'This Week' Transcript 9-30-18: Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Mazie Hirono, Rep. Jerrold Nadler

PHOTO: Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks to media about the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 28, 2018.PlayCarolyn Kaster/AP
WATCH Graham: 'I have a lot of sympathy' for Ford but 'allegations did not hold up'

A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, Sept. 30, 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 stunner.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE, (R) ARIZONA: This country is being ripped apart.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The Kavanaugh vote delayed after a key senator changes course.

FLAKE: I do think we can have a short pause and make sure that the FBI can investigate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: President Trump agrees.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have to do what they think is right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The FBI already contacting witnesses. Their report due by Friday. Will their findings send Judge Kavanaugh to the court or sink his nomination?

All this after a riveting day of raw emotion.

DR. CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, WITNESS: I'm here today not because I want to be. I am terrified.

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I have never sexually assaulted Dr. Ford or anyone.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Irreconcilable testimony.

SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D) ILLINOIS: Do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?

FORD: 100 percent.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY, (R) LOUISIANA: None of these allegations are true?

KAVANAUGH: Correct.

KENNEDY: No doubt in your mind.

KAVANAUGH: Zero. 100 percent certain.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And partisan acrimony.

KAVANAUGH: This whole two-week effect has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, revenge on behalf of the Clintons.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Personal pain, power, politics all at play. The Supreme Court, midterm Elections, and the #metoo movement all at stake. The debate from this bitter day could echo for decades.

All of the fallout this morning with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: This is the most unethical sham since I have been in politics.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrat Mazie Hirono.

HIRONO: I'm not going to participate in this charade anymore.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And our powerhouse roundtable.

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.

STEPHANOPOLOUS: Good morning and welcome to This Week.

It was a week defined by that extraordinary confrontation on Capitol Hill. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford revealing a secret she kept for decades. Judge Brett Kavanaugh fighting to save his reputation and the Supreme Court seat he's coveted for decades. For a day, it felt like all of America was watching.

What you saw, who you believed, may depend on what you already believe about politics, President Trump, the #metoo movement, and the standard that should be met for a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court.

But I would bet that just about everyone watching could agree on one big thing: our politics are broken, toxic. The big question, can we come back from the brink?

It was that concern that drove Senator Jeff Flake to break with his party and call for a one-week pause to give the FBI a chance to examine at least some of the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. What the FBI will find, how deep they will dig not yet known. Saturday, President Trump promised to let them do their job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The FBI I believe is doing a really great job. They have been all over already. They have free rein. They're going to do whatever they have to do, whatever it is they do, they'll be doing things that we never even thought of.

Having them do a thorough investigation, I actually think, will be a blessing in disguise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are joined now by one of the president's closest allies in the Senate, Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. We saw him in the open. Senator Graham, thanks for joining us this morning.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We just heard the president say he wants the FBI to do their job, that he would give them free rein. But the reports are that the -- that the instructions given to the FBI by the Senate leadership and by the White House actually have a quite limited witness list. Is that true?

GRAHAM: I know that Senators Flake, Collins, and Murkowski wanted a limited review. They wanted to talk -- the FBI to talk to the witnesses that Dr. Ford named. They want to talk to Ms. Ramirez, because she refused to talk to the committee. They're going to ask Mark Judge did you ever see Brett Kavanaugh drug women or engage in gang rape. I think that's going to be the focus of it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So there won't -- so Julie Swetnick will not be interviewed by the FBI?

GRAHAM: I think the allegation that she makes is outrageous, not one Democrat mentioned it. But Mark Judge who is named by Ms. Swetnick as being part of a gang rape and the drugging women will be asked did he ever see this happen or did see Kavanaugh engage in it. I have got a real echo here, so I'm sorry -- sorry.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I -- I'm sorry for that. I know we're trying to fix it -- fix it as we speak.

One of the questions, though, is it appears that the FBI will not be in -- will not be questioning those college witnesses who contradict Brett Kavanaugh's testimony about his drinking. Now isn't that relevant, given that there clearly was drinking going on, at least it's alleged, at the party?

GRAHAM: No, I think you're trying to portray him as a stumbling bumbling drunk gang rapist who during high school and college was Bill Cosby. Six FBI background checks over the years would have uncovered this.

But what we will investigate is who in Dianne Feinstein's office referred Dr. Ford to Ms. Katz, that's illegal, inappropriate in the Senate. So the FBI will do a supplemental background investigation. Then I'm going to call for an investigation of what happened in this committee -- who betrayed Dr. Ford's trust, who in Feinstein's office recommended Katz as a lawyer, why did Ms. Ford not know that the committee was willing to go to California, who released the anonymous letter given to the committee by Cory Gardner.

We're going to do a wholesale full-scale investigation of what I think was a despicable process to deter it from happening again.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you accept Dianne Feinstein's denial when she says that...

GRAHAM: Yes, I do. To her, but only to her.

STEPHANOPOULOS: She says that her staff didn’t do it either.

