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Interview with Sen. Chris Coons; Discussion of Ford & Kavanaugh Testimony. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 27, 2018 - 21:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME, live from our nation's capital on this riveting and regrettable day.

That's right. I said regrettable. Why? It was everything it should not have been.

We heard from Ford. We heard from Kavanaugh. They were both credible. They were both put through the ringer, they're both wounded. But for what? Politics at its worst.

How to compare the two? As the "New York Times" put it, he litigated, she persuaded. Righties are going to say, well, something happened to her, but it wasn't him. That means they can't believe Christine Ford because she is 100 percent sure it was him.

And Kavanaugh painted a picture of himself as perfect, in that powder puff interview on Fox, and by doing so, he painted himself into a corner, and he spent today fighting himself out of it. I saw it as a he said, three said, because he had three women against him, though only one was allowed to speak.

You saw a battle of stereotypes, she was even, fairly unemotional, deferential, you know why? Women have to be. Otherwise, they're pilloried as high strong and emotive.

He was aggressive and attacking, as men are allowed to be, especially when defending their perceived honor.

And the senators, especially on the right, show why this country agrees on almost nothing except the belief that our elected officials let us down too often.

The big question: is Kavanaugh going to be confirmed? You have to believe the odds are, if anything, he's closer to that goal after today, but for all the wrong reasons.

Our job tonight: show you the highs and the lows, test those who have a vote and see how those who support each side can make their case to you. And we have it all covered. So, let's get after it.


CUOMO: Women haven't come forward, sources haven't been tracked down. There are those who can say they can corroborate both sides, and they're not going to be able to. The vote is 12 hours away, that has not changed. Nine hours of testimony today, lots of emotions, plenty of politics. New information, not so much.

We heard from Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Now, it's in the hands of senators, like Delaware Democrat Chris Coons. He's on the Senate Judiciary Committee. I'm sure you saw him there today.

Thank you for hustling over here.


CUOMO: Welcome back on PRIME TIME.

COONS: Good to be with you.

CUOMO: What was it like to be in that room?

COONS: It was remarkable. I thought Dr. Ford came forward this morning and gave powerful and compelling testimony. Judge Kavanaugh appeared before us this afternoon and was forceful, angry at times, engaging in an unprecedented back and forth with members of the committee, as you said in your introduction, defending his honor.

And I think we get to the end of this day having a hearing that wasn't what the American people deserved. If this was really designed to get to the truth -- to get to bottom of these allegations, we would have had several other sources in front of us. We would have folks who'd been investigated or questioned by the FBI. We certainly would have had Mark Judge in front of us as a sworn witness.

And so, frankly, I think we get to the end of this with Dr. Ford having given compelling testimony, and with Judge Kavanaugh defended himself and it is not possible to believe both.

CUOMO: So, what's your vote?

COONS: Well, if we're going to vote tomorrow morning, I'm going to vote against proceeding with Kavanaugh's confirmation. I think we should be hitting the pause button and taking one week to have the FBI do a nonpartisan federal law enforcement investigation into these allegations. They won't reach a conclusion. And I'll tell you, I was upset that the chairman misquoted Senator Joe Biden several times today.

CUOMO: Right.

COONS: We all know the FBI goes and asks questions, develops witnesses and leads and presents evidence.

CUOMO: Right.

COONS: We on the committee reach the conclusion. But while --

CUOMO: At least you have a clear record.

COONS: It was not a clear record.

CUOMO: You would have a clear record, hear all the different players, at different various levels, interviewed by the same set of professionals, and here it is. Now what do you want to do with it? And it's on you. Fair enough.

Do you think you can convince your brothers and sisters on the GOP side? You think Flake, it was remarkable today that he gave that speech, but he didn't ask a single question of Judge Kavanaugh. Do you think any of the Republicans who are supposedly in play are actually in play?

COONS: I do. Although after their caucus meeting this evening, a number of them have come out and said we're going to have the votes tomorrow morning.

CUOMO: Did Manchin go to that meeting? Joe Manchin, the Democrat?

COONS: Manchin was not in there. I don't know. I don't believe he would have been in their caucus meeting, but I do believe he's been having direct conversations with a number of undecideds.

CUOMO: OK. So, what do you think?

COONS: Here's what concerned me about Senator Flake's brief and somewhat cryptic comment near the end of our hearing today. He said with humility, we all need to recognize there will always be doubt. Why would you move ahead with a lifetime confirmation to the Supreme Court if you have any serious or significant doubt about Judge Kavanaugh's credibility and truthfulness in his testimony today?

