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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Vows "Severe Punishment" If Journalist Killed By Saudi Arabia; Report: Khashoggi's Watch May Have Recorded His Death; Trump Plans To Speak With Saudi King "Pretty Soon"; Mnuchin To Attend Saudi Arabia's Investor Conference; Nearly 900,000 Customers Still Without Power; Death Toll From Hurricane Michael Rises To 17; Search Crews Looking For Survivors, Death Toll Expected To Rise; American Pastor Detained In Turkey Now On His Way Home; Melania Trump's Sit Down Interview As First Lady; Midterm Forecast With Harry Enten; Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired October 13, 2018 - 09:00   ET

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


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We're taking you there. You're in the "CNN NEWSROOM".

And first, the breaking news that we are following today, President Trump promising, quote, "severe punishment for Saudi Arabia if it is found responsible for the death of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: A pro-government Turkish paper is reporting that Khashoggi recorded his own death by turning on the recording function of his Apple watch before going into the Saudi consulate.

PAUL: Now, Khashoggi is a columnist for "The Washington Post". He's been missing for more than a week. Saudi Arabia denies any involvement in his disappearance. Sources are also saying Saudi authorities have prevented Khashoggi's son from traveling out of the country because they invalidated his passport.

BLACKWELL: We're covering all the angles of this story. CNN senior international correspondent Arwa Damon is live outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood is live from the White House.

PAUL: Yes. I want to go to Sarah first here to hear more about what the President said.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Christi, President Trump is using the toughest language we've yet seen from this administration when it comes to the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. In that interview with "60 Minutes" that Trump taped on Thursday, the President said the stakes in this diplomatic crisis are so high, in part because of Khashoggi's status as a journalist, and he vowed to impose that severe punishment against the Saudis if evidence emerges to tie them to this alleged murder. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATED: There's a lot at stake and maybe, especially so because this man was a reporter. There's something -- you'll be surprised to hear me say that. There's something really terrible and disgusting about that, if that were the case. So we're going to have to see. We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Now, earlier in that interview, President Trump expressed a desire to preserve a proposed arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth billions of dollars and it underscores the fine line that the President is walking here between protecting that arms sale and holding Saudi Arabia accountable for this abuse. And it's all the more complicated because the U.S.-Saudi relationship is so strategically important, not just because of those economic ties, but also because this White House has made Saudi Arabia the center of its Middle Eastern policy.

But with that relationship coming under more scrutiny and Trump facing ever more pressure from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill, he may soon have to specify just what severe punishments he's contemplating, Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: All right. Sarah Westwood for us there at the White House. Sarah, thank you so much. Let's go now to Arwa Damon outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Saudis continuing to deny any involvement in the disappearance or the death, but what -- are they cooperating with an investigation.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, there was a Saudi delegation that did arrive in Ankara yesterday that are meant to be part of this joint working group, but as of this moment in time, we have not really seen any sort of significant movement or reporting on where this investigation might be going or exactly what it is that this working group is doing or even at this stage really hoping to accomplish.

Remember, the Turks had asked for and actually received permission to enter the premises of the consulate, as well as the home of the Consul generals, and then the Saudis turned around and asked that that be postponed. And then a few days later we heard about the existence of this working group.

You had mentioned that a report that had come out in the pro- government Turkish daily earlier today, overnight actually, that had said that Khashoggi had turned his Apple Watch voice-recording application on before entering the consulate. That, of course, did raise a high level of interest given that we do know that Turkish authorities do have video and audio recordings.

However, that specific report itself is fraught with inconsistencies. Among them something that technology experts are pointing to and that is the high unlikelihood that any sort of data that was recorded on his Apple phone would have had the ability to migrate off of it.

But we do know from a source that was familiar with the investigation that CNN spoke to who was briefed by a Western intelligence agency on the video and audio recordings that Turkish authorities say they have. A quite chilling description emerging from that of some sort of assault arguments that broke out and even evidence pointing to the moments of Khashoggi's death.

