Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: September 27, 2018 Guest: Amy Klobuchar, Nina Totenberg, Seung Min Kim
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. I feel like time has lost all meaning at this point. What an amazing day in the news. Thanks, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
All right. As Chris said, time has lost meaning. Things are going both faster and slower than it seems like they ought to. But today was a historic day for a million different reasons, and let`s try to make some sense of it together.
I want to start tonight with some of what we saw today, with the way I think today went and what was just this sprawling, gut-wrenching emotional hearing.
After we talk about sort of what I think happened today, we`re going to talk a little bit about what`s going to happen because of this hearing today, where this is all likely to go. But in terms of -- in terms of what happened today, this is all out of chronological order, because I`m just trying to make the most sense of it.
I think when you talk about the impact of what happened today, even without us knowing what this is going to do to the Kavanaugh confirmation, I think you have to start with this. Nobody has ever been confirmed to the federal judiciary in the United States after anything even close to this happened in the U.S. Senate while that nominee was being assessed for the job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: My family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional accusations.
You have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy. Since my nomination in July, there has been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything to block my confirmation.
People have been willing to do anything to make any physical threat against my family, to send any violent e-mail to my wife, to make any kind of allegation against me and against my friends, to blow me up and take me down.
You sowed the wind. For decades to come, I fear that the whole country will reap the whirlwind.
The behavior of several of the Democratic members of this committee at my hearing a few weeks ago was an embarrassment, but at least it was just a good old-fashioned attempt at borking. Those efforts didn`t work. When I did at least OK enough at the hearing that it looked like I might actually get confirmed, a new tactic was needed. Some of you were lying in wait and had it ready.
A long series of false last-minute smears designed to scare me and drive me out of the process before any hearing occurred. You`ve tried hard. You`ve given it your all. No one can question your effort.
But your coordinated and well funded effort to destroy my good name and destroy my family will not drive me out. 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, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Revenge on behalf of -- Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh isn`t on the Supreme Court at this point, but he is already a federal appeals court judge. A federal appeals court judge behaving that way, speaking that way in any setting let alone in the Senate, yelling like this at U.S. senators, aside from everything else that happened today, this is just unheard of for a sitting jurist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: If you`re very confident of your position and you appear to be, why aren`t you also asking the FBI to investigate these claims?
KAVANAUGH: Senator, I`ll do whatever the committee wants. I wanted a hearing the day after the allegation came up. I wanted to be here that day. Instead, ten days passed where all this nonsense is coming out, you know, that I`m in gangs, I`m on boats in Rhode Island, I`m Colorado, you know, I`m sighted all over the place. And these things are printed and run breathlessly by cable news.
You know, I wanted a hearing the next day. My family`s been destroyed by this, Senator. Destroyed.
FEINSTEIN: And --
KAVANAUGH: Whatever the committee decides, I`m all in, immediately. I`m all in immediately. I`m here. I wanted to be here -- I wanted to be here the next day. It`s an outrage that I was not allowed to come and immediately defend my name and say, I didn`t do this and give you all this evidence.
I`m not even -- I`m not even in D.C. on the weekends in the summer of 1982. This happened on a weekday? Well, when I`m not at a Blair High School for a game, I`m not at Tobin`s house working out, I`m not at a movie with Suzanne? You know, I wanted to be here right away.
FEINSTEIN: We hear from the witnesses, but the FBI isn`t interviewing them and isn`t giving us any facts. So, all we have --
KAVANAUGH: You`re interviewing me. You`re interviewing me. You`re doing it, Senator.
FEINSTEIN: What you`re saying, if I understand it, is that the allegations by Dr. Ford, Ms. Ramirez, and Ms. Swetnick are wrong.
KAVANAUGH: That is emphatically what I`m saying, emphatically. The Swetnick thing is a joke that is a farce.
FEINSTEIN: Would you like to say more about it?
That`s it. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Ms. Mitchell?
RACHEL MITCHELL, PROSECUTOR: Dr. Ford has described you as being intoxicated at a party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Judge Kavanaugh seemed to be sort of unable to control himself for some of his hearing this afternoon. And you heard the start of the questioning there that came after. After that interaction with Dianne Feinstein, screaming at Senator Feinstein, which is not really getting her questions and he is sort of interrupting, running off on tangents and we don`t really know where they`re going. And he then seemed to get mixed up or sort of stuck answering questions specifically about drinking.
