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CNN NEWSROOM

Turkish Source: Saudi Body Double Left Consulate; Erdogan To Reveal Naked Truth Of Khashoggi's Death; May: Vast Majority Of Brexit Deal Settled; Trump Now Praises Cruz After Years Of Bad Blood; Trump Threatens To Cut Aid To Central America; Relations with Saudi Arabia under Crown Prince; Trump-Putin Relationship Turns a Page; Beijing Criticizes Trump Decision to Pull Out of Treaty; World's Longest Sea Bridge Opens. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 23, 2018 - 01:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The attempted cover- up that even included a body double. A new surveillance video shows what appears to be a look-alike for the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi as the Turkish President promises to reveal everything just a few hours from now. The U.S. President calls for national emergency. Thousands of migrants, many fleeing poverty and violence heading on mass to the United States, and without any proof to all promises many are criminals or even Middle Easterners.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

XI JINPING, PRESIDENT OF CHINA: I declare the Hong Kong, Macau Zhuhai Bridge officially open.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: With just ten words, the President of China declared the world's longest sea bridge officially opened but an engineering miracle to some are seen by others as just more steel and cement tying Hong Kong to Beijing.

Hello, welcome to our view all around the world. It's great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

Turkey's President has promised in the next two hours before parliament he'll reveal the naked truth about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. In the latest revelation from a Turkish source, we've learned one of the 15 Saudi operatives who travels in Istanbul was a body double for Khashoggi. CNN obtained a surveillance video showing the man on the right posing as the Saudi reporter. This was the same day he vanished. Khashoggi is seen on the left.

And the U.S. President is now showing a little more skepticism about the Saudis shifting explanations. And a source says the CIA Director is traveling now to Turkey to take part of the investigation. CNN's Nic Robertson is in Istanbul. He's joining us out with the latest. And Nic, it seems right now Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, he's got all the cards here. He's holding all the cards, he's promised to reveal all, and the timing here is very interesting. He's doing it at the same time as the Saudis are trying to kick off their future investment initiative, the Davos in the Desert.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, what his party is saying that he'll do is nothing will remain hidden. But it's unclear if that's the statement of intent that mirrors things that we've heard over the past week or so from the -- from his party that say that they'll shed light on this, that it's a matter of honor, that they'll continue the investigation, nobody should doubt their will to continue the investigation.

So is he really saying there nothing will remain hidden, that he's going to reveal everything today that would seem unlikely because until now the Turkish authorities has been very, very careful with this drip, drip, drip feed of a narrative that continues to expose Saudi Arabia's initially silence, and then the holes in their story as they begin to put their narrative forward or will he just sort of give an update to the Parliament where is speaking and then maybe offer us again some tantalizing hints of what else may be yet to come.

The fact that the CIA chief is coming here today gives us an indication perhaps that Turkey does have some interesting important evidence that the CIA -- and we heard President Trump yesterday saying that his top officials have been -- intelligence officials, he implied investigators have been in both Saudi Arabia and here in Turkey, that expected a report that very quickly. The CIA Chief arriving here, however, seems to indicate there's a bit more digging to do.

So President Erdogan sending us a powerful position, certainly has the opportunity by virtue of his taking this time to give his update to Parliament of if you will, raining on the -- on the parade of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia whom this investment summit, this Davos in the Desert was a huge deal which is withered in front of his eyes as so many of the big-name CEOs have said that they won't go, John.

VAUSE: There's been so much skepticism about Erdogan's intention in all this especially given the fact that no other country locks up more journalists and more reporters than Turkey does. So clearly you know, this is not a government which has a great deal of love for reporters who tell the truth. So the speculation has been that Erdogan has been trying to do some kind of deal, trying to be catching in all this with the Saudis. If he goes ahead and if he does put a lot of information out there which implicates the Saudis, is that then a pretty good indication that if there was a deal in the making that there certainly isn't a deal now between the Turks and the Saudis?

ROBERTSON: The Turks and Saudi would never get a strike a direct deal. Any deal will be done through the United States. Turkey wants the United States to be used as leverage against Saudi Arabia here. For President Erdogan, he's got how many years left in office, he's sort of become an autocratic president taking the powers of the Parliament with him into the presidency. He plans to be around for a long time. Prince Mohammed bin Salman is 33 years old, perhaps live if he lives

as long as his father and his uncle to be in power perhaps for another 50 years into the future. That's a -- that's a very long time to be in power. And the issue that would face Erdogan is that Mohammed bin Salman who is antithetical to Erdogan's propensity sport for his type of political Islam, Muslim Brotherhood is how the sound is characterized his leadership here, is something that would be for Erdogan a problem going forward.

So the -- so the deal here for Erdogan really is to use all his leverage to undermine Mohammed bin Salman and perhaps use the United States to push Mohammed bin Salman from power. It doesn't seem that this is so much about money as regional influence but also getting rid of a long-term competitor and threats in the region.

