Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Vows To Cut Aid Over Migrant Caravan; World's Longest Sea Bridge Opens; Bolton: "Meddling Had No Effect On 2016 Election; Trump: U.S. and Russia to Discuss INF Treaty; British Prime Minister Theresa May Says Brexit Deal Is "95 Percent Settled."; Russia Has Violated Nuclear Treaty For Years. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired October 23, 2018 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Turkey's president says he will soon reveal everything his government knows about the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Thousands of Central American migrants are heading north. They say they are seeking safe haven from poverty and violence but the U.S. president says they could trigger a national emergency.
And later, linking Hong Kong and Macau to mainland China. We're live at the world's longest sea crossing bridge that's now opening.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
CHURCH: In about 2.5 hours, Turkey's president will address parliament on the Jamal Khashoggi case and a spokesman says nothing will be hidden. A Turkish source revealed one of the 15 Saudi operatives who came to Istanbul was a body double for Khashoggi.
Surveillance video obtained by CNN shows a man on the right posing as Khashoggi, who's on the left. The man is pictured leaving the consulate wearing Khashoggi's clothes the day the journalist vanished.
A forensics team will search a car belonging to the Saudi consulate that was found in an Istanbul parking lot. And a source says the CIA director is traveling to Turkey to work on the investigation.
So our Nic Robertson is in Istanbul. He joins us now with the very latest.
Nic, as President Erdogan prepared to give this speech Tuesday, that as we've understood and reported here, will reveal everything about the Khashoggi's death, CIA director Gina Haspel is heading to Turkey.
What does this signal about the role U.S. intelligence will play going forward?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well President Erdogan has said nothing will remain hidden and this seems to be consistent with what we heard from his party's spokesman the past couple of days, who said that there is a matter of honor for Turkey to continue this investigation, to shed light on what happens to Jamal Khashoggi.
So coupled with what the president is expected to say, nothing will remain hidden, it's not clear at the moment whether he is going to lay out everything that they know, which would be something of a surprise because it's been a very sort of tactical step by step, drip by drip, the way that Turkey has released information so far, or whether this is a statement of intent going forward, that he means nothing will be hidden.
And what is the CIA chief coming here to talk about?
Is it to talk about some of these details that are not yet public?
Is it to scrutinize the evidence that Turkey has or potentially to -- perhaps to try to keep some of those more extreme details out of the public light?
It's not clear, President Trump has said, that his top experts are in the region, in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, that he expects more -- them to bring information back to him, that he expects to learn more about this in the very near future.
So the fact the CIA chief is coming is clearly significant. That sort of step is not taken lightly.
But is it to discover things more accurately?
Turkey's always talked about this recording that it had of Jamal Khashoggi's brutal murder. They've never admitted it publicly but they've dripped that information.
So is she coming to get to the bottom of that?
It really is unclear. But in terms of nothing will remain hidden, that discovery of the vehicle, consulate, Saudi consulate vehicle in an underground car park in Istanbul yesterday, I'm sure so there are still elements this investigation to be going on.
And it's perhaps no coincidence that yesterday the chief prosecutor was questioning people from the consulate, staff members from the consulate, including drivers. So the fact that, in the morning, they could be interviewing drivers and in the afternoon find a vehicle, person at the investigation they've been looking for, for some time, perhaps does indicate that there are still elements of this investigation that are very much active, very much live.
And even the president here has things to learn about what's going on precisely. CHURCH: Indeed and of course it does beg the question, too, why Turkey has been so secretive about the details of Khashoggi's death so far.
What leverage has all this given the country's leadership?
Because of course there have been leaks to indicate there is a whole lot more information to come out.
ROBERTSON: The government officials that we've talked to have said they don't want to put everything out in the public domain because they don't want to escalate this diplomatically.
What they've said as well is that given the Saudi --
ROBERTSON: -- investigators who Saudis say are cooperating with them, they've given them opportunities, saying, for example, is there anything you'd like to tell us?
And when the Saudis haven't given them the information they were expecting, it may have been fed to the media, some of that information. And that still seems to be something that is very much in process as Saudi Arabia gives its narrative; Turkey continues to put information out there, through these leaks, that would seem to undermine that.
So what is it trying to achieve here?
