Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: September 24, 2018 Guest: Michael Avenatti, Amy Klobuchar
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Much appreciated.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
How was your weekend? Mine was fine. I caught a brown trout, which was awesome. And I put it back. I was supposed to get a new washing machine this weekend, but I blew it off and didn`t do it. So that means the old washing machine has another week to blow up and leak.
I did some filing. Susan made shepherd`s pie. The Patriots lost.
Remember normal weekends, right? This weekend, I actually tried to pretend that things are normal now. Clearly, they are not. Even before we had our national fire drill this morning, when it looked like the president was firing the deputy attorney general overseeing the Russia investigation, even before that fire drill this morning, it was clear through the end of last week, all through this weekend and through today that the news is just persistently off its axis right now.
And I know that can make it a little bit hard to get your balance. I know, I know. We`re going have more on the Rod Rosenstein fire drill, which did sort of look like an emergency this morning, and then it wasn`t. He is still in his job. We`re going have more on that to come, including speaking with a senator who`s been trying to protect the special counsel`s investigation from just that kind of threat that we went through the motions of this morning. So that`s ahead tonight this hour.
But I got to tell you, for the second time in just a few day, we`re actually starting the show tonight without knowing if our first interview is going to happen or not. You might remember this happened at the end of last week as well when we started the show, expecting to be joined by one of the lawyers representing Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when he was 17. That interview with Dr. Ford`s lawyer at the last minute did not happen because Dr. Ford`s legal team was deep into their negotiations with the Senate Judiciary Committee about whether or not Christine Blasey Ford would appear before that committee to testify about what she says was her experience with Brett Kavanaugh.
Those negotiations were ongoing that evening, ended up scuttling that interview for us. Those negotiations actually continued through this weekend, through the fishing and skipping the washing machine and all the rest of it. It was not until mid afternoon yesterday on Sunday that we got word that in fact Dr. Christine Blasey Ford will testify at the Senate on Thursday of this week. White House and the Republican-led Judiciary Committee are still insisting that no other witnesses will be allowed to testify, even witnesses who Ford says could corroborate elements of her story.
Importantly, White House and Senate Republicans are also insisting that the FBI must not be allowed to reopen its background investigation into Brett Kavanaugh to examine this allegation from Christine Blasey Ford. So, no external investigation, no witnesses, but Ford herself and Kavanaugh himself will testify at that hearing on Thursday morning.
And if you were looking for the universe to give you a patient little explainer about why it might be a good idea to have the FBI do background checks on nominees, why it`s a good to have the nation`s premier federal law enforcement agency look into allegations against people who are up for high government positions, if you were looking for bald-faced proof that it is not just an inexplicable plan but a terrible plan to in fact proceed with this nomination without allowing the FBI to check this stuff out, that bald-faced proof arrived just as the details were being finalized this weekend for that committee hearing on Thursday, because just as that hearing was finally getting all set up, all nice and tidy, no witnesses, just Kavanaugh and Ford, one word against the other, no outside investigation, that`s it, we`ll finally be done with this, just as that was all tied up with a bow, the next one broke.
You see the headline here. Senate Democrats investigate a new allegation of sexual misconduct from Brett Kavanaugh`s college years. A college classmate of Brett Kavanaugh named Deborah Ramirez claims that during a party where students were drinking, Kavanaugh put his genitals in her face, forcing them to touch them as she tried to push him away.
Quote: I was embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated. She remembers Kavanaugh standing to her right, and laughing, pulling up his pants. Brett was laughing. She said, I can still see his face and his hips coming forward like when you pull up your pants.
She recalled another male student shouting about the incident. Somebody yelled down the hall, Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie`s face, she said. It was his full name. I don`t think it was just Brett. And I remember hearing that and being mortified that this was out there.
Another classmate of Deborah Ramirez`s telling "The New Yorker" that while he, the classmate was not present for the party, he says he is quote 100 percent sure that he was told at the time that Brett Kavanaugh was the student who exposed himself to Deborah Ramirez at that party. The same classmate also independently confirmed a bunch of the same details that Deborah Ramirez told "The New Yorker" about the incident, including the specific room on the specific floor in the specific building where the party took place.