And it was hard to tell watching this part of the hearing, watching him talk about drinking during this part of the hearing if Judge Kavanaugh was finding those particular question just too difficult to answer, or if they weren`t necessarily hard questions, but he was just finding it too hard to contain himself, finding it so difficult to contain his emotions that he just couldn`t get his answers out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAVANAUGH: I drank beer with my friends. Almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers. Sometimes others did. I liked beer. I still like beer.
We drank beer, my friends and i, boys and girls, yes. We drank beer, liked beer. I still like beer.
We drank beer. We like beer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you relate to alcohol?
KAVANAUGH: Ii like beer. I don`t know, do you like beer, senator? What do you like to drink?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next one --
KAVANAUGH: Senator, what do you like to drink?
MITCHELL: What do you consider to be too many beers?
KAVANAUGH: I don`t know. Whatever the chart says, blood alcohol chart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So drinking came up repeatedly today for a couple of reasons. Number one, because Dr. Christine Blasey Ford`s claim that she was sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh when he was 17 is an allegation that she says happened while Kavanaugh, in her words, was stumbling drunk. So, that`s one reason why drinking has come up around this confirmation.
The other reason drinking came up repeatedly today at this hearing in particular is because since this sexual assault allegation against him has surfaced, Judge Kavanaugh has claimed in testimony that has been included in the congressional record, and it was therefore subjected to pain of perjury, he has claimed that he has never once in his entire life drunk to excess, to the point where he couldn`t remember something that happened while he was drunk.
And that has become a source of controversy in his confirmation because it has been contested by Kavanaugh`s friends from the time period in question. They say he was known as a heavy drinker, and that`s not the end of the world, but if he is lying about that, there is a question of why he is lying about that.
The issue with drinking also led to some of the most baffled, disjoint even strange responses from Brett Kavanaugh today, including him not answering questions from Senator Amy Klobuchar and him sort of culminating that exchange with a series of aggressive questions to her where he appeared to be insinuating that she had a drinking problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Most people have done some drinking in high school and college, and many people even struggle with alcoholism and binge drinking. My own dad struggled with alcoholism most of his life, and he got in trouble for it and there were consequences. He is still in AA at age 90, and he is sober, and in his words, he was pursued by grace, and that`s how he got through this.
So, in your case, you have said here and other places that you never drank so much that you didn`t remember what happened. But yet we have heard, not under oath, but we have heard your college roommate say that you did drink frequently. These are in news reports, that you would sometimes be belligerent.
Another classmate said it`s not credible for you to say you didn`t have memory lapses.
So drinking is one thing.
KAVANAUGH: I don`t -- I actually don`t think that second quote is correct.
KLOBUCHAR: Drinking is one thing, but the concern is about truthfulness. And in your written testimony, you said, sometimes you had too many drinks. Was there ever a time when you drank so much that you couldn`t remember what happened or part of what happened the night before?
KAVANAUGH: No. I remember what happened and I think you`ve probably had beers, Senator, and so has --
KLOBUCHAR: So you`re saying there`s never been a case where you drank so much that you didn`t remember what happened the night before or part of what happened?
KAVANAUGH: You`re asking about black out. I don`t know, have you?
KLOBUCHAR: Could you answer the question, Judge? That`s not happened? Is that your answer?
KAVANAUGH: Yes, and I`m curious if you have.
KLOBUCHAR: I have no drinking problem, Judge.
KAVANAUGH: Nor do I.
KLOBUCHAR: OK. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Judge Kavanaugh actually came back from a break after that moment and apologized for what I what he said there to Senator Klobuchar. It`s not clear why he said it and why h was going there. We`ll talk with Senator Klobuchar about that in just a few minutes.
If Brett Kavanaugh ends up on the Supreme Court or if he doesn`t and he just goes back to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, not just the sexual assault levied against him during his confirmation process by Christine Blasey Ford, but also this side of Brett Kavanaugh that he showed today in the hearing room, this will now be a part of the history of this nomination and of his role in history, in his role as a judge. Even if he stays on the .D.C. Appeals Court, but especially if he goes to the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh`s behavior today in this public hearing will change the modern perception of the court in an indelible way. It will change the expectations for what judges are supposed to be like.
Now, in terms of assessing the sexual assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh which was the cause of today`s hearing, there was a pretty tight range in terms of things that were actually fought over in the committee room. One of them that was fought over and over again, and it`s still unanswered, is the question of why Republicans and the White House and Judge Kavanaugh now are so insistent that the FBI must now be allowed to reopen their background investigation of Judge Kavanaugh to gather evidence and gather witness statements about these allegations against him that have arisen during the course of the nomination.
