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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Six Dead In Wake Of Hurricane Michael, Florida City Obliterated; Interview with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Aired 7-8p ET
Aired October 11, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: "ERIN BURNETT OUT FRONT" starts right now?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Out front next, wiped out, Hurricane Michael taking out entire towns and at least six people are dead, including a child. Tonight, the powerful storm leaving much of the panhandle looking like a war zone.
Plus, a U.S. official saying the working assumption is that a "Washington Post" contributor was murdered. My guest, Senator Lindsey Graham who said there will be hell to pay if the Saudis killed him. Is President Trump on the same page?
And the f word dropped in the Oval Office. Kanye West's bizarre meeting with President Trump. Let's go out front.
Good evening, Everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. Out front tonight, catastrophe. Hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms to hit the continent of the United States in decades roared across Florida's panhandle in a matter of hours. In its wake, whole towns were destroyed, businesses wiped out, much of the panhandle a disaster area.
You're looking at Mexico Beach. This really just amazing. It is now called ground zero for Hurricane Michael. The once thriving beach town now gone. Listen to one man's description of what happened as he was riding out the storm there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The water came in, houses started floating in front of our home and stuff. We had furniture in our house that wasn't even our furniture. The surge had brought stuff in so bad. It was like the walls collapsed and everything and stuff, and so the only thing I could find of ours was my briefcase.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Hurricane Michael's death toll is rising. At least six people, including a child have been killed. And that number is expected to rise. Tonight, a search and rescue operations continue, this is what they're facing. Fallen trees, blocking roads, countless homes destroyed, each needs to be searched for anyone who could be trapped. One rescuer with the volunteer Cajun Navy had this sobering message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never been scared of a storm a day in my life, and this one right here put the fear of God into me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Got to think a lot of people probably feel that very same way there tonight.
Miguel Marquez is live tonight in the heavily damaged Mexico Beach, Florida. He's joining me now. Miguel, what are you seeing?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Devastation. An entire city that is almost wiped off the face of the earth. I want to show you what you're looking at behind me. That was 24, 36 hours ago, beautiful homes, businesses, a beach side community. Now, it is barely even stilts at this point. It has been wiped clean down to the foundation. Much of this town looks like this.
As you look across 98 here, 98 is sort of the road along the beach here, huge chunks of 98 are gone, washed away in this storm, and right across the street, what should be a thriving beach community is now complete devastation. There's one house around here that is standing but just barely on its stilts, but all of the walls are blown out and the roof is blown out. There is an area where emergency services is gathering to start going through, house to house, looking for survivors.
There's about 165 search and rescue personnel from both Louisiana and Florida who are here on scene. There's also a ton of people gathered round a service station right at the main part of town at 98 and the public pier, the Mexico Beach public pier that is nearly gone. Several of them asked me, begged me to let the world know that they are alive and well.
If I can, I just want to read off a few names. Robin Retzloff. Her family is in Michigan. She wants them to know she is OK. Dawn Vickers and her entire family and their three dogs, all of them are OK. Robert Brock, he is OK. David Siebert wants his mother in Mobile, Alabama, to know he is OK. And Annette Coffield and her 92- year-old mother, who is wheelchair bound, she's OK. I just spoke to them. They looks like they're getting on an ambulance shortly and getting out of here, but there is a massive effort that is just starting to take root here to take care of the basic needs of people and those search and rescuers just starting to get through the neighborhoods to look for people.
We have certainly heard that there are many people who -- that there are people who are missing here and there is a lot of concern about what is going to become of this community. It is just -- the devastation is unbelievable. Getting here was extraordinarily difficult, and then when you get here, it is just shocking to see. It is literally like a massive bomb went off and just flattened the town and knocked down trees for a good 30, 40 miles leading into here, just nothing but forests of trees that are knocked over, absolutely incredible to see. Kate?
[19:05:11] BOLDUAN: I have to say, Miguel, it is so -- no matter what you're looking at, it is such a relief to hear you reading names of people to make sure that they're loved ones know that they are OK. That they are all right tonight. It is such a relief to hear that.
You talked about how difficult. It's hard to even broadcast from there because all the cell phone towers have really been wiped out. What was it like trying to get into Mexico Beach?
MARQUEZ: It took us about three hours. We went a very long way around from the north and then down south, and there was one bit of it that was particularly difficult. There's a lot of trees down but most of those have been at least chopped through so you can get through very small corridors but there was one section where several miles of nothing but trees across the road, the road was just green with trees. There was -- you couldn't even see the road, so everybody had to sort of wait, one-way traffic along the side of the road next to a running little brook that was, you know, threatening to sort of draw you in because it was getting muddy with all the cars going back and forth on that.
