Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: September 17, 2018 Guest: Ron Klain, Lisa Graves, Dahlia Lithwick, Ana Marie Cox; Dahlia Lithwick; Adam Schiff, Mara Gay
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And on Friday night, we were kind of getting close to the feeling we would by now know the name of the accuser in the Brett Kavanaugh case. And, of course, we do. And this thing, this story has been changing by the hour today which I think Republicans in the White House catching up to reality, maybe an hour later than reality was landing on them.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: Yes, you can see them sort of grappling with the gravity and enormity of what`s going on here. And I do think they`ve been catching up. It`s interesting to see in the Senate Republican senators whether or not they`re seen as, you know, key potential votes against Kavanaugh or not, you see Republican senators hitting their own thresholds, hitting their own tripwires, hitting their own I`m not going to go there moment in terms of whether or not they`ve got real concerns about these things.
These are not coordinated Republican responses that we were seeing today. Presumably, they`ll all get on the same page in the next few days, but today, they were speaking on their own terms and it was wildly different responses from different senators.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and I`m not sure that they will this time all get on the same page the way they basically did 27 years ago. The movement has been stunning even watching the difference between what Lindsey Graham said yesterday, what he said today. I don`t know what he`ll be saying by Thursday. Every day that goes by without that Kavanaugh vote, the Republicans know is a bad day for that vote. That`s why they always want to rush these votes.
MADDOW: And we`re now going to have another week between now and when that hearing happens. And that means another week of reporting, honestly, to a certain extent this is journalistically driven story. And it`s going to make it that much harder in terms of what Dr. Ford is enduring having come forward as the named accuser in this case.
If there are any other people that are going to come forward with the troubling stories about Brett Kavanaugh, this week-long delay between now and the hearing gives them an opportunity to do that. As Senator Blumenthal was just saying, this also opens an opportunity for the FBI to do a real investigation here. This story has been evolving hour by hour but I think we`re going to see that continue, another solid week as this story continues to ripen.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And so history repeats itself. And I mean repeats itself like we`ve never seen before. We have never seen in United States Senate history repeat itself as flawlessly as it has been doing for almost two weeks now. When rumors first surfaced about a possible accuser of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and then those rumors became thinly sourced news stories online, thinly sourced because there was no stronger way to report them at that time. And then last week the story of the accuser got wide circulation and more detail.
And then finally, the accuser went public yesterday in an interview in "The Washington Post," and today the Republican hope of keeping the confirmation on track, the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation, keeping it on track and on schedule, that hope collapsed.
And so now, history will fully repeat itself, and we will see a Supreme Court confirmation hearing reopened to take new testimony from an accuser of a nominee and new testimony from a nominee defending himself against those accusations. Just as we saw 27 years ago when Anita Hill was sworn in to testify about the sexual harassment she said she experienced from Clarence Thomas while working with Clarence Thomas in the federal government`s equal employment opportunity commission.
The quickest refresher course on that story is Kerry Washington`s Emmy- nominated HBO film "Confirmation", and if you need more detail and you should, there`s the masterful book "Strange Justice" by Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson.
I was working in the Senate then but had no role in the judicial confirmation process other than to offer my opinion to my boss, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was not a member of the Judiciary Committee and didn`t need anyone`s advice in making his decision to vote against Clarence Thomas. The senators who were not on that committee watched those hearings on TV as shock as the rest of the country by the spectacle as it unfolded and the seemingly relentless attempts by United States senators to find new ways to humiliate themselves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Now, let me just -- people hearing yesterday`s testimony are probably wondering how could this client, you know, retired woman know about something like Long Dong Silver. Did you tell her that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He`s still on the Judiciary Committee. Senator Orin Hatch is still on the Senate judiciary committee. And the question tonight is what has Orrin Hatch learned in the 27 years since he embarrassed himself and the Senate in that hearing? What have the Republicans and the judiciary committee learned? The answer might be that they`ve learned absolutely nothing.
Before completely surrendering to Democratic demands today that they postpone Thursday`s vote on Brett Kavanaugh`s confirmation, the Republicans led by Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, were trying to power through this controversy. They were insistent that the vote would take place on Thursday. And they were trying to arrange some kind of private conversation with Professor Christine Blasey Ford. They were still trying to do that even after Professor Ford told her story in detail to "The Washington Post" yesterday.
