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Trump Speaks Out on Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Allegation; Interview With D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired September 18, 2018 - 15:00   ET



ANDRZEJ DUDA, POLISH PRESIDENT (through translator): Very honest discussions, and very strong at certain points as well, in terms of diagnosis of the situation in the area of military security and energy security alike.

And I'm convinced that all of us are going to draw appropriate conclusions from these discussions, because, as I said, both sides presented their positions in many -- absolutely many elements. They are concurrent.

As far as the assessment of the situation currently is, what kind of steps need to be taken in order to protect both the issue of security and the issue of interests, these are business-related issues.

I'm convinced that, ladies and gentlemen, you are going to see the results of both our meetings today and of the declaration that we have signed together with Mr. President.

Of course, we are talking about long-term processes. So I'm sure that you are going to see how this is going to be filled with content. You will concrete pacts that will appear on the maps and also in agreements and in purchases that are going to be realized.


QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

Two questions for you, one on Judge Kavanaugh and also one on trade.

On Judge Kavanaugh, yesterday, you said, we want to go through a full process. You said, we want make sure everything is perfect, everything is just right.

To that end, what would be the problem with the FBI reopening their background investigation into Judge Kavanaugh? Would you support such a thing?

TRUMP: It wouldn't bother me, other than the FBI, Jon, said that they really don't do that. That's not what they do.

Now, they have done supposedly six background checks over the years, as Judge Kavanaugh has gone beautifully up the ladder. He's an incredible individual, great intellect, great judge, impeccable history in every way, in every way.

I feel so badly for him that he's going through this, to be honest with you. I feel so badly for him. This is not a man that deserves this. This should have been brought to the fore. It should have been brought up long ago. And that's what you have hearings for. You don't wait until the hearing is over and then all of a sudden bring it up.

When Senator Feinstein sat with Judge Kavanaugh for a long period of time, a long, long meeting, she had this letter. Why didn't she bring it up? Why didn't she bring it up then? Why didn't the Democrats bring it up then? Because they obstruct and because they resist. That's the name of their campaign against me. They just resist and they just obstruct.

And, frankly, I think they're lousy on policy, and, in many ways, they're lousy politicians, but they're very good on obstruction. And it's a shame, because this is a great gentleman.

With all of that, I feel that the Republicans -- and I can speak for myself -- we should go through a process, because there shouldn't even be a little doubt. There shouldn't be a doubt. Again, they knew what they were doing. They should have done this a long time ago, three months ago, not now. But they did it now.

So I don't want to play into their hands. Hopefully, the woman will come forward, state her case. He will state his case before representatives of the United States Senate, and then they will vote, and they will look at his career. They will look at what she had to say from 36 years ago, and we will see what happens.

But I just think he is at a level that we rarely see, not only in government, anywhere in life. And, honestly, I feel terribly for him, for his wife, who is an incredible, lovely woman, and for his beautiful young daughters. I feel terribly for them.

QUESTION: On trade, Mr. President, you announced new trade tariffs against China. Trade tariffs are a very important part of your economic and trade policy.

In your first year in office, the U.S. trade deficit increased by 12 percent. And last month, we saw the trade deficit increase to, I believe it was $72 billion. So, my question to you is, is your trade tariffs policy working?

TRUMP: Well, we just started. We didn't do anything with respect to China, because we wanted to have the benefit of China having to do with North Korea. And they have been helpful. I hope they're still helpful. There is a question about that.


But it got to a point where the numbers were too big. This should have been done for the last 20 years.

If you look at the WTO, the World Trade Organization, that's when China really happened economically. That's -- it was like a rocket ship, because they took advantage of the rules of the WTO.

And whoever was standing at this podium in this incredible White House, in the Oval Office, they should have done something about this long ago.

Over the last number of years, China has taken out of this country $500 billion and more a year, $500 billion. That would go a long way for Poland, wouldn't it? Rebuild your whole country.

And that's what China did. They rebuilt their country with tremendous amounts of money pouring out of the United States. And I have changed that around. And if you look at what's going on, our market is going up like a rocket ship. I don't want their market to go down, but their market is down 32 percent in three months, because we can't let them do anymore what they have done.

And I watch trade deficits, because, to me, deficits are very important. They're not everything, and they're not exact. Sometimes, you can have, you know, a deficit, and that's not such a bad thing.

But when you have $375 billion in trade deficits, and then many billions of dollars in other liabilities of all different types, you have to do something about it.

We are the piggy bank to the world. We have been ripped off by China. We have been ripped off by, excuse me, Mr. President, the European Union, of which are you a part of. We have been ripped off by everybody.

And I want to protect the American worker, the American farmer, the ranchers, the companies. And we're not being ripped off, you will see, in a little while.

