CNN’s Chris Cuomo likes to ask the tough questions in his interviews, but he may not have expected to be on the receiving end of them when he had former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey on his show Thursday night. Cuomo started off the segment by noting that the White House has the ultimate control over Brett Kavanaugh‘s Supreme Court confirmation proceedings and asking if it would have been in President Donald Trump‘s best interest to at least give the appearance that he was doing everything possible to give Professor Christine Blasey Ford “due process” by calling in the FBI to investigate and have both sides get equal time.
According to Mukasey, who served as AG under President George W. Bush, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
“Sure, you’d want that to be the impression, but you want to look at the circumstances in which this arose,” Mukasey said before questioning the whole process that led to this moment.
“This arose, in part, based on the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee receiving an anonymous letter from somebody who says she was trying to protect your anonymity,” Mukasey said. “Now, if you were trying to protect your anonymity, would you send a letter to the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee? No.”
Cuomo suggested that Ford wanted to present information to those making the decision on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
“If you wanted me to know something so that I could use and the candidate could be derailed, the only way that’s going to happen is if the facts come out.”
Cuomo suggested that perhaps Ford was being naive with her strategy. Mukasey had harsher words.
“She’d have to have been numb in order to believe anything else,” he said. “And she wasn’t numb. There was a mutual interest in delay that was served by giving the letter to Senator Feinstein who then kept it until the hearing was over, and then tried to start the clock again and you can’t encourage that kind of behavior.”
He then noted that the matter of Kavanaugh’s confirmation is a political decision, not something that gets decided in a court room.
“And part of that political decision is whether you want to encourage that kind of behavior, and I don’t think you do.”
Cuomo challenged the idea that Democrats were trying to delay things by asking what a delay would be for, and Muksasey said the “perceived goal” is to push a vote on Kavanaugh until after the midterm election. Cuomo asked why it would have to be delayed that long if you could just call witnesses to speak and be done with it. Mukasey suggested that Democrats would keep asking for additional witnesses to drag out the process.
Speaking of witnesses, Mukasey then brought up a friend of Ford’s who went on CNN earlier in the week to support the professor.
“The one question I was dying to hear and never heard was, ‘When for the first time did you first hear about this?'”
Cuomo gave the answer. “Now.”
“Okay. What does that tell you?”
Cuomo noted that it’s not easy for survivors of sexual assault.
“It tells you also that there’s no corroboration,” Mukasey countered, implying that this friend’s account is worthless.
Cuomo pointed out that Ford told her husband and therapist in 2012, as well as friends.
“Friends?” Mukasey asked. “We haven’t heard from any of those friends. … How do you know she talked to friends?”
Cuomo said that’s been the reporting, but admitted, “You’re making a good point. Do we know for sure? No.”
The host then wrapped up the subject by going back to his original point that the White House should be putting forth the appearance of giving the best effort, while conceding Mukasey’s counter point.
“I guess you’re right, you don’t want to reward bad political behavior.”
[Image via CNN screengrab]