[01:05:51] VAUSE: There is always a lot more to these sort of issues than what we just see on the surface which is why it's great to have you with us. Nic, thank you. The U.S. President Donald Trump calling it a national emergency. More than 7,000 Central American migrants slowly walking towards the United States, many fleeing violence and poverty at home. Trump is now threatening to cut foreign aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador for failing to stop them from leaving.

On Monday the group left Tapachula, Mexico through the town of (INAUDIBLE) about 34 kilometers to the northwest. It's likely that the migrants will take more than a week to reach the U.S.-Mexico border traveling on foot. President Trump also claiming without any proof, without any apparent evidence that criminals and Middle Easterners are in the migrant caravan. CNN reporters following the caravan say they haven't seen anyone from the Middle East and what does that mean anyway? But our reporters have encountered many fleeing gang violence as well as poverty. More now from CNN's Patrick Oppmann.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Every day is like a marathon for these Central American migrants as they try to complete their goal of reaching the U.S.-Mexico border. They're just going from one small town to another and it is tough going. You see people have young children, they have all their possessions on their back. The heat here is brutal. There's not enough water. There is not very much transportation. The lucky ones get to hitch a ride on trucks or in cars but most of these 7,000 some migrants are having to walk.

They're going up hills, they're having cars go by them and it's dangerous. We've seen people get injured, fall off cars, almost get hit by cars. So Mexican authorities have told people that this is not a good idea, that they should turn around, but the migrants we talked to say they have no choice, that life in Honduras is too dangerous and they will continue until they get to the United States. Patrick Oppmann, CNN outside Tapachula, Mexico.

VAUSE: Well, now to Brexit and the Prime Minister's message to Parliament as well as the country, 95 percent of the deal to leave the European Union is done. So what? But Theresa May advance the Irish border is still a sticking point. Bianca Nobilo has the story now from London.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR: May's leadership and authority were in question yet again as open dissent from within her own Conservative Party is reaching their unprecedented levels. So she was keen to emphasize that she has made progress over the last three weeks of Brexit negotiations around the issues of Gibraltar, Cyprus, and citizen's rights in Northern Ireland. But that problem of avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland remains the biggest one holding back the Brexit process.

Theresa May said that she cannot abide the E.U.'s backstop solution which would see a border down the Irish Sea and that she would consider extending the transition period but only if it ended before May in 2022 and she said that abstention was undesirable. The mood in Parliament is febrile and passions around Brexit are reaching a fever pitch. Violent rhetoric from anonymous MPs was reported in the papers over the weekend talking about knifing the Prime Minister and that she was in the killing zone.

A member of parliament from Theresa May's opposition party called the language vile and dehumanizing. These verbal attacks come alongside a damning report into the bullying culture in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister said she would not dignify the remarks with a response and said that personal vitriol has no place in our politics. Bianca Nobilo, CNN London.

VAUSE: CNN European Affairs Commentator Dominic Thomas joins us now from Los Angeles. Dom, good to see you, mate.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Right. Hi, John!

VAUSE: OK, let's listen to Theresa May talking about all this great progress which has been made on this Brexit deal with the E.U. Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: Taking all of this together, 95 percent of the withdrawal agreement and it's protocols are now settled. There is one real sticking point left but a considerable one which is how we guarantee that in the unlikely event our future relationship is not in place by the end of the implementation period. There is no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: OK, we'll get to the actual substance of that last five percent in a moment, but the European Union has made it perfectly clear nothing is agreed until everything is agreed so the Prime Minister there standing up Italian Parliament is 95 percent done. It's been like General Montgomery in 1944 insisting that his disastrous Operation Market Garden which was intended to bring it earlier into the war in Europe was you know, naive as it successful. It's totally meaningless. [01:10:17] THOMAS: Completely meaningless. John, my favorite

football team usually plays well for 95 percent of the match but they usually end up losing two-nil three-nil, four-nil. The logic makes no sense. In fact I'm not even sure there was anything really new in the speech. You know, you basically end up with the same kind of situation. You know, there are three or four sort of solutions. You know, one of them is the wise one. You just remain in the European Union, the other one you leave and you know, you don't get your cake and eat it. You leave with the consequences.

And the customs union, single market, you would wonder why would you even want to bother leaving. And then, of course, the whole question of the -- of the Irish border. You know, we keep talking about this. Let's not forget that it was England and Wales that voted to leave the European Union, not the Northern Irish or the Scottish. And the longer this goes on, the more attractive it may become to that part of the United Kingdom to actually think about joining up with the Republic of Ireland and staying in the European Union. This is really where we are. Nothing new from last week.

VAUSE: And as for you know, the last five percent which is unresolved and it has been this way for months and as you say, there is nothing on the horizon which indicates that there is a solution to be found.

THOMAS: No, absolutely nothing. It's the same old, John. We've gone through discussions around a soft Brexit, a hard Brexit, you know, a blind Brexit, a backstop. And there's the backstop to the backstop. You know, it just keeps going on and on and on which is really why there's absolutely no reason why extending the transition beyond the 18 months would really come up with any other solution. And in many ways what we're looking at here you know, is a real kind of broader metaphor for the greater political impasse we see in the United Kingdom today.

