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Candidates Ted Cruz and Beto O'Rourke Spar in Fiery Texas Senate Debate; Interview with Senator Ed Markey; 13-year-old Girl Missing After Parents Were Found Dead. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired October 17, 2018 - 09:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[09:31:11] BETO O'ROURKE (D), TEXAS SENATE CANDIDATE: Senator Cruz is not going to be honest with you. He's going to make up positions and votes that I have never held or have ever taken. He's dishonest. That's why the president called him "Lyin' Ted" and it's why the nickname stuck because it's true.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: It's clear Congressman O'Rourke's pollsters have told him to come out on the attack. So if he wants to insult me and call me a liar, that's fine. But, you know, John Adams famously said facts are stubborn things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke ramping up the attacks on Senator Cruz during what was a fiery debate in Texas last night. Despite his tactical change and a whopping $38 million in fundraising just last quarter, a new CNN poll shows Cruz still holds a seven-point advantage among likely voters.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Let's bring in our correspondent Ed Lavandera for more.

So when you look at what Beto O'Rourke did last night, he did something that Ted Cruz says was his pollsters' doing, right? He went on the attack, he brought up the president, which he doesn't name a lot, and called him -- called Cruz "Lyin' Ted."

Any evidence it's working this morning? I mean, what was the takeaway from the voters?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Once again this is where it really kind of gets into the final countdown here in these last three weeks of the campaign. Early voting starts next week, in Monday. And we've been following these candidates around for a while.

While Ted Cruz consistently talks about Beto O'Rourke on the campaign trail, Beto O'Rourke for the most part has really ignored Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, but that has clearly changed in the last few days. A lot of Democrats here in Texas really wanted Beto O'Rourke to start punching back. So this was really outside of a few campaign events that he's done over the last few days. This was really the first time that Beto O'Rourke has really -- in the eyes of their campaign, really tried to draw a clear contrast between himself and Ted Cruz.

That's why you saw the Democratic congressman from El Paso much more aggressive last night. It was interesting after the debate Ted Cruz's campaign manager came into the room where reporters were hanging out watching the debate and described Beto's performance this way. When an unconventional candidate goes conventional, that's typically a sign that -- when the cantaloupe gets cracked wide open. So they're having some fun with that. Both of them, both sides seemed very happy with what they do.

Here's a little bit more of how it unfolded here last night in San Antonio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: Congressman O'Rourke sides with liberal extremists on the national level instead of the people of Texas.

O'ROURKE: You've got somebody, as I mentioned earlier, who is all talk and no action. So he's not showing up in Texas. If he's not showing up in D.C. to vote, who is he showing up for?

CRUZ: You want to talk about a shutdown, with Congressman O'Rourke leading the way, two years of a partisan circus, shutting down the federal government in a witch hunt on the president.

O'ROURKE: Really interesting to hear you talk about a partisan circus after your last six years in the U.S. Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: So, guys, the shadow President Trump is really starting to loom over this campaign. In fact, the president is coming here to Houston next week to campaign for Ted Cruz. Last month he had tweeted when he announced that he was coming to Texas, that he was going to find the biggest stadium that they could find to hold this rally, and despite two professional NFL football team stadiums, NBA basketball arenas that fit tens of thousands of people, even high school football stadiums in this state that fit tens of thousands of people, the rally will be held in an 8500-person arena in the Houston area next week -- Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: No shortage of big stadiums there in Texas.

LAVANDERA: Yes.

HARLOW: Ed Lavandera, thanks. Appreciate the reporting.

Tomorrow night be sure to watch CNN's live town hall with Beto O'Rourke, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Our Dana Bash will moderate. Senator Ted Cruz declined to participate.

SCIUTTO: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want swift action on the Saudis if it is proven that they killed the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

[09:35:06] But here is the problem. They're not even in Washington right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: This morning lawmakers in both parties are calling for answers and threatening to take action against Saudi Arabia for the disappearance and possible murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

SCIUTTO: But with midterm elections less than three weeks away now, Congress out of session, is there any real pressure today on the administration to hold Saudi Arabia accountable?

Let's discuss with the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, Ed Markey.

Senator Markey, thanks very much for taking the time this morning.

SEN. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Good morning. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: You know, it's difficult not to put too fine a point on it, but this is an alleged murder of a journalist, resident here in the U.S., but not a permanent resident, the dismembering of his body and cover-up, according to Turkish officials here.

