchin, frankly, much like Susan Collins, was from the outset in a position of wanting to get to "yes."

And I think that this FBI investigation, disputed as it is, gave him and Collins and some of those who were on the fence an opportunity to ultimately back Kavanaugh.

But the Democratic base, without question, is going to be furious at Joe Manchin. Having said that, Donald Trump won West Virginia by more than 40 points. And although Manchin is comfortably ahead in most polls of his challenger, Patrick Morrissey, I think there was a real sense that this Kavanaugh nomination, in the same way it has energized organizers and progressives, also had riled up factions of the Republican base. And I think that's very much the political calculation, whether, you know, his party likes it or not, that Joe Manchin had in mind --

BLITZER: He was a popular governor, popular senator, and he looks like he's in pretty good shape right now.

Everybody stand by. There's more we need to report on and discuss. We'll take a closer look at past -- look past tomorrow's final showdown vote on Judge Kavanaugh. After such a bitter confirmation fight, how will the other members of the U.S. Supreme Court react to their new colleague if he's confirmed?


[17:30:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're back with our political and legal experts. And Gloria, if Kavanaugh is confirmed, as everyone expects now, tomorrow on this final floor vote in the U.S. Senate, the bitter confirmation battle, will that leave a cloud hanging over the Supreme Court?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's sort of hard to say. I'm the old one here, old enough to have actually covered the Anita Hill hearings. And Clarence Thomas went on to the court, and they welcomed him. And they were professional about it, and we may still talk about it. But he ruled as people expected. He was a conservative, and so I don't think it cast a cloud over him personally with the other justices. I'm not privy to their private conversations.

Where I think it cast a cloud and what was interesting to me today was, you know, Susan Collins went through chapter and verse of all her homework that she he had done about where he stands on the major issues. And obviously, Roe is a huge issue. And she said that he made it -- that the case that it was, you know, basically settled law. And Feinstein threw her some shade and pushed back on Twitter and said, when she spoke with him, he did not say it was settled law; he said it was entitled to respect. That's the kind of thing that could come back at him and then all of the other stuff would kind of flow. And also, he's going to be a huge issue in the campaigns.


BORGER: So Kavanaugh is going to be a bumper sticker somewhere. And that, you know -- that's going to be a big deal. Whether that will affect his colleagues in the court, you know, I think Ruth Bader Ginsburg will probably welcome him into the court the way any other justice would.

BLITZER: Well, let me ask you, Susan. Because you understand, the Supreme Court, you know -- and the politics and the personalities involved, how do you think he'll be received by his colleagues?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: I do think they will embrace them. Many on the sitting justices know him well personally and it's also not their job to pick their colleagues. They have nine people that have to work together. It's the job of the Senate and the president to decide who those people are. And as Gloria mentioned, they have worked with Justice Thomas, just by a very similar allegation. You know, that said, now we have Justice Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, or likely will have both of them. That is two out of nine sitting justices have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct and then go on to be confirmed anyway.

So, I do think that the question is not whether or not they're going to be nice to him, but whether or not the other justices are possibly going to change their voting behavior in response. Chief Justice Roberts is an institutionalist. He's someone who cares a lot about the long-term integrity of the court, and there is some speculation he might move as much as possible to avoid those 5-4 splits, because he understands that a Thomas/Kavanaugh court is highly problematic especially of the ruling on issues of reproductive rights and other women's issues.

BORGER: So, he becomes the new Kennedy.

HENNESSEY: I mean, maybe that's wishful thinking among the progressives, but I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility, considering the really unprecedented position that we're currently in.

BLITZER: You know, Kaitlan, he's been dealing, fighting with this notion that his temperament isn't suited for the Supreme Court. He wrote this article, this op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, but he's going to have to deal with this stigma for a long time.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, because no one is going to forget for a long time that very riveting appearance where he came out and was so angry, not just about these allegations, which a lot of people in his corner said, of course, he's angry, he's been accused of some really horrific things. He's going to come out swinging. But when he took to the other side, saying that it was a leftist smear, revenge for the Clintons, revenge for President Trump's win in 2016, those are the things that are going to hang over him and cast a cloud, along with the sexual assault allegations. Because for regular people, not the people on the court, for regular people, when you think of Clarence Thomas, you think of Anita Hill. You don't think of some landmark decision he's made or anything like that, you think of this.

I think that's also going to be similar with Brett Kavanaugh. But also, the question on his temperament, and that's what we saw him write that last-minute op-ed, not because he felt like he needed to apologize to the American people; a lot of people were saying it's not an apology. But he knew people like Senator Susan Collins had privately voicing concerns about whether or not he had the temperament of the other people that are on the court -- and that was a big concern for him. So, yes, it is going to hang over him and that's going to be something he has to deal with.

