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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Supreme Court Nominee Testifies on Assault Accusations. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired September 27, 2018 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:00:00]

BRETT KAVANAUGH: Also ninth grade, Georgetown Prep. Went by P.J. then. He and I lived close to one another. Played football together, he was defensive tackle, I was the quarterback and wide receiver.

We carpooled to school along with De Davis (ph) every year, the three of us for two years. I didn't have a car, so one of the two of them would drive every day. And I'd be in the (ph), you know, they'd pick me up.

RACHEL MITCHELL: What's your relationship like with him now?

KAVANAUGH: He lives in the area. I see him once in a while. I haven't seen him since this -- this thing.

MITCHELL: OK. Do you know Leland Ingham or Leland Keyser?

KAVANAUGH: I -- I know of her. And it -- it's possible I, you know, saw -- met her in high school at some point at some event. Yes, I know -- I know of her and, again, I don't want to rule out having crossed paths with her in high school.

MITCHELL: Similar to your statements about knowing Dr. Ford?

KAVANAUGH: Correct.

MITCHELL: OK.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY. R-IA: Senator Feinstein.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-CA.: Judge Kavanaugh, it's my understanding that you have denied the allegations by Dr. Ford, Ms. Ramirez and Ms. Swetnick. Is that correct?

KAVANAUGH: Yes.

FEINSTEIN: All three of these women have asked the FBI to investigate their claims. I listened carefully to what you said. Your concern is evident and clear. And if you're very confident of your position, and you appear to be, why aren't you also asking the FBI to investigate these claims?

KAVANAUGH: Senator, I'll do whatever the committee wants. I wanted a hearing the day after the allegation came up. I wanted to be here that day. Instead, 10 days passed where all this nonsense is coming out, you know, that I'm in gangs, I'm on boats in Rhode Island, I'm in Colorado, you know, I'm sighted (ph) all over the place. And these things are printed and run, breathlessly (ph) by cable news.

You know, I wanted a hearing the next day. I -- my family's been destroyed by this, senator, destroyed.

FEINSTEIN: And -- and I'm -- and I'm very (ph)...

KAVANAUGH: And -- and whoever wants -- you know whatever the committee decides, you know, I'm -- I'm -- I'm all in.

FEINSTEIN: ... But the question is...

KAVANAUGH: Immediately. I'm all in immediately.

FEINSTEIN: ... No (ph). And the terrible and hard part of this is when we get an allegation, we're not in a position to prove it or disprove it; therefore, we have to depend on some outside authority for it. And it would just seem to me, then, when these allegations came forward, that you would want the FBI to investigate those claims and clear it up once and for all.

KAVANAUGH: Senator, the committee investigates. It's not for me to -- to say how to do it. But just so you know, the FBI doesn't reach a conclusion. They would give you a couple 302s that just tell you what we said.

So I'm here. I wanted to be here -- I wanted to be here the next day. It's an -- it's an outrage that I was not allowed to come and immediately defend my name, and say I didn't do this, and give you all this evidence. I'm not even -- I'm not even in D.C. on the weekends in the summer of 1982.

This happened on a weekday? Well, is (ph) it -- when -- when I'm not at a Blair High School for a summer league game, I'm not at Tobin's house working out, I'm not at a movie with Suzanne? You know, I wanted to be here right away.

FEINSTEIN: Well, the difficult thing is that it -- the -- these hearings are set and -- set by the majority. But I'm talking about getting the evidence and having the evidence looked at. And I don't understand -- you know, we hear from the witnesses. But the FBI isn't interviewing them and isn't giving us any facts. So all we have...

KAVANAUGH: You're interviewing me.

FEINSTEIN: ... is what they say.

KAVANAUGH: You're interviewing me. You're -- you're doing it, senator. I'm sorry to interrupt...

FEINSTEIN: Well...

KAVANAUGH: ... but you're doing it. That's -- the -- the -- there's no conclusions reached. FEINSTEIN: ... And -- and what you're saying, if -- if I understand it, is that the allegations by Dr. Ford, Ms. Ramirez and Ms. Swetnick are -- are wrong?

KAVANAUGH: Yes, that -- that is emphatically what I'm saying; emphatically. The Swetnick thing is a joke. That is a farce.

FEINSTEIN: Would you like to say more about it?

KAVANAUGH: No.

FEINSTEIN: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

[16:05:00]

FEINSTEIN: OK. That's it. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

GRASSLEY: OK. Ms. Mitchell.

MITCHELL: Dr. Ford has described you as being intoxicated at a party. Did you consume alcohol during your high school years?

