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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Turkish Newspaper: Missing Journalist May Have Recorded His Own Death Via His Apple Watch; Hurricane Michael's Death Toll Rises to 17; Interview with Senator Bill Nelson of Florida; First Lady Melania Trump On Her Marriage And More; New CNN Poll: 54 Percent Have Favorable Opinion On Melania Trump. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired October 12, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:12] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
The death toll for Hurricane Michael continues to rise. We'll have the latest on the search and rescue operations in just a moment.
But I want to begin tonight with breaking news on the mystery surrounding the disappearance and alleged murder of a "Washington Post" columnist and deepening questions about the Trump administration's response to it.
Turkish authorities, according to a source, have audio and visual evidence that shows Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Now, Turkey's pro-government newspaper "Sabah" reports that Khashoggi may have recorded his death and torture on his Apple Watch.
The newspaper reports his interrogation, torture and killing were audio recorded and sent to the cloud and to his phone which was outside with his fiancee. We'll have more on the details of exactly what happened later in the program.
President Trump hasn't said much about the whole affair. He did this evening on his way to a rally in Ohio.
Jim Acosta has that.
So what did the president say, Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, we know the Turkish believed that that the Saudis are responsible for Jamal Khashoggi's death, but the president was not willing to take on that that description. He said that there are some theories as to what's going on right now. People have ideas as he put it as to what happened to Khashoggi but he was not willing to say, yes, that the Saudis killed one of their own journalists.
He also was asked about whether or not, you know, this entire mystery surrounding the disappearance of the Saudi journalist calls into question whether or not the president, the U.S., is doing enough to hold a Saudi Arabia responsible for its human rights record, which obviously has had a lot of issues over the years. Here's what the president say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think a lot of records are overlooked. If you look at Iran, if you look at so many other countries, take a look at Syria, you take a look at a lot of countries and a lot of countries' records have been overlooked.
But this is a very serious thing and we're looking at it in a very serious manner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, the president did say that he plans to speak to King Salman of Saudi Arabia in the coming days, but, Anderson, it's not at all clear that the president was putting a whole lot of pressure on the Saudi kingdom. As you heard him say yesterday, he's reluctant to go after these arms sale have been underway between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia as a way to provide sort of a carrot and stick approach to prompt the Saudis to do better and to come clean in terms of what happens to Khashoggi.
But, at this point, Anderson, all we know at this point is that the administration officials have been speaking with the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, but it's not at all clear that at this juncture, Anderson, whether or not the Trump administration knows exactly what happened to this journalist.
COOPER: And has the president spoken to other the crown prince or the king in Saudi Arabia?
ACOSTA: I mean, that is expected to be the next step, Anderson. He's expected to speak to King Salman. He said that to reporters as he landed in Ohio earlier this evening.
But, Anderson, we just don't know at this point what assets have been committed to this investigation. He was saying earlier this week, well, that U.S. investigators would get to the bottom of this, but it's not clear what kind of commitments the U.S. is putting toward all of this.
And remember, the president said yesterday in the Oval Office when he was there with Kanye West that, you know, it's not even sure -- you know, he was not even sure how much the administration should do because Khashoggi is not even a U.S. citizen. And so, there are lots of questions, Anderson, as to how committed the administration is at this point to finding some answers to all of this. But at this point this evening, they seem to have no real answers as to what's going on -- Anderson.
ACOSTA: All right. Jim Acosta, appreciate it.
We're going to have more on that later in the program.
But we do want to turn now to the stories of people who survived the very worst of Hurricane Michael. Also sadly what we're learning about some of those who did not. The death toll, as I told you now, stands at 17. It rose all day and given the devastation in places like Mexico Beach, which you're seeing, it'll almost certainly continue to rise.
According to the Mexico Beach city manager, 286 people stayed through the storm. Yet as you can see, a lot of the town was heavily damaged or simply leveled. Some homes did survive. Crews have been making their way through town, searching for people who maybe trapped alive beneath wreckage, finding survivors and searching, of course, for anyone who did not survive.
Here's what we know about just some of the 17 and counting who did not make it.
Steven Sweet of Gretna, Florida, was killed when a tree fell on his home. He was 44 years old. He managed the local car dealership. His wife Gayle was with him when it happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GAYLE SWEET, HUSBAND KILLED IN HURRICANE: He's one of a kind, so kind, help anybody, always giving money to people at the stop signs and stuff, would help anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Steven Sweet.
Firefighter Brad Clark was killed when a tractor-trailer lost control on a rainy highway and hit his truck in Hanover County, Virginia. A colleague says he loved military, loved his family and loved the fire service dearly. He was 43 years old. Brad Clark.
