White House press secretary responds to Trump's attack on Blasey Ford

Sarah Sanders defends Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and an Obama administration DHS official discusses an inspector general's report on Trump's "zero tolerance" policy.
29:49 | 10/03/18

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Transcript for White House press secretary responds to Trump's attack on Blasey Ford
Hey welcome to the briefing room on this Wednesday on DeVon wired ABC news in Washington great to have you with us for actual briefing for once the fact first time we saw this Press Secretary Sarah Sanders from behind the podium. I since. September 10 I think it has been a very dry stretch at this White House. As something of an unprecedented drought. Of on camera public briefings so there's a lot to dig into today just official here with this Catherine Paul there's a great show in store for you today including some other guests. Let's take the the latest Kavanagh. This saga right off the bat the president overnight in Mississippi. And turning things up a notch really attacking the accuser in a way that caught many people by surprise Nicholas. Playing. This. I had one. Right I had one. Home I don't remember had to get there don't remember whereas the vice I don't remember how many years ago was. Yeah. I'm around. What they've done. It was it and I don't know what is outside. Upstairs downstairs where was but at the end that you don't think Aaron. And just a day earlier the president of course said that doctor Christine buzz reports testimony guys was very credible and very compelling in this drew a sharp response from her attorney Michael Bromwich its take a look he tweeted. Earlier this morning that this was in his words a vial. In vicious. Attacked by the president of the United States and on his client. Alleged victim of sexual assault who would come forward. The attorney said that there was sort of a chilling effect after that could be if imposed but sir Sanders wasn't having any of that. You know she's defending the president Serra as Kellyanne Conway defended him earlier she was just stating the facts last night the gaps. In her testimony the facts that were presented in that. What she calls fax present in that report. By regional missed all the special prosecutor who who questioned Schwartz are really not backing down now. And Justin there certainly worry is too many people arguing overnight on Twitter and the president. Was point out inconsistencies. A fair thing to do perhaps so much scrutiny of upper Cabot has testimony produced in. But let alone there was a time. Everybody. The second happened it was Twitter was exploiting calling it mocking her mocking someone who alleges the victim's sexual assault that's a political problem it's it may be able get into that in his second but our own senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega put that question to sheriff Sanders just a little while ago what about that tone. Nicholas. It's a couple of days present was are very credible witness. Very incredible very compelling. But now he's basically making parents feel Myers at which it certainly. Be it. Testimony by doctor Ford was compelling. That you can't make this decision based on a motion passed to be based on fact. They have to determine. What the facts are of this case that's one of the reasons that they asked and begged for the FBI and delayed a hearing voted so they can get more facts on this case. We expect the FBI to turn those facts over to the cynic and they can make a determination based on that. That's all we're asking for. Steadying the facts of that campaign rally but. This was so much more than seeing that practices. Us feel campaign. Probably assaults on on the woman says she's the victim and sexual assault would wait you get at that is that accident. To help capitalist nomination is this to rally the thesis is that home with the mid term but what what's the point in. Again I I. Dispute that it wasn't anything other than the president stating facts and facts facts that were laid out. And the prosecutors. Memo that she put forward to the senate into the things that he called out were things that were laid out and then. Right let's bring our Cecilia Vega now from the north wants is silly that you were. Trying to get out from Sarah what the purpose of the president's tone was. I think she easily could've said politics. You know this president better than anybody it it seems pretty clear despite her answer about the fact that that is what's at play here right. I mean this was campaign rally in the reticent red states and a venue that is his is the base of his base and eases ardent supporters and and we all saw that rally last night and people aided this was. Red meat frankly and they were. A cheering as the president was mocking Christine bossy Ford's testimony. There's no way other way to describe this this was not the president stating a fact just the facts ma'am this was mocking he used two different voices as he was. Sitting there pretending to be a woman who was giving testimony and pretending to be someone else it was. Asking questions of that woman so. This from White House is sort of an a bit of a corner right now price because they can't have it both ways you can't say. That her claims are credible that she is a very compelling witness. And then go out on the campaign trail and essentially maker out to be liars I think they're they're a little bit boxed in but if if the answer to the question. If I ask and answer my home questioning and very much the answer is politics that's the reason behind us. And some of your colleagues in the briefing we're certainly alluded this as well you know be his his base may be loving it as you say but the audience that really matters and actual. Confirmation of our cap is those he handful of key swing senators all most of them women Susan Collins Lisa Murkowski. He got to wonder what