Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: October 5, 2018 Guest: Michael Schmidt, Shannon Pettypiece, Mieke Eoyang, Jon Meacham
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, it`s all over about the final vote. The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the highest court in the land appears certain after an epic day of drama in the U.S. Senate. The decisive moment came from Senator Susan Collins of Maine. She solidified Mitch McConnell`s pledge to plow right through.
Now the questions and controversies that won`t go away. What about Dr. Ford`s testimony and the millions of American women she spoke for? And what will Kavanaugh be like on the bench? And what about possible payback at the polls a month from now?
At the White House tonight, euphoria and relief were told after their second court pick of this presidency and this will leave a mark.
THE 11TH HOUR on a Friday night begins now.
Well, good evening, once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 624 of the Trump`s administration and just like that as they say, it`s all over but the shouting. And Brett Kavanaugh appears poised to be the next justice of the Supreme Court.
On this front, we have some breaking news from the "New York Times" tonight and we`re standing by to talk to one of the reporters, breaking the story in just a moment. About today, we may now have a new benchmark for the division in our country.
In one of the more dramatic days ever witnessed in Washington, the nation watched as the Senate voted to move his nomination to a final vote. His confirmation is expected to be approved tomorrow. We also saw two key senators who have been publicly undecided until today came out and say how they will vote on Kavanaugh. This is obviously a huge win for the president. We`re going to begin with the look of how the day unfolded on Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Grassley, do you know how this vote is going to go today?
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R) IOWA, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I think it will be very successful.
What left wing groups and their Democratic allies have done to Judge Kavanaugh is a nothing short a monstrous. I hope we can say no to mob rule by voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Miss Murkowski?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Murkowski is a no. I am being told she is not voting to move forward.
SEN. LISA ANN MURKOWSKI, (R) ALASKA On this vote the ayes are 51, the no`s are 49. The motion is agreed to.
I did not come to a decision on this until walking into the floor this morning. I believe that Brett Kavanaugh is a good man. I believe he is a good man, it just may be that in my view he`s not the right man for the court at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you plan to vote yes tomorrow?
SEN. JEFF FLAKE, (R) ARIZONA: No, unless something big changed. I don`t see what would but this a difficult decision for everybody. It really is. And so, anyway, we did our best.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you think he`ll get confirmed tomorrow?
FLAKE: We`ll did our be -- I would think so.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: The facts presented do not mean that president -- that Professor Ford was not sexually assaulted that night or at some other time, but they do lead me to conclude that the allegations fail to meet the more likely than not standard.
Therefore, I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court. Mr. President, I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So shortly after Senator Collins announced her long-awaited decision, the soul remaining undecided senator, Democrat Joe Mansion, announced his intention to vote yes to putting Kavanaugh on the high court. That`s shame. You can hear the protesters yelling in the background.
And just a few hours ago, Senator Lisa Murkowski said that while she is in her mind a no vote tomorrow, she`s going to be marked present when the vote actually happens. This is procedural and it means that Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana will not have to leave his daughter`s wedding in Montana tomorrow to be the 51st vote to put it over the top.
The White House is likely waiting for that final vote to put out any kind of official response to today`s apparent victory. However, our NBC News colleagues and Washington report tonight the mood inside the West Wing was one of "euphoria and relief."
And then tonight, as we mentioned, this brand new reporting from the "New York Times," which adds to what we already knew, that the scope of the investigation was limited from the start. But there`s more here. The paper says that, "Don McGahn, according to people familiar with the conversation, told the president that even though the White House was facing a storm of condemnation for limiting the FBI background check into sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, a wide- ranging inquiry like some Democrats were demanding, and Mr. Trump was suggesting, would be potentially disastrous for Judge Kavanaugh`s chances of confirmation to the Supreme Court.
This is a three by line piece of reporting tonight. One of the three is standing by, by telephone, to join us. That would be Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Correspondent, Michael Schmidt.
And, Mike, as I said, we know that the investigation was limited in scope. We know that because there are anywhere from 28 to 40 individuals out there who wanted or expected or both to be contacted by the FBI. We know that Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh were never contacted. But you add to it by telling us how this went down and I`ll ask you to go ahead and retell the story.