In essence it seems to be -- they would say that they are trying to get the truth out of Saudi Arabia. But I think we can also see here that Saudi Arabia and Turkey are not allies and, indeed, they view each other with a high degree of mistrust and that mistrust is growing.
And one can see here that it would potentially be within president Erdogan's interest over the longer term to find a more compatible, pliable, more friendly leadership in Saudi Arabia than crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
So you can see that he is trying to drip through this information in a way to pressure the United States, to pressure and try to get a change of leadership in Saudi Arabia.
Or is he trying to try to get some economic benefit out of that?
The Turkish officials we talked to say they're not trying to cut a deal and they indicate that this is more about putting pressure on the United States to put pressure on Saudi Arabia.
So this is a deep enmity and Erdogan may well be trying to exploit what he thinks is a strong hand of very negative information about Saudi Arabia and the crown prince right now.
CHURCH: Turkey is over two hours away. We'll find out more details as the Turkish president reveals them to Turkey and, indeed, the world. Nic Robertson bringing us the very latest there from Istanbul, we appreciate it.
A number of Western countries are not buying the Saudi narrative of what happened. The Canadian prime minister said his country is prepared freeze an arms deal if human rights have been violated.
And British lawmakers are pushing their government to do the same.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: The claim that Mr. Khashoggi died in a fight does not amount to a credible explanation. It remains an urgent need to establish exactly what happened on the 2nd of October and thereafter.
This matters because only after a full investigation would it be possible to apportion responsibility and ensure that any crimes are punished following proper due process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, CANADIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: We have very grave concerns about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. We are not satisfied with the explanations of that murder that have been given to fate.
Those explanations are not credible. They are not consistent. We are very clear that there must be an accounting for this murder. Those responsible must be brought to justice and must face the consequences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: U.S. president Donald Trump questioned the Saudi explanations about what happened to Khashoggi but he still thinks it was a plot gone awry. In an interview with "USA Today," Mr. Trump said he spoke with the Saudi king and crown prince and both denied any involvement.
Now he didn't say whether he believed them but he did call Khashoggi's death "foolish and stupid."
And while he may have doubts about the Saudi accounts, President Trump doesn't want to lose any money over the crisis. Kaitlin Collins has that report.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump skeptical tonight over shifting Saudi accounts about what happened to Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist who walked into the Saudi consulate 20 days ago and never walked out.
TRUMP: I am not satisfied with what I've heard. COLLINS: The president telling reporters today he's spoken to the Saudi crown prince but suggesting he won't accept their request for another month to investigate Khashoggi's murder.
TRUMP: That's a long time. There's no reason for that.
COLLINS: While appearing doubtful of Saudi claims, Trump still not willing to sacrifice the Saudi arms deal, even after one of his biggest allies in Congress, Senator Rand Paul, called for ending it, arguing that sanctions won't be enough.
TRUMP: I agree with Rand on a lot of things. I don't want to lose all of that investment that's being made in our country. I don't want to lose a million jobs. I don't want to lose $110 billion in terms of investment.
COLLINS: Earlier in the day, in an exclusive interview with CNN, the president's son-in-law and senior advisor refusing to say if he believes the Saudis are telling the truth about Khashoggi.
JARED KUSHNER, TRUMP'S SON-IN-LAW AND SENIOR ADVISOR: I'd say that right now in this administration, we're more in the fact-finding phase.
COLLINS: Jared Kushner's close relationship with the Saudi crown prince has come under intense scrutiny --
COLLINS (voice-over): -- amid questions about the prince's suspected role in Khashoggi's death.
But today, Kushner stressed the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship.
KUSHNER: We have to be able to work with our allies and Saudi Arabia has been, I think, a very strong ally.
COLLINS: Trump leaving Washington tonight for a rally in Texas as a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants heads for the southern border. Attempting to stoke fears over the caravan, while blaming it on Democrats, Trump claimed without evidence today that criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are included. When later asked about that claim, Trump said this.
TRUMP: If you go into the middle and look, you're going to find MS- 13. You're going to find Middle Easterners. You're going to find everything.
COLLINS: But a senior counterterrorism official telling CNN, "We do not see any evidence that ISIS or other terrorist groups are trying to infiltrate the southern U.S. border."
All this as the national security advisor, John Bolton, is in Russia, meeting with top officials after President Trump announced over the weekend that the U.S. will withdraw from the INF, a nuclear arms control treaty signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987.
