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Pelosi Says Democrats Will Win House; Van Jones Interviews Jared Kushner; Caravan Enters Mexico And Heads for Texas. Aired 2- 2:30p ET

Aired October 22, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: I'm Erica Hill in today for Brooke Baldwin. 15 days. 15 days until the midterms. An election former President Obama is calling the most important of his lifetime. But there is energy on both sides here. Today, both the 45th and 44th Presidents are out on the trails, stumping for candidates in heated midterm races. President Trump will be campaigning for the man he once called a liar, repeatedly, Senator Ted Cruz, while former President Obama is hoping to drum up Democratic support in Nevada for the congressional and governor's races there. Also, out today, politicians who may have their sights set on 2020 and their surrogates, fanning out across the country in key primary states. Joining us now to talk more, CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash. Dana, you held a town hall and you interviewed House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi. She's feeling very confident at this point.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Very confident. This is part of a day-long symposium that CNN is having, citizen CNN. And she was really interesting. She knows how to count the votes and she is as shrewd as it comes when it comes to the map. She says she's quite conservative when it comes to counting the votes, getting up to 23, to get that majority back, which she has been working so hard to do. But she's pretty confident when it comes to where they stand today. Listen.


NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: If the election were held today, the Democrats would handily win the House. But we need 23 Democrats to win the House for the American people. And we could just win it with women alone. We have that many women candidates running, but we want more, of course.

BASH: Do you have any doubt that your colleagues will elect you House speaker again?

PELOSI: Do I have any doubt? Well, it's up to them to make that decision.


BASH: So, she said, not only does she feel comfortable, but she also went on to talk about the reasons why she should be elected speaker again, if the Democrats, of course, take over the House, talking about the fact that she's a good legislator, that she's qualified, that she knows how to count. And then she said, you know, it sounds like self- promotion, but I need to do it. And also, she noted that as a woman, she likes to do it because women don't do that enough, which I think, is a fascinating little sort of sub-plot in the way she presents herself.

HILL: It absolutely is. And there's a lot of fodder, just in that statement, for many a segment in our futures. I want to ask you more, though, about -- you know, you also asked her about what would happen if Democrats took control again. In terms of subpoena power, and she was ready with an answer.

BASH: She sure was. That is a very big tool that anybody in the House majority has and a lot of the criticism of Republicans, who now control the House, is that they have not been doing an adequate job overseeing the things that are going on in the Trump administration, doing their basic checks and balances job. She said they would do that if the Democrats take over and then some.


BASH: But if you take control of the House, how much will Democrats use the subpoena power that comes with the majority to investigate and go after, not just the President, but the administration broadly?

PELOSI: Strategically, I don't -- as I said, it's about bringing people together. It's not about -- you know, people say, well, are you going to impeach the President, impeach whatever his name is who just went to the court? No, that's not -- I mean, if there's a bipartisan, shall we say, inevitably to impeachment, but it's not a -- it's not something one party does. There are many -- more than -- not more than, in addition to any subpoena power, and subpoena power is interesting, to use it or not to use it. It's a great arrow to have in your quiver.


BASH: It's a great arrow to have in your quiver. But she also went on to say that maybe that they would use the power of subpoena as leverage, as a negotiating tool for other issues. I was surprised that she said that, frankly, and Republicans are jumping on it already. The RNC chair said that Pelosi is admitting what we knew all along, that the countless investigations that Democrats are threatening to launch are baseless and totally political. That has been one of the talking points on the campaign trail against Democrats and trying desperately to get Republicans out to the polls to support the Republican House members in saying, you don't want to have, in the words of McDaniel, countless investigations.

HILL: Be interesting to see in 15 days whether that's working.

BASH: Yes, it will.

HILL: Which side prevails. Dana, always good to see you.

BASH: You too, Erica. [14:05:00] Exclusive surveillance video obtained by CNN shows a

possible cover-up in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Footage shows a body double that appears to be posing as Khashoggi leaving the Saudi consulate in turkey on the same day he disappeared. Turkish officials say the man is actually a Saudi operative, dressed in a beard and what appeared to be the murdered journalist's clothing, everything except for the shoes. Turkish authorities tell CNN they are convinced that Khashoggi's killing was premeditated. After initially denying any involvement, Saudi Arabia now says Khashoggi died in a fistfight in the Istanbul consulate and that they don't know where the body is. And also, for the first time, we're hearing from Jared Kushner, who has been facing criticism for his relationship with the Saudi crowned prince. Here's what he had to say about the investigation this morning.


VAN JONES, HOST OF CNN, "THE VAN JONES SHOW": Do you believe the Saudi's account of what happened to that journalist?

JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO TRUMP: I would say that right now, as an administration, we're more in the fact-finding phase and we're obviously getting as many facts as we can from the different places and then we'll determine which facts are credible. And after that, the President and the Secretary of State will make a determination as to what we deem to be credible and what actions we think we should take. I'll also say that, um, we have to be able to work with our allies. And Saudi Arabia has been a very strong ally pushing back against Iran's aggression, whether it's the Houthis in Yemen or Hezbollah and Hamas, we have a lot of terrorism in the region. The middle east is a rough place. It's been a rough place for a very long time and we have to be able to pursue our strategic objectives, but we also have to deal with what obviously seems to be a terrible situation.

JONES: What kind of advice can you give MBS in this whole situation?

KUSHNER: Just to be transparent. To be fully transparent. The world is watching. This is a very, very serious accusation and a very serious situation and to make sure you're transparent and to take this very seriously.

JONES: How do you respond to that -- how did he respond to that counsel?

KUSHNER: We'll see. I mean, I know that the Secretary of State had some good meetings over there and we'll see.


HILL: Joining us now, CNN political commentator, Van Jones, host of CNN, "The Van Jones Show." so you did that interview earlier this morning. He said the advice he gave the crowned prince to be transparent. Did you feel like Jared Kushner was transparent with you this morning? JONES: I think on the stuff around MBS, he was towing the White House

line. I think it's unusual for him to speak at all in public. I think that's his first serious televised interview ever, but I think he was towing the Trump administration line on that one.

HILL: In terms of towing that line, too, in watching the interview this morning, you point out, he doesn't do a lot of interviews. We don't see him a lot.

JONES: People haven't heard his voice.

HILL: Ever, in terms of his voice. And in watching it, I mean, we're all looking for signs when we watch these things, he seemed a little nervous. Did he seem that way in person?

JONES: Look, he doesn't do interviews. I would say most people these days are megaphone leaders. He's a cell phone leader. He goes one on one with people, he doesn't try to seek a big audience. And so, yes, he was nervous before and he was nervous during and he was nervous after wit, but I don't think because he had something to hide, I just think because he doesn't do this kind of stuff. I think we learned something important. First of all, it is very clear now that they -- this administration is going to prioritize the Saudi alliance, period. That whatever has happened is not going to dislodge this relationship. I think that's going to upset people. It may comfort some people who want the Saudi relationship, but you aren't seeing any motion there. I think it's important for us to know that. It's also important, I think, to know that he -- Kushner is talking to MBS.

HILL: Yes.

JONES: We did not know that.

HILL: I found that very interesting. He was very quick to, answer. Yes, here's my advice, I've been talking to him.

JONES: There's been a lot of reporting saying they have a relationship, et cetera. It's the first time you have Jared Kushner on the record saying, yes, I'm talking to him, here's what I'm saying. So, we got some things in that that we hadn't gotten before. And again, it's the first time that you've actually had him on the record, period, and I thought that was useful.

HILL: The other thing -- one of the other things that stood out to me, too, in terms of, yes, towing the administration's line, towing the White House line was, one of the things is, we'll decide which facts are credible.

[14:10:00] That obviously takes on a larger meaning when we look at what we're seeing from the President on down. This is a President who is not always in favor of facts.

JONES: Yes, look, I asked him very, very directly, do you trust the Saudis to investigate themselves? You've got literally the prime suspect is also the prime investigator. And he didn't answer that question directly. He said, you know, that's when he said, we're going to look at the facts, and that they have other ways to figure out what is going on. But you know, I thought it was important to challenge him, but I really want to make sure that he was able to explain himself, without having to defend himself on everything, because when you get somebody like that talking, sometimes just let them talk. People on Twitter are saying, cut him off, beat him up. I'm like, this is the first time you're hearing him say something. You want me to stop him from saying something? I want to hear him say something.

HILL: You know very well, sometimes the best answers you get is when you just sit quietly and people keep talking. We know you are not exactly a fan of the Trump administration, but that being said, you have found some common ground and a working partner in Jared Kushner when it comes to prison reform. You tackled that as well this morning and I want to listen to a little bit of that sound.


JONES: Does the President actually care about this stuff?

KUSHNER: So, when I finished my second phase, which was the strategy phase, I had one small problem, which is that I hadn't really spoken to the President about this yet. So that was after -- so that was after about a year of really research and bringing in a lot of people from different places and coming up with what we thought was a good plan to really try to make progress. And so, because I serve, obviously, at the pleasure of the President, this wasn't an issue we campaigned on. If you're a mayor or if you're a governor or a senator, this is an issue that has frequency. If you're a busy guy, this doesn't really come up unless you have a personal experience. So, we set up a meeting with the President, like with all policy processes and you know, one thing I'll say is that now, we are in a place where we make sure the President's properly briefed and has all the different sides on all the issues.


