Return to Transcripts main page
Saudi Crown Prince Making Changes in the Kingdom; Girls Face Mandatory Pregnancy Tests in School; Republican Kemp Accused of Voter Suppression in Georgia; Voter Registration Drivers; Once Leading U.S. Retail Chain Sears Declares Bankruptcy; Trump: Putin Probably Involved In Assassinations; Trump: "I Think I'm Very Tough With Putin. Aired 1- 2a ET
Aired October 15, 2018 - 1:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Saudi Arabia bearing its teeth, Riyadh promises retaliation if it is made to fake tensions over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And the U.S. President says the Vladimir Putin might be involved with poisonings and assassinations but points out that at least it's not in the United States.
VANIER: Plus a grassroots effort to turn out the black votes in the U.S. ahead of the midterms. We'll tell you about that later on in the show.
ALLEN: These stories are all they throw it there all ahead here this hour, thank you for joining us, everyone. We're live to you from the Atlanta, Georgia, I'm Natalie Allen.
VANIER: I'm Cyril Vanier and you're CNN NEWSROOM starts right now. So Saudi Arabia is responding to threats obsessions with its own threat. The disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist is drawing international condemnation.
ALLEN: The Saudi King spoke with Turkey's president Sunday. Both sides were poorly agreeing to form a working group to investigate the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. Nic Robertson has more on the deepening diplomatic crisis.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Amid escalating diplomatic tension, Saudi officials shuttle between their consul general's house and the nearby consulate. Where Turkey says Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed, President Trump weighing his options.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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. ROBERTSON: Turkish officials buoyed by Trump's bullishness.
MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, FOREIGN MINISTER, TURKEY (through translator): Saudi Arabia must cooperate for allowing access to our chief prosecutor's office and experts to enter the Saudi consulate. Where did he disappear?
ROBERTSON: After two weeks the most basic question still remains unanswered. How did Jamal Khashoggi disappear? His fiance was waiting outside the consulate. She saw him go in but she didn't see him leave. Until now Saudi Arabia denies access but Turkish investigators, rejects allegations of murder and in a new statement threatens retaliation for any move against its interest. The kingdom affirms that if any actions taken, it will respond with greater action. It also appeared to be an apparent foot down of President Trump.
A few hours after their first statement Riyadh rolling back their rhetoric to help clarify recently issued Saudi statement. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia extends its appreciation to all including the U.S. administration for refraining from jumping to conclusions on the ongoing investigation. Khashoggi's disappearance is exposing possible risks in Riyadh, is putting the whole region at a potentially dangerous inflection point with more revelations expected. His fiance in a New York Times op-ed describes his last hours implicates Saudi malfeasance.
He was cheerful when we were going to the Saudi consulate. He had no foreboding of what was to come because she says he'd been given an appointment implying he was unwittingly walking into a trap. A pro- government Turkish newspaper claims Khashoggi's Apple watch recorded his own death but it doesn't pass the sniff test. Even so, the CNN source says some of Turkey's western allies have been briefed on recordings from the consulate. Germany, France, the U.K.,the U.N. and the E.U. putting pressure on Saudi calling for a credible investigation to establish the truth about what happened and expect the Saudi government to provide a complete and detailed response.
But pressure is also mounting on Turkey too to back up its claims that Khashoggi was murdered soon after going in the consulate here and show whatever evidence it has. Nic Robertson, CNN Istanbul, Turkey.
VANIER: All right, CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where she's been covering this story since the very first day for us. Jomana, the Turkish president and the Saudi King spoke over the phone for the first time since this story in the news of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi broke. How did that all go?
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you look at the readout, Cyril, from both Ankara and Riyadh would seem like it was a very pleasant conversation and very friendly where the Saudi King (INAUDIBLE) President Erdogan on for accepting that request from Saudi Arabia to establish this joint working group to look into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. And you had the usual flowery language of these statements pressing the importance of the long- standing brotherly relations between both countries.
I think the way to read the statements, to read the calls, Cyril, is the fact that both Saudi Arabia and Turkey don't really want to escalate this any further and trying to find a way out of this. As some have said you know, establishment of this working group might be a way where some kind of resolution for this current situation and the crisis is established.
[01:05:36] And you know this is something that some have been concerned for human rights activist I've been talking to in the region are also concerned about this joint working group saying that it might impact, it might compromise the Turkish criminal investigation that has been going on and they have been really concerned about that. But then we heard from the Turkish Foreign Minister over the weekend speaking London addressing this saying that this joint working group in no way will impact the Turkish criminal investigation so we have to wait to see what comes next, Cyril.
