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Senators prepare to vote on Kavanaugh. TRANSCRIPT: 10/4/2018, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Chris Coons, Cory Booker

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 4, 2018 Guest: Chris Coons, Cory Booker

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That`s ALL IN for this evening.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Your weekends are so much more intellectually alive than mine are, Chris Hayes.

HAYES: This is a rare one. I`m not doing New Yorker festivals every weekend, but I`m looking forward to this one.

MADDOW: I`m intimidated by just hearing your itinerary. Well done, my friend. Much appreciated it.

And thanks to you at home for joining us at home this hour. This is a big night.

So, she`s not a dumb person. She`s highly educated. She is very, very, very highly educated.

She`s also not naive. She said right that in there that she knew what was coming, and even though she is not a political pro, she is not someone with any political experience, she is not at all from the political world, she was clear-eyed what would happen in the political world, and she was -- she was right to be worried about what the political world would do with someone like her.

She saw it coming. She said out loud from the outset, she said I believed that if I came forward, my single voice would be drowned out by the powerful.


CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, KAVANAUGH ACCUSER: As the hearing date got closer, I struggled with a terrible choice. Do I share the facts with the Senate and put myself and my family in the public spotlight or do I preserve our privacy and allow the Senate to make its decision without knowing the full truth of his past behaviors?

I agonized daily with this decision throughout August and September 2018. The sense of duty that originally motivated me to reach out confidentially to "The Washington Post" and to Anna Eshoo`s office when there was still a list of extremely qualified candidates and to Senator Feinstein was always there, but my fears of the consequences of speaking out started to exponentially increase.

During August 2018, the press reported that Mr. Kavanaugh`s confirmation was virtually certain. I believed that if I came forward, my single voice would be drowned out by a chorus of powerful supporters.


MADDOW: I believe that if I came forward, my single voice would be drowned out by a chorus of powerful supporters. But despite that fear, she did, of course, come forward, even though she knew what would happen as a result. We know that she saw it coming. She knew that this in fact would be the result.


SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: They just about destroyed a good person to be on the Supreme Court. Hopefully, we`re 48 hours away from having a new person on the Supreme Court.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I believed that we should be and we did treat Dr. Ford the same way I would want my daughters or my wife or my mother treated under similar circumstances. So, now`s the time to quit all of these antics, these high jinks.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: This is a man of outstanding character who has lived an exemplary life.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We need to confirm him right away. Shrink one of the best nominees in my 42 years in the United States Senate. And I apologize to him for the way he`s been treated.

LEE: I`m convinced of this man`s character, of his truthfulness.

CORNYN: A vote against Judge Kavanaugh tomorrow will be a confirmation -- a vote for abusing the confirmation process and a good person. And it will be a vote for the shameful intimidation tactics that have been employed as part of an orchestrated smear campaign.


MADDOW: Senator Cornyn, number two Republican in the Senate explaining today he treated Dr. Christine Blasey Ford exactly the way he would have wanted his daughters to be treated, or his wife or his mother in these circumstances. So, quit your high jinks. Quit your antics. These outrageous accusations that you`ve made. The shameful orchestrated smear campaign that you`ve been part of, mom.

The first preliminary vote on the Kavanaugh nomination is now schedule for 10:30 tomorrow morning eastern time. And even though as predicted a chorus of Kavanaugh`s powerful supporters drowning out her voice, that is what Dr. Christine Blasey Ford predicted and she saw coming, despite her expectation, her accurate expectation that that is how she would be treated, she did decide to come forward anyway.

And because she did, when that vote happens tomorrow morning at 10:30 Eastern Time, indelibly this is what that vote tomorrow is going to be about.


FORD: I attended the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland from 1978 to 1984. Holton-Arms is an all-girl school that opened in 1901.

During my time at this school, girls at Holton-Arms frequently met and became friendly with boys from all-boys schools in the area, including the Landon School, Georgetown Prep, Gonzaga High School, as well as our country clubs and other places where kids and families socialized. This is how I met Brett Kavanaugh, the boy who sexually assaulted me.

I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.

