Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Repeats Unfounded Claim That "Middle Easterners" Are In Migrants Caravan Heading to U.S.; Bolton Says He Told Russians Their Election Interference Didn't Have "Any Effect" On 2016; Trump Says New Tax Plan Coming Within 2 Weeks; USA Today: Trump Calls Khashoggi's Death "A Plot Gone Awry". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 22, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, if you find some of those unknown Middle Easterners, let us know. And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUT FRONT" starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Out front next, don't let the facts get in the way. President Trump doubling down, now insisting Middle Easterners are in the Caravan crowds. But where is the evidence.

Plus, National Security Adviser John Bolton telling the Russians there's no evidence their interference had any effect on the 2016 election. Really?

And the Saudi foreign minister in a war of words with Republican Senator Rand Paul. Senator Paul will be my guess. Let's go out front.

Good evening, I'm Jake Tapper in for Erin Burnett. Out front tonight, doubling down on a lie. President Trump trying to stoke fear and repeating without evidence that there are unknown Middle Easterners in the estimated 7,000 migrants making their way north to the U.S. Mexico border. When asked for evidence of this claim, he told reporters that we should go find it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Take your camera, go into the middle and search. You're going to find MS-13, you're going to find Middle Easterners, you're going to find everything.


TAPPER: This comes after the President tweeted this morning that, "Sadly, it looks like Mexico's police and military are unable to stop the caravan heading to the southern border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in".

Our reporters are with cameras in the middle of the Caravan, they called the President's claim completely unfounded. They also spoke to the Department of Homeland Security official. That official telling me that in Fiscal Year 2018, the government apprehended just over 3,000, quote, special interest aliens from countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria and Somalia.

Now, first of all, that's important, and it's important for us to know. But that's not a statement about the caravan. Second, those countries that I mentioned are not Middle Easterner, they're South Asian and African. If it's all went to say that the U.S. government has apprehended 17,000 criminals entering the U.S. illegally, 1,000 gang members, important information of course in part of the debate we should be having about illegal immigration in the border.

But that debate should be based in fact. And again, none of that proves that there are criminals or Middle Easterners in this caravan. But that has not stopped the President from depicting the caravan as a clear and present danger.


TRUMP: I will seal off the border before they come into this country. And I'll bring out our military. Not our reserves, I'll bring out our military.


TAPPER: Sealing off the border, bringing in the military. The Pentagon says it's not been called by the President to bring the military to the border. The migrants tonight are making their way to the town of Huixtla, roughly 1,100 miles from the U.S. border. The question of course is the President discussing all of these so as to (INAUDIBLE) all the problem to bring attention to immigration loopholes that are creating incentives for Central American migrants to claim refugee status in the U.S. Or is this about ginning up Republican voter enthusiasm by depicting the caravan as an immediate threat as the President has done since the very first day of his presidential campaign.


TRUMP: They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists. Her plan will import generations of terrorism, extremism and radicalism into your schools and throughout your communities. And the Democrats open border policies have also allowed MS-13 to break into our country and drugs to pour into our streets.

The murder rate in our country is the highest it's been in 47 years, right? Did you know that? Forty-seven years.

Crime is rising. People are scared.


TAPPER: By the way, the murder rate is not the highest it's been in 47 years.

Jeff Zeleny is out front live tonight in Houston where President Trump is about to campaign for Senator Ted Cruz. Jeff, has the White House offered any proof, any actual evidence to back up the President's claim of unknown Middle Easterners in the Caravan?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the President has just arrived here, and he has not expounded on that, although we do expect him to do that at the rally. But what else Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters back in Washington just a short time ago, that there is quote absolutely evidence of this, but she went on to give no evidence at all. No specific credible evidence of their being Middle Eastern residents, men and women inside these caravans.

Jake, what this is about, I'm told, talking to a variety of people. This is simply, look at the timing. The timing of this coming 15 days before the midterm elections. The President has been increasing this rhetoric against immigrants. He's been talking about the borders more and more. It hasn't necessarily been breaking through.

So this is one way the President is trying to breakthrough. It is something we saw in 2016. He was using immigration as an issue to scare some voters in the eyes of critics. So that is what explains the timing of all this. But as for the President himself say, he is not given any evidence at all to the fact that there are Middle Easterners in his view inside these caravans here.

[19:05:06] But, Jake, the politics of this is very interesting. He is campaigning for Ted Cruz as you said, here in Houston tonight. Not all Republicans are comfortable with this language. And the reason why politically speaking at least, that the voters that they are trying to reach are some of those suburban voters who are not nearly as tough on immigration as the President.

