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Trump Ramps Up Rhetoric on Immigration for Voter Push; Trump Campaigns for Dean Heller in Nevada; Saudis Admit Khashoggi Died at Consulate; Trump Says Saudi Explanation of Khashoggi Death Plausible; Migrant Caravan Trapped on Bridge at Guatemala/Mexico Border; Suburban Women Voters Talk Minnesota Congressional Race; Suburban Women Could Decide Midterm Election Results; DOJ Charges Russian Woman with Midterm Election Meddling. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired October 20, 2018 - 15:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:00:57] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: It is 3:00 eastern, noon out west. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. So great to have you with us.

Just moments ago, President Trump invoked the issue he believes won him the White House, immigration, hoping it can help him keep his Republican majority in Congress. Trump is speaking at a rally in Elko, Nevada, right now, condemning a migrant caravan of undocumented immigrants that is trying to make its way from Guatemala to Mexico. And he urged the crowd to get to the polls Election Day, now, just a little more than two weeks away.

But that was far from the president's only Democratic slam as he tried to send Nevada's Dean Heller over the top. Heller, considered to be one, if not the most vulnerable Republican Senator running for reelection.

Let's get to CNN's Kyung Lah in Elko, Nevada.

And, Kyung, the president once again using the word "mob," when it comes to the Democrats.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hitting some of the familiar themes, Ana. But the main thrust of his comments here and the reason he is here in this swing state today because today is the first day of early voting and early voting here in Nevada is very important. And 60 percent of voters early vote here. That is the expectation. And that's why you're seeing the president here. And he is hitting the theme hard that he wants these people, the people who are here in rural Nevada, the people who are gathered around this stage, listening to the president speak right now, he wants them to get out the vote.

The GOP believes that the way to get Senator Dean Heller reelected, keeping this seat in the Republican territory, that that path is through the rural communities in November, and it is through early vote.

The president, as he mentioned, Ana, hitting the familiar themes of immigration and also the economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrat Party has become an angry, ruthless, unhinged mob, determined to get power by any means necessary.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: Your vote in this election will decide which party controls Congress. The choice for every American could not be more clear. Democrats produce mobs. Republicans produce jobs. That is become a hashtag.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: That is called hashtag. That is a new hashtag. That is a hot one. This November, vote for jobs, not mobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: And the president saying that the blue wall is, quote, "being rapidly shattered." He is predicting a victory for Senator Dean Heller, who is running in a state that Trump lost in 2016, as well as Arizona's Martha McSally, another Republican running in a very close race.

And something else that the president said, in regard to the migrant caravan, he said to the crowd, "I already figured out a way to fix it." But he said, Ana, he is going to keep that quiet until after the election. We are not sure exactly what he is talking about -- Ana?

CABRERA: All right, Kyung Lah, following the president in Elko, Nevada. Thank you.

Another major story we're following today, Saudi Arabia's admission that the "Washington Post" journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, is dead. After three weeks of denials, they admit he was killed in their consulate in Turkey. Here is what the Saudis claim happened. They say the nearly 60-year-old Khashoggi arrived at the Saudi consulate on the October 2, and they say discussions led to a brawl, and he died in a fistfight. Khashoggi's editor at the "Washington Post" has two words for the explanation, "Utter B.S."

CNN's senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, is live in Istanbul outside the Saudi consulate where Khashoggi was killed.

Ben, do the facts we already know support the Saudi explanation?

[15:04:55] BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, the Saudi explanation at this point, Ana, does look full of holes, and that's an understatement. If you look down the points, for instance, it just so happened on the 2nd of October, the day when Jamal Khashoggi walked inside this Saudi consulate behind me, in Istanbul, 15 Saudis came to Istanbul on two chartered jets, on a day when the consulate told some of its local staff not to come in or leave early. Now, among those 15 was a man who was running the forensic department at the interior ministry in Saudi Arabia. And according to Turkish sources, he was carrying with him a bone saw. In addition to that, there's -- there are persistent reports that there's an audio that recorded the murder and dismemberment of the "Washington Post" columnist. And most recently, the "Washington Post" is reporting that CIA officials have heard that audio, and that it does, indeed, confirm that Mr. Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered.

