tv CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow CNN April 3, 2017 7:00am-8:01am PDT
vote today. neil gorsuch has to clear the senate judiciary committee. you look at all the senators gathering there. this should begin at any moment. >> yeah, the big drama this week is what happens if democrats are able to successfully filibuster this nomination? can they get 40 democrats to try to stand in the way? that means that republicans would have to go nuclear. cnn's sunlen serfaty on capitol hill to set the stage. and you know, i do expect we will see some drama here today, sunlen. >> reporter: that's right, john, the drama starts right now, where you have the senate judiciary committee at this moment gathering to meet. this is a committee vote. democrats have the minority in the committee, 9-11. so in all likelihood, neil gorsuch will get out of the committee today just fine, and that sets up the true showdown later in the week once neil gorsuch is considered on the full senate floor. of course, a lot of questions over this filibuster, a lot of questions over this so-called
nuclear option, but heading into that dramatic moment near the end of the week for neil gorsuch, check out this rhetoric from the senate minority leader and the majority leader. >> judge gorsuch is going to be confirmed. the way in which that occurs is in the hands of the democratic minority, and i think during the course of the week, we'll find out exactly how this will end, but it will end with his confirmation. >> why does president trump, democrats, and republicans in the senate sit down and try to come one a mainstream nominee? look, when a nominee doesn't get 60 votes, you shouldn't change the rules, you should change the nominee. >> reporter: now, the state of play in all of this, the math is extremely important here. as of now, it looks very likely that gorsuch and the republicans will not get the 60 votes that they need to break that democratic filibuster. yes, there were three democrats who recently came out and said that they will support neil gorsuch, but that is far short
of the goal that republicans and gorsuch need the support of democrats to end that democratic filibuster. if that happens and if that sticks, which in all likelihood it very well will, john and poppy, that would force republicans and mitch mcconnell to enforce the so-called nuclear option, which would change these longstanding senate rules on the books for a long time. so, it has some serious implications up here on capitol hill. john and poppy? >> absolutely, it would completely change precedent going forward for these nominees. sunlen, thank you very much. let's get a closer look at what's ahead this week for these confirmation hearings. ariane de vogue is joining us from washington. we heard from neil gorsuch for some 20 hours just weeks ago. now he'll go to a committee and then full vote. the nuclear option, i think no question it will be used, correct? >> it sounds like that's the way they're going. this committee is going to meet at 10:00. he won't be present, but the members here will deliver remarks. we expect gorsuch to advance out of here at the end of the day,
only because, really, there are more republicans than democrats. but the debate today could get a little bit fiery. the republicans, they're going to defend and praise gorsuch, but the democrats have these concerns. first of all, they're still furious about merrick garland never getting a vote. they call this a stolen seat. they also think that gorsuch was really evasive in some of his answers during his testimony on things like gay marriage, corporate issues, campaign finance. and then we'll also hear from that ranking member, dianne feinstein, and she's going to target women's health issues. remember, donald trump said during the campaign that he was going to put pro-life judges on the bench, and the democrats, they felt like that gave them license to ask gorsuch more about issues such as roe v. wade, and they felt like he didn't answer them, he evaded them. here's the most important thing -- this could be the first step in changing the way supreme court nominees are chosen, and that's a big deal for the
senate, but also for the supreme court. >> ariane de vogue for us in washington. again, you're looking at live pictures right now from the senate judiciary committee. this meeting gets under way shortly and they will vote, presumably, today, and judge neil gorsuch will get through this committee before getting to the full senate later in the week. >> so, as we get ready to hear from senator chuck grassley and also dianne feinstein, senator dianne feinstein, as they are sitting down, cnn legal analyst jeffrey toobin, our supreme court analyst, reporter n nia-malika hend joeerson and "washington post" reporter david therenfold. jeff toobin, just set the scene in terms of is this a particularly nasty battle? >> it's nasty, but it is enormously significant. you know what's going to happen in 2040? 2040, tiffany trump and malia
obama are going to be dueling for the presidency, and neil gorsuch will still be on the supreme court. i mean, that's -- >> 30-year consequences, which is why we're going to dip in and listen to senator chuck grassley, the chairman of the judiciary committee, in his opening statements right now. >> our associate attorney general. i want to explain how we're going to proceed. in addition to the supreme court nominee, we need to report out the nominees for deputy attorney general, associate attorney general. we all understand that it's important for the department of justice to have senior leadership in place. my intention is to have everyone speak on the judge and then vote on his nomination. then we'll turn to rosenstein and brand. i'll have a statement on both of them that i'm going to put in the record so we can keep things moving. regarding the judge, for the most part, everyone has already indicated one way or another how
they intend to vote, so there isn't a whole lot of mystery about how this is going to go at our committee meeting today. but regardless, everyone should have an opportunity to explain their vote so everybody can speak as long as they want to, but my hope is that members can try to keep their remarks within ten minutes so that everyone can speak and we can proceed in an orderly way. now i want to -- now i speak, then i'll turn to the ranking member. today, we're considering the nomination of judge neil gorsuch to serve as associate justice of the supreme court. over the last couple months, the nominee's opponents have tried to find fault with him. that fault will not stick.
