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Russian National Charged with Interfering in 2018 Midterms; New Details in Missing Journalist Case; Friend of Khashoggi: Jamal Was Afraid; Chaotic Scene as Migrants Reach Mexico/Guatemala Border; USC Offers $215 Million to Settle Gynecologist Sex Abuse Case. Aired 2:30- 3p ET

Aired October 19, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: This is utilizing social media and fake accounts to sow discord. The other thing, I think, this is the first time we've seen this official charged related to the upcoming midterms. The prior indictments were related to the 2016 presidential elections.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: The other thing that stood out to me was they turned this quickly, did this investigation quickly. This indictment happening and apparently as recent as May of 2018, this year, that this was taking place. We didn't see many, many months for this to happen.

HONIG: That's a pretty quick turnaround. It may be the prosecutor saw the importance of getting this out there before the election. There's some value in the public knowing this is happening. Perhaps when people go on Facebook and social media and see wild claims and accounts out there, maybe they'll think twice.

CABRERA: Charged with information warfare. Have you heard of that?

HONIG: That's not a legal term. That's a colorful and descriptive term. I think, I imagine the charges are something along the line of what we saw out of Mueller, identity theft, wire fraud, that kind of thing. Information war, that's what this is. This is stealing people's information and misusing online accounts in order to put out false information, divisive information for an electoral advantage.

CABRERA: Elie, thank you very much.

HONIG: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Good to have you with us.

New details on the investigation into the disappearance and suspected murder of "Washington Post" columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. CNN has learned Turkish officials suspected within hours of Khashoggi's disappearance that he had likely been killed.

Also, we've learned members of the Saudi consulate staff are now giving statements as witnesses to the public prosecutor's office in Istanbul. This is according to Turkey's state-run broadcaster. The workers include a consulate driver and a phone operator. CNN chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, is joining us

live now in Ankara, Turkey.

What details are you hearing now, Clarissa, on the Turkish investigation as it stands right now?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, I do think there's a sense that the Turkish investigation is finally starting to gain momentum after being allowed into the consulate and into the consulate's residency and being allowed finally to talk to employees of the consulate. The justice minister said they hope the investigation will conclude soon and the results of the investigation will be made public to the world essentially.

We're learning some new details about what exactly went down. It's very interesting. Essentially, Turkish officials knew within hours that something very bad had happened to Jamal Khashoggi. Intelligence officers rushed to the airport disguised as airport workers. They got on the plane that was taking half of the Saudis back to Riyadh, the Saudi capital. They searched the plane. They didn't find anything. They even asked the x-ray operator if human remains would show up in the luggage that was being put through the x-ray machine. The operator told them yes, human remains would show up.

What it gives you a sense of is the Turks knew right away. They had arguably heard that audiotape within hours of it happening. But they still waited five days before they went public. One has the sense, behind the scenes, that they were trying to give Saudi Arabia a grace period, some time to explain what had happened. Of course, what did Saudi Arabia do during that period? They continued to push this lie essentially that Jamal Khashoggi had walked out of the consulate, that they had no idea where he was. It was only after five days of continuing that narrative that the Turks finally decided to go public. The question is, when did they go with the so-called nuclear option? When did they decide to go public potentially with that actual audio recording. A lot of that, Ana, I think will be contingent on when the Saudis decide to put forth their narrative two and a half weeks after Jamal Khashoggi disappeared -- Ana?

CABRERA: Clarissa Ward, thank you for that reporting.

I want to bring in someone who personally knew Jamal Khashoggi, a close friend. Omar, an activist who is now living in Canada, who struck up a friendship with Khashoggi in the summer of 2017.

First, Omar, this must be a difficult time for you with all of this. How are you holding up?

OMAR ABDULAZIZ, SAUDI OPPOSITION ACTIVIST & FRIEND OF JAMAL KHASHOGGI: Honestly, it's really difficult. It's not only about me. It's also about Jamal's family and Jamal's friends. It's shock. And until now, I don't want to believe that something happened to Jamal. I don't want to believe that he was killed that way as we learned.

CABRERA: When was the last time you spoke to Jamal?

ABDULAZIZ: Twenty-eight September.

CABRERA: You say Jamal was afraid.


CABRERA: What did he tell you about being afraid?

ABDULAZIZ: Can you repeat that, please?