This is a highly politically charged situation at this stage, as you can only imagine. The Turks have long been saying to the Saudis, look, if you're going to continue to stick to your claim that Khashoggi left the consulate the very same day that he entered it, provide us with the evidence. And that has yet to materialize.

[09:05:01] PAUL: All right. Arwa Damon, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Joining me now is Josh Rogin, CNN political analyst and columnist for "The Washington Post", and Margaret Talev, CNN political analyst and senior White House correspondent for "Bloomberg News" Welcome to both of you.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Morning.

BLACKWELL: Josh, let me start with you and this new -- these strong words we're hearing from the president about there being severe consequences, severe punishment, if Khashoggi was actually murdered by the Saudis. Reconcile that rhetoric with the premium we know this administration places on the relationship with Saudi Arabia and this $110 billion deal for arms sales with the country.

ROGIN: Right. I mean, it's better than what President Trump said the other day when he, you know, downplayed the idea of being tough with the Saudis. It shows that the pressure in Washington on the administration to get serious about this is rising and is affecting the administration.

But it's far short of what the administration ought to be doing, not only to punish, right, the Saudis, but to pressure them to release information that they must have about what happened to Jamal in that consulate on that day. And that's the pressure that we need right now and that pressure should also be applied, by the way, to the Turkish government. We've seen a lot of leaks to the media about all of this evidence, but why don't they just put all that evidence that they have out into the public right now and tell us what they know so that we'll know what they know, OK?

So the point of punishment is to deter future action. The point of pressure is to encourage current action. We need a lot more of both and, you know, the President's back-and-forth attitude on this doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

And that $100 billion arms sale, by the day -- by the way, is mostly BS. There's a lot of deals that were already in the pipeline or deals that will never happen. And besides, arms sales are our leverage against other countries, not their leverage against us, OK? We can't have a arms sale get in the way of us defending our interests ...

BLACKWELL: Yes (ph).

ROGIN: ... and our values and our residents from being murdered in foreign consulates, OK? We don't sell arms to North Korea because they're an evil regime that doesn't respect our citizens and our laws and our norms and our morals.

BLACKWELL: Well, the way the -- the way the President frames this is he says that he doesn't want to hurt jobs -- Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon (ph) -- and doesn't want to hurt jobs, doesn't want to lose an order like that. Margaret, let me come to you and the resistance, the pushback, the President's getting from his own party, this bipartisan group of senators sending a letter to the White House calling for action under the Magnitsky Act, also now kind of whipping some votes in the Senate themselves for potential effort to stop this arms sales. How broad and deep is that support in the President's own party to try to punish Saudi Arabia?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think the movement that you're seeing in the Senate is actually significant and has the potential to be serious to some extent. You know, we've seen the preview of this in terms of how the Senate moved on Russia and forced the President's hand. And that Magnitsky scrub structure does create an opportunity for the Senate to kind of force the President's hand, if the president doesn't want to go there himself, on more action toward Saudi Arabia.

But part of the problem is that outside of the sanctions structure, this administration has placed so much of an emphasis on their reset toward Mideast policy, on trusting -- essentially trusting Saudi Arabia to be decent actors and doing the right thing, that the Iran policy hinges on this the approach toward the Palestinians hinges on this, the desire to have a working relationship between the Saudis and the Israelis hinges on this.

And so if the U.S. really moves to distance itself from Saudi Arabia, the President will have to rethink his entire Mideast approach and that, aside from the very serious concern about the safety of journalists around the world, which all of us are deeply concerned about, that question of where the U.S. goes in terms of Mideast policy ...

ROGIN: Yes.

TALEV: ... is very much tied up in all of this.

ROGIN: And Victor, I would just say that, like, I totally agree with everything Margaret just said and that -- but I would just add, you know, from my own perspective, that that rethink of the Trump's Middle East approach, that we need to do that anyway, OK? How's that Middle East peace plan going, OK? It's not actually going to happen.

