tv Washington Week PBS September 21, 2018 7:30pm-8:00pm PDT
robert: september surprise. intensifying battle over supreme court ninee brett kavanaugh. i'm robert costa, welcome to "washington enek." prestrump: to see what's going to is just very, very sad. t ll the f.b.i. 3years ago?y robert: presidump questions the credibility of the allegations against supreme court nominee brett kavanaugh, firing off t a tweet about accuser and her parents. mr. trump wrote, in part ," i have no doubt that if the attack had been as bad as she says, charges would have beendi imely filed. vanaugh denies the allegations and says he is ready to testify. in the senate judiciary
committee led by repubcans, considers its options. the political tight rope ahead, ju weeks before the midterm atections. demo stands by dr. ford. >> i believe her because she's telling the truth. someone who is lying does not ask the f.b.i. to investigate their claims. robert: key republican senators are in t spotlight. plus, did deputy attorney general rod rosenein who heads the russia probe suggest secretly recording the president? we cover it all next. announcer: this is "washington week." funding is provided by -- newman's own foundation, donating all profits from newman's own food products to charity and nourishing the common good. koo and patricia yuen through the yuen foundation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation. the corporation for public
broadcting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again, from washingn, moderator, robert costa. robert:good evening. federal judge brett kavanaugh once appeared to be on the fast track to being confirmed to a lifetime appointment on the supreme court. now his nomination's fate is uncertain. in "the washingt post" on sunday, professor christine blasey ford accused kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at party when she was 15 years old and kavanaugh was 17.y, on thursavanaugh sent a letter toe the sendiciary committee saying he's prepared to testify on monday, writing, from the moment i first heard this allegation, i haveca tegorically denied it. i am committed to defending my integrity. dr. ford, in seclusion because of death threats, says she's willing to testify no sooner
than thursday if certain including are met kavanaugh would testify first. a subpoena for testimony from alleged witness mark judge and robust security. kavanaugh and his family have also received threats, according to his allies. joiningk" the "washington w table tonight are four veteran first-class reporters. peter baker of the "new york times, nancy cordes of cbs news, andrea mitchell nbc news and dan balz of "the washington post." president trump's response to the firestorm was at first out of character, restrained about the accuser, even as he stood by kavanaugh. yet that changed on friday. is the president's aggressive turn a sign o what's come next week? peter: it's a small preview but it could be so much more vitrlic and combative and we've established the outer lit of the president's ability to the restrain himself with circumstances like this. it's about 100 hours.
his advisers told him not to tweet about it and he said he stood by brett kavanaugh, felt sorry for his family, what was happening was unfair but didn't take o a theuser in the direct way he's been known to in the pastnt thursday night and immediately generated exactly the blow-back the white house feared, which is that he doesn't understand women and how would you think you have to come forward, a 15-year-old girl, trying t explain to your parents why you were at the party and you have to gto the police. unrealistic, many women did say. not what the white house was hoping for. robertophow do his advisers see it, andrea? you sat down with secretary of state mike pompeo. andrea: he's getting ready for the u.n. meetings. they want the president to be on
the world stage talking about iranor and korea, taking credit for changing the climate on north korve but the got this shadow and potential hearings during the time be chairing a u.n. security council meeting and they aiv defe about it and what pompeo is saying is that judge kavanaugh has a great record as far as he knows and they are goingin after dianne ein for, they say, covering this up, not understanding or acknowledging what she says, which is that she was honorthg confidentiality of a witness who was so reluctant to speak t and that's why she did not want to share the information anyone, including h own colleagues, to some consternation on their part.he but fact that they're going after dianne feinstein and we see the president, as peter just said, really going after dr. blasey ford. robert: this has brought up memories of 1991 withnita hill
testifying against then nominee clusence thomas, nowce thomas. some of the players then, like senator orrin hatch of utah, republican, are still with us today. how is that whole momen that charged national spectacle from anita hill, informing today's moment? dan: spectacle is a kind word for what happened in those hearings.dr covered it. it was a debacle. the republicansn that case aggressively went after anita hill to try to demolish her story. the democrats weren't quite sure what and when clarence thomas proclaimed he was a victim of a high-tech lynching, which was the most memorable phrase of that episode, they backed off. but they sparred constantly. they were crossing at one another. the hearings went on for several days. nothing in the end was resolved other than that thomas became a supreme cou justice. flash forward to where we are
today, if, in fact, we have a public hearing on this, i think that the challenge for the republicans is to avoidha their colleaguesid in 1991. as we all know, we're in a much different moment about issues having to doh w sexual harassment, sexual assault. they have to be very careful in the way they conduct themselves but democrats will also have a very difficult time. it's difficult in those moments cause this is so -- the stakes are so high and this is so difficult fors senators to restrain themselves. robert: i'm glad we could get you here from capitol hill, nancy. whereiao the negons stand? republicans need to be careful. where the is dr. ford and chairman chuck grassley of the judiciary committee as of tonight? nancy're so key to avoid what happened with t anita hill hearings, republicans are considering ceding their right
