Transcript for The Briefing Room: Battle over Kavanaugh nomination raises stakes for midterms
Welcome to the briefing room on Devin Dwyer at ABC news in Washington thanks for joining us on this Thursday will be joined by justice official the Pennsylvania Avenue unit. Great to have Shawna Thomas with us from vice news fantastic to have her here for some analysis on the headlines today and we kick off with some breaking news from our very own. Chief anchor George Stephanopoulos who just reported a little while ago that former trump attorney Michael Cohen. This is somebody guys who was at the center at the trop universe for decades or a little over a decade. Ott is now cooperating with the special counsel. In and the state of new York and the southern district of new York and several investigations. Here's what George reported just moments ago. Get in multiple sessions with Muller's team multiple hours and multiple sessions. Covering all aspects. President trust relationship with Russia with Bettany means the whole probe into possible collusion between the tribe campaign. And the Russians and are your prayers and election 2000. Sixteen it means looking into. President trucked financial and business affairs. With Russia and remember. Michael cult was it was part of that effort to look into the possibility of building at trump tower. In Moscow we've also learned that he's been questioned about. Whether. President trump or any of his allies ever discussed apartment with Michael Cohen of course Beckett and obstruction of justice. Aspect of the investigation. As well so to speak news. Present terms former attorneys already. Put it can been convicted. Pled guilty to campaign finance violations which also could implicate president truck. In in federal felony is now been actively cooperating with Muller's piece multiple hours of discussions and it. Definitely look now at at the constellation. Of coal operators that the Robert Morris team has assembled police helped you've got president trucks former attorney Michael Cohen creek attorney counsel for more than a decade. He got his campaign chair Paul man at a fort is campaign deputy chair. Rick gates also corporate he's former national security advisor. Michael Flynn also cooperating. Robert Mueller is any methodical investigation step by step by step looking into all aspects. Of them president trump and Russia and he's getting lots cooperation. Lots of cooperation and a lot of finger pointing going on guys just a month ago was that Michael court stood up in court. And basically implicated the president in a crime he was pleading guilty to of course that was illegal camping kind. Financed. Violation be yet payments if you will the stormy Daniels and Karen McDoogle. Gotta wonder though what is Bob -- gonna get out of him related to rush. Well and unity it's interesting because when all that happened I think all of us multiple news organizations. We're looking at the agreement why Cullen sat in court and were like we Weir's Bob Mueller and that's because it was a deal with the southern district of New York. It wise it had to do with payments to use her meeting ills and Karen McDoogle. And it was it was it. I'm related to the election but it was somewhat removed from the Russia was a small business whole swirling issue that was dominated exactly that the question everybody had was we. How does this relate to mullet well now stinks he her Stephanopoulos. He knows that there is something Mueller once we know that they are working in tandem with the southern district of New York. And if he is able to unravel the business dealings then we have. That we have another situation whatever complaints to about like Muller's approaching this like a mafia trial. That OK so now we're understanding how the building blocks of the company are being run. Those back to keep Iraq and we don't we don't have that answer maybe. And man for when you know of course was considered a big fish but think about the time that Mann a port spent with from. For as the amount time that Colin has built with trump. Working on all these personal deals these shady deals with the part of whatever it may be just the idea that he set out for multiple hours that things that. That better to be gain in extracted from Michael colony could be an and less. Pot and it is it'll be really passing through Iowa Georgia one of the things that George is reporting right now you can follow the latest on that reported an abcnews.com. Is that that Michael Cohen is participating with New York State authorities they are looking specifically. Into the behavior the actions at the trop family charity and also the Trump Organization. So completely are related from Russia on related from stormy. Stormy Daniels in this campaign payments there's a whole other probe going on and Michael Cohen could be really central to that works well. The yen president is then fear how to respond to speak has. In some ways to certain audiences the claims of witch hunt there was no collusion and as far as we know and what we've seen we don't know if there was collusion with the Russians in the in Kenya. But this now becomes. Partially about his team win and he's actual company and what ever it's been going on over the years with the Trump Organization in New York. That could be a much bigger danger in some ways to the president of the United States. Then if that patsy he's telling the truth about corruption collusion he has a whole other problem they are going to align. It just or what's fascinating here also is that unlike some of the other characters in this saga that we've followed who have gotten some sort of and in leniency. In exchange for cooperating. George is hearing that Michael Cohen has received no assurances no guarantees that this is completely fallen. And we don't understand that what it what it what's his end game here. I actually don't know haven't actually that we were just they just settle and we did we don't know but it's an M and remember Cohen well. Cohen is is saying. Has been out to sing that trump knew about this Dunn junior meeting. Before or trump tower across. Is he talking