Trump says he's now prepared to build up the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the arms deal?
TRUMP: Once people come to their senses, we will build it up. I'm terminating the agreement.
COLLINS: Asked if he's threatening Russian president Vladimir Putin, Trump left it at this.
TRUMP: It's a threat to whoever you want and it includes China. And it includes Russia and it includes anybody else who wants to play that game.
COLLINS: Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, was later asked what credible evidence President Trump had that there are Middle Easterners as part of the caravan. She said he absolutely had evidence and it, quote, "we have 10 individuals suspected or known terrorists that tried to enter our country every day."
But President Trump's tweet didn't say there are terrorists in the caravan. It said that there are Middle Easterners in the caravan -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.
CHURCH: And we'll have more now on the thousands of migrants walking to the U.S. through Mexico in that caravan Kaitlin Collins mentioned. They started in Honduras. They have now left the Mexican city of Tapachula and are slowly heading north to the U.S. border in sweltering heat.
CNN's Bill Weir is with the group and had this to say about the U.S. president's claim that people from the Middle East have infiltrated that caravan.
BILL WEIR, CNN HOST: We're walking with them. We're headed north here with the group that -- some of the stronger young men who are out in front of the group, women and children pushing strollers behind us.
We're about, I want to say, 20 miles north of Tapachula today. They're going to probably put 30 miles in today. And just for the record, we have not seen any unidentified Middle Easterners.
I saw a failed suicide attempt. A man jumped off a roof in desperation and his countrymen tried to rally and say even a life this hard is worth living.
I saw a pregnant woman just back there faint on the side of the road. I've seen thousands of examples of just pure human desperation but all friendly, easy-going, proud Hondurans many of them, Guatemalans.
The Mexican government says now thousands of Mexicans may be joining the caravan, seeing this as a point of opportunity. But to make -- put a hammer to the point, if you were a terrorist, why the hell would you fly to Southern Mexico and walk 1,000 miles in this searing heat when you can just buy a ticket to JFK?
CHURCH: That was CNN's Bill Weir with the migrant caravan. It will likely take the group more than a week to make it to the U.S.-Mexico border. It's still unclear if Mexican authorities will stop them before they get that far.
We will take a short break here. But still to come, a Cold War-era nuclear treaty is on the verge of collapsing U.S. and Russian officials are in Moscow for high-stakes talks and we will look at what's at stake.
Plus Theresa May on the brink.
Or is she?
We will bring you the latest from London as the British prime minister claims a Brexit deal is in sight. Back in a moment with all of that.
CHURCH: U.S. national security adviser John Bolton is set to meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. One of the topics that would likely be discussed is the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty or INF. Trump says he wants the U.S. out of the Cold War era treaty because the Russians have not been honoring it and that has drawn a tough response from Moscow. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are the U.S. and Russia headed for a new nuclear arms race?
Moscow is saying it could happen. President Trump announced over the weekend the U.S. will exit the INF treaty.
TRUMP: I'm terminating the agreement because they violated the agreement. I'm terminating the agreement.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): A frosty welcome for national security advisor John Bolton in Moscow today. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov demanding an explanation and warning Russia will retaliate.
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Any action in this area will be met with counteraction. Strategic stability can only be achieved on the basis of parity. PLEITGEN (voice-over): INF stands for Intermediate Nuclear Forces.
The treaty was signed in 1987 by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev and led to the withdrawal of 2,700 nukes from Europe.
The U.S. says Russia has been violating the deal, deploying new medium-range nuclear capable missiles close to NATO territory.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENN.: Maybe this is just a move to say if we don't -- if you don't straighten up, we're moving out of this and I hope that's the case. I hope we're going to be able to figure out a way to stay within the treaty.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Moscow denies it's breaching the INF and in turn blames America for violating it by developing missile defense technology.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Target missiles used in the U.S. to test the defense systems are identical to intermediate range ballistic missiles. They exist and they are in use. Their production in the U.S. could be a sign that INF prohibited technologies are in development.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Several of America's European allies say they're concerned about the Trump administration's move to can the deal, fearing after decades of calm, nuclear weapons could surge once again -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.
CHURCH: We want to get the perspective now of someone who worked on the INF issue during the Reagan administration. Steven Pifer was involved in INF negotiations in the early '80s and later worked on arms control while stationed at the U.S. embassy in Moscow. He is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and he joins me now.