But today, history caught up with the Republicans. Yesterday, Judiciary Committee member Lindsey Graham said, if the committee is to hear from Ms. Ford, it should be done immediately so the process can continue as scheduled.
And tonight, not a word about the schedule from Senator Graham.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: Is there the possibility that you believe her story but he is still qualified to serve on the court?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I`d have a hard time putting somebody on the court that I thought tried to rape somebody.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: A hard time. And that very nervous chuckle about the hard time that Lindsey Graham is going to have in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Clarence Thomas squeaked by in his confirmation vote on the Senate floor 52-48. But before Anita Hill testified against Clarence Thomas, he was on his way to getting 90 votes, at least 90 votes in the Senate, just like Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and David Souter before him. All Republican nominees all got more than 90 votes.
Professor Anita Hill took at least 40 votes away from Clarence Thomas, including two Republican votes. If Professor Christine Blasey Ford takes only two Republican votes away from Brett Kavanaugh, only two, then he will not be confirmed.
For most senators, Anita Hill`s testimony about sexual harassment was the very first time they had ever heard what sexual harassment actually is. The first time they even thought about it when they were listening to Anita Hill. Professor Ford will step into a different atmosphere when she testifies in the now reopened confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh on Monday of next week. This time everyone on the committee and everyone on the Senate will know what she is talking ability. Attempted rape, something much worse than Clarence Thomas was ever accused of.
Clarence Thomas lost 40 votes when he was accused of sexual harassment 27 years ago. How many votes will Brett Kavanaugh lose after being accused of attempted rape? Professor Ford will be testifying after more than a year after the #MeToo movement which saw Fox News host Bill O`Reilly lose his job over charges of sexual harassment and then Harvey Weinstein charged with criminal rape in New York City, and a long list of prominent and powerful men, most recently, the head of CBS, Les Moonves, knocked off- track, knocked off their career paths, fired on the basis of sexual harassment or some form of sexual assault accusations.
After a year and a half of that increasingly powerful movement with Republicans in the United States Senate, specifically Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, how will they decide that there still should be some safe employment havens left for men accused of sexual assault, and that those two safe havens should be the White House and the United States Supreme Court? Is that what they will decide?
We now have the only president in history who has publicly confessed to sexual assault and described his preferred methods of sexual assault.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, THEN-REALITY TV STAR: I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing here. You know, I`m automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It`s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don`t even wait.
And when you`re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
BILLY BUSH: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You can do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: When it comes time to vote, Republican senators will have to decide if they`re going to give the self-confessed sexual assaulting president what he wants, the confirmation of a new accused sexual assaulter as a Supreme Court justice because that nominee has now indicated that he no longer believes the president of the United States can be subpoenaed. That`s why Brett Kavanaugh is so important to Donald Trump, Donald Trump`s belief that Brett Kavanaugh might save him from a subpoena in the Mueller investigation. That`s what this confirmation has always been about.
The reason the Republicans wanted to rush this vote is the age-old Senate strategic principle that the quicker the majority party can get a vote on something, the more likely they are to win. And the longer the issue or the nominee hangs out there without a vote, it becomes more and more likely that you lose that vote. But the Senate minority always has ways of slowing things down, and so Brett Kavanaugh has been slowed down. And every day that Brett Kavanaugh does not get a vote in the Senate is a day that support for Brett Kavanaugh can only weaken. It can`t get stronger.
One of the many weaknesses in the confirmation process that Anita Hill exposed is the Senate Judiciary Committee does not have a standard of proof for accusations made against a nominee. No committee does.
So, we might hear a Republican senator like Lindsey Graham after all the testimony is say he does not know who to believe, he doesn`t know who`s telling the truth. Brett Kavanaugh, now his outright repeated denial that he absolutely did not do what he`s accused of, or Professor Ford`s insistence that he did, and Lindsey Graham saying he doesn`t know who to believe might just say that because the accusation against Brett Kavanaugh was not proved beyond a reasonable doubt, he cannot deprive Brett Kavanaugh of a seat on the Supreme Court. He cannot deprive him of career advancement based on a mere suspicion.
And at the same time, we might hear Democrats say he or she is not sure to believe and because Brett Kavanaugh did not prove his innocence beyond a reasonable doubt, he cannot be elevated to a position that is supposed to be above suspicion on the highest court in the land.
