Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Gets Personal in Toss-Up Montana Senate Race; GOP Gov. Candidate Kemp Sued over Absentee Ballot Rejections; Sandra Day O'Connor Reveals Early Stages of Dementia Diagnosis; Mega Million Drawing Tonight. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 23, 2018 - 10:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening right now, National Security Adviser John Bolton is scheduled to meet with the Russian President Vladimir Putin to talk nuclear weapons. The high-stakes meeting comes after President Trump suddenly announced plans to pull out of a decades-old nuclear weapons treaty between the U.S. and Russia.

CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is in Moscow. Do we know if Bolton and Putin have made any progress?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't. In fact, there's a built of radio silence around that meeting at the moment because it's not quite clear whether the meeting has actually begun. And we don't know whether there's going to be any video access to it in either in terms of knowing what they're going to say or what comments they'll make afterwards. But we know the meeting is intended to formally have the U.S. National Security adviser brief the Russian president on the reasons for President Trump's decision to leave the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the INF Treaty. Something the Russians have expressed concern about. They said that they'll deal a serious blow to the efforts towards denuclearization around the world and they said they will respond in kind if the United States develops that type of intermediate-range nuclear weapon.

But I think there's also a degree, and John Bolton acknowledged this earlier, there is some appreciation for some of the reasons why the U.S. is doing this. There is some, you know, sort of sympathy in some Russian circles, including with Vladimir Putin, about the fact that the treaty only covers Russia and the United States. It prevents them from developing those kinds of missiles but doesn't stop other countries, particularly China, which is a friend at the moment of Russia but a regional rival as well from developing those kinds of missiles. That's something that's miffed the Russians and the United States for many, many years now. And so, you know, I think there will be a degree of understanding when John Bolton stands there in front of Vladimir Putin and explains what the U.S. concerns are about the INF. Jim.

SCIUTTO: Of course, leaves open the question, is it better that none of those parties are restricted by such a treaty? Matthew Chance in Moscow.

We just have some news in to CNN, this regarding the Khashoggi murder investigation, the Vice President Mike Pence, just saying that the CIA Director Gina Haspel, has now arrived in Turkey. She's on the ground, and in the vice president's words, she's reviewing the evidence in the alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi. He goes on to say, we're going to follow the facts. Of course, reviewing the evidence that raises the question as to whether the director of the CIA is able to view the tape that Turkish officials say -- audiotape that Turkish officials have claimed they have that recorded the moment of Khashoggi's death.

[10:35:40] Pence went on to say that the U.S. will get to the bottom of this matter. Again, the CIA director on the ground there in Turkey, now reviewing the evidence in this alleged murder.

Coming up, it is more than just a Senate seat at stake in the state of Montana. For President Trump, it's very personal. We're going to tell you why. That's next.


SCIUTTO: Growing controversies just hours before Georgia's candidates for governor face off in their first debate.

[10:40:02] Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp is facing allegations in court today that he and other county officials are excessively rejecting absentee ballots, specifically from minority voters. And this morning, the Democrat Stacey Abrams, explaining her presence at a 1992 protest that included burning a Georgia state flag. That protest part of her opposition to confederate symbolism.

Drew Griffin joins me now. Drew, let's start with this lawsuit against Kemp. What's behind it specifically?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Basically, it's a big suburban county, Gwinnett County, suburban county of Atlanta, that seems to have a very high rate of rejecting these absentee ballots. Some 600 ballots or so have been rejected. That makes up about, if I'm going to give you statistics, Jim, 35 percent of all absentee ballots state-wide, even though this county, this one county accounts for only 6 percent of the ballots. So what the ACLU and others are doing is asking a judge to get this stopped. To at least have this county, which says among other things it's rejecting these ballots because the signatures either are not there or don't match what's on the voter registration card, get them to hire an actual handwriting analysis if they're going to use this kind of handwriting to throw out ballots. And also, to set up a better system for notifying these voters that their ballots have been rejected so they can still vote in these elections, either early voting or getting another absentee ballot. That's going to take place this afternoon.

SCIUTTO: To be clear, Kemp, as secretary of state, though he's running for governor, he still is overseeing his own election.

GRIFFIN: Yes, in general terms, and that's why you're seeing you know these voter suppression allegation lawsuits coming out one after another after another. But keep in mind, you know, Brian Kemp does not run Gwinnett County. So these are county officials who are supposedly denying these ballots. He is being sued because as you say, the secretary of state, who is running for governor, is a Republican candidate, overseas the overall elections in the state of Georgia.

SCIUTTO: So let's talk now about Stacey Abrams, of course, his opponent for governor. "The New York Times" reporting that she attended a protest in 1992 during which the Georgia state flag, which included a confederate design, that it was burned there. What more do we know about that?

GRIFFIN: No denial at all. The picture is right there, that is Stacey Abrams, one of the students from Spelman College. This is 1992. They're not denying it was her. They're not denying that they burned that flag, which you know, had the confederate stars and bars on it at the time. The campaign sent out a statement just saying this was "During Stacey Abrams' college years and Georgia was at a crossroads, struggling with how to overcome racially divisive issues including symbols of the confederacy."

So they're not denying this. They're just reminding everybody this was 1992, Stacey Abrams, a college student here in Atlanta. This all comes up before the first actual debate between these two people, Jim, which is tonight.