CUOMO: Now, we should be talking about all of what was learned today and how that's going to help you guys make a decision that inures to the benefit of the rest of us. But it's worth taking a step outside the room for both of us, because we had a similar experience, and it's not a partisan one, whether it's on my radio show, I started the SiriusXM radio show this week, in my personal life.

How many women have come up to you during the last week or so in anticipation of this hearing, and today saying, you know, this happened to me, Chris? Both of our names are Chris, this happened to me. I had something like this, I would have never come forward, I didn't come forward, you need to understand this, you don't get it as a man. How often did that happen to you?

COONS: Several times in recent days. A male friend of mine from high school, a female friend of mine from high school, a female friend of mine from Delaware who I've known as an adult, reached out and texted me during the hearing today, with just striking stories of surviving sexual assault and rape. And that's -- you know, look, if nothing else comes out of today's hearing, the fact that Dr. Ford came forward bravely, was heard, gave her full testimony and that inspired survivors around the country to also come forward, I think that's an important contribution.

The Senate seems to have made some progress since Professor Anita Hill came forward and was put on trial.

CUOMO: How so?

COONS: In recognizing -- well, the majority structured the hearing in a way that didn't actually respect her story --


COONS: -- but allowed her to be heard.

CUOMO: One of three accusers.

COONS: Exactly. That I agree with you, that we didn't have the folks that we should have had in front of us today. If they move to a final vote confirming Judge Kavanaugh, they'll do so not having gotten to the bottom of these other allegations. And I think that undermines the credibility of the court --

CUOMO: Right.

COONS: -- and prevents him from any opportunity to clear his name.

CUOMO: And what I'm worried about most is, you know, as a father and as a spouse is, the women who watched that today and saw Ford get taken on by a prosecutor, Mitchell, who I thought did a fine job, but then watched Kavanaugh not get Mitchell and get the Republicans putting their arms around him and apologizing for what happened, what message does that send about them being believed, Senator? I think that's something that we're going to live for long after today. Long after people forget about this process for what it is.

But I don't envy your job, except it's the one you were elected to do.


CUOMO: Senator Coons --

COONS: Thank you.

CUOMO: -- good luck. We're always here as an outlet for what you want to argue to the American people.

COONS: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So, all right, here's one of the big things that happened today. Like I just said, this wasn't a he said/she said, this is a he said/three said, OK? You have other women who weren't given a chance today, but there was another dynamic, there was a risk for Kavanaugh today.

That Fox interview, it's not about Fox, it's about a decision to go on with a friendly face and paint a perfect picture of himself. Drink to excess? No, no, no. Any of this conduct partying? No, no, no. Church.

Nothing wrong with going to church, but by painting that perfect picture, he painted himself in a corner. And if you watched today, you saw him trying to punch his way out of it. Here's the problem, the senators don't know what people in his life do.

And one of his Yale classmates says that he exposed himself to her at a party. Lynne Brookes was that woman's roommate. She knew Kavanaugh in school, too. She says the person he portrayed himself to be today does not match the person she knew at Yale.

Remember, this isn't a criminal trial about whether or not he is guilty of assault. It's a credibility contest about whether or not someone should be elevated to the highest position of integrity in our society.

Lynne joins me now by phone.

Lynne, can you hear me?

LYNNE BROOKES, ROOMMATE OF KAVANAUGH ACCUSER (via telephone): I can, Chris. Thanks.

CUOMO: Lynne, full disclosure, we've spoken before. I wanted you to come on. You said you didn't want to. Weren't comfortable with it, too much pressure.

But then you watched today and you changed your mind. Why?

BROOKES: I'll tell you, Chris, I watched the whole hearing. And a number of my Yale colleagues and I were extremely disappointed in Brett Kavanaugh's characterization of himself and the way that he evaded his excessive drinking questions.

There is no doubt in my mind that while at Yale, he was a big partier, often drank to excess. And there had to be a number of nights where he does not remember. In fact, I was witness to the night that he got tapped into that fraternity, and he was stumbling drunk in a ridiculous costume saying really dumb things. And I can almost guarantee that there's no way that he remembers that night.

And it's unfair that he kept flipping the questions to, but I studied real hard, but I played sports. All of us in that circle played sports. In fact, both Liz Swisher and I played two sports. We were on varsity in both sports and were starters, and drinking to excess was the big thing on Saturday night.

So, it wasn't every night, it was one night. And it's just really disappointing. There were a lot of e-mails and a lot of texts flying around about how he was lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee today.

CUOMO: All right. So, Lynne, let's give him the benefit of all possible doubt, right? Let's take the lowest minimum standard of what he has to own.

What if he says, I was only talking about high school, in college it was different. Then, I blacked out all the time. I drank to excess all the time. I shouldn't have done it. But in high school, never.