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, THE NEW YORK TIMES, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What we are trying to do here is explain how background check investigation works. It`s not the same thing as a full-blown FBI investigation where agents have subpoenas and can execute search warrants. It`s very limited. And they have to take their direction from their client. Their client in this case being the White House. And that`s what`s gave the White House a lot of say over what could be done.
Trump saw the political pressure. He saw others saying look, this is a narrow thing. And he says to McGahn, let the FBI do whatever they want. Let them rummage run (ph) and find whatever they want about Kavanaugh and McGahn says look, legally, we can`t do that. We don`t have -- we can`t let the FBI run free and just dig through whatever it wants. They have to be directed. But what we will do is tell them on these particular issues we`ve asked them to look into accusations from three women, they can interview whomever they want to.
WILLIAMS: This piece kind of paints McGahn as raining in even his boss, the president`s desire to open this up.
SCHMIDT: Yes, the president -- it`s interesting. We`ve seen the president interact so many different ways with the Justice Department. In this case, he wants to use the FBI as a way of giving him political cover, saying, look, I don`t think they`re going find anything. Let them take a look at whatever they want. And McGahn saying look, we can`t do that. Legally, that`s not possible. We`re far more constraint than that. We can direct them to different issues. We can have them check back with us and report back to us but we can`t just say, hey, guys, take a look at what`s in the newspaper, take a look at every lead you have and see what you can come up with.
There was no evidence of a crime being committed at least in the eyes of the White House. I mean the Democrats would say that Kavanaugh had committed perjury but in the White House there was no criminal thing to be investigated and it was obviously a political thing, something that that Coons and Flake had created this seven-day short investigations.
WILLIAMS: Final question. And in asking it, I`m thinking about a guy like Jeff Flake who has been so publicly tortured, a brawl that has been in feral mode for days. Let`s say your piece of journalism tonight is one of several, the drop over the next 12 to 24 hours.
Let`s say the sum total is something less than a stellar effort by the White House, DOJ, FBI, something just north of malpractice. The vote hasn`t taken place yet. Is it possible that journalism and leaks could still affect the outcome?
SCHMIDT: I`m not sure what could affect the outcome at this point. But what we do know is that at in any investigation when you put an end time on it, you`re limiting what you can find and what you can really get to the bottom of. There is a reason why when Bob Mueller was appointed the special counsel, he didn`t come out say, hey, I`ll be done with my investigation in six months in a year. An investigation, if it that to really find the facts has all the time and resources to go out and do that. Obviously this was a political thing.
WILLIAMS: Mike Schmidt has been kind enough to join us late on a Friday night at the end of a very long week. Mike, thank you very much. We commend your piece of reporting obviously to all those watching tonight.
And with that, let`s bring in our lead off panel on a Friday night, Shannon Pettypiece, White House correspondent for Bloomberg, Jonathan Allen, NBC News national and political reporter, and our own correspondent on the Hill, Garrett Haake.
Welcome to you all. Let`s see here. I would start with Garret because you were next to these figures that we`re making history today. Genuine surprise on the part of Collins, not so much on the part of Mansion from where you sat or is that inaccurate?
GARRETT HAAKE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I think that`s pretty fair, Brian. Collins was fascinating because she didn`t come out like Jeff Flake did today and say she was a yes vote and appear conflicted about it. Collins came out and said she was a yes vote and then made a full-throated endorsement of Judge Kavanaugh in a scene that looked stage for the cameras with two other female Republican senators behind her.
WILLIAMS: Well that`s because it was, correct?
WILLIAMS: They moved their desk locations. They are not normally there.
HAAKE: Oh, absolutely. No, that is not a normal configuration in the U.S. Senate. That was done for a reason. Susan Collins did not just say she was voting yes for Judge Kavanaugh. She gave the closing argument.
And if you`re Mitch McConnell or Donald Trump, you couldn`t have asked for a much better closing argument than to have a woman who at time has been held up on the left as somebody really admired who stood up to the president on the health care vote coming back and defending Kavanaugh on his jurisprudence and on the charges against him over the last week or so from Doctor Ford and others. Really such a strong closing argument.
