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Journalists Killed; Saudis Claim Khashoggi Died in Fistfight Gone Awry; Trump Sales He Believes Saudi Explanation for Khashoggi's Death; Migrant Caravan; Migrants Clash with Mexican Police on Guatemalan Border; Scenes of Desperation, Chaos at Guatemala Border Gate; New I.D. Rules Threaten to Disenfranchise Votes in North Dakota; Trump to Hold Campaign Rally in Nevada; First Mission to Mercury in 14 Years; Veteran Lends A Helping Hand to Comrades in Need; "Parts Unknown" Airs Tomorrow At 9 P.M. ET/PT. Aired 12-1p EDT

Aired October 20, 2018 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:00:26] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All right, hello again everyone, thanks so much for joining me, I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

And we start with a drastic shift from Saudi Arabia, the country finally admitting 2 1/2 weeks later that "Washington Post" Columnist, Jamal Khashoggi died in its consulate in Turkey. That's a big shift from Saudi Arabia's original story that the journalists walked out alive after getting papers for his upcoming marriage.

Now the Saudi government claims that an argument broke out in the consulate and quickly escalated into a violent fist-fight and that's how Khashoggi died. That's very different from Turkey's version of what happened. They say Khashoggi was tortured, murdered, and dismembered.

As for President Trump he says, he believes the Saudi explanation is credible while lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are raising skepticism and even calling on the U. S. to jump into the investigations.

CNN Senior International Correspondent, Ben Wedeman joining us now from Istanbul where the investigation is under way, so what is the latest?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well the latest these people are trying to sort out Fredericka, exactly the details to this Saudi statement which was released at 1:00 a.m. today in which of course as you mentioned they claim that when he -- Mr. Khashoggi entered the consulate that an altercation ensued and that somehow he died as a result -- as what Saudi officials told our Clarissa Ward was a strangulation perhaps from a chokehold.

But certainly, that's a drastic change from the original story that he simply walked out of the back entrance of this consulate, behind me and in fact after that, the Saudi Consul General here, Mohammad al- Otaibi took a Reuters crew on a tour of the consulate claiming that nothing that happened.

Well obviously, something did happen. Now depending on whose narrative, you want to listen to, certainly the Turkish narrative indicates that this is something of a combination between the Keystone Cops and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre but what's interesting is that Turkish officials have not actually claimed that Mr. Khashoggi was killed and dismembered, it is only unnamed sources of the -- that have said that and of course we are all wondering where is the body.

Now according to the Saudi statement, they can see that he was killed inside the consulate. "The New York Times" is reporting that the Saudis handed Mr. Khashoggi's body over to what they're calling a collaborator who disposed of it but the Turks certainly haven't been able to come up with the body yet so the statement from the Saudis was a rare breaking of their silence but it certainly doesn't answer the many questions that still remain in this mystery, Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: And then Ben, is there much credence to the reports of the fresh painting you know, inside the consulate, the smell of chemicals you know, indicators that an area may have been scrubbed down after the alleged murder and dismemberment?

WEDEMAN: Well these were claims made by once again the unnamed Turkish sources who have been quite prolific in bringing out these reports. But yesterday the Turkish prosecutors did question 20 Turkish employees of the embassy and they were asking -- we are told that sort of question, "Did you see something unusual inside? Tell us about what the -- what were the activities inside the consulate on the 2nd of October," the day when Mr. Khashoggi went in and never came out.

But we haven't heard the results of those interrogations yet...

WHITFIELD: And then...

WEDEMAN: ... Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: ... and then Ben just to follow up real, quick, you had mentioned the collaborator, a possible collaborator, is that a Turk or is that a Saudi?

WEDEMAN: The implication is, at least in "The New York Times" and of course CNN can't confirm that reporting is that it was a Turkish national who was the collaborator who somehow disposed of the body and certainly there have been police searches in forests outside of Istanbul but to the best of our knowledge they haven't come up with the body.

WHITFIELD: Ben Wedeman, thank you so much, in Istanbul.

All right, President Trump vowed, I'm quoting now, "severe punishment," if Saudi Arabia is responsible for Khashoggi's death.

Let's go to CNN's White House Reporter, Sarah Westwood. And so, what are the things under consideration? It was a week ago when the president said "severe punishment" now it's been a week, are there any details of what severe punishment [12:05:09] is.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well Fred we still don't know what those consequences for Saudi Arabia might look like but President Trump is seemingly alone in accepting the Saudi's explanation for what happened to Jamal Khashoggi as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are expressing deep skepticism that Saudi leaders are telling the truth here.