[17:35:20] BLITZER: The tiny margin of victory for him in the final vote tomorrow, whether it's 51-49, 50-49, whatever it's going to be, will that affect his ability to serve and do a great job, adequate job, on the Supreme Court? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, look, he came into this process being

well-respected as a judge. But obviously, this entire -- for confirmation proceedings, have cast a cloud over the way that he's going to be perceived for a very long time. And there is the angle of the sexual misconduct allegations. But the broader question of impartiality I think is what is going to linger over him, if and when he is confirmed to the bench.

I think that when you think about the opening statement he made in that hearing, although he said he got caught up in the emotions, he was reading from prepared remarks. This was premeditated. And I think it was because he was performing for an audience of one -- and that was the president of the United States. Who had said just the day before, that he could be persuaded either way, depending on what he heard from both witnesses from Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

As Kaitlan pointed out, when he wrote this late-night op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, he had another audience in mind. It was Jeff Flake, it was Susan Collins, it was Lisa Murkowski, it was those Republicans who were wavering because they had heard from the legal community that there were very legitimate concerns about the temperament that Judge Kavanaugh displayed in that confirmation, in hearing with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. I think every decision he makes will be scrutinized in a very different way from the other conservative justices that's been on the bench.

BORGER: What was interesting to me was that Susan Collins said she had talked with Kavanaugh a second time. Clearly, that was after -- to ask very specific additional questions. Clearly, that was after that testimony that you're talking about. And clearly, she was offended by it. What I want to know is, did Democrats call Merrick Garland, who was his boss, and did they talk to Merrick Garland about his judicial temperament? I mean, wouldn't he know? Wouldn't Merrick Garland know?

HENNESSEY: I mean, look, Brett Kavanaugh's service on the D.C. circuit, he's really been a model of judicial temperament. Anyone can see that. That's why the question after Thursday was whether or not the past 10 years have been a big fake act, and that's the guy he really is. The other question is whether or not this process that he views as so unfair, so, you know, the gutter politics that Susan Collins referred today, actually was going to warp him and shape him into a different kind of justice moving forward.

BLITZER: All right. Everybody, stick around. There is a lot more we need to discuss. We're following the breaking news. Three undecided U.S. senators announced they will vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh. So, how will tomorrow's final vote impact the upcoming midterm elections only a few weeks away? Will Democratic voters be more energized, or will Republican voters now be more energized?


[17:42:37] BLITZER: Getting a little exchange that occurred just a little while ago in the Wall Street Journal between a reporter and Senator Chuck Grassley, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee, remember, has 11 Republican members, all male; ten Democratic members, four of whom female.

Here's the question that Grassley was asked: "Do you have any sense now that you want to see a woman on the committee for the Republican side?" There's never, by the way -- there's never, ever been a female Republican as a member of the Judiciary Committee. This is what Grassley answered: "Well, we can't do anything about that. First of all, the people of the states elect women or men. So, you've got to go by that. And then you've got to have a desire to serve. In my chief of staff of maybe 33 years, tells me that we've tried to recruit women and we couldn't get the job done." Question: "They don't want to be on the committee?" Grassley: "Well, it's a lot of work. Don't forget, compared to a lot of committee meetings, we have an executive meeting every Thursday. So, it's a lot of work. Maybe they don't want to do it." Let's get reaction.

COLLINS: One of the dumbest things has happened this week, and a lot of dumb things have happened this week. But to say essentially that the work load is too tough for women to come do it, when we're in the middle of a conversation about women and the fact that this is a guy who had to hire a female prosecutor to come in and question the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, because they didn't want it to reflect poorly on them if they questioned her aggressively, if they weren't sensitive enough or just acted normal during the questioning process.

Because, of course, when that happened with Anita Hill, it was in some of the senator's obituaries, the way they acted toward her. So, he provided himself with some cover so that he wouldn't be criticized by hiring a woman. But now he's saying they don't have women on the committee. Republican women on the committee because of the work load, despite their efforts to try to recruit women.

BORGER: And then he went back to revise and extend his remarks, as we say in the United States Senate. And because the question was asked of him again, and then he pointed out that on average, any woman in the Senate, whether they're on judiciary or other committees, probably work harder than the average man. So, he went back. And there are only five Republican women in the Senate. Women love being recruited for things, because we're women. But there are. Five. Or six? I'm sorry. There are six. So, he doesn't have a lot to work with. But to say that it's too much work for woman is -- it's just outrageous.

HENNESEY: I think Kaitlan is right. This week was a really good illustration of the extent to which Senator Grassley relies on women to do his dirty work, to actually get the job done whenever he needs votes over the line, just speaks to how unbelievably tone deaf these individuals are. The Senate Judiciary Committee is one of the most powerful committees on the United States congress, in the United States government. The notion that women, who are accomplished and smart enough to actually win elected national office are sitting on their hands thinking, well, shucks, I just don't know that I want to show up for a Wednesday meeting, because I have to knit and bake that evening.

