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Missing Saudi Journalist; U.S. Pastor Freed; Searching for Hurricane Michael Survivors; U.N. Chief Tours Indonesia; Britain's Princess Eugenie Weds in Windsor. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired October 13, 2018 - 03:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A new grisly report on the disappearance of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi, Khashoggi himself may have recorded his final moments.

After two years detained in Turkey, American pastor Andrew Brunson is now free and on his way home.

Plus Hurricane Michael carves a deadly path across the southeastern U.S. We're there when families come back to see the devastation and what is left of their homes.

We're live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta. I'm Cyril Vanier. Great to have you with us.


VANIER: A pro-government newspaper in Turkey has published an astonishing report about missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The article states that an Apple Watch worn by "The Washington Post" columnist recorded his alleged torture and murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

CNN cannot verify that report independently and the Saudis denied any involvement in his disappearance. CNN's Arwa Damon explains what we do know at this time.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Turkish authorities are claiming they have audio and video recordings from within the Saudi consulate in Istanbul which prove "The Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside.

That's according to a source familiar with the investigation who was briefed by Western intelligence. In the recordings, the source says that you can hear the assault, the struggle that took place and that there is also evidence of the moment Khashoggi was murdered.

The existence of these tapes would explain why Turkey was quick to blame Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi's killing and that the U.S.' working assumption is that he was murdered in the consulate, according to a U.S. official.

The BBC also released audio of an off-air conversation they had with Khashoggi, a former Saudi royal insider turned critic, three days before his disappearance.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When do you think you might be able to go home again?

JAMAL KHASHOGGI, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I don't think I will be able -- I don't think I will be able to go home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you put out some feelers every now and again, test the temperature or...

KHASHOGGI: See, when I hear of an arrest of a friend who did nothing worth to be arrested, it make me feel I shouldn't go.


DAMON: Turkish authorities have identified 15 Saudi men as persons of interest. Only hours before Khashoggi went missing, several of them were caught on camera arriving in Istanbul.

Saudi officials have denied any involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi.

But, on Capitol Hill, there are bipartisan calls for actions.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: It's disgusting and especially if the accusation of killing, dismembering his body, there needs to be some consequences.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: I think sanctions should be applied under the Magnitsky Act if the evidence supports what we believe took place inside that embassy.

DAMON: But the Trump administration has been hesitant to blame Saudi Arabia, especially Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is reportedly close with the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

JOHN BOLTON, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think the Saudis themselves are being damaged because we don't have the facts out.

DAMON: And as far as getting those facts, the State Department says they are waiting on a report from the Saudi ambassador.

HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT: My understanding is that he's on his way back there. We said, when you come back, we would like to hear -- get a report from you.


VANIER: That was Arwa Damon reporting from Istanbul.

As you heard, a lot of fingers being pointed at Saudi Arabia right now, so let us go straight to Sam Kiley. He in Riyadh.

Sam, what is Saudi Arabia saying?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Cyril, Saudi Arabia has been saying consistently all along that Mr. Khashoggi left the consulate entirely safely and soundly and they cannot account for his whereabouts.

Indeed, they have sent a team to work alongside the Turks to conduct an investigation into his whereabouts. But the interior minister, Prince Abdul Aziz, has overnight issued a statement. This is the statement we've had from an actual Saudi official, named official.

And he says that -- he's quoted by the official news agency as saying that 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 government of the kingdom.

That is consistent to with a lot of things that have been coming out, statements and expressions of opinion that have been in the Saudi backed press over the last week, suggesting they went further than many of the commentators, pointing the finger for what they suggest propaganda calumny, particularly at Qatar and elements of the


KILEY: -- Muslim Brotherhood, both of which of course, at the moment are the enemies of Saudi Arabia, the Muslim Brotherhood because of its political Islamic agenda and Qatar for its alleged support of that organization. And Qatar is also being blockaded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

VANIER: Saudi Arabia officially is taking part in an investigation into what happened inside their own consulate.

What do we know about this investigation?

KILEY: The information about that is really coming out of Istanbul. But as far as I understand it, the Saudis' position -- and it was repeated yesterday in an official statement, saying that they are welcoming this investigation.

It was -- access to this consulate was offered more than a week ago, exactly week ago by the crown prince in an interview with the Bloomberg news agency, in which he said that people could have -- investigators would have free access to the embassy and, indeed, a Reuters journalist was taken around the consulate.

So the Saudi are blowing slightly hot and cold on this but it will be interesting to see, over this weekend, if they are given access, if the Turkish authorities are given access and then what sort of access that will be.

Will they be able to bring in forensic teams, people that could look for traces of blood, microscopic study?

Would it be a cursory walk through the building?

That remains to be seen.