Thank you so much for being with us.
STEVEN PIFER, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Good to be here.
CHURCH: President Trump and his national security adviser John Bolton want the U.S. out of the 1987 INF treaty.
What's your reaction to a possible U.S. withdrawal from this agreement?
PIFER: Well, there is the problem that Russia is violating that treaty by deploying a ground launch cruise missile intermediate range. The United States government --
PIFER: -- has been talking about this now for about four years.
But withdrawal at this point in time I think would be a mistake. First of all, there's other political and economic -- political and military pressure that we could provide and if we withdraw from the INF treaty now the United States is likely to be saddled with the blame for killing the treaty.
It's already caused some controversy within NATO and it leads to a situation where Russia can go ahead and deploy a ground-launched intermediate missile which U.S. military has no counterpart.
CHURCH: You say it would be a mistake for the U.S. to withdraw from the INF treaty. But as you point out, Russia has not been in compliance with it in any way. It has been in violation on a number of issues.
Is this an effort on the part of Russia perhaps to push to this point?
I mean they appear to be angry about U.S. intentions to withdraw but they haven't done anything to give the U.S. reason to continue with the situation as it stands with their noncompliance.
PIFER: This has been a problem over the last four years. There really has been no serious effort by the Russians to address the American compliance concern. I said they tossed out charges of American violations to the Russian charges that American violations are bogus.
There is one question I think the United States has to address seriously but it's at an order of magnitude less than the fact that the Russians are deploying a prohibited missile.
CHURCH: So what's the alternative here to withdrawing from the INF treaty?
Because clearly not something that the U.S. would want to continue under this -- the current circumstances.
So what are the alternatives?
PIFER: I think the U.S. military could take steps such as deploying air-launched cruise missiles and sea-launched cruise missiles into the European region. They could do it fairly quickly. Those would be compliant with all American treaty obligations.
And that would get the attention of the Russian military. Also a missing piece here is that the Europeans, who are going to be most directly affected by this assault, they can't reach the United States but they decide to target Europe and Asia, the European leaders should be banging on the door of the Kremlin and talking about it with Putin and saying this is unacceptable.
And the administration thus far has not mobilized that kind of pressure on the Kremlin. Now those steps might not work. But they might. We should give ourselves time to see if they could work and if we could preserve the treaty, which is in our interest.
CHURCH: What you think the strategy is here on the part of President Trump?
He is threatening to do this.
Do you think he has thought deeply about this?
Or do you think that he is considering some of those issues you raised?
PIFER: I'm not sure how deeply President Trump has thought about this. My guess is he has been listening to his national security John Bolton. But we all know that Mr. Bolton has aided withdrawing from the INF treaty for a number of years now.
And that's what makes me a bit concerned. I'm not sure whether over the last 6-7 months while Mr. Bolton has been at the White House, how we had a strategy that has been aimed at preserving the treaty and trying to bring Moscow back into compliance or is Mr. Bolton just wanting to go forward and ditch the treaty?
We don't know.
CHURCH: What's the worst-case scenario of ditching the treaty?
PIFER: The worst-case scenario is the United States will be blamed for ditching the treaty, even though it was a major Russian violation, second you've obviously seen in Germany, France and Italy a criticism of the president's announcement on Saturday.
And third, once the treaty goes away, Russia is going to be free to deploy all the intermediate range missiles that it wants without any constraint. And at this point in time the U.S. military has no missile to counter that.
CHURCH: That is exactly what Russia wants.
PIFER: To my mind, this situation where it's going to be both a political defeat for the administration and will result, at least initially, in a more negative military balance. This is something that I think we could have avoided. There may still be a chance to reverse course. But by what we've seen from the president has said and what Mr. Bolton has said, they seem pretty intent on getting out of this treaty.
That's a mistake, as I said.
CHURCH: Steven Pifer, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.
PIFER: Thank you.
CHURCH: And we turn now to Brexit and the prime minister's message to Parliament; 95 percent of the deal to leave the European Union is done. But Theresa May admits the Irish border is still a sticking point. Our Bianca Nobilo has the story now from London.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): May's leadership and authority were in question yet again as open dissent from within her own Conservative Party is reaching near unprecedented levels.
