tv Deadline White House MSNBC September 17, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
supreme court, u.s. circuit judge brett kavanaugh, and the woman who has accused him of sexual assault, professor christine ford have both offered to testify before the senate judiciary committee. it's an explosive development in a crisis that's escalated kavanaugh's nomination to a fevered partisan fight around questions of sexual misconduct, not deliberated in the context of a supreme court pick since the confirmation battle over clarence thomas. ford detailed her disturbing allegation in an interview in "the washington post." quote, while his friend watched, she said, kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and clothing over it. when she tried to scream, he put his hand over her mouth. kavanaugh said this is a completely false allegation. i have never done anything like what the accuser describes to
her or to anyone. because this never happened, i had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday. i am willing to talk to the senate judiciary committee in any way the committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation from 36 years ago and defend my integrity. judge kavanaugh may have the opportunity to do so, and ford may have the opportunity to take her case to the public as well. a scenario that causes deep concern among kavanaugh's defenders. and even as a handful of republican senators voice serious concern over the allegations, senate leadership is crying foul, accusing professor ford of speaking out as part of a calculated political strategy to take kavanaugh down. an accusation ford's attorney roundly dismissed this morning. >> no one in their right mind, regard fless of their motive wod want to inject themselves in this process and face the kind of annihilation that she will be subjected to by those who want
this nominee to go through. this is not a politically motivated action. in fact, she was quite reluctant to come forward and was in fact, outed after she had made the decision not to come forward. >> just in the last hour, the president who himself has faced more than a dozen allegations of sexual misconduct weighed in for the first time. >> judge kavanaugh is one of the finest people that i've ever known. he's an outstanding intellect, an outstanding judge, respected by everybody. never had even a little blemish on his record. the fbi has, i think, gone through a process six times with him over the years where he went to higher and higher positions. he is somebody very special. at the same time, we want to go through a process, we want to make sure everything is perfect, everything is just right. i wish the democrats could have done this a lot sooner because they had this information for many months. and they shouldn't have waited
until literally the last days. they should have done it a lot sooner. >> have you spoken to him? >> i have not spoken to judge kavanaugh. >> [ inaudible ]? has he offered to withdraw? >> next question. what a ridiculous question that is. >> do you think his path towards confirmation is on track? >> i think he's on track, yeah. he's very much on track. if they delay if a little bit just to make sure everybody is happy. they want to be happy. i can tell you, the republican senators want to be 100% happy themselves. they are doing it very, very professionally. again, this should have been brought up a long time ago. thank you. thank you very much, everybody. >> here to bring us the latest reporting on where things stand for the kavanaugh nopination, some of our favorite reporters and friends. with us from "the washington post," ashley parker and sung ming kim. national political reporter for the post, robert costa, former federal prosecutor now
georgetown law professor paul butler. and joining us on set, charlie sikes, contributing editor for the weekly standard and host of the daily standard podcast. i love when we have a "washington post" staff meeting here at 4:00. and i know all three of you will jump up at once if something breaks. ashley, take us inside what was, for this president, that counts as message discipline. but he did seem to get out a little bit ahead of where mitch mcconnell and chuck grassley are in terms of saying everyone will be seen and heard. i understand some of the nuance on the hill is that they don't necessarily want judge kavanaugh, his accuser to both be on display like that. >> yeah, there's a number of people who are kavanaugh supporters who absolutely don't want a public hearing where they will say it sort of comes down to a question of credibility. and i think what you saw from the president today was fairly fascinating in that as we've discussed, this is a president who faces his own accusations. this is a president, you know,
presiding over the me too era whose natural instinct is almost always to side with the accused. he said nice things about judge kavanaugh there, but he was also a little restrained. he wants a full process. he wants everyone to be heard from. he's willing to handle a delay. this reflects what we're hearing as some of the hesitation inside the white house. their inclination is to fight. their inclination is to defend their supreme court nominee, but they are not quite sure how much to double down. how to defend him. do you attack the accuser? do you simply defend him? and they are still grappling with what the strategy should be. so for the president, that was not the full-throated defense we're used to hearing from him, although it was still certainly a defense. >> robert costa, take us inside the machinations on capitol hill where they do not have in donald trump sort of a disciplined
messenger for what is possibly the highest stakes kind of political battle that republicans can face at this hour. and under this president's leadership. >> talking to my sources among senate republicans today you get the sense the senate gop feels like they need to be the ones driving this process. the white house can have its statements. the president has his position. it's his nominee. but if the votes aren't there for judge kavanaugh by end of day today, you could see a lot of pressure on the white house to withdraw this nomination because if the votes aren't there, it doesn't matter if the president wants to stand by him. they believe on the hill the president is saying what he needs to say. this is going to come down to senator collins, senator murkowski, senator flake and corker. >> we're waiting for senator collins. she's crucial to all of this to speak. when she starts speaking we'll pull away from this conversation and take her. pull back the curtain on the human beings involved. we talked about the politics. judge kavanaugh, well known.
