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CNN Exclusive: Judge Kavanaugh's Accuser Wants FBI Investigation Before Testifying on Capitol Hill; Exclusive: CNN Obtains Letter Sent By Attorneys for Kavanaugh Accuser to GOP Sen. Grassley. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired September 18, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:09] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin tonight with breaking news you'll only see it here. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her, wants the FBI to investigate her allegations before talking to the Senate Judiciary Committee about it. We know this because 360 has exclusively obtained a letter her attorneys have just moments ago sent to Chuck Grassley.

It lays out in stark terms the price she says she and her family are already paying. Chairman Grassley wants her to appear next Monday before the committee. Republicans want to speed the nomination along. Democrats want to go slow. President Trump says Judge Kavanaugh doesn't deserve this.

But until now, we do not know what Dr. Ford wants. Tonight, we do, reading now from the letter to Chairman Grassley that we've just received. As you know, earlier this summer, Dr. Ford sought to tell her story in confidence so that lawmakers would have a fuller understanding of Brett Kavanaugh's character and history.

Only after the details of her experience were leaked did Dr. Ford make the reluctant decision to come forward publicly. The letter continues saying, quote, in the 36 hours since her name became public, Dr. Ford has received a stunning amount of support from her community and from fellow citizens across our country. At the same time, however, the letter goes on, saying, quote, her worst fears have materialized. She's been the target of harassment and even death threats. As a result of this kind of threats, her family was forced to relocate out of their home. Her e-mail has been hacked and she's been impersonated online.

The letter then says this to Chairman Grassley, quoting, again, while Dr. Ford's life is being turned upside down, you and your staff scheduled a public hearing for her to testify at the same table as Judge Kavanaugh in front of two dozen senators on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident. The hearing was scheduled for six days from today and would include interrogation by senators who appear to have made up their mind that she is mistaken and mixed up.

While no sexual assault survivor should be subjected to such an ordeal, Dr. Ford wants to cooperate with the committee and with law enforcement officials. And this the bottom line and I'm quoting, as the Judiciary Committee has recognized and done before, an FBI investigation of the incident should be the first step in addressing her allegations. A full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearings or making any decisions.

Again, we have just gotten this letter. So has Senator Grassley. We are seeking reaction from him and other committee members, which will bring you if and when they come in during the hour.

But, first, one of the attorneys representing Christine Blasey Ford, Lisa Banks, joins me now.

Thanks for being with us.

Are you saying -- I want to repeat this line. As the judiciary committee has recognized and done before, an FBI investigation of the incident should be the first step in addressing her allegations. Clearly, you want it to be the first step and so does your client. Are you saying there has to be an investigation by the FBI or else Professor Ford will not testify?

LISA BANKS, ATTORNEY FOR CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: What we're saying is that there should be an investigation, because that's the right thing to do.

COOPER: If there's not an investigation, would she appear on Monday?

BANKS: She is prepared to cooperate with the committee and with any law enforcement investigation. That has been her position and it continues to be her position. So, she will cooperate with the committee in whatever form that takes. And it remains to be seen. We have to talk with Senator Grassley's office and the other committee members to determine what form that will take.

COOPER: You want to engage in conversation with Senator Grassley and others to actually figure out what happens between now and then and whether this takes place on Monday.

BANKS: That's right. I mean, any talk of a hearing on Monday, frankly, is premature because she just came forward with these allegations 48 hours ago. And since that time, she has been dealing with hate mail, harassment, death threats. So, she's been spending her time trying to figure out how to put her life back together, how to protect herself and her family.

And there hasn't been an investigation. And these are serious allegations. So, if the senators who have come forward and said they want to treat this seriously mean that, then they will have an investigation of these allegations so that we all go into this more informed.

COOPER: Now, the Senate does have investigators. It doesn't necessarily have to be the FBI. Would that be acceptable to you? BANKS: They have to be investigated. And, again, those are things we

can discuss with Senator Grassley. Whether it's the FBI or other investigators, it should be impartial investigators who are non- partisan.

COOPER: If you engage in these conversations, if Senator Grassley's staff reaches out to you, as we would assume they would and you have these conversations and they say point-blank, look, this is not something the FBI is involved with, the FBI doesn't want to be involved in this, we are going to have the hearings on Monday, your client can show up or not, would she show up?

BANKS: She is going to -- she will talk with the committee. She's not prepared to talk with them at a hearing on Monday.

[20:05:01] This just came out 48 hours ago.

COOPER: So, point-blank, if there's not an investigation between now and then, she would not appear on Monday in a public hearing?

BANKS: No investigation -- any legitimate investigation is going to happen between now and Monday. This is going to take some time. And what needs to happen is there shouldn't be a rush to a hearing here. There's no reason to do that.

COOPER: So, you are saying even if they said the FBI will investigation and begins an investigation, you are saying Monday, there's no way your client would sit down in front of a hearing, even if the FBI said, we have looked into it?