question dr. blasey ford to an outside counsel. when is the last timou saw senators willing to step back and let someone else ask questions. there are 11 men on the republican side on the senate judiciary committee so that the anitanged since hill days and they think the optics are bad. as far as tonight, the two sides, lawyers for ford and hpublicans on the senate judiciary committe been negotiating through the press for a couple of days now. the t chairman of senate judiciary committee, chuck grassley, is now giving the lawyers until 10:00 p.m. tonight to officially say that she is going to appear at a hearing on wednw,day. as you k her lawyers say she can't make it until thursday. republicans initially wanted to hold the hearing on monday. they're willing to push that s back b they're not going to accept some of her other demands. republicans say they're demands. democrats say they were questions or requests. for example, she wanted to testify after kanaugh.
republicans said, no can do. she wants to make sure she's questioned oy by other senators, not outside counsel, that starts to feel like a trial, democrats say. republicans say they right to have questions asked by someone else. this is the back-and-forth we're seeing. it feels like we're narrowing in on agreement between the sides but there are a number of issues. robert: we're taping it live 9:00 eastern on friday and we'll see what happens by 10:00. andrea: her lawyers have not said is a deal break if they insist on outside counsel which to them seems important. they want a woman lawyer h questionin. that said, i think it's going to be difficult for her not to show up even s though thesem to her supporters to be reasonable requests, because they have the votes and she doesn't show up, they think they can barrel through. i think there's a risk
politically in the midterms in some senateel races, as that are so critically balanced right enow, tied in s of these states which we can talk about later but i think p titics of her refusing or the politics of them proceeding a very uncertain right now. robert: both sides pretty much know that. you have senate majority leader mitch mcconnell and his message is f sled ahead in a chamber where the g.o.p. has narrow control. senator mcconnell: you've watched the fight. you've watched the tactics. here's what i want to tell you, in the very near future, judge kavanaugh will be on the united states supreme court. so, my friends, keep the faith. don't get rattled by all of this. we're going to plow right through it and do our job. robert: as i said, it's friday night. the president's in springfield,
missouri, having a rally talking to the faiful in h base. he said he is going to stand by judge kavanaugh. he called kavanaugh someone out of central casting. so the republican party, mcconnell or trump, they're digging in. peter: they have t have 51 points in order to proceed. this is a volatile situation. clarence thomas and anita hill, their confrontation, it was ar full yfore the next election and still shaped that electiono the detriment of republicans and some democrats who were turned out.pe this hd six weeks before the election, an election already onoo tente and you can see why republicans are g anxious t their nominee through now because if they don't have the senate iner nove they're not going to get him through afterwards and by the sameem token,rats are motivated to delay as long as possle because if the can knock off this nominee, perhaps
they can influence the next choice. robert: does it influence the midterms? dan: yes. the timing could not be more fraught.n i was i denver talking to in particular women voters. i'll say two things about it. one is, there is a split on this question. people who are loyal to trump want kavanaugh. they don't believe her. but on the other side which is where there is more energy, they are totally in support of dr. ford and they see this as a critical issue. it is energizin people beyond the energy that was already there so i think depending on how ts playsut, the republicans are more at risk as a result of it.: andrd they have to figure out what the president's going to do. ifhere's another tweet like today's, they're going to have a real problem because they have no votes to spare, arguably, and susan collins, who was leaning in the direction, we think, of
confirming, making some would say rationalizations about what he assured her about roe being settled law. but she came up strongly today really objecting to the president's tweet where he went after her as a victim and said why wasn't it respected -- reported to the f.b.i.? well, she was 15 years old and afraid to tell her parents she was drinking at a party with nro suion and that was panic that set in as her story. robert: so you're saying republican votes, moderate republicans, that's fragile, for mcconnell. what about red state democrats? do ty have less pressure to vote for kavanaugh? nancy: i think they absolutely have less pressure. kavanaugh, according to polling, was not all that popular butt they fressure to side with
the president on an issue this important in their red states. now suddenly they have a pretty good case to make if the decide to vote no. if they vote a different w than they did with gorsuch and they can rest assured that it'sy probot going to hurt them in their midtermctions theig way it have otherwise. dan: i think related to that is the degree to which it couldm hurt tf they vote for him. they need -- they need an energized base and again, in tlking to some people this week, one of thngs that came through is that these votersant their representatives, their senators, to stand up for the things that th claim to believe in and so if a red stateemocrat supports kavanaugh in the end, if it comes to that, they could pay a price. robert: and midterm voting starts now, it's beginning. peter: as people are going to the polls, this is the national conversation.