highly respected in conservative circles but a highly respected professional woman with a very credible story of an incident that clearly traumatized her. take us inside both stories. >> that's what's so difficult for all the senators here to access the situation. brett kavanaugh does have this sterling record in his public service career and the legal career and that's what senate republicans for the last several days have talked about. noting that he has gone through six background checks over the course of a 25-year public career. nothing like this has ever come up. we had a long conversation with senator orrin hatch of utah, the senior most republican senator, one of brett kavanaugh's most vehement allies here. he had a private phone conversation with brett kavanaugh earlier today about two hours ago during which the conversation, judge kavanaugh told senator hatch, i did not do this. i am unequivocal.
this is not something that i did. and senator hatch came out telling us that he believes that unequivocal denial, and he kept telling us over and over again about his reputation, about his sterling credentials. at the same time, you do have very credible allegations reported in our paper. and that's the interesting kind of struggle that we've seen because the main attack line for senate republicans right now, or the main line beyond defending judge kavanaugh is to attack senate democrats, particularly dianne feinstein, the senior senator from california for holding onto this information until essentially the 11th hour when we're barreling towards a committee vote this week. they're saying, if these allegations were so explosive, why did you sit on them for so long. for democrats and particularly feinstein will tell you and tell us that this was up to the woman. she did not want to come forward. it was up to her to tell her story in her own time, and she did. >> charlie, this seems to be
where the me too movement and the riptide that pulls under anyone that's done anything in this category collides with the political reality of republicans under donald trump. >> yeah, and it's going to be ugly and it's going to be messy. bad for the country. bad for the senate. bad for the court. >> let's talk about this woman. whatever happened was bad for her. >> right. >> and i just want to put out some more facts about what she did. she did not try to make a spectacle of herself. she is like many accusers, an incredibly reluctant participant in what we're now covering, which is the political circus. i should also say, i know brett kavanaugh. i worked with him. i did not know many people finer than brett and his wife ashley kavanaugh. but i am dealing with this collision of these two realities. the accuser, her account reads as an incredibly traumatic and real account of someone who went
through something she'd lived with and grappled with her whole life. >> ultimately, we probably are never going to know what the truth of the matter is. it does come down to credibility because this happened 36 years ago. there are only a handful of people who know the reality. so ultimately you have to come up with a process that's fair to her, that she needs to be listened to, but it's also fair to him. it would be nice if we could separate all the ideological riptides as you put it from this particular factual situation. this either happened or did not happen. and what the country is going to have now, two individuals who, i think, are going to end up testifying under oath in front of the senate judiciary committee. >> you think we get to that? >> i don't know how you don't have that, ultimately, when even the president is suggesting delaying the process. you have to hear from them because the cloud is going to hang over him one way or another and the public has to make up its mind. but it comes down to this question of credibility. and, look, these allegations are
serious. they are credible. but, you know, look. they are different from some of the other me too things. the fact they are 36 years old, dealing with a minor. some questions about the contemporaneous corroboration that is there. is there a pattern? are there other women who are going to come forward? i don't know how you come to a judgment about who to believe. >> ashley, take us inside who is running the show at the white house. obviously, there are people there who understand donald trump isn't exactly a good messenger for someone accused of sexual misconduct. has don mcgahn rested this? is he squarely in command and control or is this in the communications shop? who is running the kavanaugh defense? >> it's a good question in part because there's some internal debate on just how this defense should be run. so you certainly have don mcgahn who is taking control of it. our understanding is that he was the one who invited the judge turnover the white house today and the judge and he have
hunkered down in his office working on a strategy. you also have the team led by raj shah among others who has long just been generally shepherding in kavanaugh's nomination and is dealing with this. then you also have all sorts of other players. the white house coms team and other officials in the white house. the president and, frankly, other aides getting input from republicans on capitol hill. and not everyone agrees on the exact strategy. there's a general sense that they're not ready to pull his nomination, that they do believe he needs to be defended. but it is a real debate over how scorched earth you go and what that public defense looks like right now. >> robert costa, there are no republican women on the senate judiciary committee. who is guiding senate republican men through the process? >> well, it's leader mcconnell who is guiding those men through the process, but republicans have really turned to kellyanne
conway who spoke on another network to be one of the rare women out there for the administration talking through this nomination. this is a major moment and somewhat of a crisis inside the white house because they thought kavanaugh was maybe going to coast a little bit. it would be difficult but relatively coast toward nomination. you have this major moment in the me too era, as ashley was saying, where they're confronted by immediate challenges in a narrow timeline. and this is a party dominated by white men over the age of 55. so they're trying to deal with keeping the nomination going but also the optics, as they say. the political fallout of how this is all interpreted by the public. >> simon, let's listen to kellyanne conway as robert costa was just saying. she's in the middle of the public debate over judge kavanaugh. >> should she be heard on capitol hill? >> absolutely. she should not be insulted or ignored. she should testify under oath and do it on capitol hill.