SCIUTTO: Drew Griffin thanks for following that story, fascinating to watch.

To another key race, this one in Montana and for the president, a personal one. He blames the incumbent Democratic Senator Jon Tester for derailing his pick to head the veteran's affairs administration. CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, she has more.


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

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jon Tester led the Democrat 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 SENATE CANDIDATE: 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), MONTANA SENATE CANDIDATE: I will stand in strong support of President Trump because the work that he's doing really is making America great again. BORGER: The race is up for grabs because Montanans pride themselves on their voting independence. Mick Ringsack is a life-long Republican who supports Trump.

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

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): 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 of Montana by 20 points. So Tester walks a fine line. Careful not to take on the president directly and also point out how many of his bills the president has signed.

[10:45:06] He's been here three times. His son has been here. He tweeted about you and Dr. Ronny Jackson. Is he doing payback here? What do you think this is all about?

SEN. JON TESTER (D), MONTANA SENATE CANDIDATE: No, I mean, 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 a coast developer from Maryland who came to the state and bought a ranch and claims to be a rancher but has no cows.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Montana will never fall for Matt Rosendale bull.

RUDY KOESTNER, ROSENDALE SUPPORTER: He was elected in his 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. And so, he has to do something different.

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

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to send President Trump some conservative re-enforcements.

BORGER: But unlike Trump, who lately is a chatty media-seeking missile, Rosendale drives away from his own Trump rally right past reporters and into the night. Gloria Borger, CNN, Missoula, Montana.


SCIUTTO: One of many bellwether races this cycle. Coming up now, news just in to CNN. Sad news about former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to sit on the court, she's now telling her family that she has dementia. We're going to have much more on that story just ahead.


[10:51:27] SCIUTTO: New this morning and sad news. Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor revealing in a public letter that she's been diagnosed with the beginning stages of dementia and likely has Alzheimer's disease.

Let's bring back Ariane de Vogue. She's CNN Supreme Court reporter. Sad news, under any circumstances, O'Connor, in particular, a revered figure on the court.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Oh, absolutely. In her letter, she says she has the beginning stages of dementia, probably Alzheimer's. Keep in mind she was put on the bench in 1981 by Ronald Reagan, the first female on the bench. She actually retired in 2006 because her husband had Alzheimer's. And she wanted to take care of him, so both her husband and Ronald Reagan ended up with this disease, but no question about it, she blazed trails on the bench.

She was inspired millions of not only female lawyers but the current female justices on the Supreme Court. And when Reagan announced that he was going to put her on the bench, he called her truly a person of all seasons. Keep in mind she grew up on that Lazy Bee Ranch on Arizona. She's always talked about independence and self-reliance, but she was also a really important vote on the Supreme Court. She was a swing vote before Anthony Kennedy and she ended up issuing those really strong votes in the areas of abortion, affirmative action and Bush v. Gore, and you know the court is a very small community, and the chief justice, he issued a statement just now, and he said he called her a towering figure in the history of the U.S. and the world. So sad news, but she's always straightforward, and she sent out this letter and signed it herself.

SCIUTTO: Signed it herself, her husband and of course, the president, as you said, who appointed her, becoming more of an American story to face this kind of thing. Ariane de Vogue thanks very much.

We're back now to Wall Street where we have breaking news, the Dow tumbling right now, down big. It was more than 400 points. Now just under that, about 380 points. Let's check back in with CNN politics and business correspondent Cristina Alesci. She's on the floor. What do we hear is behind the drop?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Pessimism is taking hold. Investors are really worried about a global slowdown as a result of these trade tensions, specifically between the U.S. and China. Rising interest rates is going to make borrowing more expensive, and then this overall feeling that really this is as good as it's going to get in terms of corporate profits. And that is really the bedrock of the market. We got more evidence of that today when Caterpillar, really a bellwether for the market, an industrial machine maker, came out and said rising material costs may have a negative impact to its business. That is as a result of steel and aluminum tariffs, Jim.

So companies are really trying to calm the street down, trying to calm Wall Street down, and put a positive spin on this, but investors are seeing right through it. They're actually even ignoring the positive news, because we had companies like Verizon and McDonald's, for example, beating expectations, and that's completely being overshadowed. I think where we go from here I think investors are going to look at earnings from major tech companies later on this week. They're also going to look at economic data to see how this trade war is impacting global growth. And we're going to have to see where we go from here but a real sense of nervousness right now in the market.

SCIUTTO: Just as we have been talking to you, now it's down more than 400 points. We're going to continue watching --

ALESCI: I looked over to the board and I saw it go down as I was talking to you.

SCIUTTO: There you go. Cristina Alesci on the floor thanks very much. We're going to continue to check back in.

Who wants to be a billionaire? Mega millions jackpot is a U.S. record. We're going to have more on the latest, next.


[10:59:31] SCIUTTO: Just hours from now, one person could walk away with nearly $1.6 billion. That's right, billion with a "b." after no winning numbers were drawn in Friday night's mega millions drawing, the jackpot has grown, reached an all-time record, your chances of winning, just about 1 in 302 million, about the population of the U.S. If you happen to be the one with the lucky numbers, the estimated cash payout, nearly $905 million. Good luck.

Thanks so much for joining me today. I'm Jim Sciutto. "At This Hour" with Kate Bolduan starts right now.