She was keen to --
NOBILO: -- emphasize that she has made progress over the last three weeks of Brexit negotiations around the issues of Gibraltar, Cyprus and citizens' 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 has 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 2022.
And she said that the tension 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 number of comments from Theresa May's opposition party called the language vile and dehumanizing. These verbal attacks come alongside a damning report into the bling 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.
CHURCH: Ryanair is coming under fire and facing calls for a boycott for not taking action against a man after his racist tirade against an elderly female passenger. Here is just a short clip of that abusive exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't tell me what to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Now you heard the woman's daughter speaking out there. She said the incident began after her disabled mother took a while to get up so the man could get to his seat.
The woman eventually changed seats; the man kept his. The incident happened a little more than a week ago on board a plane in Spain before it took off for London. The airline issued a statement, saying it reported the matter to British police. Prime minister Theresa May has condemned the abhorrent racial abuse.
The U.S. Treasury secretary just met with the crown prince and as America's CIA chief heads to Turkey, the Trump administration has a message for Saudi Arabia: it's time to come clean about the fate of Jamal Khashoggi.
Plus why some say a bridge that stretches 55 kilometers could pull Hong Kong closer into mainland China's grasp.
And later, the president's false claims and fuzzy math.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're talking over 40,000 jobs.
It's 500,000 jobs.
600,000 jobs, maybe more than that.
Talking about over 1 million jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[02:30:39] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we're following this hour. Thousands of migrants continue to make their way through Mexico toward the United States. President Trump claims without evidence that the criminals that criminals and Middle Easterners are in that 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. Britain's prime minister says 95 percent of the Brexit deal to exit the European Union is done. But Therese May admits the Irish border is still a considerable sticking point. The British currency came under fresh pressure amid fears over Mrs. May's position.
CNN has obtained surveillance footage that shows a man on the right leaving the Saudi consulate the same day Jamal Khashoggi on the left vanished. Turkish source says the man is one of 15 Saudi operatives who came to Istanbul and is a body double for Khashoggi. President Trump's son-in-law says he is urging the Saudi crown prince to be fully transparent about the death of the journalist. Jared Kushner spoke exclusively to CNN.
His comments come as the president voices new skepticism about what he's hearing from Riyadh. CNN's Alex Marquardt reports from Washington.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Doubt growing in the president's mind he said today after speaking with a Saudi crown prince about their version of the events surrounding Jamal Khashoggi's death.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I spoke to the crown prince. I am not satisfied with what I've heard.
MARQUARD: And about face from Friday when the Saudi said they needed a month to investigate and the president said he believe the Saudi explanation that this was an interrogation that went wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you consider it credible there explanation for it?
TRUMP: I do. I do. I mean it's -- again, it's early. We haven't finish our review or investigation.
MARQUARDT: The tougher line from the president comes as the plot to murder the Washington Post journalist is being revealed to be more sinister than originally thought. This is Khashoggi going into the consulate just after 1:00 p.m. the day he was killed. Then in this surveillance video exclusively obtained by CNN's Clarissa War evidence that Saudi Arabia hoped to trick the world into believing this was the slain journalist leaving the consulate, a man wearing Khashoggi's clothes, his glasses, a beard, and with the same body type.
Except this isn't Khashoggi. This is Mustafa al-Madani, one of the fifteen Saudis who flew in for the Khashoggi operation arriving with an accomplice two hours before Khashoggi. Then the look alike leaving the consulate posing as Khashoggi. A major difference easy to spot the shoes. Madani posing as Khashoggi and his accomplice then melt into Istanbul's busy streets visiting one of the main mosque before going into a bathroom. The double then reemerging in his own clothes.
The remission they might have thought as they smiled was complete. But Turkish cameras were watching now exposing this dark and questionable attempt at a cover-up.
MIKE ROGERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not only was his hair wrong, his shows were wrong, he left with somebody who is identified with the consulate. He didn't enter with somebody identified with the consulate and then they travelled around together. That -- that's just really sloppy tradecraft.
MARQUARDT: As the world piles the pressure on Saudi Arabia, the U.S. is willing to hear them out. Jared Kushner today saying the White House is focus on strategic objectives and is in the fact-finding face. But he called on Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman whose ties to the murder are still being questioned to investigate what happened seriously.
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The world is watching. This is a very, very serious accusation and a very serious situation and to make sure you're transparent, and to -- and to take this very seriously.