they think of that change in town. Will and it sounds like at least from Jeff flake and others that we're hearing you know they're appalled and and really. I I think most people probably aren't that and I I mean it that it's it's it's. I understand what they're saying in that that did this White House's argument right now is that you know look heat did judge Kaplan has been. Ripped apart every word. His of his his testimony every every bit of his reputation right now is out there on the line. And and she and they say that in the unfair part about this is that hers. Has not and I was talking with a source this morning the question is it that this White House has right now is how far back do we go out. If we're going to do this to judge Kavanagh and this nomination process should we be doing this to some Democrats. Perhaps have allegations hanging out there. Over there has to be you know Bill Clinton is an aim of course that they. They like to throw around but the argument I think most people would make is none of those people. Are being nominated. Or this the bench of the Supreme Court. That tech exactly right any and certainly. The president has not been immune from criticism today as you said. Even from some of his allies senator Orrin hatch you toss said the president should stay out of it. Take a look at this tweet from Republican Judiciary Committee chairman. Chuck Grassley he tweeted. In classic. Sort of curmudgeonly Iowa fashion -- headline have a history of respecting people with courage to step forward the Judiciary Committee. Gave doctor Ford serious consideration she deserved as soon as I learned about her. People can decide who to believe but I plead with all intent the president stop the personal attacks and destruction of doctor Porter family. Sicilian it seems that there's that grass is trying to hold the line some sort of professionalism and impartiality here. I guess the next question is when it comes to this FBI report that's due out just in two days' time if not sooner. Should it be released to the public's air standings aspect today as well. Yet it wouldn't answer that question so we really don't know my my hunch is that it it probably to pending the outcome of this this the findings in this report. Probably won't be released at I just might go back to Grassley and what others are her are pointing out here before we conclude. You know this president has said that he is deeply impacted in a personal way about these allegations because we all know he is facing his own allegations himself. Sexual misconduct and that. Certainly shadows the way that he talks about accusers and be accused. Eight you know and and and and I don't think that that is going to change our reporting has been that the president. That Republicans on the hill have been begged him to stay quiet dip and please don't tweet about this to please don't go on the campaign trail and doing exactly what he did. Last night I and we now now now a year plots to nearly two years and this White House is not one who. He is advice very well so I think it we're going to be seeing more outraged and more and more this comes out of this president as to how about president the average. All right senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega thank you so much for as always Cecilia great to have in the briefing room today for the briefing. I think guys it's not just. The president has taken some criticism today Republicans taking a lot of heat from Democrats take a look at Chuck Schumer who took to the senate for the smoke morning. Hammering the process of vetting judge for a cab goes. President trumps outright mockery of a sexual assault survivor riddled as it was with falsehoods. Was reprehensible. Beneath the office of the presidency. And beneath common decency from one person to another. President trump host doctor Ford. An immediate apology. For too long far too. Survivors of sexual assault have been afraid to come forward. Because they thought that powerful men which shut them down shout them down and destroy their character. The president of the United States the most powerful man in there is confirm those fears for millions of women. The most despicable way possible. To the democratic leader they're demanding an apology didn't get one today from the president probably won't but he also had a lot to say about Republicans on the committee Justin. Not only has the president been attacking doctor fort but now Republicans. Overnight a flurry of information a new allegations to try to discredit. Doctor Ford including you've been digging into this a sworn statement signed statement the committee received on ex boyfriend. There is this came out late last night a signed statement from an ex boyfriend of Ford's who said they lived together for a time they did for six years and he basically questioned. Her testimony. In this letter to the chairman of the Judiciary Committee saying. She does he she he never heard anything about fear of flying. He questioned her testimony about her past experience with the lie detector test. Which he testified should never. Taken on for coach anybody on doing one. He says in fact she has but. Then as soon as that statement that came out her friends came out in her defense saying. This guy disgruntled he's making things up she does have a fear of flying. It was she attributes to the allegation of sexual assault and she does. And she and she's in her lawyers that he stands buyer does find that she never. Must round allied attack. And in the trend in the final release a statement saying that. She never coached her through that lie detector prompt clearly. The major coordinated effort to vote on the part of Republicans to nitpick some of her statement this is coming down to the wire that's what you see the president knowingly at lessons what he sees their briefing for the first time in a month. You know they're making the strong push. They've got to put all