Sarah Radney was at her grandparents' house in Seminole County, Georgia, when a metal carport crashed into it. She'd recently started sixth grade. Her father says she loved playing the trumpet, acting and singing.
She loved life, he says. She wanted to make everyone smile. She brightened my world. She was 11 years old and liked to play like she was five, he said.
No doubt we're going to learn more about others who did not make it in the coming days. As we mentioned, in some of the hardest hit spots, recovery crews are searching for the living and the dead. Communications are still spotting some areas and those who survived are doing whatever they can to reach out to loved ones who've been waiting for word that they're okay.
We want to take you to Mexico Beach. Our Martin Savidge is there for us tonight.
So I know, Martin, you've been talking to people they're looking for their loved ones, people hoping to get their messages out. Talk about what you've seen and heard. MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's absolute agony on both ends of this. You've got family members here of course that run out the storm. They survived. But now, there's no way for them to communicate and tell their loved ones that they're alive and well.
And then just imagine being on the other end. You were talking to maybe your brother, you were talking to your mother just before the storm, and then suddenly, absolute silence and then what do you see? You see the images of Mexico Beach here and it is utter devastation, infrastructure here has been totally eliminated.
So, what we wanted to do was to go into those communities, not along the beachfront here, because all these homes, these are secondary homes for people who have means. Now, we go deeper. You go farther inland.
You go into the more modest communities, the trailer parks there. And there you'll find people who are still trapped alive, but unable to get word out. So we try to be that conduit for them and I think we've got some their statements here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANA WILLIAMS, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: I will just say that we're all well and we thank God that we're doing well.
FAYE LITTLETON, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: We made it. You know, we can be thankful for that.
JARIE SWAIN, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: I'm alive, safe and well, and that would be -- it really my oldest because I think she's the most worried.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I may have lost everything, but not my life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are alive. We are OK. We're dirty and filthy but we are OK, and we do have food and water, so we're getting there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Let me just read you some of the names because this is important, of course, for family members and loved ones to share if they saw watching on your show.
Diana Williams is alive and well. She's one of those -- she's got family in McDonough, Georgia. She especially wanted to reach her son Phillip.
We got Faye Littleton, she's got family in South Florida Vero Beach area. She's just been talking to him just before the storm, said they were going to get away, but they didn't.
We got Jarie Swain. She's got family all over Texas. She wanted them to know that she's alive and well. And then we have Christine Brinkmeyer (ph) and we have Debby Caro (ph).
So, these are just some of the names is another one here I have to mention. Billy Crafton, he is in his 80s, I believe 82 years of age. He's not been able to reach his sister. He is desperate that she know he is alive, he is a well and there are others who are with him that are looking after them.
They are in really desperate situations here. This is much like what you saw in the aftermath of Katrina, that blackout where people couldn't reach out for help. But at least through their faces and their voices and families all across the country know that they are alive and well.
Unfortunately in Mexico Beach today, the first victim was discovered. The name has not been released. It's a male. It was a person who was discovered in what they say is the debris field, several hundred yards away from his home, and unfortunately, authorities believe it won't be the last such discovery -- Anderson.
COOPER: And I just want to point out all those people whose faces we showed who were talking, they had not been able to reach their families. So, hopefully, and you said their names. Hopefully, some other family members watching right now are people who know those families and will attack them, to just to let them know that they're okay, that they're alive.
Just in terms of the residents who are there. Obviously, you know, I'm sure their homes are destroyed or badly damaged, are they trying to get out? Or are they able to get out of that area? Do they want to stay there now and just protect what they have? Or I can't imagine there's a lot of you know water food available yet at this stage.
SAVIDGE: No, there isn't, and it's a bit of everything that you just sort of described there. There are some people who are staying because they have to look after what little they have left. There are others who are staying because they can't get out. Their vehicles were swept away as well as their homes. And then on top of that there are just others who are trapped by their economic means.
Some food and water has been brought in and that is for those people who rode out the storm here. It's not being distributed in mass yet for anyone who may have returned after the storm. They are trying to get people to shelter, not shelters here, there are none. But the roads are still very difficult to pass and it's very hard both for help to come in and for those who want to leave to get out.
[20:10:07] But the city is trying to organize a means to take those away who want to get away -- Anderson.
COOPER: Martin Savidge, appreciate your reporting tonight, and saying those names for us.