about that in others just endless amounts of things that he could be providing. So much more come on that no doubt the president this evening appearing ended at a he's got a campaign rally perhaps. He'll weigh in on this news and we've read we will certainly be following accurate ABC news' live that's at 10 PM eastern time. I'm meanwhile some major news in the Supreme Court socket the stalemate. Over override judge for Kavanagh and this doctor Christine Rossi board has now been broken she apparently shy is just come forward returning. Give a statement to the committee the Senate Judiciary Committee scene she is willing to appear and testify next week take a look. Horrible or Deborah Katz who is a long time. Border. Supporting net advocate for women. Has said it that we have the statement she says that for a client will appear if the conditions. Are our fair in which insure her safety she's had a lot of death threats. Will testify to identify patents is in the clear that should yeah. There's a lot of options that she has the committee has given her options of going to her. Of appearing to pry and have in a private setting or of course appearing in a prop up public setting a public. Hearing and then add on that same panel at some point. Hearing from judge Kavanagh she is resisted she is said she wants the FBI to investigate this for she goes out there and does this. The Republicans have said that's not have to not gonna do that. So that the lawyer for doctor. Christine bossy for laying out some conditions they want her safety. To be guaranteed sounds like Monday is not gonna happen but later in the week and we also heard that she wants to have other witnesses. Not just a he said she said let's take a listen to what some some of the senators here's one senator. Kristin Gillibrand of New York had to say about that. Why not have that there just come and her husband and her friend commit why not. Have mark judge testify under oath to the FBI and then different committee. What are they afraid. Ask the question what are they afraid what is this White House afraid what is if president afraid. What is the US and afraid. So -- short of an FBI investigation which they seem to have backed off of perhaps. The do you want to more fulsome look at this not just to cure her. And he and eight it'll be interesting to hear why senator Grassley answer it is that mostly democratic chairman of the committee but because what he has been saying is that. You know they that they do need to hear her story they need to hear cap and outside. But that there doesn't seem to be anyone else really to talk to even now we know there's this one other person that doctor Ford has sort of implicated. The poor people or people at all at all these excellent. And what he's already expressed is that he doesn't hear from anybody else in the hearing so if it it'll be inching to see if he backs off Matt but. And Ian. I do think especially Republican men in congress know that they have to tread carefully with past and they should tread carefully that's especially in the need to air act and their husband is considered effort we've kind of seen from the president the United States. You tried not to like in salt doctor forger do anything but keep this on the idea of the Democrats not really doing the job they should've done in the first place. It will be harder and harder toll message going in the same way if she and her lawyer and people like Kirsten Gillibrand keep pushing. For her first something that's bigger than what apparently senator Grassley. His question committee. Hurt her messages. This is a problem all I mean this is the secondary math is this is a problem politically if you don't do this right and it's it's a huge signal to those out there who are. The to the relatives were planning agitated do with limited witnessed this is huge objections are both sides looking to do it right in fact both sides were hearing today rushing up on their skills now that it does appear like this hearing will happen in some form. I'd next week take a listen to what that democratic senator Chris coombs who's on the committee. Had to say about his preparations for that here in just a few minutes ago. Ordered. Committee Democrats doing right now ones to prepare the hearing has happened. I'm here today meeting with my legal team to go over a whole range of potential questions I've reached out. To professional colleagues to classmates or friends on who have represented or advocated for. Victims of sexual assaults have been involved in trauma informed. And efficacy for those who are victims of assault to make sure that my line of questioning. If we have a hearing where she peers is as respectful and appropriate as possible. Right that was democratic senator Chris prunes preparing no doubt Republicans are as well let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce. He's been all over this story from the beginning Mary. What are you hearing from that Republicans on the committee at this point are they preparing are they ready to hear from. We'll look at it ever wanted digesting the latest news that the fact that the lines of communication are now apparently opened we know of course you've been discussing names. Professor Ford is now. Willing it seems to testify based on some additional conditions can be met what exactly those conditions are. What we still don't know whether she wants to attack the fat publicly privately what you know option one but lane here she's going to take. We still don't know but we know according to in the chairman's office that they he is happy to hear from are. That they are likely to have an aid conversation teens elected have a conversation later today so we'll learn more about what this will look like. And then you know then Republican can really begin to prepare for how they will. Deal with this hearing if and when he does happening you know and it seems like that will happen. You know possibly sometime next week but hasn't been discussing all week long. Republicans aren't. A difficult position here we know that there are eleven Republicans on the Judiciary Committee all of them are