And then you have Joe Mansion who was probably always going to find a way to be on the winning side of this issue which ever side that was come out and be the lone Democrat to make this endorsement of Judge Kavanaugh allows Republicans to say this is bipartisan even in name only with just one senator. Her endorsement of Kavanaugh, I think, also answers the question you put to Michael Schmidt. I think even if there was another huge story that came up over night, maybe you could turn Jeff Flake back into a no vote but you`re not turning Susan Collins back in a no vote at this point.
WILLIAMS: Really interesting point. So, Shannon, it`s interesting tonight the left leaning media are finding ways not to question how Schumer lost one of his flocks as the conservative media are finding ways not to point out that McConnell lost one of his. What is the White House reaction as far as your reporting goes?
SHANNON PETTYPIECE, BLOOMBERG NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean and I know you guys have had this reporting too. I mean a lot of relief and excitement in the White House, you know, in the past I guess 19, 20 months it`s been now. There`s really been few good days in this administration for the people who work there.
There`s a lot of days where it`s endless crisis. It`s, you know, one surprise coming after another. This was one of those rare few good days that people had where they could be relieved and feel like they had a win. And not just a win but that they went to war, they went to battle with the Democrats and they feel like they won.
So this is going to put a lot of wind in the sails of the White House. This is really going to boost people`s moral a lot until I guess the next crisis comes along and probably drags everything back into, you know, disarray and demoralized exhausted employees, which is what the sense you get from a lot of people there today.
And I mean going forward now, there`s just a lot of look to the midterms. This was a big boost in helping energize Republicans. It`s only going to energize them so long. It was something though that was really needed to break a lot of that Republican apathy. But now it was just about getting over the finish line. At the midterms a lot of rallies between now and then trying to keep the president on the road and hoping they can do as much battling off the Democrats again in the midterms.
WILLIAMS: Jonathan Allen, we`re going to talk about media coverage a little bit at the end of the broadcast. But after all this coverage of the independent minded could go either way senior senator from Maine talked about Susan Collins scores the game winning touchdown for her president, her majority leader, her party, and this nominee.
JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean Garrett nailed that she was the closer and she closed hard. I mean she went out there and she made the case for Brett Kavanaugh. She took many of the things that people in the left were saying, raised them up and knocked them down or at least used the Republican argument to knock them down. She ignored the Kavanaugh outburst. The one essentially -- came a little short apologizing for it but backtracked in "The Wall Street Journal" overnight basically saying he`d gone too far. The Senate has more and she ignored all of that.
And I think the two most important takeaways are this, Brian. She had a line in there where she said that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford`s allegations failed to meet the likelier than not test. And therefore, the judge couldn`t be stopped from going to the high court.
The implicit thing there is that had she believed Christine Blasey Ford that would have been disqualifying for Kavanaugh, you did not hear a lot of Republicans actually say that. The explicit thing there was she didn`t believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. She didn`t think it was likelier that not that Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape Dr. Ford.
Another thing that a lot of Republicans were -- hasn`t saying in that way, she made a much more first law argument that even President Trump who, you know, his shot at Dr. Ford was to ridicule her from a stage in Mississippi. I think what Senator Collins said on the floor was both going further and certainly more measured in terms of tone and temperament.
WILLIAMS: Shannon and then Garret. Shannon, Trump has a rally in Kansas tomorrow night. How is this entire thing likely to change his public utterances?
PETTYPIECE: So the actual vote will likely be taking place while he is on Air Force One flying to that rally. So this one White House aide told me to look for this rally tomorrow night to be a victory rally for Kavanaugh and to fit in this bigger message they`re trying to sell to Republicans about, you know, if you keep us in power, we will carry through with our promises. Of course, that fires up Democrats too because they hate all the promises that the Trump administration has made before Republicans. It gives the president a selling point, keep us in there, get out there and vote, and we will continue to delivering on their promises.
And it`s also this whole thing has reminded Republicans too of this idea of what they are fighting against among Republicans, among conservatives. They did not like seeing the way Democrats handled this. They bought into this idea that it was a plot cooked up by the Democrats to bring down Kavanaugh at the last minute. And it fed into this deeper cultural under current of that Trump has been tapping into from the very beginning of the disadvantaged white male. The attack on the white male and that is something that`s resonating with his supporters, too. So I think it`s going to be a big Kavanaugh`s rally tomorrow.
