tv Inside Politics CNN September 4, 2018 9:00am-10:00am PDT
suspicion. i'll close, mr. chairman. i know you're anxious. when i was a practicing lawyer a long time ago in trial, and the other side either destroyed or concealed evidence, i knew that i was going to be able to have a convincing argument to close that case. what were they hiding? why won't they let you see a speed tape on that train or the documents they just can't find? you know that presumption now is against you because of all the documents held back. for the sake of this nation, for the sanctity of the constitution that we both honor, step up, ask this meeting, this gathering to suspend until all the documents of your public career are there for the american people to see. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator lee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, judge kavanaugh. thank you also, ashley, margaret, and eliza, for being here. i'm going to start by saying -- >> welcome to "inside politics."
we're going to dip out of this contentious hearing for a few moments. that's brett kavanaugh in the chair there. president trump's second no, ma'am me that to the supreme court. this is day one of his confirmation hearing. contentious. they're already off schedule because of democratic complaints, partly about the process, partly pant the nominee. it's been a remarkable process so far. democrats complaining from the get go that this hearing should be delayed, postponed because they say 42,000 pages of documents provided to them just last night. again, we'll keep our eye on the hearing. just want to get some insights on what we've seen so far this morning. with me in studio to share their reporting and their insights, mollie ball with time and supreme court analyst joan biskupic. you saw democrats right out of the box delay the hearing, postpone the hearing, you're not being fair, it's all about politics. we'll get to the policy when judge kavanaugh starts answering questions.
he could change the court balance on abortion, on gay marriage, on health care access. so far it's been about politics. that tells me the democrats began this hearing knowing they don't have the math. they're trying to stop it at the beginning because they don't have the votes at the end. >> their best hope is to convince republicans to defect. right now there's no sign any two republicans will ultimately defect. their best hope is for lisa murkowski and susan collins to do that. neither of them are on the committee. the strategy this morning was born out of a wlot of pressulot from the left. a lot of groups were frustrated democrats were not taking a firm enough line. they demanded a full-out boycott on today's hearing because of their frustration that they've not gotten enough documents from his time in the bush white house. they were provided 42,000 pages of documents last night that no one really had a chance to go through. those were confidential. they couldn't even release them publicly. so all these process complaints really bubbling up.
in a nod to their base, really doing some of this extraordinary interrupting of a chairman, demanding the end of a hearing. you had protesters yelling. this usually does not happen. it's a pretty remarkable, aggressive move. >> and they're essentially more than an hour behind schedule because chairman grassley let that play out. he let the democrats complain again and again. let's play a flavor of it at the start here. every democrat on the committee is unhappy. among those most vocal, a number of democrats who serve on this committee who are thinking about running for president in 2020. >> mr. chairman, i'd like to be recognized for a question before we proceed. mr. chairman, i'd like to be recognized to ask a question before we proceed. the committee received just last night less than 15 hours ago 42,000 pages of documents that we have not had an opportunity to review or read or analyze. >> you're out of order.
i'll proceed. >> if we cannot be recognized, i move to adjourn. >> the american people -- >> mr. chairman, i move to adjourn. >> the american people wish to hear directly from judge kavanaugh. >> we've been denied real access to the documents we need -- >> mr. chairman, regular order. >> -- turns this hearing into a charade and a mockery of our norm. >> what is the rush? what are we trying to hide by not having the documents out front? what is with the rush? what are we hiding by not letting those documents come out? sir, this committee is a violation of the values that we as a committee have been striving for. we're rushing through this process in a way that's unnecessary. i appeal for the motion to at least be voted on. i appeal to dee sen si. >> you spoke about my decency and integrity.