men. They are acutely keenly. Aware of the optics of this I had one Republican on the committee katic how mean it will he knows it doesn't look great stand up and back to have a panel of men. Questioning. The professor and and judge Kavanagh again about these issues their awareness of course are happening in the need to Aaron at the mid terms are hanging over their head. But they also feel that they want to get this. You know out in the open they want the chance statement or to question her and it's shot I was planning on I think earlier what's interesting related attack you've heard. From Republicans. They're not questioning her credibility. They're not you know they've not been targeting her personally what you've heard it is Republicans and the president sort of making this argument that this is the case of mistaken identity. And you heard Orrin hatch. A Republican senator who's on this committee. Saying exactly that he simply thinks they've made Christine by the Fortis mistaken. In her recollection of this incident and sort of inching see what tack Republicans take. And of course so much of this comes and synthetic he handful of Republicans they've been talking about all week Jeff flake Susan Collins Lisa Murkowski Bob Corker. Those who in most vocal in their reservations. About judge have an honest most vocal in wanting to sort of get to the bottom. Of these allegations. Ever will be looking to it to see their line of questioning to see whether or not they feel. It bit Christine by the boards story is credible but again without other witnesses there will there's no question that this could become just simply he said. She said and that is why at what Democrats have been really sounding the alarm about why they feel so strongly that there needs to be this FBI investigation which doesn't seem to be. Going anywhere based on what we've heard from Republicans and the president and why Democrats want other witnesses to the fact that hearings. Yet ended in Marion a spur investment to show this is for and very much not to going to be a criminal prosecution this is not a trial. At that ended the day's statute of limitations and everything this is all about credibility. It's all about whether the members in the committee whether senators and the American public. Who they trust and whether they think he's disqualified that's the only thing they are truly matters in terms of the Supreme Court here. Right and you know I do think it's still worth noting even now seems that actually for this idea and FBI investigation. That. BC is actually what the FBI does when it comes to background investigations they investigate nominees to hire our tests. And it would not be totally unheard of for them to go all the way back to when Simone with eighteen did develop information. And then even after that if they found something that they wanted to tease out Mort do that. The FBI's job is never been in these situations to try to put together criminal prosecution it is to try to give you or give the president of the White House and give the senate. As much information as possible about who this person. Done independently done with professional White House has asked them to do they have asked them to do that and they have not they've not indicated that they will merry go well bring you back in this conversation before we let you go. The politics of this conversation all also very relevant now with that with the countdown to the mid terms hanging over all this. What effect do you think this has on on the mid term racist you. It depends or on what happens next next week at this hearing whether or not this goes forward and in what form but looking seen. Republicans you know are eager to move this along certainly the clock is ticking for them they want to get Supreme Court nominee approved before. Then in mid terms because god forbid according to Bennett they wanted to see you know then and it becomes very very very difficult for Republicans. Democrats and in fact that's exactly why they want to slow walk this. They want to delay this they want you know if you get to the bottom of what happened here but also they've a political interesting in making in delaying this. A political interest in continuing to have this conversation. I think Democrats feel that the more you ring up bid that need to conversation aboard the U you know discussed these allegations you haven't been any terms but that will help. Drives and the issues in the mid terms and also may may help drive more people to the polls mean remember. If you weld did it impact that the Anita Hill hearings had on those elections that was the first year of the woman. We are having another big year like that this mid terms and they fielded that if you continue to have. This conversation playing out. About these allegations as you head into the mid terms that it may you know drive. More voters may drive some of the issues added then that encourages people to get out and vote. But again in town news cycles with Britney quick Herat here's though how long. This this. Story continues to head to hover in either appear really depends on what happens next week. All right our senior congressional correspondent Mary first reported from the hell Mary thank you so much for your reporting policy on world news tonight. Following the Kavanagh story tonight shifting gears a little bit and other. Big story today coming out of North Korea this pretty incredible. Summit between the South Korean president visiting Pyongyang. Last time that happened was ten years ago we talked about it yesterday here in the briefing room but today. An interest in agreement Johnston on what. The South Korean president hopes president from. And secretary of C Pompeo will do perhaps it looks like we could be back on for another summit. Again offered. I mean and where would it wouldn't be here watching it and done and gone to come to watch what I mean he missile. Hit me. As. Do we do live in a different world. But we'll see in Nikki Haley it was at the UN she was talking this up for the president's been campaigning on it get campaign rallies tonight tomorrow. He likes to talk