GOP Sen. Sasse: Ending arms sales to Saudis 'should be on the table'
"We don't do arms sales for the purposes of the profits from arms sales. We do arms sales because we want to be allied with different countries around the globe that believe in our values and have a long-term sense of what we're up to together and why we have that alliance," Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."
"(The) Saudis got a lot of explaining to do," he said.
US arms sales to the Saudis have become a topic of debate in recent days as the investigation into Khashoggi's death has called into question the US' relationship with the country.
On Friday, the Saudis admitted the death of Khashoggi, saying it happened after a fistfight involving more than a dozen Saudi officials at the country's consulate in Istanbul. President Donald Trump, responding to the news, said he would work with Congress to develop a response to Khashoggi's death, but said that he didn't want sanctions to affect US arms sales to the kingdom.
"I would prefer if there is going to be some form of sanctions -- this was a lot of people they're talking about ... I would prefer we don't use as retribution (canceling) $110 billion worth of work," the President told reporters in Arizona.
On Sunday, Sasse told Tapper that arms sales "are always means to an end. They're not the end."
"The end is the American idea. And the end is stability in the world so that problems abroad don't come home to roost for us," he said.
Sasse also said that he doesn't believe Saudi Arabia's explanation of Khashoggi's death.
"I think the cover stories from the Saudis are a mess" he said. "You don't bring a bone saw to an accidental fist fight."
Sasse previously told CNN that the disappearance of Khashoggi will not be "swept under the rug," and that he believes there should be an "international investigation" into what happened.
Trump casts Democrats as 'angry, ruthless, unhinged mob' in Nevada ahead of midterm elections
The President, in an effort to galvanize voters ahead of next month's midterm elections, held one of his signature Make America Great Again rallies in Elko, Nevada, where he sought to outline the differences between the GOP and Democrats, particularly on the issue of immigration.
"The Democrats don't care about what their extremist immigration agenda will do to your communities, to your hospitals -- what about your hospitals and to your schools," Trump said. "The Democrats don't care that a flood of illegal immigration will bankrupt our country."
In an attempt to paint Democrats as unfit to govern, the President described the party in no uncertain terms, telling the crowd: "The Democrat party has become an angry, ruthless, unhinged mob determined to get power by any means necessary."
"The choice for every American could not be more clear," he said.
Trump also used the rally as an opportunity to speak about the caravan of migrants headed for the Southern border, telling supporters that, "The Democrats want caravans. They like the caravans."
The President highlighted the scene from Friday of migrants crossing a bridge leading to Mexico.
"Did anybody see that bridge over the weekend?" Trump asked the crowd. "I mean, is that an incredible situation? It's sad. And it's sad, honestly; it's sad from both sides. It's sad from their side also."
He said that his administration is "going to figure it out" and that he's "already figured it out," but didn't elaborate on what the administration is doing to stop the caravan from entering the US, instead telling the crowd that he would keep it "low-key" until after the election.
Trump also stumped for Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller, who is fighting to maintain control of his seat from his Democratic challenger, Rep. Jacky Rosen, whom he called "Wacky Jacky" at the rally as he has done in the past.
"That's what we need ... we need a wacky Jacky in Congress," he joked.
In a Saturday tweet, Trump said that Heller was a "good friend" and that he needs the senator's "Help and Talent in Washington." The two previously had an icy relationship, which Trump acknowledged in September when he campaigned for Heller in Las Vegas.
"We weren't friends. I didn't like him and he didn't like me," he said of their initial relationship. "And as we fought and fought and fought, believe it or not, we started to respect each other, then we started to like each other, then we started to love each other."
At Saturday's rally, the President lampooned political correctness, calling it "a crazy phenomenon that's going on" and expressed regret at how closely his language is watched.
He told supporters that he expected some backlash for referring to women as "beautiful" at another MAGA rally he held Friday in Arizona.
"Last night, last night in Arizona we had, you never saw so many people. I said, 'I want to thank the great men that are here, and I want to thank the beautiful women everyone beautiful, everyone,'" he said.
"And I said, 'Ugh, I better apologize, because if I don't, for calling you beautiful, because if I don't apologize they will go wild tomorrow, headlines Donald Trump called women beautiful,' they all say 'please call me beautiful,'" he said. "It is a crazy phenomenon that's going on."
The President's Nevada stop comes fewer than 24 hours after his Arizona rally, where he also spoke at length about Democrats and immigration.
