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Saudi Arabia's Government Admits Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Died in Consulate in Istanbul; President Trump States He Believes Saudi Version of Events Surrounding Death of Journalist Credible; Former Vice President Joe Biden Campaigns in Nevada for Democrat Midterm Candidates; Caravan of Migrants Stopped at Guatemala-Mexico Border; Violence Mars Election in Afghanistan; Lottery Jackpot Reaches Historic Amount. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired October 20, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:38] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, everyone. Thanks so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We start with a drastic shift from Saudi Arabia. The country is finally admitting two-and-a-half weeks later that "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi died in its consulate in Turkey. But a source just telling CNN Saudi Arabia does not know where Khashoggi's body is. The sources say the body was handed over to a local collaborator after the killing.
The Saudi government claims that an argument broke out in the consulate and quickly escalated into a violent fistfight. That is how Khashoggi died. That's according to Saudi officials. Well, that's very different from Turkey's version of what happened. Turkey is saying Khashoggi was tortured, murdered, and dismembered.
As for President Trump, he says he believes the Saudi explanation is credible. But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are raising skepticism and even calling on the U.S. to jump into the investigation. CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman joining us now from Istanbul where the investigation is intensifying there. So what is the very latest?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the very latest is that we did hear from a senior spokesman for the ruling party, Fredricka, who said that Turkey will conduct its investigation to its logical conclusion. There are two investigations going on. It is not clear whether they are cooperating. There is a Saudi one, a Saudi-Turkish investigation, and a separate Turkish investigation. Prosecutors here yesterday questioned 20 Turkish employees from the embassy.
But certainly, this latest statement put out at 1:00 a.m. by the Saudi government is raising more questions than answers. Certainly, this report that we just got from Clarissa Ward about the fact that the Saudis don't know where the body is, they handed it over to a local collaborator, we assume to dispose of it, certainly undiplomatic activity. One would have thought that if a man dies within the consulate, you would call an ambulance, you'd report it to the police.
But no, this seems to be indeed an operation, as I said before, somewhere between keystone cops and the Texas chainsaw massacre, full of holes like swiss cheese. But not a lot of people here in Istanbul seem to be believing the Saudi version. We did hear the head of the Turkish Arab media association here saying that Jamal Khashoggi was slaughtered by bloody murderers. So, if anything, the Saudi statement has added increased emphasis on the part of many to get to the bottom of this grisly story.
WHITFIELD: So Ben, help us understand what this is meant by a collaborator. That is a pretty big umbrella. There are a lot of different people who could fall into that. So if the story is, according to our Clarissa Ward's reporting, according to sources saying that the body was handed over to a local collaborator, does that suggest that Saudi authorities willingly were looking for another participant in which to hand over the body? Help us understand what that could mean.
WEDEMAN: We assume, and really, the details are pretty slim coming from a source in the Saudi royal palace, that they found some Turkish national whom they handed the body over to, we assume, with the instructions of dispose of it somehow. Now that's different from the narrative being put out by, multiple times, by unnamed Turkish officials who say that the body was dismembered. But to add to all of this, the "Washington Post" is reporting that CIA officials, officials, have listened to the audiotape which confirms that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered and his body was dismembered. Fredricka?
[14:05:01] WHITFIELD: OK. Ben Wedeman, also gruesome and very troubling, and it's difficult to report on, just as it has been very difficult for all of our reporters to try to get information. Thank you so much, Ben Wedeman, appreciate it.
President Trump vowing severe punishment if Saudi Arabia is responsible for Khashoggi's death. Let's go now to CNN's White House correspondent Boris Sanchez. So, Boris, what is the latest messaging coming from the White House after the president said he does believe that the Saudi story is credible?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's the latest we have heard from President Trump, Fred, that he buys this narrative from Saudi Arabia that Jamal Khashoggi was killed during a botched interrogation.
The president is standing in opposition to a number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, from Bob Menendez to Bob Corker, and some reporting, also from lawmakers, that suggest that American intelligence agencies have increasingly begun to believe that this was an assassination plot carried out based on orders from some of the highest levels of Saudi leadership.