VAUSE: So with that in mind, here's the British Prime Minister in Parliament trying to sort of rally the country or like at the very least her party trying to keep the opposition at bay building to some good old nationalism and some patriotism. This is what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAY: Serving our national interest will demand that we hold our nerves through these last stages of the negotiations the hardest part of all. It will mean not giving in to those who want to stop Brexit with a politician's vote. Politicians telling the people they got it wrong the first time and should try again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You know, I just want to win that actually be the hardest part of all, for the politicians to actually kill this thing off, and in some ways that would actually be the best thing to do at this point.

THOMAS: Right. And you know, right from the very beginning, the whole question of appealing to nationalist tendencies and so on, this is where David Cameron you know, takes the blame with this overture to United Kingdom Independence Party that has been defined by the question you know, of nationalism and so on too. I think actually just going back to the weekend, the three-quarters of a million people that march asking for a people's vote for really a voice on a referendum on the final deal was so absolutely indicative of the political crisis that we face now in the United Kingdom is that Theresa May has refused to allow for a people's vote and the Labour Party goes along with her saying we must respect the initial Brexit vote, we're going to stick with that and are not providing a platform or a space for any kind of real opposition to Theresa May's model.

And so the people that are seeking to either vote on this, how to say on it or even further remain in the European Union have absolutely nowhere to go politically and feel incredibly underrepresented.

VAUSE: Very quickly, we're almost out of time. The Prime Minister in Parliament urged her colleagues to be more judicious, more thoughtful in the words and the language they use during this debate. Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAY: I think it is incumbent on all of us in public to be careful about the language we use. We passion -- there were passionate beliefs and passionate views that are held on these subject and other subjects. But whatever the subject is, we should all be careful about our language.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Yes, that's in response to some reports in the weekend press when she talked about her walking to a kill zone, she faces assassination, she should take her own news to remain, that kind of stuff. You know, that is indicative of where the Tories are right now.

[01:14:44] THOMAS: Not just the Tories, the Labour Party as well. Complete divisions on both sides of the political spectrum between a more centrist branch and the more extreme branch too. Both political parties have been engaging in attacking dissenters from within. Civility without being too nostalgic is a thing of the past both in the United States and across the Atlantic. And this is the way in which these political leaders you know, have been behaving. And it's very hard to see where this goes, what leadership change would represent, and who on earth would take over and be able to build and rebuild these bridges between these different factions within both sides of the political spectrum. This is not just a Conservative Party issue.

VAUSE: Worst job in the world right now to be Prime Minister of the U.K. Dominic, as always. Thank you.

THOMAS: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Nothing heals a political feud faster than a bitter self- interest. After the break, an unprecedented levels of nastiness, mutual disdain, and outright contempt, now just history between these two besties.

Also, President Trump, says he'll scrap a nuclear treaty with Russia. Maybe that's what Vladimir Putin wants as well. We'll explain just a moment.

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VAUSE: There is nothing unusual about political rivals, trading insults, and blows during hard for elections but like so many things Trumpian. In 2016, the level of animosity, mutual disdain, and just plain nastiness between then-presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz was off the charts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: L-Y-I-N', lying Ted.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE, TEXAS: Was the man cut -- cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist.

TRUMP: He's a nasty guy, nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him.

CRUZ: Donald does one of four things. He yells he screams, he curses or insults.

TRUMP: I think he's crazy. I -- honestly. I think he's crazy.

CRUZ: Donald, you're a sniveling coward and leave Heidi the hell alone.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: In political terms, it was the equivalent of two tarantulas fighting in a ball. But what happens when the tarantulas suddenly need each other for their own political survival?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: In just 15 days, the people of Texas are going to re-elect a man who has become a really good friend of mine. You know we had our little difficulties. And then, it ended and I'll tell you what, nobody has helped me more with your tax cuts, with your regulation. With all of the things that we are doing including military and our vets, then, Senator Ted Cruz, nobody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[01:19:58] VAUSE: And that was Donald Trump, just a few hours ago. Campaigning in Houston for Ted Cruz. He's locked in a surprisingly tight race to hold his Texas Senate seat.

And keep in mind, this very public pledge from Cruz two years ago when he refused to publicly support Trump at the Republican National Convention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: If you go and slander and attack Heidi, that I'm going to nonetheless come like a servile puppy dog and say, "Thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Give away. But Cruz needs an energized Republican base, a victory, and no one rallies the base better than Donald Trump. Political analyst Michael Genovese, he wrote the book on how Trump governs. He's also a president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Loyola Marymount University, and he is with us from Los Angeles.

So, Michael, it's good to see you.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, PRESIDENT, GLOBAL POLICY INSTITUTE, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: It's good to see you, John.

VAUSE: You know, interesting times. You know, we have a situation. Cruz needs Trump to be re-elected, Trump needs Cruz to win so that Republican maintain control of the Senate. Is that where we're at? This is -- it suggests that simple. It's all about political survival or is there more to this?