The classmate tells "The New Yorker", quote, I`ve known this all along. Quote, it`s been on my mind all these years when his name came up. It was a big deal.
So, this was published by "The New Yorker". Again, this is published by "The New Yorker" just as the Judiciary Committee was announcing that it had reached a deal to accept testimony from Christine Blasey Ford. The woman who says that Brett Kavanaugh did this to her at this party at Yale when they were undergraduates, she apparently did not approach reporters about this matter. Rather, it was "The New Yorker" that approached her after they had learned about this alleged incident from others.
Now that the allegation is public, though, Ramirez says she wants the allegation assessed impartially. Quote: For Ramirez, the sudden attention has been unwelcome. She was at first hesitant to speak publicly, but Ramirez is now calling for the FBI to investigate Kavanaugh`s role in the incident.
Quote, I would think an FBI investigation would be warranted, she said.
So, once again we`re back in the position of wondering why Republicans in the Senate and why the White House are insisting that the FBI must not be allowed to lock at this, as part of their background investigation into Kavanaugh. The FBI looks into allegations of sexual misconduct and all sorts of different kinds of misconduct as a matter of course when they do background investigations. That`s what background investigations are for.
Why the White House insists that Brett Kavanaugh must be exempt from that process here, that was a hard thing to explain before there were multiple allegations against him. Now it seems almost like a shortsighted thing, a shortsighted way for them to have approached this, right?
Imagine this having gone a different way, right? First, allegation comes up. They reopen the background investigation, have the FBI look into it, the FBI finds what it finds, that process is under way, they set a hearing. They`re going to hear back from the FBI.
Now, there`s another allegation. We will also ask the FBI to look into that. Then there is another allegation at some point, right? We`ll ask the FBI to look into that.
It`s a way to govern the process. It also shows that you`re allowing these allegations to be investigated, that you`re not trying to sweep them under the rug. In this case, they are left now with now mounting refusals to let the FBI look into this, for the first allegation, now for the second allegation as well. Why can`t the FBI look into this?
There are two other things from this New Yorker piece that I think are going to end up being important here. The first is about how Republican senators handled this second allegation. This is about the timing.
And again, this is about that Yale allegation that I just described. Quote, senior Republican staffers also learned of this Yale allegation last week and in conversations with the "New Yorker" expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh`s nomination. Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote.
Hey, there is another allegation coming. Hurry, get him through. Get the vote done. Get the vote done before anything more comes out, get him on the court. It`s not a good look.
But then there is one other element of this story that becomes important for the interview that I think we are about to have in just a minute tonight. One of the sticking points in the negotiations about this hearing on Thursday and Christine Blasey Ford testifying about what she says was this sexual assault by Kavanaugh, one of the sticking points in setting up that hearing has been whether or not anybody other than Ford and Kavanaugh would testify. And Blasey Ford`s letter notifying Senator Dianne Feinstein about the alleged assault, she names one of Kavanaugh`s classmates as having been in the room while the assault happened.
Now the classmate has denied taking part in the assault or witnessing it. He told an interview from a conservative magazine, quote, I don`t remember any of that stuff going on with girls.
But I think this is the other thing that`s going to end up being important from "The New Yorker" given that Dr. Ford has taking part this the assault or witnessing it. He told interview for a conservative magazine, quote, I don`t remember any of that stuff going on with girls.
But I think this is the other thing that`s going to end up being important from the New Yorker, given that Dr. Ford has named this Kavanaugh classmate, Mark Judge, as essentially being complicit in that alleged assault by Brett Kavanaugh back when they were 17. Republicans thus far are refusing to call him as a witness, but this is reported by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer at the "New Yorker" this weekend.
Quote: After seeing Mark Judge`s denial, Elizabeth Rasor, who met Judge at Catholic University and was in a relationship with him for about three years, she said that she felt morally obligated to challenge his account that no horseplay took place at Georgetown Prep with women. Elizabeth Rasor stressed that under normal circumstances, she said, I wouldn`t reveal information that was told in confidence. But she said, quote, I can`t stand by and watch him lie.
In an interview with the "New Yorker", Rasor says, quote, Mark told me a very different story. She recalled that mark judge had told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman. Now, an attorney for Mark Judge denies that categorically.