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: I like her. I respect her. But somebody in her office -- let's put it this way, if this was a Democratic nominee and an accuser came to Lindsey Graham's office and somebody in my office recommended a conservative activist lawyer, if you think they need a lawyer, why don't you tell the committee about it.

That I did what was done here, hide the ball, disclose it after the fact, I would be destroyed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Ryan Grim, who first wrote about the letter, says that it did not come from Dianne Feinstein's office.

GRAHAM: I don't know. All I can tell you is it came from somebody with a political motive. There were three people who had the letter, people in Feinstein's office, the congresswoman from California, and Ms. Katz and the legal team.

No friend would do this to Dr. Ford. I believe her when she said she wanted to remain anonymous. I'm shocked not one media outlet is reporting the fact during the hearing she didn't know that the committee was willing to go to California.

Again, if the shoe were on the other foot, the Republicans had done this, we would be destroyed. We would be under ethical investigation. So I'm going to make sure that when this debacle is over that we look at what happened to deter it in the future.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you convinced that if the FBI turns up no new allegations against Judge Kavanaugh that -- I know you've met with Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and Jeff Flake, that he's going to be confirmed?

GRAHAM: I think so. I think what happened here is that these three senators, who are my friends, wanted the FBI to do what the committee has done. They wanted the FBI to talk to Mark Judge, P.J., and Ms. Keyser. Ms. Keyser's testimony was important to me. Ms. Keyser never said, I don't believe Dr. Ford. But when Dr. Ford says, I was at this party where it happened, I wasn't there, I don't know Brett Kavanaugh, so she was confused as to me and me being there.

So I think there will be testimony taken by the FBI from these witnesses. Ms. Ramirez will be interviewed by the FBI. And Mark Judge will be asked, did you ever witness Brett Kavanaugh drug or gang-rape women. And I think that will be the scope of it. And that should be the scope of it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator, isn't -- isn’t testimony about Judge Kavanaugh's drinking in college if you're interviewing Deborah Ramirez, isn't that relevant?

GRAHAM: He’s had six FBI background checks. He’s been on the political stage for 26 years. He's not a stumbling, bumbling drunk. I don't believe that you could accomplish what he has accomplished, to have been a serial rapist in high school, and stop it for the rest of your life.

Not one person who he has been in charge of during his legal career has ever said he did anything inappropriate. So the "devil's triangle" is not what people said on the internet, it is a drinking game. I think he's highly qualified. I think he's a capable man. I think he was -- his life was ruined here. I'm going to vote for him unless some bombshell comes out that I don't know about.

And I'm going to look into the process that led to this debacle to the effort to destroy this good man. A lot of people believe it's a noble cause to take down Kavanaugh. A lot of people in your business will never give scrutiny to people who try to take down a conservative. That's too bad. But I'm going to give it scrutiny.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the concerns raised by Democrats, including our next guest, Senator Mazie Hirono, is that Judge Kavanaugh's testimony on Thursday showed that he was a fierce partisan that doesn't have the right temperament for the Supreme Court.

We want to show what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: A partisan, political operative with an agenda, the very worry that kept him from confirmation to the D.C. Circuit for three years. His own words reinforce a concern that I, and many of us here, have, that he cannot be a fair and impartial judge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your response?

GRAHAM: My response to Senator Hirono, that I think you're -- the truth -- you spoke truth, that you said the goal was to delay this hearing, to draw it out past the midterms, keep this seat open and have it replaced by a Democrat in 2020.

I’m offended by the fact that anybody would hold it against Brett Kavanaugh to be upset by the way he was treated. Words were put in his mouth that he didn’t say, he’s accused of being a gang rapist, a bumbling, stumbling drunk, a degenerate person and he was hit by a truck.

And my problem is with the people who did this to him, not how he responded. I’ve known him for 20 years and we’re going to get to the bottom of how he was treated, why he was treated this way. Senator Hirono said men need to shut up. I got this job from the men and women of South Carolina. I’m not going to shut up. I voted for Sotomayor and Kagan. I find it offensive that if somebody defends themselves against wholesale character assassination trying to destroy him and his family, that -- the temperament I saw was a man who was innocent, who was rightly offended by being destroyed for a political purpose.

So I can assure you that I do not share Senator Hirono’s view of Judge Kavanaugh’s temperament. My view is that he was treated very badly and he had every right to do what he did. He’s going to be a great judge and he’s going to be on the Supreme Court.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Other experts have suggested that if he does indeed get on the Supreme Court, he might have to recuse himself from suits brought by Democrats in Congress or by liberal groups.

GRAHAM: Yes. Yes. Well, we’re at a new standard here. You -- you destroy a man’s life then you say he’s unfit to judge you because of the way you treated him. We’re not going to play that game. This is not going to be the future of the nomination process in the committee where you accuse a guy of being a gang rapist, an alcoholic, bumbling, stumbling sexual predator and you get upset when he forcefully fights back against liberal smears.