GENOVESE: Oh, it was a beautiful love fest. And the question is, how did they go from monumental hatred to this bizarre bromance? And you've got it right under the hit and now in the (INAUDIBLE), it's about their interest, their mutual interest.

Cruz is in the top race. He didn't expect a top race. No Democrat has won a statewide election in Texas since 1994. Now, right now, Ted Cruz is head by five to six percentage points. Donald Trump is there to ensure his election, rile up the base.

You saw him tonight. He's -- well, he's screaming. He went on script impassioning and powerfully embracing that someone he hated a few months ago and riling up the base. And it work very effectively, I think tonight.

VAUSE: But how does the base go from accepting -- you know, the word of Donald Trump that is "lying Ted, and he is the worst person on the planet." And you know, everything else that he said to now, he's a good guy, without anything to (INAUDIBLE) in between to prove it.

GENOVESE: Well, I think to the base, Donald Trump is the pipe piper. And he follow him anywhere. When he sings his tune, they respond you saw it tonight. It was like a campaign rally from two years ago. Lock her up, lock her up.

I mean, we're still trying to lock up Hillary Clinton. And you see -- you know, build the wall. And Trump looks for enemies, find enemies, feeds those enemies to people who would feel there's something's wrong with American. Now, it's the caravan or it's the democratic socialist mob. Donald Trump does a great job of riling up anger. He is a resentment collector and he is -- no one is been better at that. And I think, George Wallace -- since George Wallace. So he's really is in his element in a -- in a rally like this.

VAUSE: You know, Cruz isn't the only Republican in the Senate, but the only Republican Senator that will put the past in the past with Senator Rand Paul who also run from president. He wants to describe Trump as a delusional narcissist and an orange-face windbag.

You know, two years after that, he was comparing Trump favorably to Ronald Reagan. Then, of course, there's Lindsey Graham, the Republican Senator, he describe candidate Trump as a jackass and said he shouldn't be a commander-in-chief. And now, Lindsey Graham is one of Trump's biggest supporters as president.

It always -- in some ways, it seems to prove that this is Trump's Republican Party. The lawmakers who want to get re-elected if they are at a tough race, they have to kiss the ring.

GENOVESE: And if you had any doubt about that, just looked in today when Bolton went to the Soviet -- to the Russians and said, "I'm sorry, Ronald Reagan IMF Treaty is out the window." This is now not Ronald Reagan for Republican Party. It is completely Donald Trump's Republican Party. Lock stock in barrel, good and bad.

And so, you need to know the all praise, politics makes strange bedfellows. But it's rare to see such almost mind-bogglingly bizarre strange bedfellows as you saw it tonight with Cruz and with Trump.

VAUSE: And another part of that which is -- which is mind-boggling strange, Trump said he had no regrets about everything he said about Ted Cruz from his father -- you know, being allegedly involved to the assassination of JFK -- you know, to insulting -- you know how Ted Cruz's wife looks, her appearance.

But also, what is especially difficult to explain is how Ted Cruz, a man with Cuban heritage is willing to stand on stage with a man who just ousts earlier was vilifying thousands of immigrants heading north from -- you know, the central part -- from Central America rather to the U.S. border. Many fleeing violence and poverty.

And Donald Trump is intent on politicizing this issue -- you know, just a couple of weeks before the midterm elections. And he's doing so with no shortage of half-truths and outright lies.

[01:24:55] GENOVESE: Well, I think Trump said when he was asked, "Do you have any regrets?" He said, "No. it all worked out for me."

VAUSE: Yes.

GENOVESE: So, for Trump, it's all about winning. We've talked about this before, he's a very transactional figure. And for both Trump and Cruz, it's -- no, "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. We have mutual interest. And that's happening with a lot of the man in the Senate that you've mentioned who were either never-Trumpers or anti- Trump who've all of a sudden jumped into bed with Trump. Why? It's in their interest too. They know that Trump controls a huge chunk of the Republican Party. He is popular in the party and while his popularity nationally is known were over really 40 percent, the party belongs to Donald Trump.

VAUSE: You know, and that part of the Republican Party which supports Donald Trump hates foreign aid, and the president made a threat -- you know, earlier on Monday to cut financial assistance to the countries -- of three countries. That most of these immigrants are coming from. This is what he said, listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's a horrible thing. And it's a lot bigger than 5,000 people, and we got to stop them at the border. And unfortunately, you look at the countries, they have not done their job. Unfortunately, they have not done their job.

Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, they paid a lot of money. Every year we give them foreign aid, and they did nothing for us. Nothing. They did nothing for us. So, we give them tremendous amounts of money. You know what it is, you cover it all the time. Hundreds of millions of dollars, they like a lot of others do nothing for our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: OK, as we often do, let's fact check with the president is saying about. "You know, hundreds of millions of dollars going to these countries." That is not true. You can see the numbers there. Honduras, $65 million for fiscal year 2019. Guatemala, almost $70 million. El Salvador, just over $45 million.

