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Missing Saudi Journalist; Trump Winning Streak; Storm Churning in Caribbean; Workers in High Demand. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired October 8, 2018 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Support that or explain how they reached that conclusion. And this is something that has been denied by Saudi officials saying these are baseless allegations. People here are telling us the United States needs to be doing more. President Trump needs to be putting pressure on his allies, including the crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, to try and get answers, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Right. Exactly. And such an important ally, you know, both of the United States in the region, but the White House not saying anything at this point has so many people scratching their head.

Jomana, thank you for the reporting live for us from Istanbul this morning.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And, a reminder, he was a or is a U.S. permanent resident.


SCIUTTO: So some responsibility there.

Let's discuss now with Rula Jebreal. She knows Jamal. A journalist, foreign policy analyst in the region.

Thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

First, let me ask you, you spoke to him recently before his disappearance and you say that he was concerned for his safety?

RULA JEBREAL, JOURNALIST: Yes. Jamal kept expressing this idea that he thought that the Saudi will come after him. He saw his friends, his colleagues being arrested. The crackdown in Saudi Arabia exponentially went out of control. And he kept calling out and using his column in "The Washington Post" to denounce the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman. He even calling him Putin at a certain point, which is bizarre because 12 years ago, another journalist was killed, Anapolitaskia (ph), and 12 years after we have the regime, the Russian regime, committing another crime using even chemical weapons inside the U.K. That tells you that these tyrants, well, there's no line that will stop them. There's no norm, and no rule that will, in any way, will stop them until they are stopped by somebody else.

And Jamal was saying to all of us that the Saudi regime, especially Mohammad bin Salman, is considering him as enemy for the simple fact that he was expressing his opinion. He was concerned about that. Like, all of us who feel that the United States -- he's a U.S. resident, as you mentioned. He worked for "The Washington Post." And if the United States, the leader of the free world, keeps calling journalists enemy of the American people, enemy of the people, this will give license to every tyrant around the world to go down and did and commit acts and crimes against journalists and against people who simply want to express their opinions.


SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, because you've been -- you've been particularly critical of the U.S., of the Trump administration's silence on this. And you tweeted -- you tweeted the following, that this sends a message to all dictators that America is first and foremost transactional, willing to trade away basic human rights. How meaningful would it be for the Trump administration, the president, the State Department to come out and question its ally, Saudi Arabia, on this, get answers to what happened here?

JEBREAL: Well, it would not only -- it will make Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, think twice before he commits another act like this. We know that Jamal Khashoggi was on a black list. He was asked not to tweet. He was banned from tweeting and from writing. Then he left. He came to the United States because he understood that his life was in jeopardy. Now that he is in the United States and he is a permanent residence, that he is somebody who writes here about issue that is very relevant to America's national security, foreign policy and economic interest is that this administration will stay silent, it will embolden others. So they will come out and they will come after anybody, whether you are Saudi citizen or not Saudi citizen, that criticize or dare to criticize this Saudi crown prince.

This is a rogue state. This is even worse than Gadhafi. This is Gadhafi on steroid. And if he is not stopped, he will commit even further crimes and acts against anybody.

We saw what's happening in Saudi Arabia. He's cracking down on dissidents, on women rights activists. He is cracking down on even people who are tweeting, for simple tweeting. They are disappearing and they are being killed.

The reports about Jamal that he was lured into the embassy with these documents and he was killed inside a consulate and dismembered. These are the reports from the Turkish police. If these reports are accurate, and the administration, the Trump administration, stays silent on this, this will give a green light to every dictator around the world that the country that enshrined in its First Amendment free speech is a country that cares no more, no more about not only free speech, about human rights and they will basically escalate in their attempt to silence every critic, every journalist and all our lives, not only of Jamal and the likes of Jamal. That's why the answer to this murder will be more -- more (INAUDIBLE) approach in every newsroom. We need more Jamal's to speak about the region and the actions of these dictators and tyrants. Saudi Arabia is a rogue state and we need to treat it as such.