It was not a sort of drive you'd want to do every day. It was shocking to see the number of trees that have just blown over and snapped about the middle and are now just laying all in the same direction. I mean, it's incredibly neat and tidy to see the way that the wind was blowing and how all those trees blew the exact same way. Kate?
BOLDUAN: And nothing neat and tidy about this scene behind you. It's hard to believe your eyes and what you're looking at tonight. Miguel, thank you. I appreciate it.
And unfortunately, it may be days if not weeks before there is any real relief for much of the Florida panhandle at this point. Our Brian Todd is out front.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the air, Mexico Beach is a wasteland, homes and businesses around this Florida gulf coast city took the brunt of the storm, obliterated by winds as high as 155 miles per hour. This was a middle school gymnasium. This was a mobile home park. This was an apartment complex.
In some areas, nothing is left but a concrete slab. Bryan Waddell says, as the storm came ashore, he hid in his bathroom.
BRYAN WADDELL, PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA: This was probably the most scared I've ever been in my life. For a while, I didn't know what was going to happen or, you know, I was trying to call people. We didn't have no cell phone service, but the wind was really, really, really bad.
TODD (voice-over): Florida Governor Rick Scott says officials are assessing how long recovery will take with damage reports still coming in.
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: This hurricane was an absolute monster, and the damage left in its wake is still yet to be fully understood. Today, the top focus is search and rescue.
TODD (voice-over): But those efforts are being hampered by impassable roads, something we discovered as we tried to make our way into Mexico Beach. Downed trees and power lines are making it nearly impossible for first responders to reach certain areas.
KEVIN DALY, CLEANING STORM DAMAGE: Everything's complete destruction. All the trees are down, power lines are down, we've just been cleaning roads all morning long.
TODD (voice-over): And those who rode out the storm away from their homes can't get back.
DONNA PADILLA, COASTAL RESIDENT TRYING TO GET HOME: It's not good. It's not looking good. We've got reports that it's bad. Very bad.
TODD (voice-over): Florida officials say thousands of rescue personnel are on the ground along with dozens of helicopters and boats to help pull people out. Meantime, there are nearly half a million people without power across Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. Tens of thousands of utility crews are working on restoring electricity, but officials say it could take many days.
TODD: And tonight, more than 24 hours after the eye wall of this storm passed over this region, these are the obstacles that are still impeding first responders trying to get to those isolated areas. Massive downed trees like this one here in Tallahassee, downed power lines, very treacherous to try to get around, just 24 hours, again, Kate, after the storm hit, these are the frustrations that first responders are still going through, trying to get to those isolated areas. We witnessed volunteers coming out with chain saws, trying to cut through these impediments just to get ambulances through and they're still having trouble tonight getting into those isolated areas, Kate.
BOLDUAN: And the frustration is only going to mount as the day start piling on. Brian, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
I want to show you now some of the damage in Panama City, Florida. These are pictures of the destruction at Saint Dominic Catholic Church just from today. And I also want to show you these pictures are what the church looked like before the storm. Just look at that.
Here with me now is Father Luke Farabaugh. He's from Saint Dominic Catholic Church. He's with me tonight. Father, thank you for being here.
REV. LUKE FARABAUGH, CHURCH SUFFERED MAJOR HURRICANE DAMAGE: Of course. Yes. BOLDUAN: This is your church. This is your congregation. The before and after, seeing those pictures, is just startling. You see all of this around you tonight, and what do you think?
[19:10:08] FARABAUGH: Yes, it's surreal. Like earlier they were saying that a bomb went off. It feels like that with all the trees down. I'm standing here in the parish hall. This is where we have our services after our masses, and we have our bookstore to my right and as you can see, cinder blocks.
We have, you know, metal frame doors. Our roof is completely off. This hall is ruined. The church building has significant damage. The stained glass window, we have, you know, glass everywhere, flooding. Our apartments next to our -- next to the church have sustained severe damage, so we're really hurting over here. Our offices, recently renovated, are just a disaster. So, yes.
BOLDUAN: So, for perspective, where you're standing right now, Father, should be indoors?
FARABAUGH: Yes. So, this is the parish hall. So, as -- I'll step back so you can get a little better view. This would have been the roofing structure, and just glass is everywhere. I'm standing in glass.
