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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Calls Stormy Daniels "Horseface" as He Celebrates Judges' Decision in Lawsuit; Heitkamp Offers Apology for Error in Campaign Ad; Melania Trump's Team Calls for Boycott of Rapper T.I.; GOP's McSally Calls Opponent Sinema Treasonous; Trump Reiterates Saudi Crown Prince's Denial on Missing Journalist. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 16, 2018 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00] AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So this civil lawsuit has had an incredible impact on his presidency. It's an incredible thing that has happened.

The lawsuit's over but look what came out of that lawsuit. Michael Cohen now registering as a Democrat, cooperating with the special counsel, you know, no longer willing to take a bullet for Donald Trump, and exposing Donald Trump for, you know, the misogynistic candidate and now president that he really is.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: I agree with you, the back and forth, his anatomy being tiny, not tiny, that's schoolyard stuff.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: But this exposed something really happen that happened with Donald Trump, how he forced this woman to sign this nondisclosure agreement and then lied about it.

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But in the tweet, he lied and said she doesn't know him. Obviously, she knows him pretty well.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: He's also been saying this morning that he has no financial relationship with the Saudis, so.

SETMAYER: Right. Exactly.

BALDWIN: Areva and Tara, thank you very much.

Coming up, Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp in the race of her life for reelection in a state Trump handily won in 2016. She has issued an apology for an error in a campaign ad. What they got wrong, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:35:37] BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp is apologizing after her campaign ran an ad using the real names of sexual assault survivors without their permission. This ad was designed as an open letter to her midterm opponent, Republican Kevin Cramer, who supported Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Let's go to CNN political reporter, Rebecca Berg.

Rebecca, how did this happen and how is she explaining this?

REBECCA BERG, REPORTER: Brooke, obviously, a mistake by Heidi Heitkamp as a crucial juncture in her reelection campaign. And at a moment when the "Me Too" movement and sexual assault and sexual misconduct were at the forefront of the conversation in this race between Heitkamp and Congressman Kevin Cramer, the Republican.

Today, Heitkamp apologizing, saying this was a huge and colossal mistake by her campaign. Listen to what she had to say earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HEIDI HEITKAMP, (D), NORTH DAKOTA: The only thing I can do is say I am so sorry. I'm not going to ask for forgiveness, but I want to know what we can do to fix this. So it's not that this is -- I'm not minimizing in any way this event. I think that this is horrible, and I look at this the way I would if I were someone whose name were in the paper who didn't authorize it. And I think that that is a colossal and huge mistake for which I will undoubtedly, you know -- you know, have reputational injury as a result of it. But I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about fixing what we've done and the mistake that's been made.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERG: One of the women, Brooke, spoke with CNN. She characterized this as a public humiliation. She did say she had been contacted by Heitkamp's campaign and she said she plans to reach out to these women affected by the mistake.

Meantime, Congressman Cramer also responding. He said, "Heitkamp was revictimizing the women who were survivors of sexual assault. Some women on the list did not experience sexual assault at all and were named completely erroneously." Cramer saying, "This is what happens when desperate people do things for their own personal political gain. She, Heitkamp, proved a point that her personal politics matter more than someone's personal pain."

What makes this all the more potent in this race, Brooke, is that this was a discussion that was going on between Cramer and Heitkamp. Cramer had said that the "Me Too" movement was a movement of victimization. He was getting a lot of blowback for that. It led Heitkamp to mention her own mother's experience with sexual assault. And Heitkamp voted against Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the Supreme Court. This was an issue really at the forefront. Now Heitkamp on defense with this huge, huge mistake.

BALDWIN: Rebecca Berg, thank you for that on that race in North Dakota.

Coming up, days after Kanye West made headlines in the Oval Office, why first lady Melania Trump's office is calling for a boycott of Atlanta Rapper T.I. and how he is responding.

And the race to fill Jeff Flake's Senate seat in Arizona heating up after a CNN "KFILE" report takes the spotlight at the debate last night. Why one candidate is now accusing her opponent of treason.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:43:18] BALDWIN: You heard about this? Melania Trump's team is now going after Rapper T.I. for mocking the first lady in a racy new music video. T.I. shared the video on Twitter and it features a Melania look-alike stripping inside the Oval Office. The woman is wearing a jacket that reads, "I really don't care, do you?" The first lady wore a jacket with those words over the summer.

Let's go to Kate Bennett, our White House reporter, who covers all things first lady.

With regard to this video in the Oval Office, what is the first lady's response?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: The first lady's spokeswoman on Friday called the video disgusting and called for a #boycottt.i. Today, I spoke to her again, and she elaborate more on this. Let me read the statement: "Like it or not, she is the first lady and this is the White House. It's disrespectful and disgusting to portray her this way simply because of politics. These kinds of vulgar attacks only further the divisiveness and bias in our country. It needs to stop."

Certainly, Brooke, this is a free country. There is freedom of speech. This is an artist and T.I. is a rapper. But at the same time, it is the first lady of the United States. She is being depicted in a way that is lewd in the Oval Office. Certainly, she's faced her fair share of critics as a model before she became first lady.

It seems this is an interesting day to be discussing this considering the president's comments concerning Stormy Daniels. Women are coming to Stormy Daniel's defense for being called horseface by the president. This is sort of a somewhat similar situation with the first lady being depicted in a way that is unflattering, but it's also a free speech moment. So there's all sorts of sides getting into this argument.

[14:45:16] BALDWIN: All kinds of sides rolling around.

Kate Bennett, on the first lady's response to this video and to what her husband referred to Stormy Daniels as. Thank you very much, Kate.