Is Saudi Arabia a really reliable ally in the region? No, of course they aren't. Has any of Mohammad Bin Salman's actions regarding Libya -- I'm sorry -- Lebanon or any -- or Yemen or any of these other issues where we've entrusted him all of this regional power and influence and integration into our strategic thinking, has any of that worked out?

[09:10:01] I mean, if the murder -- suspected murder of Jamal were just an isolated incident, then we could say, oh, well, we don't really know what the character of this crown prince in this Saudi regime is, but it is only the latest in a long string of clear examples that this regime in Saudi Arabia is one that is not working in our national security interests and is not defending the international norms, laws, morals and values that our country and our policy is based on. That should be obvious right now and this is -- this incident is just bringing that to the fore in a pretty plain way.

BLACKWELL: Yes. As we expand and broaden this beyond just the conversation between the U.S. and the Saudis, the UAE's Minister of Foreign Affairs this week tweeted that the repercussions of political targeting of Saudi Arabia will be dire on those who inflame it.

ROGIN: Well, yes, he's the best friend of NBS so that's not surprising at all.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

ROGIN: And you know, this is a part of a coordinated campaign to push back against this idea that the Saudis have a responsibility to do the right thing and tell us what happened to Jamal, OK? It's not that complicated, OK? And of course, you know, the Emirati government is going to side with their friends, but that's kind of a useless addition to the debate right now. The bottom line is we need to know what happened to Jamal and, you know, any sort of criticisms on the calls for that information is a -- is a distraction.

BLACKWELL: Margaret, is there any wavering at all or any consideration up to this point that -- you know, in front of the curtain, we're hearing from the Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, that they will be in Riyadh in 10 days for this finance conference -- the financial conference, but is there any discussion behind the scenes of potentially not going as this investigation continues or are they full steam ahead?

TALEV: Well, there is discussion behind the scenes of all of their options, including how to respond -- how to -- whether at all to continue to take part in that conference. And what you're seeing, in addition to some pressure from lawmakers, is the response by the American business community and some media outlets as well in terms of participation.

So I think, you know, we know that the President has plans to speak with the king, but we also know from Jared Kushner's initial conversations with NBS as the President himself lays out the Saudi position has been to deny everything. So it's unclear how much will really come out of that call. I think after that call, we'll begin to see the administration, the White House, really fine-tune his plans for if and how to continue to participate in the conference.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, starting this pretty close relationship over the last 600 days or so. Josh Rogin, Margaret Talev, thank you both.

ROGIN: Thank you.

TALEV: Thank you.

PAUL: We know now that 17 people have died and nearly 900,000 do not have power this morning because of Hurricane Michael.

BLACKWELL: We have the latest from the scene of the devastation and what comes next. Plus, when First Lady Melania Trump wore a jacket to the border saying, "I really don't care. Do you?" our spokesperson told CNN there was no hidden message. It was just a jacket, but in a new interview, the first lady contradicts that claim.

An American pastor, Andrew Brunson, charged with plotting a coup against Turkish president Erdogan now freed after two years detention and he's heading home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Live pictures now. This is Mexico Beach. Our drone here up in the sky. You see the dozers out trying to -- trying to move this stuff, first, out of the road so that power crews and supply companies can get in and out of this area, but I mean, you see there just how much work is ahead.

PAUL: And I mean, it's like it's a junkyard in front of all these homes that survived and yet there are going to be people who are going to want to go through that because those are the things that they love.

BLACKWELL Yes, and ...

PAUL: And they need and they want to recover.

BLACKWELL: I hear you used the word "junk" and I know the way in which you mean it, the way it looks, but of course, these people have lost, you know, their ...

PAUL: It's not. It's the things they love.

BLACKWELL: It's the tangible part of their lives all piled up and jumbled in with their other -- their neighbors things. And this is just one part of Mexico Beach. This goes on for blocks, right? There was a person on earlier who said that there's not one business that's up and operational in Mexico Beach and they're mom-and-pop. They're not the big chains.