BANKS: It's premature to talk about a hearing on Monday. And I think people understand that, because she has been dealing with the threats, the harassment and the safety of her family. That's what she's been focused on for the last two days and will continue to be focused on that.

And so, asking her to come forward in four or five days and sit before the judiciary committee on national TV is not a fair process. And if they care about doing the right thing here and treating this seriously, as they have said, then they will do the right thing and they will properly investigate this. And she will work with them in that investigation and also to share her story with the committee. However that happens.

COOPER: So, I mean, I don't want to put words in your mouth. I want to drill down this and be as clear as possible. Even if the FBI agrees to investigate, you are saying, a proper investigation can't be done before Monday, concluded before Monday. So, even if the FBI says they will investigate or if the chairman says the FBI won't investigate, you are saying your client will not sit down Monday for a public hearing?

BANKS: There's no reason to have a public hearing on Monday, given what has occurred and when it has occurred. This is being rushed through and it's too important to be rushed through. It's not a game. This is a serious situation. COOPER: Senator Cornyn said today that your client is not in a

position to be making conditions here.

BANKS: She's made her allegations known. She said that she will cooperate with the committee and with any investigation. And she remains willing to do that.

We have reached out to Senator Grassley tonight and indicated that and will continue to talk with him about ways in which we can have her communicate to the committee so that they have all the information they need and to assist law enforcement or other investigators in following up leads on witnesses, facts and anything else.

COOPER: If the hearings on Monday were not public, would that make a difference in her willingness to sit down and appear before the committee?

BANKS: No, again, it's premature. It's 48 hours ago, she came forward. And for the last 48 hours, she has been deflecting death threats and harassment and trying to care for her family and determine where they are going to sleep at night. And right now, she can't focus on having a hearing that hasn't been investigated and where nobody has talked to her.

COOPER: There are Republicans who say this is a stalling tactic by Democrats, that the Democrats had this information, had her allegations previously and (AUDIO GAP) delayed releasing them or delayed moving them forward.

BANKS: The Democrats, Senator Feinstein in particular, respected her request for confidentiality initially. And that was the right thing to do, because victims of sexual assault have the ability to say whether and when those allegations should be made public. So, I have no problem with the way Senator Feinstein or the Democrats handled this.

She came forward after these allegations were leaked. And her fears, unfortunately, have been realized, because since coming forward, her life has been turned upside down. And rushing forward into a hearing when she's under this much pressure isn't the way to do it. There's no reason to do it. It's not that there's a stalling tactic. She's more than willing to go forward and talk to the committee in whatever form that is and to assist with law enforcement in their investigation.

COOPER: Just not by Monday?

BANKS: Nothing of substance and nothing legitimate can happen by Monday.

COOPER: Would your client also like to have anybody else with information testify if there's a public hearing, whenever it takes place, also be called in to testify? The other people who may have witnessed it, may have been involved in any incident, may have known about it or been told about it in previous years.

BANKS: Well, a hearing is not a substitute for an investigation. So --

COOPER: It is under oath, though.

BANKS: It is. But the investigation should occur before the hearing. The hearing should be as a result of the investigation. It shouldn't be a substitute for it. And so, if there are other witnesses, absolutely, those witnesses should be investigated, their testimony should be heard, the committee should hear from them.

[20:10:06] All -- all of the information should be gathered so that we can get to the truth here.

COOPER: Given all that you said she and her family have been going through, does your client regret at all coming forward.

BANKS: I think that she felt strongly that this was the right thing to do. She had to weigh the risks to herself and her family in doing so. And so, I think she feels that it was her civic duty to come forward.

That said, she's under a tremendous amount of pressure right now and is going to work to try to put her life back together and move forward. But even as she does that, she's willing to cooperate with the committee and with investigators.

COOPER: So, as we leave tonight, you are now the -- the ball is in the court of Senator Grassley. You want to hear from him or his staff.

BANKS: Yes. We intend to talk to Senator Grassley, Senator Feinstein, anybody else on the committee so that we can work out a process by which she can share her information and we can move this forward in a fair way.

COOPER: Lisa Banks, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

BANKS: Thank you.

COOPER: We just got this story. Chairman Grassley just got the letter, as we've been talking. CNN's Kaitlan Collins has been working her sources at the White House.

She joins us now.

Kaitlan, what are you learning?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we know that Brett Kavanaugh spent the day here mounting a defense and being -- getting prepared and briefed by his confirmation team ahead of what was expected to be that public hearing on Monday. But now with this breaking news, that really seems to be thrown into doubt.

Now, what we have learned from what Republicans have been saying all day is they have been getting more forceful in their defenses of Brett Kavanaugh. They seem unwilling to negotiate an alternative date for the hearing on Monday. We've heard from multiple of them. Not just people on the judiciary committee but even Senator Lindsey Graham and several others who say that on Monday, that would be her opportunity to come forward, to tell her story. And they were going to move forward with a vote.

