The Briefing Room: Senators review FBI Kavanaugh probe ahead of confirmation vote

Senators are split along party lines about what they think of the FBI's supplemental investigation into allegations against Brett Kavanaugh.
19:18 | 10/04/18

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Transcript for The Briefing Room: Senators review FBI Kavanaugh probe ahead of confirmation vote
Hi there are welcome to the briefing room on ABC news political director Rick Klein joined here by one of our White House correspondent styrofoam aryan brag Garrity ABC news consultant former FBI Eaton and got a lot of big developments today on this the battle over the Supreme Court. We now that the we know that senators are now in possession of a report from the FBI they are streaming into a secure room at the capitol to read this report. It is we are told about 45 pages long nine interviews transcribed for senators they are reading it and they as they are streaming out they are giving their take. We are here for Republicans no bombshells full steam ahead we have Democrats that this process is not complete. We have also got word at this hour from some key senators who are starting to say where they come down on this Tara. It does seem like this is coming to a conclusion this was the last hurdle that that Republicans need it cleared. Before they feel like they can move to a final vote. Cracked and it sounds like they are. Happy with what's out there from my sources that have been working with the white house on how to deal with whatever comes out of this report. You know they're bracing for anything that the Democrats could pull from this report. And you know make public possibly leak that could be damaging to their candidate. They couldn't find anything to get ahead at having to stand in advance ounces which is really shows you how little was revealed how much covered this gets to a lot of Republicans. That are on the fence you know it's been points out to me that this is eight a light 30246. Pages for nine interviews I don't know what would you think about. The actual depth of this. I think he need to be less concerned about the number of pages in. What actually people said to the FBI analysts say that nine interview seems woefully small to be considering. What they were. I would've hoped they would have looked at the problem is the scope of this I think with so narrow. If you want to understand that the FBI can't really as I would do or anybody else and criminal investigation. Follow logical leads there was that are directed him to go talk to and then stopped. It looks like Tammy and and that's why I think you have a short. Number wonder should. We think about the fact that they basically wrapped up the investigation in five days when they were given seven. Because they were told interview certain people and they went and interviewed him and that and the time was up annually if they got. Well it doesn't sell it it deeply yeah here's the problem. This isn't like a criminal investigation. Basically the White House is the client and the clients said you've done a background we ask you to do a background they finish that. We've got some holes we want you to fill and we want you to go interview. Four people six people whatever the number is and they went and did that and they stopped you know eat they didn't really go and investigate. A sexual assault and 36 years ago they went and talked to people. Who might have information and guys just moments ago we heard from the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley who reluctantly agreed to this one week delay to allow this further investigation that happened forced into that by some of his were pop Republican colleagues used a news conference just moments ago a couple of Nicholas. This would be seven days. That's three weeks longer than the average of the last three or four. Nominees. Whose Marine Corps. Don't tell me who haven't spent enough time. Also I feel very good about where this nomination is right now don't say that from the standpoint. Of county votes I save it from the standpoint. Of the qualifications whose candidate. And the fact that don't qualifications. To be a Supreme Court justice based upon his. Twelve years on the DC circuit without anybody finding any fault. Within his qualifications to serve later. But that has been talked about much everything else. And this is a a subject now rigorous debate on the senate floor itself Democrats came out of this some some committee members and at a much different take on what they read just as an example here let's listen to senator Dianne Feinstein is the though the ranking Democrat on the committee. If it looks to be a product. Of an incomplete investigation. That was limited. Perhaps by the White House I don't know. But the White House certainly blocked access. To millions of documents from judge Kevin Lewis record I know that. And ensured that 90%. Of his emails and memos weren't available for the senate for the public in the hearings. It now appears that they also blocked the FBI from doing its job. Democrats. Agreed that the investigation's. Scope should be limited. We do not agree that the White House should tie the FBI's hands it's simply not credible. To say that public testimony. In last week's hearing is a substitute for interviews by FBI agents. And