VANIER: Maybe you can help me better understand Turkey's position. I mean, on the one hand they have been aggressively putting out information that points to a murder and yet the Turkish President Erdogan has been uncharacteristically careful with his words about Saudi Arabia.
KARADSHEH: What's really interesting about all this, Cyril, is if you look at the actual Turkish position publicly what they have said since the investigation began last week, they haven't said much on the record. They haven't said that that much officially. What we do know from Turkey is -- said by President Erdogan what we've heard from others and two basic things that Jamal Khashoggi went into that building and that he did not leave.
And the fact that they are looking into a group of 15 Saudis who arrived into the country that day, they were inside the consulate, they left later on that day, everything else that we have heard since is coming through sources, it's coming from leaked it from Western officials but we have not heard any of it from Turkey. And I think throughout as you mentioned, you've had this very diplomatic tone from President Erdogan. Officials here have been very cautious in what they're saying publicly, and is it all is there-there.
It would seem that they are trying to avoid a full rupture in relations with Saudi Arabia. But at the same time there is so much pressure on Turkey to one produce evidence of what they have so far from this investigation and something to back all these leaks coming from anonymous sources that we have heard. And you know we have to wait and see what Turkey will have to say in the coming hours and days especially with this mounting pressure with the Saudi positions, Cyril, as we have seen the barrage of statements coming out yesterday whether it's from the Saudi government, Saudi officials, and other influential Saudis.
In addition to you had all these statements coming out from the region which seems to be this coordinated move from various Arab countries in support of Saudi Arabia. So I would say the pressure was really pouncing on Turkey to come out with a bit more now.
VANIER: All right, Jomana Karadsheh, reporting live from Istanbul, Turkey. It's now Monday, October 15th, Jamal Khashoggi disappeared October 2nd, we still do not have answers, as Nic Robertson was pointing out earlier as to what exactly happened to him. Thank you very much.
ALLEN: Yes. And we don't have those answers and the investigation goes on, and now there are economic situations to look at. The list of business leaders pulling out of the Saudi investment conference continues to grow now.
VANIER: JPMorgan Chase just announced its CEO Jamie Dimon won't go. Ford says its executive chairman is also no longer attending. Now, they've said that's due to scheduling. All of this matters because the conference which bills itself as a Davos in the Desert has been a key part of Saudi Arabia's recent rebranding.
ALLEN: And U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin still plans to attend the event we are told but that may change later in the week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: It's actually a confidence about terrorist financing and how to stop it so it's a very important subject. Regarding Secretary Mnuchin, I spoke to him last evening, at the moment he is intending to go because of the importance of the issue of ending terrorist financing. But again along with the president and the general investigation, Mr. Mnuchin will make up his mind as the week progresses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Let's see. CNN is one of several media outlets who have pulled sponsorship from this conference. The other ones as you can see there CNBC, Financial Times, and Bloomberg. Now the Saudi stock market has also plunged since Khashoggi's disappearance.
ALLEN: Riyadh's main index lost three-and-a-half percent Sunday. It had been down as much as seven percent. As our John Defterios reports from Abu Dhabi, the Khashoggi case doesn't bode well for world markets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[01:10:13] JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN HOST: Investors don't like to you political risk and right now Saudi Arabia is delivering uncertainty by the boatload. A hardened position from Riyadh on the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi only making matters worse. The Saudis stock index lost seven percent of the start of the trading day but finished down nearly three and a half percent.
Here's a look at the index since the disappearance of the Saudi journalists. We are now looking at a loss of nine percent or just short of what's known as a market correction. This comes out to the Saudi exchange joined the global MSCI Emerging Markets Index back in June, a seminal moment opening up the market to international investors who at this stage see more trouble brewing.
Riyadh formally declared it will not take potential Western-led sanctions against the Kingdom lying down. It said if it receives any action it will respond with greater action. Saudi Arabia is the largest exporter of oil at nearly 11 million barrels a day, and many interpreted that statement as a potential threat to supplies. This could dramatically impact U.S.-Saudi relations. U.S. President Donald Trump has leaned on Saudi Arabia and other Gulf producers to fill the void left in the oil market by Washington sanctions against Iran.
Implication that in the market believe that oil could rise to $100 a barrel again last seen back in 2014. John Defterios, CNN business Abu Dhabi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Let's take a closer look now what's at stake for both Saudi Arabia and its trading partners. We're joined by Andrew Sullivan former Head of Sales Trading for Haitong International Securities. Thanks so much, Andrew, for joining in this discussion. The U.S. has talked to precautious against Saudi Arabia.