and of course, we've seen that it just hasn't worked. before the president made his announcement, the minority leader of the senate declared that any nominee must prove himself, in his words, mainstream, to get confirmed. well, that test ran into trouble the minute the president selected the nominee. he was confirmed to the tenth circuit, 2006, by unanimous voice vote. in the ten years since, his record on the bench has proved that the judge falls well within the mainstream. he's participated in 2,700 cases. he's voted with a majority 99% of the time, and roughly 97% of those 2,700 cases were decided unanimously.
two of his former tenth circuit colleagues -- one was a reagan appointee, one was a clinton appointee -- remarked upon, and now i quote them, "his fair consideration of opposing views, his remarkable intelligence, his wonderful judicial temperament expressed to all the litigants, and his collegiality among colleagues." so, you get words like fair, remarkable, wonderful, collegiality from people that have served with him during that period of time, some appointed by a republican president and some appointed by democrat presidents. then you wonder what the uproar about him is all about. legal commentators across the political spectrum have recognized that he's mainstream.
even rachel maddow, who isn't exactly a conservative, said the judge is a "fairly mainstream choice that you might expect from any republican president." once it became clear that judge gorsuch is mainstream, opponents then moved the goal post and set a whole different test. any nominee of president trump's, the minority leader said, must prove that he is independent. of course, there's no debate on this question either. the night that -- let me turn my phone off here. the night judge gorsuch was nominated, president obama,
solicitor general neil cottial, i think it's pronounced, wrote an op ed "why liberals should back neil gorsuch." mr. cottial argued that one basic question should be paramount -- "is the nominee someone who will stand up for the rule of law and say no to a president or a congress that strays beyond the constitution and the laws?" mr. cottial answered his own question, "i have no doubt that if confirmed, judge gorsuch would help to restore confidence in the rule of law." he went on to write that the judge's record "should give the american people confidence that he will not compromise principle in favor of the president who
appointed him." it's for these reasons and others that david frederick, a board member of the liberal american constitution society, argued in an opinion piece that there is "no principled reason to oppose" judge gorsuch, and that we "should applaud such independence of mind and spirit in supreme court nominees." so then another test. independents' charge didn't stick either. next, we heard that the judge is against the little guy and for the big guy. as a matter, this is really a strange criticism, considering that my colleague, the minority leader, praised justice sotomayor as a judge who "puts the rule of law above everything
else, even when doing so results in rulings that go against sympathetic litigants." and the judge himself proves how absurd this argument is by citing a number of cases where he ruled with the so-called little guy. but regardless, it is, of course, a silly argument. no judge doing their job considers the status of the litigants before them when deciding the cases. that's why liberal harvard law professor noah feldman described the critique that judge gorsuch doesn't side with the little guy as a "truly terrible idea. the rule of law isn't liberal or conservative or shouldn't be." in other words, a good judge
listens to the arguments, regardless of who makes them, and applies the law, regardless of the results. so, that didn't stick. so, next we heard that the judge hasn't answered questions. that argument is basically a complaint that he won't tell us how he's going to vote on a whole host of legal questions that he might have to deal with when he sits on that bench. well, the irony here, of course, is that seeking assurances from the nominee how he'll vote on particular legal questions undermines the very independence that we demand of the supreme court, and right now his nominees. his approach is consistent with the cannons of judicial ethics and is consistent with the position taken by justice
ginsburg during her nomination. in fact, that's where the ginsburg rule comes from. she put it this way -- "a judge sworn to decide impartiality can offer no forecast, no hints, for that would show not only disregard for the specifics of a particular case, it would display disdain --" disdain, "for the entire process." judge gorsuch's response reflects the ginsburg principle. and so at last, after all these charges leveled against the nominee and his record have fallen flat, we learn that the nominee should be opposed because -- not because of his