So we'll see if President Trump talks about it in any more detail tonight. Or if he just simply keeps talking about his scare tactic, I think it's likely there will be a ladder, Jake. As of now, the White House has given no evidence at all to what the President said. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

Out front tonight, we have Ben Ferguson, host of the "Ben Ferguson Show" and Joan Walsh, National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation. We also have with us Mark Preston, CNN Senior Political Analyst. Ben, let me start with you, there isn't any proof that Middle Easterners are in this crowd of the caravan, so why make the claim?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's a bigger point the President is trying to make which is we don't know all the people in this Caravan. All the people in there are clearly not necessarily just people looking for Asylum and doing good things. We know that in this country in 2017, every day the government stopped 10 people per day on average in 2017 year that were either on terrorist lists or connected to terrorism.

And the President's point is --

TAPPER: I'm sorry to interrupt. That's not necessarily at the Mexico border.

FERGUSON: No, but --

TAPPER: Anyone trying to come into the United States.

FERGUSON: Correct. But we know that the easiest area to come into this country illegally, and we've seen whether it's Boko Haram, we've seen it from al-Qaeda and others have said if there's ways to get into America, one of the easiest ways to do it is not on a plane. We know that because we secure that. We have an unsecure border and the President is going back to things that we're very well for him in the first election.

He said we have an open border. We need to secure the border. And the fact that 10,000 or 8,000 or 11,000 people that can make it to the U.S. and we cannot technically stop. If they touch a U.S. official, if they have one finger or one toe on our soil, we are going to not just take them if they have kids and we've seen this exploited well. They can come across and we will release them into society in America, that's a huge problem. And many of the voters in Houston are saying in a border state they agree with the President.

TAPPER: So, Joan, the caravan is moving on foot, they're still hundreds of miles from the U.S. border, of course, which means they could still be on the move right before the election. The President is telling Americans to be scared of this. And it's the Democrats fault.

He tweeted today, "Every time you see a caravan or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats". This could work, don't you think in terms of ginning up Republican voter enthusiasm.

JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: It could work. To (INAUDIBLE) base, it could. The number one issue that Republicans list in terms of their voting in the midterms is immigration. He knows what he's doing. But that shouldn't stop us from saying this is a Caravan of lies. Not only the Middle Easterners mixing in, that's a lie. But also this notion that the Democrats have anything to do with the caravan. They don't. The notion that they're coming, that these migrants are coming to commit voter fraud. We don't have a voter fraud problem in this country. We have a voter suppression problem.

And, you know, Republicans have searched and searched. I remember the Bush administration did a five-year study of voter fraud, they found 120 cases of voter fraud, and they were largely felons who thought that they had the right to vote. But a lot of state doesn't give you that right.

FERGUSON: (INAUDIBLE) we're not saying it's a voter fraud issue. It's an issue of letting people into this country who did not come here the right or appropriate way.


FERGUSON: Well I think the President is saying there is potential when you have someone who's able to break in your country. There is also potential for that person to have voter fraud. We have local elected officials, Democrats in California. They're advocating for illegal immigrants to be able to register to vote. We've seen where illegal immigrants have been able to register to vote.

WALSH: The numbers are tiny.


TAPPER: Right now, Mark Preston, the President is getting ready to take the stage at a rally for Senator Ted Cruz. Just a reminder for anybody out there who forgot, here's how the two of them interacted during the Republican primary presidential campaign.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Donald, you're a sniveling coward. Leave Heidi the hell alone.

TRUMP: His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being, you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous.

CRUZ: The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist.

TRUMP: Lying Ted Cruz, lie on Ted, lies oh, he lies.


TAPPER: But that was then, this is now. Here's how the Presidents spoke about Ted Cruz earlier today.


TRUMP: Maybe (INAUDIBLE) Ted anymore.


TRUMP: It's Beautiful Ted


TRUMP: He's Texas. I call him Texas Ted.


TAPPER: Beautiful Ted. Texas Ted.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, it just goes to show you that politics isn't necessarily based upon loyalty or friendship. It's based upon expediency and situational awareness and Ted Cruz is very aware that he needs the backing of Donald Trump specifically in Texas. He does, listen, Beto O'Rourke came out of nowhere to at least give Ted Cruz a challenge. We don't know if he is going to win.

[19:10:01] Ted Cruz is still his favorite but the fact that you have the President of the United States going to Ruby Red Texas to try to protect an incumbent at the time when Republicans are trying to pick up seats in Indiana, in West Virginia, you know, Holden, Tennessee.


