Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI probe. TRANSCRIPT: 09/18/2018. The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Bob Schiff, Lisa Graves, Mieke Eoyang, Margaret Carlson

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: September 18, 2018 Guest: Bob Schiff, Lisa Graves, Mieke Eoyang, Margaret Carlson

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.

You know, you do a fact-based show. You are a presenter of fact, a finder of fact. And I rarely get to hear your opinion in your show. And so I listened. I was hanging on every word.

And I heard you say to Hillary Clinton, early in your hour, that you believe that the Kavanaugh nomination is, quote, hurtling toward the sun. You want to expand on that?

(LAUGHTER)

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You are my little eagle eyed friend, Lawrence O`Donnell.

Yes, I did say that. That is my take on it. And I am a terrible predictor and nobody should bank on anything that I predict ever, in politics or in anything.

But given the way Christine Blasey Ford is approaching this, given the corroboration that has already appeared in the press in terms of the notes from therapy from years ago, her husband on the record and his recollections, now in the "San Jose Mercury News", multiple corroboration from other people again, that all preceded Kavanaugh ever being nominated to the Supreme Court, given the fact her lawyers tonight are demanding an independent investigation by the FBI so that everybody can be interviewed, so that there can be an independent assessment of what`s going on, you don`t do that and your allegation doesn`t look like that if it is something that you have invented and might be found out for if people look too hard at what you`re alleging.

So given, I think, the strength of the assertions that she`s making -- again, they`re unproven assertions at this point, she is conducting herself in such a way that indicates to me that there is meat on these bones and, therefore, I think Kavanaugh is going to have a hard time.

O`DONNELL: And I don`t want to bet tonight, but if I have to bet tonight, I think you`re absolutely right. And the other two big things that happened today is the president established a standard of proof in this case saying, no one should have any doubt. So, Brett Kavanaugh is now under a responsibility given to him by the president today to remove all doubt, all doubt, no one can have the slightest doubt about Brett Kavanaugh in order to vote for him, and then Dr. Ford is handling this strongly tonight, and I don`t think -- I`m not sure she`s aware of this, but from a Senate strategic standpoint, absolutely masterfully.

This demand she is making that the FBI do an investigation first is a masterful strategic stroke. It looks to me like Dr. Ford is actually more in control of what happens next than Chairman Chuck Grassley, and I don`t know if Chuck Grassley knows that yet.

MADDOW: And Chuck Grassley is on the record in writing over the last two days saying he wants to move forward on this, his word, in a precedented matter. There is one precedent, from when he was on the Judiciary Committee before in 1991, and, yes, people thought that the FBI investigation of Anita Hill`s allegations was cursory.

But the FBI investigated her allegations and did do witness interviews in that proceed the hearing. All that Professor Ford is asking for is for that precedent to be followed. And the idea that they will reject her on that and say, nope, we`re going to go ahead without anybody looking into this. We`re going to ram this through because we can -- I mean, they can try, but it`s belied by everything they`ve ever done before on issues like this. And I just -- I see him hurtling toward the sun.

O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s as if I`m hearing Dr. Ford and her brilliant lawyer say to the Judiciary Committee, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, you might have learned nothing in the last 26 years, but we have.

MADDOW: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And they are in control. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Well, we begin with breaking news tonight about the reopening of Brett Kavanaugh`s confirmation hearing for United States Supreme Court in the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the 27 years since Anita Hill was victimized by the Republicans on the committee when she came forward with sexual harassment charges against Republican Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, the Republicans on that committee have obviously learned absolutely nothing.

But Professor Christine Blasey Ford has learned a great deal about how not to be victimized by those same Republicans on that side committee. And so, tonight, Dr. Ford is making demands on that committee that had been demanding her testimony in what would be a rushed hearing next Monday.

Attorneys for Professor Christine Blasey Ford have told Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, into a written response to his invitation to Dr. Ford to testify about her accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. That, quote, an FBI investigation of the incident should be the first step in addressing her allegations. A full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a nonpartisan manner and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions.

MADDOW: Lisa Banks, one of Dr. Ford`s attorneys, was asked tonight if this means that Dr. Ford will refuse to testify in the hearing that is now scheduled for Monday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISA BANKS, DR. FORD`S ATOTRNEY: She will talk with the committee. She`s not prepared to talk with them at a hearing on Monday. This just came out 48 hours ago.

INTERVIEWER: So point blank, if there is not an investigation between now and then, she would not appear on Monday in a public hearing?