Would you believe that? You weren't with him in high school.

BROOKES: No, but the Ralph Club, the 100 keg. Those are -- and a weak stomach, that's not a weak stomach question, those are -- look, I don't have anything in my yearbook. But if I had stuff in my yearbook, it would be about partying.

CUOMO: So when you heard that today, you felt that the picture that he painted of himself is false?

BROOKES: I felt when I saw his Fox News interview, that that picture was false. He then took that testimony and submitted it as is in the record to the Judiciary Committee, and I thought today that he evaded questions, and he kept trying to turn the question around to, but I studied really hard.

Well, you know what, I studied hard too. I want to Wharton Business School. I did very well at Yale, I also drank to excess many nights with Brett Kavanaugh. The two things are not mutually exclusive.

CUOMO: Now, Chris Dudley of Yale and NBA fame -- or certainly he's known for playing in the NBA, he painted a different picture of Kavanaugh. He was a high integrity character, judge for Judge Kavanaugh.

What do you make of his assessment? Why so different from yours?

BROOKES: Well, I can tell you, I didn't go to as many parties with Chris Dudley, but I do remember one party in particular where both Brett and Chris Dudley were very drunk. And they thought it would be really funny to barge into a room where a guy and girl had gone off together and embarrass that woman.

Chris Dudley was I believe the one that went in under the egging on of Brett Kavanaugh, and they thought it was funny. The girl was mortified and I was furious. So, I'm not sure he's the best character witness.

CUOMO: Now, look, not that this matters, it's about the truth of what he says about himself, this is not a trial about guilt or innocence. It's a job interview. It's a credibility measurement for the highest integrity position we have.

I don't believe it's disqualifying to have partied in high school or college. But him telling the truth about himself is a more relevant standard.

Was Brett Kavanaugh known at Yale as a virgin?

BROOKES: I have no idea.

CUOMO: I just want to know, that's something he points out about himself that I know having gone to the same school. It's not so big a school. It's got a big name. But it's not that big a community, it's pretty small. It's the kind of thing that would have been known.

So, at the end of the day, when you heard Christine Ford and what she accused Brett Kavanaugh of -- you have never said to me or anything I've read from you, that you saw him as being that kind of person. So what do you want people to know about the range of assessment that's being made about him?

BROOKES: So, here's what I would say. That I agree with you, I don't think a person should go on trial for drinking in either high school or college. And I did both.

But I will say, it is about the truth. And I will say this about lying. Lying is never good. It is never appropriate. And it always comes with consequences.

And while I can't speak to Brett, I will tell my two boys that lying is never good. And also as their coach, I will tell them that winning isn't everything. It should be about how you play the game.

And that's I think when many athletes at Yale were incredibly disappointed with the performance today, and quite frankly the blatant lying.

CUOMO: Also important to note. You're a Republican, yes?

BROOKES: I am a Republican.

CUOMO: And Brett Kavanaugh is somebody that you regard in terms of his intellectual success, his intellectual capacity and what he's done on the bench, you see those as meritorious things in his pedigree, yes?


CUOMO: All right. I just wanted to be clear about the balance of your assessment.

Lynne Brookes, I told you not to wait when I spoke to you before. The longer if you waited too long, it gets harder to make an impact on this process. But I am grateful for you coming in now on this very important evening when people are taking the deepest measure of these two individuals and the judge for sure.

Lynne Brookes, thank you very much.

BROOKES: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Now, that's relevant, that's what happens when you paint a picture of yourself. These senators weren't going to be able to poke holes in it, why not? No time, no depth. Right?

And for some of them, no inclination, but how many Lynne Brookes are out there? Now, you make a decision, well, wait a minute, I thought we were talking about attempted assault, sexual assault, now you're talking about drinking. I'm talking about the truth. I'm not saying it's wrong that he drank. I'm saying that if he's going to be the ultimate judge of truth in our society, a Supreme Court justice, and at 53 years of old, he's going to lie about what he did when he was 15, what else will he lie about? That's why it's a relative assessment. That's why watching a man

today who is a very skilled litigator, but litigating your way through a question is different than telling the truth about it, take my word for it, I'm an arguer and a litigator by trade.

So, we're going to take you through what was heard today, all right? Presenting both sides. Both had painful and powerful cases. What were the highs and the lows? What will make a difference?

We have it all laid out for you, next.


CUOMO: Nine hours of testimony. Lots of questions, lots of responses, lots to unpack.

So, what we did for you is, we put together the high points and low points for each side, all right? Let's start with the highs. OK?

Kavanaugh sharing this very personal moment about his daughter.


JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: The other night, Ashley and my daughter Liza said their prayers and Liza, all of ten years old, said to Ashley, we should pray for the woman. That's a lot of wisdom from a 10-year-old. I swear today under oath before the Senate and the nation, before my family and God, I am innocent of this charge.


CUOMO: I'm a family man, I'm God fearing, I can be emotional, and I love my kids. Those are all powerful points in a political process.

Now, for Professor Ford, her big hit, she knows who attacked her.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: With what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?



CUOMO: One hundred percent. Another high point for Ford, this exchange that brings home the depth of the wrong that was done to her.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Can you tell us what you don't forget about that night?

FORD: As you walk into the room, there was a bed to the right, the bathroom in close proximity, the laughter, the uproarious laughter, and the multiple attempts to escape, and the final ability to do so.


CUOMO: Now, why? Because the damage is palpable that she says she feels an experience that day. And that picture, that image of a woman being powerless and a male mocking her being powerless is very powerful.

Now, the low points? Plenty of those. Let's start with this from Judge Kavanaugh.

Now, he was in attack mode. He was a litigator out there today. More than there to tell the truth, he was there to fight the questions, political operative that is deep in him on full display.


KAVANAUGH: This confirmation process has become a national disgrace. You have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy. Fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons, and millions of dollars in money from outside left wing opposition groups.


CUOMO: Now, you're not listening -- you're not used to hearing judges who are nominees talking like that, because they're not usually as profound a political operative in their past as he was. And he was playing hardball politics and it countered somewhat of a notion that he was sympathetic for Professor Ford, because he was there fighting her as an opponent.

There's also this problematic moment for Kavanaugh. Take a listen.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: He references a Bart O'Kavanaugh, vomiting at someone's car during beach week and then passing out. Is that you, he's talking about?


LEAHY: I'm trying to get a straight answer from you under oath. Are you the Bart Kavanaugh he's referring to yes or no? That's it.

KAVANAUGH: You'd have to ask him.

LEAHY: Well, I agree with you there.


CUOMO: Now, this was a twofer. One, Bart O'Kavanaugh, written on a book by his friend, or Brett Kavanaugh. You don't have to be a genius to see the similarity. He didn't want to go there. Was this about the truth or was this about avoiding this closing the truth? And then he says, you have to ask Mark Judge. Yes, no kidding, your

buddies in the GOP won't let it happen, no other witnesses, no record made by the FBI. This was the minimum standard. This is by definition a rush to judgment.

And Kavanaugh for all his wordy answers and confidence never said he would be OK with any expansion of efforts.

So, now to Professor Ford, a low point for her came in full view when she was asked about how she came to retain her lawyers. Take a listen.


RACHEL MITCHELL, QUESTIONER FOR SENATE REPUBLICANS: Did anybody besides friends and family refer you to any attorneys?

FORD: I think that the staff of Dianne Feinstein's office suggested the possibility of some attorneys.


CUOMO: Why does this matter? Because the Republicans are going to cast her as a political pawn. They delayed the process. They hatched it when they wanted to for maximum effect. They lawyered her up, they got her ready, they paid for her polygraph.

Judge Kavanaugh didn't say today he would even take a polygraph, but that's going to be weaponized.

Then there was the use of Rachel Mitchell, that's the woman you just saw asking the questions, a prosecutor, brought in to interrogate Ford. But she's the alleged victim so they were going to use a prosecutor on her, but not that much with Judge Kavanaugh, the alleged perpetrator. Take a listen.


MITCHELL: Would you believe me if I told you that there's no study that says that this setting in five-minute increments is the best way to do that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll stipulate to that.


CUOMO: Now, you know why I played that for you? I know it has nothing to do with the questioning and the truth, it was the truth of the moment. That prosecutor who's in the business of getting to the bottom line on sexual assaults, she said, this -- this is not how you get to the truth. And that was the truth.

Today was everything I feared it would be. We don't really know much more. We could never decide on the merits of these allegations. And it was clear the senators aren't looking for the truth, just advantage.

Lots of pain for Ford, and in fairness for Kavanaugh. No gain for the truth or the people. And we do deserve answers.

Now, this has been a difficult hearing for many Americans to watch, but especially hard for the friends and loved ones of the judge and the professor. We're going to get reaction from people close to both about why they believe you should believe their friend, next.


CUOMO: Tough day anyway you look at it, but especially for friends and loved ones who could only look on as Judge Kavanaugh and Professor Christine Ford issued their defense to the nation.

But two people who know both of them well are joining me tonight to give us their insight on whom they believe you should believe.

We're going to hear from Christine Ford's friend in a moment and we're going to start with David McIntosh, a friend of Judge Kavanaugh.

