This is a rush transcript from “Special Report with Bret Baier,” October 1, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I imagine they are going to interview two. The third run I don’t know much about. But it wouldn’t bother me at all. I’ve heard that the third one has — I have no idea if this is true — has very little credibility. If there is any credibility, interview the third one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS: President Trump in the Rose Garden today after he got around to taking questions about Judge Kavanaugh, saying that he’ll let the FBI investigate whoever they think they need to investigate in order to report back to the White House and then to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Let’s bring in our panel: Jonah Goldberg, senior editor at National Review; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for National Public Radio, and Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist.
Mollie, do you think the president — and apparently there was another phone call made over the weekend from Don McGahn to the FBI saying we’re not going to limit what you do. You do what you do, you’re the FBI. Is that going to satisfy critics of this whole process?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: Last week during the hearing, we heard a bunch of people say they want the FBI to look into the allegations, essentially the first allegations. That was very important to them the FBI look into them even though the FBI doesn’t even have better investigatory tools than the Senate Judiciary Committee, which had already looked into them. So fine, people said that is fine, to allay concerns we’ll have a week delay while they look into this, and it will be limited. It won’t be a fishing expedition, but they’ll look into it. And then as soon as that was agreed to, then it seemed like the goalposts kept moving into how much we can delay and how much more we can put in here.
I think it is reasonable to look into these allegations. It’s reasonable so summarize them. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of days, and get the report, go ahead and vote.
ROBERTS: Mara, Mitch McConnell said today you can almost hear the Democrats moving the goalposts. Will they be satisfied? Because this was a deal that was announced by Jeff Flake at the hearing on Friday. I don’t know if that is the deal he struck with Chris Coons or that is the idea he came up with after his long conversation with Coons and others. But are they moving the goalposts?
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: I think that they have focused on the process. They have been calling for an FBI investigation for some time now. They have gotten on. It could be a situation of beware of what you wish for, you just might get one. And Democrats might get the investigation they’ve called for, but the investigation will be used to make the process look fairer so that there is less political backlash after Kavanaugh is confirmed. As Susan Collins said, this is what we need to do to reassure the public that we weren’t just rushing to judgment. And that is why the president said it might be a blessing in disguise.
ROBERTS: Jonah, do you think there is any situation where the Democrats will be satisfied with an FBI investigation that doesn’t go past the midterm elections?
JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW: First of all, virtually every Democrat on my Judiciary Committee declared that they weren’t going to vote for the guy no matter what before any of these allegations surfaced.
ROBERTS: And the president said that at the press conference last Wednesday.
GOLDBERG: So when Cory Booker is locked into the position that Kavanaugh is evil before any of these allegations come up, it is kind of hard to walk back from that.
I think, unlike some of my colleagues on the right, I actually thought this was not as terrible an idea from Flake. It’s not a deal. It is something just Flake wanted. And what is bizarre to me is the scope of this investigation is precisely narrow to make it go through a week, which is what the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee always said is all you need. Anita Hill, the FBI investigated for just a couple of days, that’s all it would take. Why can’t you do a couple days. Well, we got seven days. And yet the Democrats are screaming blooding murder about how this is rigged and a sham. You have Mazie Hirono saying this is already shaping up as a sham investigation while at the same time saying Flake is a hero for doing this. You can’t have it both ways. Either Flake is a hero for asking for this in getting this limited investigation or it’s a sham, because what the investigation is is tracking exactly what Flake wanted.
ROBERTS: The prosecutor who was brought in from Maricopa County, Arizona, to do the questioning at the hearing on Friday, delivered a report to the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which she said in part, quote, “For the reasons discussed below, I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the committee. Nor do I believe that this evidence is sufficient to satisfy the preponderance of the evidence standard.” She was basically saying, something might have happened to Christine Blasey Ford but there isn’t the evidence here to prove that it was Judge Kavanaugh.
HEMINGWAY: Rachel Mitchell took a lot of heat for how she handled that questioning, but I thought it was very informative. And her summary of what she learned was what anybody would have learned if they watched that. The accuser had a story where it changed a lot in terms of when it happened, how it happened, the number of people. It showed that she had very serious problems with her short-term memory and her long-term memory, and it showed that she had actually said things that were in contradiction with each other, such as whether she could travel or not by airplane.
So learning all this and saying, at the end, this prosecutor says there is no case, I think anyone could see that there was no case here, but being able to summarize everything that we learned out of Dr. Ford’s own testimony was helpful.
ROBERTS: But this isn’t a criminal case, so you don’t need to meet a criminal standard. This is a political case.
LIASSON: That’s right, this is political. This is about the court of public opinion, although I like how Rachel Mitchell went from being a female assistant to a career prosecutor as soon as she was delivering the report to the Republicans.
But right, this is about the court of public opinion. And what we know from polling at least, since the hearing, is more people believe her than him, but the most important audience of course are those three moderate Republicans who are going to make or break this nomination.
ROBERTS: Jonah, why do you think more people leave her that him? Is it sort of the public sentiment falling on the side of the accuser, or did he not thoroughly acquit himself and his testimony? Because there were a couple of moments where he seemed a little squishy.
GOLDBERG: I think it is a mixed and complicated thing. We are in the midst of essentially this big social movement, which has mostly been for the good, the Me Too stuff, which has primed people to see things through a certain prism. I also think that most of the media coverage of this has been outrageously one-sided against Kavanagh where the real goalpost moving is going on in the way the media covers a lot of it, so it doesn’t shock me that much.
But attitudes can change. Most Americans sided with Clarence Thomas during the Anita Hill hearings, and I think for good reason, but the way media and the conversation goes can change people’s minds one way or the other.
HEMINGWAY: I think it’s also way too soon to talk about who is more believable or who is not believable. What that hearing was about was about supplying evidence to support allegations. No evidence was supplied prior to the hearing, no evidence was supplied during the hearing. We now have an FBI investigation, maybe there will be evidence to support this claim. We have a lot that goes against him. I haven’t seen anyone criticize Rachel Mitchell’s laying out of the facts. They say she was hired by Republicans. If you have a dispute with the facts, that is one thing. I think people are way too focused on emotion and not enough on actual evidence.
ROBERTS: If for some reason something came forward that disqualified Kavanaugh or forced him to withdraw, is there any way the president could get a backup nominee through before the end of the year?
LIASSON: I don’t think so.
ROBERTS: What if they hold the Senate?
LIASSON: If they hold the Senate maybe they could do it in the lame duck. But no, certainly not before the midterms. And that is a whole other question, what effect will that have.
ROBERTS: I meant the end of the year.
LIASSON: I think they could do it in a lame duck if the Republicans held the Senate, but if they didn’t I don’t think so.
ROBERTS: We’ll see. Panel, thanks so much.
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