record or his qualifications, but because of clients he had for the groups who now support him. we've heard criticism of the judge's former client, the department of justice, and its litigating position, opposition on these grounds may be creative, but they're, in fact, baseless. here's the inconsistency. justice kagan, for example, argued as solicitor general that the government could constitutionally ban pamphlet material. when that issue was raised at her hearing, she said she was a government lawyer acting on behalf of her client. that client happened to be the same united states government that gorsuch had worked for for a while. but today, the other side is all of a sudden arguing that
government lawyers should be held personally responsible for every legal position that the government takes. so, once again, that argument doesn't stand up under scrutiny. and finally, of course, we've heard criticism of the advocacy groups who are speaking out in support of his nomination and spending "dark money" on issue advocacy. now, as an initial matter, i think it speaks volumes of a nominee that at the end of the day, after reviewing 2,700 cases, more than 180,000 pages of documents from the department of justice and the george w. bush library, and thousands of pages of brief he filed as a lawyer in private practice, all his detractors are left with is
an attack on the people who support the nomination. now, as a senator who's participated in 14 supreme court hearings, i must say these comments strike me as really odd. to hear my friends on the other side tell it, it's only conservatives outside groups who are engaged in the nomination process, but we all know that isn't true. it's no secret that there are dozens of advocacy groups on the left who get involved in the nomination process, and there's absolutely nothing, nothing whatsoever wrong with that. we call it free speech. a group called the coalition for constitutional values ran ads in support of justice sotomayor and justice kagan before their
confirmation. the american constitution society touted justice kagan as "a justice for every american." where did their money come from? i don't know, and i suppose a lot of people think that i shouldn't say i don't care, but this is america, where people can spend their money where they want to spend it, and they can use their money for political speech or any advocacy that they want. and, of course, as we see advocacy groups on the left are engaged on this nomination as well. liberal billionaires like tom steyer, george soros, found their own dark money organizations like next-gen climate, a group that describes judge gorsuch as "an extreme candidate, wrong for the supreme
court." under any circumstances." everyone in this room knows that liberal and progressive groups have been pressuring the minority leader to find a reason, any reason, to filibuster the nominee. naro has run ads to pressure members to filibuster. we even had some groups called progressive change campaign committee target a senior, an extremely well respected democrat over his "squishy" comments suggesting he might not filibuster. in short, they've threatened to primary any democrat who supports the nomination. now, that's very dark. and of course, all last year, the groups on the left who coordinated and attacked on me because i didn't hold a hearing
on garland, they followed me all over iowa, ran commercials, put up billboards, even had a plane pulling a banner over a special event in des moines. can you imagine that plane traveling around iowa with that banner, saying "grassley, do your job," or mobile billboards, "do your job," at every town meeting i had, or billboards on florida avenue, des moines, iowa, all over touting three republicans that were ashamed of grassley. found out this were republicans maybe 20 years ago. tv ads, radio ads, paid staff bringing people to my tone mewn meetings, op eds, clutter my town meetings with trackers, and even brought in somebody, i found out, from washington state to make sure that everybody knew how bad i was. now, that's what i know about
dark money, but i don't care about it, because that's the american way we do things in this representative democracy. in fact, at my town meetings, i tell people one thing up front in about two minutes of opening the meeting, because i don't talk -- well, i let them set the agenda, but i say this is what representing a government is about. i'm one half of the process. you're the other half. and how can you be representative of the people if you don't have dialogue with them? and so, these people come with dialogue with me, and it's part of our democratic system. now, i never heard any democrat complain about all that money that was spent last year. we had a debate. i believe then and i believe now that we took the right course for the senate and for the court. and i said, regardless of who won the election, we'd process this nominee. and so, we're processing the nominee. 9:00 on election night,