Our house on campus where the priests stay, the roof started slapping during the storm. So at that point, we went to the stairwell and it was just howling wind and you could feel the pressure in your ears just like you were in a plane, just going through different altitudes. It was crazy. And all my clothes are ruined. I'm actually wearing the associate priest's clothes, so it's really devastating. My whole closet was soaked with rain and all the insulation has just come down, so half the house is ruined. It was just a really -- it was a very scary event.
BOLDUAN: Do you know if everyone is accounted for from your congregation?
FARABAUGH: OK, so we've been sending out texts and calling. AT&T works right now. Verizon doesn't. So we've been sending out texts and calling. We haven't accounted for everyone so we know the people that have stayed, there's some that I'm still getting -- even close friends that I'm trying to get ahold of, so we haven't heard from everyone. A lot of the evacuees are asking how we're doing but we're still worried about those people who are in town.
BOLDUAN: Yes. I'm really struck just seeing you there that you're experiencing this, you're dealing with, I mean, trauma and loss, but there are going to be a lot of people looking to you, turning to you for comfort in the aftermath of all of this. How do you do that?
FARABAUGH: Yes, yes. So we were in the neighborhoods actually earlier just to see -- you know, my pastor keeps saying that things are replaceable but people aren't so we've been, you know, going around and just making sure that, you know, everyone's OK at this point. And things, we can replace, but we've seen a lot of signs of hope.
Actually, this afternoon, we celebrated mass at 4:00 p.m. and the survivors in the apartments came and it was a really beautiful service. We offered it in thanksgiving to God and it was very powerful. We did that at 4:00 p.m. We're planning on doing that in the days to come.
BOLDUAN: That's really powerful. What do you do now, Father? What is your message to the community when all it looks like behind you is despair?
FARABAUGH: Yes, I mean, I've been saying that the difference between hope and optimism, you know, optimism says that, you know, the storm's not coming or, you know, maybe my car will survive, you know, being just optimistic. But hope is that, you know, even if the storm does come, even if I lose my car, my house, my family, even if I lose my life, blessed be God.
And so I've been telling people, you know, to have hope, you know, that our, you know, our reward isn't just in this life but in the life to come. So we're just trying to give people hope at this point.
BOLDUAN: Hope might be hard to find but just a sliver of it can give you something. Father, thank you so much.
FARABAUGH: Amen. Amen. Yes. God bless you.
BOLDUAN: Thank you. Please be in touch. That's amazing.
BOLDUAN: An important story tonight.
Out front for us next, AccuWeather storm chaser Reed Timmer, he's been with us all week as you know, throughout the hurricane season, and he is saying that this is a storm like no other. He is out front next.
Plus, a top Republican says everything points to Saudi Arabia in the disappearance of a "Washington Post" contributor. What will the United States do about it? Senator Lindsey Graham is my guest.
And Kanye West unloads in the Oval Office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He might not have expected to have a crazy mother -- like Kanye West, not political, no bull -- put the beep on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Yes. That really happened.
[19:18:38] BOLDUAN: Tonight, devastation as far as the eye can see. Hurricane Michael now the most powerful storm the hit the continental United States since 1992. At least six people are confirmed dead at this moment. More than 1 million customers across 6 states are without power because of Hurricane Michael.
One of the first to start reporting on the devastation on the ground in Mexico Beach is our own Brooke Baldwin. She spent the day out there. She's out front now back in Destin. Brooke, it was amazing to see you on the ground earlier today when you were able to get in there and establish a connection. Can you even describe what you saw?
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN REPORTER: It's actually really tough to -- you know, devastating. It's all gone. It was leveled. But, you know, it's one thing -- six fatalities, right? You just reported six fatalities is what we know of so far in the wake of Hurricane Michael and I talked to all these fire and rescue, the few that were able to get in there right around when we did this morning, and they were going door to door, you know, knocking, trying to see who had survived, who needed medical attention, and in some cases, who didn't want to leave and trying to coax them out and they were saying, quite bluntly to me, that that number will go up.
It was just too preliminary because it was so difficult to get into Mexico Beach today. I mean, the fact that we were able to get in and be live was pretty extraordinary.
[19:20:01] We started our morning early. We jumped on this helicopter, and we were able to land just shy of when they had closed the air space. So it's only, for the next couple of days, it's closed. We were able to get in, walk along highway 98, and just looking from the left to the right, I mean, where we had to set up and do our live -- my live show today, wasn't just the worst of it. You know, you often -- you come into these towns and you cover tornados and hurricanes and mass flood events as we all have and you find the worst of it.