During my time at this school, girls at Holton-Arms frequently met and became friendly with boys from all-boys schools in the area, including the Landon School, Georgetown Prep, Gonzaga High School, as well as our country clubs and other places where kids and families socialized. This is how I met Brett Kavanaugh, the boy who sexually assaulted me.

Early in the evening, I went up a very narrow set of stairs leading from the living room to a second floor to use the restroom. When I got to the top of the stairs, I was pushed from behind into a bedroom across from the bathroom. I couldn`t see who pushed me. Brett and Mark came into the bedroom and locked the door behind them.

There was music playing in the bedroom. It was turned up louder by either Brett or Mark once we were in the room.

I was pushed onto the bed, and Brett got on top of me. He began running his hands over my body and grinding into me. I yelled, hoping that someone downstairs might hear me, and I tried to get away from him, but his weight was heavy.

Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time, because he was very inebriated, and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit underneath my clothing.

I believed he was going to rape me.

I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling. This is what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.

Both Brett and Mark were drunkenly laughing during the attack. They seemed to be having a very good time.

Mark seemed ambivalent, at times urging Brett on and at times telling him to stop. A couple of times, I made eye contact with Mark and thought he might try to help me, but he did not.


MADDOW: A lot more people ended up seeing Brett Kavanaugh`s explosive afternoon testimony last week. More people saw that than saw a morning testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, in part just because of the time of day. Christine Blasey Ford`s testimony was at 7:00 a.m. on the West Coast.

But it`s also because Brett Kavanaugh`s enraged and sort of sneering and partisan fury in the afternoon, that was so strange for a Supreme Court nominee, for a Supreme Court nomination hearing that that performance got almost all the press that night in news coverage once the hearing was over.

But even though more people saw him than saw her, what happened that morning with her testimony, which Kavanaugh himself admits that he didn`t even watch himself. You know, had he watched it, what he would have seen was witness being as straight forward as she could possibly be about what she knew and what she knew had happened.


FORD: One evening that summer, after a day of diving at the club, I attended a small gathering at a house in the Bethesda area. There were four boys I remember specifically being there: Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, a boy named P.J., and one other boy whose name I cannot recall.

I truly wish I could be more helpful with more detailed answers to all of the questions that have and will be asked about how I got to the party and where it took place and so forth. I don`t have all the answers, and I don`t remember as much as I would like to.

But the details that -- about that night that bring me here today are the ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory, and have haunted me episodically as an adult.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: You are very clear about the attack, being pushed into the room. You say you don`t know quite by whom, but that it was Brett Kavanaugh that covered your mouth to prevent you from screaming, and then you escaped. 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. Just basic memory functions. And also just the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain that sort of as you know encodes -- that neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus. And so, the trauma related experience then is kind of locked there where as other details kind of drift.

FEINSTEIN: So what you are telling us is this could not be a case of mistaken identity?

FORD: Absolutely not.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: You would not mix up somebody else with Brett Kavanaugh, is that correct?

FORD: Correct.

LEAHY: Or Mark Judge?

FORD: Correct.

LEAHY: Well, then, let`s go back to the incident.

What is the strongest memory you have, the strongest memory of the incident, something that you cannot forget? Take whatever time you need.

FORD: Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the laugh -- the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.

LEAHY: You`ve never forgotten that laughter. You`ve never forgotten them laughing at you.

FORD: They were laughing with each other.

LEAHY: And you were the object of the laughter?

FORD: I was, you know, underneath one of them while the two laughed, two friend -- two friends having a really good time with one another.

LEAHY: And, Dr. Ford, I`d just conclude with this: You do remember what happened, do you not?

FORD: Very much so.

LEAHY: Thank you.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Dr. Ford, with what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?

FORD: One hundred percent.

DURBIN: One hundred percent.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: You know, from my experience with memory, I remember distinctly things that happened to me in high school or happened to me in college, but I don`t exactly remember the date. I don`t exactly remember the time. I sometimes may not even remember the exact place where it occurred, but I remember the interaction.