FERGUSON: I'm not shocked by Cruz and Trump getting together. Remember, Barack Obama ran radio ads that actually aired on my show that said Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted with foreign policy. Then he made her the Secretary of State on foreign policy. He also said Hillary Clinton --

PRESTON: Foreign policy is not (INAUDIBLE).

FERGUSON: But he also said about Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected. I'm Barack Obama, vote for me. So the idea that somehow this is shocking, that two Republicans will come together. They all do it.

WALSH: This is worse, though --


WALSH: She never accused Barack Obama's father of being part of the Kennedy assassination. Can we just agree on that?

FERGUSON: I understand. But in politics you know this. I mean, when you say someone has terrible foreign policy and then you make them secretary of state, there's hypocrisy everywhere.


FERGUSON: I've seen the interaction of even Donald Trump Jr. They got nasty, with Ted Cruz couple years ago. And it was clear it was done with. The election was over, they were going to work together.

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz talk often. A lot of you don't understand how often they talk. They talk policy a lot. They have become very close over the last several years. Once the election was over, those two men said -- and Ted Cruz said I'm going to work with you for the things that matter to people in my state and they done that.

TAPPER: Conservative find it ESCAPs (ph) in a much earlier. This is all part of the emasculation of the GOP by Donald Trump. He just goes in and you might not like the metaphor, but he goes in and basically he makes Republicans submit to him and they do.

WALSH: There is a game of submission going on, to have said things about his wife the way he did. To have said things about his father. And now to proudly be going into Houston to save the day for Ted Cruz, I think has to be a humiliating feeling.


PRESTON: They were very specific when they wanted him in here. I mean, they were --


WALSH: I mean, humiliating to have to ask not --

PRESTON: He's not saving the day.

FERGUSON: He's not saving the day. That's just not true. Ted Cruz was doing just fine.


TAPPER: But he's using him to gin up the base.

FERGUSON: Of course. He's popular.

PRESTON: Using time that could probably be better used in other --


FERGUSON: I also think it's a message. And I think the White House though has been pretty smart about where they've sent the President. And I think they realize tonight, you get a lot of really good media coverage when you have Ted Cruz and Donald Trump on stage at a massive crowd where there's more 100,000 people that want to take us to this. This is a good optics, weeks before the election.

TAPPER: There's a stadium with 100,000 seats --


WALSH: I need a little fact check on that.

FERGUSON: Let's be clear. I mean, if you, again, coming from there, if you think Donald Trump's not insanely popular in Texas. I think if they would have -- they get bigger and bigger and bigger in Texas. They could have filled the stadium if they wanted to go bigger and bigger quicker.

My point is -- well, the reason why they didn't is because when you go and you do a venue, and you're doing it from a state perspective, a Senate's perspective, if you go and get 100,000 and 90 show up, we know what happens. Well, they didn't fill the stadium. There's empty seats over there. You always -- Any politician, Hillary Clinton did it during her whole campaign.

WALSH: I agree. Absolutely, they all do that. The Kennedys did it, I'm just saying, he lies about his crowds all the time.

FERGUSON: And I can tell you (INAUDIBLE), there was 100,000 people that were more than happy to show up tonight. They were thrilled the President --

TAPPER: All right, Ben Ferguson, Joan Walsh, Mark Preston, thanks one and all. Appreciate it.

Out front next, National Security Adviser John Bolton telling the Russians that their interference didn't have an effect on the 2000 election. How did he come to that conclusion?

Plus, the Saudis call out Senator Rand Paul for saying that the crown prince was responsible for Khashoggi's death. Senator Paul will respond right here.

And the out front race of the day, the Montana Senate race, does it all come down to Trump getting his revenge on John Tester? Stay with us.


[19:17:40] TAPPER: National Security Adviser John Bolton says he told Russian officials that their meddling in the 2016 election did not have an effect on the election. Speaking to our radio station in Moscow, Bolton said, quote, "The point I made to Russian colleagues today was that I didn't think whatever they had done in terms of meddling in the 2016 election, that they had any effect on it, but what they have had an effect in the United States is to sow enormous distrust of Russia".

Out front now, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Senator, what's your reaction to Ambassador Bolton, no effect on the election?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), BUDGET COMMITTEE: Well, Jake, Ambassador Bolton really doesn't know what he's talking about. Because our intelligence agencies unanimously confirmed a couple things. The Russians interfered in our election, they interfered for Hillary Clinton and they could not evaluate what kind of impact it ultimately had on our election. So for John Bolton to speculate that was minimal, first of all is dead wrong, and second he should not be in Moscow downplaying the significance and seriousness with which we take Russian interference in our elections, especially when we're just about two weeks out, right now from 2018 midterms.