But everywhere in Mexico Beach was the worst of it, Kate. You know, houses, because of the 13 feet storm surge and the 155-mile-an-hour at its worst winds managed to pick homes up and toss them, you know, a football field and a half on the other side of the highway and in front of somebody's front yard as somebody, you know, was sitting in their home and watching this all happen. Those who chose to stay and ride it out. It was devastating, Kate, to look at.
BOLDUAN: And you spoke with some folks who were on the ground who rode it out and thank the Lord that they survived it, but is it -- do they think it's even livable there right now?
BALDWIN: Oh, it's absolutely not livable. It's unsanitary. Between the heat today, the smell that starts right because of the water, because of who knows what's in the water, you know, it is absolutely not safe.
I talked to one man who decided to ride it out because a lot of people thought, all right, category 2, I'm a hardy Floridian who's been through hurricanes before and he's one of the ones who told me, you know, how everyone I talked to today who decided to ride it out thought at different moments that their life was going to end. He had a neighbor whose home was gone, and he knows she rode it out. That's my point about death toll changing once they're able to get in and assess.
But on either side of this roadway, most of the homes were leveled, except for the newer -- some of the newer structures. You could tell they had different hurricane provisions, more recently, did make it, but that was few and far between, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Do these folks regret staying? I mean, now it's kind of past the point but do they regret being there after this?
BALDWIN: I think they would say what's the point of regret. They would say they're grateful that they have their health. You know, I think the best point of our day, if I can just selfishly, as a journalist, was giving these people our satellite phone because there's no cell service in all of Mexico Beach, and to be able to let them call loved ones to tell them that they're OK was -- it just wonderful for them and for all of us just because no one really knows. And it's the unknown that I think got so many people emotional just thinking about, all right, we made it, now what, right?
Now it's just a matter of, we saw people coming into town and trying to pick out any bits and pieces of their home. Was there a photograph? I saw a guy who actually found a briefcase of his from his home that was destroyed. I mean, somebody else's sofa, somebody else's refrigerator landed in his home, and it's those precious pieces of one's life as you start to think about rebuilding.
BOLDUAN: Yes. And it looks like, from all of your video, it looks like it's going to be a long, long road for rebuilding for a lot of those folks in that community. Thanks, Brooke. Thanks for bringing us the stories.
I want to show you now some other incredible video that we were seeing, a woman being medivacked (ph) out of the Panama City neighborhood by the coast guard. She was taken to a local hospital. She is now in stable condition but that is not the kind of ride that anybody wants to be taking in the middle of a storm. The coast guard says that they found her after being signaled by flashlight from good samaritans who were concerned for their neighbor in distress.
Joining me right now is Vice Admiral Scott Buschman, he's operational commander of the Atlantic area U.S. Coast guard. He's in Mobile, Alabama. Admiral, thanks for being here.
VICE ADM. SCOTT BUSCHMAN, OPERATIONAL COMMANDER U.S. COAST GUARD: Good evening. Thank you very much for having me.
BOLDUAN: Thank you. You've been out and you were out all day seeing this from the air in a helicopter. How widespread would you describe what you saw, the damage?
BUSCHMAN: Yes, I got to see some of the damage from the air. Much in the Florida panhandle today. Once you get east of Panama City, you certainly see some significant damage. I got to fly over Mexico City -- Mexico Beach where it came ashore and the damage there is certainly catastrophic. You see homes destroyed, buildings destroyed. You see power lines down. Complete forests of trees down. And you see boats strewn about, boats sunk, and boats moved very large distances, so very catastrophic damage where it came ashore.
BOLDUAN: Let's talk about the mission of the coast guard right now. What are the biggest challenges that your teams are facing as they're trying to do their jobs, trying to rescue folks?
[19:25:02] BUSCHMAN: We prepared for this storm very, very hard, for days in advance, working with the state of Florida and FEMA to be ready for this. We were able to get our air crews out there as soon as the weather cleared last night. We got five helicopters out there, several fixed wing aircraft out there. They conducted 17 rescues last night.
We have some of the best air crews in the world. They have to be at their best when the elements are at their worst, but even for our air crews, these are extremely challenging conditions when they're flying at nighttime. They're given a lat and longitude position, they lower (ph) someone down there, gets them close to the position. They're near trees, near downed power lines, they're near debris floating in the water so these are extremely challenging conditions for very, very well trained crews.
BOLDUAN: Yes. What's your biggest concern right now as the mission is far from over?
BUSCHMAN: Well, we rescued with us and customs border protection, saved or assisted about 120 people. Certainly concerned that there's more people that need to be rescued. We noticed a number of a reduction this afternoon in the number of requests for our assistance to rescue people.
