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NEW DAY SATURDAY

Khashoggi May Have Recorded His Own Murder; Melania Trump on Immigration and Family Separations; Nearly 900,000 Customers Still Without Power and Death Toll From Hurricane Michael Rises to 17. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired October 13, 2018 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:06] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have just now flown over Mexico Beach and it's gone, it's gone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daylight exposing the force of Hurricane Michael.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the stores, all the restaurants, everything that was there, there's nothing left anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turkish media reporting that missing Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi may have recorded his own death on his Apple watch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the recording the source says that you can hear the assault, the struggle that took place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's disgusting especially if the accusation of killing, dismembering his body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think sanctions should be applied on the Magnitsky Act.

TOM LLAMAS, HOST, ABC NEWS: You're not the first, First Lady to have to deal with her husband's alleged infidelities. Has this put a strain on your marriage?

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It is not concern and focus of mine. I'm a mother and First Lady.

LLAMAS: Do you love your husband?

MELANIA TRUMP: Yes, we are fine, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is New Day Weekend with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL: Good morning to you. We're following reports out of Turkey, this morning that missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi may have recorded his own death. Turkish officials are saying that they have audio and visual evidence that The Washington Post columnist was killed inside the Saudi consulate.

(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)

CHRISTI 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. We're also hearing from her regarding her marriage to Donald Trump as well as the fallout over that now infamous jacket.

BLACKWELL: Plus hurricane Michael's aftermath. The search for survivors is going on this morning in the hardest hit communities along the Florida Panhandle.

Wow, listen to that. This is new video into CNN, this morning showing the force and you can hear Hurricane Michael slamming into Mexico Beach Florida. See the strength of the surge here as well, 155 mile- per-hour winds, sounds like jet engine.

The death toll, at least 17 people now dead but officials from Florida through the Carolinas up to Virginia say that number could rise.

PAUL: Days after the storm hit, nearly 900,000 homes and businesses this morning still don't have power. We're talking about places like Panama City Beach where the damage is so bad, officials say it's going to take so long to get in there just to restore that power.

BLACKWELL: Erica Hill is in Mexico Beach this morning, sunrise now, so getting the first look at for some people who may be coming back today. Are officials expecting more people and what are they telling people about returning so soon after the storm?

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes I spoke with the Mayor yesterday and he said, he understands why people want to come back and they want to see what they can find. One woman I spoke with said, she was taking pictures for her neighbors and friends from town because she was the first one who was able to get in.

She wants them to know what is left of their homes but the mayor said, we need to really think about how this is happening because this is a small town and we cannot sustain all of these cars coming in and out because there's so much else that's happening here.

So there's urban search-and-rescue, they made a second pass of the buildings that survived yesterday. We also of course, FEMA is here, we know that FEMA administrator Brock Long is expected to be in Florida today.

One would imagine he would have to come here to what's being referred to as ground zero. There are also you know, there are National Guard troops, there are bulldozers and large earth moving equipment to get the debris out of the way.

So it has turned into a very busy yet small stretch of highway 98 that runs through this town so that is a concern for the Mayor. That being said, that he fully understands being someone who lives here that people need to see what is left.

Some of the people I spoke with yesterday, they told me the destruction was worse than they imagined.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. EDGAR LAFOUNTAIN, PASTOR, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF MEXICO BEACH: From what I've seen in pictures where bombs were dropped, that's kind of looking like what it looks like here and we're going to you know, with God's help, we're going to rebuild and gain our strength again.

It's just going to set us back a little bit but we're pretty resilient people I think in Mexico Beach.

AL CATHEY, MAYOR, MEXICO BEACH: There's 75% of our city's not here, there's not one local business here, that's operational, not one and we're mom-and-pop, we don't - this isn't Hampton Inn and Pizza Hut and Walmart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: And just to give you a sense, I mean, you can sort of see from behind me, there is a field of debris, there are a few structures that are left and we can push in even just to the home over my left shoulder here.

You can see a little bit - actually over my right, my apologies, as the Sun is moving I mean, entire walls just gone and we drove by another house yesterday, you could see a dining room set on an angle but the table was still there in the dining room.

Some of what we're seeing on the ground too amongst the debris obviously, we're not going to pick it up, we're not going to go through people's belongings but just to my right, there's a muffin tin.

I saw and we can get a picture of it right here, you can see just above that obviously somebody's air conditioning unit, it is everywhere and there are little bits and pieces of people's lives everywhere and that just gives you a sense that this is not just piles of debris, these are moments in people's lives.