everybody thought that hillary clinton was going to be president of the united states. but a long time before that 9:00, months before, i said, whoever's elected president, we're going to process that nominee, and that's what we're doing right now. that's democracy at work. by and large, i disagree with those advocacy groups on most issues, but i don't take issue with their engaging in the process and making their voices heard. and i don't try to intimidate or silence them. the bottom line is this -- if you don't like the fact that issue advocacy groups are engaged in the process, the remedy is not to attack, intimidate or try to silence them. the remedy is to support nominees who apply the law as it's written. the remedy is to support nominees who leave legislating to congress. if you want politics out of the
process, the solution is judges who apply the law as it's written, and leave the policymaking to the other branches. which brings me back to where i started. judge gorsuch is eminently qualified. he's a mainstream judge who's earned the universal respect of his colleagues on the bench and in the bar. he applies the law as we in congress write it, as the judicial oath says, without respect to persons, and he refuses to compromise his independence. this nominee that we're voting on today is a judge's judge. he's a picture of the kind of justice we should have on the supreme court. so, i urge you to join me in supporting his nomination. senator feinstein.
>> thanks very much, mr. chairman. in my view, this is not a routine nomination. so, i want to begin with just some brief comments about what has made this different for me. the first, of course, is what happened last year, which is unprecedented. as i noted in our last meeting, throughout our nation's history, a total of 19 supreme court justices have been nominated and confirmed in a presidential election year. and three of these have been nominated and confirmed after the presidential election took place. so, there was simply no reason that the nomination of judge garland could not proceed other than to deny the then president of the united states, president barack obama, the ability to fill the seat, and that's what
has taken place. secondly, press reports indicate that $7 million of dark money was spent to defeat judge garland's nomination. this, too, was unprecedented. however, with the nomination of judge gorsuch, the spending of dark money has only grown. weeks ago, press began reporting that the koch brothers through concerned veterans for america and other conservative donors through the judicial crisis network planned to spend at least $10 million on a political campaign to support judge gorsuch's nomination. since then, the national rifle association has launched a $1 million ad buy. and just last friday, the judicial crisis network announced another $1 million
targeted to specific senators in missouri, montana, indiana, and colorado. so, this nomination is not the usual nomination. it comes in a different way, and it has proceeded in a way of excessive spending of dark money that in the time i have been on this committee i have never seen before. so, this is deeply troubling, and i don't believe it's the way a serious process of evaluating a supreme court nominee should be conducted. i want to be clear, though, although my vote will not be based on these factors, i strongly believe that the expenditure of millions of dollars of unknown dollars should not be permitted in the nomination of a supreme court justice. however, we have had four days of full and fair hearings, and today we begin our mark-up.
i want to thank the chairman for his leadership and the very cooperative manner in which the hearings were conducted. so i want you to know, mr. chairman, you're allowing all members to fully ask questions and have the time they needed to examine judge gorsuch's record and hear from outside witnesses is very much appreciated. >> thank you. >> so, thank you. in reviewing the list of judge gorsuch's decisions on the tenth circuit, two stand out as appearing to indicate his view of how a law should be interpreted and whether precedent should be overturned. and the first, which has been talked about before, but nonetheless very important, is a case called transam trucking. the driver, alphonse maddin, was stranded in subzero temperatures for several hours with frozen brakes on a trailer -- on the