PAUL: Right.

BLACKWELL: They've got to start over and there are many who people say they will rebuild and the recovery, we know, has already started this morning for the communities along the Florida Panhandle.

PAUL: But even look at all of that whole area. And we -- it is nice to finally see some cars and trucks being able to get through because we know that that is so necessary, but look what they're getting through to. I am so impressed at how people are -- I think we all are -- at how people are resilient and determined to go back and make their homes again.

But as we look at this, I want you to remember that 17 people have died. That is the number we know now. Seventeen people have died in Hurricane Michael and they do expect that that number is going to rise because as we say, people are getting on that road and they're getting in there, they're also getting in there for -- there are still recovery efforts going on. We need to be very clear about that and the people are so resolved to get in there and say, "This one's not going to break us."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We ain't going nowhere. We're going to rebuild somehow. I just don't know how yet. If we don't get no help, we'll damn sure be living under a bridge somewhere, but we'll still be here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[09:20:01] BLACKWELL: Almost 900,000 people are without power, at least 900,000 homes and businesses. That could be more people. That's just the -- just the customer number. The roads, as we saw, they need to be cleared. Some are still impassable by the debris. There's no word on when power will be restored.

PAUL: CNN's Erica Hill and Scott McLean, both live from the Panhandle. I want to start with Erica who is there in Mexico Beach where we just saw the drone footage from the air. Erica, what are you seeing on the ground?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and Christi, we saw all those crews probably start to make their way in just a little over an hour ago as they were preparing work for a second day. So you could see that drone footage, the bulldozers there. All of this debris does need to be moved to the sides so that the roads are passable, as you point out.

When it comes to power, which you also mentioned, we know 900,000 customers across seven states. Three-hundred-thousand of them are in Florida alone and as for Mexico Beach, yesterday the mayor said the best estimate that he's been given at this point, it could be two months before there is power back here. There's no water. There's no sewer. The city manager says 12 to 18 months before the town is back up and running.

Victor, as you mentioned, every business has been wiped out here. These are small mom-and-pop shops. This is a small town. They want to keep it that way. The mayor says 75 percent of the town is gone.

There is one confirmed death here in Mexico Beach. The body of an elderly man was found amidst the debris as they were first coming in to look and to find people here. They did a second sweep of all the buildings and the different areas yesterday. So they'll continue some of those efforts today. Just to give you a sense, too, though, of how difficult it is to get firm numbers on where everyone is, as of 8 A.M. Wednesday morning, the town had a list of 286 residents who planned to stay and ride out the storm. But the storm changed by the time they had woken up and when it was a category four, the mayor said he knows there were probably at least a couple dozen, maybe a few more people who decided instead to leave. He and his own family had a conference. He decided to say. He said he would never do it again.

But so we're talking about possibly 250 people. Being able to get in touch with them when there is no cell phone service, when the address they may have given to ride out the storm may no longer have a building on it, some people ended up in different houses to ride out that storm. So that just gives you a sense of that one task alone, how difficult it is to track everybody down, but that is part of what is happening as part of those cleanup efforts today. Christi, Victor?

BLACKWELL: All right. Erica Hill, there in Mexico Beach. Thank you so much. Let's go now to Scott McLean in Panama City. And what's remarkable, Scott, about this storm is the breadth of not just the damage, but the complete destruction. You're what? Fifty miles west from landfall there in Mexico Beach and if you head, you know, miles inland, you still have lots of damage.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. You know, even into Georgia, Christi and Victor, you know, you'll see trees snapped, pulled out by the roots, laying on top of homes, homes damaged, things like that. But really the scale of the destruction is what is so impressive and so tragic in this circumstance. You know, there are 300,000 people across Florida without power.

