Texas Senator John Cornyn joined me this morning to discuss the Judge Kavanaugh confirmation:
HH: So pleased to welcome Senator John Cornyn of the United States Senate where he is the whip, the number two Republican in the leadership. He’s also, I want to remind people, a former justice on the Texas Supreme Court and a very strong advocate for the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Senator Cornyn, first, a technical question. Have you received word if the FBI will complete its investigation today and cloture filed for tonight?
JC: I have seen reports that they’re wrapping up the investigation. There have been some reports by the lawyers of the individuals interviewed, but I’m not, I don’t have proof positive that that will occur. I hope it will occur. Senator McConnell has said we will vote on his confirmation this week, and I take him at his word.
HH: Now if in fact we get word that the FBI is done and that soon, all senators will have the report, it’s okay to file the notion of cloture, because that’s just 30 hours of debate. People will have plenty of time to read the report.
JC: That’s right. Under the Senate rules, there will be at least an intervening day. In other words, if you filed today, tomorrow, intervening day, and then the cloture day wouldn’t be until the following day. So there’d be plenty of time for senators to read the FBI’s supplemental background investigation.
HH: And if there are 50 votes plus the Vice President to proceed to a vote, there would be another 30 hours of debate, correct?
JC: That’s right. That’s right, up to 30 hours. And although it’s hard for me to imagine what else could be said that hasn’t been said, but yes, that’s right.
HH: Now your colleague, Senator Ernst, was on with me earlier, and she said that in the absence of any evidence in the FBI report corroborating Dr. Ford’s allegations, she will vote for Judge Kavanaugh. Do you believe that she represents 51 senators of the Republican side in saying so?
JC: I do. I do, and I saw a poll reported yesterday that said 60% of Americans believe that should be the case as well.
HH: Now in the first hour of today’s show, Senator, I did what I did all day on Monday. I only talked to women, and I only talked to first-time callers. And I just want to run down the list – Cathy in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Ann in Dallas, Sarah in Tampa, Florida, Ann in Detroit, Norma also in Michigan, Alexandria in Newport Beach, Elaine in Louisville, Kentucky, Jeannie in Oregon, Shelly in Columbus, Ohio, and Ann in San Diego, 10 women, first-time callers. All ten want him confirmed. Nine out of ten approve of the president last night questioning Dr. Ford’s testimony. They did not believe he was mocking her. What did you think the president did last night?
JC: Well, he was pointing out what we all saw, which was gaps in her testimony. And of course, the whole circumstance under which she ended up testifying in front of the Supreme Court, excuse me, in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is highly suspicious. Senator Feinstein sitting on her letter, then leaking, somehow it got leaked to the press, ended up in the Washington Post. And then against her wishes, she ends up in the middle of this three-ring circus, something she did not authorize and did not want. And unfortunately, that’s where she found herself. So listening to her testimony was something she wanted us to do. We wanted to hear from her. I thought we treated her as I would have wanted my daughters or my wife or my mother treated if they were in a similar situation.
HH: You know, Senator, I have represented the victim of a sexual assault on a major college campus. I can’t say more because of confidentiality. I’m very sympathetic to victims, because the institutions of America have not yet adopted to deal with these, but that they’re changing. Nevertheless, I’m a lawyer like you. And I note 1) the fear of flying narrative that was given to the Committee, that simply wasn’t true. It wasn’t given by her, it was given by the lawyers. She testified she was not aware that the Committee would come to her. Senator Grassley has produced I think four or five different pieces of paper proving that that offer was made. Her ex-boyfriend has filed an affidavit saying she is familiar with polygraphs, inconsistent with her testimony. A new report on the second front door suggests it was constructed for reasons unrelated to claustrophobia. Her testimony, and this is a lawyer deal, did not contain a single verifiable assertion, nor one that could be disproven.
HH: That’s very rare. And then we have the Rachel Mitchell report.
HH: Are there problems with her testimony?
JC: Well, there are, and you’ve summarized them well. Rachel Mitchell, who was retained by the Committee to question Dr. Ford, and I thought did a very professional job even under the constraints of the Committee rules which gave her five minute segments, that’s not how you do it in any other setting, of course, but I thought she got the basic facts out, demonstrated that there are gaps. I understand the victims of trauma can have memory lapses, and it’s hard to reconstruct things after 35 years. But I just don’t think, and I think the American people don’t believe, that an uncorroborated allegation should be enough to condemn a nominee.
