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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Migrants Clash With Mexican Police On Guatemalan Border; Caravan Of Migrants Form To Find Safety In Numbers; Jackpot Scars To Record $1.6 Billion; Saudi Source Journalist Strangled To Death Inside Consulate; Thousands Of Migrants Packed On Guatemala-Mexico Bridge. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired October 20, 2018 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[07:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- what got them there in the first place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, thanks.
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VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: More than 650 cities are interested in replicating Chris' program. It will expand to Nashville next year. To find out more, go to CNNheroes.com.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saudi Arabia admitting that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, they're engaged in a cover-up to protect the crown prince. It's almost like the classic mafia operation.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's a good first step.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Saudis very clearly seem to be buying time and buying cover. But this action raises more questions than it answers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thousands of migrants making their way to Mexico, even breaking through a steel fence that had been padlocked shut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the surge of the crowd has managed to shove the padlocked gates open.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not criminals. We come here because we want to work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is the anti-Christ, this man says. If he doesn't repent, he's going to hell. We are not criminals.
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LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to everyone on this Saturday, I'm Leyla Santiago. I'm in for Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be back with you. Top story this hour, after 17 days of denials, Saudi officials now say that Washington Post writer, Jamal Khashoggi, died in the county's Istanbul Consulate after a discussion escalated to a fist fight. He died after being, according to the Saudis, placed in a choke hole.
SANTIAGO: Khashoggi's editor at the paper responding quickly to the Saudi account calling it utter B.S. -- her words, after confirming Khashoggi's death. 18 Saudis were taken into custody, and five officials in the Saudi crown prince's inner circle were actually removed from their posts.
We have a team of reporters across the globe gathering the latest on this story which has really been developing every single day. We begin with Sam Kiley in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. Sam, the Saudis quick made an arrest. They removed some pretty big figures here from power. What are we hearing now?
SAM KILEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've made. 18 people have been taken into detention, not yet fully charged or arrested. And they've also moved very rapidly to purge the royal court and the intelligence services, or a number of key characters. We don't know if those 18 detained are the same or include the 15 that had been named as people of interest by the Turkish authorities. We don't have any names on them, but we do have names of people very, very close to the crown prince indeed.
I'll just read to you the top two from our estimation if you like. First is, Ahmed al-Asiri, he was the Deputy Head of General Intelligence, he had been the Spokesman for the Saudis in the coalition in the war against Yemen. Of course, a war essentially driven by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince -- a very close member of the crown prince's entourage.
And an even closer character in terms of his relationship with the main power in this land, and that's Saud al-Khatani, he is called a Senior Consultant, he was actually the head of media for the crown prince. Senior media adviser in charge of polishing the crown prince's image abroad with his visit to Hollywood, to elsewhere around the world trying to sell his whole vision of what they call 2030 here.
Now, that's going to be very badly tarnished, obviously, by the events that have unfolded in Istanbul, which the Saudis finally admit were the result of actions by Saudi citizens. Albeit, they insist, without the knowledge of the crown prince -- the crown prince, in fact, is now being put in charge of a reforming committee that will investigate and completely restructure the nation's intelligence services, because another three major figures within those intelligence services have also been fired. Victor and Leyla?
SANTIAGO: Sam Kiley breaking down the latest developments. Thanks so much.
BLACKWELL: Well, Turkish officials have long said that Khashoggi died within hours of entering that Saudi consulate in Istanbul. And a part of that assessment was based on reported audio recordings inside the building. Let's bring in Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Nic Robertson. Nic, first, how is this investigation into Khashoggi's death complicate -- I mean, it's complicating a lot of relationships, but specifically the one between Turkey and the Saudi Arabia?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, both countries want to have influence in the region. Right now, Turkey is on the outs with the United States for a number of issues. Syria is one of them. Iran is another one. And its relationship with Russia also another. And Saudi Arabia is front and center ally for the United States in the region. So, you know, from Turkey's perspective, it's not perhaps standing where it would want to be in its relationship with the United States.