What do you make of the president taking the Saudis at their word on this while even members of his own party -- Graham, Corker, Rubio -- all based on what they know already discussing penalties for Saudi Arabia?

MARKEY: Well, all fingers point towards the Saudi royal family. I don't think there is any debate over that except in the mind of the president of the United States, unfortunately. And I think what you're hearing from the Republican side is just being echoed on the Democratic side as well. We have to take very strong, firm action. We need an impartial investigation of what happened. We have to get to the bottom of it.

All the circumstantial evidence does point towards the royal family. And then we have to impose sanctions on the Saudi government so that we not only teach the Saudi government a lesson, we teach any other authoritarian regime in the world that the United States is not going to stand on the sidelines when international norms are being violated.

HARLOW: Senator, you called this a turning point in the U.S. relationship with Saudi. And I think no matter how this plays out, that that's pretty clear that things have changed. Certainly in the minds of every member in Congress, practically, if not in the president's mind.

At the same time, you know that Saudi Arabia is very important when it comes to being our ally and putting sustained pressure on Iran. Are you worried that Iran could gain power in the region if the U.S. breaks with Saudis?

MARKEY: Well, I am afraid that the president has pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, which was being verified in a way that led to the very clear conclusion that there was no additional capacity for a nuclear weapon that Iran was seeking or was able to obtain. And instead, he wants to have a cut-off of oil from Iran beginning on November 5th. Well, if that's the case, then he needs Saudi Arabia in order to produce the oil.

So that's going to create an incredible conundrum for the United States because they've got us over a barrel of oil over a policy that Trump is engaging in, in breaking the Iran nuclear deal. And now the Saudis are just going to give us an offer that President Trump can't refuse which is --

HARLOW: So you are worried?

MARKEY: I am very concerned. I'm also very concerned that the Saudi Arabians want us to sell them nuclear power plants with uranium and with plutonium that could be used for nuclear weapons program. That negotiation is ongoing right now as well. So whether it be oil or nuclear weapons, unless the president takes a very strong stand against the Saudis, there's going to be a message sent that we side with them, regardless of what they do in the Middle East, Yemen, nukes, oil, we're with them all the way. All in.

And the Iranians are going to be the excuse for him doing it, but the consequences for the American moral and political leadership around the world is going to be absolutely catastrophic, and we need the president to stand up rather than being in denial.

You just can't have Mnuchin go there later on this week for a conference. That's the wrong signal. You can't continue the nuclear talks. You can't have a president of the United States begging the Saudis to please produce more oil for us to produce -- for us to consume while simultaneously rolling back the fuel economy standards for the vehicles.

SCIUTTO: Right.

HARLOW: OK --

MARKEY: Which we drive in our country. It is an absolutely upside down policy the president has, and we are going to pay a long-term price which is why the Congress has to step up to be the policeman here in the Middle East.

SCIUTTO: Senator, we've talked a lot about the president's investment, diplomatic investment with the Saudis regarding Iran, regarding Mideast peace, et cetera, as influencing possibly his defense of the Saudis on this case. One thing we haven't talked much about are questions about his business' involvement with Saudi Arabia. The president has publicly said in the past that Saudis invest millions of dollars in his properties, et cetera.

Are you concerned that the president's personal interests could be influencing his decision here?

MARKEY: I don't think there is any question that he feels that he has a very special relationship with the Saudis going back to his own personal financial interest over decades. I think that's clouding his judgment, without question, as well as his ideological perspective in terms of siding with Saudi against any other country in the region. And so this combination is very dangerous for the national security of our country.

But it goes back to his own historic personal conflict of interest in the financial stake, which the Saudis have had in Trump properties over the years.

SCIUTTO: So it begs the question, what is the Senate going to do about it, right? If the Senate is the check here on the president on this key foreign policy issue, you have Republican colleagues of yours, Rubio, Graham talking about sanctioning Saudi Arabia.

HARLOW: Or MBS, you know, having --

SCIUTTO: Having to go, Graham went that far. Do -- is there a bipartisan discussion today about hard moves to penalize Saudi Arabia?

MARKEY: Yes. I think that any Saudi arms deal with the United States is now on the table for rejection. We came very close, a 53-47 vote that barely preserved a sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia just a year ago. But I think a lot of that support that the Republicans gave to the president a year ago has now evaporated. And so I believe that any further arms deals to Saudi Arabia are now on the table and very likely to be rejected if it cannot be proven that the Saudi royal family did not order this hit on the journalist.