But even before "The New Yorker" published that account yesterday, it was hard to understand why Republicans agreed to hear testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and from Brett Kavanaugh about what she alleges, but they will not allow Mark Judge, who was reportedly in the room, to be questioned by senators at all.
That was the state of things, right? And then on top of that, we get more. Now, we have this.
Quote: I represent a woman with credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge. We will be demanding the opportunity to present testimony to committee and will likewise be demanding that Mark Judge and others be subpoenaed to testify.
This as you can see here is from Attorney Michael Avenatti who is best known for representing Stormy Daniels in her legal dispute with the president, a dispute that has already led to the president`s long-time personal lawyer to plead guilty to multiple felonies, including two finance felonies which he said in court he was directed to commit by the president himself. Shortly after Michael Avenatti posted that claim online that he represents a woman with credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge, the chief counsel working for Senator Chuck Grassley in the Judiciary Committee, e-mailed Mr. Avenatti saying, quote you claim to have information you consider credible regarding Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge. Please advise of this information immediately so that Senate investigators can promptly begin an inquiry.
And then in response to that request from the Senate Judiciary Committee, Michael Avenatti started to spell it out. If you have not seen this already and you don`t know what I`m about to say, I will tell you there is a chance that you might not want to hear this, which is me warning you that you might want to mute me or distract the kids if they`re watching with you if you don`t want to hear this or if you don`t want your kids to hear this.
But I`m going read it. And actually, before I even read to it you, he will tell you tonight in advance that Judge Kavanaugh has this evening denied the implication of what Mr. Avenatti spells out here, but this is what he spells out here.
Quote -- this is a letter to the Senate judiciary committee. Quote: We are aware of significant evidence of multiple house parties in the Washington, D.C. area during the early 1980s, during which Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge and others would participate in the targeting of women without alcohol/drugs in order to allow a, quote, train of men to subsequently gang rape them. There are multiple witnesses that will corroborate these facts, and each of them must be called to testify publicly.
As a starting point, Senate investigators should pose the following questions to Judge Kavanaugh. Number one, did you ever target one or more women for sex or rape at a house party? Did you ever assist Mark Judge or others in doing so?
Number two, did you ever attend any house party during which a woman was gang raped or used for sex by multiple men? Number three, did you ever witness a line of men outside a bedroom at any house party where you understood a woman was being -- excuse me, a woman was in the bedroom being rape order taken advantage of?
Number four, did you ever participate in any sexual conduct with a woman at a house party whom you understood to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs? Number five, did you ever communicate with Mark Judge or anybody else about your participation in a, quote, train involving an intoxicated woman? And number six, did you ever object or attempt to prevent one or more men from participating in the rape or taking advantage of a woman at any house party?
Please note that we will provide additional evidence relating to the above conduct both to the committee and the American public in the coming days.
Now, that obviously is a list of questions, but within it is a rather staggering set of allegations. NBC News has not confirmed any of the allegations here either explicit or implied. Mr. Avenatti has thus far not identified his client. But as you heard there in the piece of this that I just read, he says he has evidence to support these allegations and that that evidence will be forthcoming both to the committee and to the public.
Mr. Avenatti said today that he represents multiple clients in this matter, most of whom are witnesses that he says will support these allegations, but one of whom he is describing as a victim. Avenatti saying today, quote: Warning, my client re Kavanaugh has previously done work in the State Department, the U.S. Mint and the Department of Justice. She has been granted multiple security clearances in the past. The GOP and others better be very careful in trying suggest that she is not credible.
Michael Avenatti now says that this client is about to go public with her claims. He also says that in advance of that, he is willing to explain what exactly her claims are. And so, that`s the interview we are about to have.
Even in advance of hearing what it he has to say, though, it is now quite impossible to avoid the fact that the three women who have come forward or are in the process of coming forward with allegations concerning Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, all three of them, Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez this weekend and now Michael Avenatti`s client, all of them say they would like their claims to be subjected to scrutiny by the FBI.
If the FBI`s responsible for doing background checks on nominees for high office, and they are, all three of these women now say they have information they would like to provide to the FBI for that purpose as it relates to Brett Kavanaugh so the FBI can assess what these women have to say. And that is something no lawyer would ever advise a client to do if there was any worry at all that the client`s story was a lie.