And many people are focused today on what you`re not able to remember than night. I actually think you remember a lot. I`m going to phrase it a little differently. Can you tell 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.


MADDOW: Brett Kavanaugh says that he did not watch that testimony. That day when he testified later in the afternoon and furiously yelled at senators that this was a Democratic plot that was revenge on behalf of the Clintons to try to destroy him and it was all smears and lies, he also said under questioning that he didn`t watch the testimony of the woman who came to the Senate that same day just before him.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I`ll just ask you a direct question. Did you watch Dr. Ford`s testimony?


HARRIS: Thank you.


MADDOW: I don`t know if anybody ever asked him if he ever got around to actually watching what she said. He said he plans to. I don`t know if he ever did. But senators watched it. They all did. So they can`t say that they don`t know what Christine Blasey Ford brought to Washington that day.

Senators watched it. Senators know what her testimony was. And so that, again, indelibly is what they will be voting about tomorrow.


FORD: Brett`s assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone these details. I did not want to tell my parents that I at age 15 was in the house without any parents present drinking beer with boys. I convinced myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should just move on and just pretend that it didn`t happen.

Over the years, I told very, very few friends that I had this traumatic experience. I told my husband before we were married that I had experienced a sexual assault.


MADDOW: The first all Senate vote on Brett Kavanaugh as a nominee to the Supreme Court is tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. And so now and through the night tonight, this is now high gear. Arrests numbered in the hundreds today as protesters against the Kavanaugh nomination were arrested at the capital and at Senate offices. We`re going have more on that in detail later on this hour.

Also today, for the first time in living memory at least, a living retired justice of the Supreme Court, Justice John Paul Stevens, announced opposition to a nominee for the court. Justice Stevens said at an event today in Florida that he had thought that Brett Kavanaugh was qualified for the court when he was first nominated. But he said today, quote, have I changed my views.


JOHN PAUL STEVENS, FORMER SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: His performance during the hearings caused me to change my mind. He has demonstrated a potential bias involving enough potential litigants before the court that he would not be able to perform his full responsibilities. And I think there is merit in that criticism.


MADDOW: I know of no other circumstances in which a former Supreme Court justice has said that a nominee for the Supreme Court should be rejected. I don`t know of any circumstance in American history where that has ever happened before.

And then there is this from "The Washington Post," the first time in over 30 years that "The Washington Post" has said a nominee should be rejected. Quote: Too many questions remain about his history for senators to responsibly vote yes. At the same time, enough has been learned about his partisan instincts that we believe senators must vote no. We do not say so lightly. We have not opposed a Supreme Court nominee liberal or conservative since Robert Bork in 1987.

We believe presidents are entitled to significant deference if they nominate well-qualified people within the broad mainstream of judicial thought. When President Trump named Mr. Kavanaugh, he seemed to be such a person, an accomplished judge whom any conservative president might have picked. But given Republicans` refusal to properly vet Mr. Kavanaugh, and given what we have learned about him during the process, we now believe it would be a serious blow to the court and the nation if he were confirmed.

And then "The Post" says this about the accusation raised against Kavanaugh by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. "The Post" basically stays agnostic on the credibility of her accusation, but they say this.

Quote: We continue to believe that Ms. Ford is a credible witness with no motivation to lie. It`s conceivable that she and Mr. Kavanaugh are both being truthful in the sense that he has no memory of the event. It`s also conceivable that Ms. Ford`s memory is at fault. We wish the FBI had been allowed to probe Mr. Kavanaugh`s credibility more fully.

But our conclusion about Kavanaugh`s fitness does not rest on believing one side or the other. If Mr. Kavanaugh truly is or believes himself to be a victim of mistaken identity, his anger, which he displayed at his confirmation hearing, is understandable, but he went further in last Thursday`s hearing than expressing anger. He gratuitously indulged in hyper partisan rhetoric against the left, describing his stormy confirmation as a calculated and political hit fueled by pent up anger about President Trump during the 2016 election and, quote, revenge on behalf of the Clintons. Kavanaugh provided neither evidence nor even a plausible explanation for this red meat partisanship, but he poisoned any sense that he could serve as an impartial judge.