So, if they are unwilling to go forward with that testimony on Monday, there's a chance here, Anderson, a really good chance that they could move forward with this and have Judge Brett Kavanaugh confirmed as a Supreme Court justice possibly by next week. Now, for White House, you know back here we have been discussing with President Trump, asking if he thinks there should be an FBI investigation into this. And for the past two days, he has rejected that idea saying the FBI doesn't need to do so.

Now, the White House's perspective is that the FBI received this information from Senator Feinstein when she sent that allegation over to them. They added it to Brett Kavanaugh's file and they sent it to the White House counsel Don McGahn last Thursday, which is when they learned first of this allegation made against him.

Now, they say that they don't need an FBI investigation here because the Senate has investigators and that they can have staff look into this because if you go in front of Congress and you lie, that's just like lying to the FBI. So, that is their position here. That's really unlikely to change. It's not likely they're going to go along with this FBI investigation simply because this woman who has come forward with her allegation now decides that is what they would like before they move forward with any kind of testimony.

COOPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much. If you get a response from the White House for the breaking news, obviously, we'll come back to you.

We want to get perspective now from someone who was here when Anita Hill came forward in the confirmation fight over Clarence Thomas, Congressman Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat. It's currently her 14 term representing the District of Columbia. She was also the first woman to chair the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Congresswoman Norton, thanks so much for being with us.


COOPER: You heard from the attorney for the professor. Is it reasonable that she not appear at this hearing on Monday until there's an investigation?

NORTON: Look, Anderson, I'm not surprised. But I'm relieved she still wants to testify. It's very important that she be able to testify. On the other hand, I don't see how you could throw her cold into a hearing. It's an almost cruel thing to do with senators -- very powerful senators there, no investigation, against Kavanaugh and then have what would amount to a swearing contest between an unknown woman and a candidate for the Supreme Court who has occupied the bench for decades.

COOPER: It's an unfair situation you are saying?

NORTON: It's an unfair contest. All she's trying to do -- because in any case that's going to be very difficult for her is to get what we in the House of Representatives call regular order. Do what you do before you have a hearing. There is no such thing, Anderson, as a hearing without the proper investigation. Why should this be any different?

And let me give you a reason why this is not a slowdown tactic.

[20:15:02] First of all, the Senate is not gone. There's time -- even the House is not gone. There's time to do this. The court already has a 5-4 Republican majority.

There's no reason to rush. And to rush in this way, if they do it this way, the hearing will be seen as a sham satisfying neither side.

COOPER: But, you know, there are many Republicans who see this and say, this seems like an 11th hour surprise put forward by Democrats and --

NORTON: What's put forward by Democrats?

COOPER: Well, the accusations being made by the professor.

NORTON: Then what they are saying is -- remember how this got out in the first place. It was leaked.

After it was leaked, she could have still said, I'm not going to come forward. But she said, all right, this is something I did not want to come out. It's come out and I'm going to try to be as brave as I can and follow through. That's pretty brave in my judgment.

COOPER: So, you -- it does seem like from what Lisa Banks is saying is that if there is -- I mean, it seems like there's no way she is going to appear as of now on Monday before either -- there has to be an investigation, is what the professor is saying, and her attorney is saying, there has to be an investigation. Even if the investigation begins immediately, Lisa Banks, is saying, there's not enough time for a thorough investigation to occur before Monday.

NORTON: Yes, I must say her attorney would have been guilty of malpractice if she had not advised her client that she is putting herself into an untenable situation with no investigation, throwing herself into the Senate with no investigation, no preparation. And I think she advised her correctly.

COOPER: I mean, obviously, you were involved in the Anita Hill investigation. Do you see -- has a lot changed since then in terms of how this hearing would be run? Has a lot changed since then on the Hill?

NORTON: It changed in this way. I didn't -- along with other members of the House, I didn't have to walk to the Senate this time to get a hearing. We owe that to Anita Hill and the Senate response that you can't let this go without a hearing. But, actually, I think Anita Hill received more due process. For

example, witnesses were allowed to testify. There were witnesses who said that Clarence Thomas had done the very same thing to them. And they put in affidavits, they were able to testify. You don't see anything like that being brought forward here.

So, if anything, this is a more serious allegation with not as much due process as Anita Hill had.

COOPER: Do you think attitudes have changed since then? Back then people were saying, they just don't get it. Do you think the senators who would be involved in this get it?

NORTON: I think the country gets it, me too. I think this is the worst time with elections coming up to have this hearing and not have due process for a woman. That is what is being put on the table. That is what she is saying she will not abide.

She's not saying she will not testify. And that's very important. They want her to say she will not testify. Then they will say, see, she was afraid to testify.

COOPER: Do you think these hearings will go ahead without her?

NORTON: I think they are going to try to go ahead without her. And if they do, they are making a serious mistake, because then everyone is going to say -- if it was a sham to have a hearing with no investigation, you can't have a hearing with no witnesses. So, I think they will be forced to rethink what they are going to do.

COOPER: Congresswoman Norton, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

Joining us now is CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, along with CNN legal analyst John Dean, as well as Laura Coates.