and i think you are taking advantage of my decency and integrity. >> it is just remarkable. this is for a supreme court seat. it's a lifetime appointment. it's to replace anthony kennedy. it also comes at a time where this is as much about president trump as it is about brett kavanaugh. and is it as much about the tensions within the democratic party? in some cases, ambition within the democratic party? >> perhaps in some cases, but you have democrats trying to send a message that elevates this above a partisan battle. you heard in senator durbin's comments just now, trying to talk about the extraordinary times we're in, the level of concern among his constituents, trying to say this isn't only about issues that we disagree on, issues the court could decide, but about the trump presidency, the constitutional crisis, the special counsel. democrats trying to focus on the process, the documents, the disclosure of the nominee's
record, and the issues surrounding prurp surrounding president trump as a way of, i think, moving this out of the arena of partisan issues that they disagree on. although, of course it is also about that. >> this is your wheelhouse, joan. have you ever seen anything like this? we knew this was the kennedy seat. we knew it was the trump presidency. we know we're in a midterm election year with that election just around the corner. but remarkable. >> i've been covering these since 1990 with david souter. i've never seen as dramatic an opening. the question is going to be whether democrats can keep up the momentum to try to stop, have a pause, maybe get more documents, or at least try to bring more public attention to the fact that this man has been nominated to such a crucial seat, and they really do not have his full record before them. they really don't even have a partial record before them. and chairman grassley keeps referring to other nominees that have been up there, maybe referring to their other records. but this really is different from the other records.
>> i mean, look, i think everybody is right, that the democrats are trying to elevate this and trying to play to their base. what i don't understand is how that puts pressure on the republican senators that manu mentioned. regular people in those states of moderate republicans in maine and alaska are not sitting around debating questions of document production. and that can't possibly be the thing that's going to motivate them. when they get to the more substantive questions about abortion and gay rights and all of the other issues, that's where at least they have an opportunity to make the case to the regular folks that you should put pressure on these senators. >> also, maybe to say in the documents might be his true views on those important issues. they're going to have to make that connection and make it stick. >> to that point, you're right about the substance in terms of judge kavanaugh's views. did he say anything as bush's
staff secretary? has he said anything on any of these issues? it was pretty clear the democrats felt they had no choice. that the process was their first opportunity. they felt they had no choice, that they needed to speak up. let's listen to the chairman, chuck grassley, essentially saying, you know me, why are you doing this to me. >> can i ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle how long you want to go on with this? because i'm not going to entertain any of the motions you're making. we're not in executive session. and i think we ought to level with the american people. do you want this to go on all day? because i have been patient. every one of you prefaced your comments on how fair i was in running that hearing. now, this is the same chuck grassley that ran the gorsuch hearings. i'd like to run this hearing the same way if you'll give me the courtesy of doing it.
>> thank you, mr. -- >> how long do you want to go on? >> that was the question. now, the chairman had a choice. the democrats wanted to vote to adjourn the hearing, then to delay the hearing, to do some other things. he could have had votes. he decided not to have votes because he didn't want to give in to the democrats, i presume, unless he didn't think he had the votes. but at this moment, he mentioned the gorsuch hearings. that was a conservative replacing a conservative. there is the policy implication for the democrats that this is a more conservative, we believe, we don't know until if and when he's confirmed. they believe he's more to the right than justice kennedy, who is leaving. >> he was actually ambushed. he was not anticipating this level of aggression from the democrats. he presumed there would be a lot of angry comments in their opening statements about process. he did not expect to get interrupted by democrat after democrat. this democratic strategy began over the last several days. they've had private discussions. there was a conference call
organized over the weekend by chuck schumer, the senate minority leader. talked to members on the committee, the rank and file democrats in particular on that committee, who wanted to take a much tougher line because of their frustration. grassley and the republicans were caught flat footed on that, but grassley did not want to give an inch on this because if he gave them an inch, they could take a mile. then where does it go from there? he believes if he keeps this process moving forward, ultimately, he'll get confirmed. but this is just a start. tomorrow is questioning. the day after is going to be incredibly contentious. the question is does kavanaugh slip up or not. >> he gets to speak later today. you see him watching patiently here. this is part of the process. they get opening statements, which are essentially opening speeches. they make their political views known. in that process, a number of democrats standing up. here's the senator from california, the senior senator from california, the ranking member on the committee. the junior member from california is also on the committee. getting on to the process question, saying 42,000 pages last night. we've been asking for other