We should note that the president has long urged patience. At one point, he even reiterated one of the previous explanations that we had heard from the Saudis, that rogue killers might have been responsible for the "Washington Post" columnist's disappearance. Remember that the Saudis had also at one point said that Khashoggi just walked out of the consulate. President Trump was asked yesterday, if he believed this latest story from the Saudis was credible. Listen to what he said, Fred.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do. I do. I mean, 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)
SANCHEZ: Now, President Trump has suggested that the Saudis would pay for Khashoggi's disappearance, if it was proved that they were behind it. The president has balked at the idea from some in Congress that they would try to block or limit $100 billion arms deal that the administration signed off on with Saudi Arabia shortly after President Trump took office. He hasn't really specified what he would like to see in that regard beyond not touching that arms deal. He suggested sanctions in the past. But the pressure is now on this administration to explicitly state what the president means by punishing Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi's death, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Boris Sanchez at the White House, thank you so much for that. Appreciate it.
Let's discuss this further now. CNN's White House reporter Stephen Colinson in Washington, CNN senior international correspondent Sam Kiley joining us from Saudi Arabia. Good to see you both. Sam, let me begin with you. So what are you hearing in Saudi Arabia now that our sources are telling our Clarissa Ward that apparently a collaborator is now involved, a Turkish collaborator in terms of having access to the body, knowing about where the body of Khashoggi went after the Saudi Arabia consulate.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Fredricka, this is a kind of classic and inevitable line that they would stitch into this narrative, true or false, and that's the problem is that with every day that goes forward there is less and less enthusiasm to believe the Saudi side of the story. So this is projecting away responsibility from the plotters, if you like, to some unknown local Turkish individuals for the whereabouts of Mr. Khashoggi's body.
Clearly, the Saudi officials, if they knew that they, the name of the collaborator, they would or should hand it over to the Turkish authorities who would then be able to find that individual and hopefully find Mr. Khashoggi's remains. And it's kind of similar to the whole narrative at the highest level in which those immediately under the crown prince, the head and deputy head of general intelligence, his media adviser, three other major members of the intelligence community here have been sacked, and 18 other people have been detained pending this whole investigation, an investigation that is going to be presided over in terms of the future shape of intelligence services by none other than the crown prince. I think that is the first point to take away here. The second is, how
would Saudis react to all of this? I think there is a degree to which they want to know what happened but they don't want this to be threatening to the stability of this kingdom. And I suspect, or I know, that that is a view shared by Saudi Arabia's allies, notably in London and Washington.
WHITFIELD: It would seem, just by merit of the investigation, it threatens to undermine any stability of Saudi Arabia in so many different levels.
[14:10:01] So Stephen, the president saying he does believe that Saudi Arabia's story is credible. Why would the president say that without knowing that he is running the risk of appearing to be sympathetic to Saudi Arabia, which is now the center piece, the center of an investigation, where the death of a journalist is at the core?
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think the president has made absolutely clear that he doesn't want this episode to damage relationships between Washington and Saudi Arabia. He has talked about the billions of dollars in arms deals and other commercial relationships between the two countries, and said that they should not be affected by this. And he has made clear ever since he became president that human rights and universal rights are not something which are going to get in the way of his foreign policy.
In the long term, I think this sends a message to autocrats around the world, and strongmen leaders to whom the president has tried to forge relationships, that there won't be a price for this kind of behavior. In fact, in two speeches to the U.N. General Assembly so far, the president has basically made clear that he has a vision of sovereignty that does not you include interfering in the activities of foreign governments. I think that is the long-term message that all this is going to send once this crisis is resolved.
WHITFIELD: And Sam, it's interesting, because while you have the president who has weighed in, first, he was quite wobbly on the whole notion that it happened or could happen, and now he has said, OK, Saudi Arabia says that this is the story, that he died in a chokehold, and I believe that's credible.
At the same time, you still have the treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, who is going to be going to Saudi Arabia, no longer for the Davos in the desert, which so many countries and sponsors had pulled out, but instead Mnuchin is still going to be heading to Saudi Arabia for this so-called terrorist financing targeting center which he helped co-found last year with Saudi Arabia. Does that help explain why this administration seems to have such an affinity or interest in Saudi Arabia and backing Saudi Arabia, which is now at the center of this investigation of Jamal Khashoggi?
