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Could the Death of Jamal Khashoggi Mean More Sanctions? Freed Pastor Andrew Brunson Scheduled for White House Meeting. Hurricane Michael Devastates Some Florida Beach Communities; American Pastor Detained in Turkey Now Back on U.S. Soil; GA Dem Candidate Accuses Opponent of Voter Suppression; "This Is Life" Airs Tomorrow at 10 p.m. ET; Army Veteran Works to Ensure Safety For Translators. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired October 13, 2018 - 12:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Istanbul, Turkey, ready to go to the Saudi consulate to get documents allowing him to get married. On October 2nd, Khashoggi left his phone with his fiancee, went into the consulate and then never returned. That same day, Turkish authorities believed several Saudi men arrived in Istanbul just hours before Khashoggi entered the consulate. And they believe they were connected to his disappearance and possible murder. So far, there has been little reaction from the White House, but now President Trump is speaking out about the journalist's possible murder.


LESLEY STAHL, CBS "60 MINUTES" HOST: Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist...


STAHL: ... the Saudi journalist ...


STAHL: ... was he murdered by the Saudis and did the Prince give the order to kill him?

TRUMP: Nobody knows yet, but we'll probably be able to find out. It's being investigated. It's being looked at very, very strongly and we would be very upset and angry if that were the case. As of this moment, they deny it. They deny it vehemently. Could it be them? Yes.

STAHL: Jared, your son-in-law, got on the phone and asked the Prince, did he ...

TRUMP: That's right.

STAHL: Did he deny it?

TRUMP: They deny it. They deny it every way you can imagine. In the not too distance future, I think we'll know an answer.

STAHL: What are your options? Let's say they did. What are your options? Would you consider imposing sanctions as a bipartisan group of Senators have proposed?

TRUMP: Well, it depends on what the sanction is. I'll give you an example. They are ordering military equipment. Everybody in the world wanted that order. Russia wanted it. China wanted it. We wanted it. We got it. And we got all of it. Every bit of it.

STAHL: So would you cut that off or curtail it?

TRUMP: I tell you what I don't want to do, Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, all these companies. I don't want to hurt jobs. I don't want to lose an order like that. There are other ways of punishing ...

STAHL: Punishing?

TRUMP: use a word that's a pretty harsh word, but it's true.

STAHL: Tell everybody what's at stake here, you know, this is ...

TRUMP: Well, there's a lot at stake. 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.


WHITFIELD: CNN Global Affairs Correspondent Elise Labott is with us. So what are you hearing about what would be severe consequences, severe punishment?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well Fred, I mean look, the president is obviously loathe to get rid of this arms deal because there's a lot of money involved. Not as much money actually when we broke it down and you can find that on as he says. But certainly it's a very important deal. But there are other things that the U.S. could do. They could freeze the assets of Saudi officials here in the United States.

They could freeze a travel ban. But we already see, you know, the U.S. could pull out of this conference, this financial conference, that the Saudis are going to be holding later this month. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said so far he would be attending. But, you know, we'll have to see what happens over the next week. Media partners such as CNN, "New York Times" and others have also pulled out.

I think it would have more effect on the diplomatic and political relationship. There's a lot at stake with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. There's certainly arm sales. There's the cooperation in Yemen, the U.S. has really given the Saudis, you know, a kind of pass on a lot off the human rights abuses and civilian deaths there. So there's a lot that they can do. I think, you know, as the evidence mounts against Saudi Arabia, if they're involved in Jamal's killing, it's going to be really hard for President Trump to stand alone on this in the face of a lot of pressure from Congress and I do think the American people, Fred. WHITFIELD: And so, Elise, you know, a Turkish newspaper is reporting

that Khashoggi's death was recorded on his Apple watch and, you know, what is being made of that? What are you hearing from your diplomatic circles? Do they believe something like that?