The standard of reasonable doubt is a criminal courtroom stand. It is our highest strictest standard for finding of fact, proof beyond a reasonable doubt. That is the standard we require before we take someone`s liberty away and put someone in prison or in this country execute someone. But what is the correct standard for awarding someone, giving someone a position on the highest court in the land? Should senators ever vote for a Supreme Court justice if they have any doubt at all about that nominee`s integrity?
The Senate Judiciary Committee has never decided that question in the 27 years since Clarence Thomas. They have never figured out that question. And without that fundamental procedural standard, a standard of proof, what we are likely to see on Monday is a complete repeat of history,. with Republicans once again humiliating themselves.
Orrin Hatch today seemed eager to show that he has learned absolutely nothing in the 27 years since he cross examined Anita Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you think that any of these claims are legitimate?
HATCH: No, I don`t. I think this woman, whoever she is, is mixed up. But I can`t speak for her. All I can say is no, I don`t.
I know the -- I know the judge very, very well. I know how honest he is. I know how straightforward he is. I know how he stands up for what he believes and what`s right. And frankly, if you were going to believe anybody you`d believe him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I think this woman, whoever she is, is mixed up.
Doesn`t know who she is. He doesn`t know who she is. That`s Orrin Hatch speaking about a professor affiliated with Stanford University who he`s never seen, never heard speak, he knows nothing about her, but he thinks she`s mixed up.
In 27 years, Orrin Hatch has learned absolutely nothing. On Monday, we`ll find out what the rest of the Senate has learned.
Leading off our discussion now, Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden Al Gore, and a former senior aide to President Obama, and most importantly for tonight, he was also the chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas, Anita Hill hearings. And Lisa Graves is with us. She is the co-director of Documented. She is also a former chief counsel for nominations for the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee and was a deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice.
And, Ron, let`s start with you. I know you`ve been thinking about those days 27 years ago, and those of us who were watching from the outside couldn`t quite believe what we were seeing. But it -- but what one of the reasons for it, it seems to me, is the committee like all the rest of the committees in the Senate have never quite figured out, exactly what is the standard for how do you decide in that room whether an accuser has reached an adequate standard of proof.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: That`s right, Lawrence. And look, back then Robert C. Byrd, the great dean of the Senate, great institutionalist, went to the floor and said, the standard of proof is, the burden of proof goes to the court. The court has to be protected as an institution. If there`s a doubt, the doubt should be resolved in favor of making sure we have the right people on the Supreme Court. That was his view.
But, look, I think --
O`DONNELL: So, Ron, just to translate that for a second. The doubt should be resolved in favor of the accuser?
KLAIN: Well, I think, look, I think you have to hear all the evidence. You have to hear what she says, you have to give Judge Kavanaugh a chance to be heard. It has to be weighed -- also, it has to be weighed against all his other testimony. Questions ability his credibility have already been raised and evidence on behalf that`s already been put in.
So I think it needs to be weighed and in a fair and balance way. And I also think the judiciary committee needs professional help. That I think was a big mistake 27 years ago. Having the senators ask the questions I think is the wrong way to go. I think they should get expert outside counsel both the Democrat and the Republican side to put these question. It shouldn`t be a time for grandstanding or speech making, but it should be a time for professional questioning designed to get to the bottom of this.
O`DONNELL: And, Lisa, to Ron`s point about the professional question, we`ve seen that before in earlier hearings, the Watergate hearings and others where senators realized let`s let the real professionals do this. What is your sense -- you worked on the committee most recently. What is your sense of what they have learned about how to handle this in the last 27 years?
LISA GRAVES, FORMER DEPUTY ASST. ATTORNEY GENERAL, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: Well, I think that some of the statement so far indicates that Republicans in the majority have not learned very much from that history. You saw Senator Grassley this weekend talking about the fact there was supposedly no cooperation despite the evidence that was reported about her story. That`s an echo of exactly what he said on the floor about Thomas, which was this idea that Anita Hill had -- didn`t have corroborators, she had collaborators.