MARQUARDT: Jared Kushner there with a warning for his friend the crown prince right he as well as everybody else on the White House that shot well short of saying the prince had any involvement in this while Republicans on Capitol Hill are adamant that nothing like this could have happened without the crown prince knowing. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky on Monday saying that it's laughable to think that the prince did not have a hand in this. Alex Marquardt, CNN Washington.
CHURCH: The Saudi foreign minister says he's not impressed by the comments from the Kentucky Senator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[02:35:06] ADEL AL-JUBEIR, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF SAUDI ARABIA: I find it very surprising that somebody 6000 miles away can be certain about an event that happened 6000 miles away. There's no access of information or intelligence, so this is a judgment call on the part of Senator Paul. This is not based in facts. It's just based on emotions and based on speculation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Senator Rand Paul pushed back with some choice words of his own for the Saudi official. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think he's got a lot of gal to lecture the United States about presumption of innocence. The Saudis currently have over 3000 people being held without any trial, without any presumption of innocence in their prison. These are political prisoners. They have nearly a thousand of these prisoners have been there for more than three years. They recently in the last year so called a Shia sheik 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 Saudi shouldn't be lecturing anybody about the presumption of innocence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, Saudi Arabia is trying to salvage its Davos in the Desert investment conference which is just getting underway. In fact, we'll bring you up these live pictures showing it was happening there in Riyadh. It used to be one of the hottest tickets in business until Khashoggi's disappearance and apparent murder. Most of the top global companies have pulled out including German industrial giant Siemens.
It's CEO Joe Kaeser says and I'm quoting here, "As soon as I heard of his death, it was clear to me that we couldn't simply move on and do business as usual. We in Germany should know from our history what it can lead to if people don't speak up until it's too late." Well, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also bowed out of the investor conference. But he still went to Riyadh and had a chat with Mohammad Bin Salman.
The administration says they talked about how to combat terrorism financing as well as the Khashoggi investigation. Well, we are two weeks away from the U.S. midterm elections and the president is out doing himself as campaigner in chief. Mr. Trump held rallies in several western states last week and he's not slowing down. Yes, he will be swinging through several more states in the coming days supporting Republicans in key races.
A few hours ago, he rallied for Senator Ted Cruz in Houston after bringing up the usual topic like immigration and taxes, Mr. Trump touted his America First policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much. And, you know what, we can't have that. You know, they have a word. It sort of became old fashioned. It's called a nationalist and I say, really, we're not supposed to use that world. You know what I am? I'm a nationalist. OK. I'm a nationalist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And it's the first time the president has directly associated himself with being a nationalist. But it lines out with his protectionist policies. And CNN's Boris Sanchez reports other statements by the president don't match reality.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: While exciting his base at rallies, Mr. Trump is also making inaccurate or unproven claims like --
TRUMP: We are looking at putting in a very major tax cut for middle income people and if we do that, it will be sometime just prior I would say to November a major tax cut.
SANCHEZ: In Nevada this weekend, Trump unexpectedly announcing Republicans are working on a new middle class tax cut that he wants to see by November 1st even though Congress is not in session until after the midterm elections. Then changing his tune this afternoon.
TRUMP: We're putting in a resolution sometime in the next week or a week and a half, two weeks. We won't have time to do the vote. We'll do the vote -- we'll do the vote after the election.
SANCHEZ: The president also making the false claim that Californians are riding over sanctuary cities.
TRUMP: I don't think we like sanctuary cities up here. By the way, a lot of people in California don't want to admit it. They're riding now. They want to get out of the sanctuary cities.
SANCHEZ: Trump making misleading claims while attacking Democrats too. Recently suggesting very few supported a six billion dollar opioid bill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The yes is 98. The nays are one. The motion is agreed to.
SANCHEZ: Though the only no vote in the Senate came from a Republican. The president also suggesting Democrats are behind a caravan of Central American immigrants marching toward the United States.
TRUMP: The Democrats want caravans. They like the caravans.
[02:40:02] SANCHEZ: And adding an unsubstantiated claim on Twitter that criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are among the migrants. Trump later doubled down.
TRUMP: You're going to find MS-13. You're going to find Middle Eastern. You're going to find everything.