Republicans today tried a dual track of arguing both that the FBI background check process is no big deal. It wouldn`t provide anything helpful anyway. And at the same time, they insisted today that it`s very important that this pointless little nothing FBI investigation definitely shouldn`t be done in this case, even though this is the way it`s always been done for all other nominees.
The Clarence Thomas, Anita Hill matter, in the John Tower defense nomination -- whenever there have been late-raised allegations in a confirmation process, and this is a nominee for whom there is a background investigation, the background investigation gets reopened. They insist that must not happen here. And newly today, that the FBI investigation is no big deal.
It`s hard to argue both of those simultaneously. Judge Kavanaugh himself, though, hued close to those Republican arguments today, to the point of bewilderment from one Democratic senator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I`m sure that the chairman at that point will understand that that is a reasonable request to finally put to rest these charges, if they are false, or to prove them if they are not. You spent two years in the White House office that approved judicial nominees. You turned to the FBI over and over and over again for their work. Let`s bring them in here and now.
Turn to Don McGahn and tell him it`s time to get this done, an FBI investigation is the only way to answer some of these questions.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Stop the clock.
This committee is running this hearing, not the White House, not Don McGahn, not even you as a nominee. We are here today because Dr. Ford asked for an opportunity to hear.
KAVANAUGH: I welcome whatever the committee wants to do because I`m telling the truth.
DURBIN: I want to know what you want to do.
KAVANAUGH: I`m telling the truth.
DURBIN: I want to know what you want to do, Judge.
KAVANAUGH: I`m innocent. I`m innocent of this charge.
DURBIN: Then you`re prepared for an FBI investigation?
KAVANAUGH: They don`t reach conclusions. You reach the conclusions, Senator.
DURBIN: No, but they do investigate questions.
KAVANAUGH: I`m innocent, Senator.
DURBIN: You can`t have it both ways, judge. You can`t say at the beginning I welcome any kind of investigation.
KAVANAUGH: This thing was sprung at the last minute after being held by staff, you know --
DURBIN: Judge --
KAVANAUGH: And I called for a hearing immediately.
DURBIN: Why would you resist that kind of investigation? Why would you resist that kind of investigation?
KAVANAUGH: Senator, I welcome -- I wanted the hearing last week.
DURBIN: I`m asking about the FBI investigation.
KAVANAUGH: The committee figures out how to ask the questions. I`ll do whatever. I`ve been on the phone multiple times with committee counsel. I`ll talk --
DURBIN: Judge Kavanaugh, will you support an FBI investigation right now?
KAVANAUGH: I will do whatever the committee wants to --
DURBIN: Personally, do you think that`s the best thing for us to do? You want to answer?
KAVANAUGH: Look, Senator, I have said I wanted a hearing and I said I was welcome anything. I`m innocent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Immediately after that sort of collapse on the issue of why the FBI can`t look into this, it was immediately after that that Republicans actually abandoned their whole game plan for how this hearing was going to go today.
You remember if you saw anything on the morning session with Christine Blasey Ford, Republicans sat silently through the entire morning. They ceded all of their time to ask questions to a sex crimes prosecutor they had flown in for this occasion from Arizona.
In the afternoon session, Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono actually clarified at the outset with the Republican chairman that, again, like the morning, they would all cede all of their time in the afternoon to that same prosecutor rather than saying anything themselves to Judge Kavanaugh. Chairman Grassley confirmed that was the plan for the afternoon as well.
But after what just happened there with Dick Durbin, after Kavanaugh fell apart under questioning about why there can`t be an investigation of these claims against him, Republicans threw that plan out the window and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham claimed back his time that he had supposedly already given to the professional prosecutor and he gave a big yelling speech about how this was a disaster, a terrible disaster and Republican senators must vote for Brett Kavanaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: You`ve got nothing to apologize for. When you see Sotomayor and Kagan, tell me that Lindsey said hello, because I voted for them. I would never do to them what you`ve done to this guy. This is the most unethical sham since I`ve been in politics.
To my Republican colleagues, if you vote no, you`re legitimatizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics. You want this seat, I hope you never get it.
I hope you`re on the Supreme Court. That`s exactly where you should be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So they break format completely. Republican senators have not spoken all day long. They are having this professional prosecutor do it instead. But Senator Graham claims time. He`s already given up his time. He`s granted time from somewhere.
And Senator Graham has them change what they`re doing. And after that from Senator Graham, this female prosecutor who was hired by the Republican side to do all of their questioning of both witnesses today, she never spoke again.
So, they used the prosecutor today to ask all of their questions of the alleged victim in this sexual assault case, but they gave up after a couple of minutes with the alleged perpetrator of the sexual assault and spent the rest of the day telling him he had nothing to apologize for. They then shut out the female prosecutor for the whole rest of the day while the Republican male senators all went on one after the other the rest of the hearing making speeches on his behalf until the hearing ended.