As we just learned from John Defterios, Saudi Arabia pushing back an op-ed from the general manager of the Saudi owned Al Arabiya News Channel warn the U.S. that if the United States imposed sanctions on Riyadh, it will stab its own economy to death and caused oil prices to reach $200 a barrel. Saudi Arabia has pulled back a little bit from that bellicose language but still how serious could an economic escalation be?
ANDREW SULLIVAN, FORMER MANAGING DIRECTOR OF SALES TRADING, HAITONG INTERNATIONAL SECURITIES GROUP: I think quite seriously. I mean, Saudi Arabia has been a big customer for American defense products obviously. Obviously, there's the oil side but also looking here in Asia, you've got huge investments into Softbank which could be -- that Trump could put sanctions on them investing in American companies which would be a huge impact into what happens at Softbank. So the fact is that you know, Saudi Arabia is a -- is a big market for a lot of countries and so it's quite dangerous I think.
ALLEN: So how high can oil prices go before there is significant economic impact?
SULLIVAN: Well, at the moment suppliers are already quite tight because of the Iranian situation and because of production problems in Buenos Aires and other countries. So it's not going to take a lot for the oil supply to move quite quickly. And I think that's the risk that people are worried about that you know $100.00 is being talked about, that's going to have a huge impact on obviously Airlines, transport and gasoline prices for everybody.
And that's at a time where you know, we're really quite edgy about interest rates going up and the general global slowdown rising oil prices. As Jamie Dimon said, it's one of these more geopolitical risks that the market just won't like and it's the uncertainty that will worry people. ALLEN: Right. Jamie Dimon, of course, announcing he was pulling out
of the conference. We'll talk about that in a moment. But what's at stake for companies keen to do business with Saudi Arabia?
SULLIVAN: Well, the big risk I think for a lot of people is having seen how Trump reacted you know, to Turkey in the American pastor there. So they're going to be very wary about getting involved and obviously you've always already seen people like Richard Branson who seizes talks about investment in these space industries, floating out of the Red Sea Resort ideas. People are worried that the U.S. will sanction them for their relationships with Saudi if there is proof that there is something untoward has gone on in this affair.
ALLEN: Wishing Jamie Dimon there, he will not be going to the upcoming Davos in the Desert conference. We've seen other business leaders and sponsors pull out due to the situation. What is Saudi Arabia stand to lose here?
SULLIVAN: Well, I think it's credibility. MBS is you know, came in and was seen as a reformer but increasingly he's seen as another you know, dictator. And the trouble is because Saudi market has been such a good customer too so many Western countries and companies, they've been allowed a lot of latitude in the hope that they were going to come round to the Western Way of thinking and it's just becoming clear that that's not happening.
You know, we saw some initial reforms with regard to the religious pleas, women driving, women going into the workforce, but then we had all these business leaders and princes taken and put in the Ritz- Carlton and forced to sign over their assets and it's the strong-arm tactics and the sort of dictatorial nature that's happening that will make companies wary of investing in Saudi going forward. And at the moment it's a petrol driven economy. But it's very much aware that that's what a limited lifespan. You know, which is why it's made these huge investments into SoftBank why wants to list Aramco, so it can invest in other industries.
So, short-term wise, Saudi can -- economy can continue to run. But it's the longer-term implications that they're really at risk here.
[01:15:41] ALLEN: We appreciate your insight so much. Andrew Sullivan for us from Hong Kong. Thank you, Andrew.
SULLIVAN: Thank you.
VANIER: And U.S. President Donald Trump on the defensive about his relationship with the Russian president. Hear what he had to say about Vladimir Putin, when we come back.
KATE RILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR: I'm Kate Riley with your CNN "WORLD SPORT HEADLINE." Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic simply can't stop winning right now. The former world number one might be wishing 2018 was just getting started after a slump which saw him drop out of the world's top 20. He's inching closer to retaking the top of the world rankings on Sunday.
Nole claimed his 32nd Masters Series title defeating 21-year-old Croatian Borna Coric, for his 18th straight match win. Remarkably, Nole managed to roll through the entire draw without dropping serve once, just the third player ever to do so at a master Series event.
British golfer Eddie Pepperell has won the British Masters after leading the event from wire to wire. With shots like this in wet, windy conditions. The home favorite never looked back, although his lead was cut to one a couple of times. You can see how much it means to him, as well as his family there at the Walton Golf Club.
Pepperell said it really was special to win on home soil. And finally, to the 2018 Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, and there was romance in the air, as well as the sea-edge.
German Patrick Lange claiming his second titles, began the first athlete ever to record a time of less than eight hours, that's only half the story. He did manage to have some energy in reserve to propose to his girlfriend. That's all your headlines. I'm Kate Riley.
