'This Week' Transcript 9-23-18: Sen. Dick Durbin and Ambassador Nikki Haley

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A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated. For previous show transcripts, visit the “This Week” transcript archive.

ANNOUNCER: This Week with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: Supreme Court showdown.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Brett Kavanaugh, fantastic man. Fantastic.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, (D) NEW YORK: I believe her, because she's telling the truth.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford wants to testify on Thursday. Judge Kavanaugh's nomination hangs in the balance.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, (R) UTAH: Clearly, somebody's mixed up. I think she's mistaken.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY: Don't get rattled by all this. We're going to plow right through it.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT: There are plenty of reasons to disbelieve Judge Kavanaugh.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO, (D) HAWAII: I just want t say to the men of this country, just shut up and step up.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Will the hearing actually take place? Under what conditions? The most consequential moment yet for the #metoo movement, the most consequential senate hearing in a generation. The Supreme Court, the Senate, the Trump presidency all at stake.

And...

TRUMP: There's a lingering stench and we're going to get rid of that, too.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Trump targets the DOJ after The New York Times reports that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested secretly recording the president and recruiting cabinet members to remove him from office.

TRUMP: Look at what is now being exposed in our Department of Justice and the FBI.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Rosenstein is pushing back against this latest report that shows top administration officials questioning Trump's fitness for office. Will this report push the president to fire Rosenstein, try to shut down the Russia investigation. We'll analyze it all on our powerhouse roundtable, plus UN ambassador Nikki Haley previews this week's general assembly at the UN.

We'll break down the politics, smoke out the spin. The facts that matter this week.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's This Week. Here now chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to This Week.

As we come on the air this morning, the stage appears to be set for what could be the most consequential senate hearing in decades. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has tent actively agreed to appear before the Senate judiciary committee on Thursday to detail he allegation that President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party 36 years ago.

Underscore there the word tentatively. Both sides still negotiating the terms of that appearance. The deal could still fall apart. New information could come to light. Either way, what happens in these next few days will determine whether Brett Kavanaugh cements a conservative majority on the Supreme Court and have a huge impact on the course of the Trump presidency, midterm elections just six weeks away.

So, let's get right to it. Our first guest, the number two Democrat in the Senate, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee Dick Durbin. Senator Durbin, thank you for joining us this morning.

Let's begin. You are a senior Democrat on the committee, what is the latest on negotiations right now? Where do things stand?

SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D) ILLINOIS: Well, I think you're reporting is accurate, George. There appears to be an agreement near, but it has not been finalized. It'll be Wednesday or Thursday of this week, at least that's what I heard in a conference call last night.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But there seem to be a few sticking points. Right now Democrats and Dr. Ford want outside witnesses. She wants to be questioned by senators. Apparently Senator Grassley wants the questioning to be done by a staff aide. Are those live-or-die points for the Democrats?

DURBIN: I don't know, George. I will tell you. I think her requests have been reasonable.

Remember Kellyanne Conway, the close adviser to the president. Her first reaction I thought was a good one. She said we cannot ignore and we cannot insult Dr. Ford. But in the week that's followed, a lot of that has occurred.

What Dr. Ford has asked for I think is a credible request: an investigation by the FBI. Anita Hill, that was done instantly. The Bush White House in those days ordered an FBI investigation immediately.

In this situation, the Trump White House and Department of Justice have refused from the start for any type of investigation.

And Dr. Ford has said, you know, I want to come before the committee and to be able to testify and tell what happened. What they've said was, well, why don't we do this with a conference call, a staff conference call instead.

So, I do believe that she has not been treated well during the course of this and the Republicans, many of them, even my colleagues, feel uneasy with the ways this has been handled.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, Republicans feel uneasy with the way Democrats have been handling this as well.

The president has complained that -- criticized Senator Feinstein for holding this letter in secret until the hearings were over.

And Vice President Pence had this to say yesterday. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: His record and career deserves the respect of every member of the United States Senate. The way some Democrats have conducted themselves during this process, it's a disgrace and a disservice to the Senate and the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your response?

DURBIN: Well, I can just tell you that I think Dr. Ford has come forward understanding what she was going to face. I think it really speaks to her credibility at this moment, what in the hell did she have to gain by doing this?

At this point, she’s faced death threats, her family has been moved out of their home, they’re worried about the safety of their children, they’re concerned about security at the hearing.

You know, when you take a look at this in -- in honest terms, I believe that not only Judge Kavanaugh but certainly Dr. Ford deserve a fair hearing. To say no investigation, we’ll do this by phone at night with staff attorneys, I think it was disrespectful of the claim that’s been made by a credible witness.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ll be part of the questioning if this hearing does take place, is there any way to really know the truth of what happened in that suburban house more than three decades ago?

DURBIN: In terms of direct evidence, probably not. The only alleged -- I underline alleged -- eyewitness, this Mark Judge, has said he, quote, "has no recollection", no -- closed quote -- of what occurred that evening.

And the Republicans refuse to even put him on the witness list so we can ask any questions about what he remembers. He was key to Dr. Ford’s presentation, they will not let him get near the Capitol when we have sworn witnesses giving testimony.