"Democrats believe our country should be a giant sanctuary city for criminal aliens," he said, while "Republicans believe our country should be a sanctuary for law abiding Americans."
On Monday, the President will head to Texas to campaign for Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
Trump says he believes Saudi explanation for Khashoggi's death, but some lawmakers are skeptical
The Saudi Arabian government announced Friday that Khashoggi died after a fistfight at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and that 18 Saudis had been arrested for further investigation while Deputy Director of Saudi Intelligence Ahmed al-Assiri had been dismissed.
"I do. I do," Trump said when asked about his confidence in the explanation. "Again, it's early. We haven't finished our review, our investigation. But I think it's a very important first step."
Trump said talks with Saudi officials would continue, including raising some questions about their account of events that led to the death of Khashoggi, and that he would work with Congress to develop a response.
However, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill expressed skepticism over Saudi Arabia's professed explanation for Khashoggi's disappearance.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal accused the Saudis of "buying time and buying cover," calling for an investigation that included US involvement and Turkish audio and visual records of the event.
"The Saudis very clearly seem to be buying time and buying cover, but this action raises more questions than it answers," the Connecticut Democrat told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room" Friday night.
"There has to be an international investigation," he continued. "It has to be done with legitimate and credible means involving the United States, and it has to use those tapes, the surveillance that evidently the Turks have."
Blumenthal also accused the Saudi government of trying to "insulate and shield" Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, known as MBS, and protect the 18 arrested Saudis from further investigation.
"The world deserves an explanation, not from the Saudis, who evidently are making every effort to insulate and shield the crown prince, but from an international inquiry," Blumenthal said, adding that the group arrest "raises the possibility that they may put them in a kind of protective custody and insulate them from an international investigation, shield them from fact-finding that the world needs to do."
New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that the Saudi statement is "far from the end."
"This is far from the end and we need to keep up the international pressure. Congress did its part when we invoked Global Magnitsky Act for a presidential determination. Now President Trump must follow the law," Menendez said.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Sen. Bob Corker warned against assuming that the Saudis' "latest story holds water" and stressed that the U.S. must assess Khashoggi's death under the Global Magnitsky Act, which sanctions human rights offenders.
"The story the Saudis have told about Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance continues to change with each passing day, so we should not assume their latest story holds water," Corker tweeted Friday. "They can undergo their own investigation, but the U.S. administration must make its own independent, credible determination of responsibility for Khashoggi's murder under the Global Magnitsky investigation as required by law."
Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham also questioned the credibility of the Saudis' changing explanation.
"To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement," Graham tweeted Friday. "First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement. Now, a fight breaks out and he's killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince."
"It's hard to find this latest 'explanation' as credible," he added.
Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul called for Saudi Arabia to pay "a severe price" for Khashoggi's death.
"We should ... halt all military sales, aid and cooperation immediately," Paul tweeted. "There must be a severe price for these actions by Saudi Arabia."
On the House side, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers called on Trump to act.
Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman called on the administration to take a stronger stance in responding to Khashoggi's death.
"Our country must stand up for our values and demand our 'allies' respect human rights," the House Armed Services committee member wrote in a statement on Twitter.
"The United States and the rest of the international community must condemn the murder of Mr. Khashoggi and the use of diplomatic posts as torture chambers for rogue nations," Coffman added. "I am calling on President Trump to immediately recall the (Acting) U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom pending further consultation with Congress."
Rep. Gerry Connolly said that the Saudi statement sounded "almost like a classic mafia operation."
"Now they're engaged in a cover up to protect the Crown Prince, and we'll see how that works for them," the Virginia Democrat told CNN's Kate Bolduan on "Erin Burnett OutFront". "There is no way this kind of premeditated murder operation conceivably have happened in the Saudi consulate without the knowledge of and approval of the Crown Prince."
When asked if Congress would take action, Connolly said there was sufficient bipartisan "outrage," but still criticized Trump's handling of the incident from the beginning.
"Wouldn't it be nice if we had a president who actually held murderers to account?" he added.
Democratic Rep. Eliot L. Engel, ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, called for Trump to more actively pursue "a thorough and transparent investigation."
"Tonight's explanation from Saudi authorities just isn't credible, particularly since the story has shifted so much over the past days," Engel wrote in a statement. "The Administration needs to push for a thorough and transparent investigation into Mr. Khashoggi's death without delay."
