Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: September 25, 2018 Guest: Irin Carmon; Katty Kay; Alicia Menendez; Wendy Sherman; Lisa Graves; Aaron Davis; Joyce Vance
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. Can I have all the scripts you didn`t use tonight? So, I can just --
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Yes.
O`DONNELL: OK, thanks.
O`DONNELL: But it turns out we have an hour to fill and more things are happening by the minute here. This story about Rachel Mitchell being the mystery lawyer who is emerging tonight as the person who is likely -- "The Washington Post" uses that word likely -- to be asking the questions for the Republicans. It`s so fascinating that this was a -- and remains a closely held secret.
Mitch McConnell announced it publicly today, and yet it`s a secret, hiring of a public employee in the United States Senate is a secret? What has to be secret about that?
MADDOW: I mean, this whole thing is strange, right? I mean, there will be in that hearing room, we expect, Democratic senators asking questions of Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford. And then when it`s the Republican senators` time, they will not say anything and instead they will defer to this pinch hitter, this outside counsel who has come in.
That does not happen in confirmation hearings. We think that it hasn`t happened in decades, if at all, in modern times. That announcement that they were going to do that over the objections of one of the two witnesses at the hearing, and then the announcement that they had hired somebody but we`re not allowed to know who it is, it`s all so weird.
O`DONNELL: You know, I`m ready to stand corrected by a Senate historian, but I believe there has never been, never been outside counsel asking questions in a confirmation hearing. Only in the major and unusual and special investigation hearings like Watergate have they done that. So it`s beyond unusual.
I believe in confirmation hearings. It`s never been done.
MADDOW: If it is going to be done, why the identity of the counsel has to be secret until the very last second?
MADDOW: Is it -- I don`t know. The next few days are going to be weird.
O`DONNELL: The only reason you`d be secret about it is there is something wrong with it. There is something -- they`re defensive about in this person. Why wouldn`t they be proudly proclaiming, look who we got?
MADDOW: Why do they need an outside counsel at all, though? You know what I mean? Like it is the senate`s responsibility to advise and consent. Why can`t senators ask questions of witness -- especially because they don`t want it to be an investigation, right?
They don`t want the FBI to look into it. They don`t want any sort of outside independent law enforcement standard investigation of these matters. We can do it ourselves. By which we mean our contractor. What?
If you`re going to have somebody else come in and look at this stuff, how about having the FBI do a background investigation? I just --
O`DONNELL: It`s a rare moment of collective self-awareness of 11 men realizing they`re terrible at something. You may never see this again in Washington, Rachel.
And, Rachel, I want to go to John Clune, who you had as a special guest today, attorney for Deborah Ramirez, second accuser of Brett Kavanaugh when she was a freshman at Yale. She said they were at a party together both drinking, Brett Kavanaugh very, very drunk and sexually assaulted her, as she tells it, and very, very aggressively.
Brett Kavanaugh`s freshman roommate says, I believe Debbie Ramirez. He also says Brett Kavanaugh was incoherently drunk much of the time freshman year.
MADDOW: Yes. And now we`re in the situation where Debbie Ramirez, her lawyer telling me tonight what she wants is for the FBI to do an impartial investigation of this mater and she is willing to talk to the FBI under pain of criminal penalty if she lies to them. And she wants the FBI to talk to other witnesses who could testify either to corroborate or not corroborate what it is that she says happened. That`s what she wants.
The question of whether or not she`s going to talk to the committee itself is all over the place. With the White House saying they want that and apparently these negotiations having started and then Republicans essentially not following through on these discussions, them saying they want all her information, but not necessarily to talk to her. I mean, the question about what`s going to happen to her story and whether it will be investigated at all is absolutely completely up in the air and they`ve already scheduled a vote on his nomination for the end of the week.
O`DONNELL: What I -- what I heard attorney John Clune tell you about the way the Republican staff of the Judiciary Committee was dealing with him as the representative of a potential witness to that committee, that is the most unprofessional conductive heard of by staff of either party on any committee. It is truly outrageous behavior.
MADDOW: Well, also what Mr. Clune told me -- not to get too into the weeds here. You worked in these hallowed halls. You know how this worked.
He said, listen, we spoke with the committee staff, I clarified with him that he meant the majority staff. So, these are the staffers who are reporting to the Chairman Chuck Grassley. We set up a time to have a call where we would discuss how my client is going to convey her information to the committee, under what circumstances, how this is going to happen.