I think the Republicans have shown their uneasiness with their own defense by refusing to allow Mark Judge to testify.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, it’s not just Mark Judge. Apparently Dr. Ford has -- has identified three other people -- or two other people including Judge Kavanaugh who were there at that party.

And now the fourth one has come forward, Leland Keyser, and says she has no memory of being at a party with Judge Kavanaugh, doesn’t know him. So the four people that Dr. Ford says attended the party, none of them can corroborate her story.

DURBIN: Well, apparently that’s true based on what you just said, but it also speaks to another thing. Dr. Ford has said from the start let’s have the investigation, let’s find all the people who might have some knowledge of it.

You know, she’s opened it to the investigation, it’s Judge Kavanaugh, the Department of Justice, and the president who have said no, there will be no investigation. That to me speaks to her efforts to try to get the bottom of this.

And it’s no surprise, if another person was in the -- the room or in -- not room, but in the house that night and had no occurrence like the one that was stated by Dr. Ford, there’s no reason why they would even remember that party scene 36 years ago.

STEPHANOPOULOS: This is not a court of law, as you know. What is the fair standard of proof?

DURBIN: That is a great question, and it’s a question I’ve thought about asking Judge Kavanaugh. What is the standard of proof? Is it probable cause, as we use in criminal proceedings, is it beyond a reasonable doubt, is it a certain percentage of accuracy?

I don’t know what it is, we are trying to come up with a reasonable standard here. But I think we understand the gravity of this situation. When someone steps forward and accuses another person of this kind of sexual assault, it needs to be taken seriously.

We need to treat that person with respect and look at the allegations that have been made.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It sounds like what you’re saying might be that old Potter Stewart -- Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of obscenity. You know it when you see it.

DURBIN: Well, I have to say, George, that may be the case. And in this circumstance, they have a categorical denial by Judge Kavanaugh and an assertion by Dr. Ford that really is extremely serious as far as I’m concerned, even though it was 36 years ago.

To have that situation, members of the committee on both sides want to be fair -- at least I hope they do -- want to be fair to both. I have Republican senators who have reached out to Democratic senators and assured them that they are looking to this as a kind of a determination as to how their final vote will be cast.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You think -- so you say that now. It certainly appears there’s a lot of evidence that both sides have already made up their mind.

DURBIN: I don’t think that’s true. I really don’t. Just remember, this Senate Judiciary Committee, the composition is 11 Republicans, 10 Democrats. If one Republican senator should decide that Dr. Ford’s allegations, assertions are true and that they are serious, it could make a big difference in the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ve seen reports this week alleging heavy drinking by Brett Kavanaugh in high school. Will Democrats press for more on that?

DURBIN: Well, it’s certainly relevant to the whole conversation. Dr. Ford has said that they were stumbling drunk at the time that this occurred. And there have been a lot of things said about the alcohol that was consumed by the judge as well as by others in his school. That has to be part of any relevant questioning.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You and many other Democrats have had a lot of questions about Judge Kavanaugh before these allegations came to light, prepared to vote against him. Some questions, also, about whether he was being fully honest over the course of these hearings, which has led some to even raise the prospect, if this nomination goes through, of impeachment of Justice Kavanaugh.

I want to show Congressman Eric Swalwell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: If the Republicans rush through a nominee where you have unanswered sexual assault allegations, I can promise you that Democratic senators will be interested in going and looking at those allegations and if Judge Kavanaugh lied under oath, you could see a judicial impeachment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think that prospect should be on the table?

DURBIN: No, I don’t. Not at this point. We have an important job to do and it’s a hearing. A hearing of Judge Kavanaugh, along with Dr. Ford’s testimony. Let’s focus on that. This projection of what might occur in the future, it makes for a good news story but it really doesn’t address the major issue that we face at this moment. This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. We have had background information on Judge Kavanaugh that has been concealed in ways we’ve never seen before in the committee.

His 35 months of staff secretary to President Bush have really been hidden to us. We can’t see any documents from that period. And they committed -- created this thing, committee confidential. I’ve been on this committee for 20 years and I can tell you I’ve never seen it applied this way, to keep these documents away from the public so they couldn’t see it. All of this concealment, all of this hiding is coming back to haunt them now as allegations have been made by Dr. Ford, serious allegations which need to be investigated.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Durbin, thanks for your time this morning.

DURBIN: Thanks, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We reached out to every Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. None of them agreed to appear this morning, but we are joined now by Republican strategist Sara Fagen, a longtime friend and colleague of Judge Kavanaugh who worked with him in the George W. Bush White House. This week Fagen led a group of over 75 women who have known Kavanaugh throughout his life and have vouched for his character.

Sara, thanks for joining us --

SARA FAGEN, FORMER COLLEAGUE OF BRETT KAVANAUGH: Thank you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- this morning. You know, you’ve been at the forefront. We just showed this (ph) I Stand With Brett movement. Have you had the chance to speak with him? What’s his mindset? Has he ever considered pulling out?

FAGEN: I have not spoken with him in the couple weeks since these allegations -- this allegation was made. But I know Brett and I know his character and he’s a person of strong faith and he’s obviously being tested right now in a way that has been incredibly unfair to him, to his family, to the entire process. But I have no doubt that we will testify, assuming this hearing goes forward, and he will have a chance to tell his story.