We do not know any more about these new allegations than Mr. Avenatti has thus far said publicly, but he`s now going to detail them to us live here on the air. And that`s next.
MADDOW: As I mentioned at the top of the show, we started tonight sort of without a net, without knowing whether our first interview would actually happen or not.
The person we have been hoping to talk to tonight is Attorney Michael Avenatti. You may have met him first through his work representing Stormy Daniels and her legal challenges to the president. Mr. Avenatti has exposed the president`s personal attorney Michael Cohen and the companies that had to admit to paying him millions of dollars. Mr. Avenatti has also worked on reuniting families who are forcibly separated at the border by Trump administration policy.
Mr. Avenatti has become part of our national politics now. He is now saying he might run for the White House himself in 2020.
Over this weekend, Michael Avenatti said online that he now represents a new client who has something to say about the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. He said, quote: I represent a woman with credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge.
Mr. Avenatti told the Senate Judiciary Committee today, quote, my client is prepared to meet with the FBI forthwith to disclose how she was victimized and what she observed.
I will tell you tonight that Brett Kavanaugh has categorically denied having any part in what Mr. Avenatti is describing. Judge Kavanaugh said tonight it was, quote, totally false and outrageous. An attorney for Brett Kavanaugh`s friend Mark Judge tells us tonight that Mr. Judge will not speak publicly at all while Brett Kavanaugh`s confirmation is still pending.
Before he stopped talking, he said already that he doesn`t want to testify before the Senate. Apparently, the Republican-controlled Senate is fine with that. We have not yet heard back from lawyers from the Senate Judiciary Committee tonight.
But I also have to tell you that NBC News has not independently reported out this story. We do not know any more about these still anonymous allegations beyond what Mr. Avenatti has said publicly, but I think we do now have Michael Avenatti in place and trod take some questions about this now.
Joining us now I hope, I think, yes, is Michael Avenatti.
Mr. Avenatti, it`s nice to see you. Thank you for your time tonight.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER FOR STORMY DANIELS: Good to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So you said online that you were representing a woman with credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge. What is the nature of the information that she has about Judge Kavanaugh and his high school classmate?
AVENATTI: Well, Rachel, I`m representing one client who I can describe as a witness and victim, as well as additional corroborating witnesses to what she is going to allege publicly within the next 48 hours.
As it relates to her particular allegations, we`re not going provide additional information beyond that which is contained within the e-mails that I exchanged with the Senate Judiciary Committee. But let me say this: this woman, when she does surface will be found to be 100 percent credible by the American public. I would not be representing her if I did not believe her.
And if anyone has been paying attention over the last six to seven months, they know that I do not traffic in nonsense or rumor. I utilize facts and evidence, and this woman will prove to be credible, and she is believable, and we are hopeful that the committee will launch an FBI investigation forthwith. We have also asked that she be permitted to take a polygraph examination which she has agreed to do provided that Brett Kavanaugh does the same.
And we have yet to hear back from the committee on a host of issues that I raised over ten hours ago.
MADDOW: You described representing her, but also other people in this same matter. The other people who your representing other than your client who I should mention you are not naming at this point, are they people who are witnesses to the behavior that she is going to describe? Is this all -- the people that you`re representing here, is this all about one specific allegation?
AVENATTI: No, it`s not about one specific allegations. It`s a series of allegations. This is a pattern of behavior, Rachel, that took place across many months and many years.
And I will say this: We have demanded that Mark Judge be subpoenaed to testify before the committee in public so that the American people can hear Mark Judge answer questions about his close friend Brett Kavanaugh. So far, those requests have fallen on deaf ears.
For some reason, Chairman Grassley and others do not want the American people to hear from Mark Judge. For some reason, Brett Kavanaugh does not want the American people to hear from his close friend Mark Judge. And I think that should tell people everything they need to know about Mark Judge and what he may say.
MADDOW: Now, you just said a moment ago that you expect your client will go public with these allegations within the next 48 hours. That sounds like you are doing that in advance of the hearing that as of right now is still scheduled for Thursday morning. Is that deliberate in terms of trying to make sure that these allegations are in the public eye before that hearing convenes on Thursday morning?