This will not be the new standard of temperament. He has never demonstrated anything in his life, George, to suggest that these allegations are true. Dr. Ford, something happened to her but she can’t tell us the time, the place and everybody named said they don’t know what she’s talking about. She was as abused as much as he was. Somebody betrayed her trust for a political purpose, they hid this from the committee, they sprung it on us to delay the hearing, somebody leaked an anonymous letter that make the fourth allegation.

The fifth allegation was knocked down as being false but it went to the media anyway. So I’m just completely disgusted the way -- way this was handled. And he’s going to be on the bench but we’re going to continue to look at this process. Because this is the new normal. God help the next person -- person who comes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. You said she was abused --

GRAHAM: Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- by the Democrats. On Sean Hannity’s program you seemed to suggest she has a problem. I want to play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: I am now more convinced than ever that he didn’t do it, that he’s the right guy to be on the court, that Ms. Ford has got a problem and destroying Judge Kavanaugh’s life won’t fix her problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: Yes. Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: She has a problem?

GRAHAM: Yes, I think she does. I think -- it was clear to me that something happened to Ms. Ford. She’s lived an accomplished life. But we have to look at this through some prism. I don’t assume that he’s guilty and he’s got to prove to me he’s not. This is a very serious accusation. 36 years ago -- to me, she -- she was troubled by something. But when it comes to Brett Kavanaugh, he emphatically denied it.

He went through his diary, everything we know about him suggests he’s not this kind of person. The people that she claimed were there said they don’t know what she’s talking about, she couldn’t remember how she got there and how she got back. My problem is not with Dr. Ford. I really believe she was horribly treated. Whoever betrayed her trust to remain anonymous --

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But she says she’s 100 percent certain -- she’s says she’s 100 percent --

GRAHAM: I hope we find you. I hope we find you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: She says she’s 100 percent certain it was Brett Kavanaugh.

GRAHAM: Yes. Well I can tell you this, I’ve been a lawyer for a long time and you look at the accusation and it has to be corroborated. And here’s what I’m 100 percent certain of. When she said Ms. Keyser was at that party, she was wrong. When she claims that -- when people claim that Brett Kavanaugh -- not just her -- is a bumbling, stumbling drunk who drugs women, is a gang rapist, I don’t believe it.

I have a lot of sympathy for what Dr. Ford’s gone through, but the allegations did not hold up. She can file a complaint in Maryland, a criminal complaint that will not get out of the batter’s box. If you’re accused of a crime in this country, you have to be put on notice of when it happened and where it happened and there has to be some corroboration. So this complaint will never get legs in the legal system but it can go forward. But I’ll promise you this, this committee -- I hope Senator Grassley will do what I’ve suggested.

Investigate the abuse here. Who leaked the anonymous letters, who referred Dr. Ford to a lawyer. That was a political activist. Did anybody in the committee betray her trust by sending it to the -- to the media so the hearing would be delayed? Why did she not know that we were willing to go to California? How did that happen? Could her lawyers possibly have not told her that?

If these lawyers did not tell her that we were willing to go to California to avoid this debacle, I want to know that and hold them accountable.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Graham, thanks for your time this morning, I apologize for those problems with the sound.

(I CUT OUT GRAHAM’S “HELLO?” BECAUSE IT WAS A SOUND ISSUE AND FEELS VERY WEIRD TO KEEP IN THE TRANSCRIPT)

And we’re joined now by Senator Mazie Hirono. She joins us from Washington D.C. this morning. Senator, thank you. And I want to begin –

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: Morning.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- with picking up on what you just heard from Senator Graham right there. He is saying that there’s going to be an investigation of the Democrats and how you handled Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

HIRONO: Again, they’re not focusing on the credibility or the – these credible reports, and it’s all about why did somebody wait so long and all of that. The crux of the matter is that these are serious allegations and we have been calling for an FBI investigation for what seems like months.

These are not normal times. Under normal times in a situation like this, there will be an FBI report. We would have access to all of the documents that we should get with regard to this nominee, not just 10 percent of the documents.

Under normal times, we would be able to ask questions of the relevant witnesses such as Mark Judge. And, you know, under normal there would be – the senators would be asking their own questions at rather than hiring a prosecutor as though this is some kind of a criminal case to go after the person who came forward bravely to tell us the truth of her experience.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you confident the Democrats didn’t leak that letter and how do you respond to Senator Graham’s charge that it was inappropriate for the Democrats to refer Dr. Blasey Ford to a lawyer?

HIRONO: See, all of these things do not focus on what we should be focusing which is the credibility of Judge Kavanaugh. That’s what’s before us right now. And all kinds of other studies or investigations that can occur.

But right now what we need to focus on is our ability as senators to do our advice and consent job to determine whether Judge Kavanaugh is credible, whether he was candid with us, whether his demeanor by the way in – in accusing Democrats of some kind of a conspiracy to do him in is – was so bizarre.

And, by the way, even as all of these accusations about this being politically motivated are being tossed around, everyone acknowledges, including Judge Kavanaugh, that Dr. Ford is not being politically motivated.