You saw and you played the statement of Senator Hatch questioning Professor Ford. And so, I don`t think that the men who are in the majority on that committee are in any position to cross-examine a witness, treat her like they treated Anita Hill back in 1991. I think what the Senate Democrats have done this evening in asking for a professional investigation by people who are trained in trauma, trained in dealing with sex crimes, to investigate this before there`s live testimony, before these members are unleashed to try to defend Kavanaugh or attack her. There needs to be a full and real and serious investigation by professionals. And those senators regardless if they`ve been elected are not professionals who are trained to do that.
O`DONNELL: The big break in the Republican wall actually came when Jeff Flake yesterday said he was in favor of delaying the vote. And Jeff Flake`s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
So, if the issue of having the vote came to a vote in the committee the Republicans could not have won it. And, Ron, that seems to have been a decisive turn for Republicans realizing what they were going to have to do. Brett Kavanaugh has issued a written statement saying this is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes to her or to anyone.
And so, Ron, that simplifies the tribal issue as they`d say in a courtroom. If you don`t believe Brett Kavanaugh, then you also are left with at least a suspicion of perjury by Brett Kavanaugh.
KLAIN: That`s right, Lawrence. I mean, it doubles down and raises the stakes on this proceeding coming next Monday. You could imagine a scenario where Judge Kavanaugh said, look, maybe I was drunk, maybe I was a youth, I don`t recall, or, you know, maybe there`s a misunderstanding -- a lot of things he could have said. But he said categorically it didn`t happen.
So, now, it`s not just a question of what happened at some party many decades ago, it`s a question of whether or not he`s going to be truthful when he testifies under oath about it. That`s a critical issue for any judicial nominee. And I`d say the other thing that, you know, you`ve got to remember that has not changed in the 27 years is that every single member of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Republican side is a man. 11 men, 11 male Republicans will be asking the questions, if they do ask the questions on the Republican side.
Democratic side, we`ve seen some progress. Three of 10 Democrats are women. But if the Republicans decide to kind of pursue the Hill strategy again, and try to discredit Dr. Ford, it will be 11 men on the Republican side who do that.
O`DONNELL: Lisa Graves, talk to me about the three women on the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Democratic side and how we will therefore be seeing a different hearing on that side than we saw 27 years ago.
GRAVES: Well, that`s right. In 1991, there were only men on that committee and now, you have women who`ve been elected since that, in fact, including Senator Feinstein elected in the wake of that hearing. I think that does change the conversation, to have women in the room, to have women who have that role, that responsibility.
In this instance, I think one of the points you made at the beginning, Lawrence, is so important, which is what is the standard of proof here? No matter who`s doing the questioning, no matter whether Republican or Democratic or independent, the fact is that no one is entitled to a job on the United States Supreme Court, on our highest court. This isn`t some sort of he said/she said where the default goes to lifetime job decades ahead ruling over all of us.
This is situation where you have serious and credible allegations of rape. And I think that for, in this instance, you don`t have a candidate who has an unblemished record. You have a candidate, a judicial candidate who`s been caught lying under oath to the Senate, misleading the Senate about numerous material matters, including the digital Watergate that was the theft of the Senate`s own files.
And, by the way, that was by a staffer of Senator Hatch, and I also should point out that Rob Porter was one of the staffers of Senator Hatch. So, Senator Hatch`s assessment of his staff is not entirely accurate I think.
O`DONNELL: You know, when I left this chair on Friday night, I said to the team, we need Lisa Graves and Ron Klain for Monday night. This is going to be big on Monday night. I don`t know where it`s going to be, but that`s where we have to start the show.
Can`t thank you enough, Lisa Graves and Ron Klain, with your unique experience in the Senate Judiciary Committee for starting us off tonight. Really appreciate it.
GRAVES: Thank you.
KLAIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back we`re going to have more on the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh with Ana Marie Cox and Dahlia Lithwick.
And later, Congressman Adam Schiff will join us on President Trump`s stunning order tonight for the FBI and Justice Department to release documents on the Russia investigation while the Russia investigation is still going on.
O`DONNELL: Christine Blasey Ford is a 51-year-old professor and research psychologist in Northern California, in Palo Alto University. She received multiple degrees and has been wildly published in her field. But in 1982, Christine Blasey was just a 15-year-old high school sophomore in Maryland when she attended a party that has now changed her life. According to Professor Ford, Brett Kavanaugh, a 17-year-old high school senior at nearby Georgetown Prep, also attended that party.
While his friend watch, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth. I thought he might inadvertently kill me, said Ford.