And yes, we're all on set. You know what? Because we're not enemies in this place, that's why. We're trying to get to the bottom of the truth and figure out how to move this country forward. He's a former Indiana congressman and a co-founder of the Federalist Society.

Thank you for being here.


CUOMO: So, I'm not here to grill you. Why do you believe that Brett Kavanaugh should be believed about what he said?

MCINTOSH: Yes, I've known Brett for over 20 years. What he presented today is who he is. He's not a perfect person. As he said, and -- but he's very credible, very much a gentleman, and I believe he was totally sincere in saying I never did this.

I also think if you look at it, the way this whole thing was structured, I agree with you, it was a circus and it was terrible, could have been prevented by Dianne Feinstein and her staff. They had the letter back in early July, they could have gone to the Republicans and said, we have to deal with this, take it to the FBI.

CUOMO: True.

MCINTOSH: She could have sent to the FBI.

CUOMO: She said she was respecting anonymity, but I take your point on process.


CUOMO: You're not a person making (ph) it.

MCINTOSH: No, exactly. CUOMO: Here's my only problem with that, I don't really care about it enough, the politics of how we got here. It's about the truth of the matter asserted. You say the judge should be believed.

Here's my pushback, painting himself in a picture of perfection as he did on Fox. He wound up painting himself into a corner and he was fighting out of it today. You heard that Yale -- you didn't know him at Yale --

MCINTOSH: I was there ahead of him.

CUOMO: So one of his classmates who knew him well says, I don't know what happened with Christine Ford, but I know he's not telling the truth when he talks about his drinking. If he lied under oath about the excess of his drinking, and how he was, is that OK?

MCINTOSH: Look, everybody -- when I was at Yale, everybody drank. He said he drank, I believe him in that.

CUOMO: Never to excess, he said. Never too much, never so he wouldn't remember.

MCINTOSH: So he wouldn't black out.

CUOMO: She says otherwise.

MCINTOSH: I doubt anyone's seen him black out. I just question that, because he doesn't --

CUOMO: I don't think --


CUOMO: But go ahead. Make that final point.

MCINTOSH: That's irrelevant, what the question was, is whether or not he sexually assaulted Dr. Ford? And he was very credible in emphatically saying that. He said, look, I was a virgin then and for several years, and, frankly, I was embarrassed about that. I remember when I was his age I was too, and I embarrassed about it. I embellished with my friends.

He was very believable because it were real and it was human.

CUOMO: If it were real and human, that's going to be the assessment, because remember, it's not a trial. It's not about whether you can make the case about him as a sexual attacker.

MCINTOSH: This was him presenting himself who he is.

CUOMO: Right, and whether he was being truthful.

MCINTOSH: He was correctly angry at the way that the process has worked.

CUOMO: Right. MCINTOSH: That is relevant to this. You're taking somebody who has a wonderful reputation. Everybody who's known him professionally says this is unbelievable that he would do that. And in a matter of two weeks, smearing him in this campaign when he could have had a chance to fully refute it.

Actually, I thought he did a pretty good job with the calendar that shows here's where I was. And every other witness at the time says he didn't do it.

When you have a he said/she said, that's the standard anybody goes by, what does everyone else say?

CUOMO: If it were --

MCINTOSH: They all said Brett Kavanaugh didn't do it.

CUOMO: If it were a trial, but this is an integrity measure of him as a man overall.

MCINTOSH: No, no, you and me when we're listening to people, any time you listen to people, they'll have different interpretations about what happened.

CUOMO: Right.

MCINTOSH: You ask everybody else, what did you see?

CUOMO: Well --

MCINTOSH: And when everybody says, I saw what Brett said.

CUOMO: No, that's what they say, though. They say, I don't know. I don't remember. I don't remember that.

MCINTOSH: No, they said, he didn't do it, it didn't happen.

CUOMO: One does, there's a varied kind of, let's call it --

MCINTOSH: Nobody says --

CUOMO: Nobody says he did do it, except Christine Ford.


CUOMO: I appreciate you giving your take.

MCINTOSH: Absolutely. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. That's David McIntosh.

Now I want to turn to Cheryl Amitay. She was inside the hearing today. She's a friend, a former high school classmate of Christine Ford.

Thank you very much. CHERYL AMITAY, FRIEND OF CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: Nice to meet you.

CUOMO: So, we heard Professor Ford say a lot today, the most important thing was, I am 100 percent sure that this was Brett Kavanaugh who did this.


CUOMO: Do you believe that?

AMITAY: Oh, absolutely.


AMITAY: Chrissy was vintage Chrissy today. She was carefully considering in answering the questions. She was not avoiding them.