the cards on the table. Poll you know they're allies can give the Republicans felt president be quiet he does not do that this way he knows how to fight. And he's going to do it his way because he doesn't quiet you know does one go it got his instincts at the end of the day and and have someone else to blame. And we know he's it is coming to a head very quickly if you're keeping score at home were up against a Friday deadline for the FBI investigation we have heard just a few minutes ago from. I Chuck Grassley that he says the FBI is close in his words to being finished. You guys all eyes on senate majority leader Mitch McConnell he says he will file the people work for that vote as soon as they have the FBI. I document in hand to stay tuned with us here ID BC news live for more on that. Meanwhile an epic. Story changing the page here epic story in the New York Times we're talking on potentially award winning material here on president Trump's wealth this was a three year investigation. Not in the making hundreds of thousands of pages of documents Catherine give us the top line here of the times. Really pokes holes in it for president trump signature story that he was a self made billionaire. And right this is a remarkable story of vast on the investigation you can see it right there which essentially says trump helped his parents dodge taxes in the 1990s. In this report. By the New York Times reports that trumps parents transferred over one billion into wealth to their children which could have produced a tax bill of at least 550. Million dollars I was under the 55% tax and at a time exactly what they found through records that they reviewed was that the trumps paid a total of 52 point two million up. 5%. Parts of the owed about 55% tax they paid about 5% tax according to the times. Through use of shell companies. Padding and voices in the like. Certainly a lot to dig into we just heard different today just in that the that The New Yorker department of taxation is gonna re open a probe into this we heard from the mayor of New York city's that he they'll look to get some of that money back that's really feel I mean the cash. This is a holdings the gold this is the golden goose for the president and today remember. He was asked. What about that on you know he's always maintained he won't release the tax because an audit they asked about that again today. Follow up two years later still that there aren't we should point out his response to this report he was hot out of the gate this morning with the tweet. Taking down the New York Times. Question in this report says this is an old one has been in the books for awhile the feeling times it's something never seen down before these the concept of time value of money that is. They put they used today's dollars when doing their story. This is the boring and old hit piece on me. 90% of their stories and me are bad we shall see let's bring in ABC news contributor and a lawyer. Royal Oakes joins us by phone royal you have. And taken a close look at this report it's it quite a lengthy report but what's your bottom line on whether the president could actually be prosecuted here. By state authorities. Well I would say it read like a Russian novel but of course that brings her. Hindu display other issues a bottom line is that the New York Times report acknowledges that it is very likely according to experts. That there could be any tax prosecution. Arising out of this statute of limitations has passed in many cases but. It is a blockbuster they say your reporting he's received about ordered thirteen million in today's dollars from his dad's empire. Dubious tax schemes and right in the of the report it says it's this includes outright. Fraud that greatly increased his fortune says that trump and his siblings set up Beauchamp corporation or several disguised billions in gifts. Help his father gave improper tax deductions worth millions so. Of course there's been increased pressure on him to release his tax returned. And he's rattling the sabres saying well this is defamation I'm gonna sue but of course we know the to sue. For defamation it's like a balk at quicksand because it instantly future opponents weapons subpoenas depositions the kind of fight that could drag on for decades. Costing tens of millions in legal fees so. It's pretty strange to think that he would actually superior terms plus there's the absence of malice. Is shoot you remember the old Sally Field and Paul Newman will be secure public Kirsten and Trump's about the most public burst on the world. In order to let a defamation suit you have to prove that the other side intended to pebble lie. So now you say we're gonna have to see where the New York State authorities go generally got three year statute of limitation for both the IRS and the urged it there are exceptions to that. Bottom line is that they're all connect begin using this. New York Times report is kind of the Rosetta Stone the template. For pursuing charges. Or potential civil actions that would he would not be part by the statute. Against trouble establish of course. And world before we let you go we know the Democrats as well done here in Washington looking to possibly get their hands on this pile of tax returns as well they and of taking control of the house we could see subpoenas fly we could see other efforts. You know is so much weight has been put on these tax returns since this Donald Trump entered the campaign. Do you see them really as sort of the big the golden goose here do they hold the keys to all of his. Finances and and potential wrongdoing and what what's the likelihood your view that they could actually come out at some point. Oh absolutely you really get on the keys there I mean that gives the Democrats control congress or part of it. They are going to be able to go after it would subpoena power all of these issues animate the Democrat congress investigating Nixon in the seventies