LABOTT: Well, I mean the Turks have told the U.S. there's a video. We've seen a lot. Look, Fred, a lot of this is being leaked out by Turkish officials to pro-government media. CNN has looked into this. It looks like it wouldn't be possible for the Apple watch, you know, whether it's that make or model or the actual, you know, signals that are at the consulate. That would not be able to happen. What's more likely, if the Turks have audio, as they say, is that the Turks bug the consulate, as a lot of countries do, to embassies and consulates in the host country around the world. This could be a smoke screen. They haven't said whether -- certainly they don't want to admit they are because there's obviously other countries too. I think the Apple watch is a smoke screen and I would assume that's not going to go anywhere.

WHITFIELD: Consulates, embassies, would ordinarily think they've kind of have...


LABOTT: They assume they have ...

WHITFIELD: ... and they assume they are in-country even when out of country. But if it were to be that Turks, you know, bugged, then there would, I guess, be other repercussions that come from that. Meantime, Elise, we're also learning that Trump, Donald Jr., retweeted a tweet from a reporter from a conservative blog that is getting a whole lot of attention. In it, the writer referred to Khashoggi as a terror sympathizer...

LABOTT: Interesting.

WHITFIELD: Yes, and that Donald Trump Jr. Would retweet this. How does this get mixed into things now?

LABOTT: Look, Fred, this is a murder mystery wrapped in a conspiracy theory. There's a lot of stuff going around. But for Donald Trump Jr. to do that right now, just as we listened to his father, the President of the United States, say if a journalist was killed, that's disgusting, you know ...

WHITFIELD: But that would make -- doesn't it also make some kind of inference, potential inference with that?

LABOTT: Well I mean Trump, Donald Trump Jr. is making that inference. The president did not make that inference. I've known Jamal Khashoggi for close to 15 years and I can tell you, he's not a terrorist sympathizer. He's a Saudi patriot who loves his country. He's an intellectual. He is familiar to a lot of us around town as someone we go to to try and -- and he tries to explain what's going on in the region. And, I mean, if I'm friendly with him, does that make me a terrorist sympathizer? That's ridiculous. I think you might see that tweet deleted in the next few minutes.

WHITFIELD: Yes and that's potentially hurtful and given than you knew him, and I didn't know that before you were saying that, you know, and his fiancee would write in that op-ed and talk about how she knew he had a certain level of fear in doing his job. He didn't feel like he would ever be welcome back into Saudi Arabia. But that he longed for it; he missed it. What was your -- what do you know about how he had been thinking about, you know, his real commitment to the craft of journalism and his real commitment to, you know, seeking truth, uncovering the story, which largely is why apparently many Saudi Arabian officials were not keen on him. Because he was willing to be critical of the Saudi government and decisions made. But did you ever hear that from him about, you know, a feeling of conflict of, you know, doing the job at the same time missing his country and feeling threatened even doing his job?

LABOTT: Well, I first met him when he was actually working for the royal family about 10 to 15 -- I can't exactly remember the year, years ago when he was working for Crown Prince Abdullah and Al Jabbar, the former Policy Adviser to the King and, you know, he was an editor, ran a TV station, and then when, you know, there was a change of the guard, he left, but he was still writing, analyzing Saudi culture, analyzing the changes that are taking place. And he did grow concerned about some of what he saw as the overreach of this young prince whether it was in Yemen, whether it was with, you know, the reform efforts.

But he never called for a, you know, for the regime to be overthrown. He just wanted to make the country better, Fred, and I think there was this effort by the Saudi government over the last year and a half to try to bring him back into the fold. There were offers made to him, come back we need you. He was very conflicted about that. I think what really, though, the turning point was in September when he started writing very critical columns in Arabic for "The Washington Post" and then I think before he was seen as more of a nuisance, and now I think he was seen as more of a threat.

WHITFIELD: Great added perspective. Elise Labott, thank you so much for that, I appreciate it.

All right, let's talk more about the mystery now and the ongoing investigation. Former CIA operative and CNN Intelligence and Security Analyst Bob Baer in Washington. Our CNN Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson in Istanbul. All right so Nic, let's start with you what are you learning if anything about the direction of the investigation there in Turkey?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Sure, we're just hearing the foreign minister, visiting the U.K. meeting officials there. As one would expect, he's trying to ramp up support for Turkey. He has said the Saudis are not cooperating, to help them push through their investigation, which in essence is getting inside the consulate behind me to be able to do the forensic tests in the area they believe where Khashoggi was murdered. If Saudi Arabia is going to say something publicly about this, that doesn't allow for the possibility that Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, then that isn't going to be enough to placate in any way Turkish sentiments here whatsoever.