And President Trump has given no indication of what's on the table right now. What he has done is express his desire repeatedly to preserve that proposed arms deal with Saudi Arabia and he hasn't indicated whether if true, the accidental killing of Khashoggi would also warrant severe punishments for Saudi Arabia.

He has been highlighting earlier denials from Saudi leaders who initially claimed they had no idea where Khashoggi was for weeks and he similarly elevated the Saudi party-line last night when he described that spate of arrest in Saudi Arabia as an important first step, take a listen?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I do, I do. I mean it's -- again it's early, we haven't finished our review or investigation but it's -- I think it's a very important first step and it happened sooner than people thought it would happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Now that was the president speaking in Arizona. And keep in mind that his acceptance of the Saudi's findings and the credibility of them comes after Saudi leaders have shifted their story several times; first claiming that Khashoggi left the consulate in Turkey unharmed, then denying knowing where he was for several weeks, and now acknowledging his death but blaming it on a fistfight gone wrong.

Democrats and Republicans alike are pressing Trump to take action against Saudi Arabia so Fred, the president is likely this week to come under even more pressure to explore those consequences he's already threatened to impose on Saudi Arabia.

WHITFIELD: Sarah Westwood at the White House, thank you so much.

All right we'll discuss further now, former FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Josh Campbell is in Istanbul and where this investigation is underway. CNN Senior International Correspondent, Sam Kiley, joining us from Saudi Arabia. Good to see you both.

So, Josh, you first you know, would or should the U. S. be provided investigative resources in this investigation given that Khashoggi was a U. S. resident?

JOSH CAMPBELL, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT & CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well we certainly heard calls for just that from U. S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. We are now hearing from European leaders who are casting doubt on this Saudi report and indicating that it really doesn't paint the whole picture of what happened or tell the full truth. There have been these calls for the U. S. to take a more active role. Now what would that look like?

We do understand that U. S. intelligence agencies have been in contact with their Turkish counterparts, our colleagues at "The New York Times" are reporting that the -- it was actually excuse me "The Washington Post" said the CIA had actually listened to some of the audio that was reported from behind the scenes, here behind me at this consulate of the actual moment that the journalist met his demise so there is at least reporting that on the intelligence side of the House, there is some type of cooperation.

But we don't have indications yet that the White House and President Trump are actually interested in dispatching FBI agents for example, law enforcement officers, to come here; they would require the permission of the host nation but again we haven't heard that indication that the White House is interested in doing that. I think that would provide this level of transparency and openness for any entity like the FBI to serve the honest-broker role.

I would say lastly Fred, that there have been a lot of questions as far as what is motivating the White House not to take a more aggressive role, there are obviously claims out there that you know, Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally in the region, perhaps they don't want to upset those relationships; also a more sinister view you know, with respect to the president's finances himself and whether he wants to really rock the boat with an entity you know, regime that you know, perhaps his family has had financial dealings with.

Again, a lot of questions but we can only go based on our leader's actions and so far, we don't see that overt effort and call for a really active investigation.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

And then Sam, you're in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia took what 17 days to come up with an explanation and now the latest explanation is there was a fistfight and that he may have died in a chokehold you know, what are you hearing in terms of you know, what the Saudi government is grappling with, how they're coming about with this story, whether people even you know, in country, outside of the government, even believe this latest version?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well I mean it's very hard to assess what people believe here because I have to say that there is an atmosphere of fear and doubt about what exactly transpired in the consulate.

But now that the government has come out with the line, that they have arrested 18 members of the group that was allegedly behind this and that above all, that five senior officials have been purged, one of them Colonel Asiri who -- well former Colonel Asiri, Deputy Head of General Intelligence; the other a former head of the whole media campaign for the crown prince, a whole bunch of people -- other people, very senior members of [12:10:14] the intelligence community; that looks like a purge and a housecleaning.

Now on the one hand a cynic might say, well these are people being purged because they failed to stop what the Saudi's claim is a -- was a rogue operation that was conducted without the knowledge of the real powers in the land but the cynic might also say that they are being purged because they failed to control this story, that the whole operation went wrong, whether it was an attempt to persuade him to return, drag him back to Saudi Arabia, or kill him, it was clearly incompetent and that is why these heads have metaphorically rolled.

