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Trump's Complicated Relationship with Truth on Display Ahead of Midterms; Russian Warning over Trump's Decision to Pull Out of INF Treaty; Former NFL Player Who Orchestrated Murder of Pregnant Girlfriend Wants Relationship with Son; Trump & Obama Campaign Ahead of Midterms. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 22, 2018 - 14:30   ET



[14:31:41] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump is known of a complicated relationship with the truth and it's been on full display as the president campaigns hard ahead of the midterms. Stretching the truth in a number of instances. In speeches and in tweets, take, for instance, this tweet, sent earlier today about the caravan of migrants. Saying that, "There are criminals and unknown Middle Easterners mixed in with," but offering no evidence to back that up.

Joining me now is Daniel Dale, the Washington bureau chief for the "Toronto Star."

You fact-checked the president's speeches and tweets in real time on a daily basis.

Good to have you with us today.

Some of the claims from over the weekend that are getting a lot of attention. I'll tick off four, the Democrats are funding this caravan, that there'll be a middle-class tax cut by November -- of course, Congress not even in session -- that California residents are rioting over sanctuary cities, and that the opioid bill had no democratic support. Of course, it had broad bipartisan support. Which of those statements have you found actually seem to be gaining traction?

DANIEL DALE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, TORONTO STRR: Well, I think many of his extremely false statements gain some traction in conservative circles in the stridently pro-Trump media. His claims will be amplified without anyone questioning him. Whether the broader electorate is believing any of this, I don't know. But I think what he's found is he can say more or less anything and get his echo chamber to repeat it. And not only that, get some mainstream media to repeat it in headlines, in cable news segments, even. Without making clear in those headlines or at the very beginning of those segments that these claims are not true at all.

HILL: That there's nothing to back them up. You have been at these rallies. And you're fact-checking every line. What is the response among the crowd when some of these things are thrown out, this red meat that's thrown out. Do they seem to buy it? Do they applaud it? DALE: They do. I think they believe a lot of it. I wouldn't say

that they believe every single lie that the president makes. Many of them I talk to know that he exaggerates, that he misleads, even that he makes things up, but they provide various justifications. They say, well, with I know he's not the most honest guy, but all politicians lie. They say, I know he's not the most honest guy, but he's getting things done, cutting taxes, putting judges on the bench. I've even had supporters say they like when he lies because it messes with the minds of people like me, gets the media running around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to fact-check them. So people have provided various justifications for supporting a man who lies this much.

HILL: What about the president himself? When you're there and you're watching this all unfold, can you tell when he seems to think something he's thrown out there's really working well, almost as if he's testing material?

DALE: Sure, there are times he seems the to be workshopping it and you can track it from rally to rally. For example, on Friday, at his rally in Arizona, he said, Democrats want to give illegal immigrants driver's licenses. The next thing you know, they'll want to give him free cars. And on Saturday in Nevada at his rally, he said, Democrats do want to give illegal immigrants cars. So that went from kind of a half-joking float of a statement to something he was claiming was actually happening.

HILL: You mentioned that some of the reaction you get, some people like it because, you know, it sort of has us running around like chickens with our heads cut off in the media. What kind of reaction do you get because you're putting this out there every day to your fact-checking, itself. I imagine the response is somewhat mixed.

[14:35:05] DALE: It's very mixed. I get a lot of hate mail. Nothing that I do bothers people more than simply fact-checking the president. But I think it's important to look beyond the Trump base and not think of them as, you know, the only important group in the electorate. There's also, I think, a ton of people out there who have shown me that they value this work, that they do care about facts. I have even had Trump supporters say, well, I knew that he wasn't always honest, but I didn't know that he lied this much or I didn't know that he was lying about this particular subject that I had just fact-checked. So I think there's hope for the American electorate, and I think that we shouldn't be too quick to say that this doesn't matter, that truth doesn't tea party or facts don't matter.

HILL: I like that positive note. But I am going to throw one more question at you. Is there anything at this point that surprises you?

DALE: Well, I'm still -- I mean, maybe I'm naive or something, but when he just makes something up whole cloth, like when he says, there are riots in California among people on my side of the issue, he was saying this weekend that anti-sanctuary city people in California are rioting, because they don't like sanctuary cities so much. All the while, claiming that Democrats are the radical, scary mob here. It's bizarre to me, still, that the president feels empowered to simply fabricate stories about riots in his country. This will never get unsurprising to me.

HILL: Daniel Dale, great to have you with us today.

And I encourage anyone who's not following you to do so, because you're providing an important service every day.

Thank you.

DALE: Thank you.