And then they call in at the appointed time and it`s only Democrats there, none of the Republican senators, none of the Republican staff. That`s just -- I mean, it`s just -- I mean, it may be unprofessional. I don`t know how the professional standards work here. It`s weird.
O`DONNELL: It`s way beyond unprofessional. When we get started here, we have Lisa Graves, former member of the judiciary staff on the Democratic side who is going to dissect that one for us.
MADDOW: All right.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to go straight to the phones now, to "Washington Post" congressional reporter Sean Sullivan who is joining us by phone. Sean Sullivan is part of the reporting team who is delivering the news tonight about this mystery lawyer whom the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are engaging to do their work for them.
Sean, what do we know?
SEAN SULLIVAN, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST (via telephone): Well, the leading candidate for the Republicans, they want to bring in an outside counsel, a woman, to question Judge Kavanaugh`s accuser.
And at this point, the leading candidate is Rachel Mitchell. She is a prosecutor in Arizona. She`s worked for the Maricopa County attorney`s office for 26 years and she is the sex crimes bureau chief for the Maricopa County attorney`s office.
So she is somebody who has a lot of experience in areas of sexual assault and sexual misconduct.
O`DONNELL: And, Sean, is she currently employed by the county?
O`DONNELL: So, she`s going to have to leave a government payroll -- she cannot easily transfer from that government payroll to the Senate payroll and she cannot be on both. Have you had any information about how they`re handling these payroll issues?
SULLIVAN: You know, not yet. A lot of people are realizing I think when they look at these developments, this is a fairly, you know, unprecedented occasion right now. We don`t usually see lawmakers bring somebody in from the outside, bring them onto their staff temporarily, have them ask these questions.
It`s typically the lawmakers themselves. It`s usually a platform they embrace. Lawmakers typically want to use these committee hearings to talk about issues they care about and sometimes these moments go viral.
But in this case, the Republicans have taken a very, very different strategy and they don`t want to call attention to themselves. They don`t want to be the ones who are questioning Dr. Ford in this hearing on Thursday.
O`DONNELL: And, Sean, you`ve got a Republican senator from Arizona on the Judiciary Committee, Jeff Flake. You also have new Republican Senator Jon Kyl, actually a former United States senator appointed recently to fill John McCain`s seat. Jon Kyl had been working as basically Brett Kavanaugh`s guide through the Senate confirmation process as a friend of all the Republican senators.
Any indication whether Senator Jon Kyl or Senator Jeff Flake were involved in the selection of an Arizona local prosecutor to come 2,000 miles to Washington to do this job?
SULLIVAN: You know, Lawrence, there is no indication yet, but we`re still reporting this story right now. And, you know, the senator that you mentioned certainly have played a key role in this overall process. As you mention, Senator Kyl was basically Kavanaugh`s guide, attended meetings with him on Capitol Hill with senators.
And Jeff Flake of Arizona is a key swing vote in this nomination process. He is seen as a Republican who might vote yes, and he might vote no. And with the Republicans holding on a 51-49 advantage in the Senate, every single vote is important, including Flake`s. So that`s something that leadership in the party is certainly looking at and aware of.
O`DONNELL: Sean Sullivan, thank you for your reporting. Thanks for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
We are joined now by Lisa Graves. She`s the former chief counsel for nominations for the Democrats in the Senate Judiciary Committee and former deputy assistant attorney general.
Joyce Vance is with us, former federal prosecutor. She`s a professor at the University of Alabama school of law, and an MSNBC legal contributor.
Lisa Graves, what`s your reaction to this apparent selection of Rachel Mitchell to do the Republicans` job for them on the committee?
LISA GRAVES, FORMER STAFFER, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I`m a little bit astounded by the Republicans` willingness to waste our tax dollars to give cover to their cowardice. This really is unprecedented for the Senate judiciary committee. I don`t know of any time this has ever happened.
And I think it also goes to the sort of theatrics that the Republicans are trying to create. They`re trying to create the appearance of process and fairness. But in reality, they are determined to deny it at every stage by not having a truly independent investigation, not having actual investigators investigate these matters at the FBI. But the audacity of schedule a vote on this nomination for Friday no matter what happens tomorrow and what happens on Thursday in that hearing, along with Senator McConnell`s promise to have a vote next week on Brett Kavanaugh no matter the severity of these allegations against him.