and Brad Garrett this gets I think to a critical point you're making this is not the FBI going in looking at everything they could find a Brett Cavanaugh they were given specific. Areas that they could look at to allegations in particular that they were charged looking at. At some point witness lists but he didn't go much broader than that this is not going to be it was never going to be. The full chapter and verse on Brooke capital noted in the reality is I sort of laughed I think. Former FBI director Conley said it was idiotic and he's exactly right the idea if you're gonna go back and look at the sexual assault. You got a lot of people that went down in the other key here is. Alcohol abuse temperament honesty. It doesn't look like they touched on those because there just wasn't time to do that and they were directed to do that. Yeah and here's that that's right and I think that it's important remember that they started because a couple of Republicans wanted this examined this wasn't as Diane by sending Democrats want this is a few Republicans. They needed these questions answered. And to that point oh we are starting to hear from some key lawmakers in all of this their only coming into the day about five undecided senators one of them. A Heidi hi camp of North Dakota has come out and announce that she is gonna vote against this nomination that has big political repercussions. That we want to talk out but maybe most critically so far today Susan Collins came out and said. She comes to be a comprehensive review and Jeff flake said the following quote you can't say anything about where he is but you can't say I was a yes before this. What I wanna this was a pause we have this pause. Now we're in the process of reviewing it thus far we've seen no new credible corroboration. No new corroboration at all. Again guys the Jeff flake was a yes before he wanted this additional review he's saying there's no corroboration in this he thinks it was comprehensive. Sure seems like he's tilting in the yes. L from my sources said anything short a bombshell was not going to sway. A lot of these independent. Senators that were on the fence about that they needed some really hard evidence Christine lobby for its. I testimony while credible really wasn't enough and I think the pause was more of a political paused then really a pause for more evidence. And into respect the you'd hear anything else in the FBI ministers there worked on when they make this is well there were stunned analysts are directed to do something else and I think the three of the snow. They're not gonna get directed to do anything else and so they're sort of stock. What I think's gonna happen is somebody else is gonna kick this ball up the media private investigators. And they're gonna drive down the red. What about subpoenas if the Democrats take back the house can actually. Take make a motion to SS Supreme Court asked us. I suppose they could mean and they do have subpoena power it's not the same as a grand jury subpoena but they do have subpoena power so. That is a possibility and he just a court have to cure but can they get impeached judge capitalism appellate court challenge if you know if they chose him in my guess is if it becomes a Democrat who knows if that means the image today senators at the crowd into a room there's one copy of this report they're taking turns reading at some of them we're told even. Are reading it out loud to each other as they try to get. Rule it's funny I was looking at speeds and a senior us senate staffer who is saying he understands Herrick some guys have a heart and even read. Another call lawyers they don't all eligible for the really rely on their staffers so much to get through a lot of you know against. Packet of information now we cannot it does not add dad I think this is when in the morning people out of my 300 pages or more. But still glad they're. Theories that having their hand held for the seat them all clamoring over one piece of paper without their raids there reading an often generated that quite a scene charm. Had. Garrett our our thanks to you we were seen protests as we speak up on Capitol Hill obviously tempers are flaring on both sides of this as we move. Toward a possible showdown in in a couple of days' time the timeline from here tar as you look at the pictures of the protests is that the could be a procedural vote. Tomorrow and yet the Republicans feel like they have the votes that would set up final passage confirmation for Brett Cavanaugh on the Supreme Court. Over the weekend potentially on Saturday I'd it would all be done at that point now if nothing else beyond that just just this Kavanagh if Republicans get their way. I act and it would only be a week after that a new court started so it was really quite a short delay. We want to get to Ben Siegel whose stuff up on Capitol Hill today and we've been talking about this extraordinary scene with these these senators reading this material. But we haven't heard so far from Lisa Murkowski by our count I'm sure the people are asking for her opinion and we haven't heard a final word yet. From the other key senators here flake or Susan Collins bring us up the speed ban on on where the undecideds are. Well Rick I was just staking out a how senate Republican luncheon. Where on the senators John Brown said