AVENATTI: Well, that`s one of the factors, absolutely, Rachel. And we`ve asked the committee to allow her to testify. We`ve asked the committee to turn this over to the FBI because to your point earlier in the show, we believe all of these allegations, not just the allegations from my client, not just the allegations from the other clients that I have that are corroborating witnesses, but also Dr. Ford, Ms. Ramirez, and others.
All of these allegations should be tested. They should be investigated by the FBI. There should not be a rush to judgment either for or against Brett Kavanaugh.
You know, Justice Scalia`s seat was kept open for over 400 days, Rachel. There is no reason why the Senate needs to be rushing a vote as it relates to Brett Kavanaugh. This should be a fair and thorough process.
MADDOW: In the e-mail that you sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, they wrote to you saying you have made claims publicly that you represent a client who has credible information about a nominee. We want to know what those claims are. We will investigate.
You then wrote back with a series of questions that you said the committee should pose to Brett Kavanaugh. And those questions are very provocative, and they imply very serious allegations, not just about sexual misconduct, but about what would be serious criminal misconduct.
Are you in fact and is your client in fact going to allege serious criminal behavior here? That is what you are implying in your communication thus far with the committee.
AVENATTI: Yes, Rachel, I believe that when these allegations are surfaced within the next 48 hours, there will be no question that Brett Kavanaugh is not fit to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, and we will have for a thorough investigation relating to these allegations as well as allegations of Dr. Ford and others.
We understand the seriousness of this. We do not make these allegations lightly, and ultimately, this will be as in most cases a fight for credibility, whether people believe Brett Kavanaugh, whether they believe my client, as well as corroborating witnesses, and hopefully, whether they believe Mark Judge.
We believe it`s inexcusable, Rachel, it is inexcusable for Chairman Grassley and others to be covering up the testimony of Mark Judge. They clearly do not want that individual to testify.
MADDOW: Your focus on Mr. Judge, is it about Mr. Judge`s own alleged bad behavior, or is there something about Mr. Judge specifically that you feel like is crucial to shedding light on the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh?
Mark Judge isn`t being nominated for anything. Nobody here is on criminal trial. The issue here is whether or not Mr. Kavanaugh is fit to be on the nation`s highest court.
What is it about Brett -- excuse me, about Mark Judge, who does not want to testify that is so necessary in terms of getting to the bottom of this, as far as you`re concerned?
AVENATTI: Because Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were effectively, Rachel, joined at the hip for an extended period of time during the years at issue. They participated in various conduct together, which we believe is absolutely disqualifying as it relates to Brett Kavanaugh serving on the U.S. Supreme Court.
We believe Mark Judge`s testimony is critical. We believe my client`s testimony is critical, Ms. Ramirez`s testimony is critical, as well as Dr. Ford, as well as additional corroborating witnesses.
Admittedly, the committee is not designed to hear from all of these witnesses over the lengthy period of time that it will take to get to the bottom of this. That`s why they should use the FBI to properly investigate this.
Earlier tonight, Brett Kavanaugh said that he wants to be heard, that he wants fair process. Well, that`s why we have the FBI. He`ll have every opportunity to be heard -- all of these accusers, all of these witnesses should be heard, especially Mark Judge and my client.
MADDOW: In terms of your client, again, you said there will be a public airing of what she says happened to her and what she witnessed within the next 48 hours that would precede the Senate hearing.
But, Mr. Avenatti, if what you are describing here is criminal behavior, and if this is something that dates to Mr. Kavanaugh`s time in high school, depending on what exactly your client going to be alleging here, if this is a criminal matter, this -- the case could be made this is something that shouldn`t necessarily be litigated through Senate. This is something that should be handled as a matter of criminal law.
Will there be a criminal complaint filed? Is that something you`ve addressed with your client already? Will you expect that there will be a law enforcement element to this if this alleged behavior is as serious as you`re suggesting?
AVENATTI: I think, Rachel, there very well may be or will be a criminal complaint made relating to this conduct. We don`t believe a statute of limitations would apply to it, and we may very well pursue criminal charges relating to the perpetrators at issue, relating to what my client alleges.
But, again, there should not be a rush for this information to be presented to the committee. There should not be a rush for a vote within the committee or the U.S. Senate relating to Brett Kavanaugh.
