Return to Transcripts main page


Dems Struggle to Generate Enthusiasm among Latino Voters; Mattis says he's on Trump's "Team" after President says he "May Leave"; Yemen on Brink of Worst Famine in 100 Years; Report: Saudi Arabia's Consul General has Left Turkey. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 16, 2018 - 10:30   ET




KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The push for the Latino vote. In Arizona, volunteers are calling voters' cell phones in Spanish.

In Nevada, organized labor, most of them Latinos, going door to door but signs that turn out trouble may be looming.

LUIS HERIDA, DNC COMMITTEE MEMBER: The numbers are alarming sometimes, but we got to dig a little bit deeper.

LAH (on camera): What do you mean the numbers are alarming?

HERIDA: They're not registering support or they're undecided or like they just - they are holding back on choosing who they're going to vote for.

LAH (voice-over): A voting bloc Democrats hoped would surge in the upcoming midterm election.

LAH (on camera): If the emphasis were put on the Latino vote that's put on, for example, suburban white women, what kind of game changer would that be?

BETTY GUARDADO, UNITED CARE LOCAL 11: I mean, we would be represented. Right now, we're not represented.

LAH (voice-over): The Latino vote could significantly impact midterm races in these states with high Hispanic populations.

After two years of President Trump's animosity, from separating families at the U.S./Mexico border to anti-immigrant rhetoric.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're not sending their finest. That I can tell you and we're sending them the hell back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't like to vote.

LAH: Some told us they would just rather stay home. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't do nothing for us. Just I don't like to at all.

LAH (on camera): You don't feel that you have a say? You don't have more of a say in government if you vote?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, the government doesn't help us for nothing.

LAH (voice-over): The Latino voter turnout rate in midterms has dropped since 2006. So in 2018, candidates across the country are going bilingual on both sides of the aisle. But it's the Democrats who are counting on Latino turnout to win seats in Congress.

LAH (on camera): Do you feel that the Democratic establishment is paying enough attention to the Latino vote?

HERIDA: Not enough. But there are in roads. Little by little, I think we're getting to the numbers. And by them paying attention, then you can motivate them to turn out.


LAH: Latinos are not a monolithic voting bloc. The latest Gallup Poll does show a 25 percent of them, according to the poll, support President Trump. And another thing to mention, Poppy, is that the demographic of Latinos is relatively young. And youth does correlate with a lower inclination to vote.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It does, absolutely. That's sort of a dual- edged problematic sword for the Democratic Party right now. That was a really interesting report, Kyung. Thank you for bringing us that from Phoenix.

So, what is bringing you to the polls? Are you voting? We want to know the issues most important to you.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Each morning leading up to the elections, we're hearing from voters across the country, across the political spectrum. It's a segment called "Why I'm Voting." And here's what you had to say to that.


GWENDOLYN WEST-SUTTON, VOTER FROM SICKERVILLE, NEW JERSEY: We need a change. We need a change in the Senate, the House of Representatives because we need to take it back for the people, because Trump is not representative of the American people and the majority of the American people.

JUDY GRONE, VOTER FROM LEWISVILLE, TEXAS: I believe in the sanctity of human life and the sanctity of the American family. I'm a very -- I have a strong belief in religious freedom.

MIKEY CHAPA, VOTER FROM LAREDO, TEXAS: Your vote is your voice. The reason that politicians do what they want is because you don't vote. They take you for granted. If you vote, they're going to see your powerhouse.

NORMA RENO, VOTER FROM TAMPA, FLORIDA: We have to perfect this country. Bring more jobs, economy back and protect this country from drugs, from companies, and those three things are very important to me.


HARLOW: Interesting.

SCIUTTO: I love hearing those -- these people from all over the country. People think about it seriously, and there's a big variety out there. Tell us why you are voting. You can weigh in on a conversation by posting a video to Instagram telling us what's pushing you to the polls this election. Use the hashtag #whyivotecnn.

And from mad dog to probably a Democrat. Where does the president really stand on Defense Secretary James Mattis? Hear what Mattis himself has to say about it. That's next.


[10:38:53] HARLOW: All right, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he is staying put. He's on the president's team. This is after the president said in that -- "60 Minutes" interview that Mattis may leave and is, quote, "kind of a Democrat."

SCIUTTO: A kiss of death, you might say. Here's how Secretary Mattis responded to the president's words.


JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETATY: I am on his team. We have never talked about me leaving. And you can see right here, we're on our way. We just continue doing our job.