That being said, as difficult as it is for people to come back to begin to literally pick up the pieces, what we are also hearing as you heard from the Pastor is that they are determined to rebuild, that this is a special place.

I just met with one couple, this is their vacation home. She said listen, we have our health, we have our family, we will rebuild even if it means we're going to build a tent on the beach, we will be back.

She said that this is a special place, people will rebuild, we are stronger than this and that is the sentiment we're hearing.

BLACKWELL: All right, Erica Hill for us there in Mexico Beach, thanks so much.

PAUL: Yes, so that's what it looks like on the ground. Take a look at what it looks like from the air. These are before-and-after pictures of Mexico Beach. Look at all the homes, all the structures that are intact on the left-hand side of your screen and on the right-hand side, it almost looks like a beach with little piles of junk.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: Like a junkyard but we know it's not, as Erika said, those are pieces of people's lives and that's why they go back and they dig through all of that to find that picture, to find that diary, to find that that photo album or you know that sentiment that was given to them by somebody, that is so cherished.

BLACKWELL: It has taken people decades to accumulate their lives in this place. There's a man who said that he found just off the coast there St. George's Island and he moved there in the 70s and will rebuild, it will take a long time to rebuild these communities.

But many of the people there maybe not all of them but many of the people there are determined to rebuild their lives and their community.

PAUL: And that's what will make this really so remarkable at the end of the day. We want to take you a little further west along the Panhandle to Panama City because CNN's Scott McLean is there.

Scott, how accessible are things there for people to try to get back into their homes or at least of what's left?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Victor and Christy. Well, the situation of getting around is getting a lot better and there are other signs of normalcy that are returning to the Panhandle. There are businesses, gas stations that are starting to reopen.

The power is on in many of the places that were not as far hit though there are still 300,000 people across Florida without power. Here in Panama City, though it's a bit of a different story.

Power is the least of their worries and you can see why. This is the Jenks middle school here. Well, what's left of the Jenks middle school, this is obviously the gymnasium because you can see right through it like a dollhouse.

These brick walls came right down, you can see the banners hanging from the rafters, you can see the bleachers and the floor and really destroyed on both sides and what's ironic here is that students from this school actually welcomed in students who were displaced by Hurricane Maria which hit Puerto Rico, last year.

And now they themselves are displaced and this isn't even the epicentre, you saw where Erica Hill is in Mexico Beach, there were entire communities scraped from the map there. Yesterday, we were in Marianna, Florida, that's 50 miles inland and even there, this storm really took quite a toll there.

You would be hard-pressed to find even one building that was untouched by the force of this hurricane. We actually found a couple of neighbors, both of them had their chimneys literally blown off their homes. In one case the chimney ended up falling onto a brand new pickup truck, in the other case the chimney actually collapsed on to the roof through the roof of a woman's home.

Her name is Karen Watson, we spoke to her not long after she returned home to see the destruction first-hand for the very first time, listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAREN WATSON, MARIANNA FLORIDA RESIDENT: Didn't expect to come back to see a gaping hole in my roof but at least, I have a house, I know some that do not have a house. I lived through Andrew, I just never thought I'd go through this again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN: Now she actually rode out the storm with family in Kentucky because she was so scarred by that experience of surviving Hurricane Andrew. Her neighbor though, he was there for this round, for Hurricane Michael.

[08:10:06] And he said that he was there with his kids and instantly once that wind started whipping up, once he heard that pounding rain on his house, he instantly regret his decision to stay and said that if he could do it again, he would have got out of town.

Now there in Jackson County where Marianna is and then plenty of other counties, they are still in search-and-rescue mode as they work through some of this rubble and try to get to some of the more remote parts of these counties.

Of course they expect that the death toll will rise. Victor. Christi.

PAUL: All right, Scott McLean, thank you so much for bringing us what's happening there and I know that as we sit here and we watch and you sit at home and you watch, you think I want to do something, I don't know what to do.

Please go to CNN.COM/IMPACT, we have ways there that you can help, if you're confused about how you can do so and thank you for checking it out.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, President Trump is vowing action against Saudi Arabia if they're found to be involved in the death of a well-known Saudi journalist.

PAUL: And we're hearing from the First Lady, she's sharing as she was asked her thoughts about the state of her marriage and even answers the question of, are you in love with the President? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LLAMAS: Do you love your husband?