David, now that we know that Ford will most likely not testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee until an FBI investigation is conducted, whose move is it next? Where does this process go?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it probably goes back to Senator Grassley and Senator Feinstein and the committee to decide what steps they are going to take next. But I must say, I think that -- from my point of view, the FBI background investigation is a routine for every major confirmation.

The FBI goes out and collects information and here is a new allegation under -- one would just assume that it would be right and proper and fair to Judge Kavanaugh as well as professor ford if there were a thorough investigation that's impartial, because for both sides who are convinced they are right. You know, they should believe that the investigation is going to support them.

[20:20:01] In other words, if Judge Kavanaugh says it didn't happen and the investigation occurs and there's no real evidence it did happen, he then is spared this cloud over him. That's what's fair to him. He deserves that. But so does she.

So, I would think that a routine FBI investigation could be done fairly quickly. It didn't matter a couple of weeks I would assume. I don't think it's a big delay.

And, by the way, didn't this president is the one who call for the FBI to investigate anonymous and who was anonymous? And that had nothing to do with the crime. But he really thought it ought to happen.

COOPER: Laura, I mean, the president said the FBI doesn't want to be involved in this. I mean, is that --

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I would find that shocking to know that the FBI was not interested in doing that which it does with every single judicial nomination to date. Their job is to conduct the background inquiry to figure out if this person has any skeletons in their closet.

You saw this happen with Rob Porter, about security clearances. You saw this happen with every single person who they are charged with actually trying to find out is there any reason to believe this person is not qualified. They hand that over.

I think what the president is trying to do is essentially be dismissive because it ended up in a background file. But that doesn't mean that it's not relevant to the FBI or do they actually want to investigate it. The amount of time they have to do so, Anderson, is going to be crucial.

This is a decade's old allegation. They need time to actually investigate. Now, whether they want to do it in about a week, or less than that, they probably have zero interest in that, but not not investigating entirely.

COOPER: John, I mean, Senator Hatch said the hearing for Monday will proceed, even if Ford doesn't show. What happens if the committee follows through on that and only Kavanaugh participates?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I think they hurt themselves, because there's obviously going to be an empty chair. I also think the arrangement, if I heard correctly in the letter, she thinks she's going to be sitting there with Judge Kavanaugh if she honors the invitation.

COOPER: She said at the same table.

DEAN: Yes.

COOPER: Didn't necessarily mean at the same time.

DEAN: I think that's awkward. Well, even at the same table is pretty awkward. This is a woman who while she's a professional, she's not trained as an attorney, she's not been in a courtroom or hearing room. This is all -- this is new territory for her.

So, there's an unfairness. Here is a judge who has been before murder boards, before his own courtroom. He is very used to this atmosphere.

So, there's an inequality in the way they are setting up. That's why I think they are smart to ask for the investigation.

COOPER: All right. We've got to take a break. We're going to have more on this conversation. We'll also dig deeper on this when we come back.


[20:25:37] COOPER: Breaking news first on 360, attorneys for Brett Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, say that she will not testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee, before the FBI or other investigators investigate her sexual assault allegation. The letter they sent tonight to Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley speaking of death threats directed at Dr. Ford, e-mail hacking, online harassing. We are hoping to hear from Chairman Grassley or other committee members tonight.

But back now with David Gergen, John Dean and Laura Coates.

So, Laura, I mean, if both Ford and Kavanaugh stick to their stories and there isn't some kind of investigation, it basically just -- and both testify publicly, it just ends up being a question of who do the senators believe.

COATES: Correct. Again, this is not a fact finding investigation. They are really a political panel. Their role is supposed to be in this event to say who do we believe, a credibility assessment. When you have a he said/she said, what would help if you actually had corroboration on either side, either bolster the credibility of the accuser or of the person who is accused.

And so, the investigation as the attorney for Dr. Ford said was the hearing should not be a substitute for an investigation. It should not be the only source that the senators have to assess the credibility. And in fact, we do this all the time in courtrooms. I used to specialize in delayed reporting sexual assault cases where you had he said/she said or he said/he said scenarios.

And what you had to do was do bolster your case and the credibility of your witness' memory and the actual occurrence by saying, what else can I use to corroborate? That required -- it wasn't just a whim. It required a full investigation. It took time to do so.

COOPER: John, doesn't the Senate have its own team of investigators that theoretically could investigate this? I mean, they can put people under oath, lying to Congress is a crime. So, would it be acceptable for the Judiciary Committee to handle the investigation?

DEAN: It's possible, Anderson. These are also partisan staff. The majority has its staff. The minority has its staff. Never does the twain meet.

So, that would be a partisan investigation inherently. And to just follow up on Laura, there is corroboration here. We have prior consistent statements by Dr. Ford when she talked to her analyst.

So, there is something there. She told her husband as well and naming Kavanaugh by name. So, there is some corroboration.