However, we are still very concerned about anyone that may need assistance and are working very closely in a very coordinated fashion with the state of Florida and all the first responders to continue to render assistance to anyone that needs it.
BOLDUAN: When do you think -- do you have any guess yet when you think the rescue phase of this will be over?
BUSCHMAN: I'm not going to make a conjecture on that. I will tell you the coast guard and rescue and first responders will be there and while we need to be there and people need to be rescued.
BOLDUAN: And people always appreciate that. That's for sure. Admiral, thank you so much for coming in.
BUSCHMAN: Thank you very much for having me.
BOLDUAN: Thank you for doing what you do.
Out front for us next, a top U.S. senator says all signs point to Saudi Arabia killing a "Washington Post" contributor. His long-time friend tells us about his fear of the Saudi government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He knew they will do something very bad to him, either put him in jail forever or kill him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: From that, there's also this. Kanye West's very bizarre visit to the Oval Office.
[19:30:31] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Breaking news. The United States is working assumption is that missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the last place that he was seen before he vanished without a trace. That's according to the U.S. official familiar with the latest intelligence.
This as President Trump vows to find out what happened to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to find out what happened. He went in and it doesn't look like he came out. It certainly doesn't look like he's around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Jim Sciutto OUTFRONT.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, a senior Republican senator tells CNN that he believes the missing journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, is dead and that Saudi Arabia is likely responsible.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: The intel points directly at them, and them thinking about this in advance, and I think they did it, and I -- unfortunately, I think that he's deceased.
SCIUTTO: CNN has confirmed that the U.S. has intercepts of Saudi officials discussing a plan to lure Khashoggi back from the U.S. where he lived to Saudi Arabia and detain him there, taking him from the consulate is believed to have been the back-up plan, though it is unclear if there was ever a plan or intention to kill him.
U.S. officials say Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would likely have had to approve of such a plan, but caution that he may not have known the specifics of the operation.
Senator Lindsey Graham warned of, quote, a bipartisan tsunami if the Saudi government is proven responsible.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Behavior like this is unacceptable. It violates every international norm. It can't be condoned and the way we deal with Saudi Arabia will be a message to others.
SCIUTTO: The Saudi government vehemently denies any involvement.
Turkish police say they have evidence otherwise. Their assessment is that Khashoggi was allegedly killed at the consulate. "The New York Times" citing Turkish officials who say his body was cut up into pieces with a bone saw and taken out.
CCTV cameras captured Saudi government vehicles leaving the consulate less than two hours after Khashoggi entered, then driving to the consul general's compound. Turkish authorities have identified 15 Saudi men as persons of interest, several of them caught on camera arriving in Istanbul hours before Khashoggi disappeared.
Saudi sources tell CNN that one of them is a former diplomat and intelligence officer, another a forensics expert.
Khashoggi himself, his friends tell CNN, long feared what the Saudi government would do to him if he ever returned to his home country.
(on camera): And he suspected they wanted to detain him when he went back.
KHALED SAFFURI, FRIEND OF JAMAL KHASHOGGI: He knew they will do something very bad to him, either put him in jail forever or kill him.
So he had all these bad scenarios in his mind. That's why he had no plans to go back. He didn't trust promises. He didn't trust guarantees because it's worth nothing.
SCIUTTO: According to the Khashoggi's friend, he was invited back to Saudi Arabia as recently as May, offered a position as an adviser to the royal family. Khashoggi, we are told, saw through that. He saw through it as a plot to lure him back to his home country to imprison him, Kate, or worse.
BOLDUAN: Jim, thanks so much.
OUTFRONT now, the senior senator from South Carolina, Republican Lindsey Graham. He sits on the Senate Armed Services and Judiciary Committees.
Senator, thanks for coming in.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Can you give me your sense right now, is Jamal Khashoggi dead, and did the Saudis kill him?
GRAHAM: Well, with every passing day, it looks increasingly likely that he's dead, and the most logical explanation is that he went into the consulate, he never came out, and the Saudis had something to do with it. We'll know more in the coming days, but I've never been more concerned about his wellbeing than I am right now, and all the indicators point to Saudi Arabia.
And if it turns out to be Saudi Arabia, as I've said before, there will be all hell to pay.
BOLDUAN: What other signs are you looking for, if all signs are pointing there now?
GRAHAM: Well, they need to account. Saudi Arabia does, for what happened in the consulate. He gave his phone to his fiance about 1:15 in the afternoon and she waited around to midnight and never came. I want to know who these 15 people from Saudi Arabia were that landed at the airport, went to the consulate.