And so, this is just one more part of those optics, cynical optics that are being pressed by the Republicans and the denial of actual process to Dr. Ford and to other witnesses that are coming forward, you know, this week and as we speak.
O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance, so many things unprecedented about the hiring of Rachel Mitchell. The idea that they had to go 2,000 miles from Washington, which is one of the legal capitals of America, Washington is one of the place that some of the best lawyers in America are local, like New York and other locations. The fact that she`s coming out of a Republican state, two Republican senators there who might have had a hand in choosing her, one of them actually on the Judiciary Committee.
We don`t even know if she`s in Arizona as we speak. We don`t know if she`s going to spend her day tomorrow, Wednesday, flying to Washington and then conducting this work on national television Thursday morning or whether she`s already in Washington. But what we do know is she`s going to be the person in that room who knows the least, the least about this case since her engagement with it has started sometime this week.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: You know, they`ve brought her on board because of her skill sets, as a sex crimes prosecutor. And we can be pretty certain that what they won`t want her to do is use her ability to cross-examine a defendant. Of course, this isn`t a criminal trial, but Brett Kavanaugh is in that role here.
She`s been brought on board to use her skill set for gently evoking testimony from a victim. Obviously, the Republicans on the committee have got enormous sensitivity about the appearance that this will be another Anita Hill-style level of testimony, and so, her job will be to lead Dr. Ford through her testimony, for them to elicit points that they can use to break holes into her credibility without doing it in a way that makes them look like a bunch of old guys sitting around like we saw the last time.
O`DONNELL: And, Lisa, the rules that Chairman Grassley has released tonight are obviously trying to make it as easy as possible on Brett Kavanaugh, but also as easy as possible on Rachel Mitchell. He is making this -- his hope is clearly for the shortest confirmation hearing ever held, limiting the senators to five minutes each on each side. That means 50 minutes total on the Democratic side, and no second chance. Fifty-five minutes total on the Republican side.
And so, reducing the number of minutes to something so tight makes this strange job that Rachel Mitchell has a lot easier.
GRAVES: Well, it does. And what it really does is manifestly deny justice in this case. It`s a fiat that is designed to thwart the search for truth. It is designed to limit the ability of Dr. Ford to express her opinion, to answer questions and follow-up questions by members about her story. It`s contemptuous.
And I think when you see those rules that he`s unilaterally dictated to try to short-circuit a real search for truth, the phrase that comes to mind is that hell has no fury like a woman scorned. In this instance, it`s women across America who are being scorned. Scorn is to be treated contemptuously, to be treated as if you don`t matter.
Having just a few minutes to really tell your story on an issue of this magnitude about who is going to be on our court, what the American people may want in terms of the qualities of a judicial nominee versus the right wing press to get this guy on the bench in order to advance the sort of agenda that the Kochs and others have funded is extraordinary.
And so, in some ways this is just merely a pretense of process. It`s really designed to give the Kochs and the big funders who are backing him through these operations on the outside what they want on the court which is a sure vote no mater what, even if it comes from someone who has been accused of attempted rape.
O`DONNELL: Lisa, one more quick question before we go to break.
You know, I worked on two Senate committees. And no mater how partisan they were, the staff was always bipartisan, always working in a cooperative way behind the scenes, so I am shocked tonight by John Clune`s interview with Rachel Maddow. He represents Debbie Ramirez, the second accuser of Brett Kavanaugh.
And the way the Republican staff has refused to deal with him while pretending at first to deal with him, I`m just stunned by it.
GRAVES: Well, it seems unprofessional. But, unfortunately, the tone is set at the top by Senator Grassley and by Senator McConnell. And so, you know, we have certainly had good relationships on a professional level with staff on the other side because we all are there -- you know, when I was there all the time trying to get our jobs done.
But in this case, you have people who are exceedingly partisan. You had the chief counsel for Senator Grassley conduct his own solo interview of the nominee and then pronounce him cleared basically. And so, I think all processes are broken down. They`re not following the rules, they don`t care about the rules and they`re doing so in order to install someone on the court with the job of following the rules, someone who actually, I think, has not been honest about the facts or the law in Brett Kavanaugh.
So it`s all coming together in one pattern.