It was interesting the way she answered questions and responded, I felt was in stark contrast to the judge who almost seemed defensive and petulant and sort of angry. She wanted the most information possibly to get out.

When they said do you want to speak with Mark Judge, it wasn't about him perjuring himself, him coming before -- it was about getting more information. It was purely about, I want to know when he worked at Safeway, so I can give you better information.

CUOMO: What's the chance? Because she said that a lot, relatively, I'd like to know more, I'd like to see this so I could give you more information. I don't know, I can't help you.

Now, that may be honest --

AMITAY: Very honest.

CUOMO: -- but it also has an impact on people who are trying to figure out what you're talking about.

What's the chance she's right about what happened to her and wrong about who did it?

AMITAY: Oh, absolutely none. Absolutely none.

CUOMO: But he swears to god as a devout man, that it wasn't him, he didn't do it, and the people who she says were at the party, can't make the same point that she does.

AMITAY: Well --

CUOMO: Exactly.

AMITAY: Exactly. I would think another person, who was at the party chose not to address the issue more than --

CUOMO: Mark Judge?

AMITAY: No, actually Leland Ingham.

CUOMO: Right.

AMITAY: Due to her own health problems and issues, and Chrissy understood this, she did not want to --

CUOMO: What do you think she could provide?

AMITAY: Well, she apologized to Chrissy by text after she came out with her statement. I think she could have provided that Brett was there. And Brett was there, and she was there as well.

CUOMO: And that's something that obviously the senators should look at. The FBI could have cultivated for them.


CUOMO: We don't know if that's ever going to happen.

AMITAY: They can --

CUOMO: The other knock was, not the facts, but the friend group, who got you here?

AMITAY: Right.

CUOMO: The Democrats, Feinstein, they found you the lawyer, they helped you pay for the polygraph. They are cultivating you as a source. You are their political pawn.

AMITAY: Right.

CUOMO: Fair characterization?

AMITAY: Absolutely not. This was a very unwitting hero in my opinion. Witness in other's opinion. She did not want to be in this situation.

That was part of the delay in this coming out, which is unfortunate in the timing, because she wrestled with it, so much. She had absolutely nothing to gain, absolutely nothing to gain by doing this.

CUOMO: Listen, I appreciate it, not an easy day for you. Not an easy day for you. Not an easy day for any of us.

But you know what? Just us sitting at this table here doing this, this is better than what we got today. They wouldn't be in the same room at the same time, because of the ugliness of the allegations, and certainly the two sides didn't come together on any common ground.

So, thanks to the two of them for making the case to you.

We're going to have more on this confirmation fight for the ages. Remember, if Republicans win this battle, what will it mean? A generation of jurisprudence, but could it cost them in the midterms and beyond? That is a great premise for a great debate, next.


CUOMO: So, what is the right thing to happen next?

Let's start there for our great debate. Angela Rye and Michael Caputo.

It's good to have you both.

Angela Rye, do you think Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed? And do you think he should be confirmed?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Chris, you know, I have to start with hope. I hope he's not confirmed, for all of the reasons that were put on display for the world to see today. And I just have to believe that there are senators of good conscience who are willing to take a risk. I hate that I have to call it a risk today. And stand up on the side of survivors of sexual assault.

Before we came on air, I was reading a note I received in my Instagram DM's from someone, every now and then I check, there's a bunch of them, Chris. But every now and then, I check, just to see -- and get a pulse for what's going on.

And this young man sent me a DM saying he appreciated me speaking out for survivors, because he himself had been the victim of sexual assault by an upstanding man in high school. He had never had the courage to come forward.

And so, all I can say to you is that the Senate has the opportunity to correct its wrongs from 20-something years ago and to finally let survivors of sexual assault, not having their day in court, right? They're not on trial. That having an open audience, with people who at least give them the benefit of the doubt --

CUOMO: Right.

RYE: -- and really hear them out. There were other people that didn't get that chance to get their accusers.

CUOMO: All right. So, and, Michael, what do you think was made clear today that shows that Kavanaugh should be elevated to the Supreme Court?

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: First, Chris, I'd like to stipulate that I also like beer, and I drank a lot of it when I was in the United States Army.

But at the same time, you know, I watched this hearing today, and Dr. Ford really got me. I mean, I thought she was authentic. I thought she was courageous. I also thought her education came through uniquely, and her answers to her questions.

CUOMO: Do you believe her? CAPUTO: Just like I did -- well, I got to tell you, just like you

said at the top of the show, Chris, I believe that something happened to her, and I was really worried at the end of that, that we would lose our Supreme Court nominee.