KILEY: Well, I think the affinity between the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia is really about the personal relationships and the attitudes that derive from Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is close to the crown prince. That is a personal relationship, and that seems to be the way the Trump administration likes to do business.
But there is a strategic issue here that predates the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, predates the election of Donald Trump. Saudi Arabia is very much part of the western efforts in the wider fight against violent Islamic terrorist organizations. It is also a strategic partner in terms of the economy. And it is also a good part of the intelligence that Saudi Arabia provides goes into finding targets for American drones to kill people overseas, all over the place, and indeed, to conduct renditions, particularly under previous administrations --
WHITFIELD: But it sends a strange message, because snuffing out a journalist, outside the country, but in a domain associated with the country, is terrorism. It is a terrorist act.
KILEY: Absolutely. There is -- I'm not making any excuses at all for the Saudi Arabians.
KILEY: I'm trying to explain the realpolitik that goes into this. So this is -- there is no happy outcome from the tragic murder of Mr. Khashoggi. What is trying to be massaged between the Saudis and her allies is a narrative that means that a degree of justice could be seen to be done that doesn't undermine the House of Saud. That is the great ultimate strategic fear here, and it is one, I suspect, and talking to officials, certainly, intelligence officials in the U.K. and elsewhere, they are very, very worried that the whole house of cards could collapse, and that ultimately would trump the moral imperative to try and extract some greater punishment for this heinous crime from the Saudis.
WHITFIELD: And Stephen, real quick, you get the last word on this, and then I will have to say thanks.
COLLINSON: Yes, Fred. I think what we're seeing in Washington now is increasing concern in Congress, and that is going to be the problem for the president as he tries to push this away.
[14:15:00] People on both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, raising concern, casting doubt on this Saudi explanation of what happened. I think it's likely when Congress comes back after the midterm elections, we are going to see some action, potentially sanctions perhaps on some of the people who were named in this Saudi report. But at the end of the day, the president is in charge of foreign policy, and he has made it very, very clear that this will not change his approach to Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East.
WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Stephen Collinson, Sam Kiley, appreciate it.
And a few moments ago, I spoke with Jamal Khashoggi's editor at the "Washington Post," and here is what Karen Attiah had to say about the Saudi's explanation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KAREN ATTIAH, JAMAL KHASHOGGI'S EDITOR AT "THE WASHINGTON POST": It's insulting. It's insulting to any sort of thinking person's intelligence that someone who, that U.S. officials, U.S. intelligence officials had messages that there was a plan all the way up to Mohammed bin Salman to capture Khashoggi, Jamal. It just adds insult to the tragedy and to this heinous, heinous crime. And we're not buying it.
WHITFIELD: What was the real impetus behind why you felt it was important to print his final thoughts?
ATTIAH: I think of my years knowing him and working with him, this was the thing, free expression, having a platform for free Arab voices was the one thing that he felt the most passionate about. And it is striking to me that for whatever headaches that he may have caused in life writing for us, for the "Post," and his constructive criticism of the Saudi authority, now in his death at Saudi hands, he could cause shock waves of consequences for the Saudi authorities.
So I think the fact that his last message to us was a gentle prodding of all of us to respect freedom of expression, and to give Arab voices a chance to be able to speak to their people, to improve their societies, is a fitting reminder, and another sign that we've just lost such a treasure in Jamal Khashoggi in such a terrible way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Karen Attiah with the "Washington Post" on what has become a very disturbing investigation surrounding one of the "Washington Post" contributor, and his demise, Jamal Khashoggi.
Meantime, straight ahead, we'll take you to Nevada, because right now you're seeing the latest images that have just come in, with President Trump who is arriving in that state to rally support, to try to maintain Republican control of Congress. There he is right there, in Elko, Nevada, and quite a sizable crowd that has turned out there. We will take to you Nevada right after this.