O`DONNELL: And Chuck Grassley in breaking news item has just officially taken Rachel Mitchell out of the shadows and admitted that Chuck Grassley and the United States Senate have hired Rachel Mitchell -- they are putting her on the Senate payroll for what might only be two days or three days, who knows, but just for basically 55 minutes of work in that committee, asking the questions that the Republican men of that committee are afraid to ask. We`re going to take a break here.
Lisa Graves, Joyce Vance, thanks for starting us off tonight.
And when we come back, I will explain to you why Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump are running scared on the Kavanaugh nomination. Their strategy has not been working. It`s been getting worse for Brett Kavanaugh every day. So, they changed their strategy in the last couple of days, and this one is in serious trouble because Chuck Grassley and McConnell are certainly behaving as if they do not yet have the votes.
We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: Our breaking news at this hour is that Chuck Grassley has confirmed, the chairman the Senate Judiciary Committee, that Rachel Mitchell, the Maricopa County attorney, in the prosecutor`s office there who specializes in prosecuting sex crimes will ask the questions for Republicans during the hearing on Thursday in which Brett Kavanaugh will appear to defend himself against a charge of sexual assault which Dr. Christine Blasey Ford will make to the committee in her testimony.
Dr. Ford will testify first. Brett Kavanaugh will testify second. Republican senators are afraid of asking a single question. And so, they are flying in a woman prosecutor from 2,000 miles away in Arizona to do that job for them tonight.
Her name is Rachel Mitchell. That was a secret being held by Republicans al day for reasons we cannot fathom. But now, Chuck Grassley has confirmed that is the person who the Republican men of the Senate judiciary committee have asked to do their job for them because they know they can`t.
And they`re running scared, all of them are. The Republicans are running scared now on the Kavanaugh nomination tonight. How scared are they? Consider this: Republican Senator Jon Kyl was actually working, as I said before, as one of Brett Kavanaugh`s guides through the United States Senate confirmation process before he was appointed to fill John McCain`s Senate seat.
And now, Senator Jon Kyl is afraid to even say that he still supports Brett Kavanaugh`s nomination. According to "Politico", Jon Kyl declined to commit to a yes vote for Kavanaugh if and when the time comes. When Republican senators are running scared, they don`t want you to know that. They want you to think that they`re confident, and so Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley are trying to pretend that the Kavanaugh confirmation is a done deal.
But there is no reason to believe that. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley are actually desperately trying to build confidence among Republican senators by announcing the scheduling of a committee vote on Brett Kavanaugh`s nomination the day after the hearing, Friday, at 9:30 a.m.
Here is that notice of the scheduling of that vote. And it is actually the rescheduling -- it says it right up there -- the rescheduling of a notice of a vote on the Kavanaugh confirmation that Chuck Grassley had already scheduled for yesterday, for Monday morning. This notice has no more validity than the first time that this notice was issued for yesterday morning.
This notice simply means that the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee will vote on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh the day after the hearing if and only if they think that they can get away with voting the day after the hearing. And because 85-year-old Chuck Grassley in his 37th year in the United States Senate has lost whatever grasp he ever had on Senate strategy, he was forced to turnover his cards after issuing this notice today.
He tweeted this: Judiciary Committee noticed potential executive meeting for Friday. Still taking this one step at a time. After hearing Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh`s testimony, if we`re ready to vote, we will vote. If we aren`t ready, we won`t. Committee rules normally require three day`s notice so we`re following regular order.
When committee chairmen are confident of what they`re doing, when they issue a vote notice in the committee, they never, ever, ever say if we aren`t ready to vote, we won`t. I have never, ever heard, seen a committee chairman in the Senate say anything like that ever. And one of the reasons that Chuck Grassley put out that tweet after the notice of a scheduled vote is that the Republican senators, whose votes Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell do not yet have, did not want their constituents to think that they were rushing this, that they were going to rush it into a vote the next day.
And so, today, Senator Bob Corker suggested, it`s not just three or four Republican senators whose votes might be in doubt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I`d say there`s actually a large number of Republicans that will pay a large number -- I know the media keeps characterizing three or four people, but it`s a large number of them that want to see firsthand the accusation and the rebuttal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The large number of Republicans who know that this confirmation is in trouble includes Donald Trump. Donald Trump knows it`s in big trouble. And Donald Trump is running scared on this one and that`s why Donald Trump has changed tactics and is now attacking Brett Kavanaugh`s second accuser, Deborah Ramirez.