So, you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to be concerned here and if this is done at the hands of the Saudi government, if their crown prince was involved in this in any way, it will virtually destroy his ability to lead this country on the international stage.
[19:35:08] BOLDUAN: I want to ask you, because you have warned that there would be hell to pay, was your words. For the Saudis if it was them.
BOLDUAN: What does that mean?
GRAHAM: That means all-out sanctions against those who engaged in this behavior, isolating the regime, trading it with a contempt they showed to us. I've been a very big supporter of Saudi Arabia. We have strategic interests aligned against Iran. They've helped us in the war on terror. They've been a good ally in many ways.
But if this did occur, this would show contempt for the U.S.-Saudi relationship. They would take a guy like me for granted. They're testing our values. And if they, in fact, did this, I want every other country that we deal with to understand what would happen to you. We would hit them in the wallet and everything in my view would be on the table.
BOLDUAN: What do you do, then, if the president doesn't follow through on what you're calling for in response? What do you do then?
GRAHAM: Well, the Congress can act. We sent a letter in a bipartisan fashion to trigger the Global Magnitsky Act which would allow sanctions against those involved.
The president's been very good. I've got no reason to believe he will not act decisively. Whether or not we cut off military aid is something to consider, because we do have national security interests in Yemen and other places, but I'm very pleased with the way the president's handled this.
All I can say is to Saudi Arabia, this is an affront to who we are as American people, and we will not let this stand. This violates every norm of international law and this will not go unchallenged.
BOLDUAN: Look, from what I'm hearing from you is that your gut is telling you right now, it is much more likely that the Saudis did this and that he is dead than not.
GRAHAM: Yes. More probable than not. I mean, with every passing day, it seems more likely.
You know, all the evidence indicates that something bad happened to him in that consulate. I can't believe he wouldn't come out and say hello to his fiancee if he left the consulate, so when you go in a building owned by the Saudi government and you never come out, two and two is four. So, we're moving forward.
BOLDUAN: Well -- and who's -- and who is directing the math equation? I think that's a question. Do you think they -- do you think they would do -- could do something like this without Mohammed bin Salman ordering it or knowing about it?
GRAHAM: It would be pretty hard for me to believe that something this orchestrated was done without knowledge of the government. You know, the crown prince has been sort of visionary in terms of transforming Saudi Arabia, but he's also been repressive and pretty cruel. He apparently cannot take much criticism.
So vision 2030 is going to give away -- give in to this. I mean, this idea of changing Saudi Arabia under his leadership will be impossible to achieve, I believe, if he was, in fact, involved in directing the murder of this "Washington Post" contributor.
BOLDUAN: How far -- how hard do you go? I ask that today because it seems that the president is already taking something off the table. You said everything should be on the table. He seems to be taking restrictions of arms sales to Saudi Arabia already off the table.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: That would be hurting us. We have jobs. We have, you know, a lot of things happening in this country. We have a country that's doing probably better economically than it's ever done before.
A part of that is what we're doing with our defense systems and everybody's wanting them, and frankly, I think that that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Are you ready to take that off the table?
GRAHAM: I don't know yet. Generally speaking, we do have military interests with Saudi Arabia against Iran particularly, terrorism in general. But having said that, everything would be on the table. The Magnitsky Act really focuses on economic sanctions. They live
opulent lifestyles in Saudi Arabia, to say the least, so what I'd like to do is start with the idea of hitting them hard in their wallet, in their lifestyle.
I want everybody in the world to know who we are when it comes to events like this, and I want everybody to understand that if you're an ally of the United States, because we have strategic interests that you don't have a blank check to do anything you would like. This is a game changer for me, regarding our --
BOLDUAN: But do you think hitting them in the wallet is actually going to do -- is actually going to send enough of a message when you talk about them living an opulent lifestyle, being a rich country?
GRAHAM: Yes, I think so. I think we can do a lot of damage to the way they do business, the way they travel, the way they invest. You know, the act is a very strong tool that was created by Senator McCain. This is the first test of it outside of Russia.
Let's start there and see where we go. Let's continue to investigate, but the one thing I will say to your viewers, when it comes to dealing with this, count me all in to be as hard as possible. We still have --
BOLDUAN: What's the time frame, though? What is the time frame you're going to allow? Produce this man, Saudi Arabia, or this begins.
[19:40:04] GRAHAM: Soon. The letter was sent to the president. He has, I think, 60, 90 days, I can't remember the time period, but it shouldn't take that long to resolve this.
