After playing footage of an annoyed Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor denouncing the treatment of Brett Kavanaugh, CNN Newsroom host Brooke Baldwin on Monday allowed viewers to know who she’s REALLY concerned with: Merrick Garland. Rather than start with Kavanaugh or the accusations, Baldwin spat: “Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, just decided to lecture Democrats for their actions involving a Supreme Court nominee.”
She derided the Senate Majority Leader as “the same Mitch McConnell who would not give... the person Obama wanted to be on his Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, a hearing, right? That's pretty rich.”
At her most inarticulate, Baldwin vented to analyst Gloria Borger: “And it's like, Gloria, seriously?” Hard to argue with that conclusion.
Continuing the idea that this is more about Garland and political payback than it is the issue of assault, Borger agreed with Baldwin:
Well, if I recall, Merrick Garland was waiting around for 400 days, and then never did get either a hearing or a vote. And so it is pretty rich to hear McConnell say, you know, this is the schedule, and we are going to stick to it.
Given the questionable reliability over the second accuser against Kavanaugh, Baldwin attempted to help Democrats separate the two:
Republicans seem to be lumping in, though, this new allegation coming out of this New Yorker piece with Christine Blasey Ford's accusations as an offensive political tactic, lumping it all together.
A transcript of the segment is below. Click “expand” to read more.
[After playing footage of Mitch McConnell’s Senate floor speech on Kavanaugh.]
BROOKE BALDWIN: Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, just decided to lecture Democrats for their actions involving a Supreme Court nominee, the same Mitch McConnell who would not give Obama's — the person Obama wanted to be on his Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, a hearing, right? That's pretty rich. I have got Gloria Borger and Kaitlan Collins with me. And it's like, Gloria, seriously?
GLORIA BORGER: Well, if I recall, Merrick Garland was waiting around for 400 days, and then never did get either a hearing or a vote. And so it is pretty rich to hear McConnell say, you know, this is the schedule, and we are going to stick to it.
BORGER: The other point he is making that is absolutely accurate is that this is politics. And this is payback for Merrick Garland, as you point out, and this is also Democrats believing that they believe Dr. Ford, and they want her to be heard, and now she is willing to be heard. And they want it to be done in a different way, with an FBI investigation, et cetera, et cetera. But, you know, both sides here are playing hardball, Brooke. You know, they're —
BALDWIN: All the times he said smear, smear, smear.
BORGER: Right. Well, he was talking about the piece in The New Yorker, which he considered uncorroborated. He then quoted The New York Times, which I also thought was rich, because, of course, when do Republicans quote The New York Times?
BALDWIN: The failing New York Times. Right. Right.
Saying The New York Times had the same information but, you know, didn't go with it. So, you know, I mean, we understand what is going on here. We understood it back when Anita Hill testified. And, you know, little has changed, to be honest. Little has changed.
BALDWIN: Republicans seem to — Kaitlan, this is for you. Republicans seem to be lumping in, though, this new allegation coming out of this New Yorker piece with Christine Blasey Ford's accusations as an offensive political tactic, lumping it all together.
COLLINS: Yes. We are seeing the strategy change very quickly in the matter of that allegation with Christine Blasey Ford to this allegation with the latest woman in The New Yorker, Deborah Ramirez, quite a bit a bit of a big strategy change here, Brooke, because, beforehand, the White House, they were not saying this was a smear. Neither was the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. They were saying maybe this woman doesn't remember, she has no evidence to back this up, et cetera, et cetera. And now they're saying these are smears, this is a political strategy to get Kavanaugh away from his chances of ever being confirmed to the Supreme Court.
And that's just not what would we were seeing just a few days ago before this allegation came out in The New Yorker last night. We saw that not only was Senate Majority Leader McConnell there saying smear on repeat, but also with Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor, during her interview this morning saying that she believed this is some left-wing conspiracy out to get Brett Kavanaugh. And President Trump saying himself this is all political. You're right, they are pushing these two allegations together. One, they're saying doesn't have simply enough sourcing. They're pointing to the fact that The New York Times said they interviewed dozens of people and couldn't find anyone who could corroborate this information. But they're only focusing on this allegation. They're not focusing on the woman who's coming to Washington on Thursday to testify and say that she was sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh. That's an allegation which of course he denies. And we're even seeing Brett Kavanaugh himself come out swinging here with that lengthy letter that he wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee saying that he's being smeared. What we're witnessing right now is a very big change in strategy, going from, “Let's hear this woman out, we are going to defend our nominee” to now, “this is a political strategy to smear Brett Kavanaugh.”