[14:22:08] WHITFIELD: Former vice president Joe Biden is campaigning in Nevada today. Last hour, Biden spoke at a rally in Las Vegas. Biden is campaigning hard for Democratic candidates all across the country. He is urging voters to head to the polls and propel Democrats back into power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Folks, it is time to get up, lift our heads up, remember who the hell we are. This is America. Let's take back the Senate. And we will change the world as we know it. Now. Now, now, now, now. Thank you very, very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: All right, for more on Biden and the Democrats' midterm push, let's go to CNN's political reporter Arlette Saenz in Las Vegas. So Arlette, tell me how much of the former vice president kind of really got the crowd fired up.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Fredricka, the former vice president was here in Nevada, Las Vegas, one of the most powerful culinary workers union here in the city. And he was really trying to push folks to get out there and vote early. This is the first day of the early voting here in Nevada. And while he was rallying the crowd here, urging them to come out and vote for Democrats like Jacky Rosen who is running for the Senate seat against incumbent Republican Senator Dean Heller, the former vice president also took aim at President Trump.
As you know, he is, President Trump is in Elko, Nevada, just a few hundred miles north of here in Las Vegas. And the former vice president Joe Biden, he said that American values are being shredded by a president who only cares about himself, and he said it is all about Donald. This is something you often hear the former vice president talking about when he is out there on the campaign trail. Joe Biden has kept a very, very active schedule as we are in the final weeks before the midterm elections. On Monday and Tuesday he's going to be down in Florida campaigning with Andrew Gillum and Senator Bill Nelson, trying to push Democrats across the finish line there. And we know he is going to be maintaining a very active schedule as we head into those midterms and as he himself is also considering a bid in 2020. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: All right, Arlette, and of course the former vice president focusing on politics, and political aspirations, he also went in the direction of the investigation overseas of Jamal Khashoggi. And he said, and now, and I'm quoting him now, Now MBS, meaning the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in Saudi Arabia, who I know, my Lord, is making excuse. By the way you know that old expression some people bring a knife to a gunfight. You don't bring bone saws to fights. What is going on? It's embarrassing, dangerous. The former vice president weighing in on that end. The president of the United States saying he thought it was a credible explanation coming from Saudi Arabia, that the journalist died of a chokehold. Arlette, thank you so much from Las Vegas.
[14:25:00] Now, about 400 miles away from that, in Elko, that location, Elko, Nevada, that's where President Trump is. He is continuing his midterm campaign swing through the west. CNN's Kyung Lah is there. So Kyung, early voting already under way in Nevada. What is happening?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can call it the battle of the competing rallies to try to turn out the base. The president has just begun his rally here. And the very first words out of his mouth, the very first topic, was that he wants these voters to come out and support the senator, Senator Dean Heller. He is by many measures one of the most vulnerable, if not the most vulnerable senator who is running in this midterm because this is a state that Trump lost, and the senator is running under those conditions. The key to victory, the GOP's belief is by turning out people, like
the people who are listening to the president, if they can turn out the rural base, if they can turn out these areas that are outside of Clark County where Arlette was, then the GOP says the numbers are in their favor. In the midterms historically, Democratic turnout has dropped. So the Republicans are feeling bullish about the president coming here. This is his 12th visit to Nevada, underscoring all of the support that the president has for the senator.
Dean Heller flew to Phoenix last night, according to his team, flew with the president here to this rally, where the two men will be standing side by side, saying that they are part of the agenda moving forward, to 2020, Fredricka. The Republicans here feeling very positive about this crowd that they have out here. They believe this is the path to victory, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: So Kyung, could you get a handle as to whether anybody there is kind of on the fence? Or is everyone already on board with the Republican ticket and backing Dean Heller, as well as the president?
LAH: Well, this is the faithful here. The people who are in this county, 70 percent of them voted for the president in 2016. This is the Republican base. They are coming into friendly territory. The people who are here strongly support the president. They also believe in the senator who has a long history here in the rural areas, who is very popular in rural Nevada, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Kyung Lah, thank you so much.
So the president will continue to dot the map, while he campaigns, and the former vice president, Joe Biden, will be doing the same. Biden's next stop will be in the sunshine state. He will be spending the early part of next week campaigning for Florida Democrats like Senator Bill Nelson, Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum.
Meanwhile President Trump tweeting big endorsement for their opponents, current Florida governor and Senate candidate Rick Scott, and the man who hopes to replace Scott as governor, Representative Don (ph) DeSantis. Trump called Scott, I'm quoting now, "easily one of the best governors in the U.S." Joining me right now, Democratic strategist Kevin Cate. Kevin, good to see you.