BANKS: No investigation -- any legitimate investigation is going to happen between now and Monday. This is going to take some time. And what needs to happen is there shouldn`t be a rush to a hearing here. There is no reason to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Dr. Ford`s lawyers letter to Chairman Grassley says in the 36 hours since her name became public, Dr. Ford has received a stunning amount of support from her community and from fellow citizens across our country.

At the same time, however, her worst fears have materialized. She has been the target of vicious harassment and even death threats as a result of these kind of threats, her family was forced to relocate out of their home. Her e-mail has been hacked. And she has been impersonated online.

While Dr. Ford`s life was being turned upside down, you and your staff scheduled a public hearing for her to testify at the same table as Judge Kavanaugh in front of two dozen U.S. senators on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident. The hearing was scheduled for six short days from today and would include interrogation by senators who appear to have made up their minds that she is mistaken and mixed up.

While no sexual assault survivor should be subjected to such an ordeal, Dr. Ford wants to cooperate with the committee and with law enforcement officials as the Judiciary Committee has recognized and done before. An FBI investigation of the incident should be the first step in addressing her allegations.

And leading off our discussion now, Bob Schiff, former chief counsel to Senator Russ Feingold, who served on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

And Lisa Graves is back with us. She`s the co-director of Documented and she is the former chief counsel for nominations for the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Democratic side. She was the deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice.

And, Lisa, I want to start with you. There`s been a furious amount of material flying around now in the last hour about what`s going on here and what is -- what there is precedent for, what there isn`t.

Senator Orrin Hatch who has been a member of the committee for longer than any of us can remember and was there humiliating himself during the Anita Hill hearing, has issued a tweet tonight about an FBI investigation that Dr. Ford is demanding, saying, the FBI does not do investigations like this. The responsibility falls to us.

And, Lisa, that is just an outright lie by a member of the committee. This is exactly what the FBI is supposed to investigate about nominees who come before any committee of the Senate.

LISA GRAVES, FORMER STAFFER, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: That`s exactly right. I was astonished by both that tweet and the release from the Justice Department suggesting that the FBI doesn`t want to do it and doesn`t have any jurisdiction over it. In fact, the FBI certainly does as part of the traditional background investigation of a nominee to the judiciary or other significant post.

It is certainly within the purview of the FBI to examine this. Had this come up as part of its ordinary work, had someone relayed this, this allegation to them as they were conducting the investigation a month ago, they certainly would have looked into it. There`s nothing, literally nothing in the law, nothing in the precedent that would prevent them from examining this thoroughly and methodically, carefully, if they`re examining it.

And so, this is just another arbitrary roadblock being put up by the Republicans on the committee and by their cohorts in the White House and over at the Justice Department apparently. This is certainly a matter that`s worthy of an independent investigation, the type of investigation that those members on that Senate Judiciary Committee are not trained and capable of conducting.

O`DONNELL: You know, I have to say I`ve been so impressed by how Dr. Ford and tonight her lawyers have been handling this from a Senate strategic standpoint that I actually had run a check to see. Are these lawyers former Senate staffers? Because as we all are here, I`m looking at a level of sophistication in their strategy that is just flawless and there is no Republican on that committee except for possibly Jeff Flake who understands that they absolutely cannot go forward with this nomination without hearing from Dr. Ford, and now Dr. Ford is dictating to them what her terms are going to be.

Let`s listen to what Lindsey Graham said earlier tonight when he was playing tough against Dr. Ford before Dr. Ford`s letter arrived at the committee with her demand for an FBI investigation.

Let`s listen to what Lindsey Graham said earlier this evening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If she does not want to come Monday, publicly or privately, we`re going to move on and vote Wednesday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Bob Schiff, I for one think that Lindsey Graham has met his match, that Lindsey Graham is not going to beat Dr. Ford at this game.

BOB SCHIFF, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL TO SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD: I think that`s right. You know, this is a very strategic thing they`ve done, but it`s also the right thing that they`re asking to do.

O`DONNELL: Right, exactly. That is a very important point, bob. I don`t mean to reduce this to a strategic issue. But as Senate insiders, I`m hugely impressed at that level.

But your point is the important one. It is the right thing to do.

SCHIFF: And right from the start when these allegations finally became public, my thought back to the Anita Hill hearing was that exactly the wrong way to determine whether the allegations that Dr. Ford has made are true and whether Brett Kavanaugh is telling the truth when he categorically denies them is to have a hearing with 19 senators going back and forth in 10-minute rounds questioning these two witnesses. An investigation which allows for all people with relevant information to be questioned and for the facts to be assembled in a way that senators can then understand what is known and what is not known and perhaps have a public hearing, if necessary.

