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State Department Provides Update On Reporter's Disappearance; Hurricane Devastation; President Trump Calling The Federal Reserve Crazy Certainly Is Noteworthy For The Fact That It Is Against Protocol; First Lady Melania Trump Is Opening Up. Aired: 3-3:30p ET

Aired October 11, 2018 - 15:30   ET


HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: We simply said when you come back, provide us a report, provide us a readout of what you've looked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And who spoke with him from state?

NAUERT: I don't have any information for you on that, but we've had exchanges at multiple levels at the State Department. Hi, Abby (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've answered one part of my question, but the other question was Reporters Without Borders requested or asked that the UN step in to have an investigation into this. Is that something that the US would support ?

NAUERT: I am not aware of it. You're telling me about that, that's first I'm hearing of it. So I don't have - I am not aware of that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Generally speaking, do you have any comment on the UN ...

NAUERT: I am not going to comment. I'm just not aware of that.

DANA BASH, HOST, NEWSROOM: You're listening to the State Department, a briefing with Heather Nauert there. Not giving a lot of answers, being direct in saying that she has no plans to until and when the situation works itself out, so to speak, so not a lot of answers there at the State Department.

I do now want to go to an opinion writer for "The Washington Post," who has unfortunately experienced very dangerous censorship on behalf of a foreign government, not just being censored, but being in prison.

Jason Rezaia was in prison in Tehran for a year and a half for his reporting about Iran and the government. He is also CNN's global affairs analyst and knows Khashoggi personally. Jason, I really appreciate you are being here. This hits home for you on a lot of levels because of your experience and because you've worked with him. So I'm so sorry for all of that. What have you heard?

I'm asking you to put your reporter hat on and also to tell us from the perspective of "The Post" about the fate of your friend.

JASON REZAIAN, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CNN: Yes, Dana, I think that, I've heard a lot, just as everybody else following the story has and what we're hearing doesn't really match up and 10 days on, there's still more questions than there are answers. It's very disconcerting for us here at "The Post" but also in the journalistic community at large.

Because we're facing a situation where on the soil of a NATO ally, in the diplomatic mission of a very close ally, one of our contributors has disappeared and potentially murdered in a really gruesome way. We're searching for answers and at the same time we're also searching for accountability and wondering what the American response will be to this and what the international response will be at a time when journalists around the world are facing greater and greater threats to their safety and security.

BASH: Well, that's an understatement. The Foreign Relations Chair in the senate, Bob Corker, said today that the Intel points directly at the Saudis. He also said this - take a listen.


BOB CORKER, US SENATOR, TENNESSEE, REPUBLICAN: I mean, I think they did it and unfortunately, I think that he's deceased. But they certainly could produce him and change the narrative there.


BASH: And you've just heard, I am sure, the end of the State Department briefing there wouldn't go there, but that's a pretty high- ranking official making a statement. He said "I think" not "I know," but he's going pretty far out.

REZAIAN: Well, and I've been encouraged to seen so many people in the Senate and in Congress and other aspects, elements of government agencies coming out and saying, "Hey, we need a more robust investigation and we need more answers. I think the initial response was slow but over the past few days, its increased in intensity.

And I think to the extent that he was willing to talk about it, the President kind of made clear that American business relations with Saudi Arabia are not going to be undermined by the potential murder of a journalist.

I think, you know, that's very scary, disheartening and goes against a lot of the values of our country, if that's the attitude that he's going to take, but it's a level of clarity that, you know, is quite shocking.

BASH: And Jason, just on a personal level, you know, what goes through your mind as somebody who was a victim of cross currents, diplomatic cross currents just trying to do your job, to know what we think might have happened but, you know, the best case scenario, perhaps, sources are saying maybe he's in prison and obviously, that is something you dealt with for a year and a half in Iran. What is going through your mind right now?

REZAIAN: First and foremost, I hope that Jamal is still alive and that he is freed and returned to us here at "The Post" and is able to travel freely and live his life, as he should be able to.

But at the same time, I think that the number of these instances as I said earlier is just rising so much and the fact that it's one of our own here at "The Post," we're able to shine a very deep light into the situation and give a very clear picture of who Jamal was and the sort of work that he was doing ...


REZAIAN: ... and the sort of voice and important stories that he was telling from Saudi Arabia and about that country and you know, those things are so essential to kind of creating a better picture of a case like this. Jamal wasn't really doing anything wrong. And you know, he did not deserve anything that may have happened to him. And you know, I just hope that the government of Saudi Arabia or Turkey or whoever is responsible is held accountable.

BASH: And the President is saying that he's not going to stop this, you know, $500 million arm sales deal, but you're already seeing as we're speaking senior members of Congress saying "Whoa, whoa, whoa, not so fast." So we'll see how that plays out.