So, that was the point. That was the moment at which they -- Republicans, the Republicans seemed to think that things were going so badly for this nomination, they needed to pull the fire alarm. They needed to do something and they did. The whole rest of the hearing was angry war cry speeches from male Republican senators interspersed with short stents of Democrats asking Judge Kavanaugh questions and him not answering. And I am sure the Republicans like the feel of how it ended much more than how it began.
But they head home tonight, or we`re told they`re headed into a big Republican senators meeting tonight, with some big new problems when it comes to this nominee.
Number one, there is a brand-new temperament issue with Judge Kavanaugh that had not previously been an issue, him yelling about how this is all revenge on behalf of the Clintons. That was him letting the mask slip a little bit, about the kind of partisan warrior he was for his whole adult career before getting on the bench. It`s part of why it took them years to confirm him to the bench in the first place more than ten years ago. That`s why his initial nomination from the George W. Bush administration was so controversial.
That element of his resume and his temperament and his partisan nature, that has largely been absent from this debate over his Supreme Court nomination before now. But now that issue will very much be live. And it will be controversial for him for as long as he`s a judge, even if he only goes back to his old judge ship and he does not ascend to the Supreme Court.
They will also be newly contending with credibility issues for Judge Kavanaugh. And not just on the issues that Democrats had raised during the other parts of his confirmation hearing where they said he was misleading on substantive matters of law on his record. Newly because of today, they are going to be dealing with credibility issues around Judge Kavanaugh in the way that tends to most easily stick in the public`s mind, which is when you`re not credible on stuff that`s small, when you say things that are plainly not true just to make yourself look better or to get out of a jamb or to not have to answer a hard question, not necessarily on the big stuff, but on the small stuff, the small obvious disprovable stuff.
Judge Kavanaugh today told Senator Sheldon Whitehouse that, yes, when he wrote as a teenager being the president of the Beach Week Ralph Club, yes, that was a reference to throwing up. But then he apparently thought better of it and said the throwing up in question here, the reason he would be barfing at beach week, the Ralph Club in question was probably about his weak stomach because he can`t take spicy food.
And who cares, right? Unless that`s violently at odds with the obvious small truth here, and with common sense. Judge Kavanaugh also explaining today in his opening statement that when he and a bunch of his football buddies all listed themselves throughout their high school yearbook as, quote, alumni of a girl from a nearby school, a girl who they said, if you relate, don`t hesitate. Call her to get a date.
They`re all calling themselves alumni of her name. He said today that was a sign of admiration for her, their collective admiration for her and how much they consider her to be, in his words, one of us.
Whether or not his attitude toward women and girls at that time in his life is going to be seen relevant to the sexual assault allegation from that time that he`s now facing, what`s more immediately wrong with that today is he`s trying to get onto the Supreme Court is that that is just an obvious small self-serving lie. That`s the kind of cowardly lie about an obviously true thing that makes you seem not credible on anything. A sign of admiration, showing her that she was one of -- for what it`s worth, the woman in question who was the subject of this smearing alumni thing from Kavanaugh and his friends, she didn`t take it as a sign of admiration or a sign that all those football players thought she was one of them.
She said this week, quote: The insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue. I pray their daughters are never treated this way.
All right. So there`s temperament problems, there`s small scale credibility problems which are sometimes the worst ones those are the kinds that tend to stick, right once people think you`re super comfortable about even lying even the small stuff. But then there`s the big factual problems that were raised today around this sexual assault allegation. One was the clarification today in Dr. Christine Blasey Ford`s testimony about when this allegation was made, specifically when she tried to raise the alarm about Brett Kavanaugh and what she says was her experience with him. She says she tried to raise the alarm -- in fact, she showed today, she confirmed the time line today that she tried to raise the alarm about this incident before he was named to the Supreme Court.
The spark for her to act, the spark for her to notify her member of Congress about what happened between her and Brett Kavanaugh, to try to notify the press even though she wanted her name left out of it in both instances, the catalyst for her giving the story to Congress to try to let the country know this happened about Brett Kavanaugh, the catalyst was him being named as part of the short list of presidential contenders for the United States Supreme Court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, KAVANAUGH ACCUSER: This changed in early July 2018. I saw press reports stating that Brett Kavanaugh was on the short list of a list of very well-qualified Supreme Court nominees. I thought it was my civic duty to relay the information I had about Mr. Kavanaugh`s conduct so that those considering his nomination would know about this assault.