They haven't been arrested. I stress, they've been relieved of their positions.

WHITFIELD: OK. And so, I wonder Sam, you know, purged or like you say relieved or just simply reassigned. I mean there must be some skepticism in country when the explanation has taken so long, when there are pictures that are showing you know, an official Saudi jet you know, in Istanbul; there are pictures of people who are in close association with the crown prince so is it just that you know, people will be reassigned?

KILEY: Well I think well that remains to be seen, Fredricka. But I think that what you put your finger on is a genuine discomfort here. A lot of people that we know here from CNN, out of the country, are not answering their phones, very senior people and formerly senior people who were in a sense purged during the crown prince's crackdown on alleged corruption but also private citizens when they are confident to express a view which they do very much in private, suggests that this is on unsatisfactory outcome so far but it is the most satisfactory outcome in a sense of preserving future unity and stability here.

Any further suggestion that the crown prince might have known about this would call into question the whole constitutional structure here and that may well in part explain why the United States, even the United Kingdom, whilst demanding full transparency are not making any really substantive threats because Saudi Arabia is an important strategic partner and they don't want to sacrifice that partnership, this is the Western world, on the altar of this tragedy, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

And then Josh, would there be an international body, investigative you know, body who would insert itself in this investigation particularly because there are competing narratives about what happened; the Turks saying you know, he was murdered, dismembered, inside the consulate; Saudi Arabia is saying you know, he died as a result of a chokehold but there is still no evidence of the body or remains?

CAMPBELL: I think at the end of the day Fred, you've nailed it. I mean that is what this is going to require. Obviously, there are so many questions that continue in this investigation -- we have two separate investigations essentially going on, one here in Turkey and then one in Saudi Arabia. Whether there's actually a fusion of resources and investigators that come together and actually layout the case of what actually happened, that's yet to be seen. A lot of people around the world remain highly skeptical because of how long it's taken to get basic facts about what happened to the now- deceased journalist so again if you talk to U. S. lawmakers, if you listen to European leaders, if you listen to Jamal Khashoggi's own family, asking for some type of international body to come together and really gather the facts here, I think that's what it's going to require in order to gather that transparency.

Even journalists here in country, we just saw at a press conference a couple of hours ago here from a journalists' association that was imploring the international community to come together, thinking that the only way to get to the bottom of what happened here is to really have the pressure from the outside world basically coming together and saying look we need to the get to the bottom of this, find out what happened; the only way to do that is transparency and the only way to gather transparency is to get parties that aren't conflicted together to really investigate, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Sam Kiley, Josh Campbell, thanks to both of you. I appreciate it.

All right, coming up, a migrant caravan with thousands of people from Central America making its way to the U. S. border and President Trump weighing in. How this immigration battle could affect the midterm elections, next [12:14:27].

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:18:01] WHITFIELD: Well right now thousands of migrants are stalled on a bridge between Guatemala and Mexico, waiting to continue their journey to the U. S. as CNN's Bill Weir reports, their journey so far is perilous.

BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: At high noon, the bridge over the border is empty but then a crowd of thousands overwhelmed a small contingent of Guatemalan police and sprints North.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): We're Hondurans.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): We're Hondurans.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): (inaudible).

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): No. It's closed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: They first tried to form an orderly line but it lasts only seconds as thousands more pour across, all with a mixture of exuberance, frustration, and determination.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The surge of the crowd has managed to shove those padlocked gates open.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: But waiting on the other side are hundreds of Mexican federales in riot gear. They managed to hold back the human tide, with the help of a single tear gas canister.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): (inaudible).

(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): (inaudible).

WEIR: After a half hour of chaos...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROWD SHOUTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: ... the crowd calms itself, even turning on the few troublemakers in the crowd, convincing them to climb back down off the fence.

But some can't take the heat and the crowd so they jump into the river.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ORLEAN HERRERA, HONDURAN MIGRANT: Our message is, we're not criminals. We're coming over here because we want to work. We need a job. We need better -- you know a better life, that's why we're here.

BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you understand that President Trump is going to use the pictures of thousands of people surging [12:20:14] to the gates against you. He's going to...

HERRERA: Of course...

WEIR: ... point that to people and say...

HERRERA: ... well, well...

WEIR: ... this is scary.