She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house. Professor Ford first spoke about the incident in a couple of the therapist`s session with her husband in 2012. The therapist`s notes were given to "The Washington Post" in reference to the incident, saying she was attacked by students from an elitist boys school who went onto become highly respected and high ranking members of society in Washington. On the advice of her attorney, Professor Ford took a lie detector tests administered by a former FBI agent, according to "The Washington Post".
The results concluded that Ford was being truthful when she said a statement summarizing her allegations was accurate. Professor Ford`s lawyer explained why she was reluctant to come forward with her allegation against Judge Kavanaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBRA KATZ, LAWYER FOR CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: No one in their right mind regardless of their motive would want to inject themselves into this process and face the kind of annihilation that she will be subjected to by those who want this nominee to go through. This is not a politically motivated action. In fact, she was quite reluctant to come forward, and she was in fact outed after she made it decision not to come forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us our discussion, Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent for slate.com, and Ana Marie Cox, host of the podcast, "With Friends Like These".
And, Dahlia, it is hard -- I mean, you`re a Supreme Court watcher. And it`s hard to believe we`re here again 27 years later, and we`re going step for step in this repetition for history.
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR AND LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE.COM: I think I want to push back.
LITHWICK: Because I think the theme has become we`re just living it over again what we lived 27 years ago. Twenty-seven years ago was all men on that judiciary panel. Seventy-seven years ago, women were mad, they watched that, they watched that footage that Rachel showed of Professor Hill being interrogated about grotesque pornographic detail over and over and called nutty and slutty, and called a liar and being compared to the exorcist. And women voted, right? And we have the micro year of the women and suddenly they were six women in the Senate in 1992.
Now, women aren`t just mad. Now, women have power. And they have Kamala Harris on that Judiciary Committee. They have Amy Klobuchar on that committee. No man is going to do I don`t believe to Dr. Ford what was done to Anita Hill. And no woman watching it is going to say we don`t have power.
I think it`s just different.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And Kamala Harris may be the best prosecutor who`s ever been on that committee. Let`s listen to more of what Debra Katz, Professor Ford`s lawyer, had to say about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: My question to you is, does she consider this an attempted rape?
KATZ: She does. She clearly considers this an attempted rape. She believes if it were not for the severe intoxication of Brett Kavanaugh, she would have been raped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ana Marie Cox, your reaction to the attorney`s description of this.
ANA MARIE COX, "WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE" PODCAST HOST: Well, it`s definitely attempted rape. I don`t see it any other way.
I want to point out something that is again another parallel but also another point of departure between this and the Clarence Thomas hearings, and that is in the aftermath of the Anita Hill hearings, reports of sexual harassment in the workplace went up 71 percent. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the national sexual hot line has seen spikes of as much as 25 percent after each news were publicized allegation. And what`s going to happen on Monday is that millions of women and men who have been through something like this in their lives are going to have to kind of live through it again. They will be re-traumatized.
And I just want to point out that there`s help for those people, the national sexual assault hotline is 800-656-HOPE. And I think that those people need to know that they don`t have to go through what this woman is going through in order to start to heal.
I also want to point out that there is a big difference between what happened with Anita Hill and what happened in this case because it was children, two children. It was a long time ago and it should be judged differently. But I think a parallel here is that we need to judge Brett Kavanaugh not just on what he may or may not have done but how he treats a woman`s pain.
And that is something I`m going to be paying attention to on Monday. How does he respond to what is happening, whether or not he agrees that this happened with her? Does he take her pain seriously? Do the people interrogating her take her pain seriously? Now, I`ll give you a spoiler alert, I don`t think Brett Kavanaugh takes women`s pain very seriously and I know that because of the decisions he`s made as a judge. But I think that to have that unfold on national television live will be quite instructive.
O`DONNELL: And Dahlia, we have this sort of contest of letters. Very quickly, suddenly there was a letter of 65 women, then girls, who Brett Kavanaugh knew in high school who were coming out in support of him. That letter has been tracked down and now there`s only maybe half dozen of them who are formally publicly in support of him.
I have to say I went to an all Catholic boys school like Brett Kavanaugh. I didn`t know 65 girls when I was in an all-boys Catholic high school. But then, you know, Professor Ford, graduates of her school have put out a letter with more than 200 signatures including Julia Louis-Dreyfus and others, and so this is all the wind up for this giant moment that`s going to occur on Monday when Professor Ford raises her right hand and we finally hear her story.