Donald Trump didn`t do that when Brett Kavanaugh`s first accuser emerged publicly, Professor Christine Blasey Ford. And the reason Donald Trump is on the attack now is that Donald Trump knows that the less aggressive tactics he was using before did not work and that Brett Kavanaugh has been losing ground every day. Every day has been worse than the day before.
And tomorrow, there is a strong possibility that it will be much worse and it`s a strong possibility that we will have a new accuser, a third accuser, according to Attorney Michael Avenatti who says he represents a woman who is a victim of Brett Kavanaugh`s and Michael Avenatti expects her to make a public statement about that before Thursday`s hearing in the Judiciary Committee when Dr. Ford will finally tell her story and Brett Kavanaugh will defend himself.
Chuck Grassley wants this to be the shortest confirmation hearing the Senate has ever had on a Supreme Court justice. There will be no time limit on Dr. Ford`s opening statement or Brett Kavanaugh`s opening statement, but each senator, as I said, will be limited to five minutes of question time. That means 50 minutes for the ten Democrats, 55 minutes for the 11 Republicans.
All the Republican questioning as we said will be done by Rachel Mitchell, the Maricopa County prosecuting attorney who will briefly become a Senate employee who the Republicans have hired to do that job that Republican men have now admitted they are incapable of doing, a rare admission of Republican men acknowledging their really, really bad at something.
What we saw with Brett Kavanaugh defending himself on Fox News last night must have made Republican senators even more nervous about supporting Brett Kavanaugh. The very worst thing a witness can do is answer a question that has not been asked, and that is what Brett Kavanaugh did twice. He did it in response to just one question.
And two of the unnecessary things he stayed in his answer have now been disputed today by people who know Brett Kavanaugh. Here is that very important question and answer that is a preview of what will happen to Brett Kavanaugh in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS HOST: Did you ever participate in or were you ever aware of any gang rape that happened at a party that you attended?
JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: That`s totally false and outrageous. Never done any such thing, known about any such thing. When I was in high school, I went to an all boys Catholic high school, Jesuits high school where I was focused on academics and athletics, going to church every Sunday at little flower, working on service projects, friendship, friendship with my fellow classmates, and friendships with the local all girls Catholic schools.
And yes, there were parties. The drinking age was 18. Yes, the seniors were legal and had beer there. And, yes, people might have had to many beers on occasion. And people generally in high school, I think all of us have probably done things we look back on in high school and regret or cringe a bit.
But that`s not what we`re talking about. We`re talking about an allegation of sexual assault. I never sexually assaulted anyone. I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter. And the girls from the schools I went to and I were friends --
MACCALLUM: So, you`re saying through all these years that are in question, you were a virgin?
KAVANAUGH: That`s correct.
MACCALLUM: Never had sexual intercourse with anyone in high school?
MACCALLUM: And through what years in college, since we`re probing into your personal life there?
KAVANAUGH: Many years, many years after. I`ll leave it at that. Many years after.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He brought that question on himself. Martha McCallum was not going to ask him how long he went in his life before he first had sex. That was not going to be one of the questions. It`s not relevant.
The question he was asked was simply, did you ever participate in or were you ever aware of any gang rape that happened at a party that you attended. The answer to that should have been no, period, one word. That is all you need for that.
And instead, Brett Kavanaugh goes on to say that he never had sex with anyone in high school and for many, many years after high school. You give answers like that and this is what happens.
Today, a friend of Brett Kavanaugh`s at Yale tweeted this. Perhaps Brett Kavanaugh was a virgin for many years after high school, but he claimed otherwise in a conversation with me during our freshman year in Lawrence Hall at Yale in the living room of my suite.
Brett Kavanaugh lied about legally drinking when he was a senior in high school because he was 18. But the drinking age had been raised to 21 by that time. There was not one day of Brett Kavanaugh`s high school life that he could legally drink, not one day, and boy, did that kid drink. Brett Kavanaugh put it in writing in his high school yearbook.
He stated, his stated ambition in writing was to be part of a group who drank 10 kegs of beer, senior year, Georgetown prep is a very small school. Brett Kavanaugh would have had to drink a keg himself to do his part. And it sounds like Brett Kavanaugh maybe did that. His Yale freshman roommate issued a written statement saying Brett Kavanaugh, quote, "Was a notably heavy drinker even by the standards of the time, and that he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk. I did not observe the specific incident in question, but I do remember Brett Kavanaugh drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk."