[07:05:07] I think what we're hearing just now in the last few minutes from a spokesman from the President's party, which is really the first official line and first official reaction here in Turkey to the Saudi statement is quite clear. You know, it's diplomatic in a way, that it says, for example, you know, we are not preemptively blaming anyone, but it goes on to say we'll not allow to -- this issue to remain in the dark. He said no one should be in any doubt that they want to push this into the light. He said no one should be in any doubt that we will be moving forward with our investigation.
It's a matter of honor for us that we uncover all the details in this. So, what we're hearing from the Turkish government here is sort of, if you will, OK, we've heard what you have said, this is our position, and as the Turks have done all along here, which is really expect the Saudis to say more, do more, come clear more. The Saudis sort of have this narrative now that they're cooperating with Turkey. Well, what we understand from this statement is that cooperation is not particularly deep.
It's not the Turkey's liking, and Turkey diplomatically is trying to push Saudi Arabia and say you're not done yet, put all the fact out there. They're not out there. We will continue to push forward and dig and get them out. So, that's I think Turkey's position here is a diplomatic, what you've said isn't enough.
BLACKWELL: Nic Robertson for us there in Istanbul. Thank you, Nic.
SANTIAGO: And you know, the White House seems receptive to the latest audio account of what happened to Jamal Khashoggi. But the about face from the Saudis is being viewed with some, sort of, skepticism by some lawmakers. And for that, we turn to Sarah Westwood, she is at the White House. Sarah, we heard Nic talk a little bit about that skepticism. President Trump, though, signaling that he believes what the Saudis are saying.
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Leyla. President Trump was quick to accept that explanation from the Saudis about what happened to Jamal Khashoggi even though both Republicans and Democrats are expressing that deep skepticism that Saudis leaders are telling the truth here. Trump has been highlighting earlier denials from Saudi leaders who say that they knew nothing about Khashoggi's fate, and he similarly elevated the Saudi party line last night when he said that these arrests represent an important first step for Saudi Arabia and said that their latest explanation sounds credible to him. Take a listen...
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TRUMP: 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.
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WESTWOOD: That was the President speaking yesterday in Arizona. And the President's acceptance of the Saudis' latest statement has been raising eyebrows because it comes after Saudi leaders first insisted that Khashoggi had left the consulate unharmed. Then, denying that Saudi officials knew anything about Khashoggi's fate. And finally, now, Saudi leaders are acknowledging that Khashoggi's dead but claiming it's the result of an accident.
So, this shifting story has prompted a lot of doubt from lawmakers in both parties. For example, Senator Richard Blumenthal is claiming that this is simply an attempt from the Saudis to by time for their embattled leader. And even Senator Lindsey Graham, a top Republican ally of the President, had this to say, to say that "I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement." So, President Trump is likely to come under increasing pressure from lawmakers on Capitol Hill to impose the severe punishments he just, a week ago, threatened to slap on Saudi Arabia if it turns out that Khashoggi was, in fact, murdered. Leyla and Victor.
SANTIAGO: All right. Sarah Westwood, certainly a lot of back and forth there. Thanks so much.
BLACKWELL: All right. Let's now talk with CNN Contributor Walter Shaub; and Karoun Demirjian, CNN Political Analyst and Congressional Reporter for the Washington Post. Good to have both of you back. And Walter, let me start here with the tweet from Karen Tia, she is -- was Jamal Khashoggi's editor there at the Washington Post, and she tweeted out after the Saudis released their statement: "Khashoggi was a 60- year-old man. What sort of equal fight would he have had against 15 other men, and who brings a bone saw to a discussion? The stupid of the Saudi explanation is mind-boggling." The President, when asked says, that he finds the explanation credible. More than just the chronology in the improbability of it. What is the message the President is sending to the world?