Finally, one point, the Saudis say. despite all of this information that we have, that shortly after Mr. Khashoggi entered the consulate, he left. And also, after that, the Saudi consul general here took Reuters on a tour of the consulate and insisted that nothing had happened there. Now, of course, it was 1:00 this morning local time that Saudi Television Channel One announced that, despite the claims that we heard for 17 days, that Mr. Khashoggi was, indeed, killed, suffocated in a choke-hold, we were told, inside the Saudi consulate -- Ana?

CABRERA: Ben Wedeman reporting. Thank you for that update.

Now, after the Saudi announcement, President Trump was asked if he found their explanation credible. Here is his answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I do, I do. I mean, again, it is early, we haven't finished our review, or investigation, but it is, I think it is a very important first step.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: And joined now by White House reporter for the "Washington Post," Josh Dawsey.

Josh, earlier this week, the president suggested Khashoggi's death may have been the work of rogue killers, so the president's reaction is not completely surprising, right?

JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It is not completely surprising. What we know, Ana, is that the president privately has harbored deep skepticism about the rogue killer theory, has been told by a number of his advisers that the Saudis are likely to come up with a cover story that does not adhere to the facts of what has happened here. And what the president is having to do now is make a calculated decision. Does he want to go after the Saudis with any sort of concrete punishment? Any sort of sanctions? Any sort of deleterious move? Or does he prize the relationship with the Saudis, arms sales, all of the various parts of constraining Iran, one of our key allies in the Middle East? And what the president is having to do now is weigh the story that, by all accounts, is implausible, versus many other considerations that he feels are equally or maybe more important.

CABRERA: Josh, we just got a new statement from your publisher and CEO, Fred Ryan. Let me read it to you. He writes, quote, "The government of Saudi Arabia has shamefully and repeatedly offered one lie after another, in the nearly three weeks since Jamal Khashoggi disappeared in their Istanbul consulate, offering no proof. And contrary to all available evidence, they now expect the world to believe that Jamal died in a fight following a discussion. This is not an explanation. It is a coverup."

He goes on to say, "President Trump, Congress, and leaders of the civilized world should demand to see verifiable evidence. The Saudis cannot be allowed to fabricate a face-saving solution to an atrocity that appears to have been directed by the highest levels of their government."

I noted earlier, Khashoggi's editor, your colleague, Karen Attiah, called the explanation, "Utter B.S." Is that the common sentiment in your NEWSROOM?

DAWSEY: There are just so many questions. The Saudis originally said he left the embassy, the consulate, they had no idea what happened. They originally said they were working with Turkish authorities to figure out what happened. Cleaning crews were brought in, painting crews were brought in. If you were to believe their explanation, you would wonder, why did 15 men, why were they flown in for a fistfight? Why was there a bone saw there, a saw on the premises? Why were so many of the men close to the ruling government there in Saudi Arabia? So what this has story has done is changed over and over day by day. And 17 days later they are out with a story that all analysts, most even Republican Senators and those in the administration don't believe can be true in any way.

[15:10:05] CABRERA: Now asking for more time to complete their investigation.

This is far from the first time Saudi Arabia has been accused of human rights atrocities. Earlier this year, one of their bombs killed a bus full of children in Yemen. And that didn't seem to strike the same kind of nerve globally in the same way Khashoggi's death has. Why do you think that is? What is it about Khashoggi that has world leaders and big business now speaking out?

DAWSEY: Well, it is hard to say. But what happened here is the journalist was allegedly lured into his embassy, killed in a brutal fashion, and it was sanctioned by a government. That's a close United States ally. This guy was a United States resident. The president keeps pointing out that he wasn't a citizen. But he was a resident. He was working for the "Washington Post," my publication obviously. And this was a pretty brazen move by the Saudi government. I think what has happened, there has been 17 days of building frustration, that the truth has not come out, you know, that they have kept changing their story, that they have denied so many of the facts, and it is kind of the way this was done, I think it sparked a palpable outrage across the world and across much of the United States that is unique.

CABRERA: Josh Dawsey, good to have you with us. Thanks for your thoughts.

DAWSEY: Thanks, Ana. CABRERA: On the Mexican/Guatemala border, a desperate situation is

unfolding right now, as thousands of Central American migrants travel north. Look at this image. Look at that bridge. These are the people who are trying to escape violence. They are trying to escape poverty. We are going to go live to that location when we come back. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:15:52] CABRERA: Developing right now, south of the border, thousands of Central American migrants packing a bridge that links Guatemala and Mexico. Some have been trying to make the long journey to the U.S. Things have calmed down after some of this caravan pushed past border gates running straight into riot police and some facing tear gas and some leaped maybe to get out of the crush or to try to swim to the Mexican side or turn back. Many can't turn back. They're fleeing violence and poverty in their home country.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann is joining us now from the Guatemala/Mexican border.