Now, that`s freshman year in college, and it doesn`t sound like somebody who learned how to drink freshman year at Yale. Sounds like he showed up there knowing how to drink. The incident that Brett Kavanaugh`s roommate, James Roche, is describing is the accusation that Deborah Ramirez made that Brett Kavanaugh aggressively exposed himself to her when they were both drinking and that when she pushed him away to protect herself, she touched him in a way that disgusted her.
Brett Kavanaugh`s freshmen roommate James Roche also said this, "I became close friends with Debbie Ramirez shortly after we both arrived at Yale. She stood out as being exceptionally honest with a trusting manner. As we got to know one another, I discovered that Debbie was very worried about fitting in. She felt that everyone at Yale was very rich, very smart and very sophisticated and that as a Puerto Rican woman from a less privileged background, she was an outsider.
Her response was to try hard to make friends and get along. Based on my time with Debbie, I believe her to be unusually honest and straightforward and I cannot imagine her making this up. Based on my time with Brett, I believe that he and his social circle were capable of the actions that Debbie described."
That`s Brett Kavanaugh`s freshman roommate at Yale. He believes Brett Kavanaugh`s accuser over Brett Kavanaugh. And so Brett Kavanaugh`s credibility is on trial and he lied yesterday on "Fox News". He lied about being a legal drinker in high school. He never was. And he portrayed himself as a light drinker when he tried to and maybe succeeded at drinking a keg of beer senior year.
His best friend Mark Judge, who Dr. Ford says was a witness and a participant in Brett Kavanaugh`s sexual assault on her wrote a book about being a blackout drunk in high school. And he changed the names of real people in his high school memoir, and one of the apparently slightly fictionalized names in the book is Bart O`Kavanaugh who wasn`t as bad a drunk as Mark Judge in the book. But Mark Judge is now hiding out from the press and for Republicans have refused to subpoena him to testify.
We will be joined later by a reporter who was part of the team who found Mark Judge in his hideout. So, Brett Kavanaugh did something that no other Supreme Court nominee has ever done. He decided to do a television interview defending himself and he got himself in more trouble in the television interview because he so openly and provably lied in that interview, which should not be terribly surprising because who can forget that the very first words that Brett Kavanaugh spoke as a Supreme Court nominee were a lie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: No president has ever consulted more widely or talked with more people for more backgrounds to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You want to know what Brett Kavanaugh looks like when he`s lying? Just rerun that video. That`s what Brett Kavanaugh looks like when he`s lying.
After this break, more on the Kavanaugh nomination with Investor Wendy Sherman who was part of Anita Hill`s support team in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings.
O`DONNELL: Alaska`s Lisa Murkowski is one of the Republican Senators who is publicly undecided about the Kavanaugh nomination. Here is what she said today about an FBI investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALE: Should there be a full FBI investigation into these allegations from Kavanaugh`s past?
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI: Well, it would sure clear up all the questions, wouldn`t it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, an MSNBC global affairs contributor. She helped Anita Hill navigate the judiciary committee during Anita Hill`s Senate testimony. Investor Sherman`s the author of the new book, Not for the Faint of Heart, Lessons in Courage, Power and Persistence. And former Senate judiciary staffer Lisa Graves is back with us.
Ambassador Sherman, to see Lisa Murkowski asked a very simple question, should there be a full FBI investigation into these allegations more than one, and she just couldn`t find in her slick senatorial speech anyway other than saying, "Of course, there should be."
AMB. WENDY SHERMAN, COUNSELLED ANITA HILL DURING THOMAS HEARINGS: Indeed. And then I just read a tweet right before I came in here where she has said she was just being flip. She didn`t really mean it, which I think proves the point you made earlier on this broadcast, which is immense pressure is being put on these senators because Mitch McConnell does not have the votes.
Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and John McCain were the three deciding votes on the Affordable Care Act to keep the repeal from happening. I wonder who is going to be John McCain this time.
O`DONNELL: Your sense of the fairness of this process so far?
SHERMAN: Totally unfair. It`s completely ludicrous that you would have a hearing of this seriousness that matters this much to the future of our country and, A, have someone come 2000 miles to ask the questions for the Republicans who can`t seem to do it themselves, and the Democrats are going to get exactly one round of five minutes. I can`t think of another Senate hearing on a matter of such import where there is one round of only five minutes of conversation. It`s absurd.