and it's a much more visceral conversation than some of there esoteric things we get this is something easy toon. understand. rybert: gender. peter: not ee may understand north korea but they understand this kind of thingod because ever knows someone who has had an experience and sees it with their lens so as you can getssue as this close to an election. andrea: the only other overriding issue right now is healthcare. ain ofre feeling the prices. and soybean prices and tariffs. if you go to minnesota, trade is a big deal. nancy: and the hearing hasn't even happened yet. people are fired up now, imagine what it will be like after this hearing. we have one adult picture of christine blasey ford right now when she's actually sitting there testifying in person telling her story. that is going to be a veryhe
sympc image for a lot of people. there's a reason why brett kavanaugh has spent every day this week prepping fs hearing. it's very high stakes. hdrea: he's prepping with people at the whise who are not necessarily sympathetic or understanding of these issues. f the people prepping them have had their own questions -- robert: you're talking about bill shine, deputy chief of staff, former executive at fox staff who used to advisehooger ailes had allegations of misconduct. andrea: it's nat a g sensitivity to the way to communicate with women. the only other thing i would say is thinking back, we didn't have -- there was cnn but not a st of cable and now you have saturation throuial media and cable so these hearings will be even more widely viewed than the weekend hearings -- pen 1991, the default became, fairly or not, for anita
hill to prove it. she had the burden of proof. today, because of the "me too" movement and the last year, presumption is the other direction. robert: times haveishanged, this ot 1991, everything's different but some of the people from 1991 are still around. "new york times" is reporting deputy attorney general rod inrosensho oversees the russia probe suggested having someone wear a wire to secretly record the president inside the white house. according to the sources rosenstein considered recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th amendment to removem mr. trump fffice. rosenstein and the justice department have disputed the istory, calling itorrect. a person familiar with the exchange told "the times" rosenstein was being sarcastic. "the washington post" and other following the story said people familiar with the discussions have offered wildly different accounts of what was said and what it meant. this is a big story friday night
but the question is how does president trump see it. peter? [laughter] peter: he' been publicly bashing rhaenstein more a year now so you can see how the story might get under his skin to hear the deputy attorney general, whether joking or not, talked about bugging him and the idea is it fits into president trump's theory which is that they're out to get him so if you're rod rosenstein today, you're worried about that. someone close t the white house teld me that rosenstein has done a better job than sessions working with the white house since the blow-up a year ago. the white house has been defending and disputing the story since it came out so it may b that it doesn't cost rosenstein his job but it talks about what a dysfunctional person this administratio is that t number two person, even
as aok said it was ok to bug the president or invoke the 25th amendment, says much about the administration. andrea: what some of ourg reportas and the "new york times" reporting has been superb so i don't want thallenge it directly but we were told that he basically said in frustration during ane of these meeting we know exactly who was in the meetings and a number of these people have been tal to, that he said, what do you want me to do andy, wear a wire? it was in that context and r you have tlize that andy mccabe was fired by rod rosenstein, essentially, and may, in fact, face ramications for that. there's an issue of whether he lied to the f.b.i.th e's a book deal involved. we don't know about the motivations there. robert: "the times" story is based on reporting about memos about these discussions from
2017. andrew mccabe was fired from the f.b.i. and a report found him to have taken improper action so now you have andy mccabe, with tensions with rod rosenstein, current attorney general, who oversees tussia probe. you brought up about the different people in the administration who are,ou think back to the woodward book, "fear, the "new york times" op-ed, is this an administrative coup d'etat to use woodward's phrase, that is being painted by these? stori nancy: it felt like that, when you read the story today, like tmeone thought it was time to build a caseo get rid of rod rosenstein and started talking. you have seen a big shift among republicans in their comfort level with the presidenterhaps replacing jeff sessions so the question is would they have that rme comfort level if rosenstein was to depart. robert: what happens if rosenstein goes? nancy: you'd have to replace him