CABRERA: Forgive me, if we have a bad connection. I'm having a hard time hearing you, too.

When you talked to Jamal, he expressed he was afraid. What did he tell but that?

[14:35:08] ABDULAZIZ: I was asking him if MbS is going to change his behavior, because for the last few months, he was -- I asked him, do you think that this guy is going to change his behavior? He told me, no, that's not going to happen. He's going to be more violent. I said, so what do you think? He said, OK, I'll pray for you that you're not going to be harmed because of Gadhafi craziness. What did he mean by Gadhafi craziness? When we saw what happened to Jamal, now I understood, what did he want to say.

CABRERA: And you said "he" in terms of he felt threatened by a man of some sort. Did you know who that person was that was threatening him?

ABDULAZIZ: Honestly, I cannot give you a name but Jamal was contacted by so many Saudi officials. He saw the ambassador in Washington. They called him. They were trying to -- they were trying to send him back. They were trying to convince him but he didn't cooperate. He didn't believe that they're going to change the way that they're dealing with the problems that they're having. So he said, no thank you. They wanted also to fund one of his organizations. He said, no, thank you very much, I'm going to work by my own, I don't need any help.

But here's the thing, when he refused and when he started to work with dissidents or when he started to criticize MbS in the "Washington Post" or started to work on some other projects, they didn't like that. So they said, no, you're not going to go forward with it.

CABRERA: Why would the Saudis risk an international crisis if they did, in fact, murder him? He is one person and it's triggered international scrutiny at the very least.

ABDULAZIZ: Honestly, that shows how weak they are. You know, they did the same to the prime minister of Lebanon. I don't know, what did they do to him. Yes, he wasn't killed, yes, but they did something stupid. So maybe they thought that they would do the same to Jamal Khashoggi and nobody know anything about it. But here's the thing, his fiancee was waiting outside and maybe the Turks could hear everything.

CABRERA: Omar Abdulaziz, thanks very much for your time. And our condolences for what you're going through in missing your friend, Jamal.

Thank you again.

Thousands of migrants making their way to the U.S. President Trump threatening to shut down the border while his secretary of state is in Mexico talking with officials there. What kind of a deal, if any, will they reach on how to handle this?

Plus, the University of Southern California says it is tentatively offering a $215 million settlement to former patients of a university gynecologist. This is after 93 more women came forward with allegations just yesterday. We have the latest on the allegations and the lawsuit just ahead.


[14:42:41] CABRERA: Breaking news and some images of the Mexico border, where thousands of Honduran migrants are continuing their journey to the United States.

And CNN special correspondent, Bill Weir, is traveling alongside what is being called a caravan now at the Mexican border and joins us by phone.

Bill, are Mexican officials letting these migrants pass through?

BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): No, Ana, they are not, despite literally a wave of humanity that essentially broke open the gates of Mexico. We're on a bridge that separates Guatemala from the southern tip of Mexico here. There's about 400 riot policemen, fedralis, and for some reason, on the Guatemalan side, behind a 20-foot steel fence that had been padlocked shut, the authorities on the Guatemalan side, let in this huge sea of humanity, children, toddlers. They came streaming up to the fence. At first, they tried to form a single-form line because they were told they'd be let in one at a time in a humane, orderly way. But the crowd was too powerful. They pushed against it and broke open the padlock and were greeted by the cops. The policemen are forcing the gates back after firing either smoke canisters -- I didn't smell tear gas. But an incredibly frightening scene to be in the middle of this scrum of people. Now people have backed off, there's a little more space and you can see all the shoes that have been lost in the trample. There's a man in front of me suffering from heat stroke, maybe having a heart attack. It's so hard to tell.

The majority of the crowd is from Honduras. In fact, they're waving Honduras flags. Most of the people I've talked to say they just are so desperate that they have no other choice than to come north and look for work. Some told me they were hoping to find jobs in Mexico and some say they're coming to the United States. I asked if they were deterred by President Trump, by separating families, and they said they have no choice. Some say they'd be willing to stay on streets for months if that's what it takes.

This is obviously a huge test for the new president and how he can encourage the new Mexican government in transition, takes over in December, who has a much more humane, sympathetic attitude toward Central American migrants than his predecessor. But so far, it looks like Mexico is holding the line here at this river -- Ana?