But a circus is not what we need for allegations of this seriousness and this importance to the future of the country.

O`DONNELL: And Lindsey Graham`s bullying we just saw about we`re doing this on Monday, take it or leave it, has been undermined not only by Dr. Ford`s strength, which I believe will definitely prevail here, but President Trump today said they have the time. They have plenty of time.

And so, let`s listen to what President Trump said today which is very different from what we just heard Lindsey Graham say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Mr. President, how long of a delay is acceptable, sir, on the hearing for Judge Kavanaugh? There`s some discussion that the accuser may not be coming in on Monday. How long of a delay --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean, I think it`s a great question frankly. We are looking to get this done as quickly as possible, so we have time available. We will delay the process until it`s finished out.

I guess we`ve invited everybody -- I know I can tell you this, that Judge Kavanaugh is anxious to do it. I don`t know about the other party, but Judge Kavanaugh is very anxious to do it and a delay is certainly acceptable. We want to get to the bottom of everything. We want everybody to be able to speak up and to speak out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Lisa, every Democrat on that committee is going to be quoting President Trump saying, a delay is certainly acceptable. We have time available. We will delay the process until it`s finished out.

GRAVES: That`s right. And I think that that statement by Senator Graham and also the way that Senator Grassley set this hearing so quickly is really contemptuous of not only Dr. Ford, but of the seriousness of this matter. It`s certainly -- it`s certainly relevant to whether someone should be entrusted with a lifetime position on the court to examine this.

And I think that Dr. Ford has come forward with a very serious and credible statement of what happened or with corroboration about how she described the story and who victimized her, Brett Kavanaugh. And so, I think that this idea they have to rush is completely arbitrary. It`s completely made up.

And in this instance, Dr. Ford has everything to lose by telling the truth. She has been subject to death threats. Brett Kavanaugh has everything to gain by lying.

And, in fact, we`ve already shown in the evidence that came out of the hearing just two weeks ago showed that he`s more than willing to lie and mislead the Senate in order to try to advance his career. So, I think rushing forward when he`s been ensconced at the White House, preparing for next week while she`s been fleeing her home is manifestly unfair.

This needs to be fully investigated and it shouldn`t be given a short shrift and the way Senator Grassley has tried to approach this matter from the very beginning.

O`DONNELL: And, Bob, we have Senator Feinstein issuing a statement, I agree 100 percent that the rushed process to hold a hearing on money has been unfair and is reminiscent of the treatment of Anita Hill. Senator Feinstein advocating the FBI investigation.

And, Bob, there is a much to fear actually for Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge who is another witness who would be in an FBI investigation. That is, of course, that lying to the FBI is a federal crime in and of itself.

SCHIFF: Yes, absolutely. And the FBI can ask a series of questions, can really -- and bring to bear information that they have accumulated from other witnesses in asking those questions. And get the full story from these people in a way that senators asking questions before a national television audience and some of them grandstanding or trying to put forward a point of view can`t do.

You know, Lisa is absolutely right about the truthfulness being the important thing here. This was -- the senator that I worked for, Senator Russ Feingold published a piece that said when he was evaluating nominees, truthfulness was a nonnegotiable quality. Brett Kavanaugh`s truthfulness has been called into question by the hearing so far and now we have an issue where he has categorically denied allegations and again, it`s a question of whether he is telling the truth.

That`s something that I think the Senate has a duty to determine. All senators who are going to vote on this nomination need to know the facts of this particular situation and need to be able to reach a conclusion on it because they are going to have to live with their votes. And rushing this to judgment, having the hearing on Monday with an empty chair for Dr. Ford and then going to a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee and a vote on the Senate floor, would be just a terrible thing for the institution of the Senate and for the Supreme Court ultimately if he`s confirmed and further information comes out.

O`DONNELL: I have just received a written statement from Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the committee, and my speed reading of it, I do not see Chuck Grassley saying that this hearing will take place on Monday. I`m going to rely on the control room to read this closer than I have been able to. But I want to read to you, Lisa, this passage that Chuck Grassley has in here about the FBI`s role in Senate confirmation.

Chuck Grassley in his written statement says, the FBI has indicated to the committee and in public statements that it considers the matter closed. The FBI does not make credibility determinations. The FBI provides information on a confidential basis in order for decision makers to determine an individual`s suitability.