Patrick, bring us the latest on the situation there. What is going on?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, and that bridge where thousands of Hondurans were stopped yesterday quite forcibly by Mexican police is up the river. But I want to show you down the river. Just in the last few hours, the ferry service that runs most of the time taking people back and forth between these two countries has begun ferrying Hondurans. You see them waving to us. Other people can't afford. The ones that can't fit on these boys, walking there with their belongings in trash bags, trying to wade through a somewhat treacherous current. And we have a landing here. You can tell these people, because they have their children, they have their belonging -- (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE). They have their belongings with them, and they are coming. There's a gentleman swimming there, fighting against the current, not quite making it because it is pushing him down. We will see if he can -- right there -- if he can make it. He has made it.

But just back over here, I will ask the cameraman, Ray Diaz, to go back over here and show you people getting off here.

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGAUGE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

OPPMANN: I asked how long they have been traveling. They say six days. Imagine traveling six days with small kids, everything you own on your back. You have run out of money. You got into a border of a country, now after crossing two other borders, and now they're landing right behind me here. And this was not this way this morning, Ana. People were waiting on the bridge. And very few people were crossing in the river. Now it has really picked up on the river. And every boat I can see either has people aboard it or has people swimming around it. And these are all Hondurans. And the interesting thing is the Mexican police are just up the hill from us, and so far, they have not taken action, because there are just too many people, too many people who want to get to Mexico, to go on to the United States, and there's just no way of stopping them. Some people have gotten so frustrated at this point that they are not waiting on the bridge anymore. They're not going through the legal channels. And they are now swimming across this river, or getting on boats and coming across this river, and now, entering Mexico illegally to continue on to the United States.

CABRERA: It speaks to their determination, of course.

Patrick Oppmann, thank you for bringing us these live images and explaining what is going on there now.

"Now the election of our lifetime," that is how one suburban voter is describing the midterms. I travelled to Minnesota to talk to a group of female swing voters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: What grade would you give Republicans right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A-plus.

CABRERA: A-plus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:19:15] CABRERA: What this key voting block had to say about messaging and tone from both parties.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Welcome back. We continue our series, "TAKING THE PULSE OF SUBURBAN WOMEN," a key voting block that could tip the scales come Election Day just over two weeks from now.

This time, we went to Minnesota's third congressional district where five-term Republican incumbent, Erik Paulsen, is currently trailing his Democratic challenger, businessman, Dean Phillips. We spoke to five women from this district, an Independent voter-turned fired up Democrat, two women who previously voted for Paulsen and now voting for Phillips, a self-described conservative Democrat, and a staunch supporter of President Trump. Here is part one of our conversation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: In one word or one sentence, what is the number one thing driving you to vote this election cycle?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Truth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The economy and just better families. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Accurate representation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My number-one issue really right now is health care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Change.

CABRERA: What is at stake? How important is the midterm election?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is the election of our lifetime, I feel. With this current administration, I feel the policies and the agenda are utterly alarming for our environment, for our long-term financial health. I have two children and I do not -- I am not comfortable with the amount of debt that we are accruing with this tax break. I just don't understand why you would jeopardize the long-term financial stability of our country for short-term gain.

[15:25:20] CABRERA: As a young mom, do you feel like your needs are being met and being heard in Washington?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From my perspective, no. Things that I'm concerned about include the gun laws, and I shouldn't be concerned about putting my daughter on the bus and worrying if someone has an assault rifle in her school. I should be worried about hot lunch or packed lunch. I mean these shouldn't be issues that I am concerned about.

CABRERA: Do you feel this election, that is at stake, your child's safety and wellbeing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes. Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think what is at stake is we are going to continue to fall behind. If our politicians can't start working together, being honest, being truthful, being accountable to the constituents they serve, reaching across the aisle, I think about climate change, climate change terrifies me, as a mom. The fact that the Republican Party isn't taking it seriously as is actually denying that it is happening is shocking. It is horrifying. It is extremely concerning.

CABRERA: What grade would you give Republicans right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A-plus.

CABRERA: A-plus?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't mean I align with every politician just because they're Republican. I like that the tax reform has passed. I believe I'm in the employment industry, I have seen what it has done to our community, I have seen what it has done to our nation.