HH: Now in any way, some people do object. One of my callers objected to President Trump. It is not in any way to me germane to whether or not you would vote for Judge Kavanaugh. I just, do you agree?
JC: I agree.
JC: I agree with that.
HH: So let’s go to the last issue, which is Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee if the Democrats take the House, says he will hold impeachment proceedings. I say bring those on, because they will be laughing stocks about, and Stephanie Ruhle and I just got into it, she said Brett Kavanaugh lied. I said he absolutely did not lie about drinking. He did not lie about devil’s triangle. People who say that don’t understand what perjury is or lying is. Your assessment, Senator?
JC: Well, I think this is, it’s gotten ridiculous and absurd. We’re talking about entries in his high school yearbook, whether he threw ice on somebody at some point in the past. I think they’ve been unsuccessful in attacking the Judge’s credibility and feel like now they’re off on this wild goose chase. And the goal post, as my friend, the Majority Leader, likes to say, continue to move. But it’s time to vote.
HH: Here is what Lindsey Graham said on Fox News last night, cut number 15:
SH: What about these red state Democrats?
LG: I think they’re toast.
SH: All of them?
LG: All of them.
SH: All of them politically…
LG: Anybody that votes no are toast.
SH: Well, the only two that are open seemingly to even…
LG: No, they’re toast if they vote no.
HH: Senator Cornyn, Joni Ernst agreed with that. Do you agree with that?
JC: I agree, because I think in these red states that President Trump carried, I think the judicial, I’m sorry, I think the Senate’s candidates, incumbents running, are looking at their own polls. And our polls are confirming what Lindsey just said.
HH: Has the National Republican Senatorial Committee come back and confirmed that to you?
JC: We’ve talked, Cory Gardner, who is the chairman this year, has basically confirmed that, yes.
HH: Now I think something very big is going on. I’ve been doing this show since 2000. I’ve been doing radio since 1990. Nothing compares to the visceral rejection of the McCarthyism directed at Brett Kavanaugh, nothing.
HH: And I think it’s because of his kids. Why do you, because that they are being so badly injured, and I’m just thinking 20, 30, 40 years from now, people will throw this at them, and Judge Kavanaugh knows that, and that’s why he’s angry. What do you think, Senator Cornyn?
JC: I don’t blame him for being angry. And this ridiculous allegation that the Judge will somehow be partisan or not display the appropriate temperament on the bench, this man has been slandered, he’s been accused of multiple crimes, and he felt it was important to defend his good name. And I thought he handled it appropriately. There were a couple of times where I think, well, one time in particular where he asked Senator Klobuchar a question, and he came back and apologized for that, and I think that was the right thing to do. But he shouldn’t be expected just to take this slander, these allegations of criminal conduct, and ruining his reputation and good name and damaging his family. Anybody in that position who feels like they’ve been falsely accused, I think, would be angry and be justified in showing some of that anger.
HH: Last question, Senator, I know that some people might be obliged in good faith because of the FBI report not to vote for Judge Kavanaugh. I think it will be a huge mistake unless there is direct corroborating evidence. But I also believe if a Republican doesn’t support him, his or her career is done as a Republican. I have never seen the base this way. Is that the general sense in the caucus?
JC: Well, I think you’ll see overwhelming support in the caucus for the Judge. There are, some of our colleagues for whom this FBI supplemental background investigation was requested, they said it would be necessary. But I believe that if there’s no corroboration, which I believe will be the case, that that will eliminate the last obstacle to the Judge getting confirmed.
HH: And then completely off topic, will the USMCA pass the necessary margin? I don’t know if it’s fast-track majority or if it’s treaty two-thirds, but the new NAFTA, will it pass the Senate?
JC: I think it’s going to be an uphill fight, because when we pass trade promotion authority, there were 13 Democrats, 47 Republicans to pass that. And of course, we’ve seen just visceral opposition to everything that this president proposes. And so it’s going to be a tough sell, but I certainly hope we can do it. And it’ll require 51 votes, as you know.
HH: I didn’t know that. So it’s only a 51 vote number?
JC: That’s correct. We’re probably not going to get to it, I wouldn’t think, Hugh, until after the first of the year, given the timing of this. So, but it’s something worth doing, and I think we need to do it.
HH: Senator John Cornyn, always a pleasure, thank you for joining me, Senator. I appreciate it.
JC: Thanks, Hugh.
End of interview.