I want to get now to the Senate race that is getting very nasty. You have two Arizona candidates, these two women, vying for Jeff Flakes' seat. They debated last night. Things got pretty heated toward the end when Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally attacked the Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema, over her past an as anti-war protester. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARTHA MCSALLY, (R), ARIZONA: CNN reported that, in 2003, while she was on the radio, you said it was OK for Americans to join the Taliban to fight against us.

(CROSSTALK)

MCSALLY: You said you had no problem with that.

(CROSSTALK)

DEBATE MODERATOR: We are running out of time but we have to let you respond to that.

MCSALLY: I want to ask right now if you're going to apologize to the veterans and me for saying --

DEBATE MODERATOR: Please --

MCSALLY: -- it's OK to commit treason.

DEBATE MODERATOR: we are running out time, so we've got to get a response.

MCSALLY: We need a response. And she owes us an apology.

DEBATE MODERATOR: Please.

KYRSTEN SINEMA, (D), ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE: Martha has chosen to run a campaign like the one you're seeing right now --

(CROSSTALK)

SINEMA: -- where she's engaging in ridiculous attacks and smearing my campaign. She's just trying to cut, cut, cut, and not share the full picture. But the truth is I've always fought for Arizona and I have been proud to serve our state and elected office for over 13 years. Arizonans know me and they know my record.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let's go straight to CNN "KFILES" senior editor, Andrew Kaczynski.

The congresswoman there saying, "CNN said." That was your reporting. What was she referencing?

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN "KFILES" SENIOR EDITOR: Several years ago, for a little background, Sinema, she's now running as sort of this pro- military spending hawk. She actually made her name as an anti-war activist in Arizona. She was a member of the Green Party and she opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This clip they're referencing was actually her the day before this rally on February 15th of 2003. She went on a local Libertarian radio show and they sort of got into a back and forth on political philosophy. This guy says to her, would you care if I personally join the Taliban, and she maybe sort of glibly says, I don't care, go ahead.

BALDWIN: I think we have a clip.

KACZYNSKI: Yes, we have a clip.

BALDWIN: Let's listen.

UNIDENTIIED RADIO HOST (voice-over): As an individual, if I want to go fight in the Taliban army, I go over there and I'm fighting for the Taliban. I'm saying that's a personal decision --

(CROSSTALK)

SINEMA (voice-over): Fine, I don't care if you do that. Go ahead. I don't want to debate any kind of fiscal opportunity with you. I'm interested in talking about the war. Specifically, I'm talking about opposition to the war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KACZYNSKI: So we have McSally saying, Sinema, you're OK with treason. This is actually on a number of old clips. Sinema used to be much more progressive. She's now one of the more centrist Democrats in the House. These old clips the McSally campaign and some of her opponents are highlighting, it's not clear if they'll have an impact on the race, but they're certainly generating a lot of headlines.

BALDWIN: The response from Kyrsten Sinema was kind of a nonresponse.

KACZYNSKI: Yes. She kind of -- as we see what politicians do, didn't answer the question. After the debate, she was asked about it again. She sort of claimed that maybe it was out of context. It wasn't really out of context. It was in context. But she's maybe, I guess, not trying to answer it directly.

BALDWIN: Everyone asking the question.

Andrew Kaczynski, thank you. Appreciate that.

We have some breaking news in this exclusive standoff involving the missing "Washington Post" journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, now appears murdered by the Saudis. The president said he just spoke with the crown prince and is reiterating MbS's denial. More on this from the president, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:53:34] BALDWIN: Just in, we got this new tweet from President Trump, tweeting about missing "Washington Post" columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, believed to have been murdered. He said he, "Just spoke with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia who totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish consulate. He was with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the call and told me he has already started and will rapidly expand a full and complete investigation into this matter. Answers will be forthcoming shortly.

Jeff Zeleny is our senior White House correspondent, who is up on this.

Jeff, again, hearing from this president and the denials from the Saudis. It seems to me that the president believes them.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No question. It seems that the question once again is certainly saying answers will be coming shortly, but he is taking the crown prince at his word.

Brooke, I think the timing of this is also very interesting. He said I just spoke with him. He said that the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the call as well. The secretary of state had left that meeting quite a while ago. It is late in the evening now in Riyadh. So the reality is this phone call apparently happened some time ago if the secretary of state was on the call with him.

But regardless of the timing of this, this is one more example, it would seem based on this limited bit of information, that the president is once again accepting the word of the Saudi crown prince and the kingdom.

[14:54:58] Again, there's a sense of urgency across Washington and other parts of the world, not here at the White House, certainly not from the president himself. Yes, he sent the secretary of state over there, who was all smiles and a handshake when he was in the meeting with the crown prince earlier. This does not put any new information on this at all. There's no sense of anger or outrage or even a demand to get to the bottom of this.

Meanwhile, more CEOs have pulled out of that conference next week. The president seems to be content at letting a report be worked out and answers coming soon. He's often not this patient on other matters, Brooke. But on this, he seems very content to let the Saudis take the lead on this -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Quickly, you mentioned that Saudi conference happening just around the corner. Do we know, is Steven Mnuchin still a go?

ZELENY: The latest public word is that he will make a decision by Friday. As of now, he is still scheduled to attend the conference. He's going to be in short supply, though. Most CEOs or many CEOs have pulled out of that, just for optics reasons and other reasons, and to send the Saudi kingdom a message. The only place there's not being a message sent is the White House and the Treasury Department. So as of now, we do believe he's still planning to go. The president said he'll make a final decision on Friday -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Stunning.

Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much.

We'll continue talking about this. Yet, another example of the president reiterating denials of what appears to be more and more of a Saudi coverup.

We'll be right back.

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