LITHWICK: You made the point, Lawrence, and it`s so important. We have no process. We have no template. We have no burden of proof. We don`t know what we`re doing. Senator Blumenthal is saying we don`t have findings of facts. We don`t have a record. We have one person`s allegations. We have another person`s denial. There is no machine to input this into.
And so I think in lieu of that, you get these reflexive people line up on their sides. They believe who they want to believe. And I think it`s incumbent on the Senate to say this is more than just picking teams for Red Rover. This is a lifetime appointment, an Article III appointment to the highest court in the land. And it has to be taken seriously as a fact- finding enterprise and as a reason based enterprise.
And for me what`s terrifying about people lining up and saying X is a liar, X was just a kid, the process is broken because we found out at the 11th hour. That`s all deflecting from the real issue. The real issue is, did this happen? And if it happened, how do we find out and press the factual allegations? And if we find out to our satisfaction, what do we do next? Those should be the questions, not just lining up and pledging fealty based on who you know and who you went to school with.
O`DONNELL: Ana, what will you be listening for on Monday as you try to decide who`s telling the truth here?
ANA MARIE COX, POLITICAL COLUMNIST: Like I said, I think what I`m going to be listening for is whether or not Kavanaugh seems to have grown as a person since whatever happened happened. You know, I come to this not just as a survivor of sexual assault but as a person from recovery of drugs and alcohol.
And quite frankly, I have done stuff in blackout. I have done things that I would never do sober in a blackout. So I`m prepared to believe that he may have done something terrible that he doesn`t remember doing. But, you know, it`s my practice and it`s the way that I`ve sort of have been taught to conduct myself in recovery that if someone says I did something terrible and I don`t remember whether I did it or not, I`m not in a position to deny it.
And my place is to listen to that person and to hear their pain, to hear their experience and ask what it is I can do to make it better, you know, to look to something restorative, whether or not I can deny or agree to the allegation. That`s not the process we have in the Senate but, you know, it would be an interesting instructive moment.
One thing I want to point out is that it`s likely that more people, women and men have gone through something like what Dr. Ford went through than what something like Anita Hill went through which is to say something that happened once that was terrible and that they`ve never spoken about again, rather than something systematic that had witnesses, that had a whole like trail to it which is what happened with Anita Hill. There are millions of people who had a terrible thing happen to them that they will go to their grave not telling anyone.
And what I hope happens in these hearings is that these people are not confirmed in their belief that that`s what they have to do, that they learn that there is a way that they can come forward and talk about these things that happened with them. Because until we have full testimony about people`s experiences, we`re not going to be able to get better as a society.
O`DONNELL: Ana Marie Cox and Dahlia Lithwick, thank you very much for joining us on this important night. And this story is going to be with us for at least a couple of weeks, please come back and share more of your thoughts with us.
Coming up, Congressman Adam Schiff will join us on President Trump`s stunning order tonight for the FBI and Justice Department to release documents on the Russia investigation while the Russia investigation is, of course, still going on. Congressman Schiff joins us next.
O`DONNELL: We will have more on the Kavanaugh nomination in a moment. But first, tonight President Trump is ordering the release of documents in the Russia investigation while the Russia investigation is still going on.
Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, who will join us in a moment, released a statement saying, "President Trump in a clear abuse of power has decided to intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative. With respect to some of these materials, I have been previously informed by the FBI and Justice Department that they would consider their release a red line that must not be crossed as they may compromise sources and methods. This is evidently of no consequence to a president who cares about nothing, about the country and everything about his narrow self-interest."
President Trump has ordered the release of all text messages about the Russia investigation from James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Struck, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr. He is also ordering the release of 21 additional pages of the secret FISA warrant application to monitor Trump`s former campaign adviser Carter Page.
And joining us now is Congressman Adam Schiff. Congressman, I don`t even know how to form a question almost about this because it`s so unprecedented and it`s so strange that in the middle of an investigation, the FBI is ordered to make public its own information inside an investigation. Is this the president trying to help all of the potential witnesses in the investigation and give them ways of getting through any possible interviews with Robert Mueller?