And then I watched Justice Kavanaugh, and the way he really showed some spine, really in my mind let the audience and the senators know that he was really offended by what he -- you know, he used to call it advise and consent. He called it search and destroy and national disgrace. I happen to agree with all those assessments on his behalf and on Dr. Ford's behalf.

I came away from this today believing the same thing when I went in. But I got a lot more color in it, and a better look at Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford.

CUOMO: So, look, it's not a trial, right? It's not about the guilt or innocence on the point. They were supposed to be there trying to get to the truth of the matter as asserted by Dr. Ford. But we all knew that wasn't possible let alone their inclination.

But, Angela, let me put it to you this way. Let's say you don't know after today whether or not Dr. Ford was right, and it was Brett Kavanaugh. Maybe it was something in between. He's lying about not being at the party, he was there, something happened but he didn't see it that way, maybe he doesn't remember, because he was lying about how much he drinks.

He doesn't just like beer, he likes it more than most people. He partied profoundly. He was seen drunk by people in high school a lot. He was seen drunk in college a lot. He's not telling the truth about himself.

But he didn't do what she says. Then what, Angela?

RYE: So, Chris, I would love to answer that, but I have to go back to the stipulation of your other guest.

What's so unfortunate about your remarks, Mike, is it's clear you didn't learn from the dragging that Kirsten gave you last night, and I cannot believe you would come back on a program and talk about the stipulation of beer, there by undermining every sexual assault survivor in this country. This is not about liking beer, this is about liking beer enough to throw yourself on top of someone and the only way you get off of that person is by another person who's now in hiding in Delaware throwing himself on top of you, so that you tumble off the top of the victim.

So, I just think that your remarks are exactly the problem with how the Republicans are talking about this. Your remarks are in alignment with Lindsey Graham's lovefest with Brett Kavanaugh. Your remarks are in alignment with Brett Kavanaugh's refusal to answer Kamala Harris and Dick Durbin on whether or not he would even allow an FBI investigation to go forward, and/or support said FBI investigation from the White House.

CUOMO: All right.

RYE: That is in fact the problem. So, you all need to correct your message.

CUOMO: All right. So, let's get a response.

CAPUTO: Get to the question.

CUOMO: Let's get to the response.

RYE: You're not the moderator.

CUOMO: Let's just have a good discussion. Yes, there's no need for any --

CAPUTO: Let's try not to get personal here.

CUOMO: Yes, what do you got?

CAPUTO: This show doesn't get personal.

CUOMO: Look, it's an intensely personal subject.


CUOMO: It's a personal subject but let's make good points, what is your response to what Angela said?

CAPUTO: Well, I mean, first of all, I'm not going to bite on, I'm not here to argue, last night it got a little heated.

RYE: It's called the great debate.

CAPUTO: Can I continue?

CUOMO: Go ahead, go ahead. Go ahead.

CAPUTO: Last night, I got a little heated because Kirsten got very personal. I'm not going to bite on Angela's temptation. Appreciate it though. I know that's what you need to make your point.

RYE: I'm a temptress now, you're walking right in. Go for it.


CAPUTO: Oh, lord. You're unreasonable. I hear you --

CUOMO: Look, here's the --

CAPUTO: Can I answer a question? Let me get right back -- let me get to the point of this matter here, OK, Chris?

CUOMO: Go ahead, yes.

CAPUTO: I didn't see any more evidence of this assault at the end of the day today than I -- than we saw before, and I think that the visceral nature and the partisan nature just like Angela is right now, you know, making -- forcing us all to consider this lack of evidence even though, you know -- lack of evidentiary proof this happens, still, we're looking at something that may have happened. It's really visceral. It's really partisan and it's tearing the country apart.

The one thing I know is, I spent my evening tonight at a Republican Party -- a county committee event in Wyoming County, part of New York 27, that seat is now up for grabs because Chris Collins got indicted. You know, nobody there is believing any of this, they're all very upset, and they're going to come out and vote, and that's what really needs to happen in the midterms for the Republican standpoint. The base has got to get out to vote and they're coming out.

CUOMO: But I think both sides will end up coming out because of this, Angela, because it seems like such a wrong.

RYE: I think what's so interesting here is, we can't stay on the topic of this hearing today, and the challenges that exist for Brett Kavanaugh. I think if we talk to any person who's accused of sexual assault, and they had the opportunity to clear their name, if they were in fact accused and they're saying they absolutely unequivocally never happened, why would they not allow an FBI investigation to go forward? Why would they not encourage that to clear their name?

CUOMO: Answer that, Michael. Why won't he encourage FBI? Why won't he take a polygraph? Why not?