but that's up to the senate judiciary committee. they need to decide the forum. she should be heard. i talked to lindsey graham and he said that could be done tomorrow so that we can proceed forward. >> it seems like we're in a window of what the definition of heard is. the gop strategy is background calls. i think there are others who believe she should be seen and heard for the public to let public pressure and public opinion help shape the path forward. >> and that's a struggle with moving forward just on the process front because right now, chairman -- chuck grassley, the chairman of the judiciary committee, his preference is for his staff and senator feinstein's staff to do individual calls to do more background investigations. both with judge kavanaugh and dr. ford. as we know, mitch mcconnell just said on the floor he supports that strategy. he thinks that's the best way to handle this. we also know democrats are not going along with this at all. what they want is for the fbi
actually to reopen its background investigation into judge kavanaugh and the context of it here is, this has been a contentious, bitter process all along. ever since the moment judge kavanaugh was nominated. democrats have cried foul over documents, over the pace, over proceedings. essentially everything related to this nomination. and at this point, they don't trust this process is the best way to go forward. now i think the most interesting comment on how we should hear from the two central characters here came from senator susan collins of maine who said earlier today that both dr. ford and judge kavanaugh should testify under oath. but whether that's the path that's ultimately talken, it's still too early to tell. >> paul butler, let me bring you into this conversation. we're talking about the fbi and the context of the fbi is donald trump's punching bag. seems like donald trump needs the fbi right now. they are, in some ways, the most reliable arbitter of truth. >> they don't have a lot of
experience investigating sexual violence because typically rape, sexual assault is a state crime. it's not a federal crime. but what the fbi is good at is getting to the truth of the matter. so here we already know what the testimony of professor ford will be. and judge kavanaugh. she's going to say it happened. he's going to say it didn't happen. and so, nicolle, the most important witness is going to be a man named mark judge. you have something in this case that you almost never have in allegations of attempted rape. you have an eyewitness. the accuser says that he was there. he saw everything that happened. he denied it early on, this mark judge. he said it didn't happen. it may be a different story if he comes in and testified under oath before the senate judiciary committee with the whole world watching. >> paul, i have a follow-up for you. in the reporting over the weekend, a few news organizations, including "the washington post," pointed out
that there was a polygraph given to the accuser. and she agreed to it. why would that have been administered, and how does that affect the investigation? >> this is all about professor ford's credibility. so her own attorney provided that she would take a polygraph test. it's not admissible in court, but it's admissible in terms of the court of public opinion. anita hill, the same thing. her attorneys, led by charles ogletree had her take a polygraph test, which she passed. that didn't move the senate republicans during that case. the question is, will this polygraph that professor ford has passed persuade senate republicans in this case? >> ashley parker and seung min kim, thanks for spending time with us. it was almost exactly 27 years ago that anita hill, also a professor, had anonymously contacted the judiciary committee weeks before a vote
was set on clarence thomas. what has and has not changed since then. also ahead, even before the president's pick for the supreme court was in question, republicans were in full freak-out mode over the chaos around this white house. new reporting on the meltdown at 1600 pennsylvania avenue and nervous republicans on capitol hill. and as the reality of paul manafort as robert mueller's latest little helper on questions of collusion sets in, donald trump hits twitter hard as concerns about the fate of don junior mount. those stories are all coming up.