trailer, and no heat in his cab. it was so cold, his torsio was numb and he could not feel his feet. after waiting hours for assistance, mr. maddin was instructed to drive the cab and the trailer together or not at all. when he could no longer stand the cold, he unhitched the trailer and drove to get help. because of this, he was fired. the department of labor found he was illegally fired for refusing to operate the vehicle. in fact, the administrative law judge, the administrative review board, and the majority of the tenth circuit all agree that he had been illegally fired for refusing to operate the vehicle as instructed by his employer. judge gorsuch disagreed. instead, he argued in his
dissent that the term operate should be interpreted by the oxford dictionary's definition, that operate should include only operating the cab of the truck, and maddin's employer could fire him with impunity. i find this striking. first, judge gorsuch's argument ignores the reality that mr. maddin was given an impossible choice -- risk your own life or the life of others on the road. secondly, it ignores the fact the judges are not evaluating cases and interpreting law in a vacuum or a law school classroom, but rather, cases are about real people and real life. in fact, the majority of his own court on the tenth noted that judge gorsuch's narrow interpretation of the word
operate was based on one dictionary, while they had found a different dictionary definition that supported their reading of the statute. simply put, which dictionary a judge happens to select should not and cannot determine whether a just outcome is achieved in a case. the second case that really stood out -- and the father testified before us -- was luke p. luke perkins was diagnosed with autism at 22 months. as he got older, the amount of structure and educational services he needed increased. in response, luke's parents and grandparents did all they could. they dug deep into their savings. they sought support from the school district, as provided for under the individuals with disabilities education act, known as i.d.e.a., but they were
denied. the independent hearing officer, the administrative judge, and the united states district court all determined the school district was wrong to deny funding. but when the case got to the tenth circuit, judge gorsuch inserted the word merely into the standard. now, up to this point, the tenth circuit had held that the educational benefit had to be "more than de minimis." adding the word merely made a narrow interpretation of the law even narrower. as luke's father testified to us -- and i quote -- "judge gorsuch felt that an education for my son that was even one small step above insignificant was acceptable." luckily, the supreme court
unanimously rejected judge gorsuch's interpretation of the law, actually, during our hearings. in both cases, judge gorsuch unnecessarily went out of his way to imply his own view of what the law should be, even when it would have devastating effects on people's lives. because these cases were troubling, i had hoped judge gorsuch would better explain his judicial philosophies and personal views at this hearing, but that did not happen. judge gorsuch's views were difficult to discern because he refused to answer many questions, even basic questions that had been answered by previous nominees. for example, senator blumenthal asked the judge if he agreed with the results of brown v. the board of education, one of the
most important cases in our history, i think everyone would agree. rather than agreeing that schools shouldn't be segregated, judge gorsuch instead said it was "the correct application of precedent." to be clear, when he asked if he supported brown, judge gorsuch refused to directly answer. in contrast, when justice kennedy was asked about brown, he replied, and i quote, "i think brown v. board of education was right when it was decided, and i think it would have been right if it had been decided 80 yarears before." in another exchange, senator franken asked about a wave of recent laws to restrict access to voting. these laws were found to target african-americans with surgical
precision. senator franken discussed the effect of these laws, but he simply asked if judge gorsuch was disturbed by efforts to disenfranchise african-american voters. the question has but one easy answer, and it's yes. yet, instead of agreeing, judge gorsuch ducked the question. he responded, and i quote, "if there are allegations of racism in legislation in the voting area, there are a variety of revenues." even justice alito was more candid. when asked about affirmative action, justice alito replied, " "i have personal experience about how valuable having people with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints can be. having a diverse student body is a compelling interest."