BALDWIN: Yes, I have got two letters in my hand, just to underscore Kaitlan's point. This is Brett Kavanaugh writing to Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein, "These are smears, pure and simple" and talking about a "federal judge must be independent, not swayed by public or political pressure, and that's the kind of judge I will always be."Let's hone in on Christine Blasey Ford, because I now have new words from her. And so let me just read. Gloria, I want your reaction to this. I'm just going to read a chunk of her letter.
Dr Ford's says that: "Mr. Kavanaugh's actions, while many years ago, were serious and have had a lasting impact on my life. I thought that knowledge of his actions could be useful for you and those in charge of choosing among the various candidates. My original intent was first and foremost to be a helpful citizen in a confidential way that would minimize collateral damage to all friends and family involved. I then took the step of sending a confidential letter to one of my senators, Ranking Member Feinstein, and I understand that you have a copy of that letter. I'm certainly prepared to repeat the facts in the letter and to provide further facts under oath at a hearing. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and other senators directly, person-to-person, to tell you what occurred. I will answer any questions you have. I hope that we can find such a setting that you will understand that I have one motivation in coming forward, to tell the truth about what Mr. Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge did to me. My sincere desire is to be helpful in persons making the decision."
And then she goes to close it: "While I'm frightened, please know my fear will not hold me back from testifying. And you will be provided with answers to all of your questions. I ask for fair and respectful treatment."
BORGER: Yes, this is a perfectly reasonable letter from a woman who clearly states that she initially intended for this to be private. Then it suddenly became public, and she found herself in a spotlight she did not want to be in at all. She offered to meet with Grassley one-on-one and with Republican senators one-on-one, and before the committee to tell her story. And I think, you know, to Kaitlan's point, what we're seeing today is kind of Republicans trying to put in the same pot the story that was in The New Yorker, and —
BALDWIN: It's not the same. It's not the same.
BORGER: — and Dr. Ford. And they are not the same. We cannot — you know, we cannot verify The New Yorker story, and — but they're trying to mesh it in and say, look at this pattern. It's a pattern of people with political motives trying to destroy Judge Kavanaugh. And I think that after the story came out yesterday, it gave Republicans a lot more wind at their back, if you will, because there were journalists saying, you know, we can't confirm this. And there were people saying, you know, I don't remember this, I don't recall this, et cetera, et cetera. So they're just trying to conflate the two into one big thing. And they're not. They're not the same at all. I think Judge Kavanaugh needs to answer questions about both of them, but Mitch McConnell made it very clear that that's not going to occur.
BALDWIN: And just lastly, the timing of all this. Right? I forget off the top of my head the exact day count until the midterms, but essentially six weeks.
BALDWIN: Thank you very much, 42 days until the midterm elections. And so why the stakes, Kaitlan, are so high, right, that there is no way, in that time, depending on what does or doesn't happen with Judge Kavanaugh, to try to get someone else through. There's an outside chance, outside chance that Democrats could take the Senate. This is a big deal.
COLLINS: And that's everything that is on the White House's mind as they are fighting against these allegations made against Judge Kavanaugh. It's not just because they like him as a person. They also realize what is at stake here. And we have heard President Trump essentially voicing that.
But White House officials, Brooke, feared that some second accuser would come forward in the days before Christine Blasey Ford did come forward to testify against Kavanaugh. And that was their fear, that even if they couldn't disprove or prove allegations, further allegations that they thought could come out, that if there were multiple accusations made against Brett Kavanaugh, that that could derail his nomination altogether. That is their concern here. President Trump has made pretty clear he's standing by Brett Kavanaugh right now. He wants to defend him. He thinks these are political targets on Kavanaugh's back, and that that's the only reason these allegations are coming out. But the White Houses fear was that so much, to the fact where senior officials in the White House were discussing who else they could nominate to the Supreme Court. They think they could essentially cut bait with Brett Kavanaugh and have someone else nominated, maybe Amy Coney Barrett, Kethledge, those others that were the leading contenders leading up to Brett Kavanaugh's nomination and potentially have someone like that confirmed by January. Those are ideas that are floating around in the West Wing right now because they think it could become too perilous of a situation with Brett Kavanaugh.