COOPER: David, is there credence to the government that this call from Democrats for an FBI investigation is a delay tactic because there are other bodies, you know, theoretically that could investigate besides the FBI. The president has made the point, look, the Democrats could have brought this up earlier, Senator Feinstein.

GERGEN: I think it's clear now, Anderson, that the Republicans have a point. This should have been brought up earlier in some fashion, so that it could be done as part of the regular process. We wouldn't have this very strange, odd episode right now.

So, I think the Republicans generally have said, let's have a hearing. Nobody expected that 48 hours ago. But they want to have a hearing. So, I do think they have taken some steps.

But this vital last step about who is going to investigate is crucial to the outcome. What's most important for the country here, Anderson, is when this is all said and done, if Judge Kavanaugh is going to be on Supreme Court and it's going to tip the balance of the court for years to come, it's really essential that he go forward without a big cloud over him and without a sense he was ramrodded through on a partisan basis.

That both Judge Kavanaugh, in fairness to him and in fairness to her, that there is some kind of thorough, impartial investigation to get at the facts and get as far down the road as we can to determine the truth. We may not ultimately get there.

But that's why an investigation, which is routine again, by the FBI, is so crucial here. I cannot say often enough that when all is said and done, to have Judge Kavanaugh go up there and join Clarence Thomas and have two people who've been accused of sexual harassment on the court deciding whether Roe v. Wade should be sustained or not, first not to rule, that is not a helpful situation. It's really important so that for Judge Kavanaugh and for the court that they clear away this and getting the investigation is in Judge Kavanaugh's interest as much as in Professor Ford's interest.

COOPER: Senator Harris, obviously, is a Democrat, who's on the Judiciary Committee, just tweeted out and I want to read her tweet. She said, I support Dr. Blasey Ford's request for an FBI background investigation before a hearing. She should not be bullied into participating in a biased process and we should not rush forward before facts are gathered." How do you think this resolves, Laura?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, you have to wonder why the rush. And for people to understand the Supreme Court's calendar, this says play in. It's not just a partisan discussion. Beginning October 1, the Supreme Court has a lot of weighty issues. Day after day, they packed their calendar in October of this year. A few weeks away, Anderson, on issue that involve they look endangered species, labor unions, death penalty, the whole host of cases, not the least of which will involve women's rights at some point in time. So the haste involved here, if they do not have a confirmed Supreme Court justice by the term in October beginning, you are going to have 4-4 splits.

And so the haste I think is much less about the decision to say, well let's go forward, I have experience it's more geared towards getting somebody who can be in the Supreme Court to have these liberal judgments that were rendered in the lower courts not be able to stand and that will be the case.

COOPER: Laura, this may be a dumb legal question but, what if Kavanaugh is confirmed and then there was an investigation and if something was determined to have been improper or that he had committed some sort of a crime, would that there be action after that?

COATES: Well, to date, there hasn't been that sort of impeachment process on somebody who would have a prominent role on the judicial bench in this capacity. You can't remove justices. You can't remove judges --


COOPER: I don't know what it would be, but statute of limitations would probably be expired?

COATES: Well, in Maryland which is where the Montgomery County is and where this technically was alleged to have occurred, you actually don't have limitations period on sexual assault cases, if it's a felony.

Now, oftentimes when you have a lapse in memory and 30 years has gone by, often those cases are downgraded to eye misdemeanor so you can have a bench trial, as opposed to a jury who is not receptive to hearing cases that are long since past. But there could be a method to remove if somebody has done something that's completely egregious from the bench. But again, the idea of a retroactive application of justice should satisfy no one, especially somebody vying for a spot on the Supreme Court.

COOPER: David, it does put Republicans, sort of Senate Republicans in a difficult spot. I mean, they have to walk a line here politically?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. But that, you know, with the midterms just over the horizon, that's why again I think it's not just in the nation's interest but it's in the Republicans' interest to be seen as leaning over backwards to try to be fair because after all, you cannot go through this without appreciating how much -- how brave it has been for Professor Ford to come forward and just what she feared has materialized, as we heard from her attorney.

You know, she's been chased -- forced out of her home. She's basically in hiding. There have been awful death threats. One of them is quoted -- discussing in "The New York Times" tonight. And, you know, there is -- she's paying an awful price. That's one of the reason she didn't want this to go public, her having to get into the arena like this.


GERGEN: Having said that, it seems that there ought to be a lot of compassion for her as well as for Judge Kavanaugh. Both people are going through hell right now.

COOPER: David Gergen, John Dean, Laura Coates, thanks.

We got new reporting on what would be needed to trigger an FBI investigation. We will bring that to you next.


[20:36:11] COOPER: The breaking news tonight, Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her wants the FBI to investigate her allegations before senators hold a hearing on this.

Now, earlier in the program her attorney said there should be an investigation because that's the right thing to do. Now the question is, what happens next? And what would actually trigger an FBI investigation?