going even further, in 1987, senator biden asked justice kennedy not what he thought about affirmative action generally, but whether the voluntary affirmative action plans are legally permissible. judge kennedy unequivocally responded, "yes." unfortunately, judge gorsuch's answers were so diluted with ambiguity, one could not see where he stood, even on big and long-settled cases. when i asked judge gorsuch about his work at the department of justice involving the bush administration's defense of the use of torture, despite providing relevant documents, judge gorsuch said only that "his memory is what it is, and it isn't great on this." and that the position he took on torture "was the position that
clients" were telling him to take. not only did he not answer my question, he raised an additional concern. i strongly believe that when you work for the government, either as a lawyer or a policymaker, it's important to comment on the legality of the issue you advise or write. to say, i did what they wanted, is not enough, particularly if the legality is contradicted by both law and treaty. i also believe it's important to remember the context. at this point, our country was involved in detaining people indefinitely, without charge or trial, leaving them with no rights, no meaningful opportunity to challenge their confinement. the government had also decided the executive could order the use of certain enhanced
interrogation techniques that included waterboarding, stress positions, and sleep deprivation, as well as a host of other techniques which would and did result in death and serious debilitation of detainees. it was april 2004 when the public first learned about the prisoner abuse chronicled in the abu ghraib photos. then in june of 2004, information was leaked to the media that the department of justice had issued legal opinions that stated enhanced interrogation techniques were within the law, unless they inflicted the kind of pain associated with organ failure or death. judge gorsuch reached out to the white house political director in november 2004, approximately six months after these
revelations, to say how he wanted to help the cause and be a full-time member of the team. then in march 2005, he reached out to the chairman of the republican national committee, who vouched for gorsuch as a true loyalist and a good, strong conservative. judge gorsuch ultimately joined the bush administration in june of '05. through our examination of his documents, we learned that during his tenure at the department of justice he was involved in efforts to strip detainees of their ability to have habeas cases heard by federal courts, defend and protect the bush administration's position on torture, and issue an expansive signing statement on the detainee treatment act. these statements were used to highlight parts of the law the
administration intended not to follow. importantly, we learned that judge gorsuch advocated for the bush administration to issue a broad signing statement. he said it could be used to, and i quote, help inoculate against the potential of having the administration criticized sometime in the future for not making sufficient changes in interrogation policy. in light of the mccain portion of the amendment. this statement clearly, and in a formal way that would be hard to dispute later, puts down a marker to the effect that the view that mccain is best read as essentially codifying existing interrogation techniques. nothing could be farther from the truth.
judge gorsuch's e-mail shows a knowledge of the bush administration's position on torture. it also demonstrated he supported efforts to codify existing interrogation policies, such as water boarding and other extreme techniques. in our written questions, i asked again about his views on enhanced interrogation techniques. i know something about them. the intelligence committee while i was chairman has in classified statta over 7,000 pages with 32,000 footnotes that document all of this. i tried to understand his opinions on right and wrong and whether he was at all disturbed by what our government was doing. unfortunately, once again, the answers i got were nonresponsive. for example, i asked judge
gorsuch what he meant when he suggested that a signing statement could inoculate the administration if they were later criticized for not making "sufficient changes" to the interrogation policy, end quote, based on the mccain amendment. judge gorsuch responded, once again, that he was "a lawyer individualsing a client." and that his client, the government, was arguing that the mccain amendment simply codified existing policies. judge gorsuch's defense is that he was only doing what his client wanted him to do. many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have praised judge gorsuch's qualifications, and there's no question he's well educated and well credentialed. but we're not just evaluating a
relation mon resumé. if we were, every supreme court nominee would pass unanimously, 100-0. rather, all of us evaluate not only their education and experience, but also their judicial philosophy, temperament, and views on important legal issues. we do this because, if confirmed, a nominee's decisions will affect the lives of all americans for generations. and as i've said, our judge ob assess whether the nominee will protect the legal and constitutional rights of all americans and whether the nominee recognizes the humanity and justice required when evaluating the cases before him. unfortunately, based on judge gorsuch's record at the department of justice, his tenure on the bench, his appearance before the senate,