And I think it’s important for people to hear that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So I just talked to Senator Durbin about -- Dr. Ford has said she wants to be questioned by senators, not by a staff aide, she wants testimony from other witnesses. Are those reasonable requests?

FAGEN: Well, she needs to testify under oath. I mean, one of the things that we know about this set of circumstances is that there were supposedly five people at this party. Four of them, including Judge Kavanaugh, have come forward, they have under criminal penalty of lying to the senate said not only did this not happen, they weren’t there. I think I’d like to correct something Senator Durbin said. He implied that Mark Judge said there was a party and there was a lot of drinking. No, I think actually Mark Judge said there was no party, this never happened.

They’ve -- all the other witnesses have said this did not happen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: HE said a couple different things about it and I think she said she -- but Leland (ph) said she wasn’t at the party but she also said she believes Dr. Ford. But I take your point. Right (ph). Though you’ve said categorically that the allegation against Judge Kavanaugh is false. How do you know that?

FAGEN: I know it because I know his character and I know it because I’ve worked with this person in incredibly grueling situations in the White House, hours (ph) stress, I’ve socialized with him, I’ve been in large groups with him, small groups with him. And it’s not just me, it’s 85 other women who stood up there and the hundred additional women who have known him at every aspect of his life. Law school classmates, people who dates him in high school, young lawyers in Washington, staff in the White House, young women who were clerking for him, every single one of them says this does not add up to the Brett Kavanaugh we know.

This does -- nothing about what has been described about him is in line with anything -- any behavior we’ve ever seen by him. And I know him to be a very respectful, thoughtful, quiet, prudent person and this just doesn’t add up.

STEPHANOPOULOS: SO you don’t believe it’s true even though you -- you weren’t there. And if you believe it’s false, you believe Dr. Ford is lying. But as, you know, Senator Durbin just said there, what incentive would she have to lie and if someone was lying, why would they invite an FBI investigation?

FAGEN: So I don’t know the series of events that led her to make the statement she’s made. What I -- what I do know is his character and that the other people who were supposed to be at the party -- allegedly at the party say the party didn’t happen and that they’d never seen Brett act in a way -- including the woman that you just described who came out last evening, who was a – who is a close friend of Dr. Ford’s says she doesn’t even know Bret, she’s never been at any party with Bret ever, whether Dr. Ford was there or not.

So there’s no evidence at this point to suggest that any shred of this is even true. And, you know, look, I – I take the point that, you know, first of all, nobody should ever feel unsafe.

She made an allegation, she should be heard, Republicans are trying to make that happen on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Actually, Senator Grassley has bent over backwards to try to accommodate her.

She should be questioned by an attorney. This is a serious allegation, she is alleging a serious crime by a person and in doing so, you know, really questioning his reputation and potentially putting him in a terrible position over the rest of his life.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But doesn’t that then lead – but doesn’t that then lead to – you say that Senator Grassley has bent over backwards, but everything you’re saying about the import of this leads to the conclusion that you should – maybe you should do what happened with Clarence Thomas, have the FBI investigation first.

FAGEN: Well the Senate Judiciary Committee has – has investigators, they have terrific lawyers and they have bipartisan lawyers. And when they do interviews with these individuals, these witness, which by the way they have gotten statements from all these people.

It isn’t as if these other people who were allegedly at this party haven’t given statements. They’ve given statements.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right, but they haven’t been cross examined under oath.

FAGEN: Well they haven’t been cross examined under oath, I mean the committee certainly could do that, but I don’t believe – when someone comes forward and says it didn’t happen, I don’t have any recollection of it, I don’t – wasn’t there, the party didn’t happen, I’m not certain what questioning will be of value.

She’s the one who needs to be heard from, she’s the one who’s made the allegation and she needs to put forward credible evidence before she destroys a man’s professional life and reputation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You just heard – you just heard Senator Durbin say that the questions about Bret Kavanaugh’s heavy drinking in high school are going to be on the table, they are relevant.

According to the Washington Post, in practice sessions this week he seemed abristle (ph) at those questions. Are they fair?

FAGEN: Well he’s going to get asked a lot of questions and that’s certainly going to be one of them. I can tell you from my experience, having been a young professional in Washington and run in the same social circles as Bret Kavanaugh, I never saw him drink excessively.

He was always a responsible person. And so, you know, unfortunately he’s going to get asked a whole bunch of unpleasant questions because this is now the situation we find ourselves in.

But I have no doubt he’ll be able to handle those questions.

STEPHANOPOULOS: President Trump weighed in on Twitter, he said I have no doubt that if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local law enforcement authorities by either her or her loving parents.

I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time and place. Gotten a lot of criticism for that, including from Senator Collins. Was it appropriate for the president to step in in that way?

FAGEN: Well I – look, there (ph) has been a lot written about the psychology of people who’ve, you know, experienced some type of trauma like that and – and the president is not a psychologist.

I don’t, you know, again, I can’t speak to the events that lead her to make the allegations she made at the time in which she made it. There’s a lot of theories about that. But what I do and what I can speak about is that Judge Kavanaugh is somebody who over the course of his life, the people who know him best over every phase of his life say nothing about what she has said comports with the way he’s conducted his life.