VANIER: On my side of the Atlantic, Sam, the political leaders here, Donald Trump in particular, is being asked what conversation he has been having with the Saudis, if any.

What do you know about that?

What's the conversation like between Saudis and the U.S.?

KILEY: There are warm links between the crown prince and the Trump administration. The president himself and the president's son-in-law, that we know very clearly. There's been no Saudi confirmation of the stories coming out of the United States that Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, reached out to Jared Kushner during the early stages of this controversy coming out of Istanbul.

But they are very close. They're close commercially because of this $110 billion arms deal that Trump negotiated with the Saudis in May last year. And also they are very close because -- and this is much more applicable to other Western allies, too, their -- this country here in Saudi Arabia is very much at the center of efforts to track the financing of terrorist organizations.

This is the world they court (INAUDIBLE) operation and also the Saudis are sharing a great deal of the very considerable intelligence they have about violent Islamic groups. And that is a relationship that, whether you're the United States, Britain, France, Germany, any country that is threatened by violent political Islam, that is a relationship to be very uncomfortable in ending.

So that is why these -- it is not such an easy thing to suddenly say we will slap some sanctions on Saudi Arabia. It is a very, very important Western ally.

VANIER: All right, Sam Kiley, reporting live from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, appreciate your perspective there. Thank you very much.

U.S. president Donald Trump's close ties with Saudi Arabia are being tested. Sam mentioned that as his administration investigates Jamaal Khashoggi's disappearance, as Jim Acosta reports, that is not Mr. Trump's only focus heading into the weekend.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: On his way to a second midterm rally in three days, President Trump, who has been chatty all week with reporters, left the White House without taking questions. Sticking to his campaign schedule is something of a political gamble for the president, as his administration scrambles to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. In Pennsylvania earlier this week, Mr. Trump said he didn't want to disappoint his supporters, then fired up the crowd by touting his victory two years ago.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Donald Trump has won the great state of Pennsylvania.

ACOSTA: The president is rallying his base as the administration is still searching for answers behind the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who vanished after visiting one of the kingdom's consulates in Turkey.

Even though Turkish officials are accusing the Saudis of murder, the president suggested to reporters he's not quite ready to reach the same conclusion.

TRUMP: We're going to find out what happened with respect to the terrible situation in Turkey having to do with Saudi Arabia and the reporter. And nobody knows quite yet. Nobody has been able to put it all together. People are starting to form ideas and as they're formed, we will let you know. But it certainly is a terrible thing.

ACOSTA: The president vowed to discuss the matter with Saudi Arabia's King Salman.

TRUMP: I will be calling him. I will be --


TRUMP: -- calling at some point King Salman. We have a lot of very close relationships with a lot of countries, but this is a serious problem.

ACOSTA: But the president is making it clear he may only push the Saudis so much, noting the billions of dollars the kingdom is spending buying U.S. military equipment.

TRUMP: I would not be in favor of stopping a country from spending $110 billion, which is an all-time record and letting Russia have that money and letting China have that money.

ACOSTA: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says he is still headed to a Saudi investment conference in Riyadh later this month, despite the fact that several corporations and major news organizations, including CNN, have pulled out of the event.

STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Saudi has been a very good partner of ours in a lot of areas.

ACOSTA: For years, Mr. Trump has made it clear he values his relationship with the Saudis, from the president's first foreign trip to Riyadh, where his close ties were on display, to the Oval Office, where he welcomed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN, SAUDI ARABIAN CROWN PRINCE: You have talked today, Mr. President, about military deals, the implementation and it's more than 50 percent. TRUMP: One thing that you have been really focused on is the terrorism threat and the funding of terrorism. And whether it is Saudi Arabia or other countries, as we know, there will be no funding.

ACOSTA: And back to the campaign trail.

TRUMP: Saudi Arabia and I get along great with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.


VANIER: Aaron David Miller, a CNN global affairs analyst, joins us now.

Aaron, you're a distinguished fellow at the Wilson Center and a former Middle East analyst at the State Department.

You have written very critically this past week about the Trump administration's wider responsibility in all of this. Why?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I'm not drawing any -- causality is tough to draw here. If in fact in the evidence I think will be coming incontrovertible. The Saudis ordered this procedural. Maybe it was a rendition, a kidnapping that went badly if it was premeditated. I'm not sure we know.

If all of that is confirmed at -- this is not the Saudis. They killed him, not the Trump administration. My point is a broader one, that we enabled and played with the Saudis for years. But rarely have I seen, having worked for the public in a Democratic secretary of state administration, it seems to have given the Saudis so much license, so much validation while they pursued policies, in my view, that are inimical to our national interests.