look like a load fast. Part living near times wants to obliterate this self made man idea. It's certainly getting get under Trump's skin but really it's not gonna resonate with Republican think they know billionaires like games that taxes to your right to serious stuff. Gonna happen next year if the Democrats are running watched and could see multiple investigations. All right royal oaks ABC news contributor legal analyst force think he's so much earnest by phone on that big New York Times story. Obviously just to begin yet on that one much more investigation. Pentagon thank you just the other point and make and that's as quickly as in terms of the legal action ensuing in the New York Times which I had to think would be. Unlikely that also opens the door for these tax returns that he's not releasing two and I disclosed in discovery correctly he would be exposed to exactly. And we'll see what's in store there meanwhile let's go back to the briefing room where there was and in usual announcement rare appearance off the top of the national security advisor John Bolton. I declaring today of the United States is trashing a 1955. Treaty that we made with Iran. This is before the revolution in 79 it said that the US would maintain good relations with Iran communication channels and Iran. Of course just recently sued the United States and international court for violating that treaty let's bring in our pentagon reported Louis Martinez to break that down force briefly. Louie how significant. Is this it's not everyday you see the US trashed a treaty that it's been in for half a century. And and it's signaling and essentially it's trashing and history is another indicator of the rising tensions between United States and Iran. Armed but how soon significantly going to be really practical matters not really it's more of a symbolic gesture. I'm because don't mean we kept them mentioning here Indian embassy takeover 1979. Since then there have been no diplomatic relations between United States and Iran. And so therefore doesn't really have any practical effect but the reason why the US is canceling this is because this treaty. Is the argument that the united that Iran used before the role court. To make its crease that the united the United States should lift the sanctions that have been reinstituted since he trump administration scuttle the Iran a nuclear deal. I so that's really why the administration scuttling the steel today. I'm also you heard Bolton announced that calmed the US is pulling out of protocol from the convention diplomatic resolutions from Geneva convention. I'm that's also related to this as well so it's. Bolton again were hyping up the pressure against Iran and you heard him say it right off the top you know he described Iran as a rogue state. That's language that he's very used to using and I think probably reflects is thinking of how the US deals with on all the time. Currently in Martinez at the Pentagon thanks for breaking down that headline greets you really. I shifting gears now to a sleeper story today in the briefing room a story that hasn't gotten a lot of coverage buried. If you will and then in mountain of other big news headlines that are out there but no less important have mind. As what's happening happening right now on the border with undocumented immigrant children who have been pouring into this country over the past few months. Of the New York Times reporting this morning also. That the United States now detains the highest number of immigrant children ever. In tents along the border 121800. Recorder just this month. A stunning figure. Another indication the failure of the United States immigration policy at least at the border. And another sign that the crisis at the trump administration. Had sought to to stem earlier this year. Has not yet succeeded let's bring in a Mark Greenberg who is the former deputy assistant secretary of the a department of health and human services also oversaw the treatment of migrant children in US custody during the Obama administration mark they so much for coming great to have you with us. Thank you. So give us served your top one take away mark on our on this number it is a staggering figure and from what we understand from Homeland Security. Do you record number of children in US custody immigrant children is actually not because. Be huge influx in children crossing the border but rather because home health and human services as having a hard time. Finding a place to put them. So that's exactly right. It is the largest number of children in the shelter system ever it's not because this is the highest number of arrivals. The arrivals this year are actually up some compared to last year. That they are not as hard as they were in 24 Keener 26. So it's not about a record number of rivals. It is because children are staying in the shelter system longer. And the basic idea is when they come at a shelter there's an effort made to find out if they have a parent or relative family friend. That they can live with while they're waiting their immigration proceedings. To the ideas to try to get them out of shelter as soon as it's safe and appropriate to do that. That process is now taking much longer and that's why there are so many children and child. And that's a monumental task we know the law says they need to be placed within 72 hours as you say that they've had some difficulty. Why is that though is that is is is there are special. Challenge to finding families or relatives. Who could house these kids cement truck to a year right. Bright so when the children's shelter there is the effort to find out if they have. The sponsor that they can live with again the parent relative family friend. That process has clearly taking much longer than it used you. It seems to be because of some combination. Of more restrictive policies. And an overall. Immigration. Enforcement climate that makes people afraid to come forward. One