The Briefing Room: SCOTUS nominee faces pressure in hearing

Judge Brett Kavanaugh faces a contentious Senate hearing, and Bob Woodward releases an excerpt of his new bombshell book about the Trump presidency.
15:08 | 09/04/18

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Transcript for The Briefing Room: SCOTUS nominee faces pressure in hearing
And you've been watching live coverage the Supreme Court nomination hearing of judge Greg Kavanagh on Capitol Hill first of four days. Explosive. Today explosive. Hearing India senate judiciary hearing room with some efforts from Democrats there. I'm Devin Dwyer the DC bureau to remember political director Rick climate full team coverage of the hearing also some other headlines today in new White House book. Bombshell we've got. Replacement for Senator John McCain and of course we have new ABC news Washington Post polls will watt to dig into. I but we're gonna start with recapping the highlights from today's hearing in the first part of it at least if you haven't been watching. If Rick a lot of chaos up the top caught some people off guard. What's your big takeaways so far. Democrats came into today trying to make a point and the point was about transparency accountability and the argument that the trying to teach the American people who were tuning in. Beginning of this hearing is we just don't know enough about this well. I've watched a lot of these hearings DeVon you cover them as well it's really hard to see that hold water but it is part of a blue water portrait that they're trying to make it at all as out of the mainstream. As some of the might be in the pocket of presidential and some of the just don't know enough about it I think. Today there were a lot of salvos. Suggesting the direction questioning in the days to come and a really usual beginning of the hearing just minutes before it kicked off. The Democrats started in protest take look back. On the nomination of mr. chairman. Brent Cavanaugh mister chairman to serve as associate justices mr. chairman I'd like prima organized you know leste before we proceed. The committee received just last night. Less than fifteen hours ago. This board chairman Greg thousand pages of documents that we have not had an opportunity to review. Or read or analyze. Mr. chairman Eric I did we wouldn't my colleague senator Harris. We have been denied real access to the documents we need. To a I chairman regular orders called which turns this hearing into a charade and a mockery of our norms. What it was what the rocks what are we hiding by not letting those documents calm out. Service committee it's a violation of the values that we as a committee have stricken for transparency. A you. Are taken advantage of Mike decency and integrity are. Reviewing judge Kavanagh staff secretary documents. Would teach us nothing about his legal views. For that we have them on 307. Opinions that he wrote. And the hundreds more joined. Tolling more than 101000 pages of judicial writing. Let's bring in our senior Supreme Court correspondent Terry Moran who is covered. This hearing from the beginning that like so many others Terry. A lot of theatrics there I think unlike anything you've probably seen before also a sign there that perhaps Democrats don't really. Have many more tools in their belt to stop this thing. I think that's very astute DeVon and I haven't seen anything like this the first Supreme Court hearing I ever covered with Robert Bork's that told him. Seven looking at these for thirty years not all of but a lot of for sure. And I got it I have never seen anything like that it is as you say theatrics as theatrics. With a purpose they are designed. To store up. The democratic base the democratic voters spoiling for a fight there is it desperation in the air look Republicans turned out 2016 in large part on the issue of courts. They they definitely. Made that an issue president from promised a lot on it and they turned out voted Democrats didn't they're going to lose the Supreme Court as a result and that is an agony for them. And in order to defeat this nominee. I think the Democrats have a tip a two tiered strategy fire the base and raise questions that fair minded Americans. You know might. My puzzle over. Is there something being hidden. About this now and is he in the mainstream of the poll that we ran and and I'll leave that to Rick to discuss shows that the Democrats do have an opportunity here. But what you're seeing today is the passion of Democrats. That is that is why that are driving these senators to do this to center stage a protest in the hearing themselves. And the powerlessness. Of Democrats at this point without turning Brett Cavanaugh in June. Someone who was unacceptable to the Supreme Court they're gonna lose this fight today you saw their first steps in that. And I want to get to the documents debate in the second Terry Ebert Rick our poll that ABC news Washington Post poll. Out today has some very interest in numbers both about how Americans feel about George Kavanagh but also the backdrop. A political backdrop to this hearing is taking place against particularly with respect to executive power and concerns about the president the Russian investigation Jeff Sessions like. Yup the lowest support for Supreme Court nominees since Harriet Miers more than a decade ago of course that was in