The boycott of Qatar that has fractured the Gulf Cooperation Council, helping opportunities for Iranian relations, closer relations with the Qataris, a disastrous war in Yemen that seems to be without end.

And the Obama administration began that support for the Saudis. But the Trump administration has accelerated it and repression at home about which we've said very little.

So if in fact you never criticize a close ally and that ally is acting in ways that are inimical to your interests, it may well be that the leader of your ally gets a feeling that he can do almost anything without consequence and without criticism.


VANIER: -- do you think this could be a turning point, do you think this potentially could be a game changer in the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia?

MILLER: The truth is I do not believe -- well, transformations are here and you got two contending competing forces here. You've got the Trump administration's investments in Saudi Arabia. I really do believe that the Saudis are the key to containing Iran, keeping oil prices moderate, even facilitating Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Against that investment, however, you have a brazen, blatant act, what may well end up being the premeditated assassination of one of their own citizens, who's a resident United States, applying for a green card on Turkish soil.

And my suspicion is that the Trump administration will respond but it will respond only if the pressure from Congress, the business community, the media creates a situation where they have to do something. And I am not entirely persuaded that 6-8-10 months, a year from (INAUDIBLE) send military assistance to support the Saudi campaign, air campaign in Yemen, (INAUDIBLE) arms sales, recall our charge -- and we don't have an ambassador in Riyadh -- recall our charge.

And we've got all of these things without the broader, the broader objective to basically tell the Saudis that if, in fact, they're prepared to respect American interests, to do some reciprocity, that in fact we can support them and we can encourage the crown prince, who actually has made some positive steps.

Women driving is one of them. And in fact he takes on the more extremist --


MILLER: -- elements within how this Islam, the Saudis have exported for years, could now -- could be -- that could in effect be transformed. But it is not a one-way street and the real question is whether or not the Trump administration is prepared to have that conversation with the Saudis and to stick with it and could the impact Jamal Khashoggi's death.

VANIER: And the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has been incredibly effective over the last year and a half or so at marketing himself as a reformer, at marketing also Saudi Arabia as a changing country.

But he is getting now a lot of negative attention, global focus, based on this. We still do not know a lot. In fact, many of the facts.

All right, Aaron David Miller, thank you so much for joining us for this conversation.

MILLER: Cyril, it's a pleasure.

VANIER: Starting next hour we will have more coverage of the investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance. Becky Anderson will be leading our coverage live from Istanbul and she will be with Natalie Allen, also here in Atlanta. That begins at the top of the next hour.

U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, just freed from two years in Turkish custody, is now in Germany and shortly he will be on his way back home to the United States. The U.S. ambassador to Germany tweeted this photo that he took of Brunson's emotional arrival at the American airbase. He is receiving a medical evaluation there.

On Friday a Turkish court released Brunson from house arrest and President Trump celebrated this at a rally in Ohio.


TRUMP: I'm really proud to report that, earlier today, we secured the release of pastor Andrew Brunson from prison.


VANIER: Ben Wedeman has the full story of Brunson's ordeal.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A convoy of cars rushes away from a Turkish court, one a passenger, American pastor Andrew Brunson, free after two years of detention.

He'd been charged with involvement in the failed July 2016 attempted coup. Charges he always denied. The Dutch gave him more than a three year sentence for aiding and abetting terrorism but freed him because of good behavior and the two years already spent in detention.

One of Brunson's supporters, Pastor William Devlin (ph), was delighted with the ruling.

WILLIAM DEVLIN (PH), PASTOR: We're just thankful today that he can go home and be reunited with his three kids, his wife. He can walk his daughter down the aisle as he was not able to do when she was married. So we're just thankful today and we're thankful that he's going home.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Also delighted was President Donald Trump. He tweeted, "Pastor Brunson just released. Will be home soon."

Brunson had spent 23 years in predominantly Muslim Turkey, doing missionary work. The Trump administration agitated for Brunson's release, freezing the assets of Turkey's interior and justice ministers and hiking tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum while Congress blocked the sale of U.S.-made F-35 jet fighters, squeezing an already faltering Turkish economy and bringing relations between the two NATO allies to a new low.

The sanctions may be eased now that Brunson's free. After his release the Turkish presidency put out a statement, saying, "Like the Turkish courts, the Republic of Turkey does not receive instructions from anybody, authority, office or person.

"We make our own rules and make our own decisions that reflect our will."

WEDEMAN: Despite the defiant words, in the end, Turkey blinked -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Izmir, Turkey.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VANIER: The rescue teams are racing to find possible survivors of

Hurricane Michael. We'll have the latest on the aftermath of the powerful storm right here in the U.S. -- when we come back.