And, you know, unfortunately he’s now going to have to defend himself against an allegation he says never even happened. And as you pointed out in your earlier conversations, it’d be very hard to prove this but it’s also going to be very hard to prove that didn’t happen because she said it did.

And he’s going to have to deal with that the rest of his life, even if confirmed to the Supreme Court. And that is a – a very difficult thing to put forward and I cannot imagine what he’s having to deal with having to now read that, have his daughters read that in the paper or hear about it on the news.

It’s really a sad state of affairs that we find ourselves in right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: All the way around. Sara Fagen, thanks very much. Round Table is up next, we’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: The allegations she's raised are serious and they deserve to be treated with respect. And I hope that she comes and has a full opportunity to tell her story in way that is respectful. But I also think Judge Kavanaugh deserves a full opportunity to defend himself and to let the American people listen and come to an assessment of what happened.

BETO O'ROURKE, DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE FOR SENATE, TEXAS: Dr. Ford's allegations should be investigated by the FBI. Full stop. There's precedent for that. That's the right thing to do given the gravity of the accusations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senate debate Friday night in Texas. Not the last time this is going to be discussed on the campaign trail. We're going to discuss it now on our roundtable, joined by Cokie Roberts, our political analyst Matthew Dowd, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, congressional correspondent for the New York Times, Chris Christie, former New Jersey governor, now a contributor here at ABC News, and Patrick Gaspard, president of the Open Society Foundations, former political director in the Obama White House.

And Cokie, I guess we haven't been quite here since 1991, Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas. Hard to overstate what is at stake in these hearings.

COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS: Unbelievable, what's at stake. And in a very different time from Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. We're in the #metoo moment. And there's a tremendous amount of pressure on the commtee, because of that, and a tremendous amount of support for Dr. Ford without ever having heard her. And I think that that is going to be something that this committee has to deal with and that the Supreme Court will have to deal with.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Sheryl, you cover this every day for The New York Times in congress. This is something, I think, that Senate Republicans really did not want to have to deal with. I think they were kind of hoping that she wouldn't testify.

SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES: They were kind of hoping, but really, George, they can't avoid it for a couple of reasons. First off, there are Republican senators like Jeff Flake, who say they want to hear from her before making a decision.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And he's on the Judiciary Committee.

STOLBERG: He's on the committee and he is not comfortable voting uiltil he hears from her.

And Republicans also know that this is very delicate for them, right? In Anita Hill, there were all men on the Judiciary Committee. Today, there are four women on the Judiciary Committee, all of those women are Democrats. We still have the optics of 11 Republican men questioning a woman and they're very, very nervous about that so they're handling it delicately. It's one reason why they want an outside questioner to ask her.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you might get a compromise on that having both sides...

So Chris, if one of those Republican senators called you up and said, how do we handle it? What's the answer.

CHRIS CHRIS, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: Let outside counsel ask the questions and insist upon that. There's no way you should let a witness decide who is going to question them.

And secondly is to do what I've been saying for the better part of a week now, you know, the doctor has a right to have her allegations heard. If she's willing to do that in public, which it sounds like she may be, it should be preferably done in public. And then everybody should go ahead and make an assessment of the credibility of both her and of Judge Kavanaugh.

I'd just say this, from the beginning Judge Kavanaugh has been pretty consistent on this. And I've heard some people say he shouldn' have made a full-throated denial. He should have done something different. Well, what if actually the full-throated denial is the truth? What if in fact that is exactly the way he recollects it? Do we want this guy to be hedging like a politician or do we want him to actually be telling the truth as he sees it?

Everything I have been told by people who know Judge Kavanaugh well, and I don't, but for those who do know him well, they say this is him. And so he's saying what he believes is absolutely the truth as he recalls it. And I think that is to his credit, not to his detrimenet that he's not playing hedging and playing politics with this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How do the Democrats handle it?

PATRICK GASPARD, OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS: Well, first, George, it's important to recognize that we are in an incredibly different era. Cokie says we're we're in the #metoo era. Just a few days ago, we had McDonalds workers across the country step off the job to demand redress on sexual harassment. Different time.

And we should also note that we're a little bit more than 40 days away from a national election that's going to determine the course of congress. We all have to appreciate that Democrats and Republicans are looking at that clock as they're thinking about this questioning and the testimony.

I think Democrats have to in this moment appreciate that everyone has the right to be heard, no one has the right to be believed in the first instance. This is a tough, tough, tough matter. But I think voters, Americans are going to look to see whether or not both parties have allowed transparent conversation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the whole question, one of the big questions, then, Matthew Dowd, is going to be is it possible for Americans to look at this through any prism but partisan politics?

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS: Well, that the totality of the problem with almost everything we have today. We automatically, if somebody uses their voice, we don't listen to them if they're not saying what we want them to say.

If they're not saying what we want them to say -- I think this is a realy, really important cultural moment. It's been brewing for decades. And this is a moment where, yes, the presumption of innocence is a standard in something that we need to do, but part of the problem is, is that we've also said we presume in these cases that the woman -- in most cases, the woman is lying.

So, instead of saying let's presume she's telling the truth and we have a presumption of innocence what do we do?