There's welcome news about two people who wrote out the storm there, Danny Wiggins and his girlfriend Tracy Midler. Now, we spoke to Danny's sister last night in the program. At that
point last night, she had not heard from either one of them. She was obviously very concerned.
Shortly after she appeared on the broadcast, she got word on Facebook that both made it through, we're very happy to say. This morning, Danny made his way to a rare spot with cellphone reception, was actually able to dial by his sister.
Like Mexico Beach, St. George Island faces the Gulf. There's one bridge providing access to the mainland and that's it. So, people there, those who stayed and spent hour after hour not only physically cut off from the rest of the world but also surrounded by water. You may have seen this already buddies no less terrifying now. Security camera video of a flooded neighborhood on the island.
Last night, we spoke to a close friend of the woman who owns this house, very few have made it to the island since the storm.
Our Gary Tuchman is one of them. Here's his report.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With so many Florida panhandle roads impassable, we charter a boat to get to St. George Island, a roughly 28-mile long and 1-mile wide barrier island, where a few dozen people did not evacuate during hurricane Michael.
The devastation that we see immediately making it clear those people were in peril.
Tiara Walker was one of the people who stayed behind.
(on camera): Did you think you were going to die?
TIARA WALKER, RESIDENT: There was a few points I -- in time that I thought it could happen, that I could die.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Tiara stayed in an apartment at the top of Harry Hayes and now heavily damaged restaurant and bar, one of the very few businesses on the island.
WALKER: There was a point in time where I felt the roof was going to fly away and so I flipped a couch over and just tried to prepare for the worst situation.
TUCHMAN: This incredible video comes from a security system as Hurricane Michael arrived on the island. Torrents of water from the Gulf of Mexico creating currents in the front yard of an evacuated home.
(on camera): This is the video camera that shot that video. It still remains, and this is the exact vantage point. The waters gone, but the damage is it was so obvious.
(voice-over): Residents now just returning to their houses. Krista Miller's family has lived in this island for over a century. She is a fishing charter captain.
KRISTA MLLER, RESIDENT: Before the storm took that little jog to the west, we were pretty worried that this place would no longer be here. If that storm had not you know taking that little turn, this place would be livable completely.
TUCHMAN: But most homes on St. George Island have been damaged, many very extensively, like the home of Christopher Crozier (ph) who has lived here years.
(on camera): One of the risks that you take when you live near the water on island is you're getting devastated by a hurricane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh I know that.
TUCHMAN: Will this make you give up on living on the island?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hell no. There's no way. It's too beautiful. I discovered this place in the '70s and worked every bit of my life just to be here in this in this county, I got a job as a schoolteacher down here to stay down here.
TUCHMAN: So, you're staying?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here, I'm not going anywhere.
COOPER: Gary joins us now.
I know there's been a lot of concern about the people who didn't evacuate from the island. Is everybody accounted for?
TUCHMAN: Well, Anderson, what's slightly problematic because we don't know exactly how many people stayed behind. But this is very important, there have been no calls from people saying that their loved ones or their friends are missing from the island and no one on the island today says they know of anyone who's missing. So, hopefully, it sticks that no one died and no one was hurt on that island -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Gary Tuchman, I'm glad you're able to make it there. Thank you.
Coming up, last night in the broadcast, I should mention we spoke with Senator Marco Rubio. Tonight, his senior colleague in the Florida delegation, Senator Bill Nelson, joins us. I spoke to him a short time ago.
COOPER: Senator Nelson, I know you just got back from Mexico Beach. What's your assessment? How are things?
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: It is the worst destruction that the panhandle has seen for however long that I've been living. It's akin, Anderson, to Hurricane Andrew back in 1992, south of Miami, where everything was leveled.
It is clear in Mexico Beach, the buildings that were built to the new code, they have survived and some partially survived, unless they were right on the beach. And the ones that were older dwellings -- I mean, they're gone but people were already starting to come back in today and they're very resilient. They're going to rebuild and it'll be a greater place for people to come and enjoy the beach.
[20:15:04] COOPER: Are there enough resources there, shelters, water and food for -- not only those who survive but for people who are coming back?
As I was talking to some officials yesterday, they were saying, look, please, don't come back yet. There's just -- you know, it's going to interfere with search-and-rescue operations. It's just going to -- and there's just not enough resources.
NELSON: In Mexico Beach specifically, the answer is no. There's not going to be there. They basically had to evacuate although I talked to a fellow who rode out the storm on a second floor and his windows did not break. He said they were bulging six inches, but they didn't break.