VANIER: The death toll from Hurricane Michael has increased to 17 now. But authorities fear that is still going to go up as search and rescue efforts continue. Michael made landfall near Florida's Mexico Beach on Wednesday and it wiped thousands of homes off the map. It is going to take weeks to fully assess the extent of the destruction.

For now, power is still out for more than 1 million homes and businesses and emergency officials have little or no access still at this point to some towns. Our Miguel Marquez has been in Mexico Beach, Florida, ground zero for the destruction of this storm. And he spoke to survivors struggling to process all that they have lost.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An entire town almost gone. Those who rode it out...

MARQUEZ: You were up to your neck in water?

BOB PUGH, HURRICANE MICHAEL SURVIVOR: With a 96-year-old lady next door to and my mother and two dogs.

MARQUEZ: And you made it.

PUGH: We're here, baby.

MARQUEZ: Would you do it again?


MARQUEZ (voice-over): They barely survived. Search and rescue now searching for survivors and possibly the dead. Emergency officials expect the death toll to climb.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do expect that we're going to find that kind of bad news and there's a process that we go through for that and then we -- you know, our priority obviously is the living. And we're looking for people that are trapped.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Several people we spoke to say they haven't yet heard from neighbors and friends who rode it out.

MARQUEZ: What's happened to Mexico Beach?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a disaster. It's -- I was really shocked to see what it looked like.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): This CNN exclusive video of the moment the hurricane hit shows winds as high as 155 miles an hour, shredding this once tranquil beach town. Then an enormous storm surge, a dozen or more feet of water bulldozed large sections of Mexico Beach from the coast to the interior; 30 miles out from Mexico Beach, some roads no longer exist, entirely covered by downed trees for miles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brandi (ph), it's Dad.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): With power out, those who survived have no way to tell the world they're still here. When they do, the news, about as bad as it gets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do not come down here. Do not. You can't get it. It's -- everything, it's devastating. We have a hole in our house but that's all that's wrong with it. Grandmother's house is completely gone. It looks like a bomb hit it.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The devastation here, jaw-dropping. The main drag, Highway 98, collapsed, in many places water eroding the sand beneath. Entire homes, their living rooms still intact, slammed into condos across the street. And the most popular bar here, Toucan's, reduced to a pile of rubble.


VANIER: Miguel Marquez reporting there.

And we are still following the impact of another natural disaster. This one occurred last month. It was the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia. The U.N. secretary-general saw some of the damage firsthand on Friday.

Antonio Guterres also met with displaced people and families whose loved ones were killed. He praises the resilience of Indonesians. The U.N. says around 2,000 people died in that disaster and thousands more were injured or missing.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: Well, seeing many scenes, it's heartbreaking to see the impact of the disaster, especially the fact that about 7,000 --


GUTERRES: -- people are still missing because of the liquefaction of parts of the territory. So it is very emotional to be there and to feel the sorrow of the people. On the other hand, (INAUDIBLE) for the resilience, the courage, the speed and the solidarity of the people of Sulawesi. And I have to say, my admiration for the very prompt and effective response led by the government in Indonesia.

What has been done in these few days is remarkable. They have a plan for full reconstruction to be achieved in two years and I think the international community should fully support them because they deserve.


VANIER: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaking to me earlier.

I want to end on a lighter note. We're really changing things here. There was, on the other side of the world, cheering, pageantry and, as always, plenty of hats. Britain's Princess Eugenie Marthe (ph) married Jack Brooksbank in Windsor Castle's second royal wedding of the year.

It was everything that one might expect from such an event and, as one might also expect, if one watches CNN, Anna Stewart was there for us.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It had pomp, ceremony and a star- studded congregation, supermodels and pop stars amongst many others. A windy day proved something of a challenge for the guests and a gaggle of bridesmaids and pageboys, including Prince George and Princess Charlotte, made a memorable entrance.

Shortly after Her Majesty the Queen arrived, so did her granddaughter, Princess Eugenie, ninth in line to the throne. The bride cut a stunning silhouette in a dress designed by Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos. An open neck, a long train and a striking low back, revealing a scar along her spine, a mark from the operation she had, age 12, to treat her scoliosis.

Her entrance was an emotional moment for the groom, Jack Brooksbank. The service, held in St. George's Chapel, included a reading from big sister, Princess Beatrice.

BEATRICE, PRINCESS OF YORK: We smile understandingly.

STEWART (voice-over): And the newly married Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

STEWART: We didn't see the same level of crowd as we did for the first royal wedding but still plenty of royal fans turned up to line the streets for another carriage procession.



STEWART (voice-over): Another day of separation for the ever- expanding royal family and for all the fans in Windsor.


STEWART (voice-over): Anna Stewart, CNN, Windsor.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VANIER: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. I've

got the headlines for you in just a moment. That might be worth sticking around for. Stay with us.