That is very clear. So that brings us to the crux of whether or not this FBI investigation is going to be thorough, I would think that that is what Senator Flake had in mind, that it would be a thorough investigation that would enable us to determine the character credibly and indeed we saw in Judge Kavanaugh’s behavior questionable demeanor.

STEPHANOPOULOS: From what you’ve learned about the FBI investigation, will it be a credible investigation?

HIRONO: That’s going to be the big outstanding question, and I would think that Jeff Flake and the other senators who are going for this investigation will call for – there’s time, you know. The thing is that every Senate vote matters and there is – there is time to get to the bottom of it, even if it’s seven days.

That’s bad enough, but then to limit the FBI as to the scope and who they’re going to question, that – that really – I wanted to use the word farce, but that’s not the kind of investigation that all of us are expecting the FBI to conduct.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It does seem that they will not be, at least in current facts, will not be interviewing Julie Swetnick. Do you believe that Julie Swetnick’s testimony is credible?

HIRONO: She came forward – the thing is that as with Dr. Ford, who has absolutely no reason to come forward, and in fact that’s why even Judge Kavanaugh says that she is not being politically motivated, that they all came forward with credible reports.

They all said that they would be willing to talk to the FBI. The only person who didn’t want to have an FBI investigation frankly was Judge Kavanaugh, and he hid behind the fact that he knew that neither the president nor the Republicans were going to call for an FBI investigation.

As you saw in his testimony time and again he was asked. He could have just, you know, gone – he could have helped us get over this whole issue of an FBI investigation. He wouldn’t go there. But finally, finally we’re going to get one and the question is are we going to get the kind of investigation that is thorough and fair?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well it is, it’s happening right now. We know it’s going to be going on this week. You heard Senator Graham there say that, you know, what – what you saw Judge Kavanaugh – you’ve raised questions about his temperament, but he was simply a man defending his honor and people have a right to be angry when they’re defending their honor.

HIRONO: Well, see, when he kept saying that I didn’t do it, then why wouldn’t he call for an FBI investigation? Why wouldn’t he do that? And by the way, in 2016 he actually wrote a law review article in which he said -- a judge, first of all, must be nonpartisan. He came out at that hearing, which was talking to me, that he would accuse Democrats of some kind of a vast conspiracy to do him in and even dragged in Hillary Clinton. I found that bizarre, but we hardly need somebody on the Supreme Court who -- who has these conspiracy theory notions.

I already had major concerns with Judge Kavanaugh in terms of his outcome-driven approach to cases. I know that he has a pattern of being against reproductive rights, he definitely has some really expansive views of the protections that should be afforded a sitting president from any kind of criminal or civil proceedings. I’m sure this president took note of that and it’s one of the major reasons, as far as I and others believe that -- that his name was put forward.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If Judge Kavanaugh becomes Justice Kavanaugh, do you think he will have to recuse himself from cases involving congressional Democrats or some of the liberal groups that he chastised?

HIRONO: Well considering that he totally showed himself to be the politically -- the political operative and the partisan operative that he has been, which as I said is one of the reasons that his earlier confirmation was held up for three years, the veil is revealed. And he revealed himself as a partisan. I would think that if I were a Democrat going before him, I’d ask him to recuse himself.

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

HIRONO: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Round table’s coming up and when we come back, if Democrats take the House, how will they take on President Trump? Congressman Jerry Nadler is next -- next in line to lead Judiciary Committee, and he joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If the House goes back to the Democrats, do you think the Democratic majority would be open to impeaching Brett Kavanaugh?

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA: If he is not telling the truth to Congress or to the FBI, then he's not fit not only to be on the Supreme Court, but to be on the court that he's on right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi yesterday in Texas.

We're joined now by the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York. Thanks for coming in.

REP. JERROLD NADLER, (D) NEW YORK: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman, I want to pick up on what Congresswoman Pelosi was saying right there. A lot of Democrats have said that they don't believe that Brett Kavanaugh told the truth when he went before the Judiciary Committee. If it turns out that he does become Justice Kavanaugh and you're chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, would you investigate him for possible impeachment?

NADLER: Well, I would hope the Senate would have done its job first. I would hope the Senate would -- I hope the FBI has a free hand over the next week to investigate, and that certainly means to call in all the relevant witnesses. It certainly means...

STEPHANOPOULOS: It doesn't sound like they do.

NADLER: Well, if they don't, that's a real problem. It would call into validity the entire Senate process. I would hope that Senator Flake and others would not vote -- would make clear that their votes cannot -- will be for the nominee unless there is a free hand for proper investigation of these very serious allegations of sexual assaults.

We can't have a justice on the Supreme Court for the next several decades who will be deciding questions of liberty, and life, and death, and all kinds of things for the entire American people who has been credibly accused of sexual assaults, who has been credibly accused of various other things that -- wrong things, including perjury. This has got to be thoroughly investigated. I hope the Senate will do so. If he is on the Supreme Court and the senate hasn't investigated, then the House will have to.

STEPHANPOULOS: You'll investigate?