Democrats or liberal activists would have no reason to trust in his good faith in any cases involving politics. Even beyond such cases, his judgment and temperament would be in doubt.

The reason not to vote for Mr. Kavanaugh is that senators have not been given sufficient information to consider him, and that he has given them ample evidence to believe he is unsuited for the job. Quote, the country deserves better.

Again, first time in more than 30 years that "The Washington Post" has editorialized against a Supreme Court nominee.

Tonight, the nominee himself has published an op-ed on the hard-line conservative editorial page of "The Wall Street Journal," an op-ed from the nominee on the eve of his vote, this is also without precedent. But in this op-ed tonight, Brett Kavanaugh reiterates basically the case that he made for himself during his confirmation hearing. And then he says that he said things at his confirmation hearing when he was emotional that are things he shouldn`t have said.

Quote, I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.

If all Democratic senators vote no on Brett Kavanaugh`s nomination tomorrow, which is an open question, more on that in a second, but if all Democrats did vote no, it would then take two Republican senators voting no to end the Kavanaugh nomination, to send the White House back to the drawing board for a new nominee, someone who presumably would be equally conservative, but would not be Brett Kavanaugh, with all that`s that we`ve come to learn about him, over the course of this horrendously painful process.

So far, conservative Democratic Senators Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp have both said they will vote no on Brett Kavanaugh. Heitkamp said that just today. Only conservative Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia hasn`t yet said how he will vote on the Kavanaugh nomination.

There is sort of Washington rumor and chatter that Senator Manchin would like to vote in a sort of bloc with other like-minded senators, whichever way he goes so he won`t be seen as the deciding vote to confirm or deny the Kavanaugh nomination. However, much the senator might want that, that responsibility may ultimately end up on him in the end, whether he wants it or not, depending of course on the decisions of Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona who at this point seem to be the only Republicans whose votes may be in play.

It takes a lot to bring tons of people to Washington, D.C. from Maine and tons of people to Washington, D.C. from Alaska. Those are very long trips. But these senators from Maine and Alaska today, they were inundated with their own constituents who had flown in and bussed in from Alaska and Maine, their home states, to try to meet personally with their senators, to try to convince their senators to please vote no.

Now, when it comes to Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona, there is one person who we know he has been spending a lot of time with as he tries to make this decision, one person who as far as we can tell more than anyone has basically been at his side. And in long serious discussions with him about what to do and how to decide and how to figure out what the right thing is to do that.

That person who has been with Jeff Flake through this process is actually another senator. He`s a member of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He is a Democrat, and he joins us live next.



SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think a lot of people don`t realize that you chose to come forward with your concerns about Judge Kavanaugh before he was nominated to the Supreme Court. Do I understand correctly that when you first reached out to Congresswoman Eshoo and to "The Washington Post" tip line, that was when he was on the short list, but before he was nominated to the Supreme Court? Is that correct?

FORD: Correct.

COONS: And if I understood your testimony earlier, it`s that you were motivated by a sense of civic duty, and frankly, a hope that some other highly qualified nominee might be picked not out of a motivation at a late stage to have an impact on the final decision?

FORD: Correct. I thought it was very important to get the information to you, but I didn`t know how to do it while there was still a short list of candidates.

COONS: Mr. President, it was a week ago today that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on which I serve were riveted by the compelling and powerful testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. It is a week ago today that Judge Brett Kavanaugh delivered his forceful rejoinder and rebuttal.

This conversation is bigger. It`s bigger. It`s more pressing, and I`d say it`s more important than the question of one Supreme Court seat and one current nominee. This is a question about whether we as a country at the highest levels of power believe victims and survivors of sexual assault and are willing to listen to them, to believe them, and to take action.


MADDOW: That`s today on the floor of the Senate.

Joining us now is Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He`s a member of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate.

Senator Coons, I know this is an incredibly intense and busy time. Thanks for being here.

COONS: Thank you, Rachel. Great to be on.

MADDOW: As we head into this overnight and tomorrow morning with this first vote schedule at 10:30 a.m. Eastern, what are you expecting?