TAPPER: It's interesting because when it happened, and Ambassador Bolton was -- he was a pundit on Fox. And not a member of the administration, when it happened, he said it was essentially an act of war against United States by Russia. Now he's saying it shows (ph) mistrust but he seems to be downplaying it.

HOLLEN: Well, it was a total violation of our sovereignty, it undermines our democracy. And if Ambassador Bolton were serious about trying to stop it, he and the administration would have supported bipartisan legislation that Senator Marco Rubio and I introduced called the deter act, which would have established very steep, automatic penalties if we catch the Russians interfering in 2018 or beyond. Instead the administration did not support that that legislation and we adjourn without passing it. So clearly they were not serious about actually doing something about the threat to our democracy.

TAPPER: And I want to ask you in addition about you sitting on the budget committee and remarks President Trump made today about tax cuts, take a listen.


[19:20:03] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said that you wanted tax cuts by November 1st. Congress isn't event in session. How is that possible?

TRUMP: No, we're going to be passing -- no, no. We're putting in a resolution sometime in the next week, or week and a half, two weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A resolution where?

TRUMP: We're going to put in -- we're giving a middle-income tax reduction of about 10 percent. We're doing it now, for middle-income people. This is not for business, this is for middle. That's on top of the tax decrease that we've already given them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you signing an executive order for that?

TRUMP: No, no, no. I'm going through Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But Congress isn't in session though.

TRUMP: We won't have time to do t vote. We'll do the vote later.


TRUMP: We'll do the vote after the election.


TAPPER: So they're going to put in a bill and they'll do the vote after the election. 10 percent for middle-income. You're Ranking Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, presumably the White House has reached out to you, what can you tell us about these new tax cuts?

HOLLEN: Well, we haven't had a word as you heard, the President apparently didn't even realize Congress was not in session. But, Jake, Democrats have always supported targeted middle class tax cuts. And to hear the President now say, he wants a middle class tax cut is a huge admission that the tax cut that they just did which was $200 trillion added to our deficit and debt went primarily to big corporations, CEO's and millionaires. And now apparently he wants a do-over because as he travels around the country, he realized that middle class and working folks aren't really benefiting from that tax cut.

After all, they promised there would be $4,000 increases in everybody's wages. Instead corporations who spent the money on stock buy backs that help their executives, and by the way, also help a lot of foreign stockholders. So --

TAPPER: Presumably this is something you could get behind, though? 10 percent of its targeted for middle class and working class Americans?

HOLLEN: Well, Jake, what we'd like to do is provide tax relief to middle class and working Americans, and pay for it by increasing the tax rates they just cut on millionaires and folks like Donald Trump. Because the results of their tax cut was to increase the debt $2 trillion. And so now Republican leader Mitch McConnell is coming around and saying, what, that they want to cut Medicare, cut Social Security and cut Medicaid.

So let's not run up a $2 trillion debt by giving tax breaks to the wealthy. Let's scale back the big tax cuts they just gave to the very wealthy and target them forward the middle class, that's something that everybody could get behind. But that would be an admission by Trump and Republicans that the tax cut they just did was $2 trillion to our kids and grand kids credit card for very rich people and big corporations. And we should not be doing that.

TAPPER: I want to ask you, before you go, you're as a chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee which works to elect Democrats to the Senate. We're now 15 days away from Election Day. It looks like the Democratic Party is facing more head winds than you were just a few weeks ago. Republicans have more money than the Democrats. The President's job approval rating is up to 47 percent and the new NBC Wall Street Journal poll. That's the highest mark of his time in office. I believe it's higher than where Obama was at this time in the midterms. Are you concerned that Democrats might actually lose seats in the Senate?

HOLLEN: No, I'm not concerned, Jake. And welcome back from the debate last night in Florida, the gubernatorial debate. We have a big Senate race there. Bill Nelson, I'm confident Bill Nelson is going to beat Rick Scott. Even though as you say Rick Scott is spending gobs more money, but Rick Scott has also been a bad governor. And we're seeing that reflected in what folks are telling us down in Florida.

We've always said that Democrats in the Senate have a very difficult political map. We have 26 Democratic Senate seats we're defending, we're eight Republican seats. But that being said, we still see the energy on the Democratic side big turnouts and the reality is that even if states that Trump won, when you ask folks what they want, they want senators who are going to stand up for their state, that they're going to be independent.