WALTER SHAUB, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, that's the right question because, you know, it's disturbing enough when authoritarian regimes around the world issue preposterous explanations like the one Saudi Arabia has done here. But it's much more troubling when our own President participates in the cover-up of the murders of a Virginia resident, a permanent resident of the United States, who wrote for one of our top newspapers in our country, and he was likely killed because of what he wrote in that newspaper and elsewhere. So, it's deeply troubling. And in saner times, Congress would immediately launch hearings to find out how are the President's conflicts of interest and Jared Kushner's conflicts of interest influencing their participation of the cover-up because their behavior is just very strange.
[07:10:33] BLACKWELL: Karoun, let me talk about Congress in just a second. But first, I want to talk about the subtle, but I think important difference between what we heard from the President and the official statement from the White House that Sarah Sanders tweeted out yesterday. The White House with the statement acknowledged the explanation from the Saudis. The President says that he believes it's credible. I wonder if the President took a step further than maybe official White House, although it's his White House, wanted him to. What do you make of just that difference between acknowledgment, although the language in the statement was lukewarm and no condemnation, and the President saying, yes, it's a good first step, and I find it credible?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER FOR THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, there's a huge qualitative difference there when you're talking about the reaction of the United States mattering a lot in this instance. Look, it's not the first time the President has gone further than what his administration's official position is, acknowledging is just saying, yes, we heard you, it doesn't mean that we actually believe you or that's good enough, but we heard you.
Whereas the President saying it's credible shows that he is leaning toward wanting to believe the explanation that's coming from the Saudi crown prince because he's in a situation right here where there -- Saudi Arabia has always been an ally of the United States, but President Trump has tried to make them an extremely, extremely close ally. He's moved hard away from Iran, towards Saudi Arabia, in part to erase the Obama legacy of the Iran deal but also just because that's his choice, and he tends to gravitate and have a more sympathetic approach to these strong men leaders than his predecessors and even those around him. It's also problematic because he just didn't come out early on and say, look, this is a shocking, horrifying situation, we're going to get the facts and we're not going to make a judgment until we've had a full investigation.
He didn't that do that right off the bat. And so, now, everything he's seeing can be seen in the light of, well, are we actually going to have an international investigation or at least a U.S.-directed one, or will he just take the word of the Saudi government which has an incentive to cover something up if there's something to cover up? And the fact that you're not hearing any members of the GOP in Congress pipe up to say -- or any leading members of the GOP, I should say, pipe up to say, yes, we agree with you, Mr. President, shows that this is going to be a point of tension and people are not going to be satisfied or find it as credible as Trump does.
BLACKWELL: So, let's explore that and this domestic political element. We're 17 days out from the midterm election, and everything is seen through that prism as we get closer to November 6th. Does this conflict within the party? I mean, we heard from Bob Corker, we heard from Lindsey Graham saying it doesn't carry water, it's less than credible, and other Republicans on the Saudi statement. Does that conflict with the President cause a big enough problem where it could interrupt or disturb the President's narrative of immigration, the economy, going down to the wire of the election?
DEMIRJIAN: Potentially, right. I mean, this -- this is a President who is good at unforced errors when it comes to expressing his gut reaction to things that are not going to play as well for him as if he just stuck to the script about pointing out the things that have gone well under his administration. The economic numbers are great. The immigration issue is very controversial across the nation but seems to play well with his base. But usually, it's things regarding the Russia probe that he steps into and then causes a stir that distracts from those other issues, and you could argue about whether that plays well for him or not.
I think in this situation, there is no -- there is no national sentiment if it's good to have an American permanent resident killed -- potentially killed -- in the extremely brutal, brutal way. I don't think even the people that are not speaking favorably of Jamal Khashoggi are not saying that that sort of thing is OK or good. So, for the President to seem like he's siding with the Saudis over the skepticism of the Americans, I don't see how that's a win for him that can play out on the campaign trail.