and have another confirmation process and ybe rem that grassley famously said months ago that he doesn't haveimeo confirm a new attorney general and he appears to have softened on that but much like sessions, republicans, by and large in the senate, actually think rosenstein is doing a good job and he's obviously playing a delicate, important role overseeing the russia revestigation so they don't have any in in rocking the boat. robert: joke or not, w dan,n you have a person at this level of the department of justice using this kind of casual conversation, regardless of how we want to interpret it, how what does that tell you about how this administration sees its own president? dan:here have been now so many examples of this that what it tells you is that there is no confidence, at very high levels of the admintration, in the president's consistency, his reliability, his way he operates. they may share t agenda, as
the anonymous op-ed writer did. but as they watch this alarmed anyhey are number of times and this has happened over a long period of months. this is justne more example. i think the other thing it tells us is what we already have known which is the degree to which the justice department is now in turmoil. some of it caused internally. some of it caused as a result tf wh president has done with jeff sessions. but we have not seen the end of that piece of the story. andrea: i don't think there's any doubt that jeff sessions either will be resigning or be fired after the election and that wouldly potentiead to a domino effect where rosenstein's job already would be in jeopardy and it does jeopardize some aspects of the. mueller pro the other thing is that we've noticed, that i have told, since the woodward book came out in particular, that at some of the key meetings of the
principals and deputies' committee, the n keyional security meetings bolton is running, key agency pyers who disagree with policy decisions, are not invited, to eliminateia poteleaks. they are really closing -- circling the wagons, trying to crack down on any reporting out of some of these meetings in the future. robert: andrea brought out that attorney general sessions, the president said i don't even he attorney general talking to the hill. how close are you talking to sources of a major upheaval at d.o.j.? peter: you can see something iws really b up. the otherng t that didn't get as much attention is the corruption of the f.b.i. is a cancer on the country. that's extraordinary. what dan just said,e is at war with the law enforcement
apparatus in trys cou and also under investigation by the law enforcement apparatus i this country and we're in unchartered territory in many ways and after the election anything could win especially if democrats win. robert: mentioning the 25th amendment, getting members of the cabinet -- peter: still a far-fetched scenario. something people on the left say may be great but requires the vice president of the united states and half the cabinet say -- and an appeals clause in effect. don'tesident could say agree i'm incapacitated and two-thirds of t house and senate would have to overturn the president's judgment to put the vice president -- nancy: you also have to think about the time frame in which this happened. as volatile as things are right now, tt was right aft the president had met with russian officials in the oval office, divulged classified information to them. it was right at thetart of his presidency so people were already very nervous and this was a ver t real concernt we
were hearing at that point, is, is heoing to understand the rules of classified information and all the other strictures that exist when you're president of the united states. so there was a great dealf nervousness. some of that has relaxed over time, as they've put in place some boundaries and peter knows more about that than i do, to make sure some of the third rails aren't touched. robert: some things have changed but these weeks are as busy as ever. thanks, everybody. our conversation will continue online on the "washington week extra." you can find that later tonight and all week long at pbs.org/washingtonweek. thanks so much for this great table tonight. wonderful conversat and thank you for joining us. i'm robert costa. see you next time.
announcer: funding for "washington week" is provided by -- newman's own foundation, donating all profits from newman's own's food products to charity and nourishing the common good. the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation. koo and patric yuen through the yuen foundation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs statn from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org.] sic)
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