And the key at the moment is getting the access for the Turkish investigative team, the forensic team, to get inside the consulate and do their work. And right now the words from the foreign minister seem to indicate an impasse. We've seen a tweet as well from President Erdogan, directed at President Trump, talking about the release of the Pastor Brunson, saying this is showing the judiciary here in Turkey operates properly, without political influence, and he hopes that Turkey and the United States can continue to be allies and work together on issues of mutual interest going forward. Look it's clear, President Erdogan wants President Trump's support. How he can bring that to bear, he will try to do that. If it's drip feeding information to journalists that will happen. If it's getting out in front of the story he will at the moment. It's a pause - it's a pause to try to deal with this behind closed doors with Saudi officials. The Prime Minister is waving a red flag now and saying that's just not happening. Fred.

WHITFIELD: And then Sam from where you are in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, perhaps people have heard or learned of what the President of the United States has already said. He's got "60 Minutes" interview that will air in its entirety tomorrow. And in it, in excerpts, that we received, he says there will be severe consequences if indeed Saudi Arabia was behind, you know, the demise of Khashoggi. In your view and, you know, what do Saudi Arabians believe severe consequences would be?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, those extremely unspecific -- there are very, very close economic links, not just to do with arm sales to the United States. The American banking system is heavily invested here in Saudi Arabia. You name it, the Saudis which has -- Saudi Arabia has a lot of money and a great deal of it is invested in the United States. And then equally Saudi Arabia is a key player in terms of intelligence, both in terms of tracking terrorist funding and financing.

But also in sharing intelligence through its agents around the world and heading off terrorist attacks in the past. Very, very close to MI- 6 in the United Kingdom, the CIA, they work hand in glove together; losing that kind of relationship would be seen as disastrous in a number of western capitals. Notwithstanding the horror that is reported to -- that western intelligence officials have expressed having seen, allegedly seeing this tape and heard the audio from the consulate.

But the interesting thing here, Fred, is also the Saudis are sticking very, very firmly to the line that there is nothing to see here, if you like, that Jamal left that consulate safe and sound. So the Minister Interior, Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud, a very senior member indeed as you might imagine of the royal family, he is quoted by the Saudi Press Agency, and I'll just read it to you, because it's really striking how completely unequivocal it is.

He is quoted as saying the Minister of Interior affirmed the kingdom of Saudi Arabia's condemnation and denunciation of the false accusations circulated in some media on the Saudi government and people against the background of the disappearance of the Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi. He also stressed that what has been circulating about orders to kill him are lies and baseless allegations against the governments of the kingdom.

Now, that has been echoed by Saudi Arabia's allies, United Arab Emerates and columnists here have suggested this is a nefarious plot cooked up by Turkey and their ally Qatar because of regional rivalries to besmirch the reputation of Saudi Arabia.

The other important thing I think here Fred is that being so adamantly so unequivocal in every aspect of denying this story, it leaves no wriggle room to diplomatically reverse out of it, to come up with a slightly alternative narrative that would allow for a climb down perhaps on both sides. They're absolutely clear in Saudi Arabia that there was no crime committed against their citizen inside that consulate. Fred.

WHITFIELD: That is fascinating. So Bob, you know, with the investigative discipline that you, you know, have when you see this denial, you know, coming from the Saudi government, that in concert with Turkish authorities, saying that there is audio and visuals and possibly these recordings that may come from the apple watch being worn by Khashoggi essentially, you know, Turkey is saying there's evidence that it happened. As an investigator, what do you do with these, you know, competing bits of information?

BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE AND CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Fred, clearly we need to hear the tapes. They can be forensically examined.


Determine what's on them and whether it's definitive whether he was killed in the consulate. That is key and it's also key to hear the witnesses at the airport that saw this Saudi team leave. Did they leave with Khashoggi, for instance, in a box, a diplomatic pouch, so we're missing big key pieces of evidence which would make this story. But frankly, in the fact that Khashoggi has disappeared, all this time, since the 2nd of October, it's more and more likely that he was killed in that consulate. The question is, was it done on purpose? Was he lured into the consulate and murdered or, for instance, did he die of a heart attack and they tried to cover up? Any number of things could have happened.