But of course, they`re going to start having to think on what is the next topic that`s going to fire Republicans and get them out in the polls in November because we`ve got a long way to go still.
WILLIAMS: Garret, you know this working up there and covering these guys, majority and minority leaders are like Australian shepherds, their job is to deliver the entire herd when the job is done and both of these guys had members peal off. They both could not deliver their entire caucuses. That`s going to be interesting.
HAAKE: I think it is, Brian. Look, Joe Mansion is in a tough reelection fight. And Chuck Schumer has given him a lot more leeway than say Harry Reid used to, to vote the way he feels like he needs to vote to keep his constituents happy in West Virginia. I don`t think there`s going to be a clap back if you will against Joe Mansion from the Democratic Party on this. It`s part of the reason he tried so hard to make sure he wasn`t going to be the deciding vote on this.
Lisa Murkowski is also interesting too. She has her own political system in Alaska. Remember, this is a woman who lost her Republican primary in 2010 and won as a right in candidate with the name like Murkowski. I mean, she is politically powerful in her own right as a local figure in Alaska. She`s also the Republican`s only female committee chairman in the Senate of a major committee.
Susan Collins shares a standing committee an aging. But Lisa Murkowski is a powerful figure within the Republican Party. And I don`t see her being necessarily punished for this especially since her loss won`t cause them anything. And she did make this gracious move towards Steve Daines tonight, the Republican senator for Montana, saying, she would vote present to do what`s called a pairing essentially to allow Steve Daines to stay away and not let affect the total ratio. That`s kind of a -- she wanted to be a big statement about how these nominations should be handled with more grace and class, but it`s also band-aid for the Republicans who might be upset with her about how this went down tonight.
WILLIAMS: Jonathan, you get the quick last word. I know you love predictions. Who benefits the most from this in 30 or so days at the midterms, which party?
ALLEN: Well the Republicans simply benefited on the substance of having the guy on the Supreme Court. As far as the energy goes, I think it`s going to be hard for Republicans to sustain this over the next four weeks. I think Democrats are going to be angry. There`s going to be some backlash. There is no issue that Republicans can pivot to this as unifying as this one is for them. It got everybody from Donald Trump to George H.W. Bush and Susan Collins on board. Immigration is not like that. Maybe tax cuts would be like that but they`ve just done a big tax cuts. So I think Republicans have to figure out a way to try to sustain that energy.
WILLIAMS: And reminders to all the TV were on in the Mueller offices today where they remained at work. Shannon Pettypiece, Jon Allen and Gatten Haake, can`t thank you enough for joining us at the end of a long day, another long week.
Coming up, how Brett Kavanaugh`s presence will impact the court, particularly with lingering questions of misconduct, judicial temperament, credibility. And later, what this confirmation has done to both parties and where, as Jonathan was saying, all that energy, all that anger goes now? We`re just getting started on this aforementioned Friday night.
WILLIAMS: Just after Susan Collins quoted the American Bar Association today the ABA announced its reopening, its evaluation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh based on his temperament. A topic even Kavanaugh himself has talked about in the past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT KAVANUAGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: To be a good judge and a good umpire, it`s important to have the proper demeanor.
No, no, no, no. I got this up. I`m going to talk about my -- no, I`m going to talk about my high school record, if you`re going to sit here and mock me.
Why it`s very important outset for a judge who wants to be an umpire to avoid any resemblance of that partisanship probably most fundamental thing for a judge who want`s to be an umpire.
This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election revenge on behalf of the Clintons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Two faces of Brett Kavanaugh separated by three years. And with us tonight to talk about it, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor and is a former U.S. attorney and Mieke Eoyang an attorney and former staffer for the House Intelligence and Armed Services Committees. Welcome back to the broadcast to both of you.
Joyce, I have a two-part question. Number one, your reaction to what transpired today. People know that you were appointed to office as the U.S attorney by President Barack Obama. Your reaction to what happened today. And secondly, to the documents like the one we were handed tonight that are probably going to keep coming out. This is another friend of Dr. Ford talking about how and when they were told about her accusation, her past.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: So I think the answer actually to both parts of your question comes down to the same ball of lapse. And this is the price that we will likely continue to pay both the court as the institution and the judges on the court themselves for what was a best hurriedly executed perhaps slip shot FBI investigation.