CABRERA: What grade would you give the Democrats?

OK, so what I see is for the majority of you, it seems like you're not happy with either party. Nobody gave Democrats an "A". UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they're inept. I think they're

ineffective. And I think their hearts may be in the right place. They might have, they might even have good ideas, I think their messaging is poor, when the leadership in the Republican Party goes this way, oftentimes they have no answer. They have no rebuttal. And we need leadership.

CABRERA: Surely, do you agree with the Republicans have this election cycle, labeling Democrats an angry mob. Does that resonate with you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't see that but I don't watch the news a lot. Maybe you watch it quite a bit. I don't. I like to form my own opinion. Even though I'm a Republican on paper I still have plenty of conversations with friends of mine who are of opposition. And I try to --

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: The president and Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, and I could name and go on and on, saying that --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't represent me.

CABRERA: -- Democrats are a mob.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't represent me. So what I'm saying is all of the women here today, they can't say everyone in office is 100 percent representing them. So I guess maybe in answer to your question, whatever anybody is labeling anyone, I also don't like what the Democrats are labeling Republicans. So if someone is tweeting angry mob, that's their take, that's not something I do every day, but we're probably a little busy for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Agreed.

CABRERA: Are you OK being called the angry mob?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, but I wouldn't say I align exactly with the Democratic Party. I think when I talk about sort of the future of my generation, and those younger than me, I see a dissolution of the party system in some way, and that is what leads to progress. I align with a lot of Republican fiscal values, and all Democratic social values. And so where do I align, and why do I have to pick a party?

CABRERA: To those who are voting for Democrats, should they fight fire with fire? Are you of the "when they go low, we kick them" mentality?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No way. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to think that politicians can run

for office without being negative and nasty and horrible to their opponents. I think it is important for candidates to show what they're standing for, what their values are, what their platform is, instead of attacking the opponent.

CABRERA: Jenna, do Democrats need to get tougher to fight back?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we need to lead with our value, where we stand on issue, what we're for, I think this fight fire with fire mentality is why we're here and why we're in this mess.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Later, we talk about the impact of the "Me Too" movement, the Supreme Court confirmation battle, and the president's "horse face" tweet.

Stay tuned for part two of our panel, ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:34:05] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You just heard before the break from suburban women voters in Minnesota in a district whose five-term Republican Congressman could be in danger in the midterms.

Let's discuss. Joining us now, "Time" magazine contributor, Jay Newton-Small, and "Bloomberg" political reporter, Sahil Kapur.

And, Scott, three of the five women on that voter panel previously voted for the Republican incumbent and only one is voting for him this time. If Minnesota is a bellwether state for the midterms, how confident should Democrats be?

SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: Out of the five of them, I think, Ana, two of them gave the Republicans a "D" and two gave them an "F," I think the Democrats are feeling good about this voting bloc. College-educated women, in particular, are turning out to be a bright spot for Democrat, especially in the House, because many of the races, many of the districts that decide control at the House have a lot of college-educated women who are breaking from Republicans in big numbers. That is Barbara Comstock in Virginia who could be in danger. And Illinois, in danger. And Orange County, California, could be in danger. The Republicans like John Culberson and Pete Sessions in Texas who were never thought to be in seriously competitive races until college-educated women started moving in big numbers. So, yes, Democrats feel good about this. They have some other uncertainties in the House, and especially in the Senate. A very difficult map. But college-educated women looking good for them.

[15:35:24] CABRERA: Let's talk about another map showing where the Democrats are campaigning this weekend. Jay, what do you see right now as the Democrat's biggest weakness in the midterm strategy?

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, CONTRIBUTOR, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, Ana, I think you saw it with the women you were interviewing right now, in that segment, that none of them gave Democrats a straight "A" and the vast majority gave Democrats a "C" or "B" and they don't feel Democrats are proactive in policy. They don't feel that they know what Democrats are standing for and what a change in Congress would mean, except that it would be against Trump. It would be anti-Trump. Which is why I think you see leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer today, for example, coming out with statements talking about Trump's rhetoric from immigration saying this is a distraction from the Democrat plan to restore health care and make your health care better and which is shown to be a top issue. And I think Democrats are showing that they are looking at these issues and the last time they took the House in 2006, they had a great platform that was very successful in convincing voters they had a lot to do on their agenda and a lot of policy items. And so that's again, their challenge this time around, to so he that they're not just the party of no, that they have things they are going to get done, and they are going to make people's lives better.