Our Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider joins us with details. So Jessica, how would this work, because the President said, well, the FBI doesn't want to do this?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, there's a distinction here, Anderson, between a federal investigation and the background check which is what this instance was. You know, the FBI is in charge of doing these background checks for different agencies, including the White House. So they did this. They have done this for Brett Kavanaugh. They did it for him during this nomination. They have done it for previous nominations. And that's something that the President has alluded to. This is not a federal investigation as to a crime. You know, the FBI made that clear. I talked to an FBI official last week. They said that there was no criminal investigation.

And the Department of Justice has also tried to clarify here. They released a statement last night saying that the letter from Christine Blasey Ford was put into Kavanaugh's background file last week. At this point, it's up to the White House to determine whether or not there should be a subsequent investigation. I just want to point you to the Department of Justice's brief statement that they gave last night. They said that, you know, "this allegation from Christine Blasey Ford, does not involve any potential crime."

And then this, the spokesperson for the DOJ continued on to say that the FBI does not make any judgment about the credibility or significance of any allegation. And the people that I have spoken with said that at this point it's in the White House's hands. They would have to say whether or not they wanted the FBI to continue with more background investigation. You know, we heard from the President today. He said that the FBI is

not interested. I'm not sure that that is the case. You know, it really does seem here -- and it is the case that the White House needs to direct the FBI to do further investigation if that is warranted here. So really, you know, it's important for viewers to know that there's a distinction here. One is a federal criminal investigation, that's not the case here. This was a background investigation. The FBI did its due diligence. It passed on the information to the White House.

And, Anderson, now it's up to the White House to decide what happens next, if anything.

COOPER: All right. Jessica Schneider, I appreciate the clarification.

Diane Feinstein, Democratic Ranking Member to the Judiciary Committee just weighed in saying, "We should honor Dr. Blasey Ford's wishes and delay this hearing."

Joining is now CNN Political Analyst, Kirsten Powers, CNN Political Commentator Amanda Carpenter, also a supporter of Judge Kavanaugh Carrie Severino, Chief Counsel and Policy Director of the Judicial Crisis Network.

Carrie, let me start with you, since I mingled Severino, I don't know why.


COOPER: I apologize for that. I mean, I had you on plenty of times. It's been a long day. What do you make of this desire by the attorney for Professor Ford and clearly Professor Ford to essentially say, look, no matter what, Monday is a no go. There should be an investigation. And even if there's an investigation that started, it's going to take more time than Monday?

SEVERINO: Yes. I think what we have seen here is a pattern of delay. And this seems to be a moving of the Gold Post. Again, I think it's really the Democrats the ones who seem to be doing the most. You know, (inaudible) were talking about the normal process. And the regular process is you update the background file with the background investigation call. They have done one of those to update it. They did one yesterday. The Democrats boycotted the call. So we have seen in very stand, thy say, we want this process.

And Senator Grassley has bent over backwards to offer every possible thing they want. Would you like to have a hearing in front of cameras or a phone call? Would you like to have it public? Would you like to have it confidential? There's lots of different options here to try to give her the flexibility she needs. They want her to be able to testify and to be comfortable testifying.

[20:40:14] But I think what Democrats are hoping is that they can trigger some kind of long investigation. They keep on inventing new processes that frankly are not what is normally done. As -- I mean, I still think that the FBI normally -- this is not their normal course of affairs. It's frustrating I think what we're going to see is, if she doesn't show on Monday, it sounds like -- from what I have heard, Senator Graham suggested they're going to be probably just have to move forward without going into it. And it's too bad. I think it would have been better if she would have been willing to --

COOPER: Amanda, at various points, I mean, if it's the FBI's job to do a background check, can they accurately say they have completed a background check if there's this allegation out there that they haven't completed?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's reasonable that they should do follow-up to previous background checks. That said, he has been through several of these. I think they would get a lot of new information. But I'm sort of ambivalent on that question. What I think we're really getting up against are probably the limits of me too. Everyone wants to hear her story. Like you said, has tried to accommodate her in everyway possible after she and her lawyer, her previous one or her new one. I don't know really what's going on with the lawyers at this point. They said that she was willing to testify. So they said, OK, let's do it.

And now they want to put everything on pause. And I completely understand that she may be in a terribly challenging situation. But this is where we are today. And I also wonder, at what point does Brett Kavanaugh get a chance to tell his story? Because he has had to sit back and take this. And so if she doesn't want to come on Monday, I think they should go through with the hearing and have Brett Kavanaugh speak about his college experience because that's been in the press more than it was previously.

And at some point, we have to get to a resolution on this because we should all be willing to listen to women, but if women are going to make allegations like this, they there does have to be some degree of evidence. And I think she's unwilling to go in public because she doesn't have evidence to change people's minds definitively.

COOPER: Kirsten.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that's really speculative. I don't know how you would know that. But that's the motivation. I mean, can't the motivation be what she said as this is that she thinks there should be a real investigation? So hold on, I listened to both you.

I think that, you know, this isn't any attempt to get to the truth. You can't -- you have a person who has been alleged to have been present when this happened, Mark Judge, who has said that he doesn't want to testify. So guess what? There's something called a subpoena. And they could subpoena him.