about how the ballistic missiles are line. Nikki Haley did a little while ago. Obviously you we look at what has happened I think that. The United States has always looked at the fact that there was progress in the in the fact that we have met had another. Ballistic missile tests that it's happened. Those talks have continued I think the fact it two image showing signs of wanting to talk further is good and secretary on payers ready. You know to have those conversations these are ball. Somewhat baby steps as they go forward but islamists are going in the right direction that's something we want to do but at the end of that day. We have to note that. That the final line is total dean flirtation with verification and accountability in that process. Arts at the end of the day as long as they're not firing missiles seem progress Nikki Haley is happy the president apparently will receive another letter. He's talked a lot of a p.'s personal letters from Kim Jung Hoon he's expected to get another one next week. The UN general assembly at the New York China you've been a lot of these gentlemen. General assembly is there they actually can be quite productive. For for American prisons they can make some moves and. Larry Terry yet and you're able to talk to a lot of other world leaders in any short amount of time which is good. In terms in terms of trying to like make things happen especially Kenyon there's a lot of things on the table yes there is trying to get everybody on board with however we're approaching North Korea but. It a ton of treating issues we have a ton of active at other defense issues. And you and gives the president the obtain to have face to face conversations with other world leaders about that big it's interesting sort of blend. Nikki Haley is sounding the thing that she's always sad when it comes to North Korea which is that. There's no matter kind of what the president says this is always going to be a slow and laborious process and it's just it's gonna take awhile to get there. But I think. The thing that we cannot ignore is that nothing happens in a vacuum so you know the ballistic missiles have been flying that's not a bad thing. I think last week the parade they didn't bring out the ballistic missiles when all of the press where there that was an interesting point to. But also your right now apparently in a tit for tat on the street where with China we need China to help keep North Korea and tack and also keep. You know South Korea and Japan happy with Paris. And none of that happens in a vacuum so it will be interesting to see what happens at the UN and what the other world leaders say about us. Because we are trying to balance a lot of balls and you can't just focus on one little. It's such extremes for this negotiation just weeks ago we had the present canceling Pompeo is trip. Two to North Korea and now. A summit between the two presidents is back conscious it just goes it's such high to low. It is it's a wonder if this will actually go anywhere with that kind of high and low approach. As you say there needs to be. Sort of a steady approach and regional office and so some small part rests on its smaller items of those albeit significant to the families today we should should go to small headline today. The Pentagon did identify true. Americans were killed in the Korean War who returned from North Korea whose remains were repatriated. Obviously this is two individuals were in those boxes of 55. The president has made. A lot of talk about them as a huge step and it means if you can't stress how much that means to the families and you see history here he names them an army master sergeant from Indiana. Charles mcdaniels also. Army part first possible and Jones from my Nash county North Carolina to. Americans now back in that I think agrees a good thing so that bit of good news there. Before we kick today it is the one year anniversary. From when hurricane Marie made landfall on Puerto Rico it is a story that continues. Two to have legs her Washington certainly at the White House you're seeing some file pictures from mount when when Maria blew through. A year later 140 million dollars of damage on that island and as we've been talking about for the past week or so more than nets 4900. Americans killed in that storm. Guys did it would you think Charlotte that the impact of hurricane Maria I'm president trumps presidency. Will bear any comparison to how Katrina impacted President Bush. I think and you I think the mid term election will be that passed it back just because Florida is in some ways battleground state there are multiple house Reese's. That that are on the bubble and that red to blue bubble as well as the senate race is not a total didn't lock for senator Bill Nelson the Democrat from Florida. And I know from reporting that my team assuming there is a concerted effort to try to get Puerto Ricans especially new Puerto Ricans. News came from the island are staying in Florida are not going back they don't have to they are American citizens by the way. Met to try to get to devote to try to get them registered to vote in the state of Florida. And I think if Democrats can meek a case that president from didn't take that seriously. Am then maybe there are some extra votes and amateur realizes that theory electoral way to look at best buy eighties and. Think he quit thinking about and the president's tweet last week disavowing that death total of 3000 certainly. Had political reverberations both sides Rick Scott and Bill Nelson and that hot ten days not have many people back that's right one Florida they are after the Puerto Rican vote in Florida it's going to be interest to follow look forward your reporting now on vice news Sharman thank you so much for artists great to have just official here is volley about the latest. These stories in that breaking news here at ABC news. On net president trumps former attorney Michael Cohen cooperating now without Robert Mueller that's an abcnews.com. And on the ABC news app. I'm Devin Dwyer Washington we'll see you next time in the briefing.
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