If Judge Kavanaugh is in fact blameless in this entire scenario, he would have been much better served in the court much better served by an FBI investigation that would permitted to look into all of the nooks and crannies. The FBI would have normally explored it in background situation like this.
Unfortunately, what we now face I think will be this ongoing sort of slowly unwinding series of stories. People coming forward to talk about what they would have said had they been interviewed. It will certainly distract from the court this term. Hopefully, it won`t have long lasting effects on the integrity of the court, but his has been very an unusual confirmation battle and it may well linger.
WILLIAMS: Mieke, what do we about that? A lot of the people on the political left are grieved parties tonight. But there are also these other people with special pleadings between 28 and 41 people who said I wanted to talk about this with investigators.
MIEKE EOYANG, FORMER STAFF FOR THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE AND ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Yes, I think Joyce is right that the perception that this is a very rush investigation that the FBI was not allowed to go thoroughly into asking questions about Judge Kavanaugh`s background on whether or not he was telling the truth in is testimony here, puts the court in a place that we`ve never seen before in our lifetimes and perhaps ever. It`s the biggest crisis of the integrity of the court that they`ve ever faced.
And so I think that the chief justice has a real challenge on his hands, not just with these questions about Judge Kavanaugh on whether he was truthful and whether or not we will continue to hear about these concerns going forward. But also the judge`s testimony itself threatening what goes around comes around, suggesting there were conspiracies and it was partisan, really raises questions about his ability to be impartial on what`s a narrowly divided court.
And we know the chief justice tried to seek broader consensus to protect the integrity of the court. And the question is will Kavanaugh go along with that or will he be kind of angry, vituperative person that we saw at the hearings which will further undermine the integrity of the court.
WILLIAMS: Joyce, it is a first, to my knowledge, we`ve never had someone during the confirmation hearing say what goes around comes around. Also a first was how many topics and grievances this guy touched on. Does that mean we`re looking at more potential recusal grounds if he is to reach the bench as we believe?
EOYANG: I think --
WILLIAMS: Oh sorry that was for Joyce.
VANCE: Sorry, Meike.
EOYANG: I`m sorry.
VANCE: The Supreme Court is unlike other courts and it doesn`t have recusal rules that stem from policies that are imposed upon them. Supreme Court justices are in fact free to recuse when they believe it`s appropriate. So this will be largely if he becomes Justice Kavanaugh in his hands to decide when and under what circumstances he would have to recuse.
And of course, that in of itself can become a problem with Justice Scalia. There were allegations that he should have recused in the case of people which he had social relationships and he chose not to. But for Justice Kavanaugh, every one of these inquiries that have occurred in the past will be inundated with many more value laid in sort of judgments that will be made, that will have the potential to really diminish the integrity of the court.
WILLIAMS: And Meike, forgive me for the confusion. What I wanted to ask you was about the progress that`s fashionable for everyone in this role on a night like this to say it`s broken. But in your view, how do you begin to fix it?
EOYANG: Yes. I think this is a real challenge and I think it will come down to how Judge Kavanaugh conducts himself if the court actually confirms him tomorrow. And that will be is he ruling in ways that are partisan? Is he citing with a narrow 5-4 majority? Is he issuing these kinds of blistering dissents? Is he carrying that anger with him into the court? Or is he behaving the way that Justice Kennedy?
And I think the chief justice would want him to behave looking out for the integrity of the entire court ruling in the best interest of America instead of a particular party. You know, once he`s no longer behold into the president, the question is which Brett Kavanaugh is going to show up on the court?
WILLIAMS: Can`t thank you both enough, Joyce Vance, Mieke Eoyang, for joining us after this busy day on our broadcast tonight.
And coming up for us, the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, is excepted to put an end to the anger, the emotion, we have witnessed these past few weeks, but will the controversy drive more people to the polls in just over 30 days? That when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I had to deal with the facts I had in front of me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: You don`t hear that everyday as it says earlier shout of shame while Democrat Joe Manchin was explaining his decision to vote for Judge Kavanaugh met by those protesters on the hallway outside his office.