NADLER: We would have to investigate any credible allegations, certainly of perjury and other things that haven't been properly looked into before.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And on that question that I asked Senator Hirono about, would Justice Kavanaugh have to recuse himself from cases involving congressional Democrats?

NADLER: I think the proper thing would be yes. I mean, I was astonished. I mean, on one hand the hearing was inspiring. I was really inspired to see Dr. Blasey Ford have the courage and the fortitude to go through with what she did to bring forth these charges, to tell what happened to her in a very credible way. I'm inspired to see that other people are coming forward now, too.

We have reached the point in this country where people are no longer just accepting that if they don't have power, people can do what they want with them and they don't have to -- and there's no recourse. We're seeing that that hopefully that era is coming to an end with a lot of people who are formerly powerful and well regarded who had turned out had -- had -- had oppressed women or engaged in sexual assaults or whatever. So that was very inspiring.

Justice Kavanaugh on the other hand, I was astonished at his – at his rant. I mean he’s a judge, he’s a sitting circuit court judge, he’s supposed to be non-partisan.

Now we know that Judge Kavanaugh –

STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard Senator Graham, he believes that he was unfairly accused, so he –

NADLER: He may have – even assuming he were unfairly accused, he’s still supposed to behave as a judge. He can feel what he wants, but you don’t first of all come out with attacks on a partisan basis, attacks on the Clinton’s.

What evidence does he have, for instance, that the Clinton’s had anything to do with any of this? Or did he make that up out of thin air? His evident animas toward the entire Democratic Party, toward people associated with it like the Clinton’s should be disqualifying.

He showed no judicial temperament. I am astonished that a judge, even one in a – in a position such as he was in, which he considers himself unfairly attacked, still has to behave as a judge.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In the current House, there’s been talk of a different kind of impeachment proceedings, a possibility of impeaching Rod Rosenstein who is now heading the Russia investigation, the Mueller investigation. President Trump set to meet with him this week on – on his job security.

I want to show some of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He said he never said it, he said he doesn’t believe it, he said he has a lot of respect for me and he was very nice and we’ll see.

My preference would be to keep him and to let him finish up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: He said he wants to keep him -- what the president was referring to there of course is those reports that Rod Rosenstein said the – should he wear a wire on the president, should they invoke the 25th Amendment.

Would the president have the right to remove someone who talked like that?

NADLER: Well the president has the right to remove anyone, he serves at the pleasure of the president. But a right is different than -- than -- than the responsible or reasonable thing to do. Mueller – I’m sorry, Rosenstein is supervising the Mueller investigation.

The Mueller investigation is investigating very serious charges that the president or his campaign conspired with the Russians to rig an American election, that the president was guilty of – was involved in obstruction of justice, very serious charges.

They must be gotten to the bottom of. The president has done a lot to try to sabotage that investigation from publicly blasting his attorney general for recusing himself as he properly did, from demanding – from calling the investigation a witch hunt, from reportedly trying to fire Mueller twice from going after various people in the FBI and people who are defenseless, really, people you never heard of, publicly defaming people in the FBI and other investigators.

He’s done everything he could or – to – to demean the investigation, to sabotage it and to – to eliminate – to destroy the credibility of whatever investigation they might come up with. And what’s all important now is that – is that Rosenstein, who’s replacement that they will replace, could in fact order Mueller fired or could in fact restrict the investigation by saying you can’t look at this or don’t look at that in ways that we would – that the public would never see.

Rosenstein must stay there to defend the integrity of the investigation until it is finished and that’s very important for the – for the entire – for the integrity of American democracy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You laid out all the – all the ways that you thought the president had interfered with the investigation so far. In your view –

NADLER: Well all the ones that he’s admitted and that has been shown publicly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that evidence of a high crime and misdemeanor?

NADLER: Well it’s evidence of obstruction – of an ongoing obstruction of justice, whether in fact it is – it amounts to an obstruction of justice is to determine later. But you also have to understand something else, obstruction of justice is a crime.

But a crime is not necessarily an impeachable offense, and an impeachable offense doesn’t have to be a crime, they’re different tests. And the real question when you get to impeachment is is the president’s conduct such that he is threatening the democratic order, threatening the separation of powers, gathering more power to the presidency against Congress, against the courts, against the people than ought to be?

Is he threatening the – is he threatening liberty and -- and -- and --and the functioning of government? That’s the test for impeachment and that we haven’t seen – well remains to be seen.

And let me say one other thing, I go home, I come from New York, right here in fact. My constituents are New Yorkers, they’re fast paced, they want to see it – they want to see the president impeached yesterday.

But the fact is that’s a very serious step, you can’t do that, you shouldn’t do it on a partisan basis as I said 20 years ago, and you shouldn’t do it unless the evidence is overwhelming that the president is in fact threatening the democratic order and threatening liberty.