KEVIN CATE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Great to see you, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: So how big of an advantage is it for Republicans when the president uses his massive Twitter following to endorse candidates?
CATE: Well, we welcome it. I work for mayor Andrew Gillum who is running for governor here in Florida and is going to win, and he came at Andrew Gillum again today. This is multiple times the president has tried to attack Mayor Gillum. But you worked in Miami, Fredricka, I know Mayor Gillum is the mayor of Tallahassee but he is also from Richmond Height, Miami, and he is not going to take it sitting down. And we're prepared to fight back when needed, also prepared to work with the president when Mayor Gillum is elected governor. But it is not going to work here in Florida, because people know, you
might have had a Freudian calling Ron DeSantis Don DeSantis, and that is certainly the way he acts down here. This is an accolade, an avatar for Donald Trump. And people are rejecting him. Donald Trump's unfavorabilities are at highs here in Florida right as we come up on early voting. So I welcome the president to keep tweeting at us, keep coming at us, because we're coming right back for you.
WHITFIELD: Florida is a tricky place. That's why it is Florida, Florida, Florida. There is no monolithic thinking or voting there. So we mentioned that the former vice president, Joe Biden, he knows that, he will be in Florida early next week. What boost can he bring to the party in the homestretch while at the same time he is being peppered with questions about his own political aspirations, if he has any political aspirations still?
CATE: Well, people love uncle Joe. We are very excited to have him in the sunshine state campaigning for all of our candidates. Actually, I know historically the midterms have a lower turnout, but there's a lot of history that we are actually going to make here in Florida on the top of the ticket with Andrew Gillum the first African- American governor, the first African-American attorney general Sean Shaw, and the first female agricultural commissioner, Nikki Fried.
[14:0:03] So there's a lot of historic implications that are happening here on the ground, and having the former vice president here is going to fire up the base. He knows how to throw a few punches, and I'm excited to have him here in Tampa, also in Jacksonville for mayor Gillum to help mobilize the votes, because as I mentioned, early voting starts on Monday, and that's going to where we are really going to see if Democrats are going to have the wave that we all expect, and certainly the kind of mentality that has happened here with Trump and everybody else throwing bombs and running almost 100 percent negative ads is reminding folks that when they go low, as Mayor Gillum said, we go vote. When they go, we go vote. So that's going to be the punch- back to this.
WHITFIELD: All right, the sprint is on. Kevin Cate, thank you so much.
And of course, folks, you don't want to miss Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum as they go head-to-head live right here on CNN, moderated by Jake Tapper. The Florida governor's debate starts tomorrow, 8:00 eastern.
And we'll be right back.
[14:35:26] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. We have new information on a deadly limo crash that killed 20 people in upstate New York earlier this month. Autopsy results released by New York state police reveal that all 20 victims died from multiple severe traumatic blunt force injuries. Meantime state police say toxicology reports will not be released until the NTSB finishes its investigation. But they add that a preliminary report is expected to be released in the next few weeks. Eighteen people were in the limo when the vehicle hit two pedestrians on October 6th. Everyone involved was killed.
And right now, thousands of migrants in a massive caravan are waiting on a bridge to cross the Guatemalan border into Mexico, hoping to make it to the United States. Their weeklong journey from Honduras came to a chaotic halt after Mexican police prevented them from crossing into their country yesterday. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Mexican officials, hoping to stop the caravan from reaching the U.S. Mexico assured the U.S. that they are trying to find a solution to the issues that, I'm quoting now, encourages safe, secure, and orderly migration.
CNN correspondent Patrick Oppmann is on the bridge at the Guatemala- Mexico border where migrants are waiting. We know some women, children have been allowed to cross the border, but tell us what else you've been seeing.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Some have been allowed to cross the border, and increasingly what we have seen this afternoon is some people are just not waiting around anymore. They have gotten very tired. Look out there if you can, Fred. There are people crossing the river, wading with bag, and there are others coming here right now, you can see they are coming by boat. You have to pay these ferrymen, but these people are coming with their luggage, their belongings. You can look at the kids' faces and to see how tired they are. And as well, people are getting off very quickly and kind of running away from this area, because they're not sure if the police are going to stop them.