CABRERA: Sahil, President Trump thinks, if anybody can do it, he can do it. He believes he is his own best messenger. And in the last few days, he has held rallies in Montana, Arizona, and today in Nevada, talking immigration, attacking the media, encouraging voters to vote, quote, "jobs, not mobs." And he obviously knows how to fire up his base. He is good at that. Could it be enough though to save the House?

KAPUR: Well, he certainly knows what motivates his base. And he is returning to the issue that catapulted him to the Republican nomination, arguably also to the presidency. And that is largely centered on the issue of immigration. He is painting a scare -- immigration. He is painting a scary picture of immigrants, scary criminals and mobs coming to overwhelm ordinary Americans and that's kind of the image that he painted in 2016. It worked out well. But midterm elections tend to be bad for the president's party. I think the best he can do is damage control. Limit the number of seats that House Republicans lose, potentially, in a very good case scenario for the Republicans, keep the majority. And in the Senate, he can be a little more helpful, because the map runs through very red state. You mentioned Montana as one of them. Arizona and Nevada are looking like potentially good opportunities for Democrats. But that hinges on Latino turnout and that is not -- you know, that is looking very, very uncertain right now. If the Hispanic turnout is somewhere in the realm of what it has been in previous midterm elections, the Democrats are not going to win those two states.

CABRERA: In fact, we highlighted it this week in the election forecast, that Democratic candidates are underperforming Hillary Clinton on average by 14 points, in the districts where at least 50 percent of eligible voters are Latino. Do you think Democrats have missed an opportunity there, Jay?

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, I think, Ana, that is the really big risk here for Trump, really bringing up immigrants, is that, yes, it is an issue that fires up his own base, but it is also an issue that fires up Latinos and fires up the Democratic base. And particularly when you add in the prospect of splitting families up again, which apparently there's another plan potentially to put that back on the table, that is something that really affect and really gins up Latino voters and also women voters. So this is a question of, as Donald Trump brings this up on the campaign trail, yes, he is energizing his base but is he also energizing the Democratic base at the same time?

CABRERA: That is the question.

Jay Newton-Small, Sahil Kapur, thank you both.

Now, another race we're watching very closely is the race for Florida's governor. The one that no one predicted. The Republican Ron DeSantis and Democratic andrew Gillum in a CNN debate live tomorrow night, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

[15:39:11] Still ahead next hour in the NEWSROOM, one of our CNN analysts did the math on the midterms. He says forget the Senate. There is a path for Republicans to keep the House. We will tell you how, live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: The Justice Department charging a Russian woman with conspiring to interfere in the upcoming midterm elections. Those elections now 17 days away. The criminal complaint alleges that Russians are still using troll farms and other techniques they relied on in the run-up to the 2016 election.

President Trump was asked about this case during his visit to Arizona yesterday. Here is his response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It has nothing to do with my campaign. You know, all of the hackers, and all of the -- everybody that you see has nothing to do with my campaign. If they're hackers, a lot of them probably like Hillary Clinton better than me. Now they do. Now they do. But you know, they go after some hacker in Russia and they say, oh. It had nothing to do with my campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: He said it had nothing to do with his campaign.

CNN's Sara Murray looks at the Justice Department's case against this 44-year-old Russian woman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We have heard plenty about election meddling when it comes to 2016, but now the Justice Department charging a Russian national for trying to manipulate voters ahead of the 2018 midterms.

(voice-over): Tonight, the Justice Department charging a Russian woman with conspiracy for trying to manipulate voters in the 2018 midterms as it cracks down on election meddling beyond Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. [15:45:05] Elena Khusyaynova, of St. Petersburg, Russia, allegedly

managed the financing for a social media troll agency that sent out ads and memes to fan divisions between racial minority groups and political radicals and disaffected voters.

Soon after the Justice Department announced the charge against her, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, Department of Justice, FBI and Homeland Security warned the American public of continuing efforts from countries like Russia to divide America along political lines. The coordinated show of strength against election interference coming just weeks before the November midterms. The agencies called out Russia, China, and Iran for ongoing efforts to manipulate voters in the 2018 and 2020 U.S. elections. And warned Americans that foreign actors use social media to amplify divisive issues, spread disinformation, and sponsor content through English- language media, including R.T. and Sputnik.