And that we’re not – we’re not there yet.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So in your words it sounds like you’re saying that would require a very serious report from Robert Mueller laying out that the president –

NADLER: It would require a very serious report from Robert Mueller laying out what I -- you know, what I just said. Or other findings by -- by House committees or anybody else that gave us that information. But certainly you’d want to see what Mueller has to say and you’d also want to make sure that any investigation you do doesn’t interfere with the Mueller investigation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And -- and that’s going to come up, of course, if the Democrats do take the House, you’d have the power to investigate. Would you expect that you would be looking at the president’s tax returns?

NADLER: Well, let me say this. One of the greatest failings of the Republican Congress has been it’s failure to be a -- a check and a balance. Our system is based on checks and balances. The Congress is supposed to be a check and a balance on the president, vice versa and et cetera. We have not, under the -- since the president took office and the Republican majority, they have not investigated, they have not held hearings, they have not held the president or the administration accountable on anything.

And that’s a terrible failure. If -- if the Democrats take over, we will rectify that failure. We will -- we will hold hearings. We’ll hold hearings on the -- on the -- on the culture of corruption with the president accepting for his business as payments from foreign governments that might influence his decision. And we just went over the standing and the law suit on that, that Senator Blumenthal and I brought along with 200 other Democrats.

We will certainly hold hearings on the separation of families at the border. You know, it’s not in the headlines anymore but there’s still several hundred parents who have no idea where their kids are after months. We will hold hearings on the reversal of the administration there and their refusal in court to defend the Affordable Care Act, which threatens to deprive 100 million Americans of insurance coverage for preexisting conditions.

We will hold hearings on --

STEPHANOPOULOS: You have your list right there.

NADLER: -- on -- on voting rights, on the -- on the change in the Justice Department from defending voting rights against the voter suppression attempts in the various states to -- to defending vote suppression. So there are plenty of things for which we have to hold the administration accountable. And whether -- whether -- and the -- the -- the cooperation with the Russians and trying to rig that election, if the Trump admin -- if the Trump campaign actually did and if the president could be proved to have done and the ongoing obstruction of justice.

Those are two things that would certainly have to be looked at.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Of course the elections are still about six weeks away. Congressman, thanks very much for your time this morning. Round table’s up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable weighs in next. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a 76-year-old woman who was sexually molested in the second grade. This brings back so much pain. I thought I was over it, but it's not. You will never forget it. You'll get confused and you don't understand it, but you never forget what happened to you. And I have not brought this up for years until I heard this testimony, and it is just breaking my heart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: It happened all day long on C-SPAN and across the country, women spontaneously calling in telling their own tales of sexual assault as the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Remarkable day, we're going to talk about it now with our roundtable. Republican Strategist and ABC News contributor Alex Castellanos, Democratic strategist, former Clinton campaign spokesperson Karen Finney, Julie Press, the Washington bureau chief for the Associated Press -- Julie Pace, I'm sorry, excuse me, for the Associated Press -- and Amanda Carpenter, former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz, CNN Contributor.

Julie, let me begin with you. You wrote a piece going into the hearing, this is saying this is going to be one of those where were you when moments. It certainly was.

JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I think it absolutely was if you look at the number of people that were watching this hearing on a Thursday. It went on for hours.

And I think one of the reasons why people were so captured by this is that in Washington and in politics, we very rarely have these moments where you see really raw emotion, where you see people no matter what side you come down on this really angry and frustrated and sad, and it was all kind of mixed into one here.

And then on Friday, the uncertainty about where this nomination goes. I mean, we're still in a really uncertain period for the Kavanaugh nomination. We don't know whether he will be the next person who is sort of brought down by this wave of women who have been coming forward, or whether he's going to plow through. And the outcomes of that, I think, you know not just for this mid-term election, but broadly in our politics are going to linger.

KAREN FINNEY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: But I think there was a broader reason why people were so tuned in, and that is so many women that I know, myself included, have had moments, very similar to what Dr. Ford spoke about. And so, it was a -- a cultural moment that I think we will remember, you know, for decades and how it still shakes out, I think, is unclear, frankly, not just because it's the #metoo era, not just because it's the year of the woman in the elections, but because clearly it was a watershed moment for women coming forward and in some cases sharing stories that they have never told anyone. And men, in some instances, saying wow, I didn't know that's how that affected you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And family members.

FINNEY: And family members. So, I think that added to it as well.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think that's common to a lot of us. I was speaking with a woman the other day. I said how many women do you think, that you know, have had some experience with sexual assault? And she goes seven out of 10, that would be my guess.

And I think men are shocked to hear that. And this, I think, George we talked about the other day about this being a Rorschach blot, a test, and people see in it what they want to see. Republicans look at this and see two people. A, is he qualified. Did he do something that -- do we have enough evidence to keep him from the court. Democrats, I think, and women, look at this and say women have been on a march to gender equality and independence from their gender, from suffrage to the birth control pill to, to choice, and Donald Trump threatens to set all that back and take that away. He's a regressive force. And that's why this is so much bigger than politics.

We're talking about the most powerful force on the planet here.