HERRERA: ... is his politics you know, we respect you know, he's the president, he is the president of the United States and with all due respect you know, we don't -- we are not criminals...

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Donald Trump is the antichrist."

WEIR: "Donald Trump is the antichrist," this man says. "If he doesn't repent, he's going to hell. We're not criminals, we're workers and fighters."

(END VIDEO CLIP) BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Eventually Mexico opens to the caravan but only a trickle are let through, women and children first, including Marta Torres (ph) who tells me her husband was murdered by Honduran drug gangs; after walking for a week her three other kids are still across the river.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you want to go to the United States?

MARTA TORRES (ph): (Nodding).

WEIR: Have you heard though that President Trump doesn't want more people coming and he's even separated families who try to come, what should we do now then?

She says, breaking down, "There's no way you can go back home?"

MARTA TORRES (ph): No, no.

Where X. "I don't want my kids in the middle of crime. I don't want to have the lives of my children further destroyed."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Mexico has taken the rare step of calling on the United Nations to help sort this crisis but this standoff makes it clear that for most of these folks, there is no turning back.

Bill Weir, CNN, Tapachula, Mexico.

WHITFIELD: Extraordinary images.

President Trump is taking direct aim at the caravan and seizing on the crisis to fire up voters heading into the midterms, listen to what he told the crowd in Arizona?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: These are some bad people coming through there, these aren't babies, these aren't little angels coming into our country. These are some hardened criminals coming in. And we're not letting them in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, joining us now is Scott Jennings a former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and longtime Democratic Strategist, Joe Trippi. Good to see you both.

All right Scott, you first you know, the president is casting these migrants as a direct threat to public safety and to U. S. national security. You heard him saying you know, these are bad people but then you listen to a number of the people that Bill Weir spoke to and you're seeing children you know, whose eyes are being washed because you know, of you know, contaminants that got into their eyes, you see -- you hear the young man who says you know, "with all due respect, we are not criminals," and you know, going on to say, "we're workers and fighters."

So, might the president's strategy backfire or do you believe this is exactly what you know, voters need and want to hear?

J. SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well first of all it's a complicated situation and for many of these people, it is tragic. They are living in places that are extremely violent, there are no jobs, the people that have jobs have extremely low wages so I would offer sympathy who were getting up and leaving where they're from.

The political issue here though that the president is pointing out correctly, is that we cannot be a nation without borders and you have thousands of people, they're trying to migrate north, they're trying to go through Mexico, trying to come to the United States; some will stay in Mexico, some want to come here.

But the core question, is you look at these images, and you say can we just have thousands of people walking across the border, that's what the president ran on in '16. I believe he is president today because of the immigration issue and you cannot look at these images and not ask question, if they get to the border, can they just walk across, what would happen.

The president I think is correct to bring this up. We cannot be a nation without borders. We cannot be a nation without laws. We can have sympathy but we cannot just let everybody walk in here. We don't necessarily know everybody who is in this crowd.

WHITFIELD: And so, Joe, what is the Democrats you know, effective counter message to whether it be the images of you know, thousands of people who are part of the caravan trying to make their way into the United States, how do they counter the president's you know, security -- national you know, border security message?

JOE TRIPPI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well first of all, if the president showed any of the empathy or sympathy that Scott just did, then he -- I think he'd get a better reception from Americans in terms of how he's handling this.

But he tends to want -- to play on people's fears; Scott asked what happens if they get to the border, where what happens if they get to the border, we know that, very few of them get in.

Frankly a lot of their -- the things that they are going to appeal to for asylum are not things that get you into the United States, some of them will but that's -- it's not a -- it's not like they're all going to come.

They're -- they are fleeing dangerous countries or personal situations or just looking for work and that won't get -- if you're looking for work, that will not get you into the United States, no matter who the president is.

[12:25:10] So I just think, one of the things though, in a lot of polling that I've seen recently, the lowest approval rating for the president is exactly on this, on immigration which is kind of stunning to me but it's -- it's a fact. He's actually scoring lower here than anything else so I think yes, does it drive his base? Does it excite them? Yes, it does.

But it also seems to be driving everybody else away and that isn't necessarily going to play well in the midterms.

WHITFIELD: And Scott, you know, if the president feel like -- feels like he's making an effective argument about national security, and that's why you know, these borders need to be close, why does he need to goes far as saying that it's the Democrats who are behind this migrant caravan, when nobody really believes that?