But that, truthfully, is really the least of the worries in places like Panama City where I am. This is the Jinks Middle School here. This is the gymnasium. Obviously we know that because you can see right inside. Both of the walls of this building were completely torn off and as you drive through Panama City, you know, there are scenes just like this. Buildings completely flat and toppled over, trees down, power lines down. It will take months in some cases for the Panhandle to get back on its feet. In other places, it will be years.

Even inland we're seeing massive, massive damage. Yesterday, we spent the day in Marianna, Florida. It's about 50 miles inland and even there, you'd be hard-pressed to find even one house, even one business that doesn't have some kind of damage. In some places, it is extensive. We saw an old church yesterday, a sore (ph) church, almost 100 years old, completed flattened. It would not be an overstatement to say it look like a bomb went off there.

There are other scenes in downtown where it looks very similar. We actually spoke with a couple of people who had their chimneys both knocked off their houses. In one case, the chimney went right into a brand new pickup truck and the other had actually punctured a massive, gaping hole in the roof of this home.

We spoke to that woman. She said, look, you just don't expect to come home and see something like this. She lived through Hurricane Andrew. She got out for this one. She's glad that she did, but again, as she stressed to me yesterday, you know, long after, you know, the TV cameras leave, she is going to be dealing with putting her life back together, as will thousands of people in this region, Christi and Victor.

PAUL: Yes. A very good point. Scott McLean, thank you so much. And listen, I know that you're watching and you're thinking, I don't know how to hope these people, but I want to do something. Well, you can go to cnn.com/impact. There are ways there that you can help these folks and we thank you so much for doing so.

[09:25:00] BLACKWELL: Well, coming up, in the wake of the suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, many well-known business leaders are distancing themselves from Saudi Arabia. What will the impact be?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Welcome back. The mystery surrounding this missing Saudi journalist is hurting Saudi Arabia's business relations. Business leaders are now distancing themselves from the country.

PAUL: Many of them are pulling out of a major conference that's scheduled in Riyadh later this month. CNN's John Defterios has more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS' EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Mohammad bin Salman emerged as a young and ambitious reformer who promised the world. Under the brand of Saudi vision 2030, he aimed to rebuild the status of the kingdom by harnessing the support of those in his generation, Saudi youth.

[09:30:00]

His plan was bold, cutting what he called "an addiction to oil," reducing the role of conservative Islam by opening up entertainment and tourism and by developing the world's largest state investment fund to become a major player on Wall Street.

NEIL QUILLIAM, MIDDLE EAST SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, CHATHAM HOUSE: This is why many of the Western powers sort of embraced him or thought, you know, "he's the answer to this", because he does really want to the country, you know, Saudi Arabia, from A to B. And he wants to do it at breakneck speed.

DEFTERIOS: To catapult his ambitions, he forged a tight bond with U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The relationship is probably the strongest it's ever been. We understand each other.

DEFTERIOS: It resulted in the president's first overseas trip to Riyadh, producing $110 billion of U.S. Military contracts.

QUILLIAM: So you're tying together two very important and influential people, and that's absolutely key. DEFTERIOS: The relationship emboldened the crown prince; he flex his muscle in the Middle East, leading a nasty ongoing war in Yemen, putting an economic embargo on neighboring Qatar, and prodding the U.S. to pull out of the nuclear agreement with Iran.

QUILLIAM: And they've gone directly to the top, and they feel that that's - you know, that's where the green light is coming from. "We can be as adventurous as we like, and we're not going to pay for it."

DEFTERIOS (on camera): Back at home, an alarming show of force and what western business leaders suggest was a key turning point. After hosting a large international investment conference, he used the same venue, The Ritz- Carlton, to arrest more than 300 Saudi businessmen, and seize assets of $100 billion.

(voice-over): And some say the suspected killing of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi will only make matters worse.

MEHMET OGUTCU, CEO, GLOBAL RESOURCES PARTNERSHIP: : So there will be less and less trust in the prospect of Saudi to be moving ahead.