So far where we have been today, we have not seen any police come down to this area and stop these people whose kids are all, I have to say, exhausted, because many of them have been on the road for a week or longer. Some people can barely walk. And other people cannot afford the trip, are out there wading in the water. It's very dangerous because there are deep spots. So this is a regular ferry surface that exists all year long. But right now, it is being used by people who do not want to wait any more on this bridge because they say it is taking too long, that the Mexican authorities are saying they will be sent back to Honduras by bus.
And so they are taking really matters into their own hands and coming here and either wading into the river if they can't afford to pay for the boat ride across, or just getting into a boat and coming across. As we're seeing more and more people coming, these boats are absolutely full. So while there are still thousands of people on the bridge, just in the last hour we have seen a pick-up of people who have gotten fed up, have had enough, and now they're crossing the river any way they can.
WHITFIELD: Wow, that's quite the picture. So Patrick, while you did a great job and eloquently explained how people are getting through, this is a business for many people, those who are operating the rafts. And then how about for the people, because it clearly is a very shallow body of water, people who are wading across, are there people at a different cost, say, who are leading them, because you mentioned there might be some deep pockets in that body of water? OPPMANN: Yes, people are just exhausted. You can see it on their
faces. The kids can't walk anymore. They have been on the road for a week. They ask you for water, some of which we provide them because these people are just in very dire straits. They look incredibly beaten down. Some people say they're just going to stay in Mexico, they think, now because they can't imagine continuing through Mexico to the United States.
But what everyone tells you to a person is that they have no interest going back home, that the violence in Central America, in particular Honduras, has gotten so bad, the economy has bottomed out, and they don't see a future there. So you are looking at people who maybe don't even have a dollar to pay for the ferry to cross the river, but they still say this is better than going back home.
WHITFIELD: So then, Patrick, you're on the Mexican side, real quick, so you said no sight of Mexican authorities, police, et cetera, but they generally -- they probably know that everyone is making their way across. They can see them. Why do they not intervene there?
OPPMANN: I think it is just too many people. They've got thousands of people contained on this bridge, and that is really the focus. They tried to rush across yesterday. They know if they take away resources from there, but as well, it is a big river. If the police come down here, then the ferry boats will go a little further and people will find a different area of the river, so as well, they can't be everywhere at once, Fredricka.
[14:40:12] WHITFIELD: Yes, it is amazing. All right, Patrick Oppmann, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Coming up, chaos at the ballot boxes in Afghanistan. Election day there marred by violence. We will get an update after the break.
WHITFIELD: Developing now, election violence in Afghanistan. More than two dozen people have died in a series of attacks including a suicide bombing at a polling station. This comes after a three-year delay in the election because of security concerns.
[14:45:00] Journalist Ali Latifi is in Kabul. So Ali, I understand a child is among those killed.
ALI LATIFI, JOURNALIST: Right. What is happening is that because of the logistical delay, the polling centers have been kept open later, and the biggest attack in Kabul killed at least 10 people, including the child, happened later in the evening. It was 6:00 or 7:00 in the evening when it was dark out, and there were still people lining up to vote, and there were obviously people going about their business in the neighborhood, trying to get prepared for dinner and things like that, when a bomber struck.
So this just sort of shows the precariousness of this election, and the dangers that people are facing. Not only as a result of the Taliban threat, but as a result of the logistical issues that took place earlier in the day that required people to stay out late at night to vote.
WHITFIELD: Is it the feeling that it is the Taliban singularly responsible here?
LATIFI: So far, yes. So far, the idea is that it is the Taliban responsible. Obviously, there can be other groups that can be involved, so you are never entirely sure if it is just the Taliban. But the Taliban have vowed to attack these elections. They have sent their own messages throughout the day, claiming to have attacked different places, claiming to have ransacked election polling centers. They're definitely the primary finger that is being pointed at this moment.
WHITFIELD: And how particularly nervous are people that this would happen in the capital of Kabul? Densely populated. This is not in the more rural provinces, but in the density of this city of Kabul.