The outrage spilled in to the streets. We imagine it will this weekend as well. It will know about -- no doubt rather be a driving force in this election and the next. As the Cook political report put it today, what we don`t know is where all the energy we are seeing on the right and the left goes once the nomination fight is over. And then in a day that was already filled with its own remarkable moments, we want to bring you this from Republican Judiciary Committee Chairman, Chuck Grassley.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have the sense now that you want to see a woman on the committee on the Republican side?
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We can`t do anything about that. You got to have desire to serve.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just don`t want to be on the committee.
GRASSLEY: Well, it`s a lot of work. I mean don`t forget compared to a lot of committee meetings, we have an executive for every Thursday. So, it is a lot of work. Maybe they don`t want to do it
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: As they say that happened today and with us tonight, Mara Gay, a member of the New York Times Editorial Board. John Gerstein, White House reporter for Politico. We are happy to say that both are MSNBC contributors.
So Mara, we have that and we have the sum total of today, you this week wrote a personal piece in the opinion section of the New York Times about your life experience. What do we do about the entire community of American women who look at Dr. Ford, look at Mara Gay and say yes, you, that`s story, that`s me.
MARA GAY, NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD: It`s a really -- first of all, it`s a sad day. It should be a sad day for all Americans but it`s very difficult for those of us who are sexually assault survivors. I think there`s a time to grieve but I think there is a real risk here that people become so disparing that they don`t participate and they feel their vote doesn`t count and they don`t show up to the polls.
And so, you know, my immediate thought was, OK, let`s not despair, let`s not linger in that, let`s actually organize and channel that into, you know, wins at the polling booth.
The other thing that I would say is that I`ve been thinking a lot about my dad and his experience, you know, my father is black and my mother is white. But my dad grew up in segregated Detroit and then segregated South Carolina. He drank from a black only water fountain. And so I think when you compare the experience of black Americans to what`s going on of the Me Too movement, you really think about it as a long-term game and really -- that`s kind of where we are right now.
I mean I think there`s a lot of frustration about. It`s been a year since the Me Too Movement started. What do we have to show for it? Today was a huge blow. But there are seeds being blown every time a woman tells her story or in some cases a man. And I think, you know, we need to kind of keep that perspective of, you know, you live to fight another day. This is a long battle.
So just, I think thinking about endurance is important here and just settling in for a long fight.
WILLIAMS: Thank you for that.
Josh, did you find any profiles encouraged today on Capitol Hill? Was it harder for a height camp to vote no or was it hard for Manchin to vote yes, that kind of thing?
JOHN GERSTEIN, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think Brian, the Heitkamp vote is one that could cost her although she seems to be down a little bit in the poll. So, may have been in some trouble already. I think Claire McCaskill is another person in Missouri who could suffer for her vote here.
But I do wonder if at least in the short to medium term maybe we are making a little too much of this. I mean it is a generational potential shift in the court even without the Blasey Ford allegation that came up. We`re talking about potentially a tectonic shift in the court. It could have effect for one or two generations.
But I wonder if maybe -- it`s not ever measured in election cycles but in news cycles, there are so much noise and so much cacophony that comes from this White House that within a matter of a couple of weeks, this issue might be over taken in the public mind by the president`s latest insult directed at somebody on the campaign trail or some other controversy about an insider turning on the president. It`s really hard to measure and these things always searing and kind apocalyptic in the moment.
WILLIAMS: Mara, speaking of generational and tectonic changes, do you think the optics of the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee might change in the next Congress. To quote Chairman Grassley, I`m wondering if there will be woman senators, it`s very hard work, will they be willing to step up and do the hard work?
GAY: You know, you really couldn`t write better campaign literatures for Democrats. So, let`s see how the party is able to capitalize on that. But this really does seem to bring out, you know, the Republicans inner cave man. I`m not quite sure where they`re going with this. None of that is going to be helpful in November. You know, it does hinge on turnout at this point, but I do think that we`ll see a demographic shift in those who are in power and I think there are a lot of angry women. I was actually out just on the street yesterday in New York City.
WILLIAMS: In the wild.
GAY: In the wild.