On July 6th, I had a sense of urgency to relay the information to the Senate and the president as soon as possible before a nominee was selected. I did not know how specifically to do this. I called my congressional representative and let her receptionist know that someone on the president`s short list had attacked me.
I also sent a message to the encrypted "Washington Post" confidential tip line. I did not use my name, but I provided the names of Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge. I stated that Mr. Kavanaugh had assaulted me in the 1980s in Maryland.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If you were watching this in real time today, that may have just seemed like laying this out, what the order here was, right? Super important. This clarification of the time line -- it was actually borne out by evidence that was put forth today in the hearing, including by this prosecutor who the Republicans hired.
This isn`t just a detail here. This isn`t just like getting the facts down so we can talk about this. This is actually totally critical because Kavanaugh`s defense and Republican senators` defense of Kavanaugh today, this angry chest pounding defense they put on today that he and all the Republican senators decided to go with was about the timing of the allegation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAVANAUGH: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, no, actually. And not just as a point of argument, but as a point of fact. We now know, attested to by both sides, that Christine Blasey Ford came forward about Brett Kavanaugh when she found out that Brett Kavanaugh was on the short list for the call. She made her calls. She started trying to alert the Congress about this alleged assault by Brett Kavanaugh before he was picked for the Supreme Court.
She was trying to get them to not pick him for the Supreme Court. If she had been motivated just to stop a Trump Supreme Court nomination, if this was something that she was doing because she was fueled by pent-up anger about President Trump in the 2016 election, if she was just trying to stop a Trump Supreme Court nomination and she was willing to make up a false allegation about the Trump nominee in order to do that, she would have had to wait until a nominee was picked before she came forward with her story about that nominee.
She proved today, with evidence cited by the Republicans` hired prosecutor, that she emphatically did not wait to find out who the nominee was for the Supreme Court seat. She jumped in and tried to raise the alarm about Kavanaugh because she had had this experience specifically with Kavanaugh and she wanted to raise the alarm just in case he might seriously be under consideration.
That is a big factual problem for the defense that was raised for Kavanaugh today, right? They said this was a made-up story they would have used against any nominee. No, she came forward about Brett Kavanaugh before he was the nominee. Had the president picked somebody else off the short list, it`s not like her allegation would have morphed to suddenly become about somebody else.
Her allegation was about Brett Kavanaugh under the prospect that he might be named. That is a problem for the Kavanaugh defense that this is all some hit job designed to take out whoever was going to be Trump`s nominee. That`s a problem. Factual, factual problem.
As is the other one I`m going to tell you about next. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: At the end of the hearing today, Judge Brett Kavanaugh told Senator Kamala Harris of California that he had not watched the testimony today from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. He didn`t watch what she had to say.
He should have watched her testimony, not like as a matter of decency or respect or whatever, but he simply should have watched her testimony because had he watched her testimony, he would have seen that in her testimony, there was raised a serious problem, a real problem with the one piece of evidence he cited over and over and over again in his testimony as the most important and best evidence he had in his own defense against the sexual assault allegation that he denied today. It was his repeated reliance today on a witness statement, a witness statement from a woman who had been friends with Dr. Ford, who Dr. Ford said was at the party where the alleged assault happened.
In a witness statement filed by this woman`s attorney, her attorney said that she didn`t recall crossing paths with Brett Kavanaugh and she didn`t recall anything about the alleged party. Judge Kavanaugh relied on that witness statement today more than any other single thing. That`s his best evidence. That`s what he`s citing as his proof that he couldn`t have committed this sexual assault because he wasn`t there. This event didn`t happen.
The problem with judge Kavanaugh`s reliance on that one statement as the primary piece of evidence he had to support his denial is that had he watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford`s testimony today which he says he did not, he would have seen that one witness statement in particular sharply called into question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAVANAUGH: Here is the quote from Ms. Keyser`s attorney`s letter. Quote: Simply put, Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present with or without Dr. Ford.
Listen to Ms. Keyser. She does not know me. I was not at the party described by Dr. Ford.
Importantly, her friend, Ms. Keyser has not only denied the party, she said under penalty of felony she doesn`t know me. She does not recall ever being at a party with me ever.
Dr. Ford`s long-time friend Ms. Keyser who said she didn`t know me and she does not recall ever being at a party with me. All the witnesses present, look at Ms. Keyser`s statement. Ms. Keyser is her long-time friend, said she never saw me at a party with or without Dr. Ford.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Over and over and over and over again. This is the specific evidence that Kavanaugh is building his defense on. It`s this witness statement that he relies on again and again and again to prove his assertion that he definitely didn`t go to this event.