Trump apologizes to Kavanaugh for sexual misconduct allegations during confirmation
"Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception," Trump said.
"What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency and due process," the President continued.
Trump said a man or woman in this country "must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty."
"You, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent," Trump said to Kavanaugh. The FBI probe into the allegations against Kavanaugh reportedly found no corroboration of the allegations against him but was criticized by Democrats for not being a full investigation.
The ceremony took place in the East Room -- the same location where the President first announced Kavanaugh's nomination 13 weeks ago. Every sitting member of the Supreme Court was present at the ceremony.
Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate on Saturday, earning 50 "yes" votes -- the fewest for any Supreme Court justice in the modern era. The process was marred accusations of sexual assault and misconduct dredged up weeks before senators cast their votes. He denied all the allegations.
In his speech at the ceremony, Kavanaugh said the emotional Senate confirmation process "tested" him, "but it did not change me. My approach to judging remains the same."
Kavanaugh emphasized he will be an "independent" and "impartial" justice on the nation's highest court. "The Supreme Court is an institution of law -- it is not a partisan or political institution. The justices do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle."
"The Senate confirmation process was contentious and emotional," Kavanaugh said. "That process is over. My focus now is to be the best justice I can be."
"I take this office with gratitude and no bitterness. On the Supreme Court I will seek to be a force for stability and unity."
Kavanaugh also noted the first group of clerks he's hired as a justice are all women, a first in the history of the Supreme Court.
Earlier Monday, Trump claimed the accusations against Kavanaugh were a "hoax set up by the Democrats." He also blamed "evil" people for putting Kavanaugh in a "disgraceful situation" during his confirmation process. The President had at one point previously been conciliatory toward Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before Congress alleging that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. Trump, at the time of the testimony, called Ford a "good witness" and said he respected her position very much.
Kavanaugh was administered the official Constitutional Oath and Judicial Oath by Chief Justice John Roberts and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy shortly after being confirmed by the Senate.
The latest justice to join the bench, Neil Gorsuch, spoke last year during his swearing-in at the White House Rose Garden. Justice Samuel Alito spoke at his swearing-in as well. However, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan did not offer remarks during their respective swearing-in ceremonies, opting, instead, to speak at receptions with then-President Barack Obama regarding their appointments.
Trump calls Kavanaugh accusations a 'hoax set up by the Democrats'
"The things they said about him, I don't even think he ever heard of the words. It was all made up. It was fabricated and it's a disgrace and I think it's gonna really show you something come November 6th," Trump said as he left the White House for an event in Orlando.
When Trump hosted Kavanaugh and his family at a ceremonial swearing-in at the White House on Monday night, he apologized to the newly minted justice for the difficult confirmation process.
"On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure," the President said. "Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation. Not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception. What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency and due process.
"Our country, a man or a woman, must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. And with that I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny were proven innocent. Thank you."
Kavanaugh won Senate confirmation over the weekend, earning 50 "yes" votes -- the fewest ever for any Supreme Court justice in the modern era.
He was accused of sexual assault and misconduct in the weeks before senators took their votes. He denied all the allegations.
Trump had previously been conciliatory toward Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, calling her a "good witness" and saying he respected her position very much.
"With all of that you cannot say that we've done anything but be respectful, and I do. I respect her position very much. I respect her position very much," Trump had said to reporters.
But Monday, Trump said the Democrats "tortured" Kavanaugh and his family over the accusations.
"I thought that the way they conducted themselves, the way they dealt with a high-level, brilliant -- going to be a great justice of the Supreme Court -- the way they really tortured him and his family I thought it was disgrace. I thought it was one of the most disgraceful performances I've ever seen," Trump said Monday morning.
Monday afternoon, during an address at a law enforcement conference, Trump blamed "evil" people for putting Kavanaugh in a "disgraceful situation" during his confirmation process.
"He's a great person and it was very, very unfair what happened to him. False charges, false accusations, horrible statements that were totally untrue that he knew nothing about," Trump said. "It was a disgraceful situation, brought about by people that are evil and he toughed it out."
The President lauded Kavanaugh, saying he "will be a faithful defender of the rule of law."
Trump had previously mocked Ford's testimony about the alleged assault, and Monday's comments continued the pattern of disbelieving her.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, at least 13 women accused Trump of misbehavior ranging from sexual harassment to sexual assault. They came forward in the wake of a 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape that was released in October 2016 in which he is caught saying on a hot mic: "And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. ... Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything."