DEFTERIOS: The numbers support that view -- foreign investment at a 14 year low last year, and an estimated $80 billion of money fled the country, with another $65 billion expected this year. MBS appeared as an agent of change, but is now being viewed as "too impulsive for his own good."

OGUTCU: This image of a reformer, young, vibrant, prince has been somehow reordered (ph).

DEFTERIOS: In a region that, as a result of his actions, is riskier than ever.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: And CNN's John Defterios joins us live now from Abu Dhabi. John, good to see you.

So with the high level players distancing themselves --

DEFTERIOS: Thanks --

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: -- from the big investment conference coming up in Riyadh, what kind of pressure honestly does that put on Saudi Arabia?

DEFTERIOS: Well, clearly this investment conference which we attended last year and then made that -- Ritz-Carlton a jail is becoming the acid test of who stays, Christi, or who breaks with the crowned prince.

It's interesting I looked at the Web site before coming on the set here, they've taken all the names off as a precautionary measure. But we have some news today about those who are staying engaged and they are major players, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde and Steven Mnuchin, who is the U.S. treasury secretary.. But I'll add with caveats Ms. Lagarde suggested she was horrified by the reports coming out of Turkey. And then she added, I'm waiting for 48 hours to see how this investigation evolves.

A member of the deligation for Steve Mnuchin did say they plan to stay the course and still go to Riyadh but they have some cover from President Trump who is now suggesting he'll (ph) come down like a hammer if this goes in the wrong direction against Saudi Arabia.

Now there are high profile people that pulled out, a media profile like Arianna Huffington, the digital publisher. The CEO of Uber pulled out. And this is interesting because they have $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia invested in the company.

And I don't want to call this a contractor's ball but those who have billions -- I'm talking about billions of dollars at stake, like Blackstone or Siemens, the company, they're staying engaged right now, Christi, and that's the big difference. They're keeping a low profile but engaged in Saudi Arabia.

PAUL: All right. John Defterios live from Abu Dhabi. John, always good to have you here. Thank you.

DEFTERIOS: Thanks.

PAUL: So while the president mulls over his next step for Saudi Arabia, he is claiming a democratic victory out of Turkey. Pastor Andrew Brunson is on his way back to the U.S. after being imprisoned in Turkey for two years. President Trump has demanded his release for months even imposing sanctions along the way.

BLACKWELL: CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott joins us now. Elise, there's a lot tension between Turkey and the U.S. on several issues but this especially -- so two questions for the price of one here. What happens now and could this improve relationship with Turkey strengthen the U.S.'s hand with Saudi Arabia?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, you know, the release of Andrew Brunson something, Victor and Christi, that the president has been looking for for some time. They really put the squeeze on Turkey in the last several months particularly Vice President Mike Pence getting very involved in this.

[09:35:01]

And you saw that the U.S. was putting sanctions on Turkey, tariffs at a time where Turkey's economy was really, you know, going -- spiraling downwards and, you know, this has been a product of negotiations for months. Turks really wanted the U.S. to release Fethullah Gulen to send him back to Turkey, the cleric that the Turks say was responsible for that attempted coup against Erdogan.

So this is all wrapped up in a lot of tensions with Turkey, you know, that has eased now and as the U.S. kind of recalculates where it's relationship is going to go with Saudi Arabia over this incident. I mean, President Trump seems very loath to impose any economic sanctions on Saudi Arabia.

But certainly diplomatically, politically, there is going to be a shift, I think. And the fact that these tensions with Turkey are now subsided I think this gives the president more options as he looks at dealing with Syria, dealing with Iran, a couple of other issues. But still that relationship with Saudi Arabia is still very important to the U.S. and is going -- you know, the U.S. is really walking a tight rope here in terms of what it's going to do when this investigation comes out in the face of mounting evidence that there was some Saudi involvement.

BLACKWELL: Elise Labott, thanks so much for breaking it down for us.