SCIUTTO: CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins us live now. So Barbara, this is a consistent pattern with this president. He'll often make public comments like that, often over months. You've seen it with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Is Mattis himself, do you believe, worried about his job and the people around him? How are they discussing it there in the Pentagon?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, right now, the public face -- they're taking the president that his word. They're taking Secretary Mattis at his word. But as you say, we have seen this pattern time and again with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, with the former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, with the Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

[10:40:00] The president beginning to engage in a pattern of not so unequivocal endorsement, shall we say delicately, of certain cabinet members. So, it got a lot of attention when out of what appeared to be the clear blue sky, the president said, you know, well, maybe Mattis will leave.

Now the president calling Mattis on the airplane on his way out to Asia, that's where that sound came from. The secretary is traveling there. The secretary saying he is staying put. That no, he's not a Republican or a Democrat, that he's never registered for a political party. So for now, all things are staying put. But keep watching because in the Trump administration, the one thing that's consistent is everything changes.

HARLOW: Yes, there is inconsistency, right? Barbara, also, since you're with us, you have some fascinating new reporting out about just how consequential the president's decision is going to be on Saudi Arabia and the alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi coming from a senior adviser to the president. What are you hearing?

STARR: This is someone who obviously cannot be publicly identified but someone who is in a position, I will tell you, to directly advise the president, and is hoping clearly that the president takes some advice on this matter and says to us here at CNN, that this may be the most consequential foreign policy decision President Trump will make to date in his presidency. And why does this official say that? Because look at it this way.

It's the U.S. government, but it's also U.S. diplomats on the ground around the world, U.S. military personnel on the ground around the world that are on the front line of holding up American values, the American moral high ground for human rights in countries that may be very difficult to deal with. And if something is not done to hold Saudi Arabia into account on the public stage, this official believes, it becomes very difficult for those U.S. diplomats, for U.S. military personnel and commanders, to hold that moral high ground around the world. It's going to be very tough business. It will reshape the Middle East. It will reshape relations potentially with Middle East allies and Iran. The consequences appear to be very significant in the minds of some people deep inside the Trump administration. And they don't know what the president is going to decide, but clearly, there are elements really aligning themselves to try and convince the president that he must take a public stand on this.

SCIUTTO: Barbara, just a quick follow-up on Mattis. The president said he's probably a Democrat. Is there any evidence as to what Mattis' political affiliation is -- Republican or Democrat, you know? And has he registered as either or expressed any political views as either?

STARR: Well, we have all indications from the Secretary of Defense that he's never registered for a political party. And let me just quickly say, you do find a fair number of people in the very senior ranks of the U.S. military who feel that they should not vote because they want to be nonpartisan, that they serve the presidency of the United States, not a president. President Trump often talks about his generals. I will tell you that the generals and the admirals feel very strongly that they serve the American people, that they serve the American presidency, the American government, the citizens of this country. They do not serve a particular president. They don't want to be political. Jim, Poppy.

SCIUTTO: They're the nation's generals. Yes.

HARLOW: Good point. Barbara thanks.

STARR: Sure.

HARLOW: Important reporting all around on both fronts.

When we talk about Saudi Arabia and human rights, we also have to talk about what Saudi Arabia is doing and the aerial bombardment in Yemen. So, still to come for us, a new CNN video exclusive that shows the aftermath of yet another Saudi airstrike in Yemen, this as Yemen is on the verge of the worst famine in a century.


[10:48:22] SCIUTTO: This breaking news just in to CNN regarding the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. Nic Robertson is there. Now, Nic, tell us what you're hearing.

NIC ROBERTSON: Jim, the counsel general here in charge of the consulate where Jamal Khashoggi disappeared has, we understand, left the country suddenly in the past couple of hours, taken a Saudi Arabian flight out of the country. Now, earlier today, the Turkish foreign minister said it was OK for Saudi diplomats to leave Turkey and go back to their own country, but he also said that the consulate general's house and vehicles were due to be searched today. We know that investigators saw him as a key and critical figure in their investigation. Someone who would have overseen, been around inside the consulate, inside the premises, when they allege Jamal KhashoggI's murder took place. They believe he may have vital information for them, particularly trying to find when KhashoggI's body is which is it appears at the moment completely disappeared.

And we heard as well from the president of Turkey today saying that this investigation is not going as well as could be expected. Essentially, it seems the Saudis have some sort of cat and mouse operation going on, that they have left toxic chemicals inside the consulate and removed and painted over things as well as sending in a clean-up crew before the Turkish investigators could get inside the building. So what we heard from the foreign minister today, that the Saudis, it is absolutely vital that they are transparent and fully cooperative in this investigation. That does not appear to be happening. A vital figure in that investigation has just fled the country.

HARLOW: Right.