CAPUTO: I think this thing needs to get a vote. I think Judge Kavanaugh thinks so too. I was proud of the way he talked today. I was very proud by the way, of Senator Lindsey Graham too.

We're all kind of sick of this delay tactics. Let's get this vote done. And let's get Judge Kavanaugh on the court.

But at the same time, we understand that Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh didn't need to be here today doing this. It should have happened six weeks ago, if it wasn't for the Democrats, especially the ranking member, Senator Feinstein keeping this thing a secret instead -- and three weeks ago, when they were interviewing Judge Kavanaugh about personal issues, they didn't bring it up then.

RYE: So, I guess the thing about this, Chris, is just like we saw Brett Kavanaugh do today, people continue to skirt the issue, the question is simple, why would you not encourage an FBI investigation to clear your name? Instead we blame Dianne Feinstein.

CAPUTO: The answer is very easy.

RYE: The answer, you had an opportunity to give one and you skirted it. So, I'm just saying the answer is very simple. You can't continue to blame other people. You should just go ahead and let the investigation go forward.

CUOMO: Angela Rye, Michael Caputo, thank you very much. Appreciate you making the arguments on the show. Now, who won today? Nobody. Nobody. I know the shows are filled

with people with opinions about who looked good and who looked bad and what they made - look, you're right with the criticism that a lot of that is just TV. I don't know who won, but I can tell you who has the most to lose. And that's the closing argument, next.


CUOMO: Welcome back. Here's the closing argument.

For nearly nine hours, the nation was transfixed. He said, she said. Some of the highest stakes imaginable, a seat on the Supreme Court, supposedly reserved for people of highest integrity. The accuser cried. The nominee cried more. Both were compelling.

But the moment of the day goes to a senator, Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Watch this.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: This is the most unethical sham since I've been in politics. And if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn't have done what you've done to this guy.


CUOMO: What the hell is he so angry about? What is going on with Lindsey Graham? I keep inviting him on the show to make the case. He should be angry at the people to his left and right from his own party.

If he wanted to get red in the face, it should be with shame, that you should own, Senator, and the people in your party who put it this point. This isn't just about the delay of the Democrats. And you know it.

Reality of our life. Facts, no. Fury? Yes. Politics of punishment.

He knows that he doesn't know a damn thing about what happened that night. Certainly, he didn't learn anything today. He's just saying what matters most, and that's what he wants most, the court to go his way.

What was the point of it all? Optics? Change the tone and tenor of the hearing? He succeeded. But we all lost.

The GOP brought in a career prosecutor, experienced in handling sex crimes, to question both witnesses. Senator Grassley said it would help depoliticize the process and get to the truth. They ditched her halfway through the hearing.

So, was the goal really to get to the truth, to ditch anything other than this being a fulsome process? Political punches maybe, well, they had the chance? What's clear, we lost today. All of us. We're in a bad place. Our politicians can't work together. They don't even want to. As a

society, we don't know how to assess non-criminal claims of wrongdoing. We don't have a system of finding facts or accountability for our culture.

And today, we tried it in the most poisoned palace we could find. We have a power struggle that is not a fair fight in this confirmation.

This is about the GOP. Is there enough doubt in any of the Republicans' minds after today? Now, I sound like everybody else, right? On TV who's saying what's obvious and obviously useless.

Here's the real deal. They don't know any more than they did before, because they're not digging in for the facts, because that's not what this is about. This is about figuring out the politics. And let me help you because I've grown up in it.

Collins, Murkowski, Flake, any GOP-er, they're thinking this. What are the women going to do to me if I vote for him? What will the party do to me if I vote against?

And if I still do, if I say I can't do this, this is about integrity, this guy is at a minimum lying about who he is and what he's about, maybe not about what happened with Ford, I don't really know about that. These other women, I don't have time to assess. But I know he's not telling the truth. And it was under the oath.

So if they feel that in the extreme, right? I'm giving you an extreme position. Well, I can only vote him down if I think we're going to win the Senate because I have to make sure we get the court or I'm in really deep trouble. That's the political calculus.

Now, what should the real question be? Do I believe that this man represents our best? That he is a paragon of integrity, because I'm going to put him in a position as a young and healthy man for the rest of his life, probably 35 years, and he is going to decide what matters most about who we are and what we're about as a people.

And if the answers don't ring true, not just about the sexual assault, this is not a trial, this is a job interview. This is an assessment of character. It's about how he handles it as much as the truth of the matters asserted.

And on balance, do I think if I'm one of these senators that I should reward him after everything that I've learned? That's the question for them.

What is the answer? We're going to see.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. That's it for us.

Don Lemon is going to pick up the coverage. There's so much to talk about. Stay with CNN right after this break.