COONS: Well, I don`t know what to expect tomorrow. I think that the cloture vote hangs by a few undecided votes. There are I think at this point one Democrat and three Republicans who haven`t publicly declared their intentions for tomorrow. And since the Senate is divided so closely, 51-49, it may be a close outcome.

But frankly, what I`m also hoping comes out of this week, out of this pause for an FBI investigation is what I was speaking about on the floor earlier today, which is the message to the thousands of survivors of sexual assault who have come forward to my office, to many other offices, to tip lines across the country or to speak to family or friends for the first time, that we will enter a new phase in our country in terms of our willingness to hear and to respond to allegations.

I know there has been a lot of fighting this week about whether the process was fair to Judge Kavanaugh, whether the investigation was serious and thorough, and whether Dr. Ford and Debbie Ramirez had their allegations thoroughly enough investigated, and I look forward to getting into that.

But as larger point, I just wanted to say up front, Rachel that I`ve been stunned by how many people, people I`ve known for decades or just years or who I`ve just met have shared with me really powerful stories of their own experience, not seeking something, just wanting to be heard and wanting to be valued and wanting to share these private personal painful burdens they`ve carried for so long.

MADDOW: Do you feel like the Senate did right, particularly by Dr. Ford, but also by Deborah Ramirez and other people who came forward, specifically with stories to tell they said about Brett Kavanaugh?

Obviously, there has been a lot of controversy today over what has been described as the results of this FBI expanded background investigation, a lot of public reporting that indicates that people who those women in particular said should be followed up with by the FBI who could offer corroborating information, the FBI didn`t want to hear it, was not open to hearing from those corroborating witnesses. We then had a lot of Republican senators say confidently well, there was no corroborating information in the FBI report.

COONS: Well, first, let`s look at where we were a week ago. We were barreling ahead with a likely confirmation vote for Judge Kavanaugh without my friend Senator Jeff Flake stepping forward and changing and the course of where we were headed. Judge Kavanaugh would already be seated as Justice Kavanaugh for most of this week. So, I do think something important was accomplished by showing that we could listen to each other and we could take a time-out in order to have the FBI question and then deliver to the Senate some more facts around the core allegations.

I am not satisfied with the scope of who was questioned. I expected that there would be follow-on investigations questioning of corroborating witnesses so that, for example, if Debbie Ramirez was questioned and at the end of her questioning, she said here`s a dozen people who can offer corroborating testimony, I had expected that those sorts of interviews would take place. I know people have contacted my office, many other Senate offices who were trying to get to the FBI who were offering to be interviewed and who were not interviewed.

MADDOW: Senator, you mentioned your friend Republican Senator Jeff Flake and there has obviously been such a hot spotlight on him this week because of the way he`s publicly wrestled with this nomination and with issues of the FBI investigation and the pace of the nomination as you just described. I know that you`ve been in close contact with him through at least some of this process. I don`t want to ask you to betray any confidences.

But can you tell us anything about where he`s at in his process and what his ongoing concerns may be or if he has made up his mind?

COONS: I can`t, and if I knew, I wouldn`t betray his confidence. I can simply say this, that he is someone who because of our friendship and because of some of the stories he had heard and because of the testimony and because of the way he saw the judiciary committee being torn apart right in front of us, he listened to his conscience and took a lot of abuse from folks in his own party for insisting on this week pause. And I think that was an important contribution here.

But to be clear about inspections, Jeff`s a conservative. He would like a conservative justice on the Supreme Court. I`m not a conservative and I would not like a conservative justice on the Supreme Court. We have different views of jurisprudence and different views of which direction the court should go in its future interpretation of the Constitution. But if I were to look at this and imagine how he might be looking at this, questions that we`d be bringing or I`d be bringing to the table wouldn`t be about ideology, because the president has lots of other credentials conservatives from whom he can choose.

I would be looking at questions of judicial temperament, given the very sharp and partisan screed that Judge Kavanaugh unleashed on us in the Judiciary Committee. He was understandably angry, feeling he was unjustly accused. But there was a piece of argument to us that I think crossed the line into partisanship.