MELANIA TRUMP: Yes, we are fine, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: We have some breaking news for you that we're following right now. President Trump is promising 'severe punishment' for Saudi Arabia if that government is found to be responsible in any way for the death of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

BLACKWELL: Meanwhile 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. Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post has been missing for more than a week but Saudi Arabia denies any involvement in his disappearance.

PAUL: Meanwhile, sources say Saudi authorities had prevented Khashoggi's son from traveling out of the country by invalidating his passport. CNN Senior International Correspondent Arwa Damon is live outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

So Arwa, what do we know about why they're keeping his son in the country?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is something that appears to have transpired months before Khashoggi himself's disappearance and Khashoggi in speaking with other media outlets prior to his disappearance had been talking about his own concerns about the situation within the Saudi Kingdom.

He is also been quite an outspoken critic, remember at one point, he was however an insider but he had been growing increasingly outspoken in his criticism of the way that the Saudi government was conducting a number of its activities to include detention of clerics, activists, human rights activists as well.

The article that was published in the pro-government newspaper The Daily and Sabah says that Khashoggi had turned his Apple watch voice- recording application on before entering into the Consulate and that he somehow managed to through that perhaps even record his own final moments.

But we have not been able to independently verify that information and this particular article is actually fraught with inconsistencies and technology experts are saying that it's highly unlikely that even if he did turn on that application within his Apple watch, that the information then migrated out of it.

That being said though, it is important to also remember that the Turks have been asserting that they do have audio and video recordings. A source at CNN spoke with someone familiar with the investigation was briefed by a western intelligence agency said that whatever it is that the Turks have is really quite chilling depicting the moment of assault, a sort of argument that broke out and then there is evidence also that point to the murder of Khashoggi as well.

This has become a very highly politicized situation at this stage. If you'll remember the Turks had originally asked for and actually received the okay from the Saudi to be able to go inside and search the Consulate as well as the Consul General's house.

The Saudis then asked that that be postponed and over the weekend, we saw the formation of a joint working group between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, a Saudi Arabian delegation arriving in Turkey yesterday and we're going to have to wait and see exactly what it is, if anything that they do uncover because Turkey is not going to be endlessly patient at this stage.

They've been calling on Saudi Arabia to cooperate with them, they say that they do want to cooperate but again, it's a very tricky situation at this stage and all that we really know is that Khashoggi disappeared inside this building and was not seen or heard from again.

BLACKWELL: Still so many questions. Arwa Damon, thank you so much.

PAUL: So we're going to go to CNN White House reporter, Sarah Westwood. Sarah, tell us more about this new interview with President Trump and what he's saying about the consequences for Khashoggi vanishing, I guess?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Christy, President Trump is using the toughest language, we've seen yet from this administration when it comes to the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi in that interview with 60 minutes that Trump taped on Thursday.

He said the stakes in this diplomatic crisis are so high, in part because of Khashoggi status as a journalist and he vowed that 'severe punishment' against the Saudis of evidence emerges that suggests they were involved in the alleged murder of this Washington Post columnist. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: 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.

[08:20:06] We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Now the preview of an interview that will air on Sunday and it underscores the fine line that Trump is trying to walk when it comes to Saudi Arabia because earlier in this clip, President Trump talks about wanting to preserve a billion dollar proposed arms sale to Saudi Arabia, while also promising these unspecified diplomatic punishments against Saudi Arabia.

And the U.S. - Saudi relationship is important not just because of those economic ties but also because Saudi Arabia had become a focal point of the President's Middle Eastern policy and that relationship, the U.S. - Saudi relationship had already begun to draw scrutiny, especially in recent months over the Saudis controversial behavior including a Saudi-led coalition activity in Yemen that has led to the killing of civilians.

The precipitation of a humanitarian crisis so Trump is now going to face enormous pressure to specify what kind of punishments he has in mind for Saudi Arabia, Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All right, Sarah Westwood, thank you so much for the update.

BLACKWELL: Joining me now 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 & COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: 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 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 it's affecting the administration but it's far short of what the administration ought to be doing and not only to punish the Saudis but to pressure them to release information, that they must have about what happened to Jamal in that consulate on that day.

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, okay?

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 sell by the way.

It's mostly BS as 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, okay?

We can't have an arms sale get in the way of us defending our interests and our values and our residents from being murdered in foreign consulates, okay?

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.

BLACKWELL: The way the President frames this is he says that he doesn't want to hurt jobs, Boeing Lockheed, Raison (ph), he 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 arm 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 FOR BLOOMBERG NEWS: 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 script 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 sanction structure, this administration has placed so much of an emphasis on their reset toward Mid East 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 Mid East 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 Mid-East policy 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 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, okay?