And by the way, they certainly do not like what they're hearing from Republicans who are talking about taking away protections for people with pre-existing health conditions. Republicans voted to take that away. Other Republican Senate candidates are on lawsuits like the Texas lawsuit that would take those protections away from folks. And that is a top of mind issue for voters around the country.

TAPPER: All right, Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, thank you so much. Appreciate your time, sir.

HOLLEN: Thanks, Jake. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: Out front next, the Saudis say the death of a journalist was an accident. So why did they bring a body double to wear the journalist's clothes.

Plus, new details about Robert Mueller's questions for Roger Stone and what did Stone share with the Trump campaign. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:28:19] TAPPER: Breaking news, a plot gone awry. President Trump telling USA Today that he believes that is the reason for the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And questioning Turkish officials who insist his body was cut up with a bone saw, asked if that proved wrongdoing by the Saudis. The paper says Trump was incredulous and asked, quote, do you know there was a bone saw?

We're also learning tonight that CIA Director Gina Haspel is own her way to Turkey to address the investigation. This as CNN obtained exclusive surveillance video that appears to show a body double leaving the Saudi consulate in Turkey the day that Khashoggi disappeared. The man seemingly wearing Khashoggi's clothes and glasses and even a fake beard.

Clarissa Ward is out front in Istanbul. And Clarissa, if this was an accident as the Saudis claim, why would they have a body double with a fake beard?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well that's exactly the question, Jake. And it appears that the Saudis would prefer to frame this, as this was a hastily improvised unilateral decision taken by a rogue band of operatives after they accidentally killed Jamal Khashoggi. Well that doesn't make any sense. Because the first question you have to ask yourself is, why was this body double part of this band of operatives? His name is Mustafa al- Madani. He is 57 years old. He does not fit the profile of the rest of the operatives who are a decade younger. He has the same height, the same build, the same weight as Jamal Khashoggi.

He arrived here at 11:03 in the morning, wearing a plaid shirt and jeans. He emerged two hours later or roughly three hours later, after Jamal Khashoggi had been killed, through the back exit, wearing the dead journalist's clothes, Jake, also wearing his glasses. He was wearing a fake beard. If this was hastily improvised, why exactly did he have a fake beard with him.

He then went to one of the busiest, most crowded tourist areas. Went into a bathroom with a plastic bag, changed back into his original clothes, then is later on seen dumping the plastic bag in a dumpster, before going back to his hotel, checking out of the hotel, heading to the airport.

Turkish officials telling us in no uncertain that this screams to them that this was premeditated. They believe it was premeditated murder, and tomorrow, we're expected to hear from President Erdogan of Turkey, he said he is going to reveal the full naked truth.

Jake, a lot of people wanting to know exactly what that will be.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Clarissa Ward in Istanbul, thank you so much.

OUTFRONT now, Republican senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul. He sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, always good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

You said --

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: -- you're certain the crown prince was involved in and directed the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Now you see this video of an apparent body double in Khashoggi's clothes, wearing a fake beard on the same day that he was killed. What's your reaction?

PAUL: A little too many coincidences to think this was an accidental death. You send a forensic pathologist with a bone saw just in case you might have a fist fight where you have to dismember somebody. I mean, how horrific.

But then also having a body double. I think there's a lot of reasons to think this was planned and I think because they have such an authoritarian government. Nothing over there happens that's not directed from above. You don't act without orders. So, it's kind of -- stretches the credulity to think that the crown prince wasn't involved in this.

TAPPER: Now, Saudi Foreign Minister Al-Jubeir attacked you for implicating the crown prince. Here's what he had to say.


ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER: I find it surprising that someone 6,000 miles away can be certain about an event that happened 6,000 miles away with no access to information or intelligence. So this is a judgment call on the part of Senator Paul. This is not based in fact. It's just based on emotions and based on speculation.


TAPPER: What's your response to the Saudi foreign minister?

PAUL: I think he's got a lot of gall to lecture the United States about presumption of innocence. The Saudis currently have 3,000 people being held without any trial, without any presumption of innocents in their prison, these are political prisoners. They have nearly 1,000 of these prisoners have been there for more than three years.

They recently in the last year or so, killed a Shia sheikh by the name of Nimr al-Nimr, they're holding his nephew who's been in prison and supposed to be in prison for life for attending a protest rally.

So, no, the Saudis shouldn't be lecturing anybody about the presumption of innocence.