Former justice, former Republican and Justice John Paul Stevens withdrew his support from Kavanaugh today publicly because of the partisanship he showed in that defense. And then second, I`d be looking at questions of truthfulness. Whether or not in testimony to committee, Judge Kavanaugh shaded the truth or was untruthful about a number of things. You know, I frankly think when we get into details about words in his yearbook and what they meant, we lose the average American.

But when he made definitive statements to staff attorneys or to the committee, I did know this at this point, I didn`t know it at that point, I`ve done this before, I have never done this before, and there is evidence that puts that into question, then I think we have to have a conversation about truthfulness.

So to me, fitness and truthfulness sit on top of this underlying body of evidence of sexual assault allegations where after I reviewed the evidence in front of the committee today, I still have unanswered questions.

MADDOW: And as you say, separate and apart from any ideological consideration.

I do just have one last question for you, Senator, before I let you go, and that is that there has been lots and lots of rumors. Obviously, this is a fast developing news story tonight. Every reporter within smelling distance of the beltway is working everything they possibly can to figure out what`s going to happen tomorrow.


MADDOW: Is it your sense there may be any other Republican senators who are seriously considering wrestling with how they might vote, or is it your sense that Senators Murkowski and Collins and Flake are really the only ones who are at all even open to the possibility of voting no tomorrow?

COONS: I have -- I`ve had a number of conversations with friends and colleagues just to sort of put forward my views on what`s happened and why I`m comfortable voting against Judge Kavanaugh tomorrow, but I could not say in any appropriate public way that they are undecided about what to do tomorrow.

I do know that there are members who had -- who paused after Dr. Ford`s testimony, which was compelling and who wrestle with the apparent contradiction between Judge Kavanaugh`s certainty that he did not commit a sexual assault and Dr. Ford`s compelling testimony that she was a victim of sexual assault by Judge Kavanaugh, and there are colleagues who have wrestled with how to reconcile that.

My hope is that they look beyond just the materials that were in front of us today from the FBI, but also consider some of the folks who tried testify to the FBI but were not able to and have now had their reports made public or who are seeking to talk to senators. Frankly, in the end, the FBI was not going produce a conclusion to us. They were just going give us fax. We`re the decision-making and senators I know are wrestling with their vote tomorrow, I think it will be a very close vote and I know it will be very closely watched which is appropriate, because we look to the Supreme Court as the guarantor of our constitutional liberties in this country.

MADDOW: Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, showing your well- deserved reputation both for comity, c-o-m-i-t-y, and discretion, and your ability to cross the aisle in dealing with your colleagues. Thank you for helping us to understand the state of play tonight, Senator. Really appreciate it.

COONS: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more to get to tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: They rode all night overnight by bus, making the trip all the way from Maine to Washington, D.C. Once these women from Maine arrived at Union Station in D.C., they had their signs in hand. They were ready to go.

Some of them marched over to the Supreme Court building, letting everybody know that they were voters from Maine, from the home state of Republican Senator Susan Collins. Others made their way right to the office of Senator Collins who apparently does remain undecided on the Kavanaugh nomination. These women from Maine ended up meeting with Senator Collins` staffers, pressing their case.

Also in the capital today, over 100 women from Alaska who flew in, I repeat, from Alaska to plead with their senator, Republican Lisa Murkowski, to plead with her to vote know on Brett Kavanaugh. Senator Murkowski also apparently remains undecided in terms of her vote. A key consistency for her, Alaska natives, they are adamantly opposed to Kavanaugh and have been pressing her very hard to vote no. But then Murkowski spent this afternoon herself meeting with these Alaskan women who had flown in to see her.

After conservative Democrat Heidi Heitkamp said today that she will be a no vote, some North Dakotans came to her office to thank her for that vote. She was not there, so they thanked her staff instead.

Outside the capitol building, hundreds of people chanted, whose courts? Our courts.

Hundreds more people gathered in the office for a sit-in. Tons of people filling the balconies, every floor of the Senate office building, unfurling a banner, reading "we believe survivors." You can see -- we have that -- do we have any of the footage from inside the Senate office building?