And when we look at this from that context, and women have had to deal with this for many, many years. It wasn't until the 80s that women were -- that we finally were telling women that, yes, you can be raped in marriage, that most cases of rape aren't reported, that most cases aren't investigated, that most of these things women aren't believe.

In the extremely rare cases that somebody gives false witness and doesn't tell the truth is compared to the extremely common cases where women aren't believed. And when we get to it -- and part of the problem when we get to a he said, she said is almost every single time in a he said, she said case the default position is he wins.

ROBERTS: But let me – people are changing their minds, and that is something that I didn’t expect. And you see the Wall Street Journal poll that came out on Friday, women over 50 have gone from being plus three on Kavanaugh in August to minus seven now.

And seniors, this is fascinating, were plus nine on Kavanaugh and theyre now minus 10, senior women, by the way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I want to bring this to Sheryl, I think it’s a (ph) difficulty for so many of the Republican senators on that committee is how do they vote for Kavanaugh without calling Dr. Ford a liar?

STOLBERG: I think that’s exactly right, Cokie said we’re in the MeToo era, and that’s true and so we have to take this in the context in which we’re in. Women are given a presumption of telling the truth right now.

She is presumed to be credible, it’s – very few Republican senators will you hear say oh, I think she’s lying. I was very struck – I wrote a profile of Anita Hill a few years ago, a conservative advocate told me at that time oh, I think she was just making it up.

You’re not hearing that today from conservatives.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No, you’re not, but one of the things you were hearing, Chris, this week is that idea, oh maybe she’s not – maybe she’s just misidentifying…

(CROSS TALK)

GASPARD: We actually have a mechanism to address that. Governor Christie and I have both been vetted by the FBI, it’s exhaustive, they talk to everybody who’s known you for 30 plus years.

That’s already occurred for Judge Kavanaugh and –

(CROSS TALK)

-- and now, as Senator Durbin suggested, it would make sense for the FBI to go back and quickly interview the witnesses that Dr. Ford –

(CROSS TALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- four people in a day.

GASPARD: Easily.

CHRISTIE: You could, although they all have now submitted letters to – to the Senate where they know they’re subject to prosecution under 18 USC 1001.

(CROSS TALK)

GASPARD: -- is being interviewed –

(CROSS TALK)

CHRISTIE: -- let me tell you something –

(CROSS TALK)

-- you’re also running the risk of going to jail if you – if you send a letter that turns out to have been false. But to get back to your question about how can a Republican senator vote for Kavanaugh and not be calling the professor a liar.

I think it’s just that we can’t determine it. I mean I think a Republican senator could fairly say listen, I think there’s credibility on both sides of this, I can’t determine which one makes sense here and therefore –

(CROSS TALK)

ROBERTS: -- all judge credibility –

(CROSS TALK)

CHRISTIE: -- then – then if in fact you have – you can’t make a determination in your mind that he committed this act, then I think you have to then make the judgment on his confirmation or not based on all of the other factors.

(CROSS TALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that gets to the question, I want to bring this to Matt, this is not a court of law, this is not whether he’s going to have his liberties taken away, it’s whether he’s going to have the privilege of a seat on the Supreme Court.

DOWD: That’s part of the problem here is that this is – this is not a prosecution in a trial, this is a promotion. Right, he already has a lifetime appointment that exists. He’s going to be on a court regardless of whether this goes forward or not.

If there’s undetermined in this that we can’t decide whether or not she’s fundamentally telling the truth or whether or not he’s fundamentally telling the truth and it gets to that point, I think that the default position is don’t give somebody a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land, one of the most powerful positions in the world, because at that point you’re doing it, there’s no take back in that.

(CROSS TALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I’m going to against this question I just raised to you and I’ll bring this to Patrick, the alternative though if that happens, this guy, for better or for worse, the whole country’s going to think he was guilty.

CHRISTIE: Absolutely right. Absolutely right.

(CROSS TALK)

ROBERTS: Half of the country thinks that right now.

GASPARD: You know what, that – that – that may be unfortunate, but as Matt suggested, we’re now at a point where the pendulum is swinging so that women are deemed to have credibility on these issues for the first time in our –

(CROSS TALK)

-- and that really matters. But you know, just again on the politics of the vote, this is all taking considerable pressure off of red state Democrats like Claire McCaskill who can now come out and openly say they’re against him and when you have both Corker and Flake who are not up for reelection and have been profoundly critical of this – of this president, Republicans really have to worry about –

(CROSS TALK)

ROBERTS: Well and the president has to be so careful. I mean his – his tweets –

GASPARD: This president, careful? I think we’re past that.

(CROSS TALK)

ROBERTS: -- started a whole other – whole movement really of why I didn’t report. And that has become a huge thing as well and tomorrow there’s going to be a big rally of women. I mean this is becoming tougher and tougher when you talk about the women’s vote, and it is – it is a huge vote.

STOLBERG: I was also going to say it’s also undermining a key reason that Republicans are arguing that you should reelect them to the Senate. Why should you reelect them? Well because they will keep the Supreme Court, you know, with a Republican president.

And now all it’s doing is energizing the base. This is energizing Democratic voters –

(CROSS TALK)

-- and Republican voters.