BLACKWELL: Well, so, the important question here then is why. Why is the President again siding with a foreign government instead of, according to sources who speak with CNN, the intelligence community here in the U.S., and you've got to ask the question of potential conflict of interest. The President says, his sons say who run the Trump organization that they have no deals, no business with the Saudis. Although, the President, as a candidate, bragged about selling apartments for tens of millions of dollars to the Saudis. There could be a disclosure here. The President could take a step to clear up any potential conflicts of interest. But for the last two years-plus, he's been reluctant to do so.
[07:15:03] SHAUB: Yes. I mean, remember that the original sin of this administration is that the President broke with the tradition of Presidents divesting their conflicting financial interests. And then he went about promoting his properties with all of these trips to them. And now, we've also got the situation where he's not disclosing really what his interests are. The financial disclosure firm doesn't tell you who his business partners are, or who his businesses owe money, or what deals he's got in the works. So, all we know is that he has said inconsistent things about it.
And the burden of proof is on him because he chose to break with the tradition and keep those conflicts of interest. But this Congress has been complicit in allowing him to not answer questions and not pursue the issue. So, he doesn't get any benefit of the doubt, especially not when he's clearly been trying to monetize the presidency for two years. I think this is a burning question and, sadly, it's not on the top of everyone's list because Congress and the President have done a good job of not making an issue out of it. But if it had been his rival who won the election, we would have had hearing after hearing after hearing over her nonprofit charity. But nothing so far on his for-profit businesses. BLACKWELL: Yes. Still a lot of questions when we think back to the
President saying about how much he loved the Saudis and talking about selling those apartments during the campaign and now the family saying we have no deals, no -- no connection to the Saudis there. Walter Shaub, Karoun Demirjian, thank you both.
SANTIAGO: Well, it is a long, very long journey for thousands of migrants just to get here. Now, they are caught between two worlds. One they say they can't go back to, and another one that isn't necessarily welcoming them.
BLACKWELL: Plus, there's no winner for that Mega Millions -- we can call it Mega Billions now, lottery. Get your ticket pool together. We have odds -- we can try again. A live report on your next chance to win big and just how big that jackpot will be.
[07:21:07] BLACKWELL: Well, they can't stay where they are, and they can't go home. Migrants caught on a border on, a bridge between two countries. Look at this video. It's from the border between Guatemala and Mexico. They're trying to make their way into Mexico, for some, on to the United States. And as we report, the journey so far has not been easy.
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At high noon, the bridge over the border was empty. But then for some reason, Guatemalan police throw open the gates.
WEIR: No, it's closed. It's closed.
The 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.
The surge of the crowd has managed to shove those padlocked gates open.
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 cannister.
WEIR: After a half hour of chaos, 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our message is, we're not criminals. We come here because we want to work. We need a job. We need better -- you know, a better life. That's why we're here. WEIR: Do you understand that President Trump is going to use the
pictures of thousands of people surging to the gates against you. He's going to point that to people and say this is scary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's his politics, you know. We respect, you know, he's the President -- he's the President of the United States. And with all due respect, you know, we don't -- we are not criminals.
WEIR: Donald Trump is the anti-Christ, this man says. If he doesn't repent, he's going to hell. We are not criminals, we are workers and fighters.
Eventually, Mexico opens to the caravan, but only a trickle are let through. Women and children first, including Marta Torres 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.
Do you want to go to the United States? 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? "I don't want my kids in the middle of crime. I don't want the lives of my children further destroyed."
Mexico has taken the rare step of calling on the United Nations to help sort this crisis. But this standoff makes clear that for most of these folks, there is no turning back. Bill Weir, CNN, Tapachula, Mexico.
SANTIAGO: All right. Lots to break down there. So, here's the thing -- at meetings, rallies, and tweets, President Trump is taking aim at this migrant caravan that is making its way north.
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TRUMP: These are some bad people coming through. 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.
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SANTIAGO: All right. So, that is President Trump's take. Obviously, this is a very, very complicated issue. So, let's talk about this caravan. It actually started in San Pedro Sula, and you can see it right here in Honduras. That's where they started days ago. They walked into Guatemala, into the Esquipulas, made their way to where they are right now, that is Tapachula and they are heading north if they can get into Mexico.