SANCHEZ: Meantime, as calls intensifying to drop a massive arms deal with Saudi Arabia following the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. President Trump defending it by gradually increasing the number of jobs that he claims the deal creates.
TRUMP: It's 450,000 jobs. It's the best equipment in the world. Who are we hurting at 500,000 jobs? I would prefer that we don't use as retribution which means 600,000 jobs.
SANCHEZ: The actual number according to a White House statement potentially tens of thousands.
TRUMP: OK. Thank you, everybody. Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Boris Sanchez, CNN at the White House.
CHURCH: We've got more about the U.S. election in our next hour. We will take a closer look at how this very competitive midterm voting is turning some old enemies into fast friends. There's a clue. Coming up after costing nine years and $20 billion, the world's longest sea bridge is opening. It links Hong Kong and Macau to Mainland China. Why some fear it could shift away at Hong Kong's independence?
And President Trump says he's terminating a Reagan-era nuclear treaty with Russia and Vladimir Putin is demanding explanations. How this apparent friction could impact the relationship between the leaders? Back in a moment.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, nine years and $20 billion, that's what it took to build the world's longest sea-crossing bridge. It links the semi-independent territories of Macau and Hong Kong to Mainland China. Supporters say it will boost tourism and shave hours of commutes. But some critics fear China will use the bridge to tighten its control of Hong Kong. CNN's Will Ripley is in Hong Kong. He joins us. Now, so let's look at some of these concerns, the benefits, and then the problems with a bridge like this, Will. WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Well, obviously,
I mean you look at this, you know, the scale of this, the largest sea- crossing ever. It's now the sixth largest bridge in the world and guess where the other five largest bridges. They're all in China built by China. This is a symbol of Chinese engineering and China's determination to linked Hong Kong and Macau. Two territories with the mainland. As they try to continue to expand not only the -- you know, the physical presence and political presence of Beijing. But also just geographically, to trying to move farther out.
And so, this is going to be for the rest of people's lives who live here in Hong Kong. A symbol that they are linked to the mainland and some people view it as an economic opportunity. You mentioned that -- you know, the influx of tourism that could come from it, it obviously cuts travel times between Zhuhai, at on the mainland, and Macau and Hong Kong from three hours to around 30 minutes.
But regular Hong Kong drivers aren't allowed to be on there without a permit. So, some are questioning the benefit for everyday citizens in Hong Kong. There's already massive tourism numbers, 56 million people as of a couple of years ago. 20 million more per year and even the U.K. which is significantly larger.
And then, of course, you know the greater symbolism, of course, is that authoritarian Beijing wants to let Hong Kong know that even though it does have its own semi-independent system of government it is still under the umbrella of the mainland. And the symbolism is very clear.
And obviously, people are concerned that this is going to even push forward Beijing's tightening of its grip on this territory, which many people here have claimed independence. But there are others here who look at the economic benefits and the opportunities that can come from a bridge like this and from that physical connection to Southern China, Rosemary.
It's all part of a bigger -- kind of long-term plan to develop a greater bay area, linking 11 cities, and some 68 million people.
CHURCH: So, Will, the critics are concerned as you point out about this grip and control of those people in Hong Kong. They have to apply for a permit to get access to this bridge. What does that entail? Is that financial? Do they have to be checked their backgrounds, those sorts of things? How are they worried about the control factor?
RIPLEY: Well, you know right now basically, buses, and you know, government vehicles are allowed to travel on this bridge. So, somebody could buy of -- you know, a ticket or a lot cheaper actually than taking a boat to Macau from Hong Kong to example. Or even taking the train from here to the mainland.
You know you get on a bus, and you have a really relatively quick trip. But you know, regular drivers, taxi to taxis, they will not be able to access this bridge. So, the volume of traffic on it is actually going to be pretty limited. And some in Hong Kong feel -- you know, considering that the city paid almost half of the $20 billion that it cost to build this bridge, Hong Kong shouldered $9 billion of that burden. And it has a housing crisis. There's a housing shortage, there's widespread poverty in the city, and there are a lot of people who feel that the money could have been used in a much more efficient way to help the people -- more than 7 million people who are living in Hong Kong as opposed to what some are calling this white elephant which is basically a symbol for Beijing, but with little practical value for a lot of people who live here.
CHURCH: Interesting. All right, CNN's Will Ripley, bringing us all the details on that fascinating. Appreciate it.