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order for me to assess the credibility of these allegations that i want to have both individuals come before the senate judiciary committee and testify under oath. >> if this continues to be a he said/she said, how do you adjudicate something almost 40 years old? >> that does make it very difficult and that's why it's important that there be a very thorough interview. and that we see both individuals respond to the allegations. there are an awful lot of questions, inconsistencies, gaps and that's why, to be fair to both, we need to know what happened. it's my understanding that the staff is doing interviews or has proposed to do interviews and then that i assume will be the
prelude to some sort of -- >> do you believe dr. ford? >> i don't know enough about dr. ford and her allegations yet to reach that kind of judgment. that's why having the opportunity to observe her being questioned, read a transcript or -- and a deposition and make that kind of assessment is so important. obviously, if judge kavanaugh has lied about what happened, that would be disqualifying. >> you spoke to him on the phone the other day. what did you -- >> thank you guys. i'm sorry. >> i'm going to answer this one last question. last week, the judiciary committee staff informed me of this letter.
i read the letter. at that point, we had no idea who had sent it. and i noticed the date of the letter and wondered why the information had not been released long ago. i asked judge kavanaugh when i had my final hour-long telephone call with him on friday about the letter and the allegations that it contained. he emphatically denied that the allegations were true. he said that he had never acted that way, not only with this unnamed accuser, but with any woman. he was absolutely emphatic about that. >> and if this is just a he said/she said, how do you make this decision? >> well, that's why it's so important that we have testimony under oath with a lot of questions asked of both of them.
>> and it doesn't need to be in public or just under oath? >> can the fbi play a role here? >> thank you. >> extraordinary moment on capitol hill from a woman who may hold the fate of the kavanaugh nomination in her hands. joining us now, kelly monaco and jonathan capehart, "washington post" opinion writer and host of wync's america on the line. kasie hunt joins us right now. she was participating in that questioning. kasie? >> hi, nicolle. as you heard and it was probably a little chaotic there for all our viewers at the end, but i want to underscore this was a strong statement from senator collins. and it in many ways contradicts what we're hearing privately about how republicans want to handle this. i think it helps explain what you heard from the president
earlier today where he had clearly received the message from the senate republicans that they need to follow a process that is not going to make the woman we just spoke to angry or feel as if her concerns have been disregarded. you could hear in her voice how she feels as though she's in a difficult position because she doesn't feel as though she has enough information to know if she trusts the account from dr. ford. on the other hand, she has an unequivocal denial from brett kavanaugh. but she doesn't have it under oath. and as you heard at the very end, if this turns into a he said/she said, she's going to be in the difficult position of having to decide who she believes. so this is a woman who, as you know, nicolle, very much prides herself on being independent. she thought about going home to run for governor of maine because it's not always fun to be a republican senator in trump's washington, quite frankly, but she decided to stay because she knew she could play
a critical role in issues like health care. have a very important voice at critical moments like this and, quite frankly, this is probably more difficult than she ever could have imagined that it might be. and really everyone in the capitol from mitch mcconnell to chuck schumer to lisa murkowski, they're all waiting for a smoke signal from the woman we just spoke to. >> i heard in susan collins the impact of brett kavanaugh's hour-long phone conversation with her on friday. she, obviously, is balancing that against the impact and the dramatic and disturbing nature of the allegations as described in "the washington post." and at this point, it seems judge kavanaugh has been able to achieve equilibrium in susan collins' mind. is that how you heard her? >> i think that you did clearly hear there that she has heard brett kavanaugh's side of the story, or at least heard it as
he's willing to tell her in a phone conversation where there's not a possibility of him accidentally breaking the law by violating an oath he's made. as we all know in our human interactions, when you hear one person tell their side of the story without getting the other side, you may tend toward sympathy with them. and susan collins has spent quite a bit of time with brett kavanaugh through this process, as she has tried to decide and has come under incredible pressure already over her vote which has been critical all the way along. i do think that may be why it's important, and i think it's going to be a question for dr. ford as to what the process is going to be here and whether she feels comfortable, whether she feels as though she has this same opportunity to tell her side of the story as she wants to tell it, whether she gets the same chance to, whether it's in public or in some sort of private setting or whether it's on the phone. we have not heard from her. the senators have not heard directly from her.