documents from brett kavanaugh's days in the bush white house. the president and white house won't give us those. she asked why. >> this is a hearing about who will sit on the highest court of our land. this is a hearing that is about who will sit in a house that symbolizes our system of justice in this country. and some of the most important principles behind the integrity of our system of justice is that we have due process and we have transparency. >> is this part of the democratic argument fair in the sense that the republicans say you've had more documents from brett kavanaugh than you've had from any other nominee. the republicans say there have been past democratic nominees who either in private practice or in working for the aclu had private conversations and you didn't see those documents. did the democrats have a point here? >> definitely, john. what senator grassley was doing
was comparing apples to oranges when he went back to the aclu documents of ruth bader ginsburg and the solicitor general documents of john roberts. the white house documents of bl brett kavanaugh are being withheld and screened severely. the white house documents of john roberts and elena kagan were revealed. it really is different. the democrats -- i know this is such a polarized, partisan situation, but they do have a point. they're saying we can't really do our job without knowing at least some of that material. >> again, we're going to keep an you on this hearing. we're going to resume our conversation about judge kavanaugh, soon to perhaps be justice kavanaugh, a bit later. just ahead, another big breaking news story today. fear, trump in the white house. the title of bob woodward's new book. we have fascinating new details. that's up next. alright, i brought in new max protein
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supreme court nominee brett kavanaugh. first, stunning breaking news. even in this administration two years in, explosive new details from legendary journalist bob woodward's new book sure to shake the white house and anger the president of the united states. cnn has obtained a copy of the book. woodward reports, among other things that, the president's closest aides have taken extraordinary measures in the white house, because they don't trust him, including removing papers off the president's desk, hiding them to prevent him from signing them or seeing them, in an effort, they say, to protect national security. this explosive revelation just one of many uncovered in this new book, which is being released next week. cnn's special correspondent is with us now. you've read through this book. woodward makes some startling revelations. >> the first thing is it opens with this dramatic scene where former chief economic adviser gary cohn sees something on the
president's desk. he thinks it's a danger to national security. he swipes it off the president's desk and hides it. he says when he saw it, he was, quote, appalled, according to woodward, and he did it for patriotic reasons. the quote in the book is, got to protect the country. and he wasn't alone. there were others. rob porter, the former staff secretary, worked with cohn. in addition to that, even from chief of staff kelly's days, more recently, what you hear is an attempt to when they think he's doing something dangerous, to distract him, slow roll, do whatever they can to prevent him from doing things that they think are a danger. >> it's stunning. i'll read a little bit from it. you mentioned the new chief of
staff john kelly. this wasn't just under the first chief of staff reince priebus. listen to this. this is from the book. he's an idiot. the president's unhinged. mattis quoted as saying, the president has the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader. rex tillerson, a bleeping moron. this is on the president speaking at a white house staff meeting, according to this book. he's an idiot. it's pointless to try to convince him of anything. he's gone off the rails. we're in crazy town. i don't know why any of us are here. this is the worst job i've ever had. michael, you've covered the white house full time. we know the president is mad that his aides prevented him, in addition to apparently stealing papers off his desk. they didn't trust him to sit down with bob woodward. this is the kind of thing that sets the president off. it's the kind of thing that i don't care who you voted for in the election, when you're reading about a white house staff of serious people taking papers off the president's desk
because they don't trust him, wow. >> that's absolutely remarkable. from what we know of this book, it certainly fits in the broad pattern of things that have been written about the president before and reported by networks like cnn. i think what's different is, a, the level of detail and the level of, as you said, crazy town, that sense of chaos is probably more heightened than we knew. and also, i think it's much, much harder for president trump and his allies to push back against somebody like bob woodward who has a stellar reputation in this town for doing exactly this kind of thing. when he reports these insider accounts of any administration, they hold up. maybe previous accounts, books, the president has been able to push back and question the reporting. i don't think it's going to be easy for the president to do that here. >> let's not forget that donald trump has been very complimentary of bob woodward in
the past. that adds to it. just on sources and methods, i think it's important to say that woodward spoke to dozens of people in the room with trump. trump is quoted extensively in the book, and he has hundreds of hours of taped interviews. the interviews were done on deep background, but almost everybody let him tape it. so there is a record. >> and there are some quotes, at least from the reporting. there are quotes from people that did go on the record. >> in addition, we've talked about the first chief of staff, the current chief of staff, the defense secretary, the chief economic adviser, the former secretary of state, all saying or doing what you would find to be alarming things about the president of the united states. this in the book from his former chief lawyer john dowd. he just made something up. that's his nature, dowd said to mueller, meaning the special prosecutor. i need the president's testimony, mueller said. what was his intent on comey?