ADAM SCHIFF, (D) RANKING MEMBER INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I think it`s first and foremost a way of Donald Trump helping his own defense, providing these materials to his own legal defense team. He`s no doubt conferred with his lawyers what information from the investigation would be useful to you. He`s conferred with his TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani what would be useful to you to be able to talk about on TV. And he`s conferred with his allies in Congress.
This takes place, say in this context, Lawrence, yesterday quite unexpectedly, totally out of the blue, the chairman of the intel committee Devin Nunes announces that he is going to release the transcripts of the witnesses we have interviewed. Now, we have been urging that that be done for months and they have refused. We have pressed them and they have refused despite earlier promising to do that.
Why the sudden about-face to be immediately followed by the White House ordering its own release? This is coordinated between the president and his allies, and the precedent and the policy and the norm that we`ve had since Watergate that a president does not interfere in specific cases of justice, let alone in one in which the president himself may be implicated is shattered. And in the process, important sources and important precedent of protecting those sources may be violated by this president who cares little about the national security.
O`DONNELL: Well, this is a president who violated source protections when he was inviting the Russian ambassador and foreign minister into the oval office in his first month in office. This is a consistent pattern with him. But what more can you tell us about what the FBI and Justice Department told you previously about why none of this should be released?
SCHIFF: Well, a few things. With respect to some of the materials that the president has tonight ordered to be declassified, that the FBI and Department of Justice consider this to be Gang of Eight material. Meaning not only material that shouldn`t be shared publically but material that shouldn`t even be shared outside of the top officials in Congress, the chair and ranking members of the intelligence committees, as well as the speakers and leaders of both House and Senate.
So it`s among in their view material that must be closely held. And beyond that, they have said that release of it, some of it would be a red line, that they would not be willing to cross under any circumstance. So they ought to live up to that. They ought to fearlessly defend their sources. Otherwise, it will not only compromise them but other people will be unwilling to cooperate with our intelligence agencies because they will feel they won`t be protected.
So the FBI, and this will be difficult for the FBI director and the head of national intelligence Dan Coats. Both Christopher Wray and Dan Coats are going to have to stand up to this president and say no. They`re not going to release material that they have committed to keep confidential to protect people. And it`s going to be difficult because the president`s allies in Congress are going to be threatening them with impeachment like they did with Rod Rosenstein. But you have to say no to this president because otherwise, he will continue to ask for more and more and more. And the precedent and the danger it will set will be enormously destructive.
O`DONNELL: But Congressman, does the president have the legal authority to order this release? And if he does, wouldn`t he then just fire anyone who refused?
SCHIFF: He has the power to order things declassified, yes. He has the power to ignore the admonitions of his own intelligence agencies. He has the power to declassify information which would jeopardize U.S. interests. And the response to that would be I`m not going to carry out this order, I will resign if you force me to do this.
Now, I would imagine the Department of Justice and the FBI will try to find some compromise where they propose redactions which, of course, will just lead to another round of complaining by the president and his allies. So where this leads us, I don`t know. Maybe this is merely a distraction from the Kavanaugh problems. But, of course, the people around the world whose identities are, you know, whether they live or die, they look at this president and they wonder whether they should continue to cooperate with the United States.
O`DONNELL: And Congressman, I know you don`t have a vote on the Senate on Supreme Court confirmation, but I want to get your reaction to what we`ve learned about Brett Kavanaugh and what we have now learned about the accuser, Professor Ford, after she went public yesterday in "The Washington Post"?
SCHIFF: Well, these are enormously disturbing allegations and I feel for the woman who has been forced into the spotlight through this and I can only imagine what testifying is going to be like. I don`t think it`s efficient merely to hear her testimony or the judge`s denials. I think the Senate responsibly needs to look into these allegations.
We`re talking about a lifetime appointment to a court which will have a decisive impact for decades. And we need to make sure that people are of upright moral character that we put on that court. So this needs to be thoroughly vetted and those Senators darn well better be respectful of this witness who did not choose to put herself out this way. So you know, frankly, before all this, I would have voted against him for a whole variety of reasons, including his views on whether president is above the law but this needs to be thoroughly vetted by the Senate.
O`DONNELL: And as a former federal prosecutor yourself and an experienced congressional investigator, would you if you remember the Senate judiciary committee demand the testimony of the other people who were at that party, the other boy who the accuser says was in the room for example at the time?