nomination so controversial that President Bush had to withdraw it. And in that case as well as this one that that the main critique of of Harriet Miers that used to close the press. And in I think this has to do with proximity to a president who is very deeply unpopular Apple's. Elsewhere in Terry going back to those documents that have been much discussed today. Hopeless on pact that a little bit if you will. We've been hearing from both sides about the volume of documents for surrounding Brett Cavanaugh that had been released that have been released. What's your bottom line. On on this fight. Well this is one area that the Democrats wanna go hunting and so they can find some issues that fair minded Americans would be concerned about. And there's no question that Brett Cavanaugh has a tremendously long paper trail he was. A key staffer in the George W. Bush White House. He was right at the center of all of the paper that flowed through that White House at a time of intense national security concerns post nine elevenths so a lot of those documents are going to be hard to get for the Democrats. Are saying look we have to look at these things. To see where he was on some very important issues on the issue of torture on the issue of presidential powers in wartime things that might come before the Supreme Court again. There are questions how can we fairly do our jobs if we don't have access. To the full paper trail and even that we do have access to we've been told we can't ask questions about in public. They say that that's don't know Republicans were toward. But most of have already declared that you've made up your minds so there's a big sham. Is is what we're hearing from the Republican side that so many Democrats have already declared their opposition what do they need more evidence for. And yet it is an issue I think that that was a springboard. For them to demonstrate to their voters the passion and to raise the profiles of this hearing so that. But not people not in their base people not on either side those 20% in the middle of our poll. Will start paying attention and then they can really get to work. Truly impassioned pleas Terry I think even senator Blumenthal one point directly asking judge Kavanagh to postpone the thing himself. We'll see he's set to speak a little bit later today and obviously tomorrow we'll take questions we know you've either thank you so much Terry. For your time and reporting on that tomorrows and. Of the gay Rick there were fireworks today tomorrow promises to be a marathon I think 9 AM to 9 PM it's slotted for the grilling of judge Kevin. Yeah and alike talk to Democrats and Republicans bull that is involved in this and Democrats are realistic they know they don't have the votes and sent it ramps at the end there if you wanna pick judges go in elections. The Dem Republicans have votes here they are looking to these hearings to meet a broader political argument about president trump at this moment and like everything else this is about president. All right and much more to come on that here on ABC news lives we hope you stay with us meanwhile a big bombshell new book is out. On the White House by veteran journalist Bob Woodward. The excerpts today appeared in the Washington Post oh behind the juicy college this is I certainly. A book that will rankled president trumpet is going to send shockwaves through this town once people really sink their teeth into it. Up let's bring in White House correspondent terror upon Mary the White House. Terra is already responding to this book but before we get to what they're saying about me give us a sense of some of the flavor some of the highlights. That you're seeing out there. We'll what I gathered from this book is that the people that are working around the president don't think that highly of him and thinks he needs to be eaten monitored and policed. And possibly Manning's almost like a child in some of that. Just some of that reporting coming out of his book Kelly calling the president idiot secretary of defense managed calling the fifth grader. His own lawyer doubts on Dow calling him a liar. You know we're hearing that Kerry called the former head of the National Economic Council claiming that still at Al allegedly stealing. Executive order off his desk that he was worried he was assigned specifically than that I repealing NAFTA so it just really interesting to see how. It seems that all of these. High level official that he hired. All appeared to be working against his agenda or don't. Have that much confidence in him that you know we heard from their standards she got its sleeve RA it's cutting about but this isn't from mama Rosa. This isn't Michael Lowell. This is Bob Woodward it's totally different but you know she also act in there that. Sometimes the president's way unconventional but he always gets results and it seems differently she is admitting. That some of the and it's called crazy town might actually. Be a good reflection of what's going on inside. So many eye popping juicy nuggets in there and you know I get it it shouldn't be all that surprising to us we've lived through that much at this backbiting already but the detail is just fascinating Tara. Another nugget there was so interest in was this group alleged. A mock interview sessions the president had with. For Bob Mueller that by John Dowd former White