i want to see if there was corrupt intent. despite dowd's efforts, trump continued to insist he could testify. i think the president of the united states cannot be seen taking the fifth, trump said. dowd's argument was stark. there's no way you can get through these. don't testify. it's either that or an orange jump suit. >> i mean, that's what people had been speculating for months. now we actually see what that conversation was like. dowd's concerns are what the president's personal lawyers still believe, that it's going to be problematic if the president chooses to testify. it kind of shows the back and forth that they had to deal with, with the president being sort of the stubborn person we know. he wants his way always. so kind of how they talked him out of potentially testifying and how they're probably still doing that behind the scenes. >> that's just so remarkable. they conducted a mock interview with the president. the president lied and got frustrated. the president's attorneys then go to robert mueller himself to tell him that he may lie under oath. that is a stunning revelation in
this book. it shows you, you know, they're probably not going to ultimately testify, and what does robert mueller do? does he issue a subpoena and take this fight to the courts? pretty remarkable. >> when you hear things like this, you know what's going to happen on programs like this and across cable television. we know what the president watches. we know how the president reacts when he's criticized, especially from people he views are supposed to be loyal to the death. cnn's kaitlan collins is at the white house. take us inside what you know about how this is being processed inside the white house, including by the president. >> reporter: well, john, we know that in recent weeks, president trump has been complaining he didn't sit down with bob woodward for an interview before this book went to print. there were several evenfforts m on behalf of woodward to sit down with the president, and those requests were made to some senior officials here in the white house. an interview never panned out. president trump never sat down with him before this went to print. that is something that has irked the president in recent days ahead of this release just next
week. even know as thee excerpts are coming out about these stunning revelations. we also know there's no clear defense strategy for the white house. this is a white house that has seen tell-all books before, two in the last nine months. that one by michael wolf and the other by the former staffer, omarosa. because there were questions about whether or not they were true, john, the white house had a little bit of cover to defend itself from those allegations. now, that doesn't seem to be the case here with the wootwadward book. this is someone who has e-mail exchanges, first-hand accounts of what was said. so the white house hasn't reacted yet to this book, even though they knew this book was coming. we've been speaking with several white house staffers over recent days who raised concerns about this. that seems to be echoed by the president, who seemed irritated he hadn't sat down with bob
woodward and have a chance to tell his side of the story, even though woodward did reach out to him. we do know bob woodward spoke with several people in the white house. i had a dozen people, former and current staffers, confirm they did speak with bob woodward, somebody spotted here in the west wing during the first year of the trump administration. so what's unclear right now is what the white house is going to say to defend themselves against these claims that do not paint the president in a flattering light at all, john. >> kaitlan collins, appreciate the reporting from the whouite house. again, the timing of this book coming out. bob mueller still continuing i had investigation. the president lashing out at all investigations, lashing out at his attorney general. we know, number one, it's a bob woodward book. we know the president's ego. we know his aides kept him from participating. kaitlan collins saying the president is mad about that. you have additional information. >> i think that may not be true. we have a transcript of a phone
call, president trump on august 14th, after we broke the story that the book was coming out, called bob woodward. they spoke for 11 minutes. we have a transcript of the beginning of the call. he says, why didn't you ask me for an interview? bob explains that he asked six different people not only at the white house but he asked some senators to pass along. at first trump says, well, i didn't know anything about it. then all the sudden bob woodward says, did senator lindsey graham tell you? guess what, oh, yes, trump says. that's true. that's true. so it's not true that the request didn't get to trump, by that phone call. i think the other thing that's fair to say that we all know is donald trump does what donald trump wants to do. the staff doesn't keep him -- if he wanted to do this interview, he would have done the
interview. >> more proof the president has a very casual relationship with the truth at times. i want to get back into this as we wait for the president's reaction, coming soon, you can be sure. we talk about aides taking papers off the desk. cabinet secretaries, chiefs of staff walking out of meetings, saying derogatory things about the president. some of you at home could write that off. he's a temperamental guy. this affects the business of the government. here's more from this book about afghanistan. america's longest war. trump went off on his generals. you should be killing guys. you don't need a strategy to kill people, trump said of afghanistan. here's another issue here, questioning the wisdom of keeping u.s. troops in south korea. so, mr. president, gary cohn said to trump, what would you need in the region to slaep well at night? i wouldn't need a bleeping thing, the president said. and i'd sleep like a baby. after trump left the tank, secretary of state rex tillerson declare kd he's a bleeping moron. >> stunning. it also reminds me of what bob corker said last year.