But -- you know, Michael, that's not the point. You know the decision to allocate foreign aid is not made on who does what for the U.S., and how much leverage that will give Washington over a particular country.

GENOVESE: Plus Donald Trump likes to deal with symptoms because he can then use those to manipulate those symbols, to energize his base. He is not trying to deal with the root causes. Every year, you're going to see caravans and they might get bigger and bigger if the root causes in the home countries don't improve. If they -- if they can't control the violence, the gang warfare, they can't get economic rebuilding and get jobs in those countries, people are going to want to come here.

So, Trump uses that as a political game takes these poor people. You see the children -- women with children, families, and as the president says, and Middle Easterners are in the group.

And he manipulates the symbols, and rather than deal with the root causes and try to solve the problem, it's the symptoms that bring out the anger in his tribe. And the Trump tribe loves to find people to point fingers at, this is just another example of that.

VAUSE: Yes, and there's also you this whole -- we're out of time, but there's this whole transactional nature that we see from the president whereas foreign aid is a whole lot more than we give you this and we get this back.

I mean, there's a whole lot more to it than that. And you did touch on that. But, Michael as always, it is great to see you. Thank you so much.

GENOVESE: Great to see you. Thank you, John.

VAUSE: After the break here, from leading from behind and confrontation avoidance on your assertiveness in your face foreign policy. But could that lead to the downfall of the Saudi crown prince?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:30:52] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

We'll check the headlines this hour.

Thousands of migrants continue to make their way through Mexico towards the U.S. President Trump claims, without any evidence that criminals and Middle Easterners are in the migrant caravan. He's also blaming Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador for failing to stop the migrants from trying to reach the U.S. and says those countries will face cuts in U.S. aid.

The U.S. Navy sailed two warships through the Taiwan Strait on Monday. They were shadowed by long-hold (ph) Chinese warships which the U.S. Navy says are strictly routine. This passage of water (ph) is highly sensitive to China especially regarding the presence of U.S. military forces.

CNN has obtained surveillance footage which shows a man, here on the right, leaving the Saudi consulate the same day Jamal Khashoggi, on the left there, vanished. A Turkish source says the man is one of 15 Saudi operatives who traveled to Istanbul and is a body-double for the Saudi dissident journalist.

There was a time when Saudi relations with other countries were cautious and conservative. Conflicts were resolved not by confrontation but by pay-offs and bribes with an aim to preserve the status quo.

But since June last year when Mohammed bin Salman effectively became de facto ruler the Kingdom has taken a radically different approach. Earlier this year Saudi Arabia went DefCon-1 in diplomatic terms over the mildly critical tweet from Canada's foreign minister, which raised concerns for an imprisoned blogger and his sister.

The Saudis expelled the Canadian ambassador, recalled their own from Ottawa, suspended flights to Toronto, ordered thousands of Saudi students to leave Canadian universities -- all best described not so much as an over-reaction but more like bringing a gun to a knife fight. In the past 12 months, the Saudis have detained the visiting prime minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri and tried to force him to resign. France and the U.S. intervened to secure Hariri's release.

Ties with Qatar were cut imposing a diplomatic and trade blockade.

There have been high-level spats with Germany and Sweden as well.

And then there is the Saudi-led military offensive on Houthi rebels in Yemen -- a quagmire largely seen as the creation of the Crown Prince, the man they refer to as MBS.

For more, we're joined now by CNN's global affairs analyst Aaron David Miller. He's also a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center and he spent two decades at the U.S. State Department advising and formulating Mideast policies for both Republican and Democratic secretaries of state.

That's quite a few talents you have there -- Aaron, and we're very pleased to have you with us.

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Always a pleasure -- John.

VAUSE: Ok. What's the play here by MBS because for a brief time, he was seen as this great reformer? A modern leader who had rescued the kingdom, set it on the road to modernity and reform. Clearly he is anything but.

MILLER: I mean I think that to a large degree people were stunned by what MBS, Mohammed bin Salman appeared to represent. Because the traditional Saudi leadership -- the Obama administration may have coined the phrase leading from behind. But the fact is that is always how the Saudis operated for decades. At home driven by consensus and a desire not to alienate various branches in the Saudi royal family; abroad, being very risk-averse, cautious, conservative, rarely getting out ahead of other states, who were militarily more powerful.

And you have, I think a demonstration of the fact that an individual can have a tremendous influence on molding the course of a nation's foreign policy.

And with the appointment of Mohammed bin Salman as the Crown Prince and the new (INAUDIBLE) of his rivals, he began a series of polices that were anything but risk-averse. You referred to several of them -- John. They were risk-ready in the extreme.

[01:34:50] And I think many people, many journalists, certainly many in the Trump administration, Jared Kushner perhaps foremost among them, identified Mohammed bin Salman as a catalyst for change and saw an inflection point where Saudi Arabia was determined to break out.

Break out in playing a more forward role in containing Iran. Break out in containing Iranian influence at Yemen by waging a disastrous war. And breaking out in response to the rise of Iran and Sunni jihadis in creating a relationship with Israel -- I think people got carried away with the degree of magical thinking which blinded them to the policies that the Crown Prince was also pursuing.

