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20 Dead in Limousine Accident in New York; Outrage Grows in Turkey over Missing Journalist; New Details on Self-Destructing High- Priced Banksy Painting; Melania Trump Responds to Wardrobe Critics. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 8, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amy was having her three sisters join her on this birthday celebration over the weekend here.

And also, Amanda Halsey, we heard from her younger sister, who returned to the scene today. I had an opportunity to speak to her a little while ago. I want you to hear how she is remembering the last time that she saw her sister, Amanda.


KARINA HALSEY, SISTER OF CRASH VICTIM: Well, the last time I did see her was last Saturday. Me, her, and my mom all went to a flower shop in Vermont. It was just a quick little getaway. Took about an hour to get there. It was just a nice get-together for all three of us girls to have a nice day out. And I think it was a nice sendoff, I guess. Because that would be the last time I would ever see her in person.


SANDOVAL: That last sweet memory that Karina Halsey is left about her older sister, who is among the passengers who were in that limousine. She traveled here to see where it happened and try to find out how it happened, Brooke.

Finally, I should mention the reason we're no longer at the crash site is because state troopers essentially pushed news crews out of the area for now, asking that they leave the region as the National Transportation Safety Board flies their drone overhead to try to map the area, try to see or find some of those crucial clues that will maybe answer the question of how this actually happened -- Brooke?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, I can't presume why they hired a limo, but it's not lost on me that they were in this limo, going to a brewery for a birthday party, doing the right thing. So they would not be drinking and driving.

Polo Sandoval, thank you very much.

Coming up next, did the Saudi Arabian government murder one of its most vocal critics? A prominent journalist who entered the Saudi consulate has not been seen since. Could security cameras reveal what happened? And what will the Trump administration say?

And a million-dollar prank. New development on the high-priced Banksy painting that self-destructed after getting a high bid of $1.4 million. Who was behind the stunt? How did they pull it off? And what does the buyer get after all of this? We'll have details, next.


[14:36:21] BALDWIN: More than six days after a prominent journalist went missing in Istanbul, and reports maybe that he could have been killed, Turkey is demanding Saudi Arabia provide answers on his whereabouts. The journalist in question is Jamal Khashoggi, a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia's government. He was living in self-imposed exile in United States and was writing opinion pieces for the "Washington Post."

He was last seen Tuesday entering the Saudi consulate to collect marriage papers for his wedding in a few days. Khashoggi's fiancee, who waited for him outside the building, said he never walked back out.

Turkish officials now believe he may have been killed while inside. Saudi Arabia are is denying any involvement. But the very same day Khashoggi vanished, some 15 Saudis went to the consulate.

U.S. officials say they cannot confirm what happened to him, but two senior administration officials tell CNN that the U.S. is, quote, "Quietly trying to figure out what happened to Jamal Khashoggi."

On Friday, the "Washington Post" printed a blank space where Khashoggi's column would have run.

My next guest is an opinion writer for the "Washington Post" and has experienced dangerous censorship on behalf of a foreign government. Jason Rezaian was imprisoned in Tehran for a year and a half for his reporting about Iran and the government there. He is also a CNN global affairs analyst and he knows Khashoggi personally.

So, Jason, thank you so much for coming on with me today.

And first, let's just start on what you do know. Are you hearing anymore on the investigation? Are you any closer to knowing whether he's even alive?

JASON REZAIAN, OPINION COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Well, Brooke, I think that that's one of the most disconcerting things about this. We're six days into it, and we don't know much more than we did a few days ago. And just listening to your intro, you know, I'm flabbergasted that two countries that we have close relationships, close security relationships with, are involved in this situation and six days on, we still know so little. I find it hard to believe, almost impossible to believe that at least one of those countries doesn't know what's going on here.

BALDWIN: Remind us why the Saudi crowned prince may have wanted him silenced. REZAIAN: Well, Jamal had been writing quite a lot of columns for us

over the past year. As we know, the crowned prince and the Saudi government have been pushing this idea that they're undergoing a lot of reforms and modernizing and becoming a more open society. But Jamal was pushing back on that, writing articles about crackdowns on dissenters, on activists, people who had been imprisoned over the past months. And you know, was not himself a dissident, but was a critic. And someone who was highly read by people here in the United States and also in the Middle East.