WHITFIELD: And then Bob with that, what do you do when you've got, you know, the armor of diplomatic immunity, you know, when you can go country to country, when you are of that level, you know, high level, you know, government, you have that kind of diplomatic passport, et cetera, that you can - you can have bags and you can have things that may not be reviewed like your typical, you know, person. How do you manage that? How do you investigate that? BAER: Well, exactly. I've done these operations, got people through

an airport with the diplomatic passport, a person inside a diplomatic pouch, smuggled them out of a country. It was to save them, but it's done all the time and the Saudis know how to do that from us. You put oxygen in a box. But we simply, you know, at this point, I have to go with the Turkish version. And which makes me wonder about what's happening in Saudi Arabia.

This is not like the Saudis to go abroad and kill a dissident. This would be completely unprecedented. It happened once in '79, but that was in the middle of a civil war with Lebanon. But otherwise the Saudis have always avoided this. You have to look at the Crown Prince and if he made that decision, his judgment is just bad and you have to wonder whether the royal family at this point is talking about what they should do about him.

WHITFIELD: Then to you, Sam, there in Saudi Arabia, people look at the leadership of the government really in the hands of the Crown Prince, you know, Muhammad bin Salman. So how are people viewing the leadership, the Prince, all of that, you know, aside from that statement that came out?

KILEY: well, it's very hard to read. I have to say that very few people will want to come forward and express any view other than the official view at the moment. This is a really disastrous moment for Saudi Arabia, particularly if the Turkish version of events is something close to the truth. As Bob was saying, this isn't the Saudi way of doing business. There have been renditions done by, as the CIA would call them, through Britain, with the Saudi help. I mean, this is not unusual. They have a record of bringing people home and dealing with them, but not in this sort of murderous and fairly clumsy way.

So if this was something that was ordered by the prince, it's not -- I really wouldn't speculate as to whether he was directly involved, but I think if you look at what's gone on in this country over the last 18 month, two years, with the incarceration of many dozens of princes and billionaires, in the Ritz Carlton Hotel until they coughed up a considerable amount of money and other events such as that, the sort of evisceration of the Royal Court, perhaps the undermining of the rule by consensus here. All of those are issues that no doubt are being discussed. But in this country, those sorts of things get discussed traditionally behind very closed doors.

WHITFIELD: Okay. And then, Nic, there in Turkey, so Turkish authorities are sending a message they want to get to the bottom of this. But are there potential ramifications for, you know, Turkish officials as well? And the handling of this investigation, whether it's Turkish authorities who are responsible for any kind of video or audio evidence, et cetera? What are they weighing?

ROBERTSON: Well, obviously, if their recordings have come, which seems most likely, from inside the consulate and their own recordings and breaking diplomatic protocols and yes, intelligence agencies around the world are going to know that happened, but they'll have to double down and re-check their own facilities around the world, rather, in Turkey, but, you know, I've been traveling in and out of Saudi Arabia for the past16-plus years now. And I have this period have pretty much most of my senior-level Saudi contacts reach out to me in one shape or form or another and those that are close to the inner circle right now are debating with me offline did this really happen.


And I've seen the view shape and reshape over the past week. What I've heard is, and this is from people very close to the -- very close to the leadership in those inner circle, people I've discussed with behind closed doors discretely discussed with the rise of Mohammad bin Salman and how the royal family would see that and were there trip wires he could, you know, slip up on.

Let's face it, his father has really anointed him to succeed. It was always in the feeling in the early days when he became, you know, second or third in line to the throne and then he became crown prince that if he wasn't doing a good job and the war in Yemen was seen as one of the tests. If he wasn't seen as doing a good job, then royals within that inner circle would be able to go to the king and say, look, this isn't working out, let's come up with another plan. It might be tough but that's how things would work.