Well, just days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his country would pull out of a key nuclear treaty, his National Security Advisor arrives in Moscow. John Bolton just met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Bolton is said to meet with President Vladimir Putin in the coming hours. He will also likely discuss Russia's meddling in the U.S. elections, which Bolton says didn't even work.
He told a Russian media outlet, "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 saw enormous distrust of Russia."
The bit awkward have to admit, but that's what he said. Democrats including Senator Chris Van Hollen are buying John Bolton's argument. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD), SENATE BUDGET COMMITTEE: Ambassador Bolton really doesn't know what he's talking about because our intelligence agencies unanimously confirmed the couple of 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: So, let's take a close -- a look at the missiles of Mr. Trump says violate that 1987 treaty. The president, says Russia has been boasting about them for a while now, and that has forced him to act. Brian Todd, explains.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Seemingly fed up with Vladimir Putin's aggressive military buildup, President Trump says he'll pull America out of a landmark nuclear weapons treaty with Russia.
TRUMP: Russia has not adhered to the agreement. They should have been done years ago.
[02:50:03] TODD: The deal called the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty 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.
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: 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 CHIEF 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, CNA CORPORATION: Such missiles are can be difficult to track, difficult to shoot down, and can have fairly short notice in terms of flight time. Cruise missiles, in particular, can use terrain-following features in order to match their approach, whereas Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missiles have very little notice from the time they launch, the time to actually strike their target.
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-armed 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 direct 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, VISITING SENIOR FELLOW, 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.
KEITH DARDEN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL SERVICE, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: There's an argument that Putin has reached the point of no return. That 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: 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 gives 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.
CHURCH: And coming up next here on CNN NEWSROOM, Hurricane Willa is set to strike the Pacific coast of Mexico. We will assess how powerful and dangerous it could be. We're back in just a moment.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. While Hurricane Willa is barreling towards Mexico, meteorologists believe it could turn out to be one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit Mexico's Pacific coast. And while it's weakened in recent hours, it's still expected to be a very dangerous storm when it makes landfall on Tuesday.
So, let's turn to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. He's been keeping a very close eye on all of this. This is a real worry, very strong, very dangerous storm.
[02:54:57] PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely, in an area that certainly as you said is not used to taking on storms of such magnitude. And certainly, the intensity of this one right up there among with Patricia a couple of years ago that made landfall not far across this region.
But these States of Sinaloa and also the States of Nayarit in across this region of Mexico from Mazatlan, south towards Puerto Vallarta. That's where the hurricane warnings are in place. That's where mandatory evacuations have been issued across this region. A lot of it are farming communities. So, not density populated unless you're to the north in Mazatlan or farther to the south in Puerto Vallarta, where, of course, resort community.
Puerto Vallarta, getting the brunt of the storm, at least, the outer bands of it right now. But tremendous rainfalls and gusty winds, the storm itself still sitting there as a Category 4. It is weakened since being a Category 5. We think potentially drops down to a strong Cat 3 on approach to landfall. Either at Cat 4 or a strong Cat 3 there on a Tuesday night landfall. And then, move the shore and interact with the mountains of the Sierra Madres in Mexico and weakens. But, what happens here in between and the shift of that track really plays a significant role as far as who is impacted and how much they're impacted by the storm. Because, again, we're talking about a major hurricane, want to go in for a closer perspective because these communities, generally speaking, farming communities where the track of the storm is expected to cross land, several hundred people within each community.
Work a little farther inland upwards of 30,000 people in the path of the storm system. And, of course, just to the north by 70 kilometers, 600,000 people. They lived right there in Mazatlan. So, this is an area that's still in the cone of the storm system with a landfall within 24 hours.
Schools have been shut down. Some of the hotels certainly evacuated folks as well in Mazatlan and also on Puerto Vallarta. And it was just three years ago today where we had hurricane Patricia make landfall across this region, just south of Puerto Vallarta in that case. And kind of crossed over an area in a farming community as well. Very sparsely populated. It's left, at least with little fatalities versus what could have been with a storm that was also a Category 4 on landfall.
Willa once again approaches very similar magnitude potentially to south of Mazatlan. So, we'll watch this but you notice, Rosemary, the cone still is expected to cross somewhere within Mazatlan. So, any shift in this track makes a significant difference