AMANDA CARPENTER, FRM. COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, SEN. TED CRUZ It's not only about the Supreme Court seat, this is about how we, as a country, resolve sexual assault allegations. That is a messy, and hard question.

And I feel a little bit better right now that this is back in the hands of the FBI on some level, because sex abuse should not be a partisan issue.

You know, we have heard the stories. The movement has changed so that we are inclined to believe women. Now we have to figure out how we hear the men's side of things as well, and how we hear a man attempt to clear his name. And what do we look to when we want to believe both people, but we don't know. That is where we are right now.

FINNEY: But to that point, that -- and I will be partisan here for a moment, but that is why the moment this happened, you know, Grassley should have said, OK, let's do an FBI investigation immediately. It would have saved both Dr. Ford and Mr. Kavanaugh and his family -- both families.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But isn’t it fair to also suggest that Senator Feinstein could have turned it over to the FBI, as well.

FINNEY: I mean, it's hard to -- you know, look, it's hard to know, because clearly she didn't trust that raising it with her Republican colleagues was necessarily going to keep it confidential, which I think, again, shows how broken things are in Washington. And that's -- when we're talking about people's lives, and we're talking about such serious allegations, that's heartbreaking.

What I would say, though, is I agree with Amanda in that, you know, why is -- you know, the fact that Republicans were blocking it -- why is more information bad, more information from the FBI who now may be able to able to corroborate?

And look the reality is it may also be the case that both people are right. I mean there are plenty of situations where men don't realize that what they have done is across the line.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I mean, that seems like a little bit like a dodge. I mean, it was one of the things I was thinking as I was watching on Thursday is that in the end of the day everybody wanted to say that both sides could be telling the truth about that seminal moment.

It's not really possible.

PACE: It doesn't seem possible. I mean, what was so striking is you had Ford and Kavanaugh by the end using the same language. She is 100 percent certain that he is the person who assaulted her and he is 100 percent that he did not.

(CROSSTALK)

FINNEY: He may believe that what he did --

FINNEY: I believe that what he did wasn’t so bad. That’s my point.

(CROSSTALK)

PACE: A thing with the FBI investigation though -- one of the issues with the FBI investigation -- and I think we just need to be really up front about it -- there is going to be a limit. No matter what the official scope of that will be, there is going to be a limit to what the FBI will be able to put forward.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It actually seems like a quite limited investigation right now, only talking to a handful of witnesses --

(CROSSTALK)

PACE: Absolutely. Talking to a handful of people --

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- raw material out there.

FINNEY: I think they’re not going to make it public.

PACE: But -- but I -- I think it’s going to be clear what they’re going to be able to say publically and I don’t think that either side is going to come out of this with a definitive answer.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: And that’s why I think we have to keep the focus of this hearing on how we resolve these issues. Because I agree with you. In a week from now, we may not have any more information, and then the Democrats turn this into a question about whether he was fully truthful about teenage drinking and what phrases in his yearbook meant. And we need to keep the focus on this because it not only matters for Dr. Ford, it matters for millions and millions of men and women in America.

CASTELLANOS: Can we -- can we also remember the other big story here? It’s not just a story about gender and the Supreme Court. We saw Washington at it’s very worst this week. This is why Americans hate Washington. And I think the Democrats are going to learn a lesson out of this. And that is that when you crucify somebody, you better make sure they can’t start a religion. They -- Democrats this week I think turned this into a circus, as -- as Kavanaugh said. And here’s what’s going to come out of this.

The -- there was no Republican party before this week. There was zero. And we saw that. The Senate Judiciary Republicans sat there and hid behind the skirts of a female prosecutor. Then Kavanaugh, left to defend himself alone, stood up and said this is horrible, you’re destroying two lives here, you’re -- this is Washington at its worst. And you know what happened? That one little moment of courage animated Republicans, embarrassed them.

FINNEY: OK, but --

CASTELLANOS: And that same thing, by the way, now Republicans have something to fight against --

FINNEY: But --

CASTELLANOS: -- it unified the party --

FINNEY: And I would argue --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Before you go can I pick up --

CASTELLANOS: -- I think the intensity gap has now closed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But I want to pick up -- and that may be, and I want to talk about the Democrats (ph), but picking up on your point that in some ways Brett Kavanaugh became the leader of the Republican party on Thursday, doesn’t that prove the Democrat’s point that he couldn’t be an impartial justice or at least raise questions about whether he can be --

FEMALE: Exactly --

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: OK. You know what? That’s an interesting point. So let’s see. We can commit outrageous acts but you can’t be outraged? We can attack you politically --

FINNEY: No -- OK, however --

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: -- let me answer the question -- we can attack you politically but if you defend yourself, you’re politicizing the --

FINNEY: OK, but however, let’s remember --

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: -- that’s why people hate Washington. The answer would have been for Democrats not to politicize this thing to start with.

FINNEY: Alex. Letting this woman have her say was not politicizing it.

CASTELLANOS: No, absolutely not.

