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Trump: "Severe Punishment" if Saudis Killed Khashoggi; Hurricane Michael's Wrath; Britain's Eugenie Weds. Aired 3:30-4a ET

Aired October 14, 2018 - 03:30   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): U.S. president Donald Trump promises a severe punishment if Saudi Arabia killed missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

From detention overseas to the Oval Office, an American pastor meets and prays for President Trump.

And rescuers trying to reach people trapped after Hurricane Michael, why they say they still cannot reach all those who need help.

From the CNN Center, we're live in Atlanta. I'm Cyril Vanier. It's great to have you with us.


VANIER: The U.S. president says he soon expects to see the evidence Turkey claims to have about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd. This is the video.

Here's what Mr. Trump told the CBS News show "60 Minutes," if it turns out Khashoggi was killed.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a lot at stake and maybe especially so because this man was a reporter, because 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.


VANIER: Saudi Arabia is adamant it had nothing to do with the Khashoggi's disappearance but his fiancee fears the worst. She wrote an emotional op-ed in "The New York Times" about the man she had hoped to marry.

"Jamal spoke up against oppression but he paid for the Saudi people's demand for freedom with his own life, she wrote.

"if he is dead -- and I hope that it is not the case -- thousands of Jamals will be born today on his birthday. His voice and his ideas will reverberate, from Turkey to Saudi Arabia and across the world. Oppression never lasts forever. Tyrants eventually pay for their sins."

Here is Nic Robertson with more in Istanbul.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee describes that morning when Khashoggi went into the consulate. He said -- she says that he was cheerful, that there was no sense of foreboding but the reason for that -- and this is very important -- is because he'd been into the consulate on the Friday and they told him to come back at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, which is what he did the 2nd of October.

That tells us a lot because it tells us that there was a plan in the Saudi consulate to expect Jamal Khashoggi at that time and that aligns with what Turkish investigators believe that he came in and there was a plan, people had arrive, Saudis had arrived to the country with the purpose of doing some kind of harm to him. And they say they have the evidence for that.

What we have heard, the most strong language so far from Turkish officials on Saturday, the Turkish foreign minister, while visiting the U.K., likely there to try to bolster support for Turkey's position, used very strong language to say what Turkey expects from the Saudis in this joint working group so that the Turkish officials can move ahead with their investigation.

He said the Saudi authorities must -- and he used that word, a very strong word -- must give access to Turkey's chief prosecutor and technical experts to get inside the consulate. That is the bar. That's the threshold. That is what Saudi authorities have to agree to. Right now they continue to say that they were not involved in this, that the allegations against them are without foundation, that they had no hand in any harm coming to Jamal Khashoggi.

There is a lot of daylight between the two positions and it does seem time is running out for the two countries to find agreement on this. But we now have a better understanding of Khashoggi's state of mind when he went in but are very far from agreement on getting those Turkish investigators inside that consulate -- Nic Robertson, CNN, Istanbul, Turkey.


VANIER: As Nic just told us, Turkey's foreign minister wants the Saudis to allow Turkish investigators into their consulate in Istanbul. Here is what he said.


MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Saudi Arabia must cooperate for allowing access to our chief prosecutor's office and experts to enter the Saudi consulate. But where did he disappear? There in the consulate. Therefore, for the sake of this investigation, in order to bring everything into the open, they must allow access to the consulate.

We haven't seen any collaboration yet. We want to see that. Our chief prosecutor and our technical experts must enter the consulate and Saudi Arabia needs to cooperate with us in this matter.


VANIER: OK, so how does Saudi Arabia now respond to all of this?

The Saudi interior minister says the accusations in the media --


VANIER: -- are false and he condemns them. Sam Kiley is in Riyadh.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Turkish foreign minister's allegation that Saudi Arabia is not allowing Turkish investigators access to the consulate has so far been met by silence from Saudi officials. They have been very parsimonious with their statements since October the 2nd, when their citizen went missing inside their consulate in Istanbul but they did welcome the establishment of a joint investigative committee and even sent some officials over to join it.