and his written questions for the record, i cannot support this nomination. thank you very much. >> thank you. senator from utah. >> well, thank you, mr. chairman. before making a few comments about the nomination of judge neil gorsuch, i want to remind my colleagues about the committee's traditional practice regarding supreme court nominees. that practice was memorialized in a letter signed in june 2001 by incoming chairman patrick leahy, and by myself as the then ranking member on this committee. mr. chairman, i ask consent that that letter be placed in the record at this point. >> without objection, so ordered. >> the letter states, "the judiciary committee's traditional practice has been to report supreme court nominees to the senate once the committee has completed its considerations." now, this letter was cited several times last year by those
demanding a hearing on the previous nominee, but it says nothing whatsoever about how the committee should consider a particular nominee. the best way to evaluate an individual nominee depends on many factors. and last year, we obviously faced some unique circumstances. though this letter was irrelevant last year, it is certainly relevant now because we have completed our consideration of the gorsuch nomination. since only five current committee members were here in 2001, i wanted to make sure everyone was aware of our past practice. now, the conflict over the gorsuch nomination is not about whether our fellow citizens tried to influence the president's nominations or the senate's advice and consent. of course they do. from both the left and the right. anyone who thinks that specific left wing groups have not moved mountains and spent like mad to influence past supreme court
nominations has been living in a parallel universe for the last 30 years. nor is the conflict over the gorsuch nomination about whether president obama had a right last year to appoint this nominee. no president does, that's what checks and balances are for. the constitution gives the president the power to nominate judges, then gives the senate the power, advice and consent on those nominations. both the president and the senate legitimately exercised their respective powers last year. the conflict over the gorsuch nomination is instead about two radically different ideas about the role of judges in our system of government. america's founders designed the judiciary to impartially interpret and apply the law. the judges do not make and cannot change to decide individual cases. the law, not the judge,
determines the results in the way to change the results is to change the law. the other idea is that deciding cases as a means to the end of judges addressing issues and advancing political interests. >> all right, you've been watching the senate judiciary committee. they are meeting to discuss the nomination of judge neil gorsuch to be the next supreme court justice of the united states. right now you're looking at senator orrin hatch of utah. one bit of news -- the ranking member, the lead democrat on this committee, dianne feinstein of california, she just announced she is a no vote. now, we all thought that would happen, but she had not announced her intentions before, so that's one more no vote,. presumably, she will also support a filibuster. so democrats are getting one step closer to that number. 40 votes is what they need -- 41, in fact, to block this nomination, which would force republicans to use the nuclear option. >> right. and they now only have three democrats that have said that
they will indeed vote yes on gorsu gorsuch. you've got the democrat from west virginia, north dakota, and also indiana over the weekend making that news. so, the numbers not adding up at this point. looks like we will, for sure, see the nuclear option. let's talk about this as we continue to monitor this hearing. joe is with us, our supreme court expert, and nia-malika henderson on the politics of all of it. joe, let me begin with you. what's your takeaway in terms of the fight we're seeing set up? because we've heard from the ranking democrat, dianne feinstein, as well as chuck grassley, but the fight we're going to see is yet to come. >> that's right, and she laid out a couple markers i think will be picked up in the floor debate later this week. she talked about the money being spent to oppose him. she talked about merrick garland, but then she said let's put all that aside. here's why i think that he should not be confirmed. and she put down a couple of markers that we might hear echoed throughout the rest of the debate today, this morning, and then also later in the week. for example, she raised a
comparison between judge gorsuch and other republican nominees, saying compare these answers, compare how little he gave, even when you look at, for example, now justice samuel alito, now justice anthony kennedy. and i think she went through this systematically to say this is not just about the politics of what happened with merrick garland, although she stressed that that was so unusual last year that president obama's nominee did not get a hearing. she stressed how much the money was going against the interests of democrats, but she wanted to give the substantive case, and i think we'll hear more about that, we'll hear more about the frozen trucker case, we'll hear more about the individuals with disabilities in education case, and i think we'll hear more about the evasiveness. >> chairman grassley was making point this is a judge in the mainstream. ranking member feinstein saying this is not a judge whose decisions i agree with.