He didn`t go to this supposed party where this alleged assault happened and he can prove it because this person said he wasn`t there. Well, had he watched Dr. Blasey Ford`s testimony this morning, he would have learned that the person who made that statement, which he relied on over and over again, she apparently contacted Dr. Ford after her attorney issued that statement. She told Dr. Ford directly that actually she had not completed that statement herself at all. It was something her lawyer wrote without her input and she apologize to Dr. Ford for its content.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCHELL: Do you have any particular motives to ascribe to Leland?
FORD: I guess we could take those one at a time. Leland has significant health challenges and I`m happy that she`s focusing on herself and getting the health treatment that she needs. And she let me know that she needed her lawyer to take care of this for her and she texted me right afterward with an apology and good wishes and et cetera. So I`m glad that she`s taking care of herself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: She apologized to Dr. Ford after the statement was put out in her name. I didn`t do it, my lawyer did it, I wasn`t involved.
That`s the witness statement that is the factual basis of Brett Kavanaugh`s defense to this sexual assault charge. And it more than wobbles, right?
I mean, all of the more reason why it really does matter. It`s not just a process. It really does matter that Republican senators won`t actually allow any of these witnesses to come forward and be questioned whether or not they have had lawyers submit statements on their behalf.
But as they head toward what we are told will be a 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time vote in committee tomorrow on Judge Kavanaugh`s Supreme Court nomination, and then a noon vote in the Senate on Saturday, there are problems in terms of what came up for Judge Kavanaugh at this confirmation today both in his behavior and in terms of his own defense.
But if you watch this hearing today, you know the real problem for Judge Kavanaugh`s nomination. He might not have watched her, but the country did and this is the mountain that every one of these voting senators is going to have to climb.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DURBIN: Last night, the Republican staff of this committee released to the media a timeline that shows that they interviewed two people who claimed they were the ones who actually assaulted you.
I am asking you to address this new defense of mistaken identity directly. Dr. Ford, with what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?
FORD: One hundred percent.
FEINSTEIN: How are you so sure that it was he?
FORD: The same way that I`m sure that I`m talking to you right now, is just basic memory functions and also just the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain that as you know encodes that nerve, transmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus and so, the trauma related experience then is kind of locked there whereas other details kind of drift.
SEN. PAT LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: What is the strongest memory you have, strongest memory of the incident, something that you cannot forget? Take whatever time you need.
FORD: Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two and their having fun at my expense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republicans chose to end the hearing today with angry speeches telling Judge Kavanaugh they were so sorry for him. He has nothing to apologize for. He has been victimized here worse than they could possibly imagine.
Judge Kavanaugh told Senator Kamala Harris at the close of questioning that now he did not bother to watch Dr. Ford`s testimony. He meant to do it. He intends to at some point, but he didn`t.
The country watched her, though. And that is going to be a problem for him as a Supreme Court nominee or even just as a judge as it goes back to the D.C. Appeals Court. It just, it just is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I only have a few seconds left and I`ll just ask you a direct question. Did you watch Dr. Ford`s testimony?
KAVANAUGH: I did not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Can you tell us what you don`t forget about that night?
FORD: The stairwell, the living room, the bedroom, the bed on the right side of the room as you walk into the room. There was a bed to the right. The bathroom in close proximity. The laughter, the uproarious laughter, and the multiple attempts to escape and the final ability to do so.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you very much, Dr. Ford.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testifying today.
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, joins us live now.
Senator, thanks for being with us tonight.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
MADDOW: I know this must have been an exhausting day.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I just -- she was so graceful and so dignified, went through every question you could imagine, and I was just shocked by what happened actually in the afternoon. We had had a hearing where we at least got some sense of what this evidence is. Of course, we still don`t have the man that was in the room, Mark Judge, and we don`t have any of the other witnesses that we`ve been allowed to subpoena.
But in the afternoon, they just turned into it a red meat, scorched earth policy moment. They just left everything behind and decided to make it into a political circus. And I was shocked by it, but I still think America saw this woman in the morning. They saw her credibility, and they saw her answer questions.
MADDOW: There was a remarkable moment in the afternoon session where you were pressing judge Kavanaugh about his credibility as far as what I could tell you were getting at in terms of the way he has talked about his past drinking, whether or not he had been honest about drinking and whether he always remembered things that had happened while he had been drinking.
And there was this moment where he turned it around and started asking about you drinking in a way that you seemed to taken aback. He actually came back from a break and apologized about that. Do you have any sense of what was going on there?