Speaking of that, we have come to a conclusion with Mexico. We have a wonderful deal for both parties. It was a very one-sided deal. Now it's a good deal for both parties. Very happy with it. The new president, had conversation, and it was terrific. I think we're going to have a very good relationship. We will see. We will see.

We want help on the border, because we have the worst immigration laws in the history of mankind or womankind. We have horrible, horrible immigration laws. So we want help. But we have come to a conclusion with Mexico. Canada has taken advantage of our country for a long time. We love Canada. We love it. Love the people of Canada, but they are in a position that's not a good position for Canada.

They cannot continue to charge us 300 percent tariff on dairy products. And that's what they're doing. So there is a process. It takes a little time. The European Union wouldn't talk to us. They wouldn't talk to President Obama, wouldn't even talk to him.

And then I said, that's OK, you don't have to talk to me. Jean-Claude is a tough man. He is a very good man. I like him, but he's tough. He's nasty, the kind of guy I want negotiating for me. But he's a tough, tough cookie. And I said to him, we have to renegotiate the deal. He said, but, Mr.

President, we are very happy with the deal. We don't want to negotiate. I said, you may be happy with the deal, but I'm not happy with the deal.

And he didn't want to renegotiate. And after three times, he still didn't want to renegotiate. I said, that's OK. We don't have to renegotiate any longer. We're going to put a tariff on all the millions of cars you send into the United States.

And, honestly, he was in my office so quickly from Europe that I didn't know they had airplanes that flew that fast. I said, where did you find this plane? And we have the semblance of a deal, because it's to a large extent economically all about cars. Cars is a very big factor.

And they sent millions of BMWs and Mercedes into our country. So we are working on trade very hard. It's very important to me. It has been for 30 years. I have been saying for 30 years. It started with Japan. I talked about Japan. I was right. I talked about China. I was right.

It's what I do. And I like doing it. But I like doing it for the people, because our country has been abused and taken advantage of by virtually every country that it does business with. And we're just not letting that happen anymore.

And that includes what I said previously about the military.


QUESTION: President Duda -- President Duda, welcome back to the U.S.


As it relates to U.S.-E.U. relations, as the president mentioned, you are a proud -- Poland is a proud member of the European Union.

How would you describe U.S.-E.U. relations right now? Did you talk about improving that relationship? Did you carry a special message to the president for Mr. Juncker?

DUDA (through translator): Sir, I would be very happy if it was Poland which would disrupt that trade balance of the United States.

I really would be happy if that was the case, because my understanding as far as Poland politics is concerned and caring for the matter of your country, it's similar to the view of Mr. President Trump.

Mr. Trump is saying America first. And I am saying Poland first. So we understand each other very well. And it is hard for me to be surprised with the fact that Mr. President being a very experienced man, a man of success as far as business is concerned, knows how to calculate.

He knows how to calculate. And I think nobody puts that into question either in the U.S. or in another place. And he takes care of the United States. It lies on the interest of a country to have a balanced trade exchange. And this is something that you have to take care of.

And, of course, there is a clash of interests. However, objectively looking, it is hard not to understand it. So there is always a competition of interests. There is -- every kind of business is a competition of interests.

And I represent Polish interest, whereas President Trump represents American interest. The whole thing is as follows. On important matters, you have to strike an agreement to make sure that both countries win and lose as little as possible. And then we have an understanding and agreement. And then we can say that we are cooperating with each other on equal level.

And I believe this is the kind of cooperation that Mr. President would like to have with the European Union. And it will be hard to be surprised with that.

I am listening calmly to that. And I would like Poland to be such a country, such an economic superpower that it would be a very important partner to the United States. I said jokingly in the beginning that I wish it was Poland which disturbed the trade balance of the United States and our exports to the United States, but I do believe that our cooperation is beginning to develop well on (INAUDIBLE) like principles.

TRUMP: The trade deal with South Korea has been fully renegotiated and is ready for signature. We may sign it at the United Nations or shortly thereafter.

That was a terrible deal for the United States. Now it's a fair deal. But that's been fully renegotiated, in addition to Mexico and some of the others that are very close.

Thank you very much, everybody. We appreciate it. Thank you.

DUDA (through translator): Thank you.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we're going to dissect what we heard from the president in just a second, but here's my 2 cents.

Mr. President, refer to her by her name. She was anonymous. She no longer is, whether you believe her story or not. The woman, as you just referred to her, she's no longer the accuser. She is Christine Blasey Ford.

Gloria and David and Nia and Kaitlan are with me.

And, Gloria, let me just start with you.

You heard the president say we should go through a process. I think what he's inferring is, we should offer to hear her out. He's again blame game on the Democrats. Not a lot of -- not a lot of compassion for the possible victim. GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No.