(CROSS TALK)

CHRISTIE: -- Eric Swalwell, who you had on, I’m saying right now I would raise money for a pact to put him on television every day for the next 40 days.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, Durbin didn’t want to touch that.

(CROSS TALK)

CHRISTIE: I mean Durbin looked stricken as you were playing that video for him. And I think the other thing that you said you’re not taking away his liberty, and you’re right about that.

No matter what happens here, Judge Kavanaugh, after these proceedings, isn’t going to jail. But you are taking his career, and the idea that this guy could in fact go back to the court of appeals and continue to serve after this if he were not confirmed, I think is – is really unlikely.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: This is a guy who’s going to have his career, his reputation --

(CROSSTALK)

GASPARD: Respectfully -- respectfully, women have had much worse taken away --

(CROSSTALK)

DOWD: Women aren’t -- women aren’t -- women aren’t looking at this -- most women are not looking at this politically. I’m going to reiterate this. They’re looking at this as if their finally voice is going to be heard and if they’re going to be believed. For 5,000 years, women have been treated as property. For centuries by institutions including the Catholic church, which I’m a member of, they’ve been treated as second class citizens. Women didn’t get the right to vote in this country until 1920 even though they were told in the 1780s that all -- all men are created equal in this.

Women have dealt with this for hundreds and hundreds of years and the question is is will they be believed when they -- when they -- when they actively accuse a powerful man.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: -- I mean, that’s the other thing. That’s the question many women are asking. I mean, just in conversations with women, they’re saying why would she come forward?

STOLBERG: She’s a very sympathetic figure in that way, I mean she did not want this to be public. I’m told by folks who were close to her that this is one reason that she wanted to keep this private, not only for her privacy but also for his privacy, that she simply felt duty bound as a citizen to share this information with the committee, even going so far as before he was nominated, back when he was on the short list, and his name was served for saying she wanted to share this --

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: And that’s why what Senator Feinstein did here was reprehensible because she and her staff leaked this --

DOWD: We don’t know that --

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: -- no doubt in my mind --

(CROSSTALK)

DOWD: That’s an allegation without evidence.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I don’t think we’re going to solve it right now. And we do have to take a break. We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Round table will be right back. We’re going to talk about that New York Times report on Rod Rosenstein. Did he try to get someone to wear a wire on the president? We’ll talk about that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You shouldn’t fire Rosenstein unless you believe Rosenstein’s lying. He said he did not do the things alleged. But there’s a bureaucratic coup against President Trump being discovered here. Before the election, the people in question tried to taint the election, tip it to Clinton’s favor. After the election, they’re trying to undermine the president --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Question about firing Rod Rosenstein back on the table because of that New York Times report that suggests in those days after the appointment of the special counsel he’s overseeing, he suggested that someone perhaps wear a wire on the president, also talked about the 25th amendment. Bombshell report in the New York Times here. But Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times, not your story.

STOLBERG: Not my story.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I don’t -- I don’t expect you to give up any sources either because you probably don’t know them, but the -- one of the big questions here is where is this coming from, from people who actually want the president to fire Rod Rosenstein.

STOLBERG: Well, as you said, I don’t know who the sources are but I can tell you that my colleagues are very, very confident that this story was meticulously reported, that it took a long time to report. I know there have been people saying oh, Rosenstein was only kidding in that meeting, he was saying --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sarcastic.

STOLBERG: -- he was being sarcastic. That is not what our -- our sources are telling us. And our colleagues are confident that this is an accurate report.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So far, Chris Christie, the president has pretty much held his fire.

CHRISTIE: Yes, and -- and listen, I think I’m the only one at the table that worked with Rod Rosenstein for four years. I was U.S. attorney in New Jersey when he was U.S. attorney in Maryland in the Bush 43 administration. I know Rod really well. I find it hard to believe that Rod would suggest these things. I really do. Put aside his denial and the meticulous reporting because they couldn’t have reported it meticulously and people may not be telling them the truth.

In the end, I know Rod pretty well and I have a hard time believing that Rod -- he’s a very careful, cautious guy. This was not a cowboy prosecutor. This was a careful, cautious prosecutor and I have a hard time believing he’d say these things -- FBI agents, who we all know at times are not (inaudible).

STEPHANOPOULOS: No, but in fact -- but that’s one of the issues there. There are contemporaneous memos from the time, including from Andrew McCabe, who was the deputy director –

CHRISTIE: Yes, who we know have perjured himself per an inspector general’s report, not only about things that he’s written but also about denying that he’s leaked things when he in fact did.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s kind of extraordinary that this discussion’s happening at all.

GASPARD: Look, it’s astounding to think that anyone would talk about wearing a wire on the president, but we actually know a number of recordings that have come out of the White House during this administration, so not unprecedented.

But it is not astounding actually that there would be conversations about the 25th Amendment, given some of the behavior we’ve seen from this White House, from this president, the behavior that’s been recorded in Woodward’s book and in other accounts.

And the material nature of his communications as recently as a few days ago where he seemed as if he was under control on the Kavanaugh matter and then (inaudible).

(CROSS TALK)

ROBERTS: -- denial was really not a full throated denial –

(CROSS TALK)

-- if you parse those words, it was, you know, I did not advocate for –

(CROSS TALK)

GASPARD: I did not pursue.