KLOBUCHAR: I think that I was asking some tough questions. I was asking him, because he has said this isn`t a he said/she said. This is a he said/they said.
He has said that he has never blacked out or gotten so drunk that he doesn`t remember what happened the next day. I asked him, has that ever happened or where at least you partially didn`t remember what happened?
Because I was trying to get at how this could be that we have such different accounts. And instead of answering the question, he turned it. And he did apologize, but I don`t think anyone prepares for a Supreme Court nominee asking you if you blacked out, but that happened to me, and I firmly told him that after he apologized that growing up with my dad who is an alcoholic, but through treatment is now sober at age 90, that you are very careful about drinking when you grow up with something like that.
And so I just thought it was another moment where he wasn`t answering the question, and my whole focus today was let`s get that FBI investigation open again. Let`s do the background check. Even if we had one week, Rachel, one week, and they`re rushing this through, it appears they have not canceled the vote for 9:30 tomorrow morning.
And I think most of America watching that would have said, could we just get the facts? Could you get the polygraph expert that said she passed with flying colors where it`s been verified? They won`t even allow us to call that expert.
MADDOW: Watching from home, just watching on a screen, one of the things that surprised me about Judge Kavanaugh that I didn`t expect is he seemed not just angry and aggressive, but like he was having trouble controlling himself, trouble controlling his impulses, including in that interaction with you and the subsequent apology.
But when it came to the morning session and watching Dr. Blasey Ford talk about her experience and her allegation, I wonder how you saw that as a former prosecutor. I know you worked on sexual assault cases.
Was there anything about her testimony that spoke to you about her -- her credibility in terms of what you`ve seen from other similar cases?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, there was a drawing I saw later that said whose supposed to be emotional? She was steady. He was the one that didn`t seem as steady and was more emotional.
But what she was doing was basically laying out the fact that you have so well-articulated during the show is that she actually has talked about this in the past. She said to it a therapist. Her husband had remembered the name Brett Kavanaugh.
She has with some detail remembered the assault. And all she`s asked is that the FBI figure out when Mark Judge was working at the Safeway when she saw him later, because that would help her get the exact date. And she has said she`d like to see it open, but she can`t get the president to reopen it. Senator Grassley could get the president to reopen it.
All he would have to say is we`re holding the vote for a week until we get some information, like we would with any other nominee. And certainly, Judge Kavanaugh could just make a phone call to president and get him to reopen it. And then if his account is correct we will have the information. And I think that is the search for truth would end there. But we are not getting that investigation as far as we know as of right now at this moment in time.
MADDOW: Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, thank you for being here tonight. I know that vote, at least for now is scheduled 9:30 tomorrow morning. Good luck. Keep us apprised.
KLOBUCHAR: It is. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. I want to bring in the conversation now, Nina Totenberg, a long time legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio.
Among her many other scoops to her credit in her career is she broke the Anita Hill story in 1991.
Nina, thank you very much for joining us. It`s an honor to have you here tonight.
NINA TOTENBERG, LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: My pleasure.
MADDOW: What`s your top line reaction watching -- watching this hearing tonight? I know lots of people are drawing lots of parallels to what happened in 1991 with the Anita Hill story. But on its own merits and on its own terms, what did -- what did you see today as a veteran of so many of these controversies?
TOTENBERG: Well, Dr. Ford was a different kind of witness than Anita Hill. Anita Hill was very calm, almost introverted. Everything sort of went inward.
Dr. Ford looked quite tremulous in the beginning. But she stood her ground and she was very precise about what she could remember and what she couldn`t remember and what she could remember she said was the details of the attack and that it was Brett Kavanaugh and egged on by his friend Mark Judge.
Now, I have a thing that I do occasionally, which is I watch testimony, I turn it off the audio, not a good thing for radio, but after I`ve heard it the first time around and I see it being replayed, I turnoff the audio just to see what people look like. And she looked contained, nervous, but contained and sort of like a normal person.
Judge Kavanaugh, in contrast, looked sort of wild eyed. Now, if he is falsely accused, you can imagine that he would feel wild eyed, but this is a man who has been a judge for 12 years, who aspires to be confirmed for a seat on the Supreme Court. And there is this thing called judicial temperament and we didn`t see much of that today.
MADDOW: Do you think that that will become a problem for Judge Kavanaugh moving forward? Obviously there is the immediate question as to whether or not he`s going to be confirmed to the high court. Even if he isn`t because his nomination fails in vote or because he`s withdrawn, he`ll still go back to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
I certainly felt watching him today just as a lay observer, that this was a side of the judge that, that nobody would want to put forward in a confirmation, in a confirmation context. The temperament issue is sort of partisan statements that he made especially at the beginning of his opening statement in the afternoon. Will those be problems for him moving forward?