this is about the law. she wanted to make that point, it's not just about politics. nia malia henderson, about the vote count and the democrats, joe donnelly, heidi heitkamp and joe manchin saying they would support gorsuch, and a couple democrats the last couple days, surprising they came out so early, jon tester of montana, claire mccaskill of missouri, saying they will be no votes. i'm curious when you have these democratic senators from red states, what's driving them one way or another? what makes heidi heitkamp different from jon tester? >> you know, everything is local i think we're seeing. i think initially we thought, listen, all of these sort of trump state democrats might be there for the picking off, if you're a republican, but they have really tried to approach this in a way that makes sense for them, that makes sense for their states. and i think if you listen to dianne feinstein today, she is giving this very broad case of why democrats might be able to, when they decide what they want to do, the six or seven who haven't decided -- she's trying to essentially give them kind of
a frame work and talking points for why they might not support this nominee. so in some ways, i think it's broad and there's a lot to choose from. whether or not it's his comments or lack of comments in terms of abortion, whether it's the frozen trucker case, whether it's his sort of comments and role in enhanced interrogation techniques. so, that's what she's trying to do, sort of lay out a pretty broad sense of where the democratic party is in terms of this nominee and give everyone a sense of why they might be able to be for him or against him. but in some ways, it isn't surprising that you've some of these folks like joe manchin, essentially saying, listen, this is the president's choice, and that the senate's role is sort of to advise and consent. it's like the lindsey graham approach, i think, to supreme court nominees. so, we'll see what happens. but listen, i think we know what's going to happen at the end of this. the republicans have the votes to end this, to have neil gorsuch be the next justice on
the supreme court. >> right. it's just the process and how much that changes precedent going forward. it is historic in that way. thank you very much, nia and joan. we appreciate it. we're going to take a quick break. we'll be right back pb why pause a spontaneous moment? cialis for daily use treats ed and the urinary symptoms of bph. tell your doctor about your medicines, and ask if your heart is healthy enough for sex. do not take cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain, or adempas® for pulmonary hypertension, as this may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. do not drink alcohol in excess. to avoid long-term injury, get medical help right away for an erection lasting more than four hours. if you have a sudden decrease or loss of hearing or vision, or an allergic reaction, stop taking cialis and get medical help right away. ask your doctor about cialis. oh, how waso good!en house? did you apply? oh, i'll do it later today. your credit score must be amazing. my credit score? credit karma. it's free. that's great!
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all right, we are, of course, continuing to monitor the hearings, the senate having the hearing on neil gorsuch today, but also want to bring you other news because senate lawmakers are about to begin the next phase of the russia investigation. >> the senate intelligence committee is expected to be holding private interviews today. want to get right to cnn senior congressional reporter, manu raju, on capitol hill. manu, what are they expecting to hear and do we have any idea who they're expecting to hear from? >> reporter: well, this is the first of 20 interviews that the senate intelligence committee is expected to have, most of them behind closed doors. the beginning parts of the interviews are actually going to be people in the intelligence community, analyst-type people to lay the ground work before those really big witnesses may come forward, people like paul manafort, maybe even a michael flynn. now, on the flynn issue, the
former national security adviser, of course, has now been asking for immunity in exchange for his testimony, but there is a lot of skepticism on capitol hill about whether he should get any immunity, and that skepticism is coming from republicans, including lindsey graham, who's a member of the senate judiciary committee who raised questions earlier today about why michael flynn needs immunity and whether the president of the united states should be advocating for that. take a listen. do you think congress should give immunity to michael flynn? >> i don't know what he those offer. i wouldn't give immunity to somebody unless i knew they had something to offer. the whole situation with general flynn is a bit bizarre. he said in the past nobody asked for immunity unless they've committed a crime. i'm not so sure that's true. as a lawyer, i know always that is not true, but the whole situation's really strange. all i can say -- >> reporter: what about the president saying that he should be given immunity? >> i think he's just trying to encourage thoim come forward, but i'm not so sure that's appropriate. the bottom line is, if there were any contacts between the trump campaign and the russian
intelligence services that were inappropriate, i want to find out about it and i want the whole world to know about it. >> reporter: so, john and poppy, we're really not hearing much support from republicans on capitol hill for that idea of immunity to get michael flynn to testify, but of course, one of the key witnesses on the senate intelligence committee and the house want to talk to. the question is under what conditions. poppy and john. >> manu raju from the hill, thank you. we appreciate it. we've got much more ahead on this crucial day and crucial week for the trump administration. >> you're looking at live pictures, the senate judiciary committee arguing over neil gorsuch. will he be the next supreme court justice? stay with us. there's a more enjoyable way to get your fiber.
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-- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com hello, everyone. i am kate bolduan. happening right now, two huge tests for president trump, one involving his choice for a lifetime appointment to the nation's highest court, one of the most important decisions any president makes and one that has the longest and lasting impacts on the country. right now, the senate judiciary committee is debating whether to advance neil gorsuch's supreme court nomination and then three crucial, possibly brutal days of debate will follow. the big question, will republicans end up pulling the legislative nuclear option to get neil gorsuch confirmed, and what does that mean for the country and the senate going forward? we'll have our eyes on that throughout the hour. meantime, the second big test involves u.s. foreign policy. president trump's diplomatic skills tested this hour with egypt's president joining him in washington. later this week, he's going to be meeting with