"There's no evidence the interference efforts have impacted voting infrastructure, to prevent voting, to change vote counts or disrupt our ability to tally votes in the midterm elections," according to the joint statement.

And meantime, a key player in Mueller's Russia probe will soon be sentenced. Former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, shocking a Virginia courtroom Friday when he appeared in a wheelchair as the judge set Manafort's sentencing day for February 8. Manafort, clad in his green inmate uniform, sat with his foot raised off the ground in his sock. His lawyer, Kevin Downing, saying Manafort is facing significant health issues related to the terms of his confinement and his attorneys pushed for him to be sentenced quickly. A person familiar with Manafort's condition says he is experiencing inflammation related to his diet. Manafort will be sentenced on eight charges of tax fraud and banking crimes. Judge T.S. Ellis said today 10 additional charges that that the jury could not agree on will be dropped.

(on camera): Manafort continues to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe and they have set no end date for the cooperation in court on Friday.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Our thanks to Sara.

Joining us now, law professor, Anne Milgram, the former attorney general of New Jersey. Also, former federal prosecutor, Shan Wu, now a defense attorney specializing in white collar crimes.

Great to have both of you with us. And it is especially nice to have you on set with me on a Saturday.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Thanks for being here. Anne, let's start with the new indictment against the Russian national

which alleges crimes as recent as May. Do you think timing at all is a factor here, that prosecutors wanted to hurry and get this case public, before the midterms, as maybe a warning?

ANNE MILGRAM, PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE & DISTINGUISHED SCHOLAR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW & FORMER NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, there's no doubt in my mind. And this woman was aligned with some of the troll farms from 2016. And so what I think the message is, which is really clear, is that this is continuing to happen, that the Russian government is continuing -- and not just Russia, also China and Iran, but in this particular case, Russia is trying to hack into the election and disrupt really through social media, the ability of the Americans to decide for whatever reason who they want to vote for without being influenced by a foreign government.

CABRERA: As Anne points out, these are similar tactics by someone who, in fact, is connected to the same group who is indicted in Mueller's indictment related to the meddling in the 2016 election.

And, Shan, clearly, the Russians have not been deterred.

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, not at all. And I think, also, this illustrates just how much it takes to kind of trace back the origins of these sorts of troll farm, and how complex the method is for them to hide their tracks, and we are just beginning to see the fruits of that investigation. But it takes a lot of work to unravel all of that.

CABRERA: I want to talk a little bit about Paul Manafort now. He was in a wheelchair during his federal court hearing yesterday. A hearing that was to schedule his sentencing date for the crimes that he faces, again, previously, that he was convicted on. His lawyer citing significant health issues related to his confinement, saying he had some inflammation related to his diet.

Anne, how do you think Judge Ellis will use this health issue claim?

MILGRAM: I'm not sure that it will impact the judge in terms of sentencing in any way. I wouldn't expect it to. But the way in which I think it may have been impactful was for scheduling the sentencing in February, which is pretty soon. I mean, you know, his lawyers saying basically get him sentenced as soon as possible and will be sent to a federal prison. Other than sort of right now, he is almost in a holding pattern in a local federal penitentiary, and once he gets sentenced, they can work out issues like diet and other things. So my sense is it won't have an impact on the ultimate sentence but in trying to get it done quickly and get him situated at a long-term facility will probably be the way it will get moved.

WU: There are only certain ones who have the federal hospital capacity as well as a serious health problem, if that is going on, so they will be anxious for that designation to be done.

CABRERA: And we have been learning that Manafort has been meeting with Mueller's team or seen at Mueller's offices, nine times, in the past four weeks, inside for several hours.

Shan, does that seem like a lot?

[15:49:58] WU: It seems pretty normal. It's intense. Once he starts cooperating, there's no holding back. It's interesting that it's been pretty intense in this period, pretty speedy. I think the prosecutors would have preferred to delay the sentencing even longer. They usually want to make sure what the value is, and they kind of like to keep the pressure on the person cooperating. But Judge Ellis kind of marches to his own set of tunes there, so he wasn't going for that.

CABRERA: It's not just Manafort meeting with Mueller --

(CROSSTALK)

WU: Cohen, as well.

CABRERA: It seems that it's been busy. Cohen's meeting. We've heard the grand jury should been convened, meeting every week. Interviewing other witnesses, especially some connected to Roger Stone.

WHU: Yes.