[14:45:27] CABRERA: We did know that Mexico had isn't troops to the southern border, but they said it was to provide aid and to care for migrants. I'm quoting, "in an orderly manner and full respect for the human rights of migrants."

It sounds like what you're describing, Bill, is chaos.

WEIR: Yes, and it's hard to -- oh, no, whoa, whoa, whoa. Somebody just threw -- maybe it was water bottle. People literally scattered in panic thinking it was smoke. False alarm.

This is really just an exercise in crowd control. Imagine if they threw open the gates to a concert, as we've learned that lesson in years past and people are trampled. That's what happened when they opened up the Guatemalan side.

Oh, tear gas. Tear gas. The canister landed literally two feet from me.

No, no, no, no, don't throw rocks! Oh.


CABRERA: Bill, if you need to go, we understand. We understand if you need to go. Stay safe.

WEIR: All right. I got to get to safety. I'll check back in.

CABRERA: Get to safety. We'll take a break and let you get where you need to go. Please do be careful out there.

Bill Weir reporting from the Mexico border, the border with Guatemala, the southern border, traveling with this caravan trying to make their way to the United States. They've now been confronted at that southern border in Mexico. As Bill was just describing, speaking with us, it sounds like there has been tear gas now deployed to try to do some kind of crowd control.

We'll check back in with Bill as we get an opportunity to talk to him, make sure he stays safe, and find out more about what the situation is.

In the meantime, I want to tell you what's happening at the University of Southern California. The university is now tentatively offering a $215 million settlement with former patients of a university gynecologist after 93 more women came forward with allegations. We have the latest on the accusations and the lawsuits just ahead.


[14:52:05] CABRERA: More breaking news this hour in the sex abuse case of southern California and one of its gynecologists. USC is offering a $215 million settlement in connection with sexual abuse allegations against Dr. George Tyndall. Nearly 500 lawsuits claim the school ignored complaints for decades, allowing Tyndall to continue his alleged abuse. Now this settlement offer comes one day after 93 more women came forward telling their stories and announcing additional lawsuits at a Los Angeles news conference. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; He took pictures of me when I was completely naked.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; I couldn't believe it when I found out that the LAPD has boxes of photos.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; He molested me. He made me feel less than.


CABRERA: Some of these complaints against Tyndall date back to 1988. He just retired last year after 30 years at USC.

CNN's Sara Sidner is joining us from Los Angeles.

Sara, we mentioned this $215 million settlement offer but what are the accusers looking for?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, this offer according to one of the attorneys involved in the case that you just showed there that had those 93 more women that came forward just 24 hours ago, does not pertain to the majority of the women who have brought cases against this doctor and against USC. There are at this point about 463 women who have accused either this doctor and USC of hiding information or accused the doctor of sexual misconduct.

And we've spoken to the attorney, John Manly, who is representing these women that you met yesterday with all of their stories, saying that this does not pertain to them. USC says that this is a settlement of $215 million made with some of the women. And this has to be approved by a court. So it is a tentative settlement. Both sides have agreed to the numbers and have agreed to the details but this does have to be approved by a judge, making it basically a settlement in principle is how they put it.

But having talked to this other attorney who is representing these women, many of his cases are actually in state court. The settlement appears to be only those cases that have been provided in federal court. And he says in looking at the settlement, he believes it is a slap in the face to many of these women, to many of these victims who have come forward and they are vowing to fight on. They are in state court and will continue their cases against both USC, which they say has been hiding information, has not been forthcoming about this, and they call these students part of the USC family, but they say they have not been treated as such, and against Dr. Tyndall as well.

He basically said, John Manly, that this was actually a protection for the doctor, not for the victims. So serious fight still ahead for USC. [14:55:05] CABRERA: Sara Sidner, thank you for that update.

Two breaking news stories we are following this hour. A Russian national is being charged with trying to interfere in the 2018 midterms, part of a propaganda effort to hurt American democracy according to the indictment. What CNN has just learned.

Plus, CNN's Bill Weir is in the middle of a chaotic scene along the Mexico/Guatemala border where thousands of migrants are trying to cross into Mexico. You see all of these police officers, troops from the National Guard of Mexico, who are on the border. We'll take you there. We're back in a moment.


[15:00:06] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CABRERA: Hello, on this Friday. I'm Ana Cabrera.

We begin with breaking news.