NELSON: But in Panama City, in a city that is in the dark, it is going to be a while and this is what happens after a hurricane, especially one of this magnitude, there's going to be a period of time that it's going to be difficult to get supplies in. Now, as we were going back out of the city, I saw all the convoys of the trucks coming in with supplies, but it's going to be awhile. And people's patience is going to be tried.
COOPER: I guess what message do you have right now for people who may be watching, perhaps staying with friends or families? You know, they're worried about their homes, they're not even sure if their homes are still there, or if they're not. They want to get back to their homes. They're not even sure where to begin to kind of, you know, start this process of putting their lives back together. What's your message tonight?
NELSON: Well, the best news other than Floridians are tough and resilient and I saw that every place, neighbors helping neighbors at the hospital, completely now evacuated but they were keeping the emergency room going and then there was an emergency team that had come in, that was setting up a lower threshold operating room out in the parking lot.
But the only good news is that the weather ended up after the storm flew through, the weather ended up being beautiful. No rain, clear skies. So as long as FEMA can get the blue tarps in, so that people can patch their roofs and most every roof has a leak or a hole, then they can secure their home so that it's not damaged with rain coming in.
But FEMA has got to get thousands and thousands and thousands of blue tarps in.
COOPER: Well, Senator Nelson, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
NELSON: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Just ahead, a closer look at what emergency crews are going through is they raised to find survivors and the wreckage of Mexico Beach and elsewhere. A fire chief and local police chief show us are leading the effort. They're going to join us.
Also coming up, more on the breaking news but exactly how the alleged apprehension and killing of Jamal Khashoggi was recorded inside the Saudi consulate.
[20:22:43] COOPER: The video posted on Instagram, neighbors rescuing other neighbors during the storm. I can tell you we've seen so much of that in so many disasters, along with first responders, many of them volunteers from far and wide.
Joining us now is Joseph Zahralban. He's the fire chief for the city of Miami and a member of the federal task force assigned to Mexico Beach. Also, a Mexico Beach police chief Anthony Kelly.
Appreciate both of you being with us.
Chief Zahralban, can you just talk a little bit about the latest search-and-rescue efforts in Mexico Beach and elsewhere?
CHIEF JOSEPH ZAHRALBAN, MIAMI FIRE DEPARTMENT: Yes, thank you, Anderson.
Yesterday, we began at daybreak and we did what we consider to be a primary search, which is we went through the entire area very quickly and attempted to touch as many lives as possible. Once we get through that process, then we go back and we do it all again, something we would call a secondary search. So, we got about 85 percent complete.
Yesterday, we had about 15 percent remaining. We began that process today, and we were able to complete that and get about 50 percent of our secondary search accomplished. So, we'll be out here again in the morning at daybreak, continuing that process.
COOPER: And, Chief Kelly, do you have an accurate number of how many people are still unaccounted for or even how many people chose to stay for the storm?
CHIEF ANTHONY KELLY, MEXICO BEACH, FLORIDA: Yes, sir. What we did was 24 hours prior to the storm, we went into the communities, house- to-house, door-to-door, identifying the people that saying that they were going to stay. We did have 268 residents and children staying, prior to the contact of the storm, we went around again. And my understanding, some of the neighbors and some of the residents did leave, but unfortunately, there were some that just said that they were not going to leave.
COOPER: And at this point, I don't know if either of you can say how many may still be unaccounted for or just -- it's not clear at this one because as you said some may have left and not informed authorities, which is obviously you know one of the difficulties you face.
ZAHRALBAN: Well, you are correct, it is a difficult process.
[20:25:01] But I can say that that process has been made easier by the efforts of the police chief and his department, because he was able to provide us with a book of residents that we know stayed behind. And that book was accurate up to a few hours before the storm, so it doesn't give you all of the answers you're looking for, but it really does help to push you in the right direction and we are cross- referencing his list with the work that we've been doing.
COOPER: I talked to an official yesterday who was sort of asking people, please don't come back to Mexico Beach at this point to check on your house. Obviously, there's a lot of people want to come back to see what's happened their house to see what's happened to their friends to try to find family members.
Is that still your message tonight? Because I can't imagine there's resources there if you get a lot of people coming back.
KELLY: We do. What I'm asking for the safety of the if efforts is going on right now is if you are a resident and you have a Florida driver's license with a Mexico Beach address, when you come to our checkpoints, we will allow you to come in because we understand you want to see what's there.
But for the safety of the public, we're not asking that everybody come back to Mexico Beach right now. We just want the locals with a local address that when they come here to identify themselves and we'll make every effort that we can to accommodate them once they come here.