[07:25:14] And here's the thing -- this is not the first of its kind. Caravans of migrants often formed to find this sort of safety in number. In fact, some of these are annual events with religious roots; not a new thing. What is new is President Trump's attention on them. Remember in April, we fallowed another caravan. I was there walking with them as they moved along. And they, too, were at the center of President Trump's tweets.
We introduced you to a mother who told us gangs threatened her son and his life, a 4-year-old. We introduced you to a teen who showed me the gunshot wounds on his body, scarred from that gang violence. And we followed them all the way to the port of entry in San Diego, where they turned themselves in and were asking for asylum. That is the legal way to do so.
Human rights advocates working with this caravan tell us that these migrants plan to seek asylum, too, just like they did a few weeks ago. But poverty and violence are not guaranteed factors for asylum. In fact, migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, they have among the highest denial rates when it comes to asylum in the U.S. But odds for asylum, barriers in Mexico, or threats from President Trump, don't seem to be enough to turn them around. At least for now.
BLACKWELL: Leyla, thank you. Still to come, no winner in last night's Mega Millions lottery. But it just takes another couple of bucks and a dream.
[07:31:27] SANTIAGO: Welcome back, I'm Leyla Santiago, in for Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.
SANTIAGO: Yes. No winner. No winner for last night's Mega Millions lottery. But don't you worry, just yet my friend, you can try again.
BLACKWELL: $5.00 wasted. Well, $5.00 is part of the pool. So, we all wasted our money. All right, it's time to get into the next jackpot, CNN correspondent Polo Sandoval is in New York with more. Polo, this has been your beat for the past couple of days. Have you picked out where you're going to buy the next tickets? That's the big question.
SANTIAGO: The winning ticket.
SANTIAGO: The winning ticket my friend.
BLACKWELL: Yes. Will it be the Wawa?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I wish we had Wawa's up here, Victor.
BLACKWELL: You don't.
SANDOVAL: I miss Atlanta. I would be the real winner if buy at a Wawa within a walking distance of the New York bureau. But, let me tell you what, though. We've been asking people, what would you do with the billion bucks? Well, no question becomes now what would you do with $1.6 billion?
Since there were no winners during last night's drawing that number now making its way up to $1.6 billion. Already surpassing the $1.5 billion record that had been set back in 2016, during a Powerball drawing.
Take a look at these numbers though, because though there were no jackpot winners, there were still -- according to lottery, 15 second tier winners in states like California, Florida, Illinois. Here in New York, there were at least, four of those. So, Second-tier tickets could be worth -- yes, for a few thousand to up to a million dollars. So, that is something that according to Texas -- rather to lottery officials, there are many people who don't claim that, because they focus on that.
I should mention though, the answer to that question. How could this number get so high? Should remember, the back -- October of last year, Mega Millions basically changed their odds, they change the rules to makes -- to make those payoffs fewer and farther between. So, what's happening now is that fewer people are winning the actual jackpot.
Of course, that usually means that more people are more interested once it makes -- once the jackpot goes beyond the $500 million marks. So, that is perhaps, one of the reasons why this number has gotten so high.
But again, look at your tickets, look at the -- at those numbers, make sure that those aren't Second tier. We should mention that four of those Second tier tickets we're here in New York, Leyla and Victor. But likely not going to be our pool.
But again, we're not the spirit of optimism. It is still alive, $1.6 billion up for grabs now if you win come Tuesday night.
BLACKWELL: I'm good for another $5.00.
SANTIAGO: You'll do that?
BLACKWELL: I'm good for another $5.00.
SANTIAGO: Do you always play the same numbers or do you do random?
BLACKWELL: I just give my money to the pool because I don't want to be the one guy who has to come to work the next day, right?
SANTIAGO: All right. Something like that. You random.
BLACK: So, I don't need to pick the numbers, I just don't want to be the one guy left.
