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CNN NEWSROOM

Melania Trump Asked About Trump Infidelity; CNN Source Says Turkey Has Video and Audio of Journalist's Murder; CNN Hero Helps Afghani Translators; Businesses Are Pulling Back from Working with Saudi Arabia. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 12, 2018 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: First Lady Melania Trump is not only more popular than her husband right now, but more popular than she was just a few months ago. A new CNN poll just released shows her favorability rating is at 54 percent, up three points from June. The first ladies are rising favorable coming on the heels of her solo trip Africa and she is making news for an interview she did while she was there. It turned very personal when the First Lady was directly asked about her husband's infidelity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are not the first First Lady to have to deal with her husband's alleged infidelities. Has this been a strain on your marriage?

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: I'm a mother and a First Lady and I have much more important things to think about and to do. I know people like to speculate and media likes to speculate about our marriage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mentioned you still have a good marriage. Do you love your husband?

MELANIA TRUMP: Yes, we are fine. It's what media speculates and it's gossip. It's not always correct stuff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: I want to bring in White House reporter Kate Bennett to talk about it. It's so interesting because you rarely hear from Melania. Here's a moment where you are hearing from her and this is really unleashed in a way. No barred questions.

KATE BENNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's like a feast or famine. We have gone almost a year since her last on-camera interview in China in November. A few in Egypt and first ever on the record gaggle as we call them. And this interview where she reveals me too and she feels like the most bullied woman in the world and about the marriage. She is still intensely private. I don't see a lot of emotion in those responses. She is asked if she is hurt by the allegations of infidelity and said it was unpleasant. She is still very reserved. Fascinating to hear her speak.

KEILAR: It is. Why now? BENNETT: You know, I think a lot of it had to do with the timing.

Her big solo step on the world stage. It was a six-day-trip to four countries. An ambitious schedule. This is a first lady who does things when she wants to do them. She didn't move to Washington until six months after and announced be best a year and a half into her tenure. An international trip, it has been sometime. She just -- things are done in the east wing when Melania Trump likes to do them.

KEILAR: Because Melania said.

Great reporting. Pressure mounting on the Trump administration after new evidence surfaces to suggest that a "Washington Post" contributor was tortured and killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. I spoke with his colleague and also his friend and she has a message for the President.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Source are telling CNN Turkish authorities They have video and audio evidence that Jamal Khashoggi was tortured and killed in the consulate in Istanbul. "The Washington Post" columnist was last seen walking into the consulate over a week ago on that video and was there to get paperwork to allow him to marry his Turkish fiance.

[15:40:00] Saudi Arabia denies any involvement in his disappearance. But the explosive allegations are sparking a business backlash. Several international businesses and media companies including CNN have withdrawn from an upcoming business conference known as Davos in the Desert in response to the allegations against Saudi Arabia. I had a chance to speak to Karen Attiah, the global opinions editor for "The Washington Post" and a colleague and friend of Jamal's.

Here is our conversation,

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Thank you so much for joining us. I'm so sorry you are here under these circumstances. Our hearts go out to you and your colleagues and Jamal's family. Have you been in touch with them? Can you tell us how they are doing?

KAREN ATTIAH, THE GLOBAL OPINIONS EDITOR FOR "THE WASHINGTON POST": I have with his fiance. Obviously, they are devastated and still trying to a Process. It is day nine, eight or nine. It's devastating. Especially if he was tortured. He didn't deserve this.

KEILAR: No, he did not and this is the kind of thing awareness to as well in his work. What went through your mind? We know there has been reporting with intel that Jamal was killed. But what went through your mind when your paper reported last night, really a big step further than that. Turkey said it has proof. It has this proof of Jamal's murder.

ATTIAH: Sure. I think what people need to realize is that Turkey has high surveillance and intelligence capabilities. There are so many rumors swirling around. I know that Jamal had friends high up in the Turkish government. President Erdogan was friends with him. It just all paints a picture of Saudi culpability he went into the Saudi consulate and he didn't come out. The Saudis have not provided evidence whatsoever that backs up their claims and denials. As far as what runs through my mind, the disgust and anger, first of all we want people to know that Jamal was not the type of writer who wanted to be a revolutionary and willing to go to jail and die for this. He just wanted to be free to write and he was close with the Saudis. I think that's what is so grotesque and devastating. He was an adviser to the royal family. Even in his pieces in his columns, sometimes he wanted to dial back criticisms because he thought if the crown prince is reading this, I want him to take this advice. The notion, and I say this because Jamal told me himself, that in Saudi Arabia nothing happens without the knowledge of the crown prince. The crown prince is absolute.

KEILAR: You had warned last year about fawning over the crown prince and he was managing his country like a reckless driver drunk with the power of oil money. In light of what you just said, it is your belief, it is the belief of many that these things do not happen without being condoned by the crown prince. Now what's your reaction?