BALDWIN: There are some reports, Jason, that he asked his fiancee, as we mentioned, to wait outside that building for him. Do you think he had any idea that the potential danger that he was walking into?

REZAIAN: So, I think that, you know, over the recent months, he had expressed some concerns about his safety. He also, you know, was the subject of a lot of attacks on social media. And I think rightfully, anybody writing about authoritarian governments in this age should be concerned about their safety, but I don't think he had been tipped off in any way, that he was in imminent danger. Otherwise, I don't think he would have gone in.

[14:40:05] BALDWIN: I mean, you, yourself, have experienced, you know, being censored by a foreign government in a terrifying way.

And here's the "if," Jason. If it comes out that the Saudis did orchestrate his coming or, heaven forbid, something worse, what should this White House, what should this Trump administration who has a friendly relationship with Saudi Arabia, do?

REZAIAN: Well, with I don't want to speculate on what may or may not have happened. And we hope that we're going to get better news and that these reports turn out to be false. That being said, over the past year and a half or so, this administration, the rise in attacks on the freedom of the press around the world have increased exponentially. Journalists are being killed. Another journalist was raped and murdered in Bulgaria just over the weekend. This is something that the United States in the past has been very vocal about around the world. And I think we should be more vocal now.

BALDWIN: You think we should be more vocal now, as in, you think President Trump or this White House should be more vocal now?

REZAIAN: I think as a nation, as a government, we've always been defenders of the freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and really valid, you know, strong opinions and the reporting of the truth. And we should get behind that again. It's so important now more than ever and we see the ramifications of not standing up for those ideals more and more.

BALDWIN: I have one more for you, Jason. And that is that Jamal had several times talked about his fears of, you know, not complying with government demands. He worried for his family.

Here he was speaking with CNN's Hala Gorani. This was from last year.


JAMAL KHASHOGGI, JOURNALIST: I received a phone call ordering me to go silent with no court decree, with just someone from the royal court, an official from the royal court, who was close to the leadership and ordering me to be silent. That offended me. And what every other one can go through. I know others, before they were arrested, they had to go through security and sign pledges, not to contradict the government.


BALDWIN: What about him made him so undeterred to keep writing?

REZAIAN: Well, I think, first and foremost, most importantly was his love of country and his belief that Saudi Arabia could do better. He was very, very clear on that in his columns and in personal conversations. And I think that he wanted to believe that the country would change, but knew that if he and others were silenced, the likelihood of that was less and less. And I just, I -- I hope that we get Jamal back and get his voice back, because it's such an important one.

BALDWIN: I hope so, too. I hope so, too.

Jason Rezaian, I really appreciate you. Thank you.

REZAIAN: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Going, going, gone. Moments after the highest bid of $1.4 million, a Banksy painting self-destructs, leaving the entire art world stunned. We'll talk to an art critic about why parts of the story still don't quite add up.

And after calling Christine Blasey Ford a good witness and saying her story needed to be heard, and then mocking her testimony just last week, President Trump is now calling her accusations of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh a hoax set up by the Democrats. We'll talk about that, coming up.


[14:48:03] BALDWIN: It is one of the most bold and bizarre stunts in our history. After the gavel fell Friday at Sotheby's auction, this painting from legendary graffiti artist, Banksy, suddenly self- destructed. The painting had just sold for $1.4 million before it was shredded. Watch.





BALDWIN: So, in seconds, part of it was sliced into strips by a hidden shredder that Banksy revealed he built into the frame years ago. Banksy summed it up on his Instagram, "Going, going, gone. What happened?

CNN international correspondent, Erin McLaughlin, is with us, as is art critic, Estelle Lovatt.

Erin, a lot of loose ends here. You have this artist, Banksy, right, this long-standing mystery, the buyer is a mystery, Sotheby's is saying, we don't know what happened. What are you hearing from people who were in the room?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's interesting, Brooke. People in the room tell me that up until the point of this sale, it was a very staid, very stuffy event. Multiple pieces of art selling for millions of dollars. This was the last item to be auctioned off, the iconic Banksy piece, the girl with the balloon. The gavel went down, $1.4 million total in sale. And then all of a sudden, according to people in the room, the item started to beep and then partially shred. People were absolutely shocked. And then, of course, asking some serious questions. Banksy, himself, only providing partial answers in the form of an Instagram post that he made on Saturday, showing a man fitting the frame with this shredder, saying that he installed it a few years ago, in case it ever went up for auction. As for what triggered the shredding, people in the room say they saw a man wearing glasses and a hat with some sort of remote control. He was stopped by security. I asked Sotheby's, was that Banksy, and they didn't say.