What is the rush? This is a search for the truth and nothing but the truth. And Brett Kavanaugh should have an opportunity to present his side. My client should have an opportunity to present her side, as well as others.
But the bottom line here is this is a search for the truth, period.
MADDOW: Michael Avenatti, who`s now representing a client who is making allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh -- Mr. Avenatti again saying those allegations will be made by his client herself within the next 48 hours.
Thank you for joining us tonight, sir. It`s nice to have you here.
AVENATTI: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead, including a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee joining us live. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Naturally, we have a little bit more breaking news right now about this fight over Brett Kavanaugh`s nomination to the Supreme Court. We`ve just gotten this in. This is a letter from an attorney for the original person to have accused Brett Kavanaugh for sexual assault. This attorney has now written a new letter to the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley.
Again, just look agent this letter now, this is from a lawyer for Professor Christine Blasey Ford to Chairman Chuck Grassley. Just taking it in, it seems to me like we may be approaching another turn in this story. This makes it seem to me maybe we`re not going have a hearing on Thursday.
Let me just read you part of this. It`s from Michael Bromwich, who has joined the legal team for Christine Blasey Ford.
Dear Chairman Grassley, we write in response blah, blah, blah. Here we go -- as Dr. Blasey Ford has been clear since her experience was first made public, she came forward because she believes it`s her civic duty to tell the truth about the sexual assault she experienced. You said in your letter that you intend to provide a fair and credible process that provides Dr. Blasey Ford fair and respectful treatment. Yet earlier today the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, dismissed Dr. Ford`s experience as a, quote, smear campaign, claiming mistakenly that witness statements to the committee constitute, quote, a complete lack of evidence, implying there has been a thorough investigation. This and statements he has made previously are flatly inconsistent with your letter.
She is saying, you`re promising us that you and the Judiciary Committee are going to be fair, but here is the top Republican in the Senate already proclaiming this done, proclaiming my client to be a liar, essentially.
Quote: The refusal of the White House to request that the FBI reopen Judge Kavanaugh`s background check precluded a thorough partisan nonpartisan investigation of this matter and, crucial part, the hearing plan that your staffer Mike Davis described, meaning in an earlier communication, quote, does not appear designed to provide Dr. Blasey Ford with fair and respectful treatment. So, this is Blasey Ford`s lawyer saying the way you`re planning that hearing doesn`t look to us like she`s going to be treated properly.
Quote, in our view, the hiring of an unnamed, experienced sex prosecutor as Mr. Davis described in his e-mail is contrary to the majority`s repeated emphasize on the need for the Senate and this committee`s members to fulfill their constitutional obligations. This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate. Neither Dr. Blasey Ford nor Judge Kavanaugh is on trial. The goal should be to develop the relevant facts, not try a case.
Quote: There is no precedent for this committee to bring in outside counsel for the sole purpose of shielding the members of the committee from performing their duty to question the witness. Mr. Davis, a staffer, still has not responded to a number of outstanding questions about the hearing, including an explanation of the role of the experienced sex crimes prosecutor in the committee format. Please identify this person and ask your staff to send us her resume immediately. We respectably request to meet with her tomorrow.
This hearing is supposed to happen on Thursday. According to Michael Bromwich, which is now a lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford, there are serious issues about this hearing that are as yet unresolved, including the prospect that not senators but rather an external experienced prosecutor will be brought in to do the questioning.
Senator Amy Klobuchar of the Senate Judiciary Committee will join us live next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Joining us now is Senator Amy Klobuchar. She is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator Klobuchar, it`s nice to have you with us tonight. Thanks very much for being here.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So I have a couple of things I want to ask you about. I want to talk to you about the now seemingly foundering -- potentially foundering nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Before I talk to you about that, though, I also want to talk to you about the sort of national fire drill we had this morning when it appeared for an hour or so that the president was about to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. It was sort of a wild ride in the news this morning.
But I wanted to get your impressions about what happened there and your reaction to that.