KAVANAUGH: Yes, we drank beer. My friends and I, the boys and girls. Yes, we drank beer. I liked beer. Still like beer. We drank beer. The drinking age, as I noted, was 18, so the seniors were legal, senior year in high school, people were legal to drink, and we -- yeah, we drank beer, and I said sometimes -- sometimes probably had too many beers, and sometimes other people had too many beers.

MITCHELL: What do you...

KAVANAUGH: We drank beer. We liked beer.

MITCHELL: What do you consider to be too many beers?

KAVANAUGH: I don't know. You know, we -- whatever the chart says, a blood-alcohol chart.

MITCHELL: When you talked to Fox News the other night, you said that there were times in high school when people might have had too many beers on occasion. Does that include you?

KAVANAUGH: Sure.

MITCHELL: OK. Have you ever passed out from drinking?

KAVANAUGH: I -- passed out would be -- no, but I've gone to sleep, but -- but I've never blacked out. That's the -- that's the -- the allegation, and that -- that -- that's wrong.

MITCHELL: So let's talk about your time in high school. In high school, after drinking, did you ever wake up in a different location than you remembered passing out or going to sleep?

KAVANAUGH: No, no.

MITCHELL: Did you ever wake up with your clothes in a different condition, or fewer clothes on than you remembered when you went to sleep or passed out?

KAVANAUGH: No, no.

MITCHELL: Did you ever tell -- did anyone ever tell you about something that happened in your presence that you didn't remember during a time that you had been drinking?

KAVANAUGH: No, the -- the -- we drank beer, and you know, so -- so did, I think, the vast majority of -- of people our age at the time. But in any event, we drank beer, and -- and still do. So whatever, you know.

MITCHELL: During the time in high school when you would be drinking, did anyone ever tell you about something that you did not remember?

KAVANAUGH: No.

MITCHELL: Dr. Ford described a small gathering of people at a suburban Maryland home in the summer of 1982. She said that Mark Judge, P.J. Smyth and Leland Ingham also were present, as well as an unknown male, and that the people were drinking to varying degrees. Were you ever at a gathering that fits that description?

KAVANAUGH: No, as I've said in my opening statements -- opening statement.

MITCHELL: Dr. Ford described an incident where she was alone in a room with you and Mark Judge. Have you ever been alone in a room with Dr. Ford and Mark Judge?

KAVANAUGH: No.

MITCHELL: Dr. Ford described an incident where you were grinding your genitals on her. Have you ever ground or rubbed your genitals against Dr. Ford?

KAVANAUGH: No.

MITCHELL: Dr. Ford described an incident where you covered her mouth with your hand. Have you ever covered Dr. Ford's mouth with your hand?

KAVANAUGH: No.

MITCHELL: Dr. Ford described an incident where you tried to remove her clothes. Have you ever tried to remove her clothes?

KAVANAUGH: No.

MITCHELL: Referring back to the definition of sexual behavior that I have given you, have you ever, at any time, engaged in sexual behavior with Dr. Ford?

KAVANAUGH: No.

MITCHELL: Have you ever engaged in sexual behavior with Dr. Ford, even if it was consensual?

KAVANAUGH: No.

MITCHELL: I want to talk about your calendars. You submitted to the committee copies of the handwritten calendars that you've talked about for the months of May, June, July and August of 1982. Do you have them in front of you?

KAVANAUGH: I do.

MITCHELL: Did you create these calendars, in the sense of all the handwriting that's on them?

KAVANAUGH: Yes.

MITCHELL: OK. Is it exclusively your handwriting?

KAVANAUGH: Yes.

MITCHELL: When did you make these entries?

KAVANAUGH: In nine -- in 1982.

MITCHELL: Has anything changed -- been changed for those since 1982?

KAVANAUGH: No.

MITCHELL: Do these calendars represent your plans for each day, or do they document -- in other words, prospectively, or do they document what actually occurred, more like a diary?

[16:10:00] KAVANAUGH: They're both forward-looking and backward- looking, as you can tell by looking at them, because I cross out certain doctor's appointments that didn't happen, or one night where I was supposed to lift weights, I crossed that out, because it -- I obviously didn't make it that night. So you can see things that I didn't do crossed out in retrospect, and also, when I list the specific people who I was with, that is likely backward-looking.

MITCHELL: You explain that you kept these calendars because your father started keeping them in 1978, I believe you said. That's why you kept them. In other words, you wrote on them. But why did you keep them up until this time?