[14:50:29] BALDWIN: Estelle, you've been in the art world a long time, was this a prank? Was this a stunt, or is this art?

ESTELLE LOVATT, ART CRITIC: Some people even call it a performance art. Not only did the gavel drop, but jaws dropped. And the whole of the audience in Sotheby's became part of this art experience. And what makes it such a unique piece is that this is the one and only time that Banksy has sort of taking the baton from the great Dada and made what we didn't think possible as art into an art event, taking the stuffy old auction house routine of selling to just rich collectors and rich art connoisseurs into making it a bit of fun and a bit of humor for everybody. Everybody had access to this over social media.

BALDWIN: So, if it is exactly as you are describing and it was an art performance and this thing first went for $1.4 million, did Banksy just up the value of this piece?

LOVATT: Oh, my goodness. You know, this is such an unusual story. Because, of course, Sotheby's has never had anything like this before and they're scratching their heads thinking, what happens if the buyer wants to pull out now, because, of course, under the careful watch of the auction House, they have to preserve the artwork as a whole piece. That didn't happen. If the buyer pulls out, he won't do that. You know why? Because he's doubled his money.

BALDWIN: Doubled his money with a shredded piece of paper. I'm trying to wrap my head around this. But it's Banksy, and it's art, and there you have it. Extraordinary stuff.

Estelle and Erin, thank you very much. Banksy's prank.

Coming up, first lady, Melania Trump, has been getting a lot of criticism for some of her wardrobe choices on her first solo international trip, like this one, the colonial-era hat here. How she's responding to the critics.

And Florida is on notice as Hurricane Michael strengths in the Caribbean. We have the latest forecast for you on where and when it is expected to make landfall.


[14:57:08] BALDWIN: First lady, Melania Trump, is back in the United States after a whirlwind six-day, four-country tour through Africa that was her first big solo international trip. We saw the first lady feed baby elephants in Kenya, and in Malawi, on the second stop in her tour, she visited children in a school and handed out books.

But in Kenya, when she wore a white pith helmet, Twitter went bananas, slamming her for the colonial look.

And we rarely hear from the first lady, but before she left Africa, she did have this to say.


MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: We just completed an amazing trip. We went to Ghana. We went to Malawi. We went to Kenya. Here we are in Egypt. I want to talk about my trip and not what I wear. And that's very important, what I do, what we're doing with USAID and what I do with my initiatives. And I wish people would focus on what I do, not what I wear.


BALDWIN: So let's talk to CNN White House reporter, Kate Bennett, who was on that trip to Africa.

And, Kate Bennett, I read one quote from an historian, quoted that hat as she was wearing was comparing her hat to "showing up on an Alabama cotton farm in a Confederate uniform." And she says, "Please don't focus on what I wear." How can we not?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, that was a misstep. And Melania Trump, her gaffes seem to be clothes associated. We remember her "I really don't care, do you" jacket, and now she is wearing a hat that brought up some very bad memories of a time in this nation that's really not a time that people want to recall, necessarily. And I think it really goes to show how every "T" needs to be crossed, every "I" needs to be dotted. I certainly don't think she wore the hat to send any sort of message about that or, you know, intentionally. I think it was certainly just a real gaffe, a real misstep in terms of what she wore. And it certainly really, really lit up the Internet, as you said. People found it, frankly, insulting. BALDWIN: They did.

The first lady also said that she doesn't always agree with the things that her husband writes on Twitter, joking that she has actually asked him to put the phone down. Here she was.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mrs. Trump, can you describe your role advising your husband. Some people interpret some of the decisions you've made, such as coming to Africa and some of your tweets as a way of sort of not necessarily undermining, but poking at him a little bit, trying to influence him. Can you describe that?

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I don't always agree with what he tweets, and I tell him that. I give him my honest opinion and honest advice and sometimes he listens and sometimes he doesn't. But I have my own voice and my opinions and it's very important for me that I express what I feel.

[15:00:04] UNIDENTIFID REPORTER: So sometimes you are trying to steer him maybe to be a little bit more polite in his public discourse and to maybe be a little more sensitive to -