KLOBUCHAR: This was truly everyone`s worst fear. We have this ongoing important investigation based on our national security concerns with a man, Rod Rosenstein, who has been a U.S. attorney under both Republican and Democratic presidents, number two in the Justice Department, only recently announced indictments coming out of that investigation of 12 members of the Russian intelligence GRU involving hacking into state elections, stealing 500,000 names from voter data records. It`s unbelievable to me that they would even consider this.
And so, then we find out, as you know, and described as a fire drill, oh, well, I guess we`re going to meet again in two days. And so, I don`t know what to make of it except that we have a job in the Senate to protect our Constitution and to protect that investigation. Rod Rosenstein oversees it, and it`s very important that he stay in his job. And that`s why I`d like to pass the bill that we got through the committee on a 14-7 bipartisan vote that protects the special counsel.
MADDOW: That bill, as you said, passed out of committee. Senator Mitch McConnell said publicly that it`s not going to the floor of the Senate. He would not allow it to be voted on. I can`t imagine it passing the Republican-controlled House.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, not to mention they`re going home. They`re not even going to be around.
MADDOW: So they`re not even there to vote no on it.
KLOBUCHAR: They`re there for like another week or so. I mean, it`s unbelievable while all of this is going on.
So, you know, one thing we do have we have a rule in place. It got put in place after this Nixon Saturday night massacre, which says that you cannot fire special counsel unless you have good cause. So, obviously, that`s something. And the other is all of our colleagues on the Republican side who have repeatedly said that we must protect the Mueller investigation.
Now, if Rosenstein was completely unfairly fired, we don`t know who he would -- who would take his place, and that person, even if they allowed it to continue, could reduce staffing, could reduce funding, could actually change the entire investigation so that they wouldn`t really be doing their work. That`s why this is such a big deal.
MADDOW: I`m reading your -- I`m unscientifically reading your body language and reading your tone of voice on this, and what I am inferring which you may not be implying, what I am inferring is that you are expecting Rosenstein to get fired.
KLOBUCHAR: No --
MADDOW: That whatever happened this morning, it seems like you are anticipating that the president is going to go there. Am I right to infer that?
KLOBUCHAR: I`m not certain of that. You know, the president likes to throw things out there, and obviously, live there were some other things in the news today which was related to this because he nominated someone who has this very expansive view of executive power that you have talked about several times, and that is so concerning on the Supreme Court, but it may be that he just was decided he`d throw this into the mix this week. We had that news report out of "The New York Times" and Rosenstein may have simply been in good faith talking to him about it.
But we certainly heard from the Justice Department that, you know, they thought he was going to be fired, and then from the White House that he was going to resign. So, all of it seemed designed to invoke fear and create havoc for the Mueller investigation. I think that`s the very least of it.
So, we don`t know if that means he`s going to fire him. He is going to meet with him again. I think that`s a better sign than not meeting with him, and hopefully Rod Rosenstein is going to be able to make his case, and he has said that this didn`t happen quite as described.
And so, I think that it will be really important for him to be able to do that, and I know that they`ll there will be support on both sides of the aisle for keeping this investigation going. Not from everyone, but from a lot of Republican senators. You just can`t rip this investigation apart when they have issued so many indictments that affect our nation`s national security when a foreign power was trying to cyberattack us.
And I don`t use meddling. That`s like when I call my daughter on a Saturday night and ask her what she`s doing. That`s meddling. This is an actual cyberattack.
MADDOW: Senator Klobuchar, if you can hold on for just one second, I would love to talk to you about some of the developing news even just over the course of this hour with the Kavanaugh nomination.
KLOBUCHAR: Of course.
MADDOW: Can you stick with us? All right.
KLOBUCHAR: I`d love to.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back with Senator Amy Klobuchar when we come back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Joining us once again is Senator Amy Klobuchar. She`s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator thank you for sticking with us. Much appreciated.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
MADDOW: So, Judge Kavanaugh tonight did something I`ve never seen before from a Supreme Court nominee. He did a televised interview, sort of making the case for his confirmation. We don`t usually see Supreme Court nominees do that sort of thing in the middle of their confirmation process, but I think that`s at least a tacit admission that this nomination may be really on the rocks.
Are you in favor of the Thursday hearing going ahead the way that its currently constituted? As far as we understand, it will be testimony from Judge Kavanaugh and also from Christine Blasey Ford but from no other witnesses.
Are you in favor of that committee -- that hearing going ahead?