LATIFI: So that is exactly the issue is that over the last year or so, when you look at attacks staged by groups like the Taliban and groups claiming allegiance to ISIS, this is exactly what they're doing. They are targeting big cities, they are targeting Kabul, they're targeting and Jalalabad. They are targeting cities that they know people will be at. That's a major issue.
WHITFIELD: All right, Ali Latifi, thank you so much for your reporting. Appreciate it. And of course, you be safe, too.
Still to come, the dream is still alive for anyone hoping to actually cash in on that mega million, or I should say billion-dollar lottery jackpot now. It is setting records across the country. More after this.
[14:52:08] WHITFIELD: The mega millions jackpot is on the rise. But maybe it should change its name to more like mega billions. No one won last night's drawing, meaning the jackpot is now up to an estimated $1.6 billion. CNN correspondent Palo Sandoval is live for us in New York where people are excited about the idea of what would I do with that kind of money? So yes, I've got to buy at least one ticket.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Fred. You still have a few more days to do it. This is the kind of cultural phenomenon that comes by every couple of years. We last saw it in 2016 when the Powerball jackpot reached $1.5 billion. Here it is again, of course, that sense of optimism. People's dreams shattered last night when they find out they didn't win, but then woke up this morning to news that, guess what, nobody else won.
So now there is this hopeful optimism again. We spoke to some people here in midtown Manhattan about this particular topic. Before we hear directly from them, two things that stood out. There are a majority of the folks who we spoke who didn't want to do anything with the drawing last night. It's a measly $1 billion. Well, now that it is $1.6, billion, they certainly do plan to play. And secondly, a lot of people were feeling quite generous.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone we know, our close friends, I'd have a big party, and I'd invite them there, and then I would say here you go, and I would give them all huge amounts of money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will take a house up in the country and ride my bike there. And a lot of people would be happy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what to do with it. I would probably spend the majority of it giving it away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pay off student loans. Go on a trip. Probably buy my parents a house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: So that $1.6 billion number, interesting question here to answer, how did it get so high? How did it reach this record number now? I can tell you, Fred, that the Mega Millions organization basically tweaked their rules and their odds about a year ago, making these kinds of jackpots a little harder to win. So obviously the mindset there, at least the marketing approach is, well, people really do start to care when it makes it past the half-billion dollars mark. So it certainly would be a marketing approach here.
But it is just something to keep in mind, is it really did get much harder. The last thing, I should mention, there were about 15 second tier wins across the country. That means that these are people who didn't match all the number, just a few. Their ticket could be worth a couple thousand buck, maybe even up to $1 million.
WHITFIELD: That's good.
SANDOVAL: So before you throw last night's ticket away, take a second look at it, because it may be worth something.
WHITFIELD: Hey, that's not bad. And then of course, they have a little extra money to buy yet more tickets.
SANDOVAL: That's right.
WHITFIELD: In time for Tuesday's drawing. I will be standing in line as well. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.
Thank you for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The news continues next with Ana Cabrera. But first, this week's Turning Point.
[14:55:05] SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sam Rhodes is a veteran who served 29 years in the army. After three combat tours, he retired as a command sergeant major. Now, he is trying to move on from the battlefield.
SAM RHODES, VETERAN: The challenge of what I suffered while I was coming back from the war was just adapting. I want structure, I want a routine. I had that in combat.
GUPTA: In 2005, Rhodes was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress. He was having trouble readjusting to life back in the United States.
RHODES: I didn't want to be here. I wanted to go back. I was getting ready to take my own life.
GUPTA: He began seeing a behavioral health counselor, but it was time with his step-daughter's horse that seemed to make the biggest difference.
RHODES: Cleaning stalls, putting up fences. It made me feel like I had a purpose in life. I think that's what is keeping me going. It is amazing how the horse part of this whole thing has really gotten me to calm down a little bit.
GUPTA: In 2008, Rhodes started Warrior Outreach. It's a nonprofit that gives veterans and their families free access to horses. For vets, the horse ranch has become a place of solitude and support.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just the fact that we can network, and you say, hey, any time you need something, just call me, and here is my number.
RHODES: I still have depression. Life is not easy, but this is my counselor, all of these families. It is well worth it.
GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.