FINNEY: And let’s remember that regardless of what we find out about -- from the FBI report, I think judicial temperament matters. And in 2006, the ABA downgraded their assessment of Kavanaugh because they believed he was -- did not have the capacity to be --

CASTELLANOS: I’m just --

FINNEY: Hold on -- to be -- I let you finish -- non partisan. And so it’s not as though this hasn’t been an issue in his past before. And the -- and the display. If -- if -- if Dr. Ford had behaved the way that he did, oh my god. Can you imagine?

CASTELLANOS: I don’t think she wasn’t attacked the way he was.

FINNEY: I don’t think he --

CASTELLANOS: But the -- the Democratic argument --

FINNEY: She had to answer some pretty tough questions --

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: I can tell you what this means for future Supreme Court hearings, is that the Ginsberg Rule is shredded. The idea that somebody cannot talk about their personal beliefs (ph) because it would impact a future decision where a person or player that the judge may have feelings about -- the idea that they will never talk about this again is gone (ph) --

FINNEY: Well, but the way Kavanaugh did that went way beyond just --

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: And I think it was a little refreshing. He was showing who he was. I think President Trump picked him because he knew he was a partisan fighter.

CASTELLANOS: By the way that’s --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hold on, let Julie go here.

(CROSSTALK)

PACE: That’s one of the reasons why Mitch McConnell actually didn’t want to have Kavanaugh be the nominee.

(CROSSTALK)

FINNEY: Of course.

PACE: I think it’s interesting you’re starting to see -- just in the interview that you did with Senator Hirono and with Representative Nadler, you are starting to see the judicial temperament argument come forward --

CARPENTER: Yes, this is in play.

PACE: --and I think that is because they know that the FBI investigation probably won’t provide them an answer by Friday.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, but -- and -- and they’re bringing that forward, but I mean -- and I know you’ve been reporting on this as well. It seems to me that it’s pretty clear and that they might have even gotten the commitments up front that Senators Flake, Murkowski and Collins have basically agreed that they’re going to vote for Judge Kavanaugh absent new information in the FBI.

PACE: It appears that way, right? Because I think that they want to be able to say we pushed -- we -- we did what Democrats wanted. The Democratic line had been let’s at least have an FBI investigation. So now we have given them that, they will go through this process, they will likely come forward with nothing that actually clarifies what happened 36 years ago and then they will look to move forward.

I think Democrats know that the one thing that they can now try to push on is this idea of – of temperament. And perhaps that could move a Collins or a Murkowski by the end of the week.

FINNEY: I think the danger is that I believe that, you know, I was at, yesterday, the March for Black Women’s Lives, Dr. Anita Hill spoke, a number of women spoke. Women are energized and mobilized around this and beyond this hearing.

I mean ironically today the Violence Against Women Act would be expiring. We have a temporary, you know, fix here but women are angered that yet again we’re being used as the bargaining chip by Republicans.

And so I think part of the danger though for the Republican Party, I mean, Kavanaugh, we believe obviously was unqualified before this all happened. I think judicial temperament and women are going to say how we were treated, whether or not we believe and can be believed and can trust men to listen and believe us, I think that’s going to animate women to the polls and I think it’s going to continue the path that we’re seeing with–

(CROSS TALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I wonder if Thursday’s going to animate both sides.

CASTELLANOS: I think so, look, first of all I think Americans and Republicans saw a lot of fraud here. I think one of the takeaways is Kavanaugh would get every Democratic vote on that committee tomorrow if he said I’m pro-choice, I support Obamacare and the second amendment needs to be modernized.

We know it wasn’t about Kavanaugh –

FINNEY: Not in the face of these charges. Not in the face of these charges. You are shortchanging women when you say that.

(CROSS TALK)

CASTELLANOS: -- and that’s why these charges are coming up but as far as the election, I think you’re right.

(CROSS TALK)

FINNEY: Shame on you for saying that.

CASTELLANOS: -- no, I (ph) absolutely true. And –

FINNEY: Not in the face of these charges.

(CROSS TALK)

CASTELLANOS: -- I think you’re right that women are energized. I think the intensity is up here --

(CROSS TALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Then how do you explain, and I’ll bring this to Amanda as well, the – and I think it was Senator Booker who made this argument on Thursday, you know, Gorsuch got Democratic votes.

CARPENTER: Yeah, he did but what we’re--

(CROSS TALK)

CASTELLANOS: That’s not-- he wasn’t the swing vote, George, on the Supreme Court.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s a different seat. You’re right.

(CROSS TALK)

CARPENTER: In terms of the midterms, we’re almost looking at a policy of mutually assured destruction, because Republicans must confirm Kavanaugh to secure their Republican base.

At the same time, that will absolutely activate and enthuse the Democratic base. And so here we go.

(CROSS TALK)

CASTELLANOS: I think women – women – I think Karen’s right about one thing, women are on fire to vote against Donald Trump and to vote for their – the march for independence.

FINNEY: And for most women--

(CROSS TALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: You guys are going to have to keep talking but we’re going to commercial in a second. We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

That’s 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

Comments