[09:35:18] SCIUTTO: Well, it's a story we're going to keep following, no question.

Rula Jebreal, thanks very much for taking the time.

JEBREAL: Thank you for having me.

And I would like to say something. Kudos to "The Washington Post" for reporting and allowing Jamal and many like Jamal to report about the region. And it's time for us, really, to look at the region for what it is and how they treat their citizens, not what we would like it to be. Not this myth that Mohammed bin Salman tried to portray here in America.

SCIUTTO: Thank you, Rula.

JEBREAL: Thank you.

HARLOW: And to that point, we're going to have Jamal's editor, Karen (ph), of "The Washington Post," joining us next hour.

Ahead for us now, the Supreme Court is back to a full nine justices. Republicans feeling emboldened, heading into the midterms. A lot of wins for the president in the last week. So how should Democrats respond? A veteran of the Clinton administration will join me next.


[09:40:14] HARLOW: All right, now Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation vote, squeakier (ph) though it was, capped off a momentous week for President Trump. It started with a (INAUDIBLE) and breakthrough in trade talks with Canada, replacing NAFTA. Then another drop in the unemployment rate to levels not seen since 1969. But installing a staunch conservative in what for 30 years was a swing seat on the nation's highest court is undeniably for Republicans a crowning achievement.

So, what do Democrats do about all of this?

With us now to answer that question and a few more, Joe Lockhart, CNN political commentator, former White House press secretary under President Clinton.

Nice to have you.


HARLOW: Quite a week for the president.


HARLOW: What do you do about it in the midterms? LOCKHART: Well, I think it's very simple, get out the vote and get out

the vote and get out the vote. I think, you know, the one thing that also happened last week that we're going to hear a lot more about is "The New York Times" 18-month investigation showing that the president is guilty of tax fraud, according to the authors there. But I don't know that that's going to happen between now and Election Day.

HARLOW: And he won, frankly, as you know, Joe, when people didn't see his tax return.

LOCKHART: Sure. Sure.

HARLOW: So I'm just not sure how much that changes things --

LOCKHART: Yes. That's --

HARLOW: Nor -- well, nor do I know if it changes things that, you know, yes, you have the tax cuts and you have this unemployment number, but you also have deficit exploding tax cuts reaching --


HARLOW: You know, $1 trillion next year.


HARLOW: You have, you know, tons of regulations cut back. Will the trade bullying of China work? All -- the jury is still out on all of those.


HARLOW: But does it matter in the midterms?

LOCKHART: Well, in the midterms, if you go out and you look at the ads, people are running both Democrat and Republican, Republicans have abandoned trying to sell the tax plan because I think people saw it as something for the rich.

What you see primarily is ads about health care. That is really the driving issue. And that's a problem for Republicans.

HARLOW: So a lot of Democrats -- and you'd like to see them run on thing like health care. But they're also running on things like abolish ICE, right? And here's a warning from, yes, a Republican, but a governor who seems to call it like he sees it on both sides these days, and that is Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio. Here's what he said yesterday.


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: What do I think is going to happen in the midterms? I think it's going to be a good year for Democrats. How good? I'm not so sure because if their message is abolish ICE and things like that, they're not going to have a big wave.


HARLOW: Is that a message you think your fellow Democrats should heed?

LOCKHART: I think that you're hearing that from Democrats in urban safe seats. You're not hearing it from Democrats who are challengers in these toss-up races or lean Republicans. That's --

HARLOW: Why don't -- you're also hearing it on the statewide level from someone like Kirsten Gellibrand, right?

LOCKHART: Yes, and she's got a safe seat. She's -- she's -- she wins with 70 percent of the vote. So I don't think that -- so I think the people who have very competitive races are talking about health care, they're talking about Trump. And I think, you know, as they get out the vote earlier and being -- be more specific, get out the women's vote. The gender gap right now is bigger than it has ever been in history.