House attorney I doubt actually ABC news just disputed that account he said there was no mock session. On we're starting to see these people come out of the will work and pushed back a little bit the Terry you've got to wonder. What the president actually. Thinks about this he wasn't interviewed for the book. Right we heard that long. Voice mail well not really voicemail that conversation between Bob Woodward and the president saying I wanted to interview I wanted to get booked if you're fabric requesting interviews. And any says I asked Kelly and then president of its Kelly and on the spot and it was amazing. We actually have an audio. And let's take a listen to that what this is at a phone call between president trop and Bob Woodward. I just two weeks ago after the book had already gone to the publisher the president got wind that it was going to be published. And he gave Bob Woodward a call take a listen to negative. But you never call. Welcome it would mesh well with me at my office. To his secretary as if viewers won't directly a lot of people are afraid that run. I hardly you know I don't Acura. Since I do I do like Kelly and went to somebody but you didn't come to me well this. This company. She'd have access to be absolutely issues direct access but you didn't come to me. And you know what that's OK I'll just send up with another bad book court. Another bad book to president venting their terror we are almost certain to hear from him in the next 24 hours I would so I'd imagine it would. Not yet though. Nothing yet but we did hear a little bit of a preemptive tweet last week talking about an you know not naming. Bob Woodward but saying people are coming out books claiming to know what's going on inside the White House and you know of course it's typical look at the media make news but yet. Is Bob Woodward he's written about almost every president since nicks he is one of the most pre eminent journalists of our time and living here in that tape. That Kelly Ann admits it she went to his house and spoke with having any other senior officials I spoke at that you know what I spoke within hours. Off the record on background. So. Take it for rich coming from the. Coming from Bob border it's a book is called fear it's bordered 48 pages. Intriguing chaos inside the White House out next week all right thanks so much terror pulmonary at the White House much more. On that Bob Woodward book feared meanwhile some news political news today coming on airs on a replacement for Senator John McCain was laid to rest. On Sunday be governor of Arizona governor juicy announcing Rick that former Arizona senator John Kyle. Will replace McCain sort of an interest dean picked Kyle. Bridging two worlds the trump world the McCain world. Headed back at least three point one. Yet back to the future for Arizona he served alongside Senator McCain for a long time in congress. And I think this is the kind of pick that Republicans unite around whether you part of the McCain wing or the trump wing. I think Doug Doocy of governors on economy the only guy that can do this I and also to meet closes out the possibility. Promoters it was from the beginning that this new nominee would vote against Kavanagh Kyle has been very predictably Republican vote on on nominations. Particularly judicial nominations and served on these committees in the past he knows these folks sits in me takes away that he's had a headache it will be interesting though if governor does he decides. Two to pick someone else next year Palestinian only serve to the end of this year this action possible yet another pick then another vote in 2020 another election when it went through. It's going to be wild although Kyle did say today it is announcement he would support Kavanagh when he gets to Washington. He also had some nice things to say about president trump and Senator McCain that's Nicholas. In that spirit. Along with senator flee I will do my best. To assure that arizonans continues. To be well represented. For now there is much unfinished business on the Senate's counts including. Confirmation of president trumps nominees. Whose judicial and executive branch positions. I look forward to going to Washington and getting to work. All right and that announcement to getting the endorsement of Cindy McCain on Twitter she tweeted her support for Jon Kyl says her husband will be part of that pick Rick. Very interest in the times reported today that Cindy McCain actually didn't weigh in on who governor -- should pick and although he apparently talked to president trump. That happened after the selection was made some very interest in that he made it. Independently and yes. Yeah trying Doocy made it clear he wanted excellent wasn't lobby openly forests that someone that willingly walked away from the senate before seems like a lot of tweets here giving it to. And ambitious pol politically tumultuous place and it's and political this year. Arizona such an important state of course as well factory they in the mid terms. I will be watching that and much more I hear with a capital hearings all week please stay tutor and ABC news live every day for live coverage of those hearings. I'm Devin Dwyer Washington political director reclined. We'll see you next time.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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