COOPER: And just in terms of resources, you know, I was talking to Senator Nelson just a moment ago, Bill Nelson, he was saying that -- you know, there's obviously a lot of damaged homes, not destroyed even but significantly damaged, they're going to need tarps from FEMA to patch things up temporarily. In terms of resources, obviously, it takes time to get stuff in and I know roads have been difficult.
Are you starting to get things like tarps, water food for those who are still there?
KELLY: Yes, we've had a good outcry from the assistance, from the CDC, the governor's office. But we are making resources available. We have got water here. We've got a kitchen set up for the people that need to get food. We have meals ready to eat.
So, we have a distribution setup that several the city employees, the city clerk is getting that information out as long as we can get what supplies we can to the people that need them. COOPER: And just finally and this question is really for either of you. Obviously, I'm sure you both have been through storms before. Obviously, Florida has been hit hard in the past. Just in terms of what you've been seeing over the last 24, 48 hours, how does this compare?
ZAHRALBAN: Well, every storm is unique in the end the type of damage it does, but when you walk into a situation like this, it really strikes you from the perspective of how surreal it is. And then very quickly, especially a Florida task force coming from an area that has been affected numerous times, we really understand and sympathize and empathize with the individuals here, the citizens and what they're going through. And it's a very difficult recovery process.
So our goal is to make it as comforting as possible and to give them all of the resources that they're struggling without right now because they are locally impacted. And again we completely understand what it is to be locally impacted. So, we're just doing everything we can for them.
COOPER: Yes, well, Chief Kelly and Chief Zahralban --
KELLY: And as far as --
COOPER: Go ahead, sir.
KELLY: Yes. And as far as the department, it is a small community. It is a small department, but we do know everybody. So, it's impacting the officers. I mean, when we walk through the neighborhoods looking through the debris piles, you see photos and parts that are part of some of these life.
So, as we are such a small community, it's not that we just work here, this is part of our family as well. So we're individually touched.
COOPER: Of course.
Well, both Chiefs Zahralban and Chief Kelly, thank you for all you're doing and all your officers and firefighters and emergency personnel are doing. We appreciate it. We'll continue to be in touch with you.
Coming up, the latest on the new reporting about the alleged murder of a "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Arwa Damon is at the consulate in Istanbul with an update of what we've learned about how his murder -- apparent murder, possible torture may have been recorded and captured.
[20:33:03] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: As we reported the top the program, President Trump says he's going to call the King Salman of Saudi Arabia, quote, "pretty soon" about the disappearance on alleged murder of a "Washington Post" columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. A source familiar with the investigation says that Turkish authorities have audio and visual evidence showing his was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkey's pro-government newspaper Sabah, reports that the Turkish government obtained audio recording from Khashoggi's own Apple watch that he was wearing in files transmitted to his iPhone, which is with his fiance who was waiting outside the consulate.
When President Trump was asked late today if Saudi Arabia's human rights records has been overlooked for too long. He basically deflected.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I think a lot of records are overlooked. If you looked at Iran, if you look at so many other countries, take a look at Syria, you take a look at a lot of countries, a lot of countries, records have been overlooked. But this is a very serious thing and we're looking at it in a very serious manner.
COOPER: Well United States of course hasn't done any major arms deals with Iran or Syria recently. Meantime, international pressure is growing by the day for Saudi Arabia to explain exactly what happened to Khashoggi inside their own consulate. Our senior international correspondent Arwa Damon joins us now from outside of the consulate in Istanbul.
So what more do we know about the recording that may have been captured on the Apple watch, because it's extraordinary, if true.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is, bearing in mind this is all based on the reporting by the pro- government local newspaper, Sabah, where they are saying that it would seen that Khashoggi turned the recording capabilities of his Apple watch on before he entered the consulate and it would seem at least according to this paper, that a lot of what transpired inside was in fact recorded.
Now, it's not entirely clear is to whether or not it would be technologically feasible for his Apple watch to then have transmitted this to either the iCloud or his iPhone that was with his fiancee outside the consulate as you had mentioned there.
[20:35:06] But it most certainly, if true would explain some of the audio recordings that the Turks at least say that they have managed to obtain at this stage. We do know from a CNN source who is familiar with the investigation, was briefed by a Western intelligence agency on the contents of the audio and video recordings that that the Turks have claimed to have, that they contain audio and perhaps some video even of the assault, of the struggle that seems to have taken place and theirs is also on them evidence of Khashoggi's final moment, effectively his killing.