HARLOW: Briefly on that point of the arms deal, though, you've heard the president say and make the case, and some of your fellow senators on the Republican side say, if you stop the arms deals, if you cut this off, you open the door to Russia and the Russians. Concerning to you? Should it be considered?

MARKEY: I think that it's complicated for the Saudis to be cutting arms deals with other countries in the world as well. But I don't think that we, as the moral, political, military leader of the world should allow ourselves to be compromised, to be turned into nothing more than just an adjunct to another country's foreign policy.

If we're sending weapons into another country, it should have something attached to it. And that is the values of our country and how those weapons are used. In Yemen, that is not the case. That's an out of control humanitarian crisis that is using American weapons in order to perpetuate that conflict.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

MARKEY: And the same thing is true going forward after what has happened here in Turkey. We just have to reestablish our relationship with Saudi Arabia based upon a set of values that is consistent with long-term U.S. interest. That is not the case right now. And I think on a bipartisan basis, that consensus is being created in the Congress.

SCIUTTO: Of course, the U.S. could ground the Saudi airports tomorrow if they didn't send their part to the Russians. HARLOW: Re-authorizing the weapons sales.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And Russians couldn't get them back up in the air.

Senator Ed Markey, thanks very much for taking the time.

HARLOW: Thank you.

MARKEY: Thank you.

HARLOW: We're also following a story this morning out of Wisconsin where police are frantically searching for a missing 13-year-old girl, you see her there, after her parents were found dead in their home this week. The latest on this case next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:52:30] SCIUTTO: In northwestern Wisconsin police are frantically searching for a missing 13-year-old girl. Jayme Closs is believed to be in danger. Authorities issued an Amber alert after the teen's parents were found dead inside the family's house on Monday.

HARLOW: And when the parents were found dead, of course they looked for their child Jayme. There was no sign of her and then this mysterious 911 call led police to the home.

Our Jean Casarez is on top of the story. She joins us now.

So there was an Amber alert sent out for this girl which tells us a lot. And this 911 call that led them there. What else do you know?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, the FBI in Wisconsin and law enforcement were saying time is of the essence. They believe this young girl is in danger. And that's telling a lot. But we know from the Amber alert because there is specific criteria that it has to be someone they believe is in death or serious bodily injury fear. And also they have to know enough about the victim and the suspect to believe there actually has been an abduction.

HARLOW: OK.

CASAREZ: They are not naming anyone. But that what they are saying that it all started on Sunday, there was a family gathering, and then in the early morning hours of Monday there was a 911 call from the family home that at this point appears to be a little mysterious but they took it very seriously.

Listen to the sheriff of Barron County in Wisconsin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF CHRIS FITZGERALD, BARRON COUNTY, WISCONSIN: The 911 call was given that night from the residence on a cell phone, but no contact was made with somebody that was on the other line. And that's what's unusual about that 911 call. There was no one communicating with our dispatcher. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The word help, did you hear that? Did the

dispatcher hear that?

FITZGERALD: I don't know if -- I don't know if the word help was said. I can't comment on that. I don't know if that was said. But there was some kind of disturbance going on. And that's why law enforcement was sent to the house.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CASAREZ: So they could tell there was a disturbance going on, critical point right there. And they went to the house and that's where they found the parents both were deceased and this 13-year-old girl that was their daughter was gone. And that's when they went into action.

Now they are asking for anyone if they have seen her, 100 pounds, 5 feet tall, green eyes and strawberry blond hair. Find her. They say time is of the essence.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: OK. Thank you, Jean. Stay on it for us if you will.

SCIUTTO: And if you're watching this and you have any information please do share it with police.

We are following live pictures at this hour out of Istanbul. A swarm of activity.

[09:55:01] Turkish investigators are now at the residence of the consul-general of Saudi Arabia. All of the breaking details on this investigation coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: All right. The death toll continues to rise from Hurricane Michael. It has now climbed to 29 people killed from the storm across four states. A dozen fatalities are in Florida's devastated Bay County where the category 4 hurricane made landfall last week, There are fears the death toll will go even higher as the waters recede and search crews dig deeper into the piles of debris that lay in the wreckage of Michael.

SCIUTTO: In the flattened town of Mexico Beach some people are getting a first look now at their destroyed homes deciding if they want to stay and rebuild or give up. About 1200 people in the state are still in shelters.