CABRERA: We don't expect any announcement before the midterms. They're just around the corner. But does it seem that this is building to perhaps a big announcement after the midterms?

MILGRAM: I mean, there are a couple of things. First is the cooperation of Manafort and Cohen. It's extraordinary. We don't know who could potentially be charged as a result of it. But it is normal to have nine meetings. It also is normal when you have -- someone has information to provide. If they didn't, you know, if Manafort didn't have information, it's one or two meetings. The fact that he's come back nine times means there's information they're verifying. It's likely others will be charged, there may be something that comes out of it. In terms of after the midterms, I would expect that we will see action on a number of things. It may not be the exact week after, but we know they've continued to take these proffers from both Manafort and Cohen. They've continued to do the grand jury on Stone. They've gone back and forth on written questions to Trump. Again, what doesn't happen until the midterms is the public stuff. What still happens, all the behind-the-scenes work prosecutors do day in and out, that is continuing.

CABRERA: As far as we know, no meetings with Don Jr. And of course, he was central to that Trump Tower meeting. He hasn't met with Ivanka Trump as far as we know, who has been by her dad's side all along through the campaign. Obviously, now in the White House. So does that tell you anything?

WU: Well, generally speaking, I'd say for folks like Don Jr and even for Roger Stone, I would be worried if everybody close to me has been interviewed. But I'm still not. It's a game of musical chairs. If you're the last person out, you might be the one getting indicted for that. There's been so much grand jury activity recently that I find that interesting juxtaposition to the idea that Mueller may be finishing up his report. Almost seems like it's inconsistent. But perhaps there's going to be an interim report of some kind. But it does seem like there's been so much grand jury activity that it's hard to imagine that the report's finalized and wrapped up at this point.

MILGRAM: I think it is in at least one sense, which is that Mueller has said he wouldn't accept written answers on the instruction part. And to the best of our knowledge, that's never been resolved. So Mueller will either have to decide he proceeds without interviewing Trump about obstruction of justice or he goes again and tries to get Trump to come in.

On the family thing, my personal view, having been an estate and federal prosecutor, is you would always leave them to the end because they're so close to the president. They're very unlikely to be Cooperative unless you can already prove a case against them. But they really are sort of to me the last thing you do.

CABRERA: Right.

MILGRAM: And remember, Jared Kushner was interviewed but only as to the very --

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Flynn

MILGRAM: -- to lock him down on specific meetings or calls with Flynn. He's never also been interviewed on the rest of it. And I think with Manafort cooperating, that meeting in Trump Tower in the summer of 2016 becomes really important. And there are a lot of questions that people lying have related to that -- people likely have related to that that you would want to know from Manafort about Don Jr and Kushner's involvement.

WU: I'm curious on the question of in-person interviews, though, I don't think Mueller's going to go that way because it seems like it would be such a constitutional fight for him to insist on the sit- down. My feeling has been he wants to essentially check off that box. And if the president doesn't sit down with him, he has the option of saying, well, the president wouldn't meet with us, here's the evidence. In some ways, of course, for the president's legal team, they're happy about that.

CABRERA: Yes.

WU: And they can spin it their way, to say we would have been happy to meet with him, but they were unreasonable in their commission.

CABRERA: Got to leave it there, guys.

Thank you very much. Shan Wu, Anne Milgram, good to have you both here with us.

WU: Thank you. CABRERA: Despite how they vowed to give their lives to defend their

country, how many of the veterans previously vowed to give their lives to their country, veterans have some trouble getting the support they need after leaving the military. In fact, nearly 10 percent of the homeless adults in the United States once served in the armed forces. And when Army combat veteran, Chris Stout, saw some of his former comrades falling through the cracks, he built a solution to try to help them. That's why he is this week's "CNN Hero."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS STOUT, CNN HERO: After starting to work with veterans, I realized there was a huge gap in services. If you've 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. Gives them a safe and secure place. And then fix what got them there in the first place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:55:08] CABRERA: More than 650 cities are now interested in replicating Chris' program, which will expand to Nashville, Tennessee, next year. To find out more, go to CNNheroes.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Top of the hour. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. Great to have you with us.

We begin this hour with the president's campaign chorus. Minutes ago, President Trump repeated a rhyme he hopes will stick with midterm voters as he tries to keep his Republican majority in Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[16:00:03] TRUMP: The choice for every American could not be more clear. Democrats produce mobs. Republicans produce jobs. That's becoming a hashtag.

(CHEERING)