(CROSS TALK)

ROBERTS: -- did not pursue.

(CROSS TALK)

GASPARD: And he said based on my experience with this president, I would not be calling for this. But that seems after the fact, right?

ROBERTS: It was – it was – it was kind of like now –

(CROSS TALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the other things this leads to though, Matthew Dowd, is this was all happening in those days after James Comey was fired as head of the FBI, after the Robert Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel.

One more reminder that Robert Mueller knows so much more than any of us know about what is going on and what is going on and what went on inside that administration.

DOWD: Well yes, I think that this – if this is a Tom Clancy novel, which is what it seems like it is, Robert Mueller knows the final three or four chapters of the Tom Clancy novel because he’s the one that sort of extricating all of this information in this.

I think this is all – you know, there’s a ton of palace intrigue, we will keep seeing palace intrigue, I think there are some key points coming up. The next key point in this is the midterm elections, because the midterm elections –

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well that’s assuming no more Mueller activity before the midterm elections.

DOWD: And I assume there’s not because of who Bob Mueller is –

(CROSS TALK)

ROBERTS: -- all this conversation with Michael Cohen could be very –

(CROSS TALK)

DOWD: I think the midterm elections and the Mueller report are the two points in time, the inflection points in time that are going to determine where this presidency goes.

GASPARD: I think that’s right, but let’s also recognize that the midterm elections are already occurring. We talk about this as if it’s something in the future on November 6, but states like Minnesota started voting on Friday.

Your state, New Jersey, begins voting in just a few days. There are 37 states that will have some kind of no (ph) excuse early voting. And so every single tweet, every little leak that comes out of these reports is already coloring outcomes –

(CROSS TALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Chris, you were at the Justice Department, you know, we all talk about the 60 day rule. I mean let’s say for example we know that Roger Stone is being investigated.

He’s not on the ballot, what would prevent Robert Mueller from indicting him?

CHRISTIE: Listen, everybody in the recent history of the Justice Department except for Jim Comey has filed the 60 day rule. And let me tell you something –

STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s their (ph) candidate isn’t it?

CHRISTIE: No, no, no, no, it’s – no. The rule is –

(CROSS TALK)

-- have any impact upon the voting. You don’t do anything that could have an impact on the voting. Well anything that Bob Mueller does, he knows is going to have an impact on voting.

Bob Mueller is too smart and too careful.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you think he does nothing?

CHRISTIE: There’s no chance, I’m willing to guarantee you he’s not going to do anything and I will tell you it just – it puts a brighter light on the awful stuff that happened to Hillary Clinton under Comey, because imagine in the veil storm we feel right now, it was even more in 2016.

And that’s why they have this rule. And by the way, the stuff Comey said to you in the interview about this being a guideline, let me tell you something, at least when John Ashcroft was attorney general, that guideline was a rod that he said to all of us you do not do this and he won’t do it.

Bob Mueller was part of that administration, he won’t do it.

ROBERTS: But you know the outcome of these midterms is going to determine a huge amount. If the Democrats take –

(CROSS TALK)

DOWD: I agree with that (ph), the Democrats – he can’t fire –

(CROSS TALK)

STOLBERG: -- there’ll be a slew of investigations.

(CROSS TALK)

ROBERTS: Then it would be an obstruction of justice.

DOWD: I think it’s totally on –

(CROSS TALK)

GASPARD: And right now it seems pretty clear Democrats are headed to a majority in the House and even the Senate –

(CROSS TALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Six weeks to go, we’ve got to take a break. We’ll be right back, you got Ambassador Nikki Haley joins us live next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're making tremendous progress with respect to North Korea.

Remember this, prior to my coming into office, a lot of people thought we were going -- it was inevitable we were going war in North Korea. And now we're -- the relationships, I have to tell you, at least on a personal basis, they're very good.

It's very much calmed down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: North Korea, one of the big subjects on the table at the UN General Assembly this week.

And we're joined now by the president's UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. And ambassador, thank you for joining us.

I do want to get to that. But first, I just have to ask you. We just had this discussion about the Rod Rosenstein story in The New York Times. Have you ever been part of any discussion on persuing the 25th amendment as a member of the cabinet?

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: I have never been part of it. I've never heard it. I don't think that is a reality at all among all of the cabinet members. I've just never heard that. That's absurd.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's look ahead to this week. You just saw the president talking about great progress in the situation with North Korea. What is that progress exactly? What have the North Koreans promised that they haven't promised and reneged on before?

HALEY: I think the progress is the fact that in 2017, it felt like every other weekend there was a ballistic missile test. You had the fact that South Korea and Japan were under great threat. He was threatening America. And since then, what we've seen is, you know, you've got the two Korean leaders now shaking hands saying they want peace. We have not had one single ballistic missile test, in their big, the 70th anniversary parade there weren't nukes shown. It was more a ceremonial situation.

So, a lot of really good this have come out of it. But we have got a long way to go. And I think what we have to do is denuclearization with verification.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, what they haven't agreed to yet is denuclearization, as you just say, or even a full accounting of their nuclear arsenal.