O`DONNELL: Lisa Graves, there are reports tonight indicating that Jeff Flake and Lisa Murkowski were strongly influential in what we saw, the way this has unfolded, and at least getting the delay in the hearing, having Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell back off on those deadlines that they were constantly issuing and revising last Friday. And they had to back off not just because Dr. Ford and her attorneys played from a very strong position against them, but it turns out there were Republican Senators saying, "Don`t do this. We are not ready to cast a vote without having that hearing and having it at least on Dr. Ford`s schedule, if not on her terms."
LISA GRAVES: Yes, they did play a key role. And I hope that they will continue to play a key role because what`s about to happen on Thursday I think is also unprecedented. This is a lifetime position on the court. To restrict the members to five-minute questions on the Democratic side and the Republican side, but really to restrict the Democrats from being able to really fully probe this is a tremendous offense against the advice and consent process that the Constitution gives to the United States Senate.
It should be a thorough process. It should be a fair process. And this is anything but fair, especially when this isn`t just a piece of legislation. Perhaps, there have been times when a bill has been rushed and there wasn`t very much time for a hearing, there`s no outside limit on having a full and fair hearing. But they`re not even having the witnesses, all the witnesses that should be there.
But this idea that five-minute questions are enough and then they`re out and they`re going to vote, I hope that offends Jeff Flake. I hope that offends Lisa Murkowski. I hope it offends Susan Collins and other members because it should. It`s an offense to the proper role of the United States Senate in the confirmation process and the process of being able to reject someone who has been charged in that sense with such serious crimes.
It`s not a simple matter. It`s not a trivial matter. And there is more than one witness apparently to his misbehavior. And so I think it`s a very serious issue and it`s a serious misstep on the part of Senator Grassley to try to limit the hearing in this way.
O`DONNELL: Wendy Sherman, you`ve been in that witness chair in the confirmation hearing.
O`DONNELL: You know what that pressure is like.
SHERMAN: Three times.
O`DONNELL: Lisa and I have both sat through endless confirmation hearings. In the finance committee, we used to have the chairman of the Federal Reserve come in. Every person who sits in that witness chair is nervous, is on edge. It is the most tense moment for the Federal Reserve chairman who is accustomed to this. Talk about what Dr. Ford will be feeling when she`s in that chair.
SHERMAN: It`s very tough. My first confirmation hearing to the assistant secretary for legislative affairs, Jesse Helms was the chairman. And indeed it was connected to Anita Hill why it was so tough. David Brock who now has come over to the Democrats was a right-wing Republican at the time and had written a book about the real Anita Hill. And so Chairman Helms in front of my then 10-year-old daughter said, "Are you going to lie to this committee the way you lied for Anita Hill, the way Anita Hill lied?" And so I had to sit there and think, what is my 10-year-old thinking about her mom?
So Christine Blasey Ford is going to be under enormous pressure. She`s had tremendous courage to come forward. I certainly didn`t have to deal with that in a confirmation hearing, but she is. And I hope that everyone will embrace her and give her all the support she deserves. I`m counting on the Democrats to do that. I hope there are some stalwart Republicans who will do so.
O`DONNELL: We will find out. Wendy Sherman, Lisa Graves, thank you both for joining our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.
And when we come back, Brett Kavanaugh`s high school friend Mark Judge, who Dr. Ford says was a witness to the sexual assault, has been hiding out. He`s been trying to avoid any possible subpoena, which the Republicans have no intention of issuing for him. But "The Washington Post" found him at his hideout and his first words were, "How did you find me?" One of the reporters from "The Washington Post" team who found Mark Judge will join us next.
O`DONNELL: Brett Kavanaugh`s high school drinking buddy Mark Judge has been hiding out. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford wants him to testify to the Senate judiciary committee. The Democrats want him to testify and the Republicans don`t and so the Republicans have refused to subpoena him to testify. Christine Blasey Ford says that Mark Judge was in the room when Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her and that Mark Judge joined in that sexual assault. Nothing proves how unserious Senate Republicans are about finding out the truth more than there to subpoena Mark Judge who told the committee that he would not voluntarily agree to testify and, therefore, would have to be subpoenaed to testify.
"The Washington Post" reports that Mark Judge has been absent from his home in Maryland for several days. His whereabouts were unknown. I`m sure that`s not the first time in his blackout drunk life that happened. His whereabouts were unknown until yesterday when a "Post" reporter tracked him down. Mark Judge was holed up nearly three hours away at the beach house of a long-time friend in Bethany Beach, Delaware.