so it's not clear to me exactly how you set up a process to be exactly fair. kavanaugh has a leg up here because he's got these phone numbers. he's at the white house. he's pushing out his side of the story. and it's really still up to the senate gop to decide how they're going to let dr. ford tell her story which supporters may think is a little unfair. >> kasie hunt, thank you. please come back if anything develops in the next half hour. i'm grateful forri your reporti. robert costa, any reaction to senator collins' statement? she seems to put everything on having both professor ford and judge kavanaugh testify under oath. >> this is really inside story right now as much as there's all this news and commotion on the outside. it's a senate story. senate judiciary committee members, moderate republicans like senator collins really thinking through where are they going to go here? are there the necessary votes to
get through this nominee? we're being told at "the post" members of the senate judiciary committee may hear from kavanaugh later today as he's been making these calls to people on friday and today to senator hatch of utah. this is really a numbers game at this point. nothing else matters. >> it seems it's a numbers game until it isn't. i understand from talking to sources close to kavanaugh that there is concern about how public testimony might reshuffle the deck here. that if the public at large sees both, it will come down to a credibility contest, melissa. >> i think he will have a real problem when she says under oath, if that's what happens, how the -- the description of him putting his hand over her mouth, whether he believes her or not is going to any person listening to that on television is going to be appalled. and so i do think that this is a no-win for him, kind of, because
she has come forward. she has put out her therapy records. who does that for -- to get rich? she's not going to get rich. she's not doing this because it's fun or easy. so i think that we have to assume that she is doing this because it really happened to her. and i think when she tells that story publicly, it will be damning. >> paul butler, i want to bring you back in. matt miller just sent out a tweet. anyone who thinks the fbi is going to settle this for them is probably mistaken. you tried explaining this. the important thing to know about the fbi is that they won't reopen the investigation at the request of the hill. they'll pass that information they get after an investigation is closed. for it to be reopened or to go out and do interviews, the white house has to ask for it. in any normal situation, the white house would absolutely ask for it, but of course this one won't. does matt have that right? >> that's exactly right. there could still be a state investigation in maryland. at this point, there is no statute of limitations with
regard to sexual assault or rape in maryland. now we'd have to go back and look at what the statute was at the time this assault occurred -- or alleged assault occurred because that would be binding. but in terms of what the fbi can do, it's to do a fair and objective investigation about what happened. even if it's not referred for criminal prosecution. and i actually don't think we're going to learn a lot more from the hearings, public or not public, than we already know again from either judge kavanaugh or professor ford. we know what their story will be. it will just be an issue of credibility. really important to understand, what is it that most victims of sexual assault do? they don't report it. the vast majority do not go to law enforcement. sometimes they do what professor ford says she did. it comes up in therapy. it comes up in a conversation with their partner. but it really doesn't detract from her credibility that it wasn't reported. that's the experience of most survivors of sexual assault.
>> charlie, kasie hunt used an interesting term. kavanaugh has a leg up because he has these relationships. he's at the white house, making the calls. he's known to many people on the hill either from his years in the bush administration or from his years now as a circuit court judge. it seems like that could change if they both become public figures testifying in the public square. >> that's right. and that's the real danger there. but this is a no-win scenario for him. it's a no-win scenario for republicans on that committee. assuming that her testimony is what we expect it to be, it will be compelling. how do you prove a negative? how do you wipe that off? even if he gets through this and is confirmed it will hang on him and hang on the court for a very long time. there's no question about it that he's in a very difficult position here. he's going to have to come up with something that is so dramatic, so compelling that it's going to make people
think -- come up with some theory about why would she come forward and tell this story falsely. >> the optics of what could happen, i believe, will be horrendous for republicans. because she will sit before a senate judiciary committee where the majority is all men. and all white men, compared to the democrats who are on the committee who are, you know, the rainbow that is america right now. so you're going to have people, republicans in the majority asking her questions, treating her in a way that is just going to put them in peril. you'll have a woman who is going to be baring her sole ul of a secret she's had for 30-something years n they're going to treat her terribly. the white house is going to treat her terribly. it's only a matter of time before the president takes to twitter and treats her terribly. i think what senator collins has done, and i have covered senator