that if you removed kelly, removed mattis, and tillerson, who's no longer there, from this administration, this country could devolve into chaos. this suggests that in a lot of ways that those people and others in the administration took these steps to prevent the president from acting because they thought it would be a significant threat to this country, to the world. this is the president of the united states we're talking about and his most senior trusted aides and advisers. it's a remarkable thing. >> and just for context, a dangerous thing in today's world but a lot of this reporting is about earlier days of the administration. but we see just in the last three, four, five days the president's anger, his visceral response, his attack on institutions, his erratic behavior continues. >> right. and one of the things that has always been the case in white houses, and you covered white houses long time ago, the process and the system is set up
to support what the president wants to do. there are well-established -- for example, the national security process. barack obama when he was thinking about what to do in afghanistan, it was a month's long review that involved a whole host of people across the go government to try to help the president decide. in this administration, what we see again and again, and this is probably the most vivid portrait, is the president at war with that process. the president who wants to do whatever he wants to do and the process struggling to figure out how to keep him from doing it. that's just not how it's ever worked before. >> and not rogue actors, not the deep state, but people the president hired for these jobs. he brought in reince priebus. he brought in rob porter. he brought in john kelly. he brought in rex tillerson. he talks so complimentary about the generals, mattis and the like. >> the president is also making these stunning conclusions without the willingness to learn about the world, is what we're learning from woodward's
reporting as well. he showed no interest in reading the paperwork, learning about foreign policy. then he comes up with his own conclusions and makes these orders when he's clearly on a different page from what his advisers are telling him. he does this repeatedly without any care or a concern about what that could lead to. >> john, it's one of the most striking things when you read the book how the word alarmed is used, exasperated, and how there's example after example of his lack of understanding of substance no matter how many times that times they wake him through it. there's an intervention at the defense department. they try to explain to him why having troops in south korea is important. they go all around the table. at the end of it, he says he wants to pull them all out. so there's this true concern about his intellectual ability throughout the book.
>> and one more point i want to make before we get back to the confirmation hearing, sneak in a break. this is about -- again, some of this reporting is done months ago, but awe my pply is to the t situation. attacking the attorney general, two republican congressmen accused of corruption. listen to this. this guy is mentally retarded, i'm sorry to use the word, but i'm quoting from a book. this guy is metropolitanntally trump said of sessions. he's the dumb southerner, trump told porter, mocking sessions by feigning a southern accent. and trump demeaned former new york mayor rudy giuliani. rudy, you're a baby. trump told the man who is now his attorney. i've never seen a worse defense of me in my life. these are accomplished professionals and public servants, and that's the president of the united states. >> yeah, i'm going to be interested to hear the reaction
from some members, particularly southern members and friends of jeff sessions and the base, but how he demeaned sessions. again, you can't dismiss this reporting, the way the white house has done with other critic critical narratives. this is a very accomplished, seasoned veteran reporter with recordings about this. we'll see how people react. >> we've seen the pushback from the attorney general in recent days. one suspects he is aware of these kinds of things, that he knows this, which is why you have seen a rather remarkable statement from the attorney general. take us inside the white house. you guys cover it full time every day. number one, if you're john kelly, you still work there. gary cohn is gone. reince prebiebus is gone. rob porter is gone. i'm sorry. ted cruz, the republican senator from texas, speaking at the brett kavanaugh confirmation
hearing. let's take you back to capitol hill. >> that is the world that is washington in 2018. i want to discuss what this hearing is about and what it's not about. first, this hearing is not about the qualifications of the nominee. judge kavanaugh is by any objective measure unquestionably qualified for supreme court. everyone agrees he's one of the most respected federal judges in the country. he has impeccable academic credentials, even if you did go to yale. and you served over a decade on the u.s. court of appeals for the d.c. circuit, often referred to as the second highest court in the land. so our democratic colleagues are not trying to make the argument that judge kavanaugh is not qualified. indeed, i haven't heard anyone even attempt to make that argument. second, this hearing is not about his judicial record. jung kavanaugh has over 300 published opinions, which altogether amount to over 10,000
pages issued in his role as a federal appellate judge. everyone agrees a judge's record is by far the most important indisyum of what kind of justice that nominee will be. and tellingly, we've heard having little today from democratic senators about the actual substance of judge kavanaugh's judicial record. third, it's important to understand today is also not about documents. we've heard a lot of arguments this morning about documents. there's an old saying for trial lawyers. if you have the facts, pound the facts. if you have the law, pound the law. if you have neither, pound the table. we're seeing a lot of table pounding this morning. the democrats are focused on procedural issues because they don't have substantive points strong enough to derail this nomination. they don't have substantive criticism with judge kavanaugh's actual judicial record, so they're trying to divert