HILL: So, he went rogue a little bit there, in terms of getting things done, but when it comes to this administration and moving forward on prison reform, how are they doing?

JONES: Look, I give Jared Kushner an "A" on that and I give the administration something lower than that. My big fear, when the Trump administration came in there, was that all of the efforts towards bipartisan and criminal justice reform, that Democrats and Republicans have been working toward under the Obama era would just be flushed down the toilet. And that's really where it was headed. You know, Jeff Sessions is no friend of trying to fix these problems. But because Jared Kushner's father went to prison, he has a personal relationship with this issue. And he began to take it on. The two positive things I've seen so far, there's this first step act, which Jared was able to get Trump and employees on the same bill, got it all the way through the House, 350-69, now it has to go through the senate. That's real progress, which nobody thought any prison reform bill was going to go anywhere under the Trump administration. That's positive. And then they have been trying to figure out ways to do a better job on clemency. Listen, you say, that's not enough. I agree it's not enough, but it's a lot more than I think people thought was possible under Trump. Most people give Jared Kushner a lot of credit for that.

HILL: One of the things that stood out, he said the President is like a black swan. A lot of people found that interesting. And also, the fact that we're looking at the President's approval numbers in the latest polling are up.


HILL: How do you feel about that? 15 days away from the midterms.

JONES: I don't like those numbers, because I'm a Democrat. And as I told Jared on the set, I said, I'm going to be working very hard to make sure you get another job in 2020. And I think we've got to get back to that thing. I am a hard, hard critic of the Trump administration when it comes to snatching babies at the borders, when it comes to the anti-Muslim policy. I don't like the President attacking NFL players and doing all kinds of bizarre stuff. And having had worked in a White House, at least briefly, I know there's a right way and a wrong way to do anything and a lot of times, their process is terrifyingly off track. That said, you can disagree with somebody on 99 issues, but if there's one issue that can make a difference for people, especially people who are in prison, I think you have to work on that issue. I think we should fight hard where we disagree, but work hard where we do. So, Jared and I both have a little bit of shared space there. Work hard there. Literally, I get off the phone and say, I'm going to try to get you out of there and hang up the phone and move on. And we have to be able to do that. Let me just say something else. I think letting him talk, letting him express how his mind works, how he thinks these things through, is important for Democrats and Republicans. He is one of the most powerful people in the world. You never hear from him.

[14:15:00] His internal thought processes can have a huge impact on internal and global affairs. I want to give him a chance to just be heard, and then people can then do with it what they will.

Hill: It will be interesting to see if the administration agrees with that assessment, that we should all hear more from Jared Kushner, especially after there's reporting that there are those in the administration would like to see him sidelined. Great interview and good to see you here.

JONES: And we'll show the whole thing on my show Saturday at 7:00 p.m.

HILL: And there's a good point to be had about finding one common ground. That airs the Saturday night, 7:00 p.m. eastern.

A caravan of asylum-seekers is growing larger and heading north. Today, President Trump sending out a new warning, including a claim that the group includes, quote, unknown Middle Easterners.

And one mother said she sold everything, took her three children, joined the caravan. Her dramatic attempt as she hangs from a bridge and the President says there's a plan to cut taxes before November 1st. But Congress isn't even in session. A fact check on this and a few other whoppers we've heard, ahead.


HILL: The massive caravan of migrants just beginning now to move north again, and it is also growing in size, despite warnings from President Trump. This morning, Mr. Trump tweeting without evidence that unknown Middle Easterners are mixing with the crowd and also announcing that he has alerted both the border patrol and the military. But a spokesman at the pentagon says that the military has not been asked to provide any support as the caravan inches towards the southern border. At this point, over 720 people are taking part in the caravan, and they're just beginning to move to leave the town of Tapachula.