collins for a long time now. she is about process. because to her mind, process equals fairness. we saw this during the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." she was frustrating to a lot of people because she wanted to understand the process. what was the obama administration doing to get the pentagon in order, in order for this to happen that made her feel comfortable that the whole thing was fair. i think that her calling on the two of them to testify under oath was a very dramatic thing for her to do. it is a process. and it is a process that -- and you get those, too. it's going to be theater of the absurd, but by having them under oath, it's as much of a guarantee as you can have of everything being fair because now they are putting their hand on the bible. they are saying i'm telling the truth, and the penalty for not tell'iing the truth to congresss jail. >> robert costa, i'm going to
give you the last word. any late-breaking reporting you can share with us before you leave us? >> i got rid of my blackberry years ago. >> i'm sorry. your iphone. i'm in a time capsule myself. >> brett kavanaugh brings me right back. we were all on blackberrys. >> the thing i keep hearing, it's full steam ahead with kavanaugh. he's adamant he wants to stay in. the president is going along with him. mcconnell is aware. mcconnell is with kavanaugh, too. let's be real. when i talked to my sources, the person that matters most is mcconnell. if mcconnell is telling the white house it's not going to happen, it's probably not going to happen. for now they're holding but it's 4:34. it could change at 4:40. >> if it changes come back. i'm going to find a blackberry on ebay and send it to you just to remember this day. thanks for spending some time with us. bracing for impact. republicans worry the house and senate are in serious peril in the midterms because of the chaos at 1600 pennsylvania
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there are high stakes on both sides of the aisle as judge brett kavanaugh finds his preme court nomination in peril over new on the record sexual misconduct allegations. from "the washington post," this allegation is serious and credible and yet it's notable that there's no sign yet republicans will pause the nomination over it. these next few weeks are the only time republicans have to confirm kavanaugh before in a worst case election scenario for the party democrats have more control over the process by winning back the senate. it's even possible that president trump and republicans never get to replace retired justice anthony kennedy with a conservative pick. but if democrats don't fare as well as they hope in november, they could face republican revenge. a source close to the press told axios if democrats sink kavanaugh, we'll just bring in someone more conservative. oh, you wonder why people hate
washington. the panel is back. >> all true, right? it's peril for the democrats. peril for the republicans. i think that going into the midterms for brett kavanaugh, susan collins and lisa murkowski were among the first to call on al franken. and getting to resign amid his allegations. and i think that progressives, especially, were really hard on kirstin gillibrand and the other senators when they booted him. now they're in a better situation to hold kavanaugh's feet to the fire and not look like hypocrites. >> is there a long-term strategic situation about whether kavanaugh may be less of a looming threat on questions such as roe than some of the other people on donald trump's list? >> sure. >> of course. but i think that that person still has to get confirmed, and i don't think the margin will ever be so wide that they can ramrod through anybody they want no matter how conservative. >> is this a chess match under
way or just these are black and white issues in the time of me too and kavanaugh must go? >> i have no idea, nicolle. automat i'm going to be honest. i have no idea. this was the theory put to me today. democrats, if they don't succeed in having 51 democrats in the senate after the midterms, they may regret forcing kavanaugh out if trump picks someone cuckoo. >> that's always been the dilemma. look, if you don't get kavanaugh, you are still going to get a conservative, whether they're cuckoo or not or further to the right. you're not going to get a progressive. you're not going to get a liberal. the one person i have my eye on in all of this is not necessarily brett kavanaugh. it's not president trump. it's senate majority leader mcconnell. this is a white house that is not going to pull away from
brett kavanaugh at all. but if he withdraws, it's because mitch mcconnell is looking saying, we are in such trouble. we're going to lose the senate. he is all about saving the senate. so i, as a colleague today said in our meeting, he's got a 48-hour clock ticking on kavanaugh. he's convinced kavanaugh is going to withdraw on this. i'm sitting and watching. >> the one prediction you can make with the greatest amount of confidence is whatever is happening now will get uglier. we were talking about the two-chair strategy. whatever the white house says, conservative media is all about demonizing this woman. it's going to get uglier, more personal. you'll have the alternative reality. at this moment, this is where you hope you'd have a reservoir of good will and mutual trust and that does not exist in the era of trump. whatever happens with the new senate, and i think we're paying the price for a lot of that. it's not irrelevant this is a donald trump selection.