JENNINGS: Well I don't believe Democrats are organizing the caravan. I do believe the Democrats would like to generate sympathy for the caravan and they would like to use it as a political issue to make it seem like the Republicans have hard hearts.

I think the core issue though is, are we going to be a nation without borders and what are the national security implications of thousands of people coming towards the border. I have no doubt that some of these people have extremely sympathetic stories. I also have no doubt that there are some bad actors in this crowd.

And the other thing about 4,000 or more people walking together trying to come to a country is, anyone can join this crowd, who knows who is in this crowd, those are legitimate questions that the president of the United States should be asking, it's on him to protect our homeland, he's asking the right questions, and frankly I think most Americans would be leery of any political party that would say well, let's just let them in and sort it out later. That's -- that's not the right answer for our national security.

TRIPPI: No one's -- no one's saying that; no one's saying that. , WHITFIELD: All right, so Joe...

TRIPPI: There isn't...

WHITFIELD: ... defend that...

TRIPPI: ... anybody...

WHITFIELD: ... position, I mean...

TRIPPI: ... let them all in.

WHITFIELD: ... how do -- how the Democrats make this a winning strategy for them or will they stay away from the issue of immigration because it is difficult -- a difficult one in which to argue just strictly on compassion. TRIPPI: Well no, I actually think the majority of Americans believes that the president's policies on this not -- have been over the top, separating of families, they don't want to see more of that.

And there's still hundreds in the -- of children that -- did -- have not been reunited with their parents, there's -- there aren't many Americans who think that was right.

I don't -- I just think that the -- this is something that is definitely going to appeal the president's base. There -- it isn't a crisis, there has -- it's a -- actually every statistic shows that this is much lower number of people coming into the country on our southern borders, not just this year but in the past eight years or so and that this is a -- the president wants to make this a crisis.

That's -- he wants that to happen. He wants to play to his base. I think it will work to get his base energized but I also think it's energizing other Americans who just want to get back to civility and to -- and to having some empathy for these people.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now.

Joe Trippi, Scott Jennings, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

We'll be right back [12:23:26].

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:32:53] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back.

We're now just 17 days away until the midterm elections. And as if there weren't enough at stake already, concern over voter I.D. laws is growing. Democrats are complaining that for the most part, changes enacted by several states are designed to hurt their turnout. Republicans disagree.

Here's CNN Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin reporting from North Dakota on laws that are making it harder for voters to cast their ballots.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (VOICE-OVER): On the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, Terry Yellow Fat for years voted with an I.D. with no address. In fact, he didn't know his street address, he knew his post office box. And that was enough, until now.

TERRY YELLOW FAT, STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBE: I have no idea why they want a physical address. The Post Office blocks (INAUDIBLE).

GRIFFIN (voice-over): A North Dakota law passed last year and upheld by the Supreme Court last week demands voters in this state and on tribal lands present a valid I.D. with an actual street address. While that may sound like it's no big deal to you, here on the Standing Rock Reservation and tribal lands across North Dakota, the law is seen to have one purpose, keep Native Americans from growing.

MARGARET LANDIN, NATIVE VOTE, NORTH DAKOTA: It is a very complicated problem because we don't -- some reservations, they don't have street addresses. Majority of them don't have house numbers. So what they've been utilizing is a P.O. Box.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Margaret Landin (ph), a Native American voting rights advocate, says just weeks before November's election, some Native Americans, her husband included, are scrambling to get new I.Ds just to vote.

(INAUDIBLE)

NEIL LANDIN, NATIVE VOTE, NORTH DAKOTA: OK.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Neil Landin had no idea what his street address was. He had to call his county emergency coordinator to find out.

N. LANDIN: So I got 31st Avenue East is what they told me on the phone.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The process did take just minutes and now he has a tribal I.D., he will be able to vote.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Did it cost anything?

N. LANDIN: No fee.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): That's not the point says wife, Margaret.

M. LANDIN: It's discriminating and disenfranchising to our people to not allow them to vote. And it's discouraging on top of that.

[12:35:03] AL JAEGER, NORTH DAKOTA SECRETARY OF STATE: It's not designed to disenfranchise anybody.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Al Jaeger is North Dakota's secretary of state. He is trying to implement the new law which he says is designed to protect the integrity of the vote. And what could be simpler, he says, than to merely present an I.D. that says who you are and where you live.