The White House -- through press secretary Sarah Sanders and others -- has dismissed all the allegations against him as old news that had been litigated during the campaign.
The President has also voiced suspicion about the year-old #MeToo movement, complaining that allegations made decades later can ruin a man's life. He has questioned why women wait so long to come forward if they are telling the truth. Last week, he expressed concern for men in this moment.
"It is a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of," Trump told reporters. "This is a very, very -- this is a very difficult time. What's happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court justice."
CNN's Maegan Vazquez and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.
URGENT - Trump apologizes to Kavanaugh for sexual misconduct allegations during confirmation
New York Times: Top Trump campaign official requested online manipulation plans from Israeli company
There is no evidence Trump's campaign acted on any of the proposals by Psy-Group, a company staffed by former Israeli intelligence operatives, the Times reports, citing interviews and copies of the proposals the paper obtained. The campaign official, Rick Gates, was ultimately not interested in the company's work, a person with knowledge of the discussions told the Times.
Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team, who are investigating Russian interference and possible coordination with the Trump campaign in the 2016 presidential election, have obtained copies of the proposals and questioned Psy-Group employees, according to people familiar with those interviews, the Times reports.
The Times reports that the Israeli company's pitches appear unconnected to Moscow's interference campaign.
Psy-Group's owner, Joel Zamel, did meet with Donald Trump Jr. in August 2016, according to the Times.
Marc Mukasey, Zamel's attorney, said in a statement that Zamel is not a target of Mueller's investigation.
"Mueller has clarified from day one that Joel and his company have never been a target of the investigation and that Joel provided full cooperation to the government to assist in their investigation and we've never heard from them since," Mukasey said in a statement to CNN. Zamel was interviewed by Mueller's team last winter.
"Mr. Zamel never pitched, or otherwise discussed, any of Psy-Group's proposals relating to the U.S. elections with anyone related to the Trump campaign, including not with Donald Trump Jr., except for outlining the capabilities of some of his companies in general terms," Mukasey added.
Gates sought one proposal to use fake online profiles to attack Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Trump's main opponent at the time, in order to sway 5,000 delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention in Trump's favor.
A separate proposal related to opposition research and "complementary intelligence activities" about Clinton and people close to her, according to copies of the proposals obtained Times and interviews with four people involved in creating the documents.
A third proposal by Psy-Group outlined a plan to use social media to expose or amplify division among rival campaigns and factions, the Times reports.
How Kavanaugh maneuvered to win his confirmation fight
Over the past month, as Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his confirmation team navigated allegations from woman that he had sexually assaulted them in high school and college, a new -- and for some, an unfamiliar -- dynamic was at play.
Like his beleaguered predecessors, Kavanaugh recognized the President's own perception of him would largely depend on what he saw on his television screen. But he also recognized it was not Trump's view that mattered, but the four fence-sitting senators whose votes would determine his fate.
Over the course of a rancorous and divisive three weeks, Kavanaugh has been bolstered by a White House and Republican leadership intent on securing a fifth conservative justice on the high court, reshaping its balance of power. He has also benefited from a long tenure in Washington, with the connections and know-how to run a self-preservation campaign that drew on a close-knit high school community, his colleagues from the Bush era and the conservative media.
What he could not draw upon was a lengthy relationship with the President, who amply defended him but found himself admitting this week he barely knew the man he nominated.
"I don't even know him, folks. I don't even know him," Trump told a campaign crowd in Mississippi on Tuesday. "I met him for the first time a few weeks ago."
The President's introduction to Kavanaugh was orchestrated by Don McGahn, the White House counsel who viewed a second Supreme Court nomination process as his final act in the West Wing (the President summarily announced on Twitter in late August that McGahn would depart the administration once Kavanaugh was confirmed). McGahn and Kavanaugh are longtime friends; both served in President George W. Bush's administration and have deep ties to Washington's legal community.
In the early stages of Kavanaugh's nomination, McGahn and a team of White House officials oversaw the judge's courtesy calls on Capitol Hill and preparations for an initial set of hearings that came and went without much fanfare.
But as the allegations of sexual assault emerged in mid-September, a crisis management approach took hold, with Kavanaugh himself at the center of an effort to repair his reputation and salvage his prospects of becoming a Supreme Court justice. An initial approach that offered firm -- but still respectful -- denials eventually morphed into the indignant, politically-tinged rebuttal of "smears" that Kavanaugh offered in testimony before the Judiciary Committee.