TAPPER: You're calling for the U.S. to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia over this incident. President Trump has said repeatedly he's opposed to that. And today, he actually mentioned your name while discussing the arms sales to the Saudis. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I agree with Rand on a lot of things. I don't want to lose all of that investment that's being made into our country. I don't want to lose a million jobs. I don't want to lose $110 billion from potential investors. But it's really $450 billion in you include other than military. So, that's very important.


TAPPER: So, he says he agrees with you on a lot of things, but he doesn't want to lose all these hundreds of billions of dollars in arms deals and the like.

How are you going to convince the president to get on board with this, and that you're right and he's wrong?

TAPPER: Well, as you know, the president and I get along pretty well, I take him at his word. But I also try to say that, you know, I have a different perspective. My perspective is that the Saudis and a lot of authoritarian governments, they see strength. They want to see you act through strength, and they won't respect you if you don't.

I fear if the president capitulates to them, he'll not be seen as a strong leader. I think that it's something that the president should listen long and hard to, but also don't think that jobs or arms sales should be seen as a jobs program. I think our military arms are uniquely really owned by the taxpayer. We develop planes only because the government wants it for our national defense. Most of the arms are sold to our government.

And so, I don't think we should be -- you know, if that were true, we would sell arms to China, to Russia, to every country in the world if it was just about jobs. It's about whether those countries share our vision, and whether those arms actually enhance our national security. In the case of Saudi Arabia, I think they've done a lot of things that really are deleterious to our national security and actually increase the risk of war.

TAPPER: One of the interesting things about the president's pitch on this jobs issue, is that he changes the number of American jobs impacted to the arms sales with Saudi Arabia. It keeps increasing every time the president talks about it.

Take a listen. This is President Trump starting in March until recently.


[19:35:04] TRUMP: We're talking about over 40,000 jobs in the United States.

It's $110 billion. I believe it's the largest order ever made. It's 450,000 jobs.

It's 500,000 jobs, American jobs.

I would prefer that we don't use as retribution cancelling $110 billion worth of work, which means 600,000 jobs.

I think it's over a million jobs. That's not helpful for us to cancel an order like that.


TAPPER: From 40,000 jobs to a million jobs, what's your response?

PAUL: I think it's notoriously hard to estimate jobs.

But what I would say is I wouldn't do it for one job, because I think that Saudi Arabia is the largest state sponsor of radical Islam, violent jihad. They fund tens of thousands of madrassas teaching this hatred of Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism frankly. I think Saudi Arabia has been a big part of the problem that we've dealt with worldwide terrorism for decades now.

I think what they're doing in Yemen is atrocious. I think millions of people are living on the edge of starvation of this sort of proxy war that the Saudis are fighting in Yemen and the blockade of food. And so, no, I don't think we should be supporting them.

I think by supporting the Saudis in the war in Yemen, it's more likely al Qaeda will grow stronger in Yemen in that chaos. Terrorism grows and feeds on chaos. It did it in Libya. It did in Syria, did it in Iraq, and I fear that Yemen, the worse the war gets, the more chaos, the more terrorism there will ultimately be.

TAPPER: Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, always good to see you, sir. Thanks so much.

PAUL: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: OUTFRONT next, new details about special counsel Robert Mueller's focus on longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, and what it's revealing in Mueller's investigation.

Plus, our race of the day, and this one is personal to the president.


TRUMP: Also, I'm here, because I can never forget what Jon Tester did to a man that's of the highest quality.



[19:40:49] TAPPER: We're learning more tonight about Robert Mueller's probe into Trump ally Robert Stone's alleged ties to WikiLeaks. CNN's learned investigators are looking into whether or not Stone shared information he received from WikiLeaks with the president's election campaign. Sara Murray is OUTFRONT.

Sara, what are you learning?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that investigators are doing what you pointed out. They are trying to figure out whether Roger Stone shared information that he believed was coming from WikiLeaks with then candidate Donald Trump during the election.

And prosecutors now have audio in which Roger Stone is talking about how he was in regular contact with Donald Trump in the early stage of the 2016 campaign, but they also have other communications after a number of these document dumps came from WikiLeaks, where Stone is essentially, you know, I should get credit from candidate Trump for helping coordinate with WikiLeaks.

Now, both Roger Stone and his foreign denied he ever provided anything to Donald Trump or other members of the campaign. And Stone essentially said, look, I had nothing to provide.

TAPPER: Who are the people being looked at as intermediaries of Stone's?

MURRAY: Right. Stone spent a lot time saying he was in contact with Assange during 2016, and then he kind of walked it back and said, actually, I had to go between, I had an intermediary. And he's previously identified this guy, Randy Credico, who's a New York radio host, as well as a comedian.