PAUL: Well, Melania Trump sat down for a rare interview as first lady while she was away on her trip overseas. She talks about the state of her marriage, the MeToo movement, the administration's immigration policy, and also spoke about that controversial jacket she wore on that trip to a migrant children's detention facility on the U.S. border.

Here's part of what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I wore the jack to go on the plane and off the plane and it was for the people and for the left-wing media who are criticizing me and I want to show them that I don't care. You could criticize whatever you want to say but it will not stop me to do what I feel is right.

TOM LLAMAS, ABC ANCHOR: What was it that compelled you to wear that at that moment because you were down there, you had just been with children and then you put the jacket on?

MELANIA TRUMP: After the visit I put it back on because I see how media got obsessed about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Well, the fate of this administration's agenda hinges on the upcoming midterm elections. We've got a little more than three weeks to go now. What can we expect? What do these crucial races look like today? CNN's political forecast is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:42:27]

BLACKWELL: Twenty-four days to go before the midterm election. The question on everyone's mind, which way will the House go, the Senate go?

CNN's Harry Enten brings us his forecast for the midterms. He looks just like the illustration, just like a little sketch there.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: I'm a little skinnier in real life I think.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: Harry, let's start with the House and the simple math first. We've got 193 Democrats, 225 Republicans, a couple of vacancies in there too. 218 spells the majority. What's your forecast?

ENTEN: We've got that the Democrats are more likely to win a majority in the November election's 229 seats. That's 11 more than they need but remember this forecast comes with a wide margin of error. This is based upon how well this model has done historically.

So Democrats could win all the way up to a 262 seats and a best case scenario for them. But it could also be the cast the Republicans win control of the House. And so, you know, I just say we still have three and a half weeks to go until Election Day.

A lot of things can happen. There are a lot of close races. But right now it looks the most likely scenario is that Democrats will win the majority in the House of Representatives.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's go to the Senate now. Not as clear here for Republicans or Democrats.

ENTEN: Right. Yes. I mean look, the map is really -- there are a lot of Democratic incumbents and that are running in red states that Donald Trump won in 2016 and that's part of the reason why we think Republican are not only more likely to maintain control but actually gain a seat, get 52 seats in the United States' Senate. But again a margin of error.

So Republicans could win all the way up to 57 seats. And a best case scenario all the close races go their way. But there's also a scenario -- let's say all the close races go the Democrats way that Democrats could end up in a majority with a little more than 50 seats.

So, again, there's still a lot to be played out over these final few weeks but if you were to sum it up in two sentences it will be Democrats are most likely to win control of the House and Republicans are most likely to win control of the Senate but with a margin of error in both bodies.

BLACKWELL: All right. Harry Enten, thanks so much. And I'll see if I can get somebody to taper that jowl on --

ENTEN: Right. You know, look, it's not my grandfather's chin. It's a nice, young man's chin.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: Harry Enten, thanks so much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Forecast will be available by 9:00 a.m. every day at CNN.com/forecast. This forecast will include the range and certainty of the prediction along with the daily calendar breakdown what it means for Democrats, Republicans and for you.

PAUL: Listen, domestic violence happens behind closed doors most of the time. We're going to hear from one woman who lived with abuse from her husband for more than 20 years.

[09:45:02]

And get this, he was a pastor. Her story's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RHONDA, ABUSE SURVIVOR: For 23 years I was married to an abusive man that I didn't know. I didn't know what abuse really was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Well, that's Rhonda. She's a woman who escaped an abusive marriage. She's in a better place, I am happy to tell you.

But we're all talking a lot aren't we about abuse lately? And if you think that you have an idea of what it is, listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RHONDA: My husband was physically and mentally emotionally sexually abusive.