Rob Portman were essentially blocking. For Susan Collins as she walked from the dining room to her senate hideaway. Escorted by one capitol police officer to she was not saying anything she still very much reviewing what's going on. And what looked poring through this report to try to figure out now where she stands after you know all the dust has settled here. But it is it is remarkable that she still on the fence and you have Murkowski as well. And obviously the implications. For the mid terms coming up to a very big depending on and how this ultrasound. That's right we've heard with you said heights Heidi hi camp was in a very tough reelection race in North Dakota and a very red state coming out against this nomination. To me this is one tantalizing tidbit that I wanted to ask you about Cory Booker who has been outspoken in opposition Kavanagh probe from the start. He seemed to a find something or at least the whiff of something. In this report that we haven't heard much about take a listen to that to senator Cory Booker. Plain English what this will head there are hints of misconduct so. Very frustrating if you do thorough. An investigation being interviewed all the relevant witnesses who didn't interview all the potential eyewitness didn't interview. All the cooperating witness to some I'm actually shocked a message. Then are there any echoes of that around Capitol Hill right now about what senator Booker could be talking about obviously the Democrats are saying this isn't enough of an investigation but is there there there that anyone's point 82 to say. A hot here's something that that shows that that we have learned something we did noble for about Greg Kavanagh. Rick I was a history major in college non English major but I don't really know it's plain English just say there was a whiff of suspicion. Of wrongdoing there because it's really not clear that means there's a lot of innuendo running around the the senate Democratic Caucus right now there were some senators of course have not signed onto that letter. That was issued yesterday. From the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee calling for. For more substantive investigations. Senator tunes and senator Klobuchar when I'm part of that group so there seems to be some disagreement among Democrats. You know about what constitutes. Some of the suspect suggestive. Issues would that would the background charged with interest and I think it was Brad Garrett was saying this earlier today. About how this is and on your show about how. The so come out another form whether it's the media. Whether it's more investigations whether it's the house as Democrats take back. That chamber and that we spoke to senator Blumenthal last week basically after this deal was reached. And his team that he is his point essentially was you know the truth will come out somehow so Democrats as much as they're trying to stop this nomination proceedings. And as much as protesters are trying to prevent those two. Republican senators Collins and Murkowski from going on borrowed this. This Democrats to very much see this as a longer game. Where every move that this judge might make on the Supreme Court would be challenged. Calls for him to recuse himself from specific cases given some of the nature of his comments and his confirmation hearings. They see this also is very much of a longer multi step game would would Brent Cavanaugh after this confirmation. Ben Siegel thanks you endlessly else like apple or arrest going on at the capital so a lot of tension that there will be covering all night. Tonight here at abcnews.com I want to turn over the White House though because Jordan Phelps is joining us now in Jordan. You were out a couple of truck rallies this week the cabin my issue obviously is top of mind forever one. I was very caught by your insights in the story you wrote at abcnews.com. About. How in trump world. Brett Cavanaugh is seen as a hero a trump has built him up. And you don't hear echoes of the concerns that Cory Booker and the Democrats are hearing anywhere close the trop rallies Jordan. That's right rank and if the Democrats thought that this issue was going to help them in galvanized they are voters. Had they maybe didn't anticipate that it was also going to excite Republican voters in the opposite direction. And Rick that's exactly what I sock. I discredit kind of like going into a time capsule going back on the campaign with the president. Everything was exactly the same there's the saying I'm qualified support. Among the people act maps these rallies for president prompt and now. They're asking the kind right Kavanagh. I talked to one man who drove five hours the rally explicitly for the purpose to show the president that he supports him on Kavanagh. And he said he and his entire family have been. Extremely apps have by the way Kavanagh has been treated. I every voter I talked to average pump supporter I talked to said that that they thought that this nomination should go 30. I they had varying opinions on. Whether or not the claims were true or false but regardless they all felt that this man has went to good life from what they can towel. And has lived and has had a successful career as a judge in. And should be confirmed so they see this as a former democratic obstruction and it is galvanizing the