The things have moved on. He's -- you know, he locked up and essentially took away the power and the money from a lot of senior royals who might have been engaged in that kind of conversation before. When I talk to these sources now, what they tell me is we don't feel that we have the power and the money to take on the crown prince at the moment. What the people close to that circle are saying -- we're talking about educated Saudis here, they're saying, is this really possible? How is the evidence? Why is Turkey doing this? Show me the evidence. They don't want to believe it; they can't believe it. But it's going to be a very, very rude awakening that I believe they're beginning to awaken to and the nuclear option really is for Turkey to release the audio if they don't get satisfaction for the investigation and that's very much, very much still on the cards.

WHITFIELD: Well what people do know, people who are missing, Jamal Khashoggi, is that they haven't heard from him in a long time and they're very worried and they know something terrible may have happened. Thank you so much to all of you, Nic Robertson, Sam Kiley, Bob Baer. I appreciate it.

American pastor, in the meantime, Andrew Brunson, detained in Turkey for two years, now back on U.S. soil and he's about to meet with President Trump. Brunson was detained in Turkey and accused of trying to overthrow the government. The plane carrying the pastor just touched down moments ago at Andrews Air Force Base and we'll bring you his meeting with President Trump when it happens or at least when we know he's on his way to the White House and what images might come from that.

All right, still ahead, recovering from disaster. Families banning together on the Florida panhandle after Hurricane Michael's devastating landfall. We'll have updates on recovery efforts next.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. The head of FEMA is expected to tour hurricane damage in the hard-hit Florida panhandle soon and provide an update on rescue and recovery efforts. This, as we are getting a stunning firsthand look at Hurricane Michael making landfall.

All right, so that's pretty dramatic video right there that we just received today showing the force of Hurricane Michael as it slammed into Mexico Beach, Florida and you can see how high the storm surge is when you look at that view right there, particularly see the water lapping up against that building and the power of these 155--mile-per- hour winds. The death toll now stands at 17 across four states. Officials from Florida through the Carolinas and Virginia expect that number to rise as they search for the missing and as that search continues to pick up.

Nearly 900,000 homes and businesses in seven states are still without power. Joining me right now from Panama City is CNN's Scott McLane. Scott, have people kind of, you know, come to grips with the devastation there?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's hard to come to grips with what we're seeing here, Fredericka, just the scale of destruction is incredible. It makes you wonder where do you even start in this process of picking up the pieces and rebuilding this city? And keep in mind that first responders, they're just still trying to account for the safety of people. I've got one of them with me, David Collier is a battalion chief with the Panama City Fire Department. David, you know, I wonder, is it possible that there are still people trapped inside of their homes?

DAVID COLLIER, BATTALION CHIEF, PANAMA CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT: It's highly possible. Unfortunately, we're not able to gain access to all areas at this point. The quick task force teams from the state and the nation have done a quick rapid search of the area, have tried to clear homes the best we can but unfortunately we're probably still going to find people in the come weeks.

MCLEAN: Obviously your main concern is with those who are still alive but is your concerned that you may find those who have passed or the death toll may rise?

COLLIER: Absolutely, that's always a possibility in this type of storm. I mean it was so catastrophic that possibility is there.

MCLEAN: I know one of the big concerns right now is spotty cell service, lack of communication. What is the message you want to get out?

COLLIER: The biggest thing right now is try to keep -- try to stay off the roads as much as possible. First responders are out. We're trying to clear these roads, trying to save everything as much as possible. If everybody could just stay off the roads and also try to be safe, drive slowly, be as careful as possible while you're out.


MCLEAN: Does it seem to you that people heeded the warning to get out? Were they prepared?

COLLIER: I think a lot of people did heed the warning. The Bates County USC(ph) did an amazing job utilizing alert bay and television services to get the word out that this storm is going to be catastrophic. We have heard reports at about 50 percent of citizens did decide to stay. That was just a risk that they took on themselves and hopefully everybody's okay.

MCLEAN: And I know that, you know, there's hardly a home that seems untouched in this area, including your own. What is it like dealing with that on top of your regular job?

COLLIER: Well, I mean it is very difficult, especially being in the type of job we're in. I mean, while we're here at work, we've got to kind of put those emotions and things that are going on in our personal lives aside because we have to worry about what's going on here and we have to worry about our personnel and the citizens that we're trying to protect.