But investigators are now looking at the notion that he may have had multiple intermediaries, or that maybe Credico was not this primary backchannel that Stone has said. They've also questioned a conspiracy theorist and a right wing journalist named Jerome Corsi about his contacts with WikiLeaks, as well as Roger Stone, trying to probe whether it's possible Corsi acted as back channel.

Now, Corsi's attorney declined to comment. He told us a couple months ago, though, when Corsi was first interviewed by the special counsel's team that Corsi had not had any contact with WikiLeaks or with Julian Assange. So, you know, this kind of made of mystery. Roger Stone for the record has not heard from Mueller's team. It's all of his associates who are being called in and rounded up.

TAPPER: Sara Murray, thanks so much.

OUTFRONT now, former New Jersey attorney general, Anne Milgram.

Anne, as a former prosecutor, do you think this means Mueller is still focusing on conspiracy?

ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Absolutely. There's no question in my mind that there's still an open investigation into the question of whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to influence the election and again to get dirt on his opponent, Hillary Clinton. TAPPER: So, if Stone, and we don't know if this happened, but if it

can be proven that Stone provided information from WikiLeaks, with the presidential campaign, is that enough for conspiracy?

MILGRAM: So, this one answers, it depends what he knew when he knew it, and what he did with that. And so, the questions that the Mueller team would be asking is, did he know about the leaks before they were released, before this information was released? Did he in anyway coordinate with WikiLeaks?

What does he said, you know, can you -- there's an indication he sent an e-mail asking for dirt on Clinton from August 10th to August 30th. Was he trying to control what came out and when it came out? And if he was doing that in any way in coordination with the campaign, that would potentially mean that he would be charged criminally.

TAPPER: Potentially.

But it appears right now Mueller -- it appears, appears, we don't know. But it appears right now Mueller doesn't have enough to charge Stone. Stone himself told us that it was, quote, certainly possible he could be charged. He said the government would be doing it without evidence.

If you were Stone's lawyer, would you tell him he should be worried?

MILGRAM: Right. So, I think Stone should be worried for a variety of reasons. One, even just based on what's publicly known. He's made wildly inconsistent statements. So, he said publicly, I've been in contact with Assange. Then he walked that back.

He said, Randy Credico was the intermediary. Now, Credico says it wasn't me. Everything has changed and been really fluid, and he testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee, potentially could be prosecuted for lying to them. So, I think, you know, on its face, at a minimum, he's made inconsistent statements. What we don't know is what these recordings are and what these emails are between he and other people, and what kind of communications he has with the campaign. So, I personally, I don't think it's done.

TAPPER: I can't wait to find out. This is all such a big mystery.

Anne Milgram, thank you so much.

OUTFRONT next, President Trump seeking revenge on the campaign trail, but will voters be swayed? It's our race of the day.

[19:45:00] Plus, Jeanne Moos on the couple that campaigns together.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That Don Jr., I call him Junior Mints.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: Tonight, a race that's personal for President Trump. The president has been in Montana three times since July, and his number one target there, Democratic senator, Jon Tester.

Trump blames Tester for derailing his nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, Ronny Jackson.

Gloria Borger is OUTFRONT with our race of the day.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Donald Trump jetted into Big Sky Country and he was on the hunt.

TRUMP: Jon Tester led the Democratic mob in the effort to destroy the reputation of a great man, Admiral Ronny Jackson.

BORGER: Tester opposed the president's favorite, the White House doctor to run the Veterans Administration.

SEN. JON TESTER (D), MONTANA: This doctor has a problem because he hands out prescriptions like candy. In fact, in the White House, they call him the candy man.

BORGER: Jackson withdrew, Tester is running for re-election, and Trump has tightly embraced his opponent Matt Rosendale.

And Rosendale hugs him right back.

MATT ROSENDALE (R), SENATE CANDIDATE FROM MONTANA: I will stand in strong support of President Trump, because the work that he's doing really is making America great again.

[19:50:09] BORGER: The race is up for grabs because Montanans pride themselves on their voting independence.

Mick Ringsack is a lifelong Republican who supports Trump.

MICK RINGSACK, TESTER SUPPORTER: If the election were today, I vote for him, yes.

BORGER: He also supports Tester in a state with the second highest per capita veteran's population in the country.

RINGSACK: Jon was working for veterans before he was even sworn in.

BORGER (on camera): Do you think there are a lot of people who will split their ticket?