Furious repression at home, the so-called shakedown at the Ritz Carlton. Saudi Arabia executed 137 people in 2017, largely for tribe- related offenses. And I think that's the image that accompanied this conception of MBS as a modernizing monarch.

VAUSE: So there's been this working theory out there that essentially, you know, MBS has been emboldened by an indulgent U.S. president. But you know, the war in Yemen started in April, 2015 long before Donald Trump, you know, won the presidency.

And you know, western governments have always been sort of indulgent of, you know, Saudi Arabia in the past years for, you know, oil or selling weapons.

So is this just coming down to the ideology and the personality of one person deciding that the Kingdom needed to change direction in a very major way?

MILL: Well, that was part of it -- John. But you're correct in identifying the desire and the targets (ph) of several administrations. Ever since FDR met Abudlaziz ibn Saudi at Great Bitter Lake on his return from the Yalta, various presidents have been enamored by Saudi Kings.

Not just enamored, we actually had and still do maintain -- good reasons of the American national interest to maintain relationships with Saudi Arabia.

The Obama administration facilitated, enabled the Saudi air campaign in Yemen but what's happened is the special relationship with Saudi Arabia, John, has become exclusive.

Never, having worked for Republican and Democratic administrations, most of which squashed and (INAUDIBLE) to Saudis to a large degree, have I seen any administration since the beginning of this relationship provide to a Saudi King and Crown Prince the kind of latitude, flexibility, benefit of the doubt on a range of policies which were clearly disastrous.

And I think that's the anomaly here. The fact is we have hitched our wagon to an impulsive, reckless leader who could literally, literally remain king, once the accession occurs, of Saudi Arabia for 50 years.

VAUSE: Mohammed bin Salman was pretty ruthless in securing power and that's led to the suggestion that, you know, that success has given him an ill-founded confidence when it comes to dealing with foreign policy. There's not much though for the, you know, what if factor -- what if this doesn't go to plan which it seems so far as more often the case than not.

MILLER: I think that's right. I mean the killing of Jamal Khashoggi is not -- obviously on the Saudis but I don't think there's any doubt that the Trump administration taking a certain role in persuading the Crown Prince that almost anything he could do would somehow be dismissed or the Americans would give them -- give them the benefit of the doubt.

And together with the lack of an internal opposition, House arrest of Muhammad bin Nayef, the neutralization of the other key power centers. And his father is King -- as someone said to me the other day, Mohammed bin Salman is number one and he's number two.

The true test (AUDIO GAP) -- John is only going to come when King Salman passes from the scene. And the cover of that legitimacy is removed and Mohammed bin Salman is going to have to operate on his own, I think it will only be then that we will begin to see the true impact of these Saudi policies that have so embarrassed so many particularly the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

VAUSE: Ok. Aaron -- thank you so much. Good insights and we appreciate you. Your years of experience there in the -- you know, formalize those opinions. It's very valuable.

Thanks you.

MILLER: John -- thank you.

TRUMP: Donald Trump's overly warm and oddly-cozy relationship with Russia's Vladimir Putin may be fraying. The U.S. President wants to pull out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty because he says it's been violated by the Russians.

[01:40:04] Publicly though President Putin has protested the move but privately, it could just be a different story.

Here's Brian Todd to explain.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Seemingly fed-up with Vladimir Putin aggressive military build-up, President Trump says he'll pull America out of the landmark nuclear weapons treaty with Russia.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia has not adhered to the agreement. They should have been done years ago.

TODD: The deal called, the "Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treat" or INF was signed 31 years ago by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. It forced the U.S. and the Soviet Union to eliminate ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles that could fly between 300 and 3,400 miles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It resulted in the destruction of literally thousands of missiles.

TODD: But last year, the U.S. accused Russia of violating the treaty by testing and deploying a secret medium-range missile that can reach Europe.

GEN. PAUL SELVA, VICE CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We believe that the Russians have deliberately deployed it in order to pose a threat to NATO.

TODD: The Kremlin denies it. But analysts say that missile -- the 9M729 gives Putin's forces a big advantage.

MICHAEL KOFMAN, RUSSIAN MILITARY EXPERT: Such missiles can be difficult to track, difficult to shoot down and can have fairly a short notice in terms of lifetime. Cruise missiles in particular can use terrain following features in order to mask their approach. Where as intermediate-range ballistic missiles have very little notice from the time they're launched to the time they actually strike their targets.

TODD: Analysts say it's part of a pattern of provocation. Earlier this year, Putin boasted of other advanced weapons he's developing, from a supersonic ICBM capable of reaching the United States to an underwater nuclear arms drone.

Analysts say Trump needed to do something but what's not clear is if pulling out of that treaty will fracture what Trump considers his positive personal relationship with Vladimir Putin.

TRUMP: We had directly, open, deeply-productive dialogue -- went very well.