Of course all of this raising the specter of the questioning around exactly what happened. Because it would seem at this state, that there's very little evidence being put forward to back the Saudis claim that Khashoggi did leave the consulate on the very same day that he entered it Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, I mean there -- there's, you know, security footage of him entering the building. You would think there would be footage of him leaving the building if in fact he actually had left the building a lot. Has Saudi Arabia responded at all to the -- the idea that there may be recordings of his death or torture?
DAMON: They have not responded to those specific allegations. No not at this stage. They have put out a variety of different statements refuting, denying all claims of their involvement and saying that various reports are appearing in the media are based on lies, and part a broader effort to undermine the kingdom and the government there. They did -- more recently though just a short a while ago, put out a statement that they did support the joint investigation that is taking place between Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
And a delegation from Saudi Arabia did arrive in Turkey a few hours ago. And if you remember, the two countries had decided to establish this joint working group now exactly how and what that group is going to do, exactly what is going to uncover at that stage is unclear.
Turkey had been asking and how in fact been granted access to not only the consulate, but also the consul general's home. That was a few days ago. The Saudis been asked for it to be postponed, and then all of a sudden we hear about this join working group. A lot of questions surrounding that issue, because presumably there are a lot of politics at bay, as we were all very well aware, this is an investigation that is becoming more politically charged by the day.
COOPER: Yes, Arwa Damon. Thanks very much, appreciate it.
The President is facing pressure from Senators who investigate the journalist disappearance. Joining me now is Senator Ben Cardin.
Senator, thanks for being with us. At this point, I'm wondering what you make of -- what we've heard from Saudi Arabia, what we've heard from the Trump administration. What do want to see happen?
SEN. BEN CARDIN, (D) MARYLAND: Well Anderson, every day is becoming more and more obvious that the Saudi government was involved in this tragic episode. And that this is really -- a very serious matter. We need to take action. America's leadership is desperately needed. There's a revision in our constitution in regards to the -- the freedom of the press, it's a fundamental part of our democracy, you know, of global democracies. And what the Saudis allegedly did here counter convenes all international laws.
So the United States must have strong leadership to demand complete accountability. Let's find out exactly what happened. And if the government is responsible, they have to be held accountable. I joined my colleagues in asking the Trump administration to consider the use of Magnitsky sanctions. This is legislation that I authored with the late Senator McCain to deal with a tragic episode in Russia deal, it was Sergei Magnitsky who died in circumstances similar to what we have here. But as a lawyer not as a journalist. When a government violates basic human rights, and does not hold itself accountable, then these sanctions would prevent those individuals from using our banking system or visiting our country with visas. It's an appropriate sanction, we need to do more, but we need to take a look at these sanctions.
COOPER: One of the things we've heard from the White House yesterday which is, you know, that this journalist is not an American citizen. Should that matter at all?
CARDIN: It doesn't matter whatsoever. He obviously was contributing to the "Washington Post" as a reporter. He had privilege as a resident -- to be able to come to America. But it's the U.S. leadership in protecting journalists. And that the Saudis have a -- critical relationship with the United States and we have to make it clear that that relationship will be changed if the Saudi government is responsible for these types of actions.
COOPER: Do you really feel there's momentum within the Senate within Congress to actually enforce some sort of sanctions or some sort of penalty on Saudi Arabia is obviously a critical ally for United States in the region and want that the Trump administration has been working with?
[20:40:08] CARDIN: Well absolutely, I talked to Senator Graham, you know, yesterday. The Republican chair of the subcommittee on foreign ops. I talked to Senator Corker, the Republican chairman to Foreign Relations Committee. I talked to several of my Democratic colleagues. We've all agreed that we cannot let this type of activity go unchallenged if in fact it's established that the Saudi government was behind this tragedy.
COOPER: In terms of the arms deal, the U.S. has with Saudi Arabia, the President said yesterday that if the U.S. pulled out the deal, Saudi Arabia would just end of spinning that money in Russia or China, or somewhere else. A, is he right about that? And b, should that be taken into account?
CARDIN: There's no immediate arms deals between the United States and Saudis and are currently being planned. So there is no specific arms deal at this particular moment. We do participate with the Saudis in regards to their Yemen campaign. I suggest that we may want to look at modifying our relationship in regard to that military relationship. We also are looking entering into a peaceful nuclear agreement on nuclear energy. You may want to take a look at that. There's several aspects to our relationship that need to be evaluated in light -- of what may have happened here.