MCLEAN: All right, David, best of luck, thank you for the work that you're doing and hopefully people get the message to stay out for now until things sort of resume some level of normalcy.

And Fredricka, you know, one of the other big concerns here is food and water distribution. We are told that they are working hard to set up those distribution stations. Because people were told initially, look, you need to be able to fend for yourselves for 72 hours. After that, we may be able to help you.

And so, that 72-hour window, we are closing in on it right now. And so that's really where the effort is right now to make sure that those food and water distribution centers are up so that people can get access to what they need, Fredricka.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. All right, it's a huge undertaking. Scott McLean, thank you so much.

After two years in Turkish captivity, today an American pastor is back on U.S. soil and then soon to visit the White House. But where do U.S and Turkey relations go from here? More on that coming up.


[12:36:17] WHITFIELD: In about two hours, President Trump will welcome Andrew Brunson into the oval office. Brunson is the American pastor who was jailed in Turkey back in 2016, accused of being a spy and attempting to overthrow the Turkish government. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but a Turkish court chose to release him early. He just landed at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland just moments ago. And earlier today, President Trump celebrated Brunson's newfound freedom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're very honored to have him back with us. He suffered greatly, but we're very appreciative to a lot of people, a lot of people.


WHITFIELD: All right, Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman joining me now from Izmer, Turkey, where Brunson had worked as an evangelical Presbyterian pastor.

So, Ben at one point President Trump, you know, even threatened to impose large sanctions against Turkey if they did not release the pastor. So how did this all come today?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in fact, President Trump did impose sanctions. He froze the assets of the interior and justice ministers because the United States felt that they were connected to the trial of Pastor Brunson, and then they also imposed tariffs on exports of Turkish steel and aluminum and, in addition to that, the Congress put a halt to a deal to sell Turkey F- 35 fighter jets, so the pressure mounted, and it all came down this summer.

And as a result, the Turkish lira fell dramatically against the dollar. So the pressure was there, the Turks really did feel the pressure from President Trump. And in the last few days, we were hearing that there was a deal in the making between the two countries to finesse the release of Pastor Brunson.

Nobody has actually come out and said there was a deal, but we just saw a tweet from President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan who said that the judiciary made this decision to release the pastor independently and that he looked forward to continued cooperation between the two allies, the United States and Turkey, in fighting terrorist to organizations.

And he listed them as the PKK, which is the Kurdistan Workers Party, ISIS and Fetol, which is the organization affiliated to Fatula Gulan who was the U.S.-based mastermind, according to the Turkish narrative, behind the attempted coup d'etat here that took place in July 15th, 2016.

So it does appear that perhaps the worst has passed in relations between the two countries. They do still have many outstanding issues. But certainly President Trump put the fate of Pastor Andrew Brunson really at the top of his agenda when it came to relations between the United States and Turkey. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: And then, Ben, is there a way of, you know, determining how all of this might impact the relationship between, you know, Turkey and the U.S. going forward? And at the same time, you now have Turkish officials trying to figure out, you know, what happened to this reporter, Khashoggi?

WEDEMAN: Well, certainly, it does appear that we're past the worst when it comes to the crisis between Turkey and the United States and because of this crisis with Saudi Arabia, Turkey is very eager to line up its friends. Keeping in mind that its relationship with the other major powers in the Middle East, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, for instance, isn't very good and it would be very usual for Turkey to have a friend in the White House. Fredricka?

[12:40:14] WHITFIELD: All right. Ben Wedeman, thank you so much. We'll be right back after this.


WHITFIELD: It's been nearly two decades since a Democrat took over the governor's mansion Georgia. But this year, the raise between the two parties is raise or thin heading into November. Democrat Stacey Abrams is battling Republican Brian Kemp, the state's current secretary of state. It's his job to ensure the validity of the state's elections.

[12:45:04] Well now, Abrams is calling on him to resign his post, claiming that he's using his office to suppress voter turnout. CNN Correspondent Jessica Dean takes a closer look.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A major dustup in the state of Georgia weeks before voters go to the polls to choose their governor. The latest point of contention, allegations Georgia's Secretary of State Brian Kemp is using a voter verification law to effectively suppress thousands of African-American voters. Kemp is running on the Republican ticket against Democrat Stacey Abrams.