trump base it's truly remarkable wreck. And Tara the politics of this have been so scramble between but Republicans are benefiting Democrats are benefiting Republicans are benefiting. I thought to strategists in both parties that want to be done with this frankly he dvd feel like. Republicans have gotten a lot out of this they might actually be better off if it's lingered in the sense that he was the talk of upper cap and all the way to the mid terms but Democrats have gotten quite a bit of mileage out of this in galvanizing their base they've got a lot of older members. That where where where their folks are trump country. It seems like the Republicans could actually win more out of this and that Democrats but it depends on how long this high won't last. We still have over a month until the mid terms are on you know we've heard despite the Kavanagh spike. Among Republicans and you even saw president come tweeting about it this morning he seems to be trying to use cap not the way to rally the base. I kind of reminds me of the shutdown fight in January when president comes managed to. Branded the Schumer shut down. And it ends up sort of backfiring on the Democrats pushing back against Tron and it's sort of ended up being a thing or neither party I think you said it's really wanted to shut down actually happened but it was it was becoming act. You know it was it was basically. The next shut down but I played out differently with the Democrats seeking a less heavy hand in terms of that by. Us and this is gonna play out as this as we set over the next couple days we'll have all the coverage surety abcnews.com one other story line we wanted to talk about today. Vice president Mike Pence giving a very tough speech today. On China we know the president has called out China very explicitly for election meddling. In in recent weeks something pointedly has refused to do around rush of a take a listens with the vice president had to say today. Beijing is employing a whole of government approach. Using political economic. And military tools as well as propaganda to advance its influence and benefit its interest in the United States. China is also applying this power more proactive ways than ever before. To exert influence and interfere in the domestic policy and politics. Of this country. Under president trumps leadership. The United States has taken decisive action to respond. To China. With American action. Again that's the vice president calling out China it seems like as the election draws nearer and there's a lot of concern about. Attempted election Natalie there are some very clear signals from Washington from. The top administration that there watching China a lot more than Russia. And it's an interesting change last week at a UN GA you heard the president coming out with this report and we've seen that China is actually the real culprit in election meddling and scraps is a way to rally the base as well because we've heard that. Yeah batten that messaging throughout the campaign China's been been around ripping us stop. We're gonna balance the trade relationship but how does factor into dealing with China with our even bigger rabbits there's Terry North Korea. Are we getting the sort of help from China that we say and at this that this language actually help us them are trying to make negotiations. With Kim Jung and who's very beholden to Chinese and one. And George Phelps that this is this has been a White House message campaign of course that the vice president is not going off message here this is appointed the president is trying to make pretty aggressively. Definitely and Rick what I was really struck by with the vice president's argument is he saying that. At this evidence that they see of meddling is evidence that the president's strategy is working that China doesn't want him to be president because he so tough. And so strong but. That's exactly the opposite really of what they said. On rash act act in the warmer relations they're based Ed. That it's a good thing you know to have stronger and better relations with Russia and they. Welcome dot of course that's been a big point of criticism here. But just the contrast between you know the administration's explanations for having you know some warmer more open relations with Russia. Contrasts it with. You know that at the tensions with China is really striking and and contradictory. All right Jordan gulf over the White House for us today thank you so much power we're less than five weeks away from the mid terms again. Plus and it's amazing that we've consumed almost three weeks with this Kavanagh story. It has been almost never ending. We'll see if it console close in the days ahead again. A pretty tense scene that is continue to play our capital but we're seeing protests are seeing senators. Lot of anger boiling over our expectation. Is that this procedural vote likely tomorrow final confirmation vote as soon as Saturday if if if these undecided senators. At least two undecided senators on the Republican side come out in support of Dutch capital. That does it for this edition of the briefing room thank you for watching download the ABC news that. Which are primary I'm Rick Klein we'll see you next.

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

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