BORGER: How about women on the court!

HENNESEY: It's absurd. And I do think it touches into the same sort of incandescent rage that we are seeing in response to the Kavanaugh confirmation. And I do think that this is something that we are going to see -- have a real difference, come November.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the idea that there is a problem getting women on the Judiciary Committee because they aren't willing to do the work, I mean, it's a bizarre argument to make when there are four women on the Judiciary Committee, they're all from the Democratic side. And this is a broader problem, I think, for the Republican Party when it comes to their recruitment of women candidates. This is a record year for women on the ballot.

And there are some from both sides, to be fair, but the overwhelming majority of those (INAUDIBLE) are running as Democrats. And I think that you have seen in some ways a messaging problem for the Republicans that is also shaped by this president. Because with him at the top of the ticket, I do think that it's a deterrent to a lot of women who don't necessarily want to be associated with Donald Trump's Republican Party.

COLLINS: But here's the thing, they have been complaining all week about this old white man stereotype, saying it's unfair that that's what these women protesters have been saying. This is why that stereotype exists. Because of comments like this from Chuck Grassley, comments like from Orrin Hatch saying that Christine Blasey Ford was an attractive and appealing witness. That's why that stereotype is there in the first place.

BORGER: I think they ought to recruit Susan Collins. She clearly did a lot of work on this nomination.

BLITZER: He's going to get a lot of grief. All right, everybody, stand by. We're continuing to wait to see if President Trump will have anything to say, now that Brett Kavanaugh appears to be on his way to final confirmation for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

[17:47:10] Also coming up, a missing persons mystery that sounds like it's straight out of a James Bond movie. Why did the top official of the International Police Organization, Interpol, vanished without a trace?


[17:52:04] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news as senators make their final choices on confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Also, tonight we are following a rather surprising international mystery. A top official of the global police organization, Interpol, is missing. Brian Todd is on this story for us. Brian, what are you hearing?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we are hearing there are serious questions about what this man's wife knows in this case, but also questions about his ties to China's security apparatus. We are learning tonight, the keys to solving this mystery could well be in Beijing.


TODD: He's a top leader of Interpol, the world-famous global crime fighting agency. An elite law enforcement official, well-versed in security measures, but tonight, a deep mystery surrounds Meng Hongwei, who has vanished from his post in France -- missing for more than a week.

ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: This is very strange because this is a very high-ranking position within Interpol.

TODD: Meng, a former top Chinese law enforcement official, was assigned to Interpol headquarters in France. But a senior French law enforcement official tells CNN he was not on French soil when he was last seen. Meng's wife was the person who reported him missing. But even though he'd been missing for more than a week, she didn't tell police until Thursday night, French officials say. The French interior ministry says Meng's wife had recently received threats over the telephone and social media.

RODERICK: The wife is going to be the key. Obviously, when did she last talk to him. They'll look at whatever digital footprint he's got. They'll look at his official e-mail, his official e-mail that he used at Interpol.

TODD: And there are questions about whether Meng Hongwei's disappearance is related to threats on his wife. Some reports say Meng returned to China, then disappeared. The South China morning post newspaper, known to have connections to Chinese authorities, cites an anonymous source saying Meng is under investigation for unspecified reasons and was taken away for questioning by so-called discipline authorities.

DEAN CHENG, CHINESE EXPERT, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: He may well have been picked up for questioning, not simply about what his activities may have been as a senior official at Interpol, but also, what were his activities as a senior official in China where he likely has interacted with other senior officials, some of whom have been purged.

TODD: Analysts say the possibilities of what happened to Meng and what he may know are almost boundless given the world he came from, the cunning and ruthless Chinese security apparatus.

CHENG: Any intelligence community, any especially internal security force is always going to be deeply suspicious of everyone, because especially in the Chinese context where you are policing 1.3 billion people, where you have to worry about not just actual conspiracies but internet-based conspiracies, criminal activities. The people who are very senior officials in this are aware of the habits and tendencies of a vast swath of the population. This is a country where the right to privacy is not even a figment.


TODD: The Chinese government so far has not commented on this case. Analysts say, if Meng Hongwei was brought back to China for questioning, we may not find out about what happened to him for quite some time, probably until some brief announcement by Chinese officials about possibly some kind of punishment. Wolf.

BLITZER: What a story. All right, Brian. Thank you very much.

[17:55:24] Just ahead, the breaking news, will there be any new surprises before tomorrow's final Kavanaugh vote?


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Confirmation likely. After a day of drama on Capitol Hill, Brett Kavanaugh now has enough votes to be confirmed to the Supreme Court as three undecided senators throw their support behind President Trump's nominee.

[18:00:00] Anger and emo --