But the Saudi position is absolutely that Mr. Khashoggi left that consulate safe and sound. In the last 24 hours the interior minister, the first person to put his name to a statement coming through the Saudi press agency, and that is a Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud, he is quoted by the agency as saying, "The minister of the 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 the Saudi position and it has not wavered one jot. Then that sets up a major problem for them if and only if the allegations that are being leaked out unofficially in Turkey prove to be true or true in part. In other words, they don't have what in diplomacy is most useful, which is an element of doubt which would allow them to reverse out of their official position, that they had no role whatsoever in this murder or disappearance and suggest some other form of narrative. So that ultimately is going to be potentially very problematic for Saudi Arabia -- Sam Kiley, CNN, Riyadh.


VANIER: David Rohde, CNN global affairs analyst, joins us now.

David, I want your analysis on all of this. I also want your personal point of view. You were kidnapped by the Taliban back in 2008, when you were a reporter for "The New York Times" at the time. So obviously this hits close to home, when you see harm coming to a journalist, a columnist, who fear repercussion for expressing his opinions.

So just start by telling me where you are, what your reaction to all of this is.

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, I do have a bias. I feel a sense of spirit with him and I am, you know, I blame the perpetrators. I blame the Taliban who kidnapped me. I blame the Saudi government at least for not answering what has happened here.

It is extraordinary that so much time has passed, if he is alive, if they have proof of him leaving consulate, please share it with the world.

VANIER: Yes, and they haven't brought in that proof and Turkey wants that proof, too, but nothing coming from the Saudis on that front. They just have been putting out these terse statements, saying allegations that they may have killed him are all lies.

Donald Trump there will be severe punishment if it turns out that Saudi Arabia murdered Jamal Khashoggi but does not want to stop selling weapons to the Saudis.

So what could he do?

ROHDE: I think there many things he could do. He has been brutal with sanctions with our closest allies, with Europe and Canada and Mexico and yet he is taking a very soft approach towards Saudi Arabia.

I think it's really -- look, I think the president, you know, is tough and will be tough and that is one of his strengths. But it is a really bad message, frankly, to send, particularly to the Middle East that money is what matters here, that, you know, an arms sales to Saudi Arabia is more important than solving this murder.

That plays into this, the hypocrisy frankly that extremist groups in the Middle East use that the West can be bought, that the West doesn't really care about all these ideals, about the rule of law and justice. it is just all about money. So the Saudis get a pass because they have a great deal of money.

VANIER: So this bring me to my next question.

Do you think Saudi Arabia and specifically the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, care about the backlash that they are getting because, yes, there is the money but there is also all the rebranding that they have been doing for the better part of, what, 1.5 years, two years now, of branding the Saudi crown prince as a reformer and the country is a changing country.

Why would they want to undermine that?

ROHDE: I don't think they want.


VANIER: -- take the risk of undermining it.

ROHDE: I don't think they want to. I think something's gone wrong, possibly. But I think there is a danger that the Trump administration enables them. Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, was very close to MBS. The president's first trip overseas after he took office was to Saudi Arabia. And, you know, the war in Yemen has continued with tremendous civilian casualties.


ROHDE: So this administration has let, you know, the Saudi, you know, prince get away with many things. He has talked the talk but, at the same time, there has been terrible things happening in Yemen. So the critical player here is Donald Trump. He can make the Saudis pay a very serious price for this and I hope he does.

VANIER: One more thing I want to know from you, I wanted to ask you, was about Turkey. They have in some ways been very critical. But the most -- the strongest criticism has come from leaks through the media, through government owned newspapers. The president himself, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has actually stopped short of accusing Saudi Arabia.

Where do you think -- how do you think Turkey is trying to calibrate their positioning on this?

ROHDE: I think very careful and leaking out things in dribs and drabs. They have not made that allegation. That could mean that Turkey doesn't actually have proof. So maybe again, the Saudis are innocent but he has not been seen since he went in that consulate.

If he was lured to a consulate to obtain a marriage license and then murdered, that is an astonishing violation of every international norm since World War II, of just basic diplomacy and, again, the rule of law. So it's unfortunate as a journalist but it is just extraordinary. Again, the player here -- and I think Erdogan is hoping, you know, the player here is Donald Trump. And he has enabled this prince.

Will he hold him accountable?

VANIER: David Rohde, thank you very much for joining us.

ROHDE: Thank you.

VANIER: And President Trump welcomes home a freed evangelical pastor and praises Turkey's government. We'll have the details on that next.