More than 1,500 miles to go before reaching the southern tip of Texas. CNN's Patrick Oppmann has been traveling with the caravan as that crowd crossed into Mexico and joins us on the phone. Have they been made aware of the President's threats?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, most don't have any phones or ways to ways to communicate. And they frankly don't care about what the President calls them, or this accusation that's completely unfounded, that there are somehow people from dangerous people who have infiltrated this caravan. That's just not true. I've met very few people who are not from Honduras. The vast majority of them are Hondurans. And the other people that I've met who are not Hondurans have been Salvadorian. So, the vast majority of people in this caravan are Hondurans who say they're heading north either to reunite with families, because they themselves were recently deported or people who are fleeing from that country's epidemic of gang violence or they want a better life. You see so many children. I'm looking at a family that's waiting by the side of the road, in this stream of migrants heading north, trying to get a ride from cars passing by and there are just not enough cars to fit everybody. So, somebody else just walked by me with a stroller and a small baby in it. And this is dangerous. It's incredibly hot here. The Mexican government has not been able to provide enough buses, just because there's so many people and as you watch, people basically do a marathon each day in this brutal heat. People are passing by, people are going without water. There's not enough resources in this very poor part of Mexico to accommodate what has really been something that locals were unable to plan for. This group of 7,000-plus migrants that have arrived here, saying that they will now travel north through the entirety of Mexico, until they get to the U.S. border. You just wonder how many people will actually be able to make it, because the conditions are really rough.

HILL: Yes. And you paint quite a picture there, Patrick. Appreciate it. Patrick Oppmann there and has been there a number of days with that caravan. We want to get a closer look on what's actually happening on the ground there and how that compares to what we hear and see from the President's words and his tweets. Alan Gomez is a Miami-based reporter with "USA Today." so based on your reporting and your sources, we saw from the President this morning in his tweet saying there are Middle Easterners in the crowd. He said in the path that there were hardened criminals. Do either of those bear out in terms of your reporting and your sources?

ALAN GOMEZ, REPORTER, 'USA TODAY": I mean, like you heard from Patrick and we're hearing from colleagues of ours who are also a part of this caravan, as they put it, hey, nobody has spotted a single middle easterner, even if that's the case, I don't know if that's a clear indication of danger. But it's important to note that in the history -- if you look at recent history, when it comes to terrorist attacks in the United States, the southern border has not been a way for them to enter the country.

[14:25:00] You look at all the major recent attacks, from the New York City truck attack last year to the Pulse Nightclub, the Boston Marathon, shootings at Ft. Hood in San Bernardino, all of those were committed by legal immigrants or by people who were born in the United States. You can add the Las Vegas shootings and the Charleston church shooting, as well. U.S. citizens who committed those acts. So traditionally, this has always been a threat and it's always been something that folks have warned about. That it's a vulnerability, it's a possibility that terrorists would use that southwest border, but it's something that I've never seen an attack carried out by somebody who crosses that border and it's nothing that I've seen anyone alert, raise any sort of valid warning that anybody has crossed that border, intending to commit such an act.

HILL: As we just heard from Patrick, the warnings from the President do not seem to be having much of an impact on the folks who are part of this caravan, who say they're on their way to hopefully something better than we've left behind. But we've also seen the numbers grow significantly. And there's some talk about that growth coming or being spurred by the President himself and the media coverage.

GOMEZ: Well, part of it is, they see it happening. So, when this group originated in on durst, it was just a few hundred, but then they crossed through Guatemala. So, people were seeing this on tv, they were watching the coverage. These caravans, each time there's another one, they get more coverage, day get a lot more eyes on them. And obviously, in this case, so people start joining in. And so, people from El Salvador started joining in. I heard of some Guatemalans who have joined in as well. So, it becomes -- historically, these caravans have been organized to protect these people making that journey. If you go alone, if you go in small groups, I have talked to way too many people who have been subject to horrific crimes at the hands of just criminals, in some cases, federal police, as they're traveling through these countries, so they go in these large groups to try to protect themselves. Now, when they see this massive group going, they say, hey, now this is our chance, let's go on in. And it's only getting more publicity because of President Trump drawing the attention to it. Obviously, he wasn't trying to get this caravan to grow by the thousands by the day. He's using it quite a bit for political purposes, as in one of his tweets today when he was screaming a about this, he said, remember the midterms. This is something that he's been hammering on for the midterm elections. Republican candidates throughout the country have been harping on this. You hear about this Honduran caravan in Idaho, with in Iowa with, and places throughout the country, throughout these congressional debates we're hearing throughout the last several weeks. So, all of that attention is in a way backfiring because how much this caravan has grown.

HILL: We should point out, too, oftentimes when it's referenced, it's made to seem as if this caravan is literally about to knock on the door of the United States. There is a significant journey ahead of these folks and then there are hurdles once they get to that border. We'll continue to follow it. Alan Gomez, great to have you with us today. Thank you.

GOMEZ: Thank you.

HILL: Ahead, from his claims about middle class tax cuts to riots in California, we are fact checking the President today and asking whether it matters to his supporters if the President lies.

Plus, remember when President Trump said he would do anything to protect LBGTQ citizens?