The Senate has the information it needs to follow-up with witnesses and gather and assess the relevant evidence.

Lisa, your reaction to that?

GRAVES: Well, I think it`s possible Senator Grassley hasn`t read that many FBI investigations themselves. I have. I`ve read dozens of them.

And they begin with FS-86 including question 20, which allows the FBI to look into someone`s criminal history, criminal background of anything that`s happened since they were 16 or over. It also includes a detailed examination if someone does bring forward an allegation that someone isn`t worthy of a public of public trust to examine those facts, to find out what the matter is.

And you know that from just recent news history when Rob Porter, another Hatch staffer, former Hatch staffer, was facing a denial of his background investigation, security clearance because of allegations that he had hit his spouse. That`s certainly not a matter that involves a crime that the FBI would ordinarily investigate, but it`s the type of matter the FBI does investigate as part of determining what the record reflects about someone`s suitability for public trust in public office.

And so, this is certainly the type of matter the FBI could gather information about, could gather it independently and neutrally and provide that information, the full set of information about this matter to the Senate and that`s what should happen.

O`DONNELL: And, Lisa, I just want to back you up on this. As a staff director of two committees, environment of public works and finance, I saw these FBI reports. I saw what they do. I saw what kind of evaluations they make and what kind of help they try to give specifically to the chairman.

They do not leave things to guesswork. They do not just present a menu of collected data and leave it to us and the chairman to decide these things.

We`re going to have to squeeze in a break. Bob Schiff and Lisa Graves, thank you very much for starting us off on this really important coverage tonight. We have much more on this coming up.

President Trump sounded terrified today about this because he was sticking very, very closely to his talking points about wanting to hear both sides in the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing instead of his usual method of attacking any woman who makes accusations of sexual assault.

And Donald Trump is terrified because Brett Kavanaugh might not make it to the Supreme Court and, therefore, might not be there to protect Donald Trump from a Robert Mueller subpoena.

And next, the other witness, the other teenage boy who Dr. Ford says was in the room with Brett Kavanaugh is saying tonight that he will refuse to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: We are getting more breaking news reports tonight from senators` reactions to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford`s demand of a full FBI investigation of her accusation of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh before she testifies to the Judiciary Committee. We have a truly disappointing, to put it mildly, almost shocking response from Senator Bob Corker. We will get to that in a minute.

And remember that a full investigation means questioning all of the witnesses. It always does in every investigation. This time it would include Brett Kavanaugh`s friend Mark Judge, who according to Dr. Ford`s account, was the other stumbling drunk, that was her word, stumbling drunk teenage boy in the room at the time of the sexual assault that she describes.

Today, Mark Judge`s attorney sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley saying he has nothing to tell the committee and will not cooperate. His letter said the only reason I am involved is because Dr. Christine Blasey Ford remembers me as the other person in the room of the alleged assault.

In fact, I have no memory of the alleged incident. Brett Kavanaugh and I were friends in high school, but I do not recall the party described in Dr. Ford`s letter. More to the point, I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes. I have no more information to offer the committee and I do not wish to speak publicly regarding the incidents described in Dr. Ford`s letter.

Now, in Mark Judge`s own writing, he has described himself as a black out alcoholic in high school. Mark Judge has described those years in a book titled, wasted, tales of a gen x drunk. Mark Judge used pseudonyms in that book to describe some of his friends. One of them is called Bart O`Kavanaugh who is described as having puked in someone`s car before passing out on his way back from a party.

And Mark Judge`s high school year book, he includes this quote on his page. Certain women should be struck regularly like gongs.

Now, Mark Judge put that quote in a high school year book in 1982, 1982. Not 1962 before the women`s liberation movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, obliterated statements like that in most high school year books in America, especially in Catholic schools. And here, apparently, is one of the reasons why the Catholic boys at Brett Kavanaugh`s Catholic high school, which was infused with alcohol according to Mark Judge, were allowed to encourage violent assault on women in print, in their Catholic high school year book under the supervision of the faculty of that school.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: We had a good saying that we`ve held firm to this day as the dean was reminding me before, before the talk, which is what happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep. That`s been a good thing for all of us, I think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Not any more, Brett Kavanaugh, not any more.

Joining us now is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan and professor of law at the University of Michigan. She`s also an NBC News and MSNBC legal contributor. Mieke Eoyang is also joining our conversation. She`s the vice president of the national security program at the Third Way. And Lisa Graves who is formerly from the Senate Judiciary Committee is still with us.