of the things that's happened this spring which is clearly adding to the difficulties. Is. Health and human services entered into an agreement. With Homeland Security where if someone wants to be a sponsored they need to be fingerprinted. And he would go living in their home needs to be fingerprinted. That information is then sent to homeland security. And there are. Indications it is now than being used to. Arrest people for immigration while it's so it is understandably. People are going to be very hesitant to come forward and to cooperate. If the fury the price of doings. Is that day or other members of their household are gonna be at risk of being the rest. Gosh it does seem like that would have a bit of a chilling effect on volunteers to step forward and take those kids. Mark also. I imagine the scrutiny that their under once they do take a documented immigrant children as you know HHS earlier this year was under fire for. Quote unquote losing track of thousands of children after they had been placed. There do you think that was a fair criticism. That won't actually I think it bit misleading because. The way that the structure works is they seek to find the sponsor again parent relative family friend. The child is then placed with the sponsor. At that point. The federal government no longer has custody of the child the child is out living. With their sponsor and so. What happens is HHS. Health and human services does do. A follow up call after thirty days to ask how are they doing. Is the child in school wall. Part of a and do they know about their legal proceedings. They know about available services. So when they do those calls they don't always reach people. And that can be for a walks agrees that can be. Because they're not home because they moved because the phone has been disconnected. Because they don't want to talk to so it's right that HHS isn't in continued contact with them. But that's actually how the system was originally dissolved. To it does seem like that. Could be strengthened her tightened in any event regardless of who may be to blame their certainly congress has been saying is much and it is you know mark the inspector general Department of Homeland Security has been out just in the past few days with. Incredibly skewed in reviews of both ice. Which does the initial detaining of of these children but also of of health and human services for their handling in fact and we're looking at a graphic here one of those reports. The inspector general basically said they would trump administration was not prepared. Two to take in these kids under deserves zero tolerance policy they said they had serious resource limitations and other challenges. In fact another report out just in the past few days said there are significant health and safety risks and a lot of these are facilities. And to your point you were just talking about losing track. The inspector general found. That claims of the central database. To keep track of all these kids actually does not exist which I just fine actually shocking. That thousands of children are being brought in and placed in yet there's no central location where that stuff lips. Shore and just two acquire highland. Though there's the shelter system which is four unaccompanied children the children who arrive at the border without apparent regard. When the administration. Initiated family separation. What they essentially did was say if a parent and child arrive together. They will be separated the pair will be prosecuted. And then put in Homeland Security custody that child will be sent in to this shelter system and treated as if they write a company. And what this new report from the inspector general and homeland security's. Is that. That is systems were not prepared for the host. They didn't have the database they didn't have that neither of electronic communications. They didn't have a way of ensuring that when a parent and child were separated. That the parent knew where their child was Charlton Ridder parent was the ability to communicate with each other. The ability to be reunited they simply didn't have the systems in place. They were needed to implement the thing and we separation after. Remarkable realist who goes there one thing. From an outsider perspective very briefly. That you would advise HHS to do now think some and they could you quickly to make a small difference in some of the problems are facing. So for HH SI actually think the single most important thing. Is there are operating a shelter system for these children. They need to not be acting as a partner in immigration enforcement. They need to not be having the information that parents and sponsors provide. Sent to be used to arrest. As long as people are afraid that if they provide information they're going to be arrested. The system simply isn't going to work I think we risk having a larger and larger number of children and shelter for longer and longer periods of TARP. All right Mark Greenberg former department Homeland Security deputy assistant secretary thank you so much for coming and share your insight. On this very important story a story that is not going away that we will continue to follow here at ABC news even in spite of all the other headlines throwing around our thanks to mark. And just a reminder as we wrap up today here in a briefing in that there are still. Several hundred children who were separated under the truck administration's policy still in custody today separated from their parents or waiting. To get home we're thinking of them we do hope that process gets resolved. We thank you for tourists were here in the in the briefly amid ABC news in Washington a lot of news to cover today you can follow the latest. ID BC news.com and on the ABC news app for just official cap imposed on Devin Dwyer we'll see you next.

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

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