In statements released through the White House, Kavanaugh's denials began stoically -- "I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation," he said of Christine Blasey Ford's claim he sexually assaulted her in high school --- but became steadily more forceful: "This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone," he said of Julie Swetnick's accusations he plied women with alcohol in college.
Meanwhile, Kavanaugh was reaching out himself to former classmates, hoping to ensure they didn't speak poorly of him to the press. A series of text messages and phone conversations from mid-September reveal how closely Kavanaugh was involved in contacting former Yale classmates who spoke to reporters about allegations of wrongdoing during his college years.
Fox News interview and controversial testimony
Working with White House aides, Kavanaugh agreed to sit for an interview with Fox News four days before his highly anticipated congressional testimony, an unprecedented attempt to humanize the traditionally removed public persona of a Supreme Court nominee.
The interview proved divisive within the White House. Some aides viewed Kavanaugh's steady denials as a salve for an overheated crisis that was quickly morphing into a debate about women and power. But others, including the President himself, felt Kavanaugh was rigid in his own defense, and that his admission he was a virgin into young adulthood distracting and uncomfortable.
More than anything, aides came to regret the interview because it was largely ineffective, particularly after Kavanaugh disproved the mild-mannered image in his highly-charged testimony days later.
Trump, who felt the Fox interview landed poorly, encouraged the more amped-up tenor during the hearing, according to people familiar with his thinking. Speaking a day before the event, Trump acknowledged he was viewing the matter through the lens of his own experience, which includes dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct over several decades that he has flatly denied.
"It does impact my opinion," Trump said during a rambling press conference in New York, where he was concluding meetings at the United Nations largely overshadowed by the Kavanaugh allegations. "You know why? Because I've had a lot of false charges made against me. I'm a very famous person, unfortunately."
McGahn, who sat behind Kavanaugh in the hearing room, also prodded for a more forceful tone. And that is what emerged during emotional and at moments impetuous testimony.
"This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit," Kavanaugh said, "fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups."
It was that very tone which later drew consternation from some of the uncertain senators and even a retired Supreme Court justice.
"The interaction with the members was sharp and partisan and that concerns me," Sen. Jeff Flake, a key Republican fence-sitter, said on Tuesday in an appearance at The Atlantic Festival in Washington.
In extraordinary criticism of a nominee, Retired Justice John Paul Stevens told a crowd in Boca Raton, Florida, on Thursday there is "merit" in the criticism that Kavanaugh "has demonstrated a potential bias involving enough potential (litigation) before the court that he would not be able to perform his full responsibilities."
Wall Street Journal op-ed to take the edges off
Those comments, along with a sense among White House officials that key senators had lingering questions over Kavanaugh's judicial temperament rather than concerns over the sexual assault allegations, led to an op-ed published Thursday evening in the Wall Street Journal.
"I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been," Kavanaugh wrote. "I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.
The op-ed was met with a mixed reaction at the White House. Some compared it to the earlier Fox interview -- a well-intentioned effort to soften the edges around Kavanaugh that nevertheless added, rather than reduced, the swirl of controversy surrounding him.
Two White House officials said it was Kavanaugh's idea to write the essay, and one official said Kavanaugh made the decision to write the piece against the advice of some on his confirmation team. Aides had argued against introducing a "new variable" to an already perilous equation so close to the confirmation vote. But he pressed forward with the op-ed anyway, believing the Senate needed to hear his mea culpa.
"He penned the op-ed because he felt like it was important for the full Senate to have before it in his own words something that sums up not just the last two weeks but the entire confirmation process and his life's record," a source close to Kavanaugh said.
Reaching out to classmates
The decision mirrored Kavanaugh's steps two weeks earlier to reach out to former classmates as some came forward to speak about their relationships with him decades ago.
Kathleen Charlton, who graduated from Yale in 1987, said a fellow classmate received a call from Kavanaugh several days before The New Yorker published Debbie Ramirez's allegation that he exposed himself at a dormitory party when he was a freshman at the university. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied Ramirez's allegation.
In a letter sent Wednesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charlton wrote the Yale classmate indicated that Kavanaugh was calling in the context of Ramirez's allegation. The classmate stated Kavanaugh wanted to make sure he would say "no bad" if contacted by the press, according to Charlton's letter.