[09:50:04]

I got the bruises. I got the loaded gun to the head, you know, just right here and he cocked it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: This is just a snippet of an interview conducted as a partnership between Suze Orman, Avon Foundation for Women and the National Domestic Violence Hotline because it is domestic violence awareness month. And I spoke with Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the hotline and asked her, with what we just heard from Rhonda, how often is this happening behind closed doors?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATIE RAY-JONES, CEO, NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: Unfortunately domestic violence is incredibly pervasive in our country. One in four women in their lifetime will experience physical violence by an intimate partner. And so we know that it is so prevalent that we all know someone who's currently experiencing abuse in their home, most likely behind closed doors, and most likely they're not sharing it with anyone that they know.

PAUL: Yes. And that's part of what we wanted to talk about because a lot of people wonder why on earth would somebody not tell someone. It's interesting what finally jolted Rhonda to tell somebody.

Here's what she says happened. She said this happened around Thanksgiving.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RHONDA: This particular evening he was drinking, he came in and he beat me up. I remember falling in the hallway from where he hit me with his fist and I had a black eye. And we were supposed to be going to a big Thanksgiving dinner at my mother's and I -- you know, that happened and then he said, you know, not only am I going to take care of you but I'm going over to your parents' house and I'm going to shoot and kill your mom and your dad and your sister.

OK. He left with a gun in his truck going out the driveway and I'm thinking I have to tell them, I have to warn them. So I called them. That's the first time I had said anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: I cannot even begin to imagine. Why is it when you listen to that, why is it that we wait until someone else is in danger before we make that call? Why don't we take care of ourselves?

RAY-JONES: I think honestly as women we're often cultured to be caretakers and take care of others first and foremost. And I think that becomes expounded when you think about domestic violence and how abusive partners really make the victim feel like the abuse that is happening in the home is really their fault and there's a lot of shame and embarrassment associated with that, which prevents many women from telling anyone that they know what's happening behind closed doors.

So I think Rhonda is exactly in that situation. She felt a lot of blame and internalized that what was happening in her house was really her fault. And until she was in a place she need to protect someone else, that's when she began to reach out.

PAUL: Rhonda said she stayed because she had a daughter, a daughter who loved her father, and Rhonda -- you know, she wanted to keep her family together which is not unusual, we know.

She said she and her husband went through counseling. He stopped drinking. He stopped hitting her.

But there was one thing really, too, that kept her there as well. Listen, to this. This is surprising.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RHONDA: And we as Christians read that scripture, you know, that you're supposed to forgive and forgive and you do, you know. When the person that's supposed to love you the most abuses you on a regular basis, it changes who you are.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: "It changes who you are." And one of the things that is so surprising in this is that Rhonda's husband was a pastor. So when she says that changes who you are, help us understand what this does to people.

RAY-JONES: You know, it's so interesting and sometimes when we're working at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, speaking with thousands of women every day, we often hear exactly what Rhonda said, that it changed her and that they lose themselves in the relationship.

We have to remember when Rhonda first met her husband, when many women first meet partners who will be abusive, they don't present themselves as abusive people. Two individuals fall in love. And through that relationship when the abusive partner begins to chip away at the person's self esteem, it is very subtle at first and then begins to escalate, and that person really sees that this is somehow their fault and loses themselves in this relationship through the power and control dynamics.

And Rhonda speaks about that in her video about how she gets to a point where she doesn't recognize the woman in the mirror anymore and that her abusive partner just chipped away at herself worth, her self esteem and everything that she thought she was and even the relationship that she thought that they had.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: If you need help or you know someone who does, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

[09:55:00]

The number is 1-800-799-safe. And you can see more of Rhonda's interview with Suze as well -- she has so much to say online -- Thehotline.org.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Tough words from President Trump this morning after the disappearance of a Saudi journalist. The president promises severe punishment if it's proven that Saudi Arabia is responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIA TRUMP: I believe in the policies that my husband put together because I believe that we need to be very vigilant who is coming to the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[10:00:06]

PAUL: Also this morning first lady Melania Trump saying she was blindsided by her husband's zero tolerance policy that led to family separations at the U.S. border.