HILL: President Trump threatening to pull the U.S. out of a decades- old weapons treaty with Russia. Now Russia is warning the U.S. over the move as experts fear it will spark an arms race.

Plus, he's the former NFL star who orchestrated the attempted murder of his pregnant girlfriend. Today, Rae Carruth walking out of prison and now says he wants a relationship with the son he once tried to kill.


[14:40:01] HILL: Russia is firing back after President Trump threatens to ditch a nuclear arms treaty. The Kremlin now saying it will be forced to take measures if the U.S. begins developing new missile systems. The president announcing over the weekend he planned to terminate that decades-old treaty. It's been in place since 1987. Right now, national security adviser, John Bolton, is in Moscow, meeting with Russians to explain what's behind the president's decision.

Joining us now, Steven Pifer. He is a nuclear arms expert, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Mr. Ambassador, appreciate you joining us today.

So, you wrote out a piece here that says, listen, there are justifiable grounds in your view for leaving the INF Treaty, but it's not a smart move to make now. Why?

STEVEN PIFER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE & NUCLEAR ARMS EXPERT: That's right. I mean, first of all, let's be clear, Russia has violated the treaty by deploying the prohibited ground launch cruise missile. But I believe the United States still could take other steps, military steps that would have been compliant with the INF Treaty, for example, deploying conventionally armed see missiles and it could have taken further political steps that might have pushed the Kremlin to try to come back into compliance. It might not have succeeded, but there would have been time to try to bring the Russians back. And I would argue that maintaining the INF Treaty is very much in the American and European security interests.

HILL: We know that this is partially the way that President Trump does business. He pushes very hard and goes to what may seem like to some to be an extreme. And a lot of times, that gets people on the negotiating table. So could it ultimately end up working in the end for the United States? PIFER: Well, yes, I think he could have made this threat, but he was

pretty definitive on Saturday that we are, in fact, going to withdraw from the treaty, which requires that we give a notice of our intent to withdraw, and then we can withdraw six months later. So I did not see the that as a threat to the Russians. I think he's going to go ahead. What also worries me is that his national security advisers, John Bolton, I'm not sure if Mr. Bolton has pursued a strategy to get Russia back into compliance. Mr. Bolton has personally, has been long opposed to the INF Treaty and my sense is that he's just as happy to ditch the agreement.

HILL: So what do you think these meetings are that John Bolton is having in Russia? Is this more of a photo op? Because we also heard from our reporter earlier today, we said, there's a chance that John Bolton may end up meeting with Vladimir Putin over this.

PIFER: I heard about this and I think he's supposed to meet with president Putin tomorrow. But Mr. Bolton, I believe is in Moscow not just to talk about the nuclear treaty, although that now is going to be a major topic of this discussion, but he's talking about a broad range of issues and the U.S. said this was in part to prepare the way between a next meeting between President Trump and president Putin. So this will be one issue. I mean, if, in fact, Mr. Bolton has gone to Moscow with this statement by President Trump, as a means to try to push the Russians back into compliance, and I would be all in favor of that. I'm just worried that that's not what we're trying to do.

HILL: I know you laid out what you believe would be a winning strategy. One of the things that you suggest is really pressing both European and Asian allies. Is there still a window to do that?

PIFER: There might be, but I think the train has pretty much unfortunately left the station. And this is one thing we've now seen criticism of the president's announcements coming from berlin, from Rome, from Paris. It would have been better, to my mind, had European leaders in the last couple of years, instead of pushing Mr. Putin to come back into compliance. I think they gave up the opportunity to use some political leverage. And the result will be, if this treaty goes away, Russia will be free to deploy intermediate-range land-based missiles without any constraint at a time where the U.S. military currently has no land-based counterpart for that. And unfortunately, I think based on Mr. Trump's statement on Saturday, the United States is going to get the political blame for killing the treaty.

HILL: Ambassador Pifer, appreciate your insight and your perspective today. Thank you.

[14:45:03] PIFER: Thank you.

HILL: Coming up, nearly 20 years later, a former NFL player is out of prison for orchestrating the murder of his pregnant girlfriend. Why he now wants a relationship with the son he tried to kill.

Plus, despite the president's threats, thousands of migrants are marching toward the U.S. border. Stunning new video shows their desperate journey to leave behind their homeland in search of a better life.


[14:49:55] HILL: Former NFL star and ex-Carolina Panther, Rae Carruth, is now a free man, walking out of a North Carolina prison this morning after serving nearly 19 years for the murder of his pregnant girlfriend, the attempted murder of their unborn child.