TOTENBERG: Well, I would imagine given the fact that if Hillary Clinton espoused the idea of a right wing conspiracy, he espoused the theory of a left wing conspiracy. And if I were in one of those groups, a left wing group or a group that had opposed his nomination, that he apparently feels -- and he apparently feels Democrats and those groups conspired and spent millions of dollars in ads to defeat him, although I think the actual facts show that conservatives spent more money. They both spent plenty of money, mind you.
MADDOW: With every nominee always happens, right.
TOTENBERG: But if I were in one of those groups and I had a case in front of the Supreme Court, I would think long and hard about it, but I might move to recuse him for a conflict of interest.
MADDOW: Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio, legendary reporter, class of her own on these matters. Thank you so much, Nina, for being here. Really appreciate it.
TOTENBERG: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got more to come. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORD: My motivation in coming forward was to be helpful and to provide facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh`s actions have damaged my life, so that you could take into a serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed. It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell you the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Seung Min Kim. She`s a White House reporter for "The Washington Post". She was in the room for today`s hearing. She`s been doing great work reporting the dynamics of this nomination all along.
Ms. Kim, thanks very much for being here. It`s a real pleasure to have you here.
SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, you were in the room today. Were you there for both the morning and the afternoon sessions?
KIM: Yes, I was. And it was just striking just the different atmosphere that the morning session and the afternoon session had. Clearly, her testimony was just incredibly riveting. The senators who were all sitting up and leaning forward in their chairs, they were really listening to her word, every word that was coming out of her mouth intently. You know, almost all the senators were on time for the hearing. That doesn`t happen very often.
And then -- and then obviously judge Kavanaugh came out very combative and defiant, and then Lindsey Graham delivered his, you know, very angry monologue and that just unleashed this like all these tensions in the room.
MADDOW: In terms of that turning point when Senator Graham decided to kind of break for matt, up until that point, Republican senators had not questioned either witness. They had deferred to this outside prosecutor they brought in from Arizona. Senator Graham sort of claimed time on the floor and gave that speech and then thereafter, that prosecutor never spoke again.
Do you know from your reporting or could you tell from the room if that was just an abandonment of the previous plan that they had had or had that actually been a planned pivot point for them?
KIM: It almost seems like it was organic at that point. I had sources telling me yesterday when we were doing the reporting to preview the hearing that the plan was most, if not all, Republicans -- I mean, you can`t control every Republican senator, most if not all were expected to cede their time to Rachel Mitchell to do their questioning and she was to do the questioning for both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh.
But knowing Lindsey Graham, Lindsey Graham has been Judge Kavanaugh`s most vocal and vehement defender ever since the allegations broke publicly. He even said to me in an interview last week that he was so angry because he said, quote, this has been a drive-by shooting against Kavanaugh in terms of these allegations coming forward. So, you sense that fury for sometime.
I think that Graham really wanted to make that statement while the nation was watching. And I think one by one that gave, that gave the rest of the Republicans kind of its implicit permission to say what they really thought. They had been holding back.
Obviously, these were waiting for Senator Jeff Flake to weigh in. He`s one of the key undecided senators on this vote. We were wondering if his comments would give any indication of where he was leaning or where he would lean.
But it really didn`t. It just talked -- he apologized to both Judge Ford and he also apologized -- or Judge Kavanaugh and he apologized to Dr. Ford. And he talks about how leaving the room, there could be as much doubt as certainty. So, we really don`t know where his head is at right now. And he really does seem to be struggling as you listen to the testimony and as he talked to reporters leaving that hearing room.
MADDOW: Seung Min Kim, White House reporter for "The Washington Post" -- I really appreciate your time tonight. I know this was an exhausting day just covering it. So, thanks for staying up to be with us. Much appreciated.
KIM: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: And as I mentioned earlier, right now, the plan is that at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, they are going to move ahead on a vote for Judge Kavanaugh`s nomination in the Judiciary Committee. Democrats, of course, had called not just for the nomination to be pulled, but also for the vote to be delayed and for this FBI investigation to go forward, to expand Kavanaugh`s background investigation to include these new allegations.
Republicans do appear to be ignoring those claims and trying to push this vote ahead, despite what they heard today from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
We`ll see. Right now, the plan is for them to meet at 9:30 Eastern. We do expect further developments overnight, though.
I`ll see you again tomorrow but right now, it`s time for an MSNBC special report on today`s hearing helmed by our own Lawrence O`Donnell.
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