SANTIAGO: Yes, yes, Polo, you pick the same numbers or random?
SANDOVAL: Usually a random pick, Leyla. SANTIAGO: Yes, I'm I the only one --
SANDOVAL: But, again, yes I did the same thing as Victor. I bought one ticket yesterday at a store. And then, of course, some of our colleagues say would you like to jump in on the pool? And of course, I have to do it because like Victor, I'm not going to be the only guy at work on Monday.
BLACKWELL: Yes, but you got that little sidecar for yourself. The $2.00 you buy just in case your numbers are right. I see you, Polo. I see you. Polo Sandoval, thanks so much.
SANDOVAL: Later guys.
SANTIAGO: All right. Well, the Kremlin is pushing back after a Russian national charged with attempted midterm election meddling. We're live in Moscow. Just head.
[07:36:59] SANTIAGO: Mortgage rates went down slightly this week. Have a look.
BLACKWELL: Welcome back. The Kremlin is pushing back after a Russian national was charged with attempting to meddle in the upcoming elections.
SANTIAGO: Federal prosecutors say, a 44-year-old woman was the chief accountant for Russian troll operation trying to sow division ahead of the midterms. Now, Russia is calling the government's accusations baseless. Senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is following the story from Moscow. Fred.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Leyla. Yes, we've been trying to get in touch with Russian authorities since last night. The story really broke very late last night. Russian time. So, a lot of them had obviously already clocked out for the day.
But this morning, the Russians firing back in a major way in the form of the deputy Russian Foreign Minister. I want to read you part of the statement that we got for them and say about an hour and a half ago.
And he says, and I quote, "We have repeatedly said that this is a shameful slanderous campaign that is dedicated by the desire of some American politicians to gain advantage in their inter-party quarrels. And at the same time, put pressure on Russia.
Nasty means are in use, including what are obviously fabricated criminal cases containing absurd accusations and a ridiculous base of evidence." So, obviously, the Russians needless to say, are denying these allegations. And some of they've been doing really since 2016. They have been saying that they had nothing to do with any sort of election meddling. They were not behind it. That no evidence has been presented so far.
Obviously, we know that the Mueller investigation, for instance, has been presenting some evidence as has -- have others, as well. But the Russians sticking by their line. As you can see, it's a really interesting case with this -- with this woman who has been charged because if you read the indictment, you can see that she's apparently part of a much larger operation that is essentially the same troll factory that's been meddling in U.S. politics since about 2016. Leyla.
[07:41:06] SANTIAGO: All right, Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much. Well, some very compelling images that really say it all.
BLACKWELL: Take a look. Flood of people heading toward the U.S. border and hope of a better life. But the question, how far will they make it?
[07:45:33] BLACKWELL: All right, quarters all the top of the hour. Let's get back now to our top story. The death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
SANTIAGO: After 17 days of denials, Saudi officials now claim that he died in the country's Istanbul consulate after a discussion that escalated into a fistfight. A Saudi source claims, he died after being placed in a chokehold. So, to talk about this, let's go ahead and bring in Joseph Borelli.
BLACKWELL: Yes, Joseph is a Republican commentator and co-chair of the Trump campaign in New York during that election. Joe, welcome back to the show.
JOSEPH BORELLI, FORMER NEW YORK CO-CHAIR FOR TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Thank you, Victor. Good morning.
BLACKWELL: Good morning to you. Let's start with the President's own words here when asked if he finds this new explanation from the Saudis credible. Let's play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 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)
BLACKWELL: So, Joseph, U.S. officials tell CNN that this just could not have happened without the knowledge or even the direction of NBS. So, the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. By calling this explanation credible, the President then defies the U.S. or rejects the U.S. assessment again. Why?
BORELLI: Yes, I don't think he's going to get a lot of support on saying that it was potentially -- you know, a credible explanation. And I think that's why he was quick to follow that up with the notion that it is early in the U.S. investigation. It is early in the investigation of the international community.