How's that Middle East peace plan going, okay? It's not actually going to happen, is Saudi Arabia a really a reliable ally in the region? No, of course they aren't. Has any of Mohammed bin Salman's actions regarding Libya, I'm sorry a Lebanon 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?

I mean if the murder - report of - 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 the MBS so that's not surprising at all 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, okay?

It's not that complicated, okay? 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 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 ten 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 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 MBS 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 it's 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.

PAUL: And we're also hearing from the First Lady in a rare interview here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: What she says about her marriage, about the Me Too movement and about the administration's immigration policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[08:30:06] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: Melania Trump sat down for a rare interview as First Lady while she was away on a trip overseas and she spoke about a number of issues including the Me Too movement, the state of her marriage, the administration's immigration policy.

CNN White House reporter Kate Bennet here to assess with us. Kate, good to see you this morning. Let's listen first of all, to what she said about the family separation zero-tolerance policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIA TRUMP: I was blindsided by it. I told him at home and I said to him that I feel that's unacceptable and he felt the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: So she talked about how she talked to the President about this. Do you get the sense that she has influence over him?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, absolutely, in fact I remember that quite well because we - I was on the trip when she went down to the border and I remember asking her communications director, how did the President feel about this and she said, the First Lady told him she was going so there wasn't really a chance for him to feel anything about it.

She makes a decision and she typically follows through. You know, I do think that there is more of a communication, more influence there, more back and forth between the First couple than most people want to think about or really sort of believe but certainly they've been together for 20 years.

People sort of forget that part and this they had you know, they speak a language together that most married couples do and I think she really does influence him, certainly.

PAUL: You know, when she was - when you're talking about going down to the border, she wore that jacket, the 'I don't care' to the children's detention facilities and it certainly had a lot of people thinking about what it meant. Here's what she said about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIA TRUMP: I wore the jacket 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.

LLAMAS: 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)

PAUL: So there was an intention behind the wearing of that jacket.

BENNETT: Right and I thought that was sort of an unusual part of the interview, last night, she had previously and her spokesperson it said hey, it's just a jacket, it didn't mean anything.

Now all the sudden it's this message to the Left-wing media, that answer felt a little rehearsed to me, it felt a little bit maybe a pre-planned obviously, the jacket is a very big sticking point for her, I would say one of her major gaffes as First Lady you know on a scale of things that have gone wrong during her tenure.

She didn't wear it on the ground in Texas, I will give her that, she did wear it on and off the plane only left and returned to Andrews Air Force Base but yes, I mean, it's certainly a different story about a message to the Left-wing media that wasn't what we were hearing at the time, that wasn't what they said right after it happened.

PAUL: And we also want to point out, she talked about the hearings for Brett Kavanaugh and the Me Too movement as well. let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIA TRUMP: I do stand with women but we need to - we need to show the evidence, you cannot just say to somebody I was you know sexually assaulted and or you did that to me or because sometimes the media goes too far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Your reaction.

BENNETT: I mean clearly she has something against the media, she's very wary of the media like her husband but I think she can't really have it both ways and say, I support women and also at the same time, women need to have evidence, it was a bit of a mixed message.

But again, very much aligned with her husband, the President. PAUL: All righty, Kate Bennett, always appreciate you being here, thank you.

BENNETT: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Question, did Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross mislead Congress about a controversial citizenship question added to the U.S. census survey?

[08:40:06] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Right now, an American Pastor who was imprisoned in Turkey is preparing to come back to the United States.

Pastor Andrew Brunson was held for two years, charged with being involved in a failed coup attempt.

He was released Friday, flew to Germany alongside his wife for medical check and when he landed the U.S. ambassador there handed him an American flag and he kissed it. He's expected to land in DC sometime this afternoon and meet President Trump in the Oval Office.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Congress earlier this year, he had nothing to do with adding a new question about citizenship to the U.S. census survey.

He said it was the Justice Department that requested it, not the White House. But it now appears Former Trump advisors Steve Bannon played a role so did Ross lie to Congress. CNN Senior Congressional correspondent Manu Raju has more from Capitol Hill.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, new filing from the Justice Department raising serious questions about Wilbur Ross's testimony before two House committees earlier this year when Wilbur Ross said that it was not him or the White House that was involved with initiating discussions about the citizenship question on the 2020 census suggesting it was the Justice Department instead.

Now this new Justice Department filing suggests otherwise, it says that that actually was the former White House adviser Steve Bannon who had called Wilbur Ross and urged him to talk to the Kansas Secretary of state, Kris Kobach about adding a citizenship question to that census.