DEAN: In the latest twist, a nonprofit advocacy group has filed a lawsuit against Kemp and his official capacity as secretary of state. This, after reports, that Kemps office placed to hold on more than 50,000 voter applications, more than two thirds of which were made by African-Americans for not meeting an exact match requirement. This means anything as minor as a typo or missing hyphen between a valid I.D. and voter registration can be flagged.

KRISTEN CLARKE, PRESIDENT, LAWYERS' COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER LAW: The reality is that minority voters are often the ones with unusual names that are sometimes harder for state officials to capture accurately in the state's database and they are being penalized for that.

Our end goal, our end objective with this lawsuit is making sure there's a level playing field where everyone's voice can be heard in Georgia.

DEAN: The Kemp campaign calls the claims bogus and points to Georgia increasing its voter rolls under his leadership. "Under my tenure as secretary of state, Georgia has shattered records for voter registration and turnout across all demographic groups. Despite any claim to the contrary, it's never been easier to register to vote in Georgia and actively engage an electoral process."

The Abrams campaign says Kemp is using his authority as secretary of state to boost his chances. Saying in a statement, "This isn't incompetence, its malpractice. Brian Kemp needs to resign his position so that Georgia voters can have confidence that their secretary of state competently and impartially oversee this election."

The Kemp campaign strongly denounces the accusations as "sad campaign tactic" and said it's Abrams who's up to dirty tricks calling this whole the allegations as a campaign tactic and says it's Abrams who's up to dirty tricks, calling this whole thing a, "manufactured crisis" to turn out her base. The secretary's website points out voters with registrations on hold can vote on Election Day if they show an acceptable form of identification, which is already required to vote in Georgia.

Kemp's team says it's this controversy itself that's suppressing the vote, "By telling people they can't vote, they actually think they can't vote and that's a sad state of affairs."

As for Abrams, she's long believed Kemp has worked to suppress the minority vote.

ABRAMS: We live in a nation that has spent centuries denying the right to vote and spent decades creating barriers to that right to vote and I have an opponent who is a remarkable architect of voter suppression.


WHITFIELD: All right, that was Jessica Dean reporting. We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: All right, be sure to join us tomorrow for an all new episode of "This is Life with Lisa Ling", she takes a closer look at the role technology plays in a mental health crisis and hears from young people struggling to unplug from the digital world. Here's a preview.


LISA LING, "THIS IS LIFE" HOST: When you really stop and think about it, do you think you're addicted to your phones?




LING: These were Morgan's friends, a group of teen girls from town who knew her better than most.

Do you think a lot of kids have additional accounts to express other aspects of their lives that may not be so rosy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like the personal parts of you instead of just what you show people.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a time where I had an Instagram page like that where I would just post a bunch of really sad quotes all the time. I don't really know why.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had a tumbler like that too, like one of my first ones was just for sad stuff. No one knew about it or anything like that. It's just for me to vent.

LING: How would you feel when you were on those pages?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's, you know, like salt on the wound, that sort of thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wouldn't go on there when I was super duper happy and excited about something. I would only go on there when I was sad or upset about something.

LING: And it made it feel worse?



WHITFIELD: This all new episode of "This is Life with Lisa Ling" airs tomorrow night, 10:00 eastern, only on CNN.

Afghan and Iraqi interpreters serving alongside U.S. troops in the Middle East put themselves and their families at great risk every day, facing danger not only in combat but from persecution and death threats at the hands of the Taliban and ISIS.

Well, this week's CNN Hero is an army veteran whose new mission is to bring them to safety. Meet Matt Zeller.


MATT ZELLER, VETERAN: 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 a great debt of gratitude. To feel like they have been honored for their sacrifice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome home. Welcome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. [12:55:05] ZELLER: What we also owe them is a chance at a new and better life that we promised them in exchange for that service.


WHITFIELD: So to see how Matt Zeller is transforming the lives of these brave translators, go to and we'll be right back after this.


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Hello, again, everyone. Thanks so much for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.