So at a bear minimum, if you're trying to find out what happened you subpoena and you investigate at least with this one person that has alleged to have been there. And the fact that Republicans aren't interested in doing that to me says they're not really interested in getting to the bottom of what happened.

The other thing is, I do think this complaint about process is a little rich after what the Republicans did with Merrick Garland. And so I don't even understand how Republicans with a straight face can bring up complaints about like the way the Senate works and how we're supposed to follow process after what happened. I mean, you reap what you sow. So if the Democrats aren't back doing that, they say they're not I say, you know, the rules of the game were changed. And now you are talking about process.

CARPENTER: Not only the truth, but I would ask -- I wonder what is the accuser's goal? If it's to get her story out, the story is out. And if she wants to go to Congress with the goal of changing votes, if that's the purpose of testifying, which may be fine, she may think he should be disqualified because of what he allegedly did, but if her goal is to go to Congress and do that, there has to be more information. There has to be more about the who, what, where, and why.

POWERS: If there's an investigation, she can only that information, she can provider her story.


POWERS: But she can't provide the information from the other person that was there.

CARPENTER: Well, I mean honestly, it sounds like to me that there's an accusation made. You can't back it up. And so you want other people to find evidence for you.

POWERS: I'm not saying you're speculating. And I don't think how you could possibly know --

CARPENTER: Nobody knows.

COOPER: Carrie?

SEVERINO: What information are we even going to get? I mean, aside from Judge's testimony, I have no idea what she's talking about. I wasn't there. There's only so many questions you can ask.

POWERS: But he hasn't said that under oath?

SEVERINO: OK, that --

POWERS: So why won't he say that under oath?

SEVERINO: Impressive but I think there's also -- we don't exactly know when it happened or where it happened. You can't exactly go and does for fingerprints when you don't where -- and it's 30-some years in the past. That's just the challenge with the nature of this process. How much is --

COOPER: Would it be that hard to find -- I mean, if it's a party, there's a lot of people there. I don't know how many parties there were at this school. I mean, when I was in high school, there weren't that many parties. You know, I mean, would some people remember there was a party where allegedly she was wearing a bathing suit? That seems sort of an -- you know.

POWERS: I mean, I agree. I think this is very difficult. I'm not trying to make it out that this is so easy. 35 years is a long time. People's memories are not great. If you were to ask me to recall parties I went to in high school, --

[20:45:01] COOPER: I can't remember last time.

POWERS: I would probably have a very hard time doing it. Now, she had a traumatic event. So I think her memory is going to be a little different about the traumatic event of what happened. But if you are going to ask other people who were there, I think that's going to be a lot harder. But Mark Judge -- I don't understand why he can't go under oath. That what doesn't make sense to me --

SEVERINO: I'm confused why he should exactly?

POWERS: Well, if he knows that it didn't happen, then why doesn't he go under oath and clear --

CARPENTER: Who in the world wants to get hauled before Congress? I mean I thought it was crazy when the accuser said I'm willing to go do this. Who would put themselves in that situation without a full command of the facts?

POWERS: Somebody who wants to change the country so that we take sexual assault seriously.

CARPENTER: Yes, but I'm just saying I think there's other venues for that. She could talk to a member of the media. Sitting before Congress under oath being grilled by partisans --

POWERS: I don't think she want --

CARPENTER: But why would she offer?

POWERS: No, no, no I think she was willing to do it. But I don't think it's something she desires to do.

CARPENTER: No one should. And that's why I think they should have pursued something else first. I think nobody thought this through.

COOPER: We got to go with Carrie. I want her to response.

SEVERINO: Yes. I just think this is all part of the problem with the timing that we saw with this being held for so long. There wasn't time to go through this process correctly. But I think at this point, they are giving her every opportunity. Our problem isn't Mark Judge, the one you talk. It's that we don't have the key person making the allegations in the first place. That's too bad.

COOPER: Carrie Severino. Thank you very much. Amanda Carpenter, Kirsten Powers, thanks very much. I'm going to wave on president actions. President Trump is making another one, his decision to declassify various documents and text messages related to the Russia investigation raising some alarm bells about the injection, potential injection of politics into intelligence materials. Coming up, I will talk with the Former Director of the CIA about what the consequences might be.


COOPER: There's no question that President Trump is shattering precedence. And now he's done it again. He has ordered the Justice Department and the office of the director of National Intelligence to declassify portions of a highly secret surveillance application on Former Campaign Aide Carter Page.

Moreover, he has ordered the text messages about the Russia inquiry from former FBI officials including James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page also be declassified. All of this for one reason to support his political allies in Congress who said that a deep bias against the President, on the part of some in the intelligence community exists.

Now, the President today said he's doing it for transparency. The former CIA Director Michael Hayden is here with me tonight. He is the author of "The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies." Is this about transparency, do you think?