TODD: But experts say Putin's had only partial success getting what he wants from Trump. When Trump was elected they say, Putin likely wanted to keep disrupting American politics and to get Trump to draw down sanctions on Russia.

JAMES GOLDGEIER, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: He hasn't gotten relief from the sanction. He hasn't really gotten anything positive from Donald Trump. But he has gotten the disruption. And that disruption continues and especially given the relationship between the U.S. and its allies over this and other issues that disruption will continue to undermine the west's unity.

TODD: Still Kremlin watchers say the former KGB colonel will likely keep trying to manipulate the relationship.

PROFESSOR KEITH DARDEN, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: There's an argument that Putin has reached the point of no return. He has to keep probing. He has to keep seeking influence because he is really outside of the politics of the West at this point.

TODD (on camera): Analysts say that while the Russians might publicly balk at the U.S. getting out of this treaty, they say Vladimir Putin privately will be very happy that the U.S. is getting out. They say that's give him an excuse to even more aggressively build up his weapons capability and do it even more openly than he's ever done it before.

Brian Todd, CNN -- Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: And the Russians aren't the only one with a stake in this decision. China is not bound by the INF treaty but Donald Trump says they're part of the region he intends to pull out of the agreement.

CNN's Matt Rivers explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the treaty might have been between the United States and Russia but the U.S. withdrawing from that treaty has a lot to do with China as well.

The Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty will likely be a thing of the past now that Donald Trump has announced his intention to pull the U.S. out of that agreement, an agreement that banned the development and deployment of land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

But because they weren't a party to that treaty, China has developed a whole bunch of missiles in that range, including some with nuclear capabilities.

U.S. military officials say as many as 95 percent of all China's missiles would fall under categories banned by the treaty. Now again, China was free to do that because they were not a part of that original treaty. And for that reason, Donald Trump's administration believes that has put the U.S. and its military at a disadvantage in this part of the world.

TRUMP: Unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us when they say let's really get smart and let's none of us develop those weapons.

But if Russia's doing it and if China's doing it, and we're adhering to the agreement, that's unacceptable.

TODD: Now it's not as if the U.S. has no capability to launch missiles into this part of the world; in fact, far from it. The U.S. has significant air and sea-based systems. These two bombers or submarines delivering missiles tipped with nuclear warheads -- China cannot match those strategic capabilities which allow the U.S. to target any country in the world with relative ease.

[01:44:55] But China's missile program does allow it to dominate the areas immediately surrounding its borders including most of the South China Sea. The goal there for China is to essentially make the cost of any potential conflict too high for any U.S. forces that might come into that area therefore keeping them out of any potential regional conflicts like one perhaps with Taiwan.

For its part China is not happy with the U.S. pulling out of this agreement or for making China part of the reason.

HUA CHUNYING, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN: Withdrawing unilaterally from the treaty will create multilateral influence. We need to point out that pulling out of the treaty while accusing China is completely wrong.

RIVERS: So will this create an unnecessary new arms race in the region with China or merely allow the U.S. to compete with China on all fronts militarily. Both options could be true.

Matt Rivers, CNN -- Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Thanks to Matt Rivers. We'll take a short break.

When we come back, the longest sea bridge in the world officially open but some fear this is just another way for China to tighten control over Hong Kong.

Also we're keeping an eye on Hurricane Willa which could turn out to be one of the strongest storms to ever strike Mexico. The very latest forecast in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: The longest sea bridge in the world linking Hong Kong and Macau and Mainland China has been officially opened with long overdue celebrations. There are concerns that this is another attempt by Beijing to tighten its control over the semi-independent region.

Chinese President Xi Jinping made the official announcement. The 55- kilometer bridge will be open to traffic on Wednesday.

CNN's Will Ripley, live not far from the bridge. Will -- if you look at all the controversies surrounding this bridge, there's something here for everyone not to like.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly yes. Conservationists are upset because the local dolphin population could be killed off. The bridge cost Hong Kong $9 billion of the $20 billion budge, this is a city that is struggling with widespread poverty and a housing shortage.

You have the connection, of course, the physical connection now to the mainland cutting travel time from three hours to 30 minutes. But for Hong Kong which prides itself on being semi-independent that connection is troubling to some including Hong Kong lawmaker Claudia Mo who joins me now.

And you actually called it the big, big -- the sixth largest bridge in the world, largest sea-crossing in the world. But you called it a white elephant. Why is that?

[01:49:58] CLAUDIA MO, HONG KONG LAWMAKER: Well, it's not beneficial to Hong Kongers to start with. We paid nearly half of this project and yet the regular Hong Kong drivers can't use it. How about that?

I mean it's such a visual impact. It's (INAUDIBLE). It's very impressive. But, but to Beijing it's a political project.

RIPLEY: You say it's almost teaching Hong Kongers a lesson by building this bridge.

MO: In a way, yes. Ever since the Umbrella movement in Hong Kong, Beijing obviously see Hong Kongers as disobedient, ungrateful and you guys are unruly. And they want to remind us Hong Kong is not just part of China. You are physically and visibly linked to the Motherland. Motherland with a big M.