"The Post" reports a car in the driveway contained piles of clothing, a collection of Superman comics, and a package addressed to Mark Judge at the Potomac home where he lived three years ago. Judge only made one on the record comment for "The Washington Post", "How`d you find me?" The reporter gestured to the car packed with his belongings and, of course, that package addressed to him. Mark Judge declined to comment further.
Mark Judge`s lawyer told "The Washington Post," "I told him to leave town. He is being hounded. He is a recovering alcoholic and is under unbelievable stress. He needed for his own health to get out of this toxic environment and take care of himself."
One of the reporters who found Mark Judge`s hideout will join us next.
O`DONNELL: A former girlfriend of Brett Kavanaugh`s drinking buddy Mark Judge told "The New Yorker" that Mark Judge told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman. Was Brett Kavanaugh one of those boys? That is one of the questions that Mark Judge should be asked under oath by the Senate judiciary committee, but will not be because the Republicans fear the answer to questions like that, and they refuse to subpoena Mark Judge as a witness.
Joining our discussion now, "Washington Post" investigative reporter Aaron Davis and back with us is Joyce Vance.
Aaron, you`re part of the team that found Mark Judge at the hideout. Do we know if he plans to stay there now that you`ve exposed that or at least you guys know where he is?
AARON DAVIS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, he did say something to the effect of, you know, he might not be there much longer after we did find him. We looked a lot of places. We had heard that he had left town and skipped town, that he may be staying with a classmate, maybe giving him safe harbor in Delaware.
We ended up finding him and I went to his house, his mother`s house, a lot of houses over the weekend. We found him yesterday, in fact, in Bethany Beach, Delaware, at a longtime friend of his, their family home. His friend actually a bartender. And so we waited, staked him out. He came out looking for a snack yesterday afternoon and that`s when we spoke to him very briefly.
O`DONNELL: And Joyce Vance, I think one of the questions that the Democrats should ask Rachel Mitchel when she`s working on the committee hearing, have you ever prosecuted a sex crime case in which a named witness in the room during the sexual assault was someone you did not subpoena as a witness?
JOYCE VANCE: It`s unfathomable that you wouldn`t want to get as much information as you could from everyone who was a witness to an alleged incident. So this just defies belief.
O`DONNELL: And Aaron, it sounds like he knows how to talk to reporters. I mean immediately after the how`d you find me, he goes off the record. He has experience as a freelance journalist, himself.
DAVIS: This is true. This is true. He`s written a lot of op-eds and, you know, he`s chronicled much of the debauchery that we now know about that time at Georgetown Prep. He`s written books. We don`t know who this Bart O`Kavanaugh if that actually is the judge. There`s, of course, many questions he could shed light on. And as Dr. Ford has said is the only one who can really attest to whether or not the events transpired as she remembers them.
O`DONNELL: And Joyce, when Michael Avenatti brought out his list of questions to ask Judge Kavanaugh, among the list of questions were the kinds of things that Mark Judge told the girlfriend who then told "The New Yorker" about boys taking turns having sex with a drunk girl. I mean, that`s kind of exactly in much more graphic language what Michael Avenatti says his witness and victim will talk about.
VANCE: This is exactly why the FBI should be authorized to re-open the background investigation into Judge Kavanaugh. These are the kinds of questions that should be posted in the course of a background hearing. The kind that you and I both went through during government service. That`s the right way to vet these concerns and then to take that information to the Senate body that`s charged with advising and consenting on the nomination.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it there. Aaron Davis, thank you very much for joining us tonight with your news report. And Joyce Vance, thank you for joining our discussion.
Tonight`s last word is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s last word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TREVOR NOAH, COMEDIAN: Come on, Matt, a candidate just says what you plan on doing, not what you actually did. It`s like a vision board. Like my calendar says Zumba at 6:00 A.M. every day, all right? But I`ve never gotten up at that time. Hell, I don`t even know what a Zumba is. It`s pretty boozy that Kavanaugh as a judge would bring up an old calendar as a defense. I wonder if that would hold up in his court. If you were like, "I couldn`t have done it. You look at my calendar, it says no crime all day, all day no crimes. So we good."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Trevor Noah gets tonight`s last word. "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.
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