And, Mieke, I want to get your congressional committee experience on what you`re seeing unfold here tonight.

MIEKE EOYANG, FORMER STAFF MEMBER, HOUSE ARMED SERVICE COMMITTEE: I actually find it really interesting that the Republicans are rushing ahead with this hearing and with this vote. It`s almost as if they are afraid the kind of culture that Brett Kavanaugh comes out of may result in another woman coming forward with another experience of a similar drunken evening of inappropriate sexual approaches to her. And I think that they are trying to get him confirmed before you can discover any more such incidents.

O`DONNELL: The statement by Chuck Grassley tonight, chairman of the committee, is a weak statement in terms of what happens next. He simply includes the line, so there is no reason for any further delay. He does not say, there will be no further delay. He does not say the hearing will take place on Monday. He makes no such promise in that statement tonight.

But Senator Bob Corker who is not on that committee and who is retiring from the Senate jumped out at 10:13 p.m. tonight with this tweet. After learning of the allegation, Chairman Chuck Grassley took immediate action to ensure both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh have the opportunity to be heard in public or private. Republicans extended a hand in good faith. If we don`t hear from both sides on Monday, let`s vote.

Now, Barbara McQuade, that is something stronger than what Chuck Grassley is saying, and Bob Corker might not have known how soft Chuck Grassley was going to come out here tonight because Chuck Grassley clearly does not know what to do next as of this minute tonight.

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, you know, from a matter of process, the whole nation is watching, a generation of children are watching. And it`s important that we get this right as a matter of process.

This is a lifetime appointment. And I understand why they want to get it done before the mid terms. We`ve got a couple of months before that.

So, delaying this a week or two while we do a thorough investigation is really in everybody`s interest, best interest, including Brett Kavanaugh. If he is rushed through at this point without a thorough investigation of this allegation, then his position on the Supreme Court will forever be tainted.

And so I think for his interest, for the legitimacy of the court and to show America that we take allegations of sexual assault seriously, there should be a full investigation. The suggestion that the FBI investigate isn`t that they would evaluate or render opinions, but they would go out and interview all the pertinent people, look at the therapist`s notes, and all of these things, gather that information, provide it to the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who could then have informed questions when they go forward and ask these witnesses questions under oath.

So I think we owe it to America and the court as an institution to have a full hearing and full airing of all of these issues and a full investigation without rushing it. We can do it in a matter of just a few weeks.

O`DONNELL: And Lisa Graves, Jeff Flake seems to be the key here tonight. He is the one Republican member of the committee who said on Sunday that we really need to hear from Dr. Ford after she went public. We really need to hear from Dr. Ford before we vote. If he sticks to that simple principle that he announced, now that Dr. Ford has said here`s the way I would like to testify, then she`s going to testify because Jeff Flake is in a position to stop the Republicans from voting without hearing from her.

LISA GRAVES: That`s right. And I think she`s made a very reasonable request. What`s been unreasonable has been this race, the idea that the chairman just dictates without consulting with her what happens next and how quickly. And again, at a time where Brett Kavanagh has his security detail, he`s hanging out the White House preparing, she`s fleeing from her home in the wake of just being out in essence as the person who she says that Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape.

And so I think it`s just unfair to rush this way. And really there is no reason to rush, zero reason to rush. And I would say even the midterms aren`t reason to rush, certainly not for that party, for the Republican party that was more than willing to wait more than 400 days to, leave that seat open before when Merrick Garland was pending before the Senate. And wasn`t even given a single hearing on his nomination.

O`DONNELL: And, Lisa, just a quick point about witnesses in your committee, the judiciary committee. I`m not sure what the rules are on subpoenas. They are different on each committee in the Senate. With Mark Judge, the other witness in this case, refusing to cooperate with the committee, can the committee subpoena his testimony?

GRAVES: The committee certainly could. And one of the interesting things that happened at the business meeting last week was that Chairman Grassley suggested that, in general, he wouldn`t be in favor of any subpoenas of any kind for the documents that Democrats were seeking. And yet Chairman Grassley himself has been someone who`s been part of issuing a number of subpoenas when he was both in the minority and in the majority throughout his Senate career. So he knows exactly how to get a subpoena issued by the Senate judiciary committee.

O`DONNELL: Mieke Eoyang, it feels like one of the threads of the panic that is running through the White House and their endless meeting with Brett Kavanagh over the last two days and the panic that exists in the tweets from Republican Senators like Bob Corker and Lindsey Graham saying, "Let`s get this thing over with," is they fear what could happen to Brett Kavanagh and to his friend Mark Judge if they have to be interviewed by FBI agents because lying to FBI agents is in and of itself a crime.