COOPER: Senator Ben Cardin, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
CARDIN: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Coming up, Khashoggi is a former Saudi Royal insider who became a critic of the regime and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. We're going to have a closer look at the man known as MBS, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[20:45:17] COOPER: As we reported, the President says at some point he'll be calling King Salman of Saudi Arabia, after the alleged killing of "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The White House says there had been calls between Jared Kushner and John Bolton and Mike Pompeo with the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Khashoggi has been critical of the regime and the Crown Prince. We want to take a closer look tonight at Mohammad bin Salman.
COOPER (voice-over): He's best known simply as MBS. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, only 33 years old, and now heir to the throne in Saudi Arabia. Long considered the favorite son of the Saudi king, bin Salman was known for his ambition and for having his eye on the throne. But his cousin was next in line.
So, in June last year his cousin was reportedly summoned to a palace and told to surrender his position as the crown prince. Late last year MBS initiated a widespread crackdown on what he called corruption in his country. Rounding up and arresting government officials, wealthy businessmen and even Saudi royals. Some were held against their will at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh, while they negotiated billions in payments to the government.
When asked about it on CBS the "60 Minutes", the Prince denied it was a power grab.
MOHAMMAD BIN SALMAN, CROWN PRINCE, SAUDI ARABIA (through translation): If I have the power and the king has the power to takes action against influential people, then you are already fundamentally strong. These are naive accusations.
COOPER (voice-over): Many in Saudi Arabia have celebrated bin Salman's rise to power. To them he's a visionary, looking to transform Saudi Arabia and improve life for his citizens. Women are now allowed to drive and attend sporting events.
MBS has also focused on the economy, trying to attract new businesses in order to make Saudi Arabia less dependent on oil. In March he held a highly publicized so-called listening tour in the U.S., where he met with President Trump and also business leaders like Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Apple's Tim Cook.
As crown prince, he lives good life. While on vacation in the south of France recently the "New Yorker" reports he bought a yacht from a Russian vodka tycoon for $550 million. Along with that, a chateau outside Paris. And last year he said to have paid $450 million for Leonardo da Vinci portrayed of Jesus Christ.
BIN SALMAN (through translation): As far as my private expenses, I'm a rich person. I'm not a poor person. I'm not Gandhi or Mandela.
COOPER (voice-over): And while he does appear at times to be power hungry, initiating Saudi Arabia's involvement in the war in Yemen and standoff with Qatar, he's become an ally to the Trump administration. At one point serving as a go-between for Jared Kushner in the Middle East.
TRUMP: Crown Prince, thank you very much -- thank you for you being here.
BIN SALMAN: Thank you Mr. President.
COOPER (voice-over): An ally it seems, but question still remain about how much Mohammad bin Salman can be trusted.
COOPER: As we reported, a pro-government Turkish newspaper says, that a Khashoggi may have audio recorded his own death or towards on his Apple watch with files send to the iCloud into this phone, which his fiance has outside the consulate.
Joining me now is former CIA officer and CNN intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer.
Bob, the reporting about this Apple watch, I mean its fascinating -- it does come really the only source on it is this pro-government newspaper in Turkey. Does it make sense technologically that that's possible?
ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: No, that's too far for a bluetooth connection. And, you know, his anticipation of transmitting that, I think that was beyond Khashoggi. I think what's happened clearly is the Turks have the Saudi consulate wire, they have transmitters. The Turks don't trust any diplomats. And they've been in most embassies and most consulates in Turkey and they listen to what's going on. And if indeed there are tapes, you know, proving that he was murdered, I think that's probably how they know, but the Turks are very reluctant to admit that.
COOPER: So the idea -- that I mean again, this is -- again, it's reporting by this Turkish -- do you think that's a cover essential for a spying operation that the Turks may have ongoing inside the consulate in Saudi, in Istanbul?
BAER: I think almost definitely. Remember that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are sworn enemies in the Islamic world. The Turks don't trust the Saudis. They would have had a lot of surveillance on that consulate. You know, the comings and goings as well is inside and possibly video. The Turks are very advanced in this. Like I said, they just don't want to admit it, so they're -- they made the story about the Apple watch, I don't exclude it, but I think it's unlikely.
[20:50:05] COOPER: If the Turks have this information, why do you think they're engaging in a joint investigation with a Saudi delegation that arrived in Istanbul today. Is that just or for politics?
BAER: I think its politics. I mean look, the Turks hate Mohammed bin Salman for what he's doing in Yemen, for what he's done with the Muslim brotherhood. I frankly think they would like to pry him out of that job and get rid of him. They won't admit that. But Mohammed bin Salman is not particularly popular through the Islamic world and he's vying for influence with Erdogan, the President of Turkey.