KLOBUCHAR: I wanted this hearing to be different. I felt very strongly just as we`ve done with many nominees you should when you have new information, you reopen the FBI investigation. It`s not a criminal investigation. It`s a background check.
So when you have very important information that comes forward, you look at it again. That`s happened with 10 nominees in just the last few months for other positions in the government. They reopened the investigation.
So, it should be a hearing where we can hear from other people that were involved in this incident, that she has mentioned, other witnesses, even for Anita Hill, they had a number of other witnesses. That being said, I would like to hear from her. I have not met her. I think it`s really important we hear from her, and I understand that her lawyer is simply trying to negotiate this.
Look what these guys are doing. We are more than happy to have this be a hearing where the senators ask questions and they ask her questions and they ask the nominee questions. That`s how we have hearings.
However, the Republicans -- there`s 11 men as you know on their side instead of that old movie "12 Angry Men," it`s 11, don`t want to look so angry men, I guess. And so, they want to have a woman take their place and ask all these questions and, of course, her lawyer wants to talk to that attorney, wants to figure what`s going on here. It`s just not normal what they`re proposing and I think that`s what`s happening right now. Of course, I only heard this tonight.
MADDOW: The other thing evolving quickly since the terms of the hearing were initially agreed to over the weekend is that a couple more allegations have come forward in the "New Yorker" a story that dates to judge Kavanaugh`s time as an undergraduate at Yale was published, and just this evening, earlier this hour, Michael Avenatti explained that he has a new client who within 48 hours will make public what he says will be a serious allegation dating to Judge Kavanaugh`s high school days and she`ll make that case in the media.
With these other accusers coming forward, should those be folded in Thursday`s testimony? Should there be a second hearing? How should those things be handled?
KLOBUCHAR: Again, it this wouldn`t have been rammed through in the way it was, where we still have three years of staff secretary documents we haven`t seen, 100,000 documents over at the White House, and this new information. I`m a former prosecutor, I like to look at evidence, and it was interesting to have him on this show, but, of course, you want to look at the evidence and see what it is.
But again, an FBI investigation, a background check investigation that we routinely have for judges much less of course the highest court of the land would allow people, and the people on the committee to actually look at the evidence before a decision is made. And that is what is missing in this case.
MADDOW: Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, thank you very much, Senator. It`s nice to have you here.
KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Rachel. Great to be on.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: It is unprecedented for a Supreme Court nominee to go on TV like Brett Kavanaugh did tonight in the middle of his Supreme Court confirmation process. But here`s a reason why he and his wife might have done that Fox News interview tonight. Fox News has just release a new poll about his nomination. This is the third time Fox has pulled on him as a court no nominee.
The first time, right after Kavanaugh was nominated, he had net support of plus 6. Then last month, he`d fallen from plus 6 to minus 1. Now, as of today, he`s all the way down to minus 10 in the Fox News poll.
Forty percent of people say confirm him, 50 percent of people say don`t. Brett Kavanaugh minus 10 overall with everybody.
With women specifically, he`s minus 21. With independents, he`s minus 26. Fox News also asked voters whether they think Brett Kavanaugh hearing should be at least delayed because of the sexual assault allegations that have surfaced against him. By a 25-point margin people say, yes, the Senate should at least delay his confirmation and allow hearings on these allegations.
Fifty-six percent of Americans say they should delay his confirmation and allow hearings on these matters. Only 31 percent say no, no, no, the Senate should go ahead and confirm him without delay.
Even though men are more supportive of Kavanaugh`s confirmation overall compared to women, even men by a 20-point margin believe the Kavanaugh confirmation process should at least be delayed to hold hearings on these allegations. With women, the margin of support to delay the confirmation process is nearly 30 points. With men, it`s 20 points.
A very clear show of support for holding hearings on these new allegations and delaying the confirmation proceedings in the meantime. It is hard to imagine that Senate Republicans will be able to push this confirmation through with that kind of public sentiment right now, and with even more allegations coming out about this Supreme Court nominee, including as we speak "The Washington Post" reports tonight that President Trump personally is urging Republican senators to hurry-up, get the vote done, push this through.
The country is absolutely against that. But that seems like the last best chance. Watch this space.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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