KAVANAUGH: Well -- well, he's kept them, too, since 1978, so he's a good role model.

GRASSLEY: Ms. Mitchell, you'll have to stop.

MITCHELL: Oh, I'm sorry.

GRASSLEY: Judge Kavanaugh has asked for a break, so we'll take a 15- minute break. [16:15:02] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, sometimes a laconic man of few words and there he was you would expect there to be a lot of emotion.

What was your reaction, Symone Sanders, to what Judge Kavanaugh had to say today? Do you believe that he's telling his truth?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't believe -- so, one, I don't believe Brett Kavanaugh is telling the entire truth, just the part that he noted about the yearbook entry, but we called the young woman, the Renate (ph) alumni because she was one of us, that she didn't know about it, I just thought it wasn't believable. I think he told non-truths. He lied about things. I don't think he needed to lie about but perhaps he felt he could not give any ground because he didn't want to be found culpable for anything.

I -- the most striking thing was his anger. I understand if you have -- if you believe you have not done something wrong and you are upset and you are angry, but the way he portrayed himself at the onset of his hearing today, he looked unhinged. He looked dismissive.

He also took direct aim at Democratic senators. You are auditioning for a job, sir, and these senators, it is our job to advise and consent. It reminded me that Brett Kavanaugh at his heart was an operative. Let's not forget, he was a Republican operative.

So, he did not come off as someone that wanted to come out and clear his name. He came out as someone who wanted to come out swinging, punching and hitting and wanted to let you know he wasn't going to take anybody's stuff today and I don't think that helped himself at all.

TAPPER: Doug, do you think he's helped yourself?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENNTATOR: I think he has. I'll tell you, I was e-mailing and texting with a million different Republican operatives who worked on House and Senate hearings this morning, all of whom thought Dr. Ford was extremely credible, brought a lot of compassionate thoughts to her experiences. And then, it's also a mirror image, a lot louder of a mirror image from Brett Kavanaugh today. He did exactly what he needed to do thus far.

The challenge for both of these individuals today is there are different conversations with different audiences in mind. And so, if you're a Republican you've seen what you wanted to see thus far. If you're a Democrat, you've seen what you wanted to see thus far. And it's why this divide that we have in this country, I fear, is only going to get wider whatever the end result.

TAPPER: And the big question, of course, is not just with the jurors in living rooms watching this right now or the jurors around this table believe, but what Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Jeff Flake and then the red state Democrats, Manchin, Donnelly, Heitkamp what they think about Brett Kavanaugh. What do you make of it?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: What they think beats the hell out of me. I just don't know what they think. I was struck by how similar this was to Clarence Thomas --

TAPPER: Even some of the same words.

TOOBIN: Some of the same words. I mean, the level of anger, the degree to which he blamed the opposition party. I mean, a phrase that jumped out on me, that this was revenge on the part of the Clintons. I mean, it wasn't even just blame as you pointed out -- the Democratic senators. That this was revenge on the part of the Clintons plural, Hillary Clinton who lost in 2016 and Bill Clinton whom he investigated --

TAPPER: As part of the Whitewater team.

TOOBIN: As part of Ken Starr's team.

You know, there -- you know, naively perhaps a lot of people think the Supreme Court should be at least somewhat divorced from politics. This was a deeply political statement designed to appeal to Republicans.

TAPPER: And he said what goes around comes around. He fears for the future.

We're going to take a quick break. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will answer more questions from the Senate Judiciary.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:22:33] TAPPER: Welcome back.

We're waiting for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to resume his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. So far, we've seen Judge Kavanaugh angrily and occasionally emotionally denying allegations that he had ever sexually assaulted anyone.

CNN national political reporter M.J. Lee has been inside the hearing room all day.

M.J., what was the reaction in the room to Kavanaugh's 45-minute defiant opening statement?

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Incredibly defiant, Jake, and just incredible to see just how angry and frustrated he was. As for the people who were in the room, similar to when Christine Blasey Ford was testifying, there were people seated behind Brett Kavanaugh who were also crying, wiping away tears.

He obviously mentioned during his testimony that some of his closest friends who have been with him throughout the years and have really had his back over the last trying two weeks or so, how they were in the audience so this has been an emotional moment for them as well -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. M.J. Lee, thank you so much. Gloria Borger and Dana Bash are joining our panel now.

And, Dana Bash, what are you hearing from your Republican sources about the reaction to Kavanaugh's testimony? It's such a Rorschach test on social media.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is.