And I think, you're going to see going forward more reliance on a wait-and-see approach than -- you know, the diplomacy by tweet that the President has sometimes gotten criticized for.
BLACKWELL: And when -- what is the President -- what he expects the White House is waiting for?
BORELLI: Well, I think the White House wants to see where the -- where the shoe drops. I mean, he said it was a big step. And when he said that, he meant the arrest of the 18 Saudis and the acknowledgment that there was potentially some culpability on the part of the consular workers or this hit team.
I mean, that was a big step in his mind because just days earlier, this is something they denied, it was even remotely possible. I think -- I think the President and Congress, and our intelligence community would be wise to assume that the Saudis are playing a game to distance the crown prince rather than find the truth.
BLACKWELL: So, as we go and lean on this word credible now, how credible do you find or do you expect this administration should find this 30-day investigation that's led by NBS?
BORELLI: Yes, look, I think that's certainly -- you know, there's certainly some indications that the goal will be to relieve NBS of his own culpability rather than find the truth. That said there may not be that many options. I mean, this is a crime that happened in a foreign consulate in another foreign country. So, it's not as though the FBI has potentially the means to investigate as they would if this was a crime that happened somewhere else.
SANTIAGO: All right, turning now just to immigration President Trump himself sort of spelled it out in a tweet. Saying this is a great midterm election issue for Republicans.
But now, he sort of leaning on Mexico where there has been a contentious relationship in the last few months actually since he came into office. Where do you see this going? If his relationship with President Pena Nieto and Mexico has been almost hostile at times.
Now, he's leaning on them to sort of stop these migrants at the Mexico-Guatemala border. Will he actually see this as a win for midterms?
BORELLI: Well, I mean, I think the relationship changed last month with the renegotiation and the signing of the NAFTA -- the new version of NAFTA. You know that said this is an issue that galvanized Republican voters. I don't think there's any way to get around that especially that we're looking at everything -- you know through the lens of the upcoming midterms.
This is an issue that what was the battle lines in 2016, and it brought a lot of Republicans to the polls. So, the notion that this idea doesn't reinforce the idea for 76 percent of Americans who want tougher border security that we need it. And that there's one party that's going to give it to them while another party is going to be the party of amnesty and lawlessness is probably false.
SANTIAGO: Right, but you're saying another party is going to be the party of amnesty. President Obama was known as the chief deporter. Initially, deported way more than President Trump in his first few months in office.
[07:50:04] BORELLI: All right, I mean, you --
SANTIAGO: So, how will you say that he is -- you know, that one party is wanting amnesty in open borders when President Trump, himself had been deported as many as Obama?
BORELLI: No, you make -- you make a -- you make a great point. I mean, the party of Barack Obama and the party of Bill Clinton, with a party of border walls. I mean, this is a Democratic Party is the ones who have changed 180 degrees on the issue of border security.
If you look at Keith Ellison wearing a shirt saying, "We want open borders." He's the vice chairman of the DNC, means there's no question that the Democratic Party was the one who shifted on immigration reform and not the Republican Party.
SANTIAGO: You bring up the wall. Let's talk about that because I've noticed a shift there among Republicans. During the campaign, President Trump constantly said, we're going to build this wall, called it fancy and nice, and then he would go on to say, "And Mexico's going to pay."
Now that he is counting on them down on the Mexico-Guatemala border, what many see is the gateway to the U.S., he doesn't seem to be saying they're going to pay. Why is that?
BORELLI: Well, it seems like the Mexicans are paying with sort of the blood, sweat, and tears of some of their national law enforcement. If you look at someone --
SANTIAGO: All right, but that's not what he said. That's not what he said. That's not what he said.
BORELLI: Well, if you look at some of those images -- well, right, right, but this is a cooperation with the Mexican government to keep this caravan that's clearly intended on coming to our southern border -- at the southern border with Mexico.