HARLOW: Right. Right.

LOCKHART: And the -- and the last two weeks are going to add to that.

HARLOW: And we just see -- there's a new "Washington Post" poll out this morning on these 69 swing districts, most of which went Republican.


HARLOW: If you look at just women, you've got 54 percent of women favor Democrats in that, over 40 percent of Republicans. What do you do when you hear Mitch McConnell echo the phrase we heard from Jon Cornyn during the Kavanaugh hearings, which is the sort of mob mentality, mob rule.


HARLOW: Do you think that Democrats should heed any of those warnings, if you will, not go after conservatives out in public at restaurants, et cetera --


HARLOW: Walking to their car? I mean is there a message here?

LOCKHART: Yes, I -- listen, I don't think people should bother anyone having dinner. I don't want to go to any Republican senator's house right now.

HARLOW: Right.

LOCKHART: And I think that's wrong when both sides do it. And both sides do do it.

But the important thing is not the -- you know, bothering someone at the restaurant. It's who they're talking about when they're talking about as a mob. These are -- the mob, who are women coming forward and sharing their stories of being sexually assaulted. And I have to guess -- and I know this from conversations I've had -- when Donald Trump couldn't call neo-Nazis and anti-Semites in Charlottesville a mob, he said good people on both sides, but he calls women coming forward with their own stories of sexual assault an angry mob, that has to resonate.

HARLOW: Thank you, Joe.


HARLOW: We've got -- how many days to go? Thirty days to go? Something like that?

LOCKHART: A lifetime.

HARLOW: I know it's close.

A lifetime, there you go.


HARLOW: Thank you very much.


SCIUTTO: Less than a month. We're going to be on it.

In other news, 26 counties in Florida are already declaring a state of emergency as a powerful tropical storm strengthens as it moves into the Gulf.


[09:48:12] SCIUTTO: Well, it doesn't seem that long since Florence --

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: But now Tropical Storm Michael gaining strength in the Caribbean, taking aim at Florida's panhandle.

HARLOW: Twenty-six counties across Florida right now are under a state of emergency as this storm is gaining strength and nearing the coast.

Chad Myers tracking it all in the Severe Weather Center. What are we looking at?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we're looking at landfall somewhere between 50 and 60 hours from now, which doesn't leave you a lot of time to prepare or get down to your home and do something to it or put away even the patio furniture if you're not living right there. This is a storm right now at 70 miles per hour, likely today, turns into Hurricane Michael. It's already raining in The Keys, but really this is not a Keys event. This is a panhandle event. Anywhere from Apalachicola over toward Pensacola. And, in fact, maybe even Tallahassee, even though it's inland, that will be a lot of wind knocking down trees in that area here. [09:50:05] Hurricane hunter aircraft just found a wind speed of 66.

That's not a hurricane just yet. But later on today, it will get stronger. It's in very warm water in the Gulf of Mexico. It's still -- it's bath water in there still. I mean it's like obviously October, but this is some of the warmer air, warmer water around here. It will be 110-mile-per-hour storm by Wednesday after midnight Tuesday. So you see how close and quick this is because the Gulf isn't very big.

With most of the storms, we see them, they're in the middle of the Atlantic. We have days and days and days to prepare. Not with this one. This could be a 130-mile-per-hour storm making landfall there. It makes a huge difference. Huge whether. It hits Apalachicola or Panama City. It's significantly different topography and also land mass use compared to Destin, Panama City or Mexico Beach, or, for that matter, St. Marx (ph), way over here, where there's not many real locations there with big cities.

It will run it right over the top of Tallahassee, though. Need to prepare there for maybe some long-term power outages with all of those trees will, one, the roots will be wet because of the rain, and then the winds will start to knock some over.

Here's the European and the American model. The European in the yellow. The American in the red. We'll keep watching. It's still a couple days away, but you need to get some things done today and certainly tomorrow. That's it. That will be your -- your time's up after that.