Plus Hurricane Michael's trail of death and destruction, from the Gulf of Mexico to Virginia. Recovery efforts are still underway. We'll have the latest on that, too. Stay with us.






TRUMP: At the Oval Office of the White House, I welcome Pastor Andrew Brunson, together with his wife. And he is on American soil.


VANIER: That was President Trump at a rally in Kentucky hours ago, celebrating the homecoming of evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson after two years of detention in Turkey. On Saturday, Brunson met with Mr. Trump at the White House. Here's CNN's Sarah Westwood on that.


SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was a powerful moment at the White House on Saturday when President Trump welcomed home pastor Andrew Brunson, who had been held in a Turkish jail for two years after Turkey said that Brunson was part of a coup attempt in 2015, charges the Trump administration described as "bogus."

Brunson's detention had become a major source of tension between the U.S. and Turkey. Trump had applied increasing economic pressure on Turkey, including by rat etching up steel an aluminum tariffs against the country and by applying sanctions to two Turkish leaders.

All of that caused the Turkish currency to plummet and put Turkey's economy into something of a crisis. And that precipitated Brunson's release on Friday. The president touted this as a victory for the U.S., saying that previous administrations wouldn't have been able to free Brunson.

And he took the opportunity in the White House to talk about a separate situation, that's tensions between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia over the alleged killing of a Saudi journalist at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Trump said the two events had no connection in terms of the timing of Brunson's release. Trump said that the administration is looking for more information about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, that journalist, before he decides what kind of punishment to levy against Saudi Arabia.

But the moment was lightened by pastor Andrew Brunson, kneeling by the president, placing a hand on his shoulder and saying a prayer, thanking the president for helping secure his release from Turkey. That's something we will likely see the president highlight as he heads into the midterm elections -- Sarah Westwood, CNN, the White House.


VANIER: A race against the clock, rescue teams search for possible survivors of Hurricane Michael. We will be one of Florida's hardest hit areas -- just ahead.





VANIER: Days after Hurricane Michael ravaged parts of the Florida Panhandle we're still getting to grips with the amount of damage and destruction. Authorities say at least 18 people are dead from the storm and, in the hardest hit areas, rescue workers are still looking through debris and still searching for survivors or for those who have not been heard from and may not have survived.

Martin Savidge has more from Mexico Beach, Florida.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The sun has gone down and another night has set in here at Mexico Beach. And once the sun is gone, it gets completely dark in this community. Only the television lights are what you will see and occasionally the flashing strobe lights of emergency first responders.

The search and recovery effort has come to an end. Can't go on in the dark. It was another very difficult day. No other victims have been found and the city officials are reporting that all of the major structures that are still standing, that would be the homes and also the businesses, they have all been searched.

But now they move on to another, perhaps even more difficult and potentially dangerous phase, they have to go through all the large debris piles. And there are many of them throughout this devastated town.

They will carefully and methodically have to search and investigate every single one. Authorities are working off of a list of about 300 names. These are names of people they know were in this community just prior to the storm coming ashore.

Now after the storm, they're trying to match up those names with the people that are still here. They actually have a map with almost 300 dots on it and they are carefully checking the list off. The problem is, in some cases, you go to a home and there's no one

there. In other cases, you go and there's no home there. And in other cases they've been able to cross people off the list because witnesses saw them after the storm or those people have been able to self report.

However, there's still a disturbing number. They won't say how many that are unaccounted for. Hence, why the search goes on and will do for four more days -- Martin Savidge, CNN, Mexico Beach, Florida.


VANIER: And a tropical cyclone has been churning in the Atlantic Ocean for weeks. It is now bringing heavy rain and strong winds to Portugal. Meanwhile, parts of the U.K. are underwater from a powerful weekend storm.



VANIER: Real quick, I want to show you the official wedding photos of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank. They are out. The newly married couple released four photos from their nuptials on Friday. The Queen's granddaughter and the Tequila brand ambassador tied the knot in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, the same place where Prince Harry married Meghan Markel in May. You might remember that.

One photo shows the couple before the private evening reception. Zac Posen designed Eugenie's blush gown. It is said to have been inspired by the beauty of Windsor and the White Rose of York.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. Stay with us.