Look, I think the president believes, as does Mitch McConnell, that this is just a little political game that's going on to delay the -- to delay the nomination until after the midterms. And he kept saying how badly he feels for Judge Kavanaugh.

BALDWIN: And his daughters.

BORGER: And he clearly -- and he -- yes. And he clearly knows Judge Kavanaugh, but then talked about the Democrats only wanting to obstruct, and that -- then laps back into the new Trump we're seeing, and he's clearly been schooled on this, saying that there shouldn't be a doubt.

There should not be a doubt, but again saying when he was asked the question about should the FBI get back into this and look into this, he said, that's not what they do.

And, of course, we know that is what they do if the president asks them to do it. They don't come to conclusions, but they can investigate what the president asks them to investigate.

So we're -- we're at kind of a stalemate here. And the president is low-keying this, but there is no doubt that what the Republicans are saying is, this is a political game the Democrats are playing, and she, professor Ford, needs to show up on Monday.

BALDWIN: David, what did you think of the president?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, interesting to watch him here, because he says, I don't want to take the Democrats' bait here. I don't want -- and yet he seems somewhat trapped by the Democrats here, because he then, as Gloria noted, says, but there should not even be a little doubt at all. We must go through this process.


This is the second day in a row that we have seen a remarkably calm, collected President Trump on this topic, on something that is a potential mortal threat to one of his biggest accomplishments, changing the Supreme Court, and something that unifies his party.

And you could just see he clearly is aware of how big this moment is by how he is suppressing what we have come to learn to be his normal behavior in these scenarios. It's a totally fascinating thing to watch happen here.

But he is so clearly trying to call the Democrats out on their game, and yet still somewhat trapped by it.

BALDWIN: Nia, I'm coming you.

But, quickly, Kaitlan, you're in the room. What was your biggest takeaway? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president's biggest argument here, Brooke, was that this is a man who does not deserve this.

That was the president's exact quote we speaking about Judge Kavanaugh and this assault allegation made against him. And President Trump voicing sympathy for his family, for him, saying essentially that he should not be having to go through, that it is a terrible thing that he is having to go through with this allegation.

Now, the president made no mention of the accuser's name while he was in here. He instead referred to her as "that woman," and laid out essentially what he thinks next Monday should look like. He said that the woman should come forward, state her case, and that Judge Kavanaugh should also have a chance to state his case as well.

And then he said that the senators should be able to go from there and vote on whether or not they're going to confirm him. Of course, the president not mentioning Christine Blasey Ford's name at all during that press conference there, but instead focusing on the Democrats once again, saying, why was this not brought up three months ago? Why did Senator Feinstein specifically not bring it up when she was made aware of this allegation made against Judge Kavanaugh?

But no mention of the actual allegation. No mention of when he left the room and reporters were shouting questions at him about whether or not he believes the allegation and find it credible in any way, instead simply expressing sympathy for her.

And then, of course, as Gloria was saying, he said that he didn't believe that this is something that the FBI to get involved in. But he made it sound like that is something the FBI has told him, essentially saying that that's what they do. That's not what they do.

But hearing from the president there, not answering any other questions about the assault allegation. But, Brooke, he does seem to believe that this is not in as much turmoil as the rest of Washington does. He seem to be projecting confidence once again that he believes Brett Kavanaugh could still be confirmed, even if there is a public hearing where this woman, who has accused him of sexual assault, comes forward and tells her story.

BALDWIN: Kaitlan, thank you.

And, Nia, we still don't know the question mark. Even though we heard from professor Ford's lawyer that she would testify, she has yet to accept this invitation to do so. And so Senator Jeff Flake, who is on the Senate judiciary, who essentially earlier had said, without a hearing, I'm a no vote on Judge Kavanaugh, this is what we now have from his interview with Jim Acosta, saying that if Ford fails to appear at the hearing, which is set for Monday, he would support his party's push to move forward on a vote on Kavanaugh.

The direct quote, "I think we will have to move to the markup."

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and this is really key, because Jeff Flake was one of the people that I think observers were looking at is somebody who might tank this nomination.

He's not up for reelection. He's somebody that has criticized this president quite frequently and this idea that maybe he would pull a John McCain here and go against the party. The fact that he at this point is on board with going forward with this voting process, even if this woman, Dr. Ford, doesn't show up is good news for Mitch McConnell.

It's good news for Donald Trump. It's good news for Brett Kavanaugh. I think also what's clear here is that Dr. Ford doesn't really know what she's agreeing to. It isn't clear what this hearing would even be, who's asking the questions. Are questions even being asked?

You saw President Trump there essentially saying one person would get to talk, somebody else would get to talk, and then the senators would decide. There's also been this idea that maybe their attorneys would come and they would ask questions.

So this -- so I imagine that is one of the reasons she doesn't want to get locked in, because she doesn't really know what she would be agreeing to at this point, because it seems to be pretty much in flux.

