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Week In Politics: The Supreme Court Nomination Process For Judge Brett Kavanaugh


We're going to take a few minutes out for some analysis of the week in politics. Joining us today is Ana Kasparian, host of The Young - host for The Young Turks network. Welcome to the program, Ana.

ANA KASPARIAN: Thank you for having me.

CORNISH: And John Phillips of the Orange County Register, also a contributor to CNN and KABC, welcome to the program.

JOHN PHILLIPS: Good afternoon from California.

CORNISH: So, John, I want to start with you 'cause you've said that many people were watching the hearing, but the real audience was the five or so senators who could be swing votes. And we've just heard now Jeff Flake - right? - one of them joining Democrats in calling for further FBI investigation. What does that mean to you?

PHILLIPS: That's right. And Politico is reporting that this investigation should last about a week. I had a former FBI agent, Bobby Chacon, on my radio show this week who said the FBI doesn't really come down with any conclusions. They can investigate. They can talk to people who were involved. They can talk to people who were potential witnesses. And they can say, they said this; those people said that. And then they turn it over to, if it's a criminal case, a prosecutor. In this particular instance, they'll turn it over to the Senate committee, and...

CORNISH: Right, but isn't that more than what we've got now - right? - which was just...


CORNISH: ...The testimony straightforwardly from the two people who are dealing with the allegations?

PHILLIPS: In many of the cases, we already know what they had to say about that particular night. Now, Democrats may assume that they may give a different answer if they're talking to someone with a badge and a gun instead of a Senate committee. Time will tell on that. But I expect them to say the same thing that they've said publicly so far. And if that happens...

CORNISH: Then let me let Ana jump in...


CORNISH: ...Because you've said that an investigation is critical. What do you see it adding to the conversation?

KASPARIAN: Well, I think it's important to either confirm the innocence of Brett Kavanaugh or, if he did it, to provide that information or any possible corroborating information to the senators so they can make the right decision moving forward. I don't expect the FBI to come up with conclusions. I'm also not expecting any type of criminal investigation. And the Democrats have been clear in that.

But I do think that it's important for us to see our senators take this accusation seriously and to not just talk to Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Blasey Ford but, more importantly, talk to the other individuals that were part of this story. So of course Mark Judge needs to be questioned about this. There were four individuals who signed sworn affidavits on behalf of Dr. Blasey Ford saying that they were in conversations with her years prior to this story even, you know, coming to the nation's attention.

And so I think that there are other people that need to be talked to. And quite honestly for me, this goes way - well beyond politics. It's about making sure that the country knows that our senators take these accusations seriously...


KASPARIAN: ...And that they're going to vote.

CORNISH: I want to jump in because when it comes to that vote, there is an argument that says, look; this could also just neuter the Democrats' central talking point, right? Lachlan Cartwright at The Daily Beast says this - 'cause if the FBI finds nothing new, then Collins, Murkowski, Manchin are unquestionably more likely to vote yes.

KASPARIAN: Well, I don't really care about the Democrats' talking point. For me, this isn't about Democrats versus Republicans. For me, this is about getting to the bottom of the truth. And so if Democrats are doing this purely for political reasons, I find that beyond deplorable because I think that we need to do what's right here and get to the bottom of the truth. So I get that the Democrats don't like this nominee based on political reasons. But, you know, this whole sexual assault allegation goes beyond that for me.

CORNISH: I want to talk about the partisanship that was on display yesterday because by a lot of accounts, it was vicious. There was a lot of yelling, a lot of accusations, a lot of indignation. John Phillips, you look to Lindsey Graham as a special moment in the day. Once a Trump critic, why was his attack so effective?

PHILLIPS: Yeah, this is John McCain's best friend, a guy who has a moderate temperament in the U.S. Senate and who has long been a thorn in President Trump's side. But if you go back to the Republican Convention when Ted Cruz gave his speech and didn't say vote for president Trump, he said vote your conscience. And then President Trump gave that long press conference right after the Republican Convention concluded. What did he say to Ted Cruz and Ted Cruz's voters? You have to be on board with me because of the Supreme Court. That was the commonality that held the Ted Cruz Republicans, the Marco Rubio Republicans, the Jeb Bush Republicans and the Trump coalition together. And what you saw play out yesterday is that issue keeping those disparate groups together.

CORNISH: Ana, Judge Kavanaugh during his testimony said the consequences will extend long past my nomination. He said the consequences will be with us for decades and that as we all know in the political system of the early 2000, what goes around comes around. Do you have concerns about the - this statement about this judge being an impartial arbiter on the Supreme Court?

KASPARIAN: For far too long, we've pretended as though our Supreme Court justices are not politically driven. I think that maybe decades ago that were the case. But now, especially after Brett Kavanaugh's testimony, he's really pulled the veil from that whole charade involving our justices not having political biases. He has clear political biases. He specifically named the Clintons and shared his complete and utter disdain for Democrats here. And I think that that is problematic moving forward.

CORNISH: John Phillips, for you?

PHILLIPS: Yeah, I read that in a different way. I saw him say that, and I thought to myself, this reminds me of the advice that someone in the Senate would have given to Harry Reid when he employed the nuclear option for judges because the Republicans would eventually...

CORNISH: And this was getting rid of the filibuster for...


CORNISH: ...Lower court judges.

PHILLIPS: Exactly. And Republicans would eventually use that same tool against Democrats when they came to hold the levers of power. In this particular instance, I think he's saying, if you knock a guy out of public service on an allegation alone without hard evidence to back it up, convincing evidence to back it up, those same standards could be applied to Democratic judges and Democratic politicians.

CORNISH: That's John Phillips of the Orange County Register and Ana Kasparian, host of The Young Turks network. Thank you both for speaking with us.

KASPARIAN: Thank you so much.

PHILLIPS: Have a great weekend. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.