he is the least credible defender right now. if you are brett kavanaugh, you have to be looking over your shoulder and saying, really? i have to rely on donald trump to defend me against these allegations? >> and when i read the president's strategy was going to be to attack the victim, knowing brett a little bit i thought, that doesn't sound like something brett would do. so where are we if the nominee, who is now accused of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct by professor ford has as his defender donald trump? >> that's the worst case scenario. the polls would suggest he was one of the least popular nominees before this even happened. and i have to think that it -- wouldn't it be great if we had a sober debate about constitutional theory and what kind of judge he would be? but we're way beyond that now. that all plays in and we're going up to the midterms. and it's hard not to see this reinforcing so many of the negatives that republicans are carrying on their backs into this midterm election. >> and for so much, too, because
they, you know, the republicans, they -- senator collins, all the other republicans for the most part are saying let's hear them both out. i think that she should be believed but let's hear them both out. but then mitch mcconnell has to deal with don junior tweeting, crayola writing of this woman saying that she's crazy and young and that can't help -- if i'm mitch mcconnell i'm like, take all of their twitters away. >> go ahead, paul. >> so the concern, though, the republican side is this is the most important nomination that donald trump will make. if judge kavanaugh is confirmed, there goes roe v. wade, affirmative action. the stakes are extremely high. some have said the reason the republicans have rallied behind trump no matter what his personal indiscretions are is because of the way he's transforming the federal judiciary. so again, it's a cost benefit analysis for the republicans. do they want to risk political
unpopularity by staying with judge kavanaugh if the payoff is the dramatic transformation of the supreme court? >> let me follow up with that. it does feel like you are trying to build a third story under a house with so many cracks in the foundation that you aren't sure it can hold up what's there. the republican party under trump is so broken and doesn't stand for anything. it's given safe shelter to his corruption. they elected and stood behind a man who was a self-described salter of women. he said he could grab women in the bleep. so where do we take this moment if we have, as someone defending someone who is accused, someone accused of the same crimes? >> i think the important question is about due process and what the standard is for a conviction in the court of public opinion. so at this time next week, no matter how many hearings there are, it's still going to be he said/she said. so the question is who gets the benefit of the doubt? no one is entitled to be on the supreme court. so maybe the benefit should go
to the accuser, especially realizing that most women don't lie when they say that they've been sexually assaulted. there's an important concern, however, about fairness and due process. if judge kavanaugh really didn't do this, it would be a travesty if this is what derails him. >> really quickly, we have to go to break. >> to come back to revenge. democrats are enraged today because of what was done to m e merritt garland. why the manafort cooperation agreement should worry the president. can be relentless.
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mueller investigation on twitter over the weekend. he started by jamming as many of his favorite buzz phrases into 280 characters. the illegal mueller witch hunt continues in search of a crime. there was never collusion with russia except by the clinton campaign. so the 17 angry democrats are looking at anything they can find. very unfair and bad for the country. also, not allowed under the law. then today, the case should never have been allowed to be brought. it's a totally illegal witch hunt. the case of strategy is a good one. they quote trump biographer tim o'brien. two things motivate almost 100% of his behavior. self-preservation or self-aggrandi self-aggrandizement. and breaking in the last few minutes, news having to do with another former member of the trump team caught up in the mueller probe. federal prosecutors and attorneys for michael flynn have informed the court they're now ready to set a sentencing date for donald trump's former national security adviser. like manafort, flynn also
pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate. it's so surreal, paul butler, to go from reporting on the former chairman of his campaign to reporting on the former the forl security adviser for the united states of america under donald trump as cooperating witnesses in the mueller probe into russian collusion. >> yeah, so part of this, again, we've always thought of this as a pyramid prosecution. you start at the bottom and go up. it's always been interesting that the people on the bottom are pretty high ranked like michael flynn and like the former chairman of the campaign. but, look, all this means is that michael flynn has done what he was supposed to do for special counsel mueller. mueller has preserved that testimony in the grand jury and now he kind of puts it on ice. michael flynn was a convicted liar. he was never going to be a witness in a criminal case. and mueller still has a whole lot to do. he has to debrief and preserve