MIEKE EOYANG, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, REP. ANNA ESHOO: I think that`s right. There is certainly legal jeopardy there because Brett Kavanagh has already made a number of statements to the Senate about this. Now, he hasn`t spoken about this under oath but if he were to testify under oath, now lying to the Senate, lying to Congress is also a crime. So he has to be very careful about exactly what he says in testimony in either place.

But I do think that there is a challenge here and I think that they have a challenge in trying to remember exactly what happened in this instance. In the way that Mark Judge describes their high school years., it is possible that this is not the only question of legal culpability that they may have. Now, people are going to try and dismiss it as youthful high jinx but when we`re talking about the Supreme Court, we`re talking about people who are held at a higher standard.

O`DONNELL: And Barbara McQuade, I want to talk about the credibility level of the testimony that we will be hearing from Brett Kavanagh and possibly from his friend Mark Judge. Now, they are middle-aged men now and Brett Kavanagh has had a long legal career in his adulthood. But the memories they will be testifying to were memories recorded in the brains of drunk teenage boys.

So you will be hearing basically the recollection and the voice of a drunk teenage boy telling you what he did when he was drunk at a party that he didn`t tell his parents about. When is the last time anyone believed a drunk teenage boy`s version of anything?

MCQUADE: Well, I suppose that you raise a good point, but that depends whether the incident did or didn`t happen. I think the key credibility question comes down to the accuser, Dr. Ford. And you know, one of the things that prosecutors who handle cases involving sexual assault come to know over time is that accusers are often delayed in making their accusations.

And that is because victims are traumatized. They are concerned about being blamed themselves for their assault. They are concerned about being shamed and victimized again, and the concern about not being believed. And so it is a very common occurrence for victims of sexual assault to delay in reporting. And so I think to the extent that becomes an issue at this hearing, that should be debunked as it does not mean that the person is not credible. There is a logical explanation for a delay that occurs in reporting a crime of sexual assault.

O`DONNELL: And Mieke, just quickly before I go, I`m not saying I know which of these stories is true, but since President Trump today established the standard of proof here, that there can be no doubt, there can be no doubt that Brett Kavanagh is telling the truth. That`s the standard of proof that the president said we should be using. That means we can have no doubt that Brett Kavanagh is telling the truth when he`s talking about his drunk teenage high school years. How can anyone have no doubt about that?

EOYANG: I think it`s actually very difficult. And we talk about memories from that long ago, Mark Judge himself actually wrote very compellingly and fairly recently about an incident where he was actually beaten by their coach in high school and he writes about it quite vividly. It`s because even when you`re young, you have very strong and vivid memories of things that are traumatic.

So they may not remember this if it`s not the sort of thing -- whether or not it happened. It may not be the sort of thing that they remember if it was unremarkable for them. But for Dr. Ford, clearly this was very traumatic and something that she has remembered and may remember much more clearly than the people who were otherwise involved in it.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to take a break in here. Thank you all for bringing your unique perspectives to this.

When we come back, President Trump is really terrified of Robert Mueller and so that means he is listening to his handlers very carefully about what he says about Brett Kavanagh because he is afraid of losing Brett Kavanaugh`s vote on the Supreme Court that would save him from a Robert Mueller subpoena.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: We are continuing our breaking news coverage at this hour of Chairman Chuck Grassley having release a statement in response to Dr. Ford`s request for an FBI investigation before she testifies to the judiciary committee about Brett Kavanaugh.

We are joined now by phone by Robert Costa. He`s the national political reporter for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor. And Robert, what can you tell us about Republican reaction in the Senate about what happens next?

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It`s a fragile political moment right now for the Republican party. They`re holding the line. They`re taking their cues. I was at the Capital all day and they`re taking their cues from leader McConnell on the White House and from Chairman Grassley. They believe they can continue to plow forward but you can be sure they`re monitoring public opinion. They know the public may be averse to this kind of fast move.

O`DONNELL: And Bob, there were early reports that one of the candidates who Mitch McConnell told the White House would be the most difficult to get through the Senate was Brett Kavanagh. There were early reports before Brett Kavanaugh was named indicating that Senator McConnell didn`t want the difficulty of getting Brett Kavanaugh through the Senate.