The classmate said he told The New Yorker he did not remember anything about Ramirez's allegation, according to the letter.
When a reporter from another publication contacted the classmate to ask about the phone call the following day, the classmate sent Charlton an angry text on September 21 that stated, "Don't F-----G TELL (PEOPLE) BRETT GOT IN TOUCH WITH ME!!! I TOLD YOU AT THE TIME THAT WAS IN CONFIDENCE!! AND (the reporter) CALLS ME. WTF!"
The classmate proceeded to write, "She asked me about Brett contacting me. Three people knew that," according to text messages Charlton shared with CNN on the condition that the classmate's name not be used.
Charlton says she began contacting the FBI on September 30, even going through her senator to try to reach someone. She sent information about the texts to the FBI on Wednesday.
She said she decided to publicize the texts because, among other reasons, she felt Kavanaugh's communications were manipulative.
"It was obvious to me that Brett was trying to control the narrative of the alleged incident. I knew Deb and I couldn't imagine her making this up," Charlton said.
A separate set of text messages obtained by CNN suggest Kavanaugh contacted another Yale graduate regarding Ramirez's allegations.
On September 23, the day that The New Yorker published its article detailing Ramirez's allegations, Yale graduate Karen Yarasavage texted a friend and said Kavanaugh asked her to provide a comment for that story.
"Brett asked me to go on record and now New Yorker aren't answering their phones!" Yarasavage said, according to text messages she sent to Kerry Berchem, who graduated from Yale in 1988. NBC first reported the information in the text messages.
Berchem wrote a memo about the texts and shared it with the FBI and Sen. Richard Blumenthal's office, according to emails obtained by CNN.
Yarasavage was not quoted in The New Yorker article. In text messages, she said she could not recall if she attended the event described in Ramirez's allegations.
"I don't know if I was there. My story is that we were such close friends who shared many intimate details with each other and I never heard a word of this," Yarasavage said, referring to Ramirez as a friend.
Yarasavage did not respond to CNN's request for comment.
When asked about the texts, Berchem said, "I am in receipt of text messages from a mutual friend of both Debbie and mine that raise questions related to the allegations. I have not drawn any conclusions as to what the texts may mean or may not mean but I do believe they merit investigation by the FBI and the Senate."
Both sets of texts were sent in the days leading up to The New Yorker story that first published the allegations. As is normal journalistic practice, Kavanaugh had been contacted by The New Yorker for his response prior to publication, which read in part, "This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. This is a smear, plain and simple."
Republicans scramble to understand if Trump just sunk their immigration effort
After a day of confusion that threatened the future of the legislation, the White House issued a statement on the record that Trump supported the bill along with a more conservative piece of legislation.
"The President fully supports both the Goodlatte bill and the House leadership bill. In this morning's interview, he was commenting on the discharge petition in the House, and not the new package. He would sign either the Goodlatte or the leadership bills," White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement.
After toiling away for weeks on a hard-fought compromise bill that tackled border security and even delivered Trump his campaign promise of a border wall, Republican aides and members involved in the discussions were taken aback by the President's impromptu interview with Fox News on the White House lawn where Trump insinuated he wouldn't support a bill that had been negotiated with his administration's involvement. Many members were desperate to believe that the President had either been referring to another bill or would reverse course later in the day -- while conservatives cheered the President as rightfully demanding changes to the bill.
One White House official who was watching the interview in a room with others said there were audible gasps when the President made the comment as staff immediately realized the potential consequences of the President's remarks.
On Friday afternoon, Trump tweeted, but it did little to settle the question of where he officially stood on the compromise legislation.
"The Democrats are forcing the breakup of families at the Border with their horrible and cruel legislative agenda. Any Immigration Bill MUST HAVE full funding for the Wall, end Catch & Release, Visa Lottery and Chain, and go to Merit Based Immigration. Go for it! WIN!" Trump tweeted.
Before the on-the-record statement, the White House official told CNN on Friday after the tweet that Trump did indeed support the House compromise immigration bill, despite saying otherwise in the morning. The same person admitted that Trump's tweet had done little to clarify his position.
The official also said that congressional leadership had reached out to the White House to express their unhappiness with the President's comments.
The White House official said Trump "misunderstood" the question on Fox about the moderate immigration bill and that the President thought he was referring to another moderate effort, a rare procedural move known as a discharge petition that would have forced a series of immigration votes on the House floor including on bills that didn't have the backing of GOP leaders.