[20:50:00] GENERAL MICHAEL HAYDEN (RETIRED), CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: No, of course not. And, Anderson, thank you for having a few moments here tonight. I know how important the Kavanaugh question is to the future of the country, but this is an important issue as well.

COOPER: Why is this important?

HAYDEN: It's important, number one, you said it's unprecedented. But if a folks like me and my personal e-mail network has kind of lit up, it is breathtaking. It is chilling to see such raw politics inserted not and just into intelligence but the FISA process is kind of the holy of holies. That's compartmented within the intelligence community.

Not everyone gets to play in FISA applications and we even from time to time limit who gets to see intelligence reports that are derived from FISA warrants.

And now you have the President demanding that an additional 20 or so pages of a FISA application be made public. And that's an application that has already been redacted and made public, so he's actually asking for the redacted portions of these 20 pages to be made public. We've never seen anything like it.

COOPER: Completely unprecedented.

HAYDEN: Absolutely. Absolutely. COOPER: But, you know, for those who believe that there's a deep state of plot against the President, this certainly seems to be an offshoot of that?

HAYDEN: Sure. And it plays into that conspiratorial view of the federal government. But you asked me before, is this transparency, all right. So let me be a little harsh here in making a judgment. This is a President who will not release his tax returns because they're undergoing a routine audit.

COOPER: Allegedly.

HAYDEN: And now he wants to release a FISA application, interview notes, and the text messages of FBI officers involved in an ongoing counterintelligence investigation in which he is at least a person of interest, could be a subject, and ultimately could be a target.

COOPER: So what is the danger here?

HAYDEN: So, number one, you've got the corruption of this process which we have always worked very, very hard to keep pure from any political influence.

Look, I was really aggressive at NSA. We had the program stellar wind which some people called domestic surveillance and the accusation made against us was that we use that for political purposes. That never happened. And even the program's worst critics now admit it was never used for anything other than the original counterterrorism purposes. We have an argument over here about aspects of it. Fine, we'll have that argument. But no one claims it was misused.

This is the misuse of intelligence information for raw political affect, and admitted political affect. You have the President's surrogates in Congress saying this is about the midterms.

COOPER: So what is, moving forward, what sort of -- I mean, it's unprecedented. It sets a new precedent. Does it have a chilling effect on the willingness of people to communicate in the intelligence community? What is the --

HAYDEN: So we're not done yet. All right, if you look at the White House press announcement, it calls for the release. But what you've heard from the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence is that they're going to conduct a review. And we'll see now what the institutions of government do with what seems to be a very broad direction that this information be pushed into the public domain.

Look, I have the highest regard for the people who are still in government doing these kinds of things in this kind of atmosphere. But, you know, this is so dramatic, Anderson, we're edging closer to fall on your sword time.

COOPER: Can the President, though, demand this?

HAYDEN: The President has the absolute authority to do it but, again, if it is so egregious that might call on current leadership to do some heroic things.

COOPER: You say fall on your sword, you mean resign in protest.

HAYDEN: Yes. Yes, now look, I've always been very reluctant because I know how difficult that decision is and people in those jobs are trying to do the right thing. I'm just trying to emphasize to you and your viewers this is a really big deal.

COOPER: General Michael Hayden, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

HAYDEN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: I want to check in with Chris Cuomo to see what he's working on for Cuomo Prime Time at the top of the hour. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "COUMO PRIME TIME": That was a very good take from the intelligence perspective. We're going to take it on from the political perspective tonight. We have a congressman who supports the Trump move, and he'll make the case and be tested on the audience. And of course, our big take is going to be on the news that you broke on your show, Anderson.

This has changed everything. To hear Professor Ford say I will testify but there's a major condition and it goes to exactly what the GOP does not want and exactly what the Democrats do. We will take you through all the permutations that can happen between now and Monday and beyond.

COOPER: All right. That's about five minutes from now. Chris, I look forward to it. Thanks. Up next, a quick update on the hour of 360 exclusive.


[20:59:] COOPER: More reaction now to the breaking news we began the broadcast with. Lawyers for Brett Kavanaugh's accuser saying she will not testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee until the FBI investigates her sexual assault allegations.

Republican Panel Member Mike Lee just now saying he fully supports going through with the hearing whether Christine Blasey Ford testifies or not.

Ranking Democrat Member Dianne Feinstein saying the testimony should be delayed.

A quick reminder, don't miss full circle. It's our daily interactive news cast on Facebook. If you haven't seen it, we'd love you to check it out. You can pick the stories we cover. You can see it week nights at 6:25 p.m. Eastern at Cooper full circle.

The news continues right now. I want to hand it over to Chris Cuomo. Cuomo Prime Time starts now. Chris?

CUOMO: Big news thanks to you, Anderson Cooper. I am Chris Cuomo, welcome to Prime Time.

The breaking news about Professor Ford has changed everything. There are so many new considerations and potential outcomes. The big question, did Monday just go away? The big hearing of accuser versus accused, a generation of jurisprudence hanging in the balance, it just took a major twist.