Carruth hired a hit man to kill Cherica Adams because he didn't want to pay child support. Adams survived long enough to call 911 and get to the hospital to deliver her baby, she, however, died four weeks later.

Their son, Chancellor Lee Adams, survived. He, though, was born prematurely and suffers from both brain issues and cerebral palsy as a result of the blood and oxygen he was deprived of following that shooting. He is now nearly 19 years old, raised by his maternal grandmother, and Carruth says he wants a relationship with his son.

Joining us now, Scott Fowler, sports columnist for the "Charlotte Observer."

You were there this morning when he was released. You have followed Carruth's story. You were there this morning and at one point, the grandmother of Chancellor Lee said she planned to be there on this day as well for the release. She wasn't there today. What happened?

SCOTT FOWLER, SPORTS COLUMNIST, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: Well, she told me that two years ago, Erica, Saundra Adams told me that she and Chancellor Lee wanted to be at the prison on this day, to say some things to Rae Carruth and also to have them meet. However, some things have happened in the past year. Rae Carruth wrote a pretty provocative letter to a TV station in Charlotte that Saundra Adams really did not like. A letter where he said, come on, Ms. Adams, you're not going to live forever. I want guardianship of Chancellor Lee when you pass away. Well, as you can imagine, that did not fly with the grandmother of Cherica Adams who was murdered in this conspiracy and has raised Chancellor Lee from birth. So that was the sticking point as to why they were not there today.

HILL: He has said he wants a relationship, telling that to you, but also reaching out at least a couple of times, during the time that he was incarcerated, to try to foster some sort of relationship. How did that work out? I mean, how close did they get to any sort of communication?

FOWLER: Well, they did have some communication. Some letters were exchanged back and forth between prison and Saundra Adams. And I'm not sure that they won't have a relationship at some point. I don't mean a continuing one, but Saundra Adams, as I spoke to her yesterday said, I'm not ruling it out. It's just right now, it's going to be a media circus out there. I'm a little overwhelmed with the whole thing. I don't think that's the right time. But in the future, I think that there may well be a meeting. Saundra Adams has said she forgives Rae Carruth for masterminding this conspiracy, which is a huge step, obviously, forgiveness. But that doesn't mean, she says, we're going to have a sustained relationship.

HILL: We should also say, I believe it's next month he turns 19. Rae Carruth has only seen his son twice, when he was born, and just before he went behind bars. He told you he was nervous about getting out today. Nervous about what the public would think about him. I guess that's not surprising, in some ways. Is there any sympathy for him, though, at this point, some 19 years later?

FOWLER: Well, it depends on who you ask. Some people on Rae's family side would say there's some sympathy, but this is a conflicted issue of multi-layered murder, but also a story of forgiveness. It's why we did a seven-part podcast on it called "Carruth" at "the Charlotte observer" and a seven-part series, because it is not a story easily explained in two or three sentences. Rae Carruth, though, did get out today. I think they will, eventually, establish some meeting point, where he and Chancellor Lee will meet. But, no, there's probably not a lot of sympathy for him, because he was, after all, convicted of conspiring to murder his pregnant girlfriend.

HILL: It will be interesting to see where his story goes next.

Scott Fowler, really appreciate you joining us today. Thank you.

FOWLER: Thank you.

HILL: Moments ago, President Trump giving some unplanned remarks to reporters before he takes off to campaign with Ted Cruz. We will bring you those remarks.

[14:54:16] This, as CNN has also obtained exclusive video of what Turkish officials say is a body double. A suspect wearing the actual clothes of murdered "Washington post" columnist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Stay with us.


HILL: Almost to the top of the hour here in New York. I'm Erica Hill, in today for Brooke Baldwin.

We are just 15 days from an election that could change the political landscape of this country. And the pressure from both sides really reaching a boiling point. President Trump and former President Obama campaigning for candidates in bitter midterm races.

This hour, Obama is in Vegas where he's hoping to get the vote out for congressional Democrats and governors' races in Nevada.

While President Trump is making his way to Texas where he'll campaign for the Senator he once called Lyin' Ted, among some other choice insults, his former rival, Ted Cruz. President Trump keeping up with a very busy campaign schedule this month.

Also out on the trail, politicians who may have their sights set on 2020 and their surrogates, fanning out across America in key primary states. Let's get right to CNN's senior national correspondent, Kyung Lah, who

was at that event in Las Vegas.

And, Kyung, we know in his last few campaign events, the former president has really unleashed against President Trump, calling him out as divisive, taking credit for the economy. Are we expecting more of that? A little bit more heated today?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Expecting very much of that, especially since we're in the third day of early voting here in the state of Nevada. A Democrat seat in Nevada's Senate --