The lack of clarity led GOP leaders to put their plans for the bill on hold.
One GOP whip aide told CNN, "It's pretty basic. We aren't going to whip anything unless it has Trump's support. That's why we need more clarity."
The confusion engulfed the House chamber during the last vote series of the week and was emblematic of an exercise that members have managed before during tax revisions and health care where Trump famously held a celebration of an Obamacare repeal bill in the White House Rose Garden only to turn around and call the bill "mean" later.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a moderate Republican from Florida, told reporters that he was confident Trump would sign the legislation.
"I think it's important for everybody to take a deep breath, look at the bill, judge it on its merits, not what people are saying about the bill," Diaz-Balart said.
But the entire episode revealed how often Republicans expect Trump to change his mind.
Mark Walker, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, told CNN that he believed Trump's earlier comments were not necessarily definitive.
"With the text just coming out (Thursday) who knows what kind of full briefing there has been on it. I think the part of it he will like is the trigger mechanism that if the appropriation, funding and the spending on the wall is not delivered on then there is no other part of the bill," Walker said.
"He keeps us all excited about how we are going to get things done," Rep. Dennis Ross, a Republican from Florida and supporter of the compromise bill, told CNN.
Conservatives, meanwhile, said the President was rightly demanding more aggressive measures. Rep. Scott Perry, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said the President was right to voice opposition to the compromise bill and said he hopes Trump doesn't walk back his statement.
"I think he's correctly gauging where the American people are on the issue and informing the legislature that they've got to go back and do some more work," Perry said.
Mark Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, was adamant the President was not confused about which bill he was talking about.
"That is not accurate," he said.
Stormy Daniels' lawyer says to expect more evidence of alleged Trump affair in coming weeks and months
Michael Avenatti, the attorney for Stormy Daniels, said new evidence will likely be brought forward "over the next few weeks and months" that will help prove Trump was aware of a $130,000 hush agreement drawn up by Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and executed just before the 2016 election.
"It is just the beginning," Avenatti said on "New Day." "We have a whole host of evidence. This is not going away. And Mr. Cohen better come clean for the American people, and they better do it quickly."
Avenatti said on NBC's "Today" later Monday morning that Daniels is prepared to share "intimate details" about Trump.
"She can describe his genitalia, she can describe various conversations that they had that leave no doubt as to whether this woman is telling the truth," he added.
Cohen has said Trump "vehemently denies" any affair took place. Earlier in March, attorneys for Trump and for Cohen's company, Essential Consultants, filed to move Daniels' lawsuit claiming the nondisclosure agreement is invalid to federal court. They claim Daniels could owe in excess of $20 million for violating the agreement.
On CNN last week, David Schwartz, a lawyer for Cohen, argued that there was "nothing illegal about" Cohen's payment of $130,000 to Daniels as part of the nondisclosure agreement. "And given the context of this relationship, there's certainly nothing unethical about it," he added.
On CNN, Avenatti wouldn't get into details about his claim of evidence related to the alleged affair, which Daniels says occurred more than a decade ago, but said his team is "only getting started."
"We're going to prove that Mr. Cohen's statements to the American people are false, that at all times, Mr. Trump knew about this, knew about the $130,000, was fully aware of it, and with the assistance of Mr. Cohen, sought to intimidate and put my client under a stump," Avenatti said.
Government shuts down as lawmakers still searching for a deal
This is the first modern government shutdown with Congress and the White House controlled by the same party, and it comes on the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration.
Trump's White House however immediately blamed Democrats for the shutdown.
"Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country's ability to serve all Americans," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement moments before midnight. "We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators."
Trump and his representatives had been labeling the event the "Schumer shutdown" after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, but the New York Democrat was quick to call it "the Trump shutdown."
"It's almost as if you were rooting for a shutdown," Schumer said from the Senate floor. "And now we will have one. And the blame should crash entirely on President Trump's shoulders. This will be called the Trump shutdown. This will be called the Trump shutdown because there is no one, no one, who deserves the blame for the position we find ourselves in than President Trump."
Sixty votes were needed to advance the bill to keep the government open for four weeks. Republicans only control 51 seats, so GOP leaders needed Democratic votes to cross that threshold. It failed 50-49.