You get a sense of how big these protesters were today.

As people refused to leave, the capitol police did make arrests today. The capitol police said over 300 people were arrested in an act of civil disobedience.

This is some of the footage from the Senate office building, as you can see the number of people in there.

So, we`re watching for the votes of key undecided senators tonight and overnight and into tomorrow. We`re also, honestly, watching to see how much pressure protesters like these ones can bring to bear before the final vote, and if it will make a difference.

Watch this space.



SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I heard the chairman of the committee say there is no hint of misconduct. In plain English what I just read, there are hints of misconduct. And even in the documents themselves, and I can`t discuss that, but there were issues that were raised that, you know, I`m not a trained investigator, but wow, shouldn`t we have followed up on that point and it was not followed up on.

REPORTER: Senator, to the senators who are coming out who say there is just no new credible corroborating information, you say?

BOOKER: Well, there are two things wrong with that. The first is anybody who sits there and reads what I just read would see that clearly there were not relevant people interviewed, people that could help us get to the truth of this matter were not interviewed.

And this is not just something about a he said/she said about something that happened in our neighborhood last week. This is about the Supreme Court of the United States of America. It`s about an appointment to that court. It`s about a lifetime appointment.


MADDOW: A lifetime appointment.

Senator Cory Booker is a member of the Judiciary Committee. That was him today speaking with reporters right after he reviewed the FBI`s reopened background report on Brett Kavanaugh.

Joining us now live is Senator Booker.

Senator, thank you so much for taking time to be with us tonight. I know it`s a pretty intense night.

BOOKER: Thank you, Rachel. It`s good to be on with you.

MADDOW: And I know you can only say so much about that FBI report. It is a confidential document, but there have been public characterizations made, particularly by Republican senators what is in that report and what great news it is for Senator Kavanaugh -- excuse me, for Judge Kavanaugh.

You said there are hints of misconduct. You said there were issues raised. Given the fact that some Republicans are characterizing this FBI material, what can you tell us about it?

BOOKER: Well, first of all, those characterizations to me are tantamount to a sham, perpetrating a sham on the American people because there are clearly many witnesses, people that could have corroborated what Ms. Ramirez said, people that were eyewitnesses to what Ms. Ramirez said that weren`t even interviewed.

I just want to take you to that room for a second. The whole process was to me -- again, I`m considered what`s a young senator here for just five years, but I just never seen anything like it. We were shuttled in. There were about a dozen Democratic senators in our first shift. We were given an hour to go through the papers.

They literally only had one copy, so we were reading together, partnered up with folks, and there was everybody in the spectrum from red state, very conservative Democrats all the way to more liberal or progressive Democrats. And there was a universal astonishment about what we were read, sort of stunned at the limited scope of the FBI investigation, how it was not thorough, was not complete.

It wasn`t even a sincere effort to get to the truth. And I think that was ma what made me leave there on fire, just angry, because I was expecting so much more and was just so let down by the process, and I saw that the fix seemed to be in from the very beginning.

MADDOW: When you say the fix was in, those are -- that`s a powerful allegation. I have been talking just with friends and people outside the news business about how this news about Kavanaugh has been affecting people. I think it`s caused a lot of pain and a lot of anguish and had a psychological impact on the country because it`s been so painful.

And one of the things that a number of people referenced to me was the prospect that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, that this will never be over. If the fix was in on the overly curtailed FBI investigation, if there are serious corroborating witnesses to serious would-be criminal allegations about Judge Kavanaugh in terms of his background, once he is on the Supreme Court, will those things follow him on to the Supreme Court? Would a Democratic-controlled judiciary committee in either house investigate this process to find out if the fix was?

Would he potentially be subject to criminal investigation or to further congressional investigation? How do you see that looking into the future if he is confirmed?

BOOKER: Well, you know, we`re on the eve of knowing what`s going to happen tomorrow and so much of that is where my focus is in my conversations with colleagues on both sides of the aisle. There`s so much at stake right here, and I think how you started the question about the sort of emotional nature of this, and again being in these confidential rooms with only senators, I was in two of them today.