JAEGER: Pretty simple process. And so others seem to be, you know, making it a lot more than it is. It's pretty simple.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Well, others seem to be saying that you're trying to disenfranchise Native American voters, right?

JAEGER: Well, we're not. We want every qualified person in the state of North Dakota to be able to vote.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The backdrop for the push to get this voter I.D. law in North Dakota began shortly after Democrat Heidi Heitkamp narrowly won her election in 2012. She won by less than 3,000 votes with the backing of Native Americans who tend to vote Democratic.

(on camera) There is a much bigger story going on here. Laws across the U.S. are being passed to make it harder, not easier, to vote.

(voice-over) Since the 2016 election, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, nine states with Republican state legislatures have passed laws restricting the vote.

In Georgia, a law requiring an exact match of voter registration information has placed 53,000 mostly African-American voters on a pending list. In Arkansas, a new photo I.D. requirement goes into effect this election. And in Indiana, the states use of a nationwide cross-check system to purge voter rolls was ruled a violation of the National Voter Registration Act.

Why so many laws? Take a guess.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that. They always like to say, oh, that's a conspiracy theory. Not a conspiracy theory, folks, millions and millions of people.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Actually, it is a conspiracy theory. There is no evidence, none, that massive voter fraud is taking place anywhere in the United States. North Dakota included.

(on camera) So Mr. Secretary, was there, is there, a large problem with illegal voting in this state?

JAEGER: Well, one thing we can't prove one way or the other. In the past, we have -- I cannot prosecute. So in the past we have referred situations and they haven't been prosecuted. We had, you know, a case --

GRIFFIN (on camera): But I mean, how many?

JAEGER: Well, just a handful.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Myrna Perez with the Brennan Center for Justice says these voter fraud laws have little to do with fighting actual voter fraud.

MYRNA PEREZ, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: For instead seeing the kinds of laws that make it harder for people who are poor, traditionally disenfranchised, minority groups, and folks who generally have a hard time participating in elections and this is just another barrier for them.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Now, because of this new law, activists fear thousands of North Dakotans will not be able to vote. And while CNN has yet to find any evidence to back that up, those same activists say the real effect could be discouraging voters from even showing up with or without proper I.D.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Fort Yates, North Dakota.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And coming up, President Trump is making a full court press ahead of the midterms, campaigning in several states, where a Trump bump could make the difference for control of Congress. He is in Nevada today. We'll take you there next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:42:54] WHITFIELD: All right, soon, President Trump will continue his midterm campaigning as he stumps for Republicans around the country. The president is set to hold his latest make America great rally in Elko, Nevada in less than two hours from now.

CNN's Kyung Lah is there. So, Kyung, you're just over 400 miles outside of Las Vegas, if folks are wondering where Elko is. And there is a pretty significant turnout behind you. So, what's the likely message?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A very significant turnout especially when you consider that this is a town with only about 20,000 people in it. This is the first day of early voting in Nevada. That is the occasion.

The president wrapping up that western swing to stop in this very critical swing state. He is here to rally the base. He is here to support Senator Dean Heller.

Dean Heller is a senator widely considered to be the most vulnerable senator who is running in this midterm because this is a state that Trump lost. This is a county he won but this is a state that he lost.

So what we're seeing from the senator is we're anticipating the president is going to push hard for him. This is a toss-up race. He's running a very hard race against a Democrat Jacky Rosen.

What we're anticipating from the president is that he is going to hit hard, not just the support of the senator, but also talking about immigration, especially with the migrant caravan south of the border. It is something he discussed hard in Arizona last night. Here's a little bit of what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The new platform of the Democrat Party is radical socialism and open borders. As we speak, the Democrat Party is openly inviting millions of illegal aliens to break our laws, violate our borders, and overwhelm our nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: Now, while the president will be speaking here in rural Nevada, in Las Vegas, we want to give you a live picture of a rally happening there.

[12:45:07] Anticipated shortly will be former Vice President Joe Biden. He's also there to get out the vote. He's also there to speak to the Democratic base. To remind them that they need to get out the vote.

The president is in the air right now. We anticipate that he will be landing in just a little more than an hour, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, thank you so much, Kyung Lah, we'll check back with you. Appreciate it.

And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:50:01] All right, welcome back, I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

It's been more than 14 years since a mission to Mercury has taken place. And all that changed today when a space probe launched to the tiniest planet in our solar system to gather information on its composition, atmosphere and geophysics.