GAY: And I bumped into a group of, you know, very passionate protesters, anti-Kavanaugh protesters making their way from Times Square to Trump Tower. And I`ve seen a lot of protests, I was a reporter for a long time, opinion writer, but, boy, I`ve seen a lot of protests and I haven`t felt the anger as (INAUDIBLE) as I felt it yesterday. And so, if people are in the streets, and or experience, I`m sure (INAUDIBLE) than they usually show up to the polls. So, I do expect that we`re going to see more women in office.
WILLIAMS: Josh, I`m sorry, I have to limit you to a brief closing note. But do you see any of that out in the wild in the wilds of D.C. something organically starting up, think of the explosion of the women`s march after the inauguration.
GERSTEIN: Yes. I mean I think we live in an era where reactions seems very, very strong and very capable of delivering people to the polls. That`s the lesson of the last few elections and back of Donald Trump`s election. I think many people would see that as a force of reaction.
So the question is whether the anger on that side of the equation among Democrats, among women or in particular is going to proved to be a more motivating force than the sort of unity that the Republicans took away from this fight which was a significant, you know, development on their side but maybe not one that`s as big as having that anger that gets you on the polls on election day.
WILLIAMS: Josh, as we look at the picture of you on Capitol Hill, in Washington to our viewers just directing your eyes to the upper left. Those of you with flat screen HTV, that is the light over the Capitol indicating they are in session tonight, indeed, they are debating leading up to a vote which we haven`t had. You see Senator Merkley has the floor right now.
And with that, our thanks to Mara Gay, to Josh Gerstein, really appreciate your contributions tonight.
GERSTEIN: Thanks Brian.
WILLIAMS: Coming up after another week marked by high emotions, partisan acrimony. We happen to have a Pulitzer Prize wining historian standing by to help us some up what just happened and where we may be headed. That`s where we continue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Mr. President, I will vote to confirm, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: That was the wind line up to Susan Collins long speech in the well of the Senate today. And here to talk about just what we have witnessed all day long. The Pulitzer Prize winning author and presidential historian, Jon Meacham, his latest book appropriately titled "The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Angels." There sure was a battle today.
Jon, I was watching your life contemporaneous coverage, when Collins stopped, you said on the air that you thought she moved this nominee to the senator. She kind of made him a moderate on the fly. Explain.
JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: If you look at the first opening section of the speech, she walks through issues in which she turned Judge Kavanaugh into a Susan Collins, Republicans about Roe v. Wade, about gay rights a whole host of issues.
Almost as though she were talking herself into the candidate she wanted to vote for. And the irony here, the tension is -- the energy behind this appointment was that he is a strong judicial conservative. He`s not a judicial moderate.
And in many ways, this nomination was the fruition because it is a swing vote of judicial strategy that`s been really boring I would argue in the mid 1950s when Republicans realized that they had not gotten what they really wanted from the Eisenhower appointment over Warren (ph).
And so the cry for decades is been not to be fooled again and then Nixon did from `68 to `74. He appointed four justices, only one of whom turned out to be as conservative as the right had hoped. It was a Nixon appointee in fact who wrote the decision in Roe v. Wade. Then you got to George Herbert Walker Bush who appointed David Souter and it was yet another example of why conservatives believe they had to have an absolutely pure conservative to put on the court.
And what Senator Collins seemed to be doing is saying, you know what, ignore all that. He`s not that conservative. He`s actually a centrist and that`s who I`m going to vote for. The question for all of us now, because 40 years of American jurisprudence just got shaped today going forward is which Kavanaugh is going to show up and be a Supreme Court justice, is it the Collins one or is the federal society one?
WILLIAMS: And these are collections of human beings. It`s a living and breathing body full of living and breathing bodies. Stranger things have happened than to have a John Roberts, the chief justice moved himself even more into the center.
MEACHAM: John Roberts is become the most important person in America. Roberts is now the swing vote so the chief has now what Justice Kennedy was. And it will be a fascinating drama to watch. The battles is over, over justice soon to be Justice Kavanaugh. The war goes on.
And I think what`s going to be fascinating to watch is to what extent is the Kavanaugh who shows up and goes to work at the Supreme Court, to what extent is that the Kavanaugh that Susan Collins was talking about and to what extent is that the Kavanaugh who said what goes around comes around and gave that defiant and quite partisan speech so defiant and so partisan that he felt compel to write an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the eve of the confirmation vote to clean it up.