COOPER: It is fascinating -- I mean Mohammed bin Salman, you know, he was on "60 Minutes", he came to United States, he met with business leaders here, he's certainly trying to project a new image for Saudi Arabia, kind of sell a new story for Saudi Arabia. If in fact the Saudis did what the allegations are that they murdered this man in their own consulate in Istanbul, it certainly kind of puts a lie to this image that Saudi Arabia's has been trying to project or lay?
BAER: Well, I think. So remember that that Mohammed bin Salman detained the Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri, which is just unheard of in the Saudis and insult to Lebanon. You know, he is burned through so many red lines that everything I'm hearing out of the kingdom, he -- people are scared of him and he's detested -- he's detested by the tribes, he's an autocrat and they don't know where he's going to go next.
So, this idea that he's a great reformer, you know, it's, you know, Washington publicity people that putting that out more than anything. But I think inside the kingdom there's a lot of trepidation about what he's up to.
COOPER: He's certainly cultivated an enormous amount of power in Saudi Arabia, I mean, you know, that some of the richest people and members of the royal family, you know, were arrested, you know, place in detention in the Ritz Carlton Hotel, who knows what went on and, you know, billions of dollars were taken from them, or whether they had those, you know, whether those were ill-gotten gains initially or not.
BAER: He's a dictator. He controls oil, the military, the National Guard, the economy, everything. His taken it all, his father has dementia, he's not in control. He is the dictator of Saudi Arabia.
COOPER: Bob Baer, appreciate you being with us. Thanks very much obviously a lot more to follow on the story.
I want to check in with Chris to see what he's working on for "CUOMO PRIME TIME". Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, there's reporting that Khashoggi was so worried when he went in there, that he may have been record some of the goings on there and that made the one point of access for Turkish authority. So there's a lot of unknown, there's a lot of political intrigue going on with this Anderson. It just seem so different from how we've seen the United States government to deal with animosities before. So we're going to go through that, go through the latest on the storm.
We're also going to have a big debate on this ongoing point of voter suppression. It's going to be important to look at.
COOPER: All, right seven minutes from now. Chris, thanks very much. I'll see you soon.
Up next, in a rare interview, First Lady Melania Trump talks about her marriage and gives her take on her husband's alleged infidelity. Plus why she says she's, quote, "the most bullied person in the world".
[20:57:25] COOPER: First Lady Melania Trump is speaking out in a rare interview tape during her recent trip overseas. She talked about her marriage, the Trump presidency and why she thinks she's called "the most bullied person in the world." Details from our Randi Kaye.
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF UNITED STATES: I'm a mother and first lady and I have much more important things to think about and to do.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Melania Trump on her first solo foreign trip making headlines. Not for what she did in Africa but for what she said about her husband's alleged infidelities.
M. TRUMP: It is not a concern and focus of mine. I know people like to speculate and media like to speculate about our marriage.
KAYE (voice-over): Asked if she's been hurt by the allegations, Mrs. Trump paused before answering.
M. TRUMP: It's not always pleasant, of course but I know what is right and what is wrong and what is true and not true.
KAYE (voice-over): Her husband denied reports of extramarital affairs during the couple's 13-year marriage but still Mrs. Trump has endured a steady stream of women who say otherwise and 15 women have come forward alleging misconduct ranging from sexual harassment and assault to lewd behavior, all of which Trump denies.
ABC asked Melania Trump if she still loves her husband and if they have a good marriage.
M. TRUMP: Yes, we are fine. Yes. It's what media speculates and it's gossip. It's not always correct.
KAYE (voice-over): The First Lady didn't answer directly when asked by ABC if she believed the testimony of Justice Kavanaugh's accuser Christine Blasey Ford but did say this.
M. TRUMP: I understand women but we need to show the evidence. You cannot just say to somebody I was, you know, sexually assaulted and/or you did that to me or because sometimes the media goes too far and the way they portray some stories it's not correct, it's not right.
KAYE (voice-over): Mrs. Trump also discussed bullying.
M. TRUMP: 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 saying about me.
KAYE (voice-over): The First Lady also opened up about her lack of trust when it comes to her husband's inner circle.
M. TRUMP: Well some people they don't work there anymore.
KAYE (voice-over): She told ABC that she is one of the President's most trusted advisers, even though he doesn't always listen.
M. TRUMP: Oh, I wish. I gave him my honest advice and honest opinions and then he does what he wants to do.
KAYE (voice-over): Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach, Florida.
[21:00:08] COOPER: Melania Trump.
The news continues. I want to hand it over our Chris Cuomo, "CUOMO PRIME TIME" starts now. Chris?