everyone with procedural issues. but let's talk about the documents for a moment. the claims the democrats are putting forward on documents don't withstand any serious scrutiny. judge kavanaugh has produced 1 511,948 pages of documents. that includes more than 17,000 pages in direct response to this committee's written questionnaire, which is the most comprehensive response ever submitted to this committee. the more than a half million pages of documents turned into this committee is more than the number of pages we've received for the last five supreme court nominees combined. listen to that fact again. the over half million documents turned over to this committee is more than the last five nominees submitted to this committee combined. so what's all the fuss over the documents that are not turned over? most of those concern judge
kavanaugh's three years as the staff secretary for president george w. bush. now, many people don't know what a staff secretary does. but that's the position in charge of all of the paper that comes into and out of the oval office. critically, the staff secretary is not the author of the paper coming into and out of the oval office. that paper is typically written by the attorney general, by the secretary of state, by other cabinet members, by other senior white house officials. the staff secretary is simply the funnel for collecting their views and then for transferring the paper back and forth. in other words, those documents written by other people say nothing, zero, about judge kavanaugh's views, and they say nothing, zero, about what kind of justice judge kavanaugh would make. but they are, by necessity, the most sensitive and confidential documents in a white house. they're the documents that are going to the president.
this is the advice and deliberations of the president at the senior level and the staff secretary is the conduit for those documents. so why is it that the democrats are putting so much energy in saying hand over all of those documents? because they know, they know beyond a shadow of doubt that president george w. bush's white house team is not going to allow every piece of paper that went to the president to be made public any more than any other white house would. republican or democrat, no white house would allow every piece of paper that went to and from the president to be made public. indeed, there are rules and laws and procedures for when and how presidential papers become public. and the reason the democrats are fighting so loudly on this issue is they're making a demand they know is impossible to meet, and by the way is utterly irrelevant to what judge kavanaugh thinks, believes, or has said. it would open up all sorts of
phishing expeditions to relitigate george w. bush's time as president and what various cabinet members might or might not have said, but it is at the end of the day simply an attempt to distract and delay. indeed, the multiple notions we've seen from democrats, delay this confirmation, delay this confirmation, that reveals the whole joke. their objective is delay. so what is this fight about sm if it's not about documents, not about judge kavanaugh's credentials, not about his judicial record, what is this fight about? i believe this fight is nothing more and nothing less than an attempt by our democratic colleagues to relitigate the 2016 presidential election. 2016 was a hard-fought election all around. and it was the first presidential election in 60 years where americans went to the polls with a vacant seat on the supreme court. one that the next president
would fill. americans knew who had been in that seat, the late justice antonin scalia, one of the greatest jurists ever to sit on the supreme court. and it was the first time since president dwight d. eisenhower's re-election campaign that a supreme court seat was directly on the ballot. both candidates news the importance of that seat. it was a major issue. donald trump and hillary clinton were both clear about what kind of justices and judges they would appoint. during all three presidential debates, both candidates were asked, what qualities were most important to them when selecting a supreme court justice? secretary clinton's answer was clear. she wanted a supreme court justice who would be a liberal progressive willing to rewrite the u.s. constitution, willing to impose liberal policy agendas that she could not get through the democratic process, that the congress of the united states would not adopt, but that she hoped five unelected lawyers
would force on the american people. that's what hillary clinton promised for judicial nominees. then candidate donald trump gave a very different answer. he said he was looking to appoint judges in the mold of justice scalia. he said he wants to appoint judges who would interpret the constitution based on its original public meeting, who would interpret the statutes according to the text and who would uphold the rule of law and treat parties fairly regardless of who they are or where they come from. then candidate donald trump also did something that no presidential candidate has done before. he published a list of nominees he would choose from when filling justice scalia's seat, providing unprecedented transparency to the american people. all of this was laid before the american people as they went to the polls on november 8th, 2016. and the american people made a choice that night. my democratic colleagues are not happy with the choice the american people made.