Key issue is setting a date
One of the key issues Friday has been just how long to extend funding. The House passed a measure Thursday night to continue funding the government through February 16, and that measure is the one that failed in the Senate early Saturday morning. Democrats have pushed for a shorter-term continuing resolution of a couple days. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who said he would not vote for the House proposal, pushed a plan to keep the government open until February 8.
After the vote, McConnell said he will offer a new continuing resolution to fund the government through February 8. McConnell said he wanted to introduce it during this early morning session, but he wasn't able to for procedural reasons and it wasn't clear if that measure would have enough Democrats it to advance.
"I'll be offering an amendment to change the date to February the eighth," McConnell said around 12:30 a.m. ET. "Unfortunately we'll not be able to get that vote tonight ... And that's the date the senator from South Carolina, the senior senator from South Carolina that I've been talking about, Democratic leader and I have been talking about, which begins to move a little bit close to our friends on the other side said they wanted to be. but a reasonable period of time."
Two GOP sources say that Graham's three-week compromise idea wasn't by accident -- it is the off-ramp on the table, if Democrats are willing to take it.
"It's a live option," one of the sources said -- one Democrats have been told is an acceptable change for Republicans. The big question, the sources said, is whether it goes nearly far enough for Democrats who've listed a litany if reasons for their opposition.
Two sources say Democrats have pitched a new continuing resolution that would expire on January 29, the day before Trump's State of the Union address. Republicans are not willing to consider that, one source said.
Trump showed his support for the House plan of a four week extension just hours before that vote was scheduled.
"Excellent preliminary meeting in Oval with @SenSchumer - working on solutions for Security and our great Military together with @SenateMajLdr McConnell and @SpeakerRyan. Making progress - four week extension would be best!" Trump tweeted Friday evening.
White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" that as efforts continue to reach an agreement, "we're in a weekend so we have a little more flexibility here."
House Democrats prepare for shutdown
Rep. John Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat, told reporters that the House Democratic leadership team concluded at their meeting Friday night there would be a government shutdown and the group expected it to last through early next week.
"I think it is almost 100% likely that the government will shut down for some period of time -- now my guess is it won't go past the first of the week -- in which the disruption won't be particularly severe," said Yarmuth, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
Pelosi gave a very brief overview to the leadership team of what Schumer told her about his meeting with the President. According to Yarmuth, Schumer laid out what his priorities are and the President said he wanted the Senate to pass the House bill. Asked why the meeting lasted so long, he quipped, "Well, Trump repeats himself, that's what I understand."
Yarmuth expected the House, which was scheduled to be out of session next week, would likely come back just for a day to approve some type of stopgap bill.
"There are all sorts of things being discussed apparently, from one day to three days, to five days, to three weeks to four weeks. Four weeks being the president's position." He said Democrats would be fine with backing some type of short term continuing resolution.
Some Democratic aides for progressive members have been worried that Schumer would cut a deal and give away leverage on some of their priorities, but Yarmuth insisted that the House and Senate Democrats are "in 100% agreement on this and totally working hand in hand."
House members had been scheduled to be on recess next week, but many said they weren't going home until they knew there was resolution.
"I'm not going home if the government shuts down," said Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson.
Rep. Austin Scott, a Republican from Georgia, told CNN that he was also prepared to stay, although he added "Mitch McConnell needs to stand and fight."
Details of the Schumer meeting
Earlier Friday, Trump called Schumer and invited the New York Democrat personally, a person familiar with the plans told CNN.
Trump's chief of staff John Kelly was the only White House official present at the meeting, a person familiar told CNN.
McConnell was not at the meeting, a source said, adding that he and Trump have been in touch during the day by telephone. Neither was Ryan, who was addressing the "March for Life" rally around the same time. McConnell and Ryan were aware that the White House was going to invite Schumer to the White House, one Republican source said.
"We had a long and detailed meeting," Schumer told reporters in brief remarks he made upon returning the Capitol, but he did not include any specifics from their discussion. "We made good progress and will continue."
Schumer then met with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin in his office.
"I think the leader made a statement that progress had been made but much more needs to be done," Pelosi told CNN upon leaving Schumer's office.
"It's in the hands of the leader," Durbin told CNN.
White House aides made clear to GOP staff this morning there was no daylight between the President and Hill Republicans this morning, especially on immigration, according to two sources.
Still, some congressional leaders eyed the Schumer meeting warily.
When asked by CNN if he was worried about Trump meeting with only Schumer, Sen. John Cornyn responded, "The thought did cross my mind."
This story has been updated and will continue to update with additional developments.