COSTA: That`s spot on, Lawrence. I can confirm that. You know in the Senate time is of the essence. McConnell was looking at the calendar and the Senator said, "We`ve got to get this done quickly." He told the White House, based on my reporting, that Kavanaugh had too many documents in the history going back to his time in the Bush White House.

McConnell`s people tell me he couldn`t predict that this kind of allegation would come up, but he was looking for someone like Judge Amul Thapar from Kentucky, a McConnell favorite just to move it through the Senate. And now McConnell`s nightmare is unfolding. You have a standoff between an accuser, Senate Republicans just months before the midterm elections.

O`DONNELL: And Robert, what I`m getting a feeling is that the Republicans in the Senate, Mitch McConnell was in the Senate at the time of the Anita Hill hearings, Chuck Grassley was, Orrin Hatch was but you get the feeling that they didn`t spend a minute of thinking about what happens in the next version of an Anita Hill hearing in the Senate judiciary committee and they suddenly have to try to figure it out on the fly.

COSTA: That`s exactly right. As one Republican Senator told me today that they thought Kavanagh and they still believe he is in their view, squeaky clean, that there wouldn`t be an issue like this. Now, there is talk of 1992, like 2018, could this be just like after the Anita Hill hearing with Justice Thomas in `91? Could this be another year of the woman if Republicans move aggressively in the eyes of voters?

And they didn`t think this was going to be an issue but like everything in politics, you have to be able to adjust. For now, Republicans are saying they`ve given her the opportunity to speak. She has this demand for the FBI investigation. They think they can still hold the vote. But what McConnell want and what Grassley want aren`t really everything right now. What matters also is what does Senator Collins want, Senator Murkowski, they`re the swing vote. They`re who matter tomorrow.

O`DONNELL: When they woke up yesterday, Robert, they believed they could hold the vote on this Thursday. So things are moving faster than they can keep up with. Robert Costa, thank you very much for your reporting tonight. Really appreciate it.

And when we come back, more on Donald Trump`s reaction today and the way he has handled himself in the controversy that has erupted over his Supreme Court nominee. It is unlike anything else we have ever seen Donald Trump do in a situation like this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: And we`re continuing our breaking news coverage of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford`s demand of an FBI investigation of her accusation of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh before she testifies to the Senate judiciary committee. And we`re now going to reach back a few hours to President Trump`s surprising reaction earlier today to Dr. Ford`s accusations. We have never seen President Trump like this. It appears that Donald Trump is now truly, truly terrified. Donald Trump must feel the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh slipping away and he sounds desperately worried that he could say something that makes it even more difficult for Brett Kavanaugh to continue to cling to the wreckage of his nomination.

And so today, when President Trump was offered the opportunity to say what everyone expected him to say in a situation like this, he refused to say it. He was asked if the accusation of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh is all politics. The question was, is this all politics? And this is what Donald Trump said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MALE: Is this all politics?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t want to say that. Maybe I`ll say that in a couple of days, but not now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: I don`t want to say that, for once, Donald Trump is in the tight grip of his handlers who have obviously told him that this time he is not allowed to attack a woman who is accusing someone of sexual assault. Here`s what Donald Trump said about accusations like this from women in Bob Woodward`s new book, Fear. Donald Trump said, "You`ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women."

But Donald Trump is not doing that this time. Donald Trump is finally doing what his handlers are telling him to do, and that has to be because Donald Trump is terrified. He is terrified of losing the Supreme Court nominee who jumped out of the pack of candidates. Because Brett Kavanaugh was the only one whose writing indicated he no longer believes the president of the United States can be subpoenaed to give testimony, something Brett Kavanagh did believe when he was working in the special prosecutor`s office that was investigating President Bill Clinton.

Donald Trump was defensive about Brett Kavanaugh today, but not very strongly. He was just saying things like he`s an outstanding man, and Donald Trump complained about Senator Dianne Feinstein not making these accusations public earlier, even though Senator Feinstein was working under a pledge to maintain the privacy of Professor Christine Blasey Ford.

But after the president`s kind of mandatory and half-hearted criticisms of Senator Dianne Feinstein and the Democrats, Donald Trump said something today that he has never, ever said before when he was accused of sexual assault.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We feel that we want to go through a process, we want to hear both sides.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We don`t know that Donald Trump wants to hear both sides. In fact, we know for sure that he does not want to hear both sides, but imagine what it took, imagine what it took for the staff to force Donald Trump to say, "We want to hear both sides." Donald Trump has to be terrified of Robert Mueller, which means he is terrified that he might be losing Brett Kavanaugh`s vote on the Supreme Court that could save him from having to face Robert Mueller after receiving a subpoena.