RINGSACK: I do. Montana has a history of splitting tickets. You know, we have a Democratic governor, Republican attorney general, one Democratic senator, one Republican senator.

BORGER: Donald Trump won the state by 20 points. So, Tester walks a fine line, careful not to take on the president directly, and also points out how many of his bills the president has signed. He's been here three times. His son has been here. He tweeted about

you and Dr. Ronny Jackson. Is he doing pay back here? What do you think this is all about?

TESTER: No, what I think it's about is him loving Montana.

BORGER (voice-over): Tester is Montana born and bred, a third generation dirt farmer who still works the land on weekends. He's now asking for a third term.

Rosendale who made a fortune in Maryland real estate moved to Montana in 2002, became a state senator and is now the state auditor. But Tester says Rosendale is not Montana enough.

TESTER: He's an East Coast developer from Maryland who came to this state and bought a ranch and claims to be a rancher but has no cows.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Montana will never fall for Matt Rosendale's load of bull.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was elected in this district as a Montana legislator. That proves he's got to be Montanan.

BORGER: But not on the issues, Tester says. Not on who controls public lands, health care or veterans benefits to name a few.

TESTER: If he runs on his record, he's going to get clobbered so he has to do something different.

BORGER: So Rosendale is charging that Tester is a D.C. liberal, out of touch with Montana.

AD ANNOUNCER: When he does show up, Tester's like all the other liberals.

ROSENDALE: We need to send President Trump some conservative reinforcements.

BORGER: But unlike Trump who lately is a chatty media seeking missile, Rosendale drives away from his own Trump rally right past reporters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got to get going.

BORGER: And into the night.


TAPPER: And, Gloria, so interesting because this is all about how much Trump resents how Tester treated Dr. Ronny Jackson, but just the other day Trump allowed that maybe Jackson wasn't qualified.

BORGER: I know. He did this at the rally in Missoula we were at and I heard it and, you know, he said -- he didn't really want it. He might not have been qualified, but he was a doctor at a high level. That's the exact quote. So here he is taking on Jon Tester for opposing him and then coming out and saying, well, maybe -- maybe he shouldn't have gotten it anyway. So, it was sort of remarkable to me because he is taking on Tester on that very issue.

TAPPER: And just to note, I mean, for him to go to Montana three times since --

BORGER: It's not easy.

TAPPER: It's really tough to get there and there are so many races that could use President Trump going there.

BORGER: Right.

TAPPER: For him to go to Montana three times?

BORGER: Right. And, you know, Jon Tester always has a close race. Montana's purple but -- so the president wants to make the difference here and Rosendale, as you can see, is -- you know, he struggles on the stump a little bit. Trump wants to be for him.

TAPPER: Fascinating race. Gloria Borger, thank you so much.

Coming up next, when love and politics collides. Jeanne Moos on this Republican duo hitting the campaign trail.


[19:57:57] TAPPER: Donald Trump Jr. and his new girlfriend romancing each other and Republican voters.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Isn't it romantic? Not their whirlwind romance, the whirlwind campaigning that Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, are doing. Muttering sweet nothings.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, DON JR.'S GIRLFRIEND: And how about my boyfriend? Yes!

MOOS: Taking turns.

DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: Can someone come up here, take the mike for a few minutes? I don't like following Kimberly. She does not make this easy.

MOOS: These two are hot and heavy.

GUILFOYLE: He's savage, isn't he?

MOOS: Hot and heavy into politics, crisscrossing the country stumping for Republicans. They became an item after don Jr.'s wife Vanessa filed for divorce.

TRUMP JR.: I've known Kimberly for a long time. Know each other a little better these days.

MOOS: The former Fox News co-host was bandying about her bandage after hurting her hand playing dodge ball on a trampoline with their kids. She posted from Montana recently: Recovering after hand surgery. So looking forward to the next trip so I can teach Don how to shoot and fish.

But mainly they've been fishing for midterm votes.

These two even sound like you know who?



MOOS: Kimberly has even belted out Trump like nicknames for opponents like Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.

GUILFOYLE: Swampy Joe, Swampy Joe.

MOOS: They do interviews together. They introduce each other.

TRUMP JR. No salsa dancing? Come on. No.

MOOS: They listen to each other speak. And drop flirty little nuggets, for instance about pet names.

GUILFOYLE: That Don Jr., I call him Junior Mints.

MOOS: With a newly minted hashtag Don and Kimberly.

GUILFOYLE: Hashtag DonBerly.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos --



MOOS: -- CNN --


MOOS: New York.



TAPPER: Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.