TAPPER: Liberals who loved Professor Ford and conservatives who found many holes in her testimony and the reverse is happening now. Conservatives who say they love to see him fighting back. He's an innocent man and liberals in many cases mocking him.

BASH: Which is exactly what I'm hearing and kind of what you would expect in a situation where it is his story versus her story, without a lot of actual facts to help back it up which is the whole point that the Democrats are making, that it would be nice to have an investigation. It was interesting to hear Kavanaugh in answer to Dianne Feinstein say, sure, bring it on. Let's get the facts.

But with regard to kind of the dynamics and the zeitgeist right now among Republicans, those who were thinking that this is done this morning after hearing from Professor Ford are feeling a little bit better about his chances for a couple of reasons. Number one, you know, she understandably came across as incredibly emotional and incredibly credible, and they feel that he does, too, that, yes, he was crying and that showed the human side of him.

[16:25:07] That he's not some -- some sort of monster, that he actually, you know, feels horrible about the way that this has gone down, particularly how it's made his family feel.

The other side is something that is making a lot of people kind of sit back, the fact that he was yelling. He was screaming. He was fighting. He was taking no prisoners at all with the way he was talking and the language, and that was completely directed at Donald Trump and the Republican base who want to see that kind of fight against a Democratic Party that they think have been railroading him.

TAPPER: And, Gloria, he tried to walk a line, Judge Kavanaugh, not attacking Professor Ford but attacking her allegation.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely.

TAPPER: Pointing out that it was not only uncorroborated in his words but refuted by other people who had been there, saying that he doesn't question whether or not something happened to her at some place by someone but that it wasn't him. Did he succeed? Did he pull it off?

BORGER: Well, I think he did. As we were talking earlier, there's a difference between saying that she's a liar versus saying that she is mistaken, and I think he tried to walk that line, not accusing her of lying.

I mean, I think there was a really emotional moment when his young daughter said let's pray for her and that's when he kind of broke down and a lot of people I've been texting with kind of broke down. He said she's mistaken. It's not -- it wasn't me, and the Republicans that I've been texting with say or one said to me I'm literally in tears watching this, just, you know, as a way you could feel emotional with her, you felt emotional with him, defending himself.

TAPPER: All right. Here's Judge Kavanaugh. Let's listen in.

GRASSLEY: Senator Leahy?

LEAHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Judge, you said before, and again today, that Mark Judge was a close friend of yours in high school. Now Dr. Ford, as you know, has said that he was in the room when she was attacked. She also says you were, too.

Unfortunately (ph) the (ph) the FBI has never interviewed him. We might (ph) be able to have his attendance here. The chairman refuses to call him.

If she's saying Mark Judge was in the room then, then he should be in the room here today. Would you want him called as a witness?

KAVANAUGH: Senator, this allegation came into the committee...

LEAHY: No, I'm just asking the question. Would you want him to be here as a witness?

KAVANAUGH: He's -- he's already provided sworn testimony to the committee. This allegation's been hidden by the committee...

LEAHY: Now, well (ph)...

(CROSSTALK)

KAVANAUGH: ... by -- by members of the...

LEAHY: ... it hasn't been -- it has not been investigated by the FBI. The committee has refused to allow it to be.

KAVANAUGH: It was dropped on (ph)...

(CROSSTALK)

KAVANAUGH: ... it was sprung.

LEAHY: It was not investigated by the FBI, and he has not been called where he might be under oath.

KAVANAUGH: Should have been handled in the due course, Senator.

(CROSSTALK)

KAVANAUGH: When he came in.

LEAHY: I would -- I would disagree with that. I've been on this committee 44 years, both Republicans and Democrats. I've never seen somebody that critical and not allowed to be here to -- called to be testified on or a (ph) FBI background.

But let me ask...

(CROSSTALK)

KAVANAUGH: You see (ph) he's provided sworn testimony and the...

LEAHY: He has -- he has not...

KAVANAUGH: ... Senator -- Senator, let me -- let me finish. He -- the -- the allegation came in weeks ago and nothing was done with it by the ranking member.

And then it's sprung on me...

LEAHY: Judge Kavanaugh, I've heard your -- your line (ph) and you state it over and over again. And I have that well in mind. But let me ask you this. He authored a book titled, "Wasted: Tales of a Genx Drunk." He references a Barthold (ph) Kavanaugh vomiting on someone's car during Beach Week and then passing out. Is that you that he's talking about?

KAVANAUGH: Senator, Mark Judge was...

LEAHY: To your knowledge, is that you that he's talking about?

KAVANAUGH: I'll explain it if you let me.

[16:30:00]