But they do seem in that meeting between the two Korean leaders, they do seem to be now demanding reciprocal steps of some kind from the United States.

Is the United States prepared to do anything more now based on what we've seen from North Korea?

HALEY: I mean, George, make no mistake, the reason they came to the table is because those sanctions are suffocating them and they want out. And so we're not going to do anything to loosen those sancons until we make sure that there is no more threat from North Korea.

And so we have got some conversation to have. And we've got some things we've got to do, but no one is relaxing those sanctions at this point.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Will the president meet with North Koreans this week in New York?

HALEY: I think that Secretary Pompeo will have the next meeting with North Koreans. You know when the president meet with North Koreans, that's in itself a bonus. And so we have to get to give. And so until we find out a little bit more, the president won't be meeting with them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, and there has been some talk about even a second summit with him. But you're saying you need many more concrete steps from the North Koreans before that's going to take place.

HALEY: I think Secretary Pompeo needs to have a couple more conversations before the president meets with Kim again.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, let's talk about Iran as well. The president has said that he is going to chair a meeting of the UN Security Council on Iran this week. We've just heard from Iranian president this morning, Hasan Rouhani, said that Tehran is prepared to confront America. America is acting like a bully toward the rest of the world and thinks it's going to act based on brute force, but our people will resist and the government is ready to confront America.

HALEY: I mean, they can confront us all they want. The problem is they don't like the fact that we've called them out. We have called them out for ballistic missile testing. We've called them out for their support of terrorism. We've called them out for their arms sales. And they don't like it.

And not only that, the worst of all, we stopped the hundreds of billions of dollars that were going them and allowing them to do these violations. And so their economy is plummeting. The deals that they had are falling apart, and they're getting desperate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say the deals they had are falling apart, but most of our allies still want the deal, the Iran nuclear deal to stay in place. The president is going to be meeting at the Security Council this week. Does he believe he can actually get them to agree to reopen the deal and assess new sanctions on Iran?

HALEY: Well, I think if you look at the activity of the Europeans, the deals are falling apart. They are pulling deals back. They're not following through with them, because they see what is happening.

I think what you're going to see in the Security Council meeting is he's going to talk about threat that Iran has on the rest of the world, but he's also going to talk about the threat of chemical weapons in Syria. What the situation is in North Korea and that we still have some work to do even going as far as the poisoning that happened the United Kingdom with the Skripal incident.

So, it's going to be a lot about proliferation and what our role as the Security Council and leaders in the world need to do about it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you talk about the difference we have seen in the relationship with North Korea since the meeting with President -- with Kim Jong-un since 2017. If that seemed to bear fruit with North Korea, why not meet with the Iranian president?

HALEY: I don't think the president is opposed to that. The Iranian president hasn't asked. If he asked, I think the president would strongly consider it.

At this point, I think what you can see is when the president gets in front of any leader, things do come together, but both leaders have to be willing to have the political will to do that. And so Rouhani hasn’t asked, so the president hasn’t had to deal with that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But he’s not going to invite Rouhani for a meeting?

HALEY: No. I mean, Rouhani hasn’t done anything to warrant a meeting. He has to stop all of his bad behavior before the president’s going to think he’s serious about wanting to talk.

STEPHANOPOULOS: President will speak to the entire general assembly on Tuesday, I believe. What is the overall message?

HALEY: I think the overall message is the success stories of the United States, the fact that we have almost defeated ISIS, the fact that we’re looking at North Korea, who’s now at the table talking, I think the fact that, you know, whether it’s been the movement of the embassy in Jerusalem or if you look at Syria and the progress that’s starting to be made there, I think there’s just a lot of success stories, but mainly how we’re protecting America, how we’re focused on our sovereignty, how we are now looking at aid.

This will be a big part of it. We’re looking at aid and we’re no longer going to give money to countries that say they hate America or work against us, we’re going to start really taking care of our -- the countries that have the same values as us and we’re going to build on those relationships.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you know, you say there’s been no discussion of the 25th amendment inside the cabinet but the reports we saw in Bob Woodward’s book, "Fear", seem to indicate a real fracture-ous (ph) relationship between the president and his national security team, even suggesting that he has no respect for many members of that team. How do you respond to that?

HALEY: I’m there once a week. I don’t see it. I’m telling you that -- and the other thing is when you’ve got people that won’t go on the record and say it, you have to question whether it’s true. If that’s the case, say it. If that’s the case, leave. But I’m telling you there -- I’m there almost every other week and I can tell you never has anyone talked about the 25th amendment, never has anyone even questioned the president’s mental stability or anything.

And look at the success stories. I mean, the job market didn’t happen on it’s own, the stock market’s going up, you’re seeing that he’s taking -- American stance foreign policy wise is very strong. All the things that he’s doing have been very successful. So if anything, what you feel when you go to the White House is we’re going in a good direction. What you do feel in terms of frustration are the distractions that we’re having to deal with in the process.

Whether it’s the Mueller case, whether it’s the extra gossip of the day, that’s the frustration, but it’s never about the president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Ambassador Haley, thanks very much for your time this morning.

HALEY: Always good to see you. Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good to see you. That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out WORLD NEWS TONIGHT, and I’ll see you tomorrow on GMA.

END

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