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Sen. Patrick Leahy Reacts To Testimony From Kavanaugh And Christine Blasey Ford


Let's bring in one of the senators who was asking the questions today, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy. Senator Leahy, welcome.

PATRICK LEAHY: Thank you very much.

KELLY: I want to start with a few rapid-fire questions. Did you find Christine Blasey Ford's testimony credible?

LEAHY: I found it compelling and very credible. I was a prosecutor. If I'd had somebody with that kind of a complaint coming before me as a prosecutor, I'd feel very safe in prosecuting based on it.

KELLY: Did you find Brett Kavanaugh's testimony credible?

LEAHY: I did not. I found it well-rehearsed. I wondered if it was aimed more for the White House and President Trump than the members of the committee.

KELLY: You mean that he was speaking to a one-person audience, and that was the president.

LEAHY: Well, I think he was probably a little bit shook when the president suggested in New York, he could always change his mind.


LEAHY: And it was clear at the - the White House felt Dr. Ford's testimony was very compelling. And I think he came in there knowing that he had to make a point and he had a couple other Republican senators. It almost - like they had rehearsed it.

KELLY: Let me ask you this. Did you learn anything from either of their testimonies today...


KELLY: ...Anything that advances your understanding of what happened that summer night three decades ago?

LEAHY: Well, I mean, she has no reason to come forward and say that. This was...

KELLY: But did she present any evidence that you found persuaded you - that you understand better what happened?

LEAHY: I found it very credible, but I also - it made me very clear that the committee has made a huge mistake in not subpoenaing the person - supposedly the third person who was in the room, put them under oath and ask them questions.

KELLY: This is Mark Judge, the...

LEAHY: That's right.

KELLY: ...Friend of Brett Kavanaugh's who professor Ford has identified as being one of the three in the room.

LEAHY: And as soon as I even raised the question of Mr. Judge, of course Judge Kavanaugh went off into a almost-rehearsed sort of thing. Oh, this poor man's gone through this. I say, no, my question - should he not have been here under oath and asked by both Republicans and Democrats what happened?

KELLY: He has submitted sworn testimony. The committees had access to it. Is there something that wasn't answered there that you need to ask him?

LEAHY: His attorney is saying something that's not the same. I was a trial attorney. I was a prosecutor. Nothing compares being able to ask questions of the person. Whether you agree with the answers or disagree, at least have the chance to ask them. In this case, I'd want to ask him under oath.

KELLY: So you're saying that you heard hours and hours of testimony today. But you feel to have a complete picture before you vote, you need to hear from the person who allegedly was the third person in this room.

LEAHY: No, I can make up my mind before that. But I think it would've been much better. I think the American public would've had a better view. I think that they're purposely hiding some things, trying to hurry this through. And if you want to run the thing through without getting everything out there, what are you trying to hide? If there's nothing to hide, why not take the time? We're talking about a lifetime appointment. Another week or two to get all the witnesses in, what difference is that going to make? How do - and we should be independent as a Senate, not taking our orders from the White House. I don't care if it's Republican or Democratic. I mean, this - there's a lot of echoes of the Clarence Thomas hearing. But even there, the Republican White House said, OK, step back, pause, take a couple weeks. Let's have an investigation of the allegations.

KELLY: There were a lot of pointed questions for Christine Blasey Ford today over things like, who paid for her polygraph, who steered her to her current legal team. Let me just ask you the direct question. To your knowledge, did Democrats or Democratic strategists or anybody attempting to advance a Democratic agenda, did they manipulate her appearance or her testimony in anyway?

LEAHY: No. You know, I had never met her. I had read some of the things that were in the press. I never had any of the statements ahead of time. I heard her for the very first time this morning. And as I said, I'm a former prosecutor. I would've found something like that to be an extremely credible witness.

KELLY: And for the record to answer my question - to your knowledge, there was no attempt to influence her testimony?

LEAHY: Oh, no, no.


LEAHY: I don't think there was. And I think if there was, they would've brought that out. Interestingly enough, none of the Republican senators wanted to question her. They wanted somebody else to question her. I think that says an awful lot, including the fact that they know she's pretty credible.

KELLY: The vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination is still scheduled. It's on the calendar for tomorrow. Should it go ahead?

LEAHY: I don't think it should go ahead. I think that there's enough questions raised today. We have other witnesses. Take a couple weeks. We're talking about a lifetime appointment. Take a couple weeks.

KELLY: Will Democrats try to stop the vote from going ahead? Is there anything you can do?

LEAHY: We can't. The Republicans control the Senate, and they can do whatever they want. That doesn't mean it's responsible. Remember, these are the same people that blocked President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, a man who probably would've gotten 90 votes in the Senate. They blocked him for over a year.

KELLY: Merrick Garland. So your strategy for tomorrow is if there's a vote, you vote no.

LEAHY: Well, I don't know how you're going to vote aye on something that's being rushed through like this.

KELLY: Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Senator Leahy, thanks so much for taking the time.

LEAHY: Thank you. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF CANNIBAL OX SONG, "STRESS RAP") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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