Jason, thank you so much for sharing your insights and your personal story. Appreciate it. Coming up, CNN is on the ground in Mexico Beach, Florida where residents are getting a first look, as is CNN, at the damage caused by Hurricane Michael. Plus right now, the Dow is taking another dive after yesterday's 800-point drop. Hear who President Trump is blaming.


BROOKE BALDWIN, HOST, NEWSROOM: Welcome back to Mexico Beach, Florida here. I'm Brooke Baldwin and this is special live coverage in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, Category 4.

And for those of you who have been watching us here today, I mean, it's rare that we're able to bring you this live signal. It's rare that we're even able to get in here in the first place. We're told the FAA has since closed the airspace and we're getting special permission to be able to leave.

But what you see behind me, what you've been watching for the last two hours, this isn't the worst of it. This is just one sliver of the rest of this three-mile stretch of Highway 98. We didn't say, "Hey, let's find the live shot with the worst backdrop." This is what it looks like as far as the eye can see.

Just to give you perspective of this seaside town, close knit, especially for people who live here year round. Year round, you've got about a thousand to 1,500 people when it's really moving and grooving, it's about 10,000 people I was told and just to see this place entirely leveled and to walk with people who have come upon what was their home - I was with a woman earlier today who could only tell where her home was because of how the pathway was paved in concrete 11 years ago when she first moved here to Mexico Beach. The rest of it was totally gone. I mean, I'm just silenced looking around at the pieces of homes,

someone's hot tub is turned around and upside down. People's homes because of this tremendous storm surge, easy for me to say, 13 feet, carried homes across this highway and landed them upside down. This is just a sliver of the worst devastation down here in Florida.

I also just want to give a special thanks to our pilot with Timberview Helicopters out of Destin, Florida for flying us in and giving us this opportunity to show you how bad it is.

When we come back, we've been talking to various fire and rescue folks who are here, who are still going door to door because there is no specific death toll in Mexico Beach. We know the storm has claimed six lives total, but it is still so early. That's what I've heard from the guys who came out from Miami Fire and Rescue, it's still so early to be able to put a number on it here in Mexico Beach. But the Cajun Navy is here. They are rescuing folks. We are going to talk to someone who has been working really hard here in this Florida heat on this Thursday afternoon. Stay with me. We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: We're back here in what's been described as ground zero of this Hurricane Michael here in Mexico Beach, Florida, and I've got John Billiot on the phone with me with the Cajun Navy and John, I am where I think you were earlier today and I understand you and your guys were trying to help folks here. Those of whom who tried hunkering down and riding the storm out and then it was actually even pretty emotional for you just given what you saw. Can you talk me through some of that?

JOHN BILLIOT, MEMBER, CAJUN NAVY: Yes, America Cajun Navy, I just want to get that out there, but we went out there Tuesday afternoon and left Louisiana about 10:00 that morning and we got out there and we started helping evacuate people. People that waited until the last minute or people that didn't have a legitimate, you know, ride out of there. Started bringing up people from the beach, out to Panama City, and whenever we started doing that, I think it was probably Wednesday afternoon by lunchtime, maybe 1:00, and we could tell that it was starting to get bad.

So we hauled another group to the shelter, turned around, went back and made onto the beach, picked up another group of people and after we were coming back, it started to hit real hard. We could see the waves that had 15 to 20-foot waves. I was there, so we hurried up and left Panama City Beach. We get on the bridge, and I never thought that, you know winds would actually pick up that fast, and as we were crossing the bridge, the bridge ...


BILLIOT: ... we experienced about 100 to 125-mile-per-hour winds, decided to call it quits, you know, drop them off to at the shelter and went back to our safety point at the Holiday Inn on Martin Luther King, decided to get everybody in, and that's when it really started hitting hard. We got really emotional as windows started busting. They had some babies out there, you know, that were there. One of the babies, one of the windows blew out and cut the baby all up and cut up a few of the moms, the aunts, a whole bunch of people, and - and the front door actually blew in.

In the midst of that, they had boarded up the front of the hotel, all the windows and it got real bad, I'm going to say 200-plus miles an hour winds, and all the plywood flew off of the hotel and demolished our personal truck which was hooked up to our service trailer, and demolished, I want to say probably about six or seven more vehicles out there, and when I say demolished. I'm saying that we had 2 x 4s and plywood that blew through my windshield and through my two passenger side windows. I've got to hold - it looked like you would have took a knife and cut through deep, that's what it actually looked like on the side of my truck.

Also, you know, we had some debris that flew and hit the manifold and the (inaudible) hood, so, right now we're actually headed back. We just left. We're headed back to Lafayette, Louisiana to get, you know, to drop off my personal truck and get some mechanic on the bus and military truck because that one-mile per gallon kind of stunk, you know. It was real, real loud as you could hear, so it's been a real, real emotional roller coaster ride.