And I'm sorry I've got to go vote but the bottom line here is that the Congress in a bipartisan fashion has reacted to this. I think there will be a bipartisan tsunami coming against Saudi Arabia.
GRAHAM: This is a test of who we are. This is not about the crown prince or Jared Kushner who I think has done a very good job in the Mideast. This is about standing up for who we are. This is a complete disrespect of the U.S.-Saudi relationship to put us in this box, to put a guy like me in this box.
They'll pay a price, and all others who want to go down this road will understand what will happen to you.
BOLDUAN: I know you got to go vote. Let me ask you real quick. Dina Powell has now taken herself out of contention to be U.N. ambassador. Who would you then like to see in the role? Do you have an idea?
GRAHAM: Not right off the top of my head, but there are some very talented people out there, and I'm sure we'll find a good ambassador. Nikki did a great job and I got to run. Thanks.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Senator. Appreciate your time.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, did the U.S. know that the "Washington Post" contributor was in danger? And did the United States have a duty to warn him? General Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA, is my guest next.
Plus, Kanye West, epic White House rant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KANYE WEST, MUSICIAN: I love this guy right here.
There's something about when I put this hat on, it made me feel like Superman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:45:52] BOLDUAN: Confusion tonight over whether the U.S. is doing enough to find out what happened to missing "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Today, President Trump said the U.S. is involved in the investigation.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have investigators over there, and we're working with Turkey and, frankly, we're working with Saudi Arabia. We want to find out what happened.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: But Turkish diplomatic sources say that's not true.
OUTFRONT tonight, former CIA director, General Michael Hayden.
General, thanks for coming in.
MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Sure.
BOLDUAN: What do you make of the U.S. response so far to this disappearance? Should the president be pushing harder, or is the president right to say that they want to let this be investigated before, I don't know, leaning in?
HAYDEN: Yes, so, you want to be quite certain because this is going to be a very dramatic event in U.S.-Saudi, U.S.-Turkish relations. But, you know, it looks as if the case is building its own momentum, and based upon just the commentary this evening, I think those folks who know believe very strongly that this is exactly what happened and the hand of Saudi Arabia was involved in this. And so, I'm a little disappointed that the president seems to be a bit
behind the conclusions that I think are clearly being drawn by the intelligence community, and I would -- I was certainly off put by the commentary today, trying to point out that Khashoggi wasn't a U.S. citizen and it happened in Turkey. I mean, those aren't really critical considerations. This is an extremely big deal, as Senator Graham pointed out.
BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about that. Because when he has been talking about this, the president's talked about this, he has now -- it's now more than once, has made a point to say that Khashoggi is not a U.S. citizen, although he is a U.S. resident and regardless of that, a columnist for the "Washington Post." Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's not our country. It's in Turkey and it's not a citizen, as I understand it. But a thing like that shouldn't happen.
You don't have American citizens but that, in this case, doesn't matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Does this matter?
HAYDEN: Look, we have a duty to warn in the American intelligence community, and so if we had information prior to the event, there was a responsibility that we had, and frankly, Kate, it doesn't matter if you're a citizen, a resident, or even an enemy of the United States. I actually, as director, passed on information to countries that you would have put in that latter category because we have a duty to warn, to protect innocent life.
And so if we knew that before the event, we either had a requirement to warn him or to wave off the Saudis.
Now, I need to quickly add that we may have had information before the event that only makes sense after the event. In other words, later information then illuminates that which you already had. It proves the case.
BOLDUAN: But regardless of -- I do want to talk about duty to warn, but kind of even separate from that, why is the president now more than once making the point to say that he's not an American citizen. What does that have to do with this?
HAYDEN: Because, I think, the facts of the case lead the United States, if we want to be true to our values and frankly, true to our policy interests in the region, and in the world, to make some very hard decisions to the heir to the throne of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
BOLDUAN: About the duty to warn -- I mean, U.S. officials just for our reporting, to make sure everyone -- remind all our viewers of our reporting, U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence say that -- tell CNN that the U.S. had intercepts of Saudi officials discussing a plan to try to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, and in doing that, detain him.
You say it is the duty, it is the obligation of the United States to have warned about that ahead of time.
HAYDEN: Yes. Again, if you have danger to innocent life, and you have information in which you have confidence, there is a duty to warn, but again, Kate, I need to point out that even intercepts -- and, of course, I don't have any secret information here, but even intercepts sometimes are only enlightened by things that you learn later.
[19:50:11] And then it becomes obvious, but it's obvious only in the rear view mirror, not in the wind screen.