RIPLEY: And you fly over. You do see the link. But this bridge was in the works. They've been building it for nine years. There's obviously spent a lot of (INAUDIBLE) -- it was even before the Umbrella Movement.

You know, China is talking about this greater bay area, connecting 68 million people in 11 cities including the territories of Hong Kong and Macau. Do you see a future benefit for Hong Kongers to be part of that greater bay area or does that future image concern you.

MO: That obviously is part of the grand plan of Beijing that Hong Kong should be melted and disappeared into the vast hinterland. And you would say, well, what's wrong with that. You're part of the country, anyway.

But we're supposed to come under one country's (INAUDIBLE). Before '97 Deng Xiaoping and Margaret Thatcher realized Hong Kong is very different and we can't just be returned to a communist regime like this. So one country has two systems and Hong Kong identity.

Where is it going to stand in 10 years' time?

RIPLEY: Are the two systems as important to the younger generation that's actually going to have to live with this for the rest of their life. Does this thing withstand typhoons and earthquakes and cargo ships (ph)? Or is the two-systems (ph) more important to those from the older generation to remember the times before the handover in '97?

MO: Yes. We are voicing our concerns for the younger generation.

RIPLEY: What are the biggest concerns?

MO: Well, this is a basic promise that we should keep our way of life, our capitalist system, our -- reasonably we would hope we have the democratic government. But they are substituting Hong Kong with the autocratic way of governing Hong Kong. And this has been ordered on Hong Kong, enforced on Hong Kong.

RIPLEY: And you actually figure Hong Kong is supposed to maintain its individual system for 50 years, so until 2047. You think this is moved up 2047 by a couple of decades at least.

MO: At least.

RIPLEY: Why is that?

MO: Well, I mean it's obvious. If it's not necessary to start with Hong Kong's link to Mainland China, by air, by sea, by land -- by everything, why do we need this? They need this physical symbol to -- so that everyone see, everyone in the world would see that Hong Kong is linked, connected quite so directly to the Motherland. And allow me to repeat -- Motherland with a big M. RIPLEY: Capital M.

MO: And that's what Beijing wants.

RIPLEY: Claudia Mo with a capital M -- always lovely to chat with you. Very courageous.

MO: Thank you.

RIPLEY: And at least you can see Google and see Claudia's comments here in Hong Kong without a VPN which is not the case in Mainland China, as you know -- John.

VAUSE: Ok. I have a correction to make. It was Talking Head who had the song "Road to Nowhere".

Thanks -- Will.

RIPLEY: Thank you for that clarification.

VAUSE: Important.

Up next here on CNN NEWSROOM, Hurricane Willa poised to strike the Pacific coast of Mexico. We'll take a look at just how powerful and dangerous this storm might be.

There he is -- Pedram Javaheri, standing by with the very latest.

[01:53:42] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Hurricane Willa, barreling towards Mexico and meteorologist believe it could turn out to be one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit Mexico's Pacific coast. It has weakened in the past couple of hours but it's still expected to be dangerous when it makes landfall on Tuesday.

Just how dangerous though -- that is the question. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri standing by with more -- Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: John -- you know, it's a Category 4 and you say it has weakened, it kind of tells you the kind of storm we're dealing with across this region. Still sitting there as an extremely dangerous system.

In fact, the National Hurricane Center when it comes to Category 4s often says that the areas that are impacted by such a storm typically are uninhabitable for a period of weeks or months, power outages for several weeks as well. So we're going to watch to see exactly where this storm is slated to make landfall within the next 24 hours because it's still sitting there.

Notice a lot of wind shear above the storms you're not able to see the eye very clearly yet. A good indicator that we're going to continue to see some weakening with this system, potentially drop it down to a strong Category 3 on landfall. And then it comes to (INAUDIBLE) Tuesday night into eventually Wednesday morning across this region. And I mean take a look at this and John -- I know you've covered

Hurricane Patricia three years ago to the day. You look at the area of this storm, it's supposed to make impact the forecast guidance on this. It takes it near Romero, Mexico; La Puerta, Mexico -- essentially this is what it looks like. Population across these areas, a community of 200 to 300 people live in these farming communities.

A little farther inland, we're talking 20,000 to 30,000 people and just a few kilometers to the north, that's where the concern is in cities like Mazatlan where upwards of 600,000 call it home. So a storm of this magnitude certainly worth bearing in mind that it could shift and if it does, it makes a huge for the area's impact.

And there's Patricia on October 23, 2015 that made landfall across the streets and just to the south where Willa goes to the north here and approaches Mazatlan hopefully shifting away from their highest population center -- John.

VAUSE: Yes, it was incredible how you just press that needle and, you know, avoid all those population centers. And as you say similar hopes this time as well.

PJ -- Pedram, thank you, good to see you.

JAVAHERI: Thank you -- John.

VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

There is another hour of news coming up with Rosemary Church.

You're watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:00:09] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Turkey's president says he will soon reveal everything his government knows --