WILLIAMS: Speaking of things we`ve never seen before. Jon has agreed to stay. We`re just going to take a break. We`ll continue our conversation right after this.
WILLIAMS: When Susan Collins was a high school student in Maine, we`re going to get to Jon Meacham again in just a minute here already know all the stuff, she got to visit Washington and spend two hours with one of her heroes, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith. Among other things, Senator Smith was among the first public officials to turn against Joe McCarthy almost 70 years ago.
Well, Susan Collins now occupies Senator Smith`s seat in the U.S. Senate representing Maine. So, it was probably a canny and cagey move when this past Monday Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dropped her name of Collins political hero knowing Collins was listening.
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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, MAJORITY LEADER: In 1950, character assassination and uncorroborated allegations were being utilized in a very different debate in that era. Tat`s when a distinguished senator from Maine named Margaret Chase Smith, an icon, from the great state of our colleagues, Senator Collins went to the Senate floor to say enough was enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Someone remind him Senator King is also from Maine. Jon Meacham remains with us. Jon, I`m duty-bound to point out that Margaret Chase Smith also crossed over and voted for some new deal legislation in her time in the Senate. There she is.
MEACHAM: Yes. The timing of that speech that Senator McConnell was talking about is quite remarkable. It was very early in the McCarthy drama. McCarthy gave that speech on Lincoln`s birthday, the Wheeling, West Virginia speech where he had the names of 205 communists, that wandered down to 57, and ultimately down to 0.
And she called it the declaration of conscience. It was a couple of months later. She got six co-signers from her caucus. McCarthy dismissed them as Snow White and the Six Dwarves. But it was a pretty brilliant maneuver on McConnell part to try to take Margaret Chase Smith has become kind of shorthand for defying your party, to try to push Senator Collins into standing with her party.
WILLIAMS: In 30 seconds of brilliance, any profiles in courage today?
MEACHAM: I don`t think so. Perhaps Senator Murkowski gets credit. I think it`s the -- the fascinating partisan moment. Partisanship won today. And I think one of the reasons that happened is as President Kennedy wins from heart, there is a reason profiles in courage is just one volume.
WILLIAMS: As we keep telling our viewers to feel better about our country by Jon`s book. Jon Meacham, always a pleasure. Thank you for joining us tonight.
When we come back, why a whole lot of people have a whole lot of explaining to do. When THE 11TH HOUR continues.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go here tonight. From the looks of social media and the sound of the commenting class on cable, a whole lot of people have a lot of explaining to do. Starting with us. It was asked repeatedly late today whether isn`t time for the news media to cease the heart stopping coverage of Susan Collins as some sort of maverick moderate independent senator after the role she played today as the closer, a strict adherent of McConnell rule in Senate.
Folks are staying. There are still time to switch the nameplate on that profile in courage award from Flake to Murkowski. There have been suggestions that Flake be nominated instead for best supporting actor. Chuck Schumer will have to answer for why, as Democratic leader, he couldn`t deliver all the Democratic votes. McConnell lost one, too.
And speaking of Joe Manchin, a lot of folks were asking if he doesn`t need to pick one political party. And if he is OK with the fact that after he gave Trump his vote on Kavanaugh, he was then trolled and bullied by Donny Jr., who wrote, a real profile in courage, from lie and liberal Joe Manchin waited until Kavanaugh had enough vote secure before he announced his support. I bet he had another press release ready to go if Collins went the other way. Then Don Jr. goes on tell West Virginians to vote for Manchin`s opponent.
And tonight there is much discussion on the left that mirrors the headline we saw in the Washington Post, did Michael Avenatti help doom the case against Brett Kavanaugh?
About the only humor to break the tension today came when our friends at the Onion reported, Mitch McConnell inflates throat pouch and show of dominance over fellow congressional males.
And there was this, this week from Matt Pearce of the L.A. Times, it feels like only two days ago that the New York Times accused the president of the United States of massive tax fraud.
Well, these are the time we`re living in as a great man one said, this is the life we`ve chosen.
That is our broadcast on a Friday night and the end of this (INAUDIBLE) week. Thank you so much for being here with us. Good night from NBC News headquarters here in New York.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END