SCHIFF: I would. There are witnesses who will either corroborate or not corroborate what the witnesses are saying. It`s hard to really even make the claim that you`re looking into this in a serious way if you`re going to leave it at he said and she said. So, yes, bring the other witnesses under oath and hear what they have to say. Put them under the penalty of perjury and require them to tell the truth.
As our president has demonstrated time and time again, he`s more than willing to make false statements publicly. He thinks that`s perfectly fine. He himself has distinguished between lying to the public and lying to Bob Mueller, which obviously terrifies him into refusing to speak to the special counsel. But let`s have these other witnesses come and be placed under oath and hear what they have to say.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you very much for joining us. I appreciate it.
And when we come back, more on the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing and what we can expect next week.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have no idea who these women are. I have no idea. I have no idea.
Let me just tell you, Roy Moore denies it. He totally denies it. He says it didn`t happen and, you know, you have to listen to him also.
When you looked at that horrible woman last night, you said, "I don`t think so. I don`t think so."
As you probably know, he says he`s innocent and I think you have to remember that he said very strongly yesterday that he`s innocent.
Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: What happened to Donald Trump`s deny, deny, deny strategy today?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He is somebody very special. At the same time, we want to go through a process, we want to make sure everything is perfect, everything is just right. I have great confidence in the U.S. Senate and in their procedures and what they`re doing. And I think that`s probably what they`re going to do, they`ll go through a process and hear everybody out. I think it`s important. If it takes a little delay, it will take a little delay.
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Mara Gay, a member of "The New York Times" editorial board. Who is that guy? What happened to the deny, deny, attack the accuser thing?
MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, you know, I think Susan Collins may have happened to this. So there is something to say about the role of women who actually have positions of power here. But listen, I think that even the president knows that the Republicans are in a tough spot right now. Their prize nominee is under attack. They have, by the way, now the weekend to get through.
And I think they`re thinking about the midterms. The president has actually been quite restrained this week on Twitter. We haven`t heard him talking about Manafort either in the way that you would expect. So I think that we`re seeing uncharacteristic restraint. And it does give you a sense of just how vulnerable Republicans are because think about what we`ve seen so far and then think about what`s going to happen when Professor Ford gets on the stand to have a bunch of men, frankly like Orrin Hatch, which the things that come out of his mouth today sound to me like maybe before I was born, I was born in 1986, I`m just thinking to myself, did he not get the memo?
So this is not good for Republicans and I think the president knows that.
O`DONNELL: Orrin Hatch is officially the Senate`s slowest learner. Let`s listen to what Susan Collins said today about Judge Kavanaugh.
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SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: If Judge Kavanaugh has lied about what happened, that would be disqualifying. That`s why it`s so important that we have testimony under oath with a lot of questions asked to both of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So she`s just set out the terms of her vote. If she doesn`t believe Judge Kavanaugh, then he`s got two problems in front of her. One, his conduct as a 17-year-old, but most importantly, his conduct as a nominee lying in the confirmation process.
GAY: Yes. I mean I think it`s really clear, this is not a court of law, right? So this doesn`t need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Multiple people have said on the airwaves today, and I completely agree, that this is about suspicion and this is about character, and no one is entitled to a Supreme Court seat, you know if you commit sexual misconduct or are accused of it when you were younger. It doesn`t mean you can`t have a job. It doesn`t mean you can`t participate in society or that you can`t redeem yourself, right. But it doesn`t entitle you the Supreme Court seat.
O`DONNELL: Right. Yes. It may be that many viewers of this hearing on Monday cannot decide who is telling the truth. That`s OK, you don`t have to decide who is telling the truth. But if that means you don`t know that your Supreme Court nominee is telling the truth, how can you then support that nominee?
GAY: Yes. But would be my answer because I actually think that because of the Me Too Movement and frankly in the 27 years since Anita Hill has testified, women are way more open about sexual assault. So Americans knows someone. Everyone knows who`s in that situation.
O`DONNELL: Mara Gay, thank you for joining our discussion tonight.
Tonight`s last word is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s last word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Voters were asked whether they support a generic Republican or a generic Democrat. Though really all the Republican candidates seemed pretty generic. On the weekend, Mike Pence makes extra money as a Sears mannequin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Stephen Colbert gets tonight`s last word and that word is generic. "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts right now.
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