the testimony of paul manafort and michael cohen. and again, roger stone is out there. he hasn't even been charged yet. he almost certainly will be. in this grand scheme of things, michael flynn, like george papadopoulos before him, was kind of small fry. >> and allalan, he gets tv lega vice saying that this is -- oh, we have it. let's watch. >> obviously, one of the first questions they're going to ask him is did donald trump's son know about the subject of the meeting before it occurred. >> right. >> in order to put pressure on trump jr. in order to put pressure on president trump. so, look, i understand why rudy giuliani, who is a good lawyer, wants to put this in the most positive light, but this was a very bad day for the trump administration. >> so alan dershowitz counts as a truth teller in the time of
trump, because trump believes him, and because he spins things so favorably for donald trump often enough that when he says he is in deep trouble, the president is in pretty deep trouble. >> think of the fact we were sitting here a year ago and somebody would say imagine if you have michael cohen, michael flynn and paul manafort cooperating with bob mueller? it would be the apocalypse. >> it's like a bad joke. you walk into a bar. >> the worst case scenario if you're donald trump or donald trump jr. or any of the other people sitting in that tower. and, of course, you know, the attempt by rudy giuliani to spin this. alan dershowitz was being nice about rudy giuliani. maybe there was a time when rudy giuliani was a great lawyer. but it was lost in the mists of time now because there is no question about it, this is -- these -- he's building this case in such a way, step by step. so what was the president tweeting about? almost every single word in that tweet over the weekend was false. this is a legal investigation. it's been upheld by federal courts. they're not angry democrats. i mean, bob mueller is a
republican. all of the -- and it's a witch-hunt in search of a crime. well, just look around at the number of crimes and the number of convictions. >> i feel like crimes in search of enough grand juries to hear them in private. crimes and witnesses, i mean the idea, i guess that the president has so much less visibility into what mueller is doing than he thinks he does. the idea that he can assert anything i guess explains why everything that he asserts means nothing. >> anyone who has worked in a white house or knows anything about a special investigator nose nobody knows. >> right. >> especially not the president. >> right. >> he is the t last one who is going know. it's almost like his tweets are a cry for help. someone tell me the truth. this is illegal. this didn't happen. it's sad. but it is all of these people flipping on him. people forget ivanka had the hotel in azerbaijan. all roads lead to russia, no matter how you look at it, especially to his kids.
>> let me get a quick one to you, paul butler. you described the latter. you said at the beginning of your comments there are not that many people above michael flynn and paul manafort. i mean, there is the family. >> yes circumstances there a legal strategy to leaving the family for last because of the impact it will have on donald trump's very fragile emotional state when it comes to this investigation? >> yes, but it also could be huge leverage for mueller. we saw mueller do this with michael flynn's son. prosecutors use family members, the threat of prosecution of them as leverage, as a means to coerce subject or target to do what the prosecutor wants them to do. so i think what mueller wants to hear from manafort has to do, of course, with that infamous meeting with the russian lawyer. now mueller has an inside man, somebody who is obviously there. manafort also was the chair of the campaign during the wikileaks dump of all of that e-mail that was damaging to hillary clinton. and the last thing, nicole, is
if the president made any kind of suggestions to manafort about a pardon, that's smoking gun evidence of obstruction of justice. >> i was going to ask you about that. the manafort cooperation agreement had something in there about witness tampering. and i wonder if you think that we're supposed to be putting together almost like taking these -- building a collage. do we take these key words out of the mueller indictments and charging documents. that our best road map into what he is really up to? >> well, sure. it would be an apocalypse a year ago. it is an apocalypse. we have to believe our eyes. if you're looking at those words in the document. >> witness tampering. >> he is telling us where he is going. the fact that it hasn't been rolling breaking news for the last, what, year and a half over what mueller's doing, who he is arrested, who he has indicted, whose pleaded guilty, it's
astounding to me. and on the question of family, so when mueller went after michael flynn's son, that's his son. and everyone talked about the fact that he doesn't want the see his son, you know, get hurt like this. but when you're talking about the trump family, it's not just family members. this is the company. and we're talking the trump presidency, the trump family. it's like a crime family. it's like watching the godfather. and when you go after the trump family, you are going after the enterprise. >> just ask jim comb my who made that point in his book. don't. we'll be right back. it was here.
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we're back. you think we're about to witness the spectacle of brett kavanaugh and professor ford on capitol hill making their cases to the public? >> yeah. i thought that was very likely, but the comments from susan collins i think make it inevitable that you're going to have this moment where they're going to have to make their case to the american public, and they will have to assess their credibility. >> all right. my thanks to paul butler, charlie sykes, elisa and jonathan capehart that does it for the hour. "mpt daily" starts right now. hi, steve. >> hi. if it's monday, chaos over kavanaugh's confirmation. good evening. i'm steve kornacki in new york in for chuck todd. welcome to mpt daily. we begin tonight with breaking news as the confirmation battle over judge brett kavanaugh has