It does seem like the Republicans are trying to seem accommodating, but also at the same time saying this would be completely on their terms.

BALDWIN: Nia and David and Gloria, thank you so much.

We're going to continue this conversation on the other side of the break with the congresswoman who helped guide and Anita Hill through her Senate hearing back in 1991 when she accused now Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. We will get her thoughts on what is unfolding right now.


Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton will join us live.

Also ahead, President Trump doubles down on his unprecedented call to declassify documents tied to the Russia investigation, of course, against the wishes of his own Department of Justice, intelligence leaders.

We will explain why critics call this a dangerous move for national security.

Back in a moment.


BALDWIN: If -- this is the if still -- if Christine Blasey Ford decides to testify about her accusations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, it would set the stage for a dilemma the Senate Judiciary Committee has faced before. In 1991, Anita Hill accused then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. And the events that followed became a pivotal moment for women on Capitol Hill.


Today, Anita Hill penned an opinion piece in "The New York Times." And in part, she wrote this: "There is no way to redo 1991, but there are ways to do better."

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton was among a group of key female lawmakers who famously walked over from the floor of the House to demand their colleagues on the Senate side here Anita Hill out.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is with me now. She was also the first female head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and helped write the original guidance on workplace sexual harassment.

So, Congresswoman, a pleasure. Welcome.


BALDWIN: So the Republicans so far have yet to get a response from professor Ford. They're offering up to hear her out privately or publicly. Her lawyer had said she would testify. Do you get the sense she is trepidatious, having second thoughts?

NORTON: No, I get the impression she's being advised by counsel.

If I were her counsel, I would tell her that she should not do Clarence Thomas or what may be clear Anita Hill 2.0. And that's what she's walking into. She's walking into a swearing contest.

With a swearing contest, Dr. Ford against Kavanaugh, she's bound to lose, the way Anita Hill lost in the beginning, although we reaped the benefit of her loss with the year of the woman and more women coming to the House and the Senate than ever before.

But Anita Hill became a victim. This woman has thought through -- in fact, did not come forward until she had thought through what this would be like. She is willing to testify, I am sure, but that would be a real hearing, not a sham hearing.

We don't have hearings in the House or the Senate where there's one hearing -- one witness on your side and one witness on their side. The minority -- I have been in the minority in most of the time in the Congress -- gets to call its witnesses, and you get to call you -- you are the majority -- you get to call yours.

That isn't the way this is being set up. The only reason we're having a hearing in the first place is because of the Anita Hill debacle.


NORTON: They were supposed to have their hearing on Thursday. You see they moved back to Monday. So they already -- we have already got them on the run when it comes to fairness.

BALDWIN: But it sounds like -- we just -- I just got some intel -- intel from Senator Jeff Flake, who had initially said, if she doesn't testify, I'm a no. Of all Republicans to evolve on, it sounds like they're having this hearing on Monday, and if she doesn't show up, he is saying there should be a vote.

So if he -- if she is listening to her counsel, on her counsel is saying no, how is she speaking up and using her voice to keep who she believes as her perpetrator from becoming the next member of the Supreme Court?

NORTON: Oh, I don't believe her counsel is saying no. I believe people are talking.

I have no information whatsoever. But I believe her counsel is talking with the Republicans about how this hearing should be in fact -- in fact held, and how to make it fair. I don't think she is just saying, no, I'm not going to show up, after having said she's going to show up.

We have got to make sure that it's a real hearing, not a rump hearing.

BALDWIN: Back in '91, we know that Anita Hill had one day to prepare.

Can you talk to me about her preparation and her mind-set going into that hearing?

NORTON: Well, she was a perfect witness. And I don't know how she managed to do it.

But she was a perfect witness, only when you consider it was Clarence Thomas against her. And yet they required her to testify first, though she in fact became the rebuttal witness, and when in fact it should have been just the opposite.

But we learned from the Anita Hill hearing that you can't do a hearing that quickly, that if you're going to do a hearing, it has to be a real hearing with all the preparation you do with every other hearing.

That's not what we're getting here. And I think that's what her side is trying to force, not saying, I won't come. And maybe she will come in any case.

But if I were her counsel, I would say, let's negotiate how this hearing is going to take place. If they want you, they want you badly, Kavanaugh needs you badly, then let's do it well. And way to do it well is to let's sit down and talk about how the hearing should be held.

Now, I am saying that only based on the kind of strategy I would use, not based on any information I have whatsoever.

BALDWIN: Sure. Sure. Sure.

So perhaps -- we don't know -- perhaps negotiations are happening. In the meantime, I just wanted to ask you about comparing the atmosphere then to now, because we know then nominee Clarence Thomas' hearings, you know, they had been concluded, as have Kavanaugh's.