BOLDUAN: That's -- and that is a good point. I mean, at this point, General, what do you think happened?
HAYDEN: I think the narrative that we agreed upon is right. I think they wanted to capture, pressure, coercion him. And, frankly, I think the team overstepped, performed poorly. If something unexpected happened, I do not presume that they intended to kill him.
But that doesn't relieve them or the kingdom or the crown prince for the responsibility for the death.
BOLDUAN: Do you think this could have happened without the Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman, without his approval?
HAYDEN: My judgment, this is speculative on my part is the fact of the operation, that could not have occurred without his knowledge and approval the fine print, what actually happened in the consulate, that might be a different matter.
BOLDUAN: If this is the Saudis, if he is dead, who should this do to what has been a historically an important relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia?
HAYDEN: It is an important relationship. But you know, the relationship has its roots and our dependence on Saudi Arabia for oil and that dependence no longer exists. So, we've got a bit more freedom to maneuver here with the kingdom. We are no longer the supplicant here. I think the kingdom is the supplicant.
And so, we don't have to give the monarchy our unconditional love. We can place conditions on a positive relationship with the United States.
BOLDUAN: It looks like very likely those conditions are coming.
General, thank you so much.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, Kanye West, talk about a turn, Kanye West makes an epic appearance in the Oval Office. Was he trying to sell the U.S. president possibly on an Air Force One possibly designed by Apple?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WEST: The iPlane One is a hydrogen powered airplane and this is what our president should be flying in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:56:35] BOLDUAN: Cursing, ranting and pitching new products, that was Kanye West in the Oval Office today, holding court with an audience that included the president of the United States.
Athena Jones is OUTFRONT.
WEST: Trump is on his hero's journey right now. And he might not have expected to have a crazy mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED) like Kanye West run up --
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A remarkable display in the Oval Office Thursday afternoon. Cameras capturing controversial rapper Kanye West delivering a lengthy profanity-laced soliloquy, praising President Trump and his "Make America Great Again" message.
WEST: There was something when I put this hat on, and made me feel like Superman.
JONES: West pontificating on a wide range of topics, including his own mental health and his appointment with a doctor.
WEST: He said that I actually wasn't bipolar, I had sleep deprivation.
JONES: Even weighing in on what type of plane the president should be flying in.
WEST: I brought a gift with me right here. This right here is the iPlane 1. It's a hydrogen powered airplane, and this is what our president should be flying in. Look at this, Jared.
TRUMP: So, we get rid of Air Force One? Could we get rid of Air Force One? You don't like that?
JONES: The White House billed the meeting as a discussion about urban revitalization, workforce training, African-American unemployment and criminal justice issues. But it was West's stream of conscious speech that drew attention, with people on social media and elsewhere questioning the president's decision to have this meeting in the aftermath of a natural disaster and others expressing concern.
WEST: I love this guy right here. Let me give this guy a hug. I love this guy right here.
TRUMP: That's really nice.
JONES: It wasn't the first time West made headlines with a "MAGA" hat and pro Trump message.
TRUMP: Just friends.
JONES: There was this post-election visit to Trump Tower.
TRUMP: We've been friends for a long time.
JONES: And after West performed on "Saturday Night Live" last month, these remarks were captured by former "SNL" cast member Chris Rock as the credits roll.
WEST: You know, it's like the plan -- to take fathers out of the home and promote welfare. Does anybody know about that? That's the Democratic plan.
JONES: The Grammy-winning rapper has been featuring Trump's image and dropping Trump's name for years.
WEST: I know Obama was heaven-sent, but ever since Trump won, it proved that I could be president.
JONES: And Trump clearly appreciates the praise.
TRUMP: Kanye West must have some power because you probably saw I doubled my African-American poll numbers. It went from 11 to 22 in one week. Thank you, Kanye.
JONES: His friendship with number 45 is a far cry from relationships with past presidents. After Hurricane Katrina, he slammed President George W. Bush.
WEST: George Bush doesn't care about black people.
I'm really happy for you. I'm going to let you finish.
JONES: And he earned this criticism from President Obama after stealing the spotlight from Taylor Swift at an awards show.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: She was getting her award.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would he do that?
TRUMP: He's a jackass.
JONES: And one more thing, we've been wondering all afternoon what the White House official transcript would look like. Would it be accurate? Would they spell out the swear words we heard today, like the one we had to bleep? We got the transcript the last hour, it is accurate. And this is probably a transcript a lot of journalists will be holding on to for posterity -- Kate.
Athena, thank you.
And thanks so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.