but as president obama famously said, elections have consequences. because the more than people had the chance to vote, a national referendum on the direction of the supreme court. i've said a number of times that justice gorsuch's nomination and judge kavanaugh's nomination have almost a super legitimacy in that they were ratified, they were decided by the american people in a direct vote in 2016. and so the democratic obstruction today is all about trying to reverse that election. they're unhappy with the choice the american people want. and there's a reason the american people want strong constitutionalists on the u.s. supreme court. most americans, and i know the overwhelming majority of texans, want judges who will follow the law and will not impose their policy preferences on the rest of us and who will be faithful to the constitution and the bill of rights.
justices who will uphold fundamental liberties like free speech, religious liberty, like the second amendment, that's what this election was about. and if you look at each of these, let's take free speech. it's worth noting that in 2014, every democratic member of this committee voted to amend the united states constitution, to repeal the free speech provisions of the first amendment. and sadly, every democrat in the senate agreed with that position. voting to give congress unprecedented power to regulate political speech. it was a sad day for this institution. years earlier, ted kennedy, the great liberal lion, had opposed a similar effort. ted kennedy said we haven't amended the bill of rights in over 200 years. now is no time to start. ted kennedy was right then and not a single democrat in the u.s. senate had the courage to
agree with ted kennedy and support free speech. indeed, they voted party line to repeal the free speech provisions of the first amendment. that's radical. that's extreme. and it's part of the reason american people voted for a president who would put justices on the court who will protect our free speech. how about religious liberty? another fundamental protection. the democrats in the senate have gotten extreme and radical. indeed, they want justices who will rubber stamp efforts like the obama administration's efforts litigating against the little sisters of the poor, litigating against catholic nuns, trying to force them to pay for abortion inducing drugs and others. that's a radical and extreme proposition. and to show just how dramatic senate democrats have gotten, every single senate democrat just a few years ago voted to gut the religious freedom
restoration act. legislation that passed congress with overwhelming bipartisan support in 1993, signed into law by bill clinton, and yet two decades later, the democratic party has determined that religious freedom is inconvenient for their policy and political objectives. they want justices that will further that assault on religious liberty. finally, let's take the second amendment. the presidential debates, hillary clinton explicitly promised to nominate justices who would overturn helder versus district of columbia. heller is the landmark decision issued by justice scalia, likely the most significant decision of his entire tenure on the bench, the right to individually keep and bear arms. hillary clinton wanted judges who would vote to overturn heller. overturning heller, i believe, would be a truly radical proposition. to understand why, you have to
understand what the dissenters said. the second amendment protects no individual right to keep an bear arms whatsoever. it protects merely a collective right of the militia. the consequence of that radical proposition would mean that congress could pass a law making it a felony, a criminal offense for any american to own any firearm. and neither you nor i nor any american would have any individual right whatsoever under the second amendment. it would effectively erase the second amendment from the bill of rights. that is a breathtakingly extreme proposition. it is what hillary clinton promised her justices would do. and at the end of the day, it's what this fight is about. we know that every democratic member of this committee is going to vote no. we don't have to speculate. every single one of them has publicly announced they're voting no. doesn't depend on what they read in documents. doesn't depend on what judge
kavanaugh says at this hearing. they've announced ahead of time they are voting no, and most of the democrats in the senate have announced that in the full senate. but everyone should understand judge kavanaugh has handed over more documents than any nominee, more than the last five combined, republican and democratic nominees. this is not about documents. it's not about qualification. it's not about record. what it is about is politics. it is about democratic senators trying to relitigate the 2016 election, and just as importantly, working to begin litigating the 2020 presidential election. but we had an opportunity for the american people to speak. they did. they voted in 2016, and they wanted judges and justices who will be faithful to the constitution. that's why i'm confident at the end of what shakespeare would describe as a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing, i'm