The second one was a caucus meeting amongst Democrats, and it was one of those moments I just felt proud of my colleagues because with no cameras around, this wasn`t a public moment. But you had senator after senator, male senator standing up and just confessing about how shaken they were about the numbers of folks that they were getting reaching out to their office who had never told their own personal stories. They were telling their senator, people they don`t even know about sexual assaults. They hadn`t even told members of their families, about how this is moment in American history that has ripped us apart, exposed an ugliness, a pain, a hurtfulness.

And I think for this body, this so-called most deliberative body in the world, I think we`re failing that test. And I think it`s hurting a lot of folks, hurting the institution, and could after tomorrow`s vote really hurt the Supreme Court. Not just because of the credible allegations that have been brought against a person but then how he conducted himself in such a just bald, raw partisan nature.

So, I don`t know what the consequences of this is going to be, but we`re at sort of a low point. It`s -- you know, in the Christian faith, there`s an old saying that, you know, weeping may endure through the night. I`m one of those people still hoping for some joy tomorrow. But right now, this is painful moment, and I`m doing everything through my calls and texts with colleagues, still hoping that we will have the right outcome tomorrow.

MADDOW: Senator Cory Booker of the great state of New Jersey, member of the Judiciary Committee, thank you for your time, sir. I know it`s going to be a long late night. Much appreciated.

BOOKER: Thank you. Appreciate it.

MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Can I be petty for just one moment, a quick moment? I realize this is small. I realize if I were a bigger, better person I wouldn`t let this slide under my fingernails like a very painful splinter.

I am but human, though. And so, I just -- I can`t even. Like I just can`t let it go. I know I should.

You know how president Trump already has a re-election campaign? The Trump re-election campaign has weighed in on all this mishegoss tonight. And according to them, the time has come, America, to put Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the United States Senate.

What? Wait, put him where? The Trump campaign writing tonight, quote, no more games, no more excuses. All caps locked. The Senate must confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the U.S. Senate now.

Judge Kavanaugh for Senate. Make America proofread again. I mean, I know I shouldn`t care, but wholly mother of word processing, right? You represent a person who happens to be the president of the United States. This reflects poorly on all of us.

Just like hire a sixth grader to write this stuff. Just -- all right, get back to the news. I`m sorry. Sorry. Excuse me.


MADDOW: There`s a little twist in what we`re expecting on the Kavanaugh nomination now in this final stretch. As you know, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set the big procedural vote for the nomination tomorrow 10:30 a.m. Eastern. That will be the full head count for senators, first chance for all senators to indicate where they stand on this nomination.

If Kavanaugh doesn`t get 50 votes at that 10:30 a.m. vote, he`s dead. His nomination is dead.

But if he does get 50 votes, he`s not confirmed. Then the nomination goes forward to one more vote. The Senate will have to hold up to 30 hours of debate before that final vote could happen, which would put it around 5:00 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.

Now, that`s a separate vote. It would be possible for senators to vote yes tomorrow on moving forward and still vote no on Saturday to confirm Kavanaugh to the court. The game so far has been that opponents of the nomination need every Democrat to vote no plus two Republicans.

Here`s that slight sort of twist in that calculation. There`s a Republican senator from Montana named Steve Daines, not a high profile senator. But he said last week that he looks forward to casting his vote to confirm Kavanaugh. He says he`d be a yes.

An NBC reporter in Montana, though, now says that Senator Daines has a serious scheduling conflict this weekend. He will be home in Montana and not in D.C. this weekend no matter what because his daughter is getting married and he`s walking her down the aisle.

If Senator Daines really is away, his absence could conceivably push Republicans to hold off on the final vote until he comes back. What are they going to do, move the wedding?

For now, the schedule is procedural vote until tomorrow morning. If they don`t get 50, nomination is done. They do get 50, final vote by late Saturday. It`s hard to imagine Senate Republicans holding this open any longer than they absolutely have to.

But every day, something new comes up, and whatever happens, we`ll all be here covering it all.

That does it for us tonight. See you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.