SCIUTTO: Yes, those red and yellow arrows, not too far apart.

Chad Myers, thanks very much.

In other news, SpaceX celebrating a major milestone this morning, safely landing a rocket -- that's right, landing a rocket in California. SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 rocket last night from Vandenberg Air Force Base. It delivered a satellite into orbit and eight minutes after launching the rocket's booster returned safely to base. That is a first for SpaceX, for a SpaceX launch on the West Coast, although the company has done it several times in Florida. It hopes to recycle those boosters, making rocket launchers more affordable. And it seems very futuristic, does it not, Poppy Harlow?

HARLOW: It's amazing to see what the private sector has done, whether it's Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, in space, and in, you know, in this arena. So, yes, it's great to see.

So turning the page here to a very important and very tragic story we've been following. Four sisters and a newlywed couple on their way to a birthday party over the weekend are among the 20 killed when their limo crashed in a park -- into a parked car at this really, really fraught intersection. We're going to have the latest on the investigation ahead.


[09:57:29] HARLOW: All right, only 29 days until the midterms. Holiday shopping season official begins, 45 days. Think one has nothing to do with the other? Think again.

Christine Romans is with us with more, our chief CNN business correspondent.

What does one have to do with the other?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, to quote James Carville, it's the economy, stupid.

HARLOW: Right.

ROMANS: And you're going to have 650,000 people being hired for part- time holiday jobs. And those are going to be the highest paying jobs in a long time. It looks as though retail jobs, those seasonal wages, are going to be up 54 percent from last year. In part because Amazon is going to pay $15 an hour, Walmart's paying $11, Target is paying $12. But these holiday workers are in super high demand and that's something clearly voters will be feeling. I mean this 3.7 percent unemployment rate, the lowest unemployment in a generation, it's just a really good time right now to be trying to get a job.

The holiday workers in particular, look at this, can you believe this, some non-cash incentives. Employee discounts. Paid time off.


ROMANS: JCPenney is offering a chance to win a paid vacation, a $5,000 vacation, to (INAUDIBLE), New York City or Miami. Retirement benefits. I've never seen seasonal work in such demand. And it is just, I think, emblematic of how strong the economy is, the labor market is right now for these seasonal jobs. They're going to be working real hard to try to get your time and your business.


ROMANS: For more on holiday retail and on jobs and the tight labor market and how strong the economy is and tech, media, and finance, go to the new CNN Business. We've got exclusive interviews with newsmakers, we've got in-depth coverage of the companies driving business. You can find it at, Poppy.

HARLOW: OK, Romans, thank you so much. Appreciate it.


SCIUTTO: Well, as we keep reminding you, the midterms now less than a month away. We want to know what's motivating you to vote. Every day we're hearing from a range of voters in our new segment, "Why I'm Voting." Our intention here, get out to where you are, to hear what is concerning you. And today voters from New Jersey to Texas tell us what's on their mind leading up to the big vote.


SCOT CARCASI, VOTER FROM CAMADO, TEXAS: I'd like to see some commonsense gun control policies. I'm a gun owner. I have raised my children around firearms. Nothing too radical one way or the other. Just, let's meet in the middle and find something that's going to benefit us all.

JUSTIN HANNA, VOTER FROM SAVANNAH, TENNESSEE: I mean, I'm not tired of winning yet. I mean, the economy is booming. The military is stronger. I mean that -- what else do we need, really.

LYNN NAKASHIAN, VOTER FROM SOMERSET COUNTY, NEW JERSEY: I'm the child of Armenian immigrants. I think looking at some of the folks who want to come to this country, just to give them the same opportunity as my family had.

FRAN PROFFER, VOTER FROM GERMANTOWN, TENNESSEE: I want to make sure that the Republicans hold the Senate and the House so that we can follow Trump's agenda from the last presidential election.


[10:00:12] HARLOW: All right, we're going to bring you that every day.