And so we are seeing a Donald Trump we`ve never seen before. No angry tweets about Brett Kavanaugh`s accuser, Professor Christine Blasey Ford. No attacks on the woman. The man who has never, ever, ever wanted to hear both sides of anything suddenly says he wants to hear both sides. And that is because losing the Kavanaugh confirmation fight is so terrifying to Donald Trump that he is actually following his advisers` advice. But the problem for Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh tonight is that the thing Donald Trump was forced to say today is the very thing that every reasonable person left in this country is thinking tonight, we want to hear both sides.

And the Brett Kavanaugh side we already know is pretty simple. Nothing to see here, nothing happened, this never happened. That`s what he`s going to say. And we`ve already seen Brett Kavanaugh sit at that table in the judiciary committee so we know what that`s going to sound like. And so what we want to hear both sides actually means tonight, is we want to hear the woman who holds the future of the Supreme Court in her hands.

We want to hear the woman who Donald Trump now fears more than any woman in the world. We want to hear Professor Christine Blasey Ford. And you know that no matter what Donald Trump said today, that`s the side of this story that Donald Trump never wants to hear.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Speaking for all of the Republicans, we feel that we want to go through this process and we want to give everybody a chance to say what they have to say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Margaret Carlson, political columnist for "Daily Beast" and Mieke Eoyang is back with us.

And Margaret, surprisingly temperate comments from Donald Trump today.

MARGARET CARLSON, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: You were saying what the staff must be doing to get him to be that way, threatening to take away his TV privileges or something even worse. You know, I was struck by Trump`s, what people called empathy with Kavanaugh. I think he was talking about himself when he was saying what a terrible ordeal this is, how awful it is, for Kavanaugh to have to go through this.

And he was talking about himself, thinking of what he had to go through with the "Access Hollywood" tapes and these women that are still assailing him for sexual misconduct and what it`s done to him and what it could do to him in the future. He was altogether more thoughtful, or as you say, more controlled than he usually is. I think for the discipline that`s been imposed on him and how high the stakes are, but also because it could be him.

O`DONNELL: Exactly. And "The Washington Post" is already delivering from the leakiest White House in history the inside the White House activity that`s been going on since the panic has struck yesterday. "The Washington Post" reporting, "White House officials engaged in a two-hour practice session known as a murder board in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with Kavanaugh where he answered questions on his past, his partying, his dating, and the accuser`s account. Participants included Don McGahn, the White House Counsel, the deputy chief of staff, Bill Shine, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Raj Shah who is leading communications."

And Mieke, it`s so striking that Bill Shine is in that room. He was at Fox News trying to save Bill O`Reilly`s job from sexual harassment charges and he couldn`t do that.

EOYANG: That`s right. And what you have here is clearly a group of people who are focusing on the public relations aspect of that hearing. This is a president who is actually used to paying off women so that you don`t actually hear their side of the story. And now they`re really running the risk that you will have to deal with her side of the story, when he`s had to tell his side of the story to Congress and he can`t lie about that or faces legal jeopardy.

But when you`re talking about the reasons why these Republicans want Kavanaugh on the court so much is that he`s very much a loyal Republican. He changes his view about presidential power depending on whether or not the Republicans are in the White House or not. He`s taken a view about stolen documents based on the stealing of Senate judiciary committee documents and trying to dismiss them.

So you can imagine how he would rule on questions relating to the Hillary Clinton e-mails. They want him on the court because he`s going to be their guy. He was a loyal guy in the White House in the Bush administration.

O`DONNELL: And Margaret Carlson, the group that`s in that room with Brett Kavanaugh, there`s not one person in that room who`s capable of anticipating a single question that a Senator like Kamala Harris will ask, Senator Harris being possibly the best prosecutor the Senate has ever seen.

CARLSON: Right. She and Amy Klobuchar have a lot of experience doing this. But Lawrence, I picture if only Brett Kavanaugh is there the shortest hearing ever because like Donald Trump has said, deny, deny, deny. Brett Kavanaugh simply denying that the party ever happened and that he knows her or there`s no incident at all. So what will the discussion be?

O`DONNELL: Well, if America can take Senator Jeff Flake at his word, he will not allow a Senate judiciary committee hearing to proceed to a vote without hearing from Dr. Ford. That has been his pledge. We`ll see if he sticks with that.

Margaret Carlson, Mieke Eoyang, thank you for joining us tonight. That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END

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