[10:50:00] SCIUTTO: Well, forgive me for stating the obvious, but he is someone who Turkish officials would want to question about an alleged murder inside their country, right? Imagine U.S. officials would be interested as well.

ROBERTSON: It stands to absolute reason that the Turkish authorities have presented video of vehicles moving between his consulate and his residence. That they say are connected with Jamal KhashoggI's murder. They were going to go into his residence today, search his residence and his vehicles for sure in trying to find what has happened to Jamal KhashoggI's body.

HARLOW: And assuming that he would not want to voluntarily ask those questions since he has left the country, he would not be compelled to unless Saudi Arabia were to for some reason to turn him over, which is not likely at all that Saudi will do. Nic, important reporting. Thank you.

To Yemen now, mass starvation the latest threat to millions of civilians caught in the cross fire between Saudi-led forces in Yemen and rebels there. More than 6,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict, the ongoing war that was causing widespread famine, potentially threatening the lives of nearly 12 million people. As our Nima Elbagir explains how an airstrike over the weekend may have compounded the struggle for all of them.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another day in Yemen's bloody war. This exclusive footage was sent to CNN by Houthi rebel-backed, Ansarullah media, showing the aftermath of a direct strike by a Saudi-led collation plane on Saturday.

Local officials saying 19 men, women and children were killed as they attempted to flee the Yemeni port city of Hodeida. The site of an existential struggle between the U.S.-backed coalition and the Tehran- backed Houthi rebels. As ever in war, the victims are too often innocence caught in the crossfire.

ELBAGIR (on camera): As scrutiny grows around allegations of the Saudi Crown Prince's involvement in the disappearance of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, criticism is growing around and the essence he's known other great recklessness. The three-year long war in Yemen.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Today, the World Food Program told CNN the number of Yemenis facing famine could rise nearly 12 million. Making it the worst famine for a century and one that is entirely manmade.

The fighting around through data's support in the (INAUDIBLE) Saudi- led bombardment aid agency say has created a perfect storm, one that leaves the parties of the conflict and their international backers with blood on their hands.

In the U.S., the drum beat criticism among lawmakers is growing, across the political aisle.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: One of the strong things that we could do is not only stop military sales, not only put sanctions on Saudi Arabia, but most importantly get out of this terrible, terrible war in Yemen led by the Saudis.

ELBAGIR: In spite of the president's avowed support for Saudi Arabia, including broader large arm sales.

TRUMP: I would not be in favor of stopping a country from spending $110 billion which is an all-time record.

ELBAGIR: Here in Yemen, they're helping all the talk will finally result in action.


SCIUTTO: Nima Elbagir joins us now live. In the wake of the Khashoggi disappearance, you had a lot of unity from Middle Eastern leaders expressing solidarity with the Saudis. How about in response to the threat of famine? Is anyone in the region calling them out?

ELBAGIR: So far, the silence has been pretty deafening, Jim. And that's even as the United Nations say that they're scrambling to pull together the emergency assistance they require. It's not just leaders in the region who have been silent on this. We're yet to hear from the U.S., the UK has broken ranks with the rest of the European Union and pledged from their international development fund, but the U.S. so far has said nothing, and we know that the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the region as we speak.

When we spoke to the U.N. after we put together this piece, we spoke to them again. They said that in fact they think that those estimates of 12 million might be conservative, Jim and Poppy. That actually, potentially, they're looking at millions more, 5 million of which will be children. They're looking at essentially an entire generation being wiped out by this famine.

HARLOW: An entire generation. Nima, before you go, remind our viewers what the U.S. declined to do when it was found through your reporting that U.S. weapons manufacturers were tied to these airstrikes that killed Yemeni children.

ELBAGIR: Even in the face of Saudi Arabia itself saying that they think based off our reporting that they did cause civilian deaths, the U.S. declined to say that Saudis were not doing enough to stop civilian deaths. They certified and continued with the arms deals. And we see what continues to happen in Yemen, Poppy.

[10:55:00] HARLOW: OK.

SCIUTTO: Nima Elbagir thanks very much.

HARLOW: We'll be right back.


Paul Allen, the billionaire, philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft died Monday. This from complications related to non- Hodgkin's lymphoma. Allen founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975.

HARLOW: And after he left the company, he went on to donate more than $2 billion to charity. He helped transform the city of Seattle into the modern tech hub it is today. His co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, remembers Allen this way, quote, "Paul was a true partner and a dear friend. Personal computing would not have existed without him."

Just think of that. He's a name not as associated for many people with Microsoft as Bill Gates, but he was so consequential, our thoughts with his family. Thanks for being with us today. I'm Poppy Harlow.