I mean, there are people within that group I'm sure that qualify for asylum. There are people that I'm sure qualify. There are people with valid visas that Mexico has already let in. But the question is whether we're going to be a nation of lawlessness, and mob rule, and simply allow people to come in simply by the mere fact that they've walked to the border and demanded entry. I mean, that's just not going to happen.
And again, this is an issue that galvanizes Republican voters. We saw that in 2016, and if this continues, we'll see it in 2018, as well.
BLACKWELL: Joseph, you know that the chant at the rallies was not, "Build that blood, sweat, and tears." It was, "Build that wall." And people expect it because the then-candidate actually described a brick and mortar -- a rebar wall. And said we could 10 feet higher.
So, to now say that, that might have just been some analogy, right?
SANTIAGO: Right. And --
BLACKWELL: For the work of the Mexican forces.
BORELLI: Well, don't forget the big beautiful gate, Victor. Don't forget the big beautiful gate.
BLACKWELL: Yes, and what would that have equated to. I mean, we were -- the President was talking about as a candidate an actual wall. So, to move the cheese now seems a bit nefarious.
BORELLI: Well, well, no, there is no moving the cheese. I mean, you just heard out of both houses of Congress plans to allocate funding for more construction of the border wall. So, I don't think that plan has changed very much. I think the Democrats have been the obstructionist on the issue. The Democrats have wanted to prevent border wall funding.
And again, as I pointed out earlier, the Democrats were the party who were once in favor of the border wall. I mean, you could look back to see what President Obama and President Clinton said, verbatim in their own words.
SANTIAGO: Why so much focus on the wall when it comes to immigration when the majority -- I want to say that nearly 80 percent here illegally, are here because of extended or overstaying their own visas.
BORELLI: Yes. I mean, that's certainly a fair point and the President's comprehensive immigration reform also addressed that.
BLACKWELL: Hey, let me play one thing for you, and I want to talk about rhetoric from the President which also is often a topic. The President's words here specifically about the people coming into the country. Let's play what he said about, about those folks that are down the border with the -- between Guatemala and Mexico.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: These are some bad people coming through. They're no -- there 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)
BLACKWELL: Joseph, some of them literally are babies, right? I mean, to say that they are hardened criminals, they are -- many of them escaping hardened criminals. What's the value here of the President's rhetoric? Is he just drumming up a base before -- 17 days before the election? We show into the video from Bill (INAUDIBLE) a long ago.
BORELLI: Look, with thousands upon that -- with thousands of people in this group, there's no doubt that there are some people who probably are -- you know, working individuals who want to make a better life, whether that's in Mexico or United States.
But they're also probably are people who have criminal records that wasn't qualify --
BLACKWELL: Joseph, that sounds like the President saying, "And some I assume are good people," as he launched his campaign back in July of 2015. Is that -- is that still the running here?
BORELLI: Well, the reality is that -- the reality is that of a thousand or so people however many people are in this caravan, we would have no way to basically regulate who comes, who qualifies, who doesn't. You see the Mexican government struggling with that now as they are admitting some of those people with valid visas, and other people who qualify.
But unless you have security to stop people and vet them in an orderly process, you essentially have mob rule.
BLACKWELL: All right, Joseph Borelli, always good to have you.
BORELLI: Thank you very much.
BLACKWELL: All right. Coming right up, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan are in Australia to cheer on the Invictus Games. He created just days after they announced that the Duchess is pregnant.
[07:55:04] SANTIAGO: And this week's CNN original series, "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING", looks at children of infamous mass murderers. Here's a preview.
LISA LING, CNN HOST: Tonight, we're meeting two children of notorious killers.
Your father was responsible for so much carnage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I spent so much of my life wondering why he chose the path he did.
LING: What's it like to be the child of a murderer?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is just unimaginable to go from thinking that your father is Prince Charming, to realizing he's the boogie man and the boogie man is real.
LING: And what if anything can they tell us about what motivated their fathers to kill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't put together how a loving father it can also be capable of such terrible things.