Now earlier this year when Ross was asked at a congressional hearing by a Democratic Congresswoman whether or not he was aware about whether or not the White House was involved or any one at the White House was involved.

He said, he didn't know. He also said, it was a Justice Department that began discussions over this topic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE MENG, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE (D), NEW YORK: Has the President or anyone in the White House discussed with you or anyone on your team about adding this citizenship question?

WILBUR ROSS, COMMERCE SECRETARY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm not aware of any such. We have had a request as everyone is aware from the Department of Justice to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Now in the aftermath of this revelation, Democrats jumping all over this, including the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, who issued a statement going after Wilbur Ross and the Trump administration to try to - who's trying to prevent Wilbur Ross from being deposed in a lawsuit from states, trying to stop the citizen question from being added to that census.

And this is what Elijah Cumming said based on this new evidence it's now clear that both the Justice Department and the White House were part of Secretary Ross's secret campaign to orchestrate the addition of a citizenship question to the census.

But now the Justice Department is trying to block depositions for the very same Trump administration officials who engaged in these actions and then mislead Congress. Now the Commerce Department is pushing back, they say that all this, it just adds to the Secretary's story, does not contradict the Secretary's story.

Republicans on Capitol Hill for the most part have been silent on this very significant issue because of course, the concern from the critics is that adding a citizenship question to the census could ultimately discourage immigrant communities particularly undocumented immigrant communities from filling out the census, thereby undercutting the population in predominantly Democratic areas, that could affect redistricting the house seats in the 2020 redistricting efforts.

But the White House and the Trump administrators say, this is all part of an effort just to get better data to enforce the Voting Rights Act. Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

PAUL: Manu, thank you so much. You know, there's a lot of people who are wondering if Hurricane Michael is a preview of more devastating storms to come. Well, experts do say climate change could make these storms more intense.

We're going to talk to somebody who has the knowledge of that so stay put.

[08:50:06] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: You know, 17 people are dead after Hurricane Michael, now and it has a lot of people wondering about the intensity of these storms. Is climate change a factor here?

BLACKWELL: Yes, joining us now Dr. Gavin Schmidt, he's a climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Doctor, good morning to you, thanks for being with us, listen, we have now a 500 year storm every two or three years. So explain to us in morning television family watching terms, the

science behind why we're having such intense storms so often?

DR. GAVIN SCHMIDT, CLIMATE SCIENTIST, NASA GODDARD INSTITUTE FOR SPACE STUDIES: So we have a lot of hurricanes normally like we have about 90 tropical cyclones throughout the world, every year and there's a lot of variation in their intensity, their size, their location, where they make landfall.

So given that we do know though that the background on which these hurricanes are occurring is changing. The sea surface temperatures, the ocean temperatures are warmer now than they were 30 years ago, 50 years ago.

That is fuel for these storms and what we found is that increasing sea surface temperatures tends to make storms more intense, it tends to make them last a little bit longer and there's some hint that they start to travel a little bit slower and that has consequences for the amount of rain.

Now there's a couple of other things that are going on as well. Sea level rise, that's one of the things that's making storm surges worse.

And the amount of water in the atmosphere is increasing how much rain is falling when you get one of these intense storms.

PAUL: So is this a natural cycle or is this something that man is contributing to?

SCHMIDT: It's not, I mean, there are natural cycles but the trends that we've seen over the last few decades, particularly in temperature and in water vapor, intense precipitation are all related to human activities and the dominant human activity that's causing this is the increase in greenhouse gases, namely carbon dioxide, methane and a couple of others.

BLACKWELL: So how did this change the decisions people make about where to build, how to build, where to rebuild potentially after these storms?

SCHMIDT: So people can be making better decisions, regardless of the climate change question but you're right climate change makes these issues a little more acute.

SCHMIDT: We are right now the reason why there's so much more damages going on, we've had about a billion dollars in storm damage over the last ten years in the U.S.

A lot of that increase in damages is because we're building more and more and more expensive infrastructure in places that are not resilient, in places that are too vulnerable and the way that the insurance market works.

And in fact, there isn't really a market, it's subsidized by the federal government. The way that that's working, is encouraging people to build in places where the chances that something bad is going to happen are actually quite - quite large and this isn't sensible.

PAUL: All righty, Dr. Gavin Schmidt, thank you so much for the education today.

SCHMIDT: You're more than welcome.

PAUL: We appreciate it.

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