BALDWIN: For you and for so many people out here, I mean, you talk about houses being moved by the storm surge. I have seen now the aftermath of the homes crossing highways, upside down, you name it. I've seen it, and - I just - you know, there was a man by the name of John, talking about your car.

I've seen so many windshields shattered because people were trying driving out and dodge, and having trees fall on their cars. One guy was able to give us just battery for me to do this live shot off of his car that was pretty banged up from slamming into a tree. This is what it's like out here right now. John, thank you so much. I appreciate it. American Cajun Navy. I got you. Safe travels back to Louisiana and back. Quick break. We're back after this.

BASH: We are moments away from the closing bell, and the Dow is down more than 400 points, after plummeting 800 points yesterday. President Trump seems to be putting the blame squarely on the chairman of the Federal Reserve. Let's get straight to Jim Tankersley. He is a tax and economics reporter from the "New York Times." Jim, calling the Federal Reserve crazy certainly is noteworthy for the fact that it is against protocol, but what about what it really means and whether he has any validity to what he's saying.


JIM TANKERSLEY; TAX AND ECONOMICS REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: I think we can very safely say that the Federal Reserve is not acting crazy right now. It's been telegraphing interest rate increases steadily for more than past year, so it's not like suddenly overnight the Fed decided to hike up rates quickly an chaos has ensued.

The market knew what was coming. The President knew what was coming. The President doesn't like it and he's been criticizing the Fed for months now, but this is not in any sense a crazy move that we're seeing.

BASH: And a Fed Chairman that he himself appointed, we should add that. What about quickly the tech stocks that we're seeing, what's happening?

TANKERSLEY: Well what we're seeing is some concern because rates are going up, because Treasury rates are going up, Treasury yields are going up. Some concern maybe that companies won't be able to borrow as cheaply and that could impact growth and so there's a bit of a selloff. Now the question is whether that's going to be a big selloff. We've now seen two days of it, but definitely it's a dive for a couple of days.

BASH: Thank you so much for that very brief, but very important bit of context there and reporting. Appreciate it. And coming off her first solo trip abroad, First Lady Melania Trump is opening up. She is saying she is one of the most bullied people in the world, if not the most.

The revelation came as she explained what made her create the Be Best initiative which aims to combat bullying.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened to you personally or what did you see personally that you thought you are going to tackle this issue?

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADE OF THE UNITED STATES: I could say I'm the most bullied person on the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think you're the most bullied person in the world?

M. TRUMP: One of them if you really see what people are saying about me. That's why I - you know, my Be Best initiative is focusing on social media.


BASH: And the First Lady also talked about how she watches her husband's back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has he had people that you didn't trust working for him?

M. TRUMP: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you let him know?

M. TRUMP: I let him know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did he do?

M. TRUMP: Well, some people didn't work there anymore, and it's very difficult sometimes because I'm so busy with my office, I don't get involved with the West Wing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think there's still people there that he can't trust?

M. TRUMP: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still working now?

M. TRUMP: Yes.


BASH: Joining me now, CNN's Kate Bennett. Kate, we have so many things to unpack there in just a little bit of time. V First of all, the irony of Be Best, saying that she's the most bullied person in the world. You have the floor, my friend.

KATE BENNETT, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, CNN: Well, I mean, listen, she's faced this criticism since she announced it in March. She said I know that tackling this issue, I know there are critics out there. She's aware of it. She said she's going to do it anyway. Certainly, I don't think her husband's behavior is going to change in terms of bullying, but I think what she's trying to do here is get a little bit of sympathy for herself and also try to deflect that into focusing on Be Best.

BASH: And do you think by saying that she's the most bullied person in the world that will engender that sympathy? I mean, now - and I'm not asking for your opinion, I am asking based on what your sources are saying after this interview has played and the reaction.

BENNETT: Right, I don't think the reaction has been a whole bunch of empathy for her saying that she's the biggest bully, of course, we've had a lot of - Michelle Obama takes a lot of bullying if you want to put it that way in the White House. I mean there are many, many people are saying that she's put herself in the spotlight. She's married a celebrity. She's now First Lady, it sort of comes with the turf.

A couple of years ago on the campaign, she said I have a thick skin, don't feel sorry for me and now two years later, having actually been there, it sounds like a different story.

BASH: And Kate, she did say publicly what you and I have heard for a long time. She has a lot of power when it comes to the political advice that she gives to the President, but also there is a lot of tension between the East Wing as you call it, the First Lady's office and many people who work for her husband.

BENNETT: Completely agree. It is a very interesting scenario, and certainly she's wielding some power there.

BASH: Very much. We're going to get more on that I'm sure as the days and weeks come up. Maybe we'll hear and see more of the First Lady. Kate Bennett, thank you so much. I'm Dana Bash. "The Lead" with Jake Tapper starts right now. [16:00:00]