confident judge kavanaugh will become justice kavanaugh and will be confirmed to the united states supreme court. thank you, mr. chairman. >> we're going to take a break now. wait a minute. we're going to take a break now, and 30 minutes is what the democrats would like to have, so we will return at 1:17. gorsuch returned about ten minutes later than that, so be on time, please. >> chuck grassley announcing a 30-minute break in the proceedings. judge kavanaugh, you see him standing up there, president trump's nominee, second nominee for the supreme court. this has been a contentious hearing all day long in this day of dramatic breaking news. we have some more for you. this breaking news coming out of arizona. cnn confirming that former senator john kyle will replace the late john mccain in the united states senate. that news first reported by the
arizona republic. mccain's widow cindy tweeting kind words for john kyle. john is a great friend of mine. it's a great tribute to john he's prepared to go back into public service to help the state of arizona. we should note that former senator kyle was acting as the supreme court nominee kavanaugh sherpa, meaning his guide up on capitol hill, helping him navigate the confirmation process. jon kyl, once he's sworn into the united states senate, will now get a vote on the kavanaugh nomination. remarkable news. i suspect the happiest person in town is mitch mcconnell, the senate republican leader. there was a question, would you get a tea party guy out of arizona? would you get somebody unpredictable? it's a two-year plus tenure. >> kyl is someone who's respected. he's had relationships on both sides of the aisle. conservatives are going to be very happy about this because he's a reliable conservative
vote. yet, mcconnell undoubtedly happy. he's been a trusted loyal adviser for a very long time to senator mcconnell. mcconnell is one who recommended he be the sherpa for brett kavanaugh. undoubtedly good news. it also underscores the fact that the republicans can now lose two votes in the kavanaugh nomination. before with mccain's illness, they could lose one with his absence. that gives them an extra buffer. >> important math for senate republicans on the supreme court issue and on other issues. again, jon kyl, former arizona republican who retired, coming back to complete two more years of john mccain's term. we'll work on the tieming of al that as we follow the brett kavanaugh hearings. we'll be back in just a moment. (vo) when bandits stole the lockbox from the wells fargo stagecoach,
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welcome back. live pictures there of the senate judiciary committee hearing room. a 30-minute break in the hearing for judge kavanaugh. they resume about 20 minutes from now. joan, the hearing comes back. still some opening statements. the judge actually gets to speak today. there's been a lot of drama, a lot of contention, a lot of politics. you've been listening to this all day. democrats say the process is flawed. you're unqualified. we don't like or trust the
president who nominated you. what's his test when he gets a chance to speak? >> right. he's going to present himself as someone who's a team player, both trying to build consensus there in that room, trying to warm himself up a little bit to the democrats, and then he's going to talk about building consensus on the supreme court, being part of a team of nine. he's going to want to try to seem as moderate, as humble, as nonthreatening to individual rights as possible. >> and the democrats hope that he's seen as evasive when he's not getting pinned down on these questions. >> it has been a dizzying day of breaking news on capitol hill with the con anywhefirmation he. thanks for joining us today on "inside politics." wolf picks up our coverage after a quick break. ♪ as moms, we send our kids out into the world, full of hope.
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hello. i'm wolf blitzer. 1:00 p.m. here in washington. wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. we're following major breaking news unfolding this hour. we're awaiting to hear from president trump's supreme court nominee brett kavanaugh after a rather rowdy start to his confirmation hearing up on capitol hill. democrats calling for a delay as protesters repeatedly disrupted the proceeding. also, what's being described as a truly devastating portrait of a totally dysfunctional trump white house. bob woodward's brand new book says president trump's