Here is CNN's Robyn Curnow.

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ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): BepiColombo has a long journey ahead, eight million kilometers to be exact. This spacecraft is headed to Mercury, the planet closest to the sun. To travel that far, scientists expect it's going to take seven years to get there and it won't be easy.

ANDREA ACCOMAZZO, ESA FLIGHT DIRECTOR: Flying around Mercury is one of the most challenging spaceflight endeavors that have ever been taken. We have a very long cruise phase to get there. We have to mix different techniques to actually slow down the spacecraft so it doesn't start falling to the sun.

CURNOW (voice-over): The spacecraft is specially designed to withstand the sun's high temperatures as well as its gravitational pull. BepiColombo has to circle the earth once, Venus twice, and Mercury itself six times.

ACCOMAZZO: In the first hours, the spacecraft has to become autonomous. It means that just to deploy it solar panels, get energy from the sun, and leave on its own without the batteries. Then we take over control and we slowly configure it for the very long cruise phase that we need to reach Mercury.

CURNOW (voice-over): This joint venture between the European and Japanese space agencies doesn't come cheap. The cost, $1.8 billion. But as one of the solar system's least explored planets, the flight's director says the knowledge they hope to gain is priceless.

ACCOMAZZO: By understanding this environment, this planet as well, our scientists hope they can actually interpret better how our solar system is formed and also our planets. Other planets have evolved.

CURNOW (voice-over): When BepiColombo would finally arrive in the year 2025, it will place two probes around the planet. These probes will roam Mercury for a year before sending their findings back to earth. Only two previous missions carried out by NASA have ever reached the planet. Scientists hope that in the years to come, some of the mysteries of Mercury will finally be solved.

Robyn Curnow, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right, something you don't see while driving on the freeway everyday. How about an airplane landing right in front of you.

Apparently a student pilot and her instructor had some engine trouble in the skies and then had to make an emergency landing on Interstate 8 in San Diego County, California. And as you can see right here, the entire incident was caught on camera by a family driving behind it. And this was their reaction.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watch out for the airplane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). Look, bubba, there's an airplane on the freeway.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Wow. So first they were astonished and then you see, wow, things are going pretty well for that perfect landing on the highway. And then you see a little laughter as they pass right on by it.

Guess what, luckily, no cars were hit, no one was hurt.

All right, a huge day for the royals. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan of course are in Sydney, Australia, today, to cheer on the Invictus Games there. Harry created the competition four years ago for wounded and sick veterans. It's a key stop on their first international tour as a married couple.

It comes just days after the announcement that Meghan is pregnant with their first child. Congrats to them.

All right. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:58:] 08] WHITFIELD: All right, nearly 10 percent of the homeless adults in the United States once served in the U.S. armed forces. When army combat veteran Chris Stout saw some of his former comrades falling through the cracks, he built a solution to help them. That's why he is this week's CNN Hero.

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CHRIS STOUT, CNN HERO: What branch are you?

After starting to work with veterans, I realize there's a huge gap in services. If you ever served, you know that if one of your fellow platoon guys, they need help, you help them. What we do here gives them an opportunity to kind of get stable, get them a safe and secure place. And then fix what got them there in the first place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Wow. More than 650 cities are interested in replicating Chris' program, which will expand to Nashville, Tennessee, next year. To find out more, go to cnnheroes.com.

And in one of the final remaining episodes of CNN's original series "Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain", Anthony travels to West Texas for a taste of the untamed land of Big Bend near the Mexican border. Here's a sneak peek.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We like it spicy, jalapenos and onions and, you know, fresh tomatoes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you have a bunch of gringos, it's perfect.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN WITH ANTHONY BOURDAIN": How Mexican is West Texas? This is where it is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the other side of that mountain, 20 miles as the crow flies.

BOURDAIN: Those flavors, those sounds. (INAUDIBLE) right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I learned to talk Spanish nearly before I learned to talk English.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a good vanilla from Mexico.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Old Mexico or New Mexico?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Old Mexico.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chewy's (ph) mother comes from Mexico, south of Ojinaga.

BOURDAIN: How long have you been riding together?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, me and him?

BOURDAIN: Yes, you and him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty-five years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an awesome way of life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jalapeno cheese grits.

BOURDAIN: Nice. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course there are buttermilk biscuits.

(END VIDEO CLIP)