Sen. Amy Klobuchar Weighs In On Nomination Of Brett Kavanaugh To The Supreme Court
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Well, we did have the chance to question one of those senators. We just heard Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota. And I asked her, had she ever sat through a committee vote like the one today?
AMY KLOBUCHAR: Nothing like it. I will tell you after what happened yesterday with what I consider a scorched-earth policy from the Republican side - and I thought we were going into the morning. I was pretty depressed actually. I thought, there's not going to be a change. Everyone's set in their ways. And then Senator Flake came to Senator Coons. We sit together, Senator Coons and I. And he pulled him out. And then I went out there with them a little bit later.
And I had raised in my opening remarks today, as had Senator Coons, this idea of just taking a week to allow for an FBI investigation. Senator Flake was interested in that. And from there discussions proceeded. And I think it's really important for your listeners to know that this wasn't really an agreement with the Democrats because we already are voting no on this nominee. But it was simply a place for Senator Flake to talk to us about how this could proceed.
KELLY: This is something you and other Democrats have been pushing for all along, is that there needs to be an FBI investigation. What do you think turned the tide and made Senator Flake, a Republican, decide to back it today?
KLOBUCHAR: I think a few things. The first was the compelling testimony of Dr. Ford. It was really hard to walk away from that thinking, well, she just made this up because she had told her therapist six years before. She had passed a polygraph test that we were able - I put on the record. She had a lot of credibility when she spoke about her memories from that night. The second thing was just Senator Flake. In a lot of our views, we were really going to destroy the Supreme Court's reputation. We were going to hurt the Senate by not at least following up on some evidence. And I don't know what kind of an investigation we will see. We will of course give our input into it.
KELLY: You're saying the credibility of Christine Blasey Ford's testimony you think was a big factor. That said, Senator Flake voted the nomination out of committee. All - every Republican on the committee did. It completely split along party lines.
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, he did. But the difference was - and he - was that he said that he wanted to have the FBI investigation proceed for a week before he would allow a floor vote.
KELLY: But I guess my point is you're citing Republicans saying they found her testimony credible, and yet they're still voting to vote that nomination out of committee.
KLOBUCHAR: Obviously I disagree with them. I made that very clear today. I made clear that I thought the Constitution said we the people and not we the ruling party. I thought that the way that they outsourced their constitutional duty for advise and consent to someone else and sat behind her was the wrong way to handle it. But all that said, I have to hand it to Senator Flake. And now Senator Murkowski...
KELLY: Another Republican Senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
KLOBUCHAR: Right, who I knew was interested in this to begin with. And she also of course has joined Senator Flake. And that was something we were pretty sure of before that vote was taken, but it wasn't revealed publicly. She should have done that.
KELLY: One of the most dramatic moments of yesterday's testimony came when you were questioning Brett Kavanaugh.
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KLOBUCHAR: So you're saying there's never been a case where you drank so much that you didn't remember what happened the night before or part of what happened.
BRETT KAVANAUGH: It's - you're asking about, you know, blackout. I don't know. Have you?
KLOBUCHAR: Could you answer the question, judge? Just so you - that's not happened. Is that your answer?
KAVANAUGH: Yeah, and I'm curious if you have.
KLOBUCHAR: I have no drinking problem, judge.
KAVANAUGH: Yeah, nor do I.
KLOBUCHAR: OK, thank you.
KELLY: What was going through your mind during that exchange?
KLOBUCHAR: I was stunned. And of course my major focus was to get him to answer the question because I was trying to reconcile the very credible testimony of Dr. Ford with his answers. And he has had - he's had roommates and other people that said that he drinks too much. One guy has said that he gets belligerent. So I was asking him about it, and I was stunned where instead of answering it he turned it on me. He did apologize very clearly after the break, which I appreciated. But the point is we still don't really have answers to those questions.
KELLY: Bottom line - did you find his testimony credible? Did you find anything that suggests to you he was not telling the full and complete truth under oath?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I am again very concerned about this, the fact that she has really everything to lose by coming forward. I think we learned some new things from her, and that was that she had come forward before he was even the nominee when she saw he was on the shortlist. And she was trying to warn people in her own everyday citizen way. She simply called the reception desk of her own congresswoman. And at the same time, he has everything to gain through this proceeding. And when you're a former prosecutor like me, you kind of balance that evidence, and you want to look at what the corroborating witnesses say.
KELLY: Are you confident that if an FBI investigation goes ahead, that the Senate will be able to proceed with a vote and understanding that senators are going to continue to disagree and understanding that will likely be along party lines but at least will be able to proceed with a vote based on a fuller understanding of the facts?
KLOBUCHAR: I think that it will be better for the country that this FBI investigation occur. I'm not sure what the answers will be. It's possible some of the witnesses won't even agree to talk to the FBI.
KELLY: I mean, it's possible we'll never have a complete picture of what may or may not have happened that night in 1982.
KLOBUCHAR: That is very possible. But to think that we wouldn't even try would be the saddest thing for the country.
KELLY: Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, a member of the Judiciary Committee, which this afternoon voted Brett Kavanaugh's nomination out of committee - thanks so much, Senator.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
KELLY: And a note - ALL THINGS CONSIDERED has asked every Republican member of the committee for an interview. None has agreed to speak. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.