ATTIAH: This is just beyond what I have said that the crown prince as of last year shows signs of recklessness. Jamal himself Mohammad bib Salman was acting or behaving like Putin of Russia. I think to put all of this into context against the backdrop of women, for all the fanfare about women being able to drive in Saudi Arabia, this regime jails women driving activists. One spent her 29th birthday in prison for kidnapping the President of Lebanon and the scene has been blunder after blunder after reckless act after reckless act. This in particular with how high-profile Jamal was, for many people, it's one step too far.

KEILAR: And it is. You have been really tough on people as we read your Twitter feed. Tough on organizations that are not pulling out of this conference because you have so many media organizations that are business leaders that are pulling out. There are some media organizations who have not decided they are not going to this sort of Davos in the Desert, as it is called. The Trump administration is moving forward with the treasury secretary going. What does this tell you and what is your message to the administration?

ATTIAH: Right. First of all, I want to thank you guys, CNN, for taking the decision to pull out. As far as the administration, the treasury secretary, to have a high-ranking member of government go and partner with the regime sends a message not only to the "Washington Post" and us and Jamal's family that they are willing to turn a blind eye to this, but sends a message to people around the world who are really frightened right now. They are scared right now and said if they can take out Jamal, what about me. To dissidents all over the world. That's how critical it is for what happens in this conference for the administration to do the right thing and to at the very least say we will suspend until we know more. At the very least. That's what businesses are doing. Right now, everyone is watching. Millions around the world are watching and millions are placing their hope in the United States to do the right thing and to not coddle brutal regimes not just for a man who wanted to get married. That's all I have to say.

KEILAR: Thank you for talking to us. Next, an elementary school teacher talks about senior Trump advisor Steven Miller making a bizarre claim and now she is facing disciplinary action.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: A teacher in California is under fire after sharing personal details about one of her former students, now west wing adviser, Steven Miller. She wrote, Steven Miller was a loner and had strange personal habits like eating glue when he was 8. CNN's Rene Marsh joining me now. No doubt, he is a figure, controversial figure.

RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION AND TRANSPORTATION CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

KEILAR: But we're talking about when he was 8 years old. This seems out of bounds.

MARSH: Right. And I think the school district realizes that, and that's why she's in a bit of hot water at this point. You know, this teacher, she shared details with the "Hollywood Reporter." She says, and I'm quoting, do you remember that character in the "peanuts," the one called pig pen, that was Steven Miller when he was 8. I was always trying to get him to clean up his desk. It was a mess. He was a strange dude. So that was a part of the interview. Now she is on paid leave from the Santa Monica Franklin Elementary School.

We did reach out to the school district and they provided us with a statement and confirmed, she is on leave. And they say they're looking into this matter. They have placed her on home assignment, pending the completion of the review. Of course, the district's main concern is that she did share such personal information, granted Steven Miller is 33 years old now and working in the White House, but she is sharing these details about Steven Miller as a young 8-year-old student. And for that, that's problematic for them. So, they are looking into this. We want to also mention that we reached out to this teacher, but she did not get back to us.

KEILAR: All right. Rene Marsh, thank you so much for that.

Next, it's currently home to some 1,500 unaccompanied minors near the U.S./Mexico border. CNN is taking a rare look inside this Texas facility. First, let's honor retired Army Captain Matt Zeller, who has helped more than 5,000 Afghan and Iraqi interpreters find safety in the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT ZELLER, RETIRED ARMY CAPTAIN: Afghan and Iraqi translators, they're proud patriots who signed up to defend their country. And to help us with our mission. We owe these people great debt of gratitude to feel like they have been honored for their sacrifice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

And to see more of Matt's story, you can check it out at CNNheroes.com.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Well, CNN just got a rare look inside of a temporary facility set up to house mostly kids who showed up at the border unaccompanied. Inside that facility right know, some 1,500 underaged migrants. Leyla Santiago is in Texas. Tell us what it is you see, Layla.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, I actually just came from outside those gates, behind those gates, as you mentioned, 1,500, give or take, teens who crossed the border illegally. Many of them from Central America. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras. And when I asked them how long they have been here, every single one I talked to, and we were limited in what we could ask and how much time we could spend with them. Every single one I talked to said they have been here for more than a month. And immigrant advocates are saying that's too long. They should have already been released. So, we went to the government officials who gave us a tour inside, cameras, by the way, not allowed. And we asked them, what is taking so long? Why are these children still in their custody? Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[16:00:00] MARK WEBER, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Yes. And I would say, you know, there are multiple factors in terms of why we have so many kids at this point in time. And, yes, we have added additional protections to ensure the homes these children are going to safely. And that is adding time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTIAGO: OK. So, the incident commander we talked to inside said he didn't want to be named, because he's been dealing with some threats. He said he's pointing the finger at the FBI. Because HHS right now has a new sort of requirement where they are requiring sponsors to give fingerprints. The sponsors are giving their fingerprints, waiting for background checks, and now that is the holdup. That's the backlog. So, he says he has more than half the children in there, ready to go to a sponsor, but they're still waiting on background checks, Brianna.