[01:19:47] VANIER: As then, "BREAKING NEWS", U.S. retailer Sears has filed for bankruptcy. The 132-year-old company could not pay off its massive debt, $134 million. That was due, Monday.
Now, back in the day, Sears just changed how Americans shopped and lived. I didn't know this, but more than a century ago, they were credited with pioneering the strategy of selling everything to everyone. This is sure to spark a conversation in this country about just how retailers can survive, let alone thrive in the era of online shopping.
ALLEN: I'm sorry you don't have memories of the beloved Series catalog we all lived by.
VANIER: I do not, you do.
ALLEN: And absolutely it's a mere relic now. That's sad. All right, well, U.S. President Donald Trump, says Russian President Vladimir Putin is probably involved in assassinations and poisonings. They seem to downplay those crimes.
VANIER: Yes, Mr. Trump discussed his relationship with the Russian leader in this interview with the CBS show "60 Minutes".
LESLEY STAHL, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, 60 MINUTES, CBS: Do you agree that Vladimir Putin is involved in assassinations, in poisonings?
TRUMP: Probably he is, yes. Probably, I mean, I don't --
TRUMP: Probably. But I rely on them. It's not in our country.
STAHL: OK, why not they shouldn't do it? This is a terrible thing.
TRUMP: Of course, they shouldn't do it. And that's your (INAUDIBLE).
STAHL: Instead, do you believe -- do you believe that the Russians interfered in the 2016 campaign election?
TRUMP: Well, they meddled. But I think China meddled too. And I think other country --
STAHL: But why you say China meddled too?
TRUMP: And you want to know something, Lesley? Let me ask you.
STAHL: Why you say -- why don't you just say the Russians meddled?
TRUMP: Because I think China meddled also.
ALLEN: Let's talk about the president's comments with CNN national security analyst Steve Hall. Also a retired CIA chief of Russia operations. Steve, thanks so much. You just saw some highlights therefrom that "60 Minutes" interview. Overall, President Trump, of course, has avoided criticism of Mr. Putin.
So, were his comments to "60 Minutes" that Putin has likely, probably, the president said, been involved in assassinations and poisonings, was that revealing on the part of Mr. Trump?
STEVEN HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it was revealing. If not -- if there no other reason, then the doubt that he still seems to have. Probably, maybe, you know, they tell me. You know the British government -- you know the U.K. has said, the Prime Minister has said that beyond a shadow of a doubt, they have the facts, they have the intelligence, they have the information that the Russians attempted to poison, attempted to assassinate the Skripals.
The fact that the president continues to equivocate on this, you have to ask again, why is he doing this? He has no problems being speaking very strongly, calling the European Union for example. You know, some of the people that are trying to take the most advantage of USSO, he has no difficulty in calling people out. Yet, he refuses to do so or is very reticent to do so with Vladimir Putin. And you have to ask yourself, why is that exactly?
ALLEN: Yes. And why wouldn't the president United States refer to the poisonings in the U.K., our closest ally? And when he talked about Mr. Putin probably being involved in it, he seemed to shrug, like indicating what's it to me? What's it to the United States? And does that make any sense of a president? HALL: No, I think it's really a sad moment. I mean, even if you just take it back to your own personal experience. I mean, what do you tell your kids when something terrible happens to them at school or something?
You don't say, "Well, it didn't happen in our house, so, you know, tough luck." No, what you say is you say, "Jeez, that's a really terrible thing. How can we make sure it doesn't happen again? Let's help get to the bottom of this." You want to teach these lessons.
The United States and democracies worldwide have the moral obligation to be sort of the moral leadership. And to -- and to say that -- well, you know, it's not such a big deal. I don't know it didn't happen in our country. So, it's therefore, not important.
It is quite frankly a failure in leadership on the part of the American president.
ALLEN: And kind of a dodge, as well, when talking about Russian election meddling. He immediately points to China was probably doing it too. He often invoked China. He turns it away from Russia. It seems to be an ongoing tactic there.
HALL: Yes. Look, this is not too complicated. It doesn't matter whether this is the President of the United States or your teenager coming home, you know, having broken curfew. "Oh, wasn't my fault. You know, Jack's curfew is later than mine is."
It's pure dissemblance. It's pure -- you know moving the conversation in a different direction. And again, you've just got to ask yourself, why is that? What is it that the president does not -- what is it inside of him that makes him not want to speak out publicly against Vladimir Putin?
And perhaps, also now is in another developing story. Perhaps, also the Saudis is, are there business ties there? Are there things that the president doesn't want the public to know? I don't know what it is, but his behavior simply doesn't make any sense for a person who's -- you know, the President of the United States in today's world.
ALLEN: Yes, you're talking about the disappearance of the journalist Khashoggi. And yes, when other countries are saying, you know, there must be justice, we must get to the bottom of it. We even had Lindsey Graham, the Republican Senator, a staunch ally with Mr. Trump, say if Saudi Arabia was part of it, there will be hell to pay. But no such language coming from President Trump.
Some have questioned about business dealings between the Trump businesses, and the Kushner businesses at Saudi Arabia. So, again, this is another area where there seems to be a complication, we just don't know what that might be.
[01:25:08] HALL: The other thing I think we need to remember is this, this is percent -- precisely the type of transactional type of activity that Vladimir Putin and probably the Saudis and other countries which are not -- which are autocracy, which are not democracies. Would like us to pursue. They would like us to say look, this really isn't it. You don't necessarily any of our business. This is -- this is not something that's going on in the United States.
I believe that when you have the president who is reticent to call out Vladimir Putin, or if the situation with it -- with the death of the Saudi journalist, working for The Washington Post, by the way, is turns out to be true, you've got despots who begin to feel like, well if the president of -- you know, of the United States, the richest largest democracy in the world isn't going to call us out on this, then perhaps, we have a little bit more room to take -- to take advantage of that. And that's really concerning on a world stage, I think.
ALLEN: Right. You know, many times when he gives interviews on these issues, there are still more questions than answers are there overall. So, Steve Hall, we appreciate you helping us analyze it. We'll see you again. Thanks for your analysis.
HALL: My pleasure.
ALLEN: Next, we take a closer look at the Saudi Crown Prince, and how the faith of the missing journalist could disrupt his grand plans for the future?
VANIER: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier.
ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen. The headlines this hour.
VANIER: The ones leading retail chain, Sears, has filed for bankruptcy. The 132-year-old company could not pay off its massive debt that was due Monday, $134 million.
[01:29:51] VANIER: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.
I'm Cyril Vanier.
ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen.
The headlines this hour --
VANIER: The once leading retail chain Sears has filed for bankruptcy. The 132-year-old company could not pay off its massive debt that was due Monday, $134 million. Sears parent company which owns Sears and Kmart stores has been struggling for years. In many ways Sears was the original Amazon selling everything to everybody.
ALLEN: The famous (INAUDIBLE) -- President Trump will travel to Florida Monday to see the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Michael. Many people are living in dire conditions waiting in long lines for food and water. And authorities say it could take months before life returns to normal, months before they even get power and a roof over their heads. The storm killed at least 18 people.
VANIER: Saudi Arabia is warning it will meet any sanctions over the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist with greater action. It has since softened its tone thanking the U.S. for not jumping to any conclusions. Turkish officials believe Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, a claim which Saudi Arabia has denied since the beginning.
ALLEN: Meanwhile, Khashoggi was once considered a Saudi royal insider but then he became a vocal critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Anderson Cooper takes a closer look at bin Salman and just how much power he wields in the Kingdom.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (voice over): He is best known simply as MBS. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, only 33 years old and now heir to the thrown in Saudi Arabia. Long considered the favorite son of the Saudi king, bin Salman was known for his ambition and for having his eye on the throne.
But his cousin was next in line, so in June last year, his cousin was reportedly summoned to a palace and told to surrender his position as the Crown Prince.
Late last year, MBS initiated a widespread crackdown on what he called corruption in his country, rounding up and arresting government officials, wealthy businessmen and even Saudi royals. Some were held against their will at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh while they negotiated billions in payments to the government.
When asked about it on CBS' "60 Minutes", the Prince denied it was a power grab.
MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN, CROWN PRINCE OF SAUDI ARABIA (through translator): If I have the power and the King has the power to take action against influential people then you are already fundamentally strong. These are naive accusations.
COOPER: Many in Saudi Arabia have celebrated bin Salman's rise to power. To them he's a visionary looking to transform Saudi Arabia and improve life for his citizens. Women are now allowed to drive and attend sporting events.
MBS is also focused on the economy, trying to attract new businesses in order to make Saudi Arabia less dependent on oil. In March he held a highly-publicized so-called listening tour in the U.S. where he met with President Trump and also business leaders like Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Apple's Tim Cook.
As Crown Prince he lives the good life. While on vacation in the South of France recently, the "New Yorker" reports he bought a yacht from a Russian vodka tycoon for $550 million. Along with that a chateau outside Paris and last year he's said to have paid $450 million for a Leonardo da Vinci portrait of Jesus Christ. SALMAN: As far as my private expenses, I'm a rich person. I'm not a poor person. I'm not Gandhi or Mandela.
COOPER: And while he does appear at times to be power-hungry initiating Saudi Arabia's involvement in the war in Yemen and a stand- off with Qatar, he's become an ally to the Trump administration, at one point serving as a go-between for Jared Kushner in the Middle East.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Crown Prince -- thank you very much. Thank you for being here.
SALMAN: Thank you -- Mr. President.
COOPER: An ally it seems but questions still remain of how much Mohammed bin Salman can be trusted.
Anderson Cooper, CNN -- New York.
VANIER: John Alterman joins us. He is the senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He joins us from Washington. John -- since you knew Jamal Khashoggi, tell us a little bit about the Jamal you knew and also whether you ever had any concerns for his safety. He's somebody you thought that harm might come to possibly.
JOHN ALTERMAN, SENIOR VP, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Right. He was always concerned with his safety. And it always seemed to me that he was very careful to judge just what his level of freedom was.
He told me he came to the United States because he felt that the temperature was rising in Saudi Arabia and he wanted to leave while he still had an opportunity to leave. But overall he was somebody who enjoyed being an iconoclast.
He was somebody who enjoyed seeing where the limits where. And when he was the editor who've worked on a couple of times in Saudi Arabia, he did things that people said editors can't do that. He criticized the religious establishment which was unheard of at the time.
[01:35:01] And he said no, the country needs it and I think Mohammed bin Salman has also said the country needs it. He's also challenged the clerical class.
VANIER: Tell me a little bit about the Saudi reaction. We got more of it on Sunday. The Saudis sending a pretty clear message that they will not be pushed around. If there are any sanctions against them for this, for something they say is still unproven and that they deny, by the way, then they will hit back even harder.
ALTERMAN: Yes. I felt that was pretty emotional and the embassy in Washington put out a tweet that tried to walk it back and expressed appreciation for people trying to get to the bottom of it. They sent a high-level delegation to Istanbul to try to work what was going on and see if they can work with the Turks.
I think the Saudis are very concerned that they're not sure how to play this. And frankly, I'm amazed that this has gone on for more than a week and there's still not any sort of Saudi explanation that makes sense for what happened.
VANIER: It seems like there's been a good deal of improvisation on their end.
ALTERMAN: Like I said, what's striking to me is they started with a complete denial and haven't really gone beyond that except to say well, the Turks are against us. The Qatari's are against us. We have all these enemies.
Yes, they have enemies but the fact is Jamal Khashoggi was seen walking into the consulate and hasn't come out. And they don't have a very good explanation for that. I'm sure they will come up with one, probably in the next several days but they've been hurt by the fact that there have been this steady drip, drip, drip of information and there's no -- there's no real Saudi response.
VANIER: Look, when they say that they will hit back even harder, obviously they're referring to the fact that they have got their hand on the oil. They can drive up oil prices for everybody. That will hurt everybody.
I mean how seriously do you view that threat, or put another way, how seriously should Washington be afraid of that?
ALTERMAN: I don't think Washington should be afraid because in the broader scheme of things, in my judgment, Saudi Arabia needs Washington more than Washington need Saudi Arabia. The whole country's defensive posture, its defensive strategy -- all of its strategic depth comes from an understanding the United States stands side by side with Saudi Arabia.
They were deeply, deeply shaken by the response to September 11. They have been trying to dig out of that whole. In fact, one of the chief accomplishments of Mohammed bin Salman has been to resurrect the U.S.- Saudi relationship after they feared between that pivot to Asia and the discovery of unconventional oil and gas in the United States, they thought the Americans were ditching them and would never come back.
And the fact that Mohammed bin Salman brought them back together is a huge relief. Mohammed bin Salman's biggest accomplishment, I would argue. And I don't think they're about to trash that over this or anything else.
VANIER: Tell me about how Mohammed bin Salman, in your opinion, has been handling this because he's been extremely effective over the last two years at presenting a changing face of Saudi Arabia, right. Saudi Arabia is a country that's modernizing behind this young Crown Prince.
And now this happens. And I'm not saying murder. I mean I want to be very careful about this. I'm not staging that that happened. We don't know that for a fact. But this allegation happens -- all these elements point to this one explanation, very somber explanation. And Saudi Arabia isn't, as you say, giving an explanation that would dispel this -- Mohammed bin Salman is behind all this.
How do you -- would you say he's handling all that.
ALTERMAN: You know, it's unclear not only what happened but what the intention was for what happened. And as I think we're going to learn more, I'm not sure how much we'll learn. But we certainly don't know everything that's known by the Turks. We don't know everything that's known by the Americans. And we certainly have no idea how much is known by the Saudis.
So there's a lot to figure out. But what strikes is that while the Crown Prince was very good at transmitting an image when he got to the set the agenda, when he has to respond -- he's not as good as responding. He doesn't have the sense.
And maybe it's partly because he's relatively young. He has spent a lot of time in the public spotlight. But it feels like there's not the kind of agile response that he needs to have and I'm sure there are people giving him advice.
The media environment is very different in the United States than it is in Saudi Arabia where he has a lot of control over the media environment. The media environment in the Middle East, the Saudi's got a lot of control over but they don't control the media environment here or in Europe and I think that's hurting him.
VANIER: Yes. And there's certainly a lot of pushback now in a sphere that he cannot control. I mean there's the Saudi stock market crashing, wiping out the gains for the year.
[01:39:55] There's obviously the big investment conference that Saudi Arabia was hosting which is their big -- one of their big marketing tools. A lot of people will be pulling out of that. As you say a lot he can't control in this particular instance.
John Alterman -- thank you so much for joining us.
ALTERMAN: Thank you -- Cyril.
ALLEN: We have a story out of Tanzania next. Girls there are facing new obstacles to getting an education. It has to do with forcing them to take pregnancy tests.
VANIER: Plus voter outreach in the U.S. South. How a bus tour aims to turn out the black vote -- when we come back.
ALLEN: The President of Tanzania says he is pursuing a war on teen pregnancy. But it looks like more like a war on girls' education.
VANIER: That's because authorities are making sure that no pregnant girls are allowed in public schools. Critics say that's a violation of their constitutional rights.
Hannah Vaughan Jones explains what's going on.
HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The 800 girls at this Tanzanian school take a mandatory test twice a year. But unlike most exams, this one happens here in the dormitory bathrooms.
That's because it's a pregnancy test and failure for them is not an option.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being pregnant means the end of everything. In our schools, when you get pregnant, you're sent off. It feels like all your dreams are shattered (ph) down.
JONES: Pregnancy could shatter Karin's (ph) dreams because she'd be forbidden from returning to Arusha Secondary School. Last year, Tanzania's president declared support for a ban on expectant mothers from public schools, citing authority based on a vaguely worded law from the 1960s.
JOHN MAGUFULI, PRESIDENT OF TANZANIA (through translator): No pregnant girl will go back to school.
JONES: The President claims this directive will curb teen pregnancy. But in a country where a quarter of girls give birth before 20, the policy denies education to thousands.
[01:45:02] Tanzania has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates on earth. But this East African country also has high rates of both child marriage and sexual violence which means some girls are refused schooling for pregnancies they never wanted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are punishing them without even considering those who have gotten these pregnant out of their consent.
JONES: At least 8,000 girls have dropped out due to pregnancy each year between 2003 and 2011, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.
For young mothers like Ellie Faraja (ph) who wish to remain anonymous, the effects are devastating. Teachers conducted a compulsory test when she was three months along and after her pregnancy was revealed school officials called her family.
ELLIE FARAJA (through translator): When they told my dad, he said let her die with the pregnancy.
JONES: Ellie Faraja was expelled immediately. She and her two-year- old son live at the Center for Vulnerable Women. She is training to be a tailor after her childhood dreams were dashed.
FARAJA: I would love to go back to school. I've always wanted to be a soldier. It is in my blood. Since my childhood, I've loved it.
JONES: Many want to see girls like Ellie Faraja have the option to return. But most agree it's better to not get pregnant at all.
And that's why schools are cracking down. Rather than providing education on how to prevent pregnancy, most use mandatory tests to induce the fear of getting caught.
Hannah Vaughan Jones, CNN -- London.
ALLEN: It is called the Black Voters Matter bus and it's on a mission. How Martin Luther King, Jr. has inspired a new generation to register voters. We'll have that story for you right after this.
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it is the time of year but portions of the United States still hanging on to what seems like summer warmth, at least locked in across the southeast and expected to warm up here in the next couple of days.
While towards the north that is winter weather radar beginning to come in as some snow showers expected to enter the picture here. In fact you kind of see that across the northern portion of Michigan -- a quick glancing blow across portions of the plains here.
Certainly wet weather in the form of wintry weather is back in the forecast and these high temps in places absolutely support it. Winnipeg, a high temperature of 4 degrees; Chicago only manages to make it up to 8 where remember several weeks ago we were comfortably into the middle and upper 20s in places such as Chicago. We may not see that again for quite some time.
[01:50:01] And of course, a trend (ph) here across the south keeps it rather mild and wants to warm it up a little towards the heart of the week. While we do get pretty significant bouts of cold air to the north here in New York City, how about dropping from almost 20 down into the single digit come Thursday afternoon.
It will rebound nicely but notice the end result will be pushed closer and closer towards the latter portion of Halloween is going to be those higher areas of the single digits for high temps expected to remain the forecast.
Havana, Cuba 32 degrees; Belize City around 28; a few thunderstorms in Managua, temps there should be into the middle and upper 20s; while down towards Manaus, 35 degrees; Lima, Peru, party (ph) conditions will go for about 21 degrees.
VANIER: The U.S. midterm elections are a little more than three weeks away and a voter suppression controversy is taking center stage right here in the state of Georgia.
ALLEN: Yes. Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp faces criticism in his bid to become governor. This after an Associate Press report found that some 53,000 people most of them black had their voter registrations placed on hold. Here's what Kemp's Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams said about it on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STACEY ABRAMS (D), GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We have known since 2016 that the Exact Match system has a disproportionate effect on people of color and on women. He was sued for this exact problem. He was forced to restore 33,000 illegally canceled registrations and he turned and got the state legislature to pass a law to allow him to make the same mistake again.
When you know that what you're doing is going to have a disproportionate effect on people of color and on women and you do it anyway, that erodes the public trust in the system. And that's problematic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Kemp insists people placed on hold will still be able to cast ballots but there's no denying that the black vote historically has been suppressed in the U.S. South.
VANIER: So here's this look now at an effort to fix that ugly legacy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, you all -- Let's rock it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black voters matter. Everyday everywhere.
LATOSHA BROWN, BLACK VOTERS MATTER: Make sure nobody mistakes, this is next election cycle. You should be getting a card in the mail in a couple of weeks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, then.
CLIFF ALBRIGHT, BLACK VOTERS MATTER: November 5 is important to us. More importantly it's about beyond November 6, beyond Election Day because all of the issues are still going to be there on November 7.
BROWN: Are you registered to vote yet?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good -- all right, then.
ALBRIGHT: It's shaming people that the voting has never worked. You've got to sow what the benefits are. They've got to see how it's connected to improving their daily lives.
BROWN: Me and the blacks are busting (INAUDIBLE). We just want you all to know. (CROSSTALK)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to hop (ph) us out on a big bus. This is the people's bus. This is a community bus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are happy to be here.
ALBRIGHT: They represent so much more than just bus, right. It's all about the notion of the combination of love, and power and the notion that we could drive throughout these states, which for the most part is basically the old confederacy in this bus and unapologetically let folks know that they matter.
BROWN: The message of this bus is actually universal. It's been centered in the black experience but anybody who can really identify what it means for folks (INAUDIBLE) exclusive and not being inclusive of people we all know what that feels like, particularly. And it doesn't feel good.
BROWN: People want to be listened to. People want to be heard. That's what makes the difference.
I don't think the work just has to happen and around race has to happen and the African-American community. We need white people of goodwill to be talking about racism within their own community.
And to really be thinking about how do we dismantle this. How can we have honest conversations that we're really going to back to are we going to build a beloved community? And if so, what does it take to do that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sign your name and the date. And when you go vote, sign your name like that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you weren't PR, I wouldn't have probably never did this. We need more things like this in the community.
BROWN: All of us have something in us that say well, what's in it for me. Unless you make that connection, you lose people.
So I know well, but we need to get by (INAUDIBLE). We haven't been any community that don't want quality health care. We haven't been any community that don't want all of their children to learn. We want the same things.
I am a native of Selma. There was a small group of people with not a lot of money, not a lot of resources but had the faith and belief that they can actually change and get voting rights. They transformed the nation.
I firmly believe that that's happening now. That those of us with some courage, that really have love like in our spirit, that we love human beings, right. And that we really want to see a better world that those folks are rising up. [01:55:04] Yes. We've got to a couple of registrants today.
BROWN: Yes, already. First to come, too.
ALBRIGHT: This bus is really a manifestation of one of my favorite quotes from Dr. King. What he said was that power without love is reckless and abuse. But love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice.
That's what this bus is about. That's what our organization is about. That's what this tour is about.
BROWN: I believe firmly in my heart that those that stand on the right side of history, ultimately we always win. It may take a while but it will never change unless some of us believe it.
All right. Let's go.
VANIER: All right. That's it from us. Thank you for watching. I'm Cyril Vanier.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen.
Our coverage of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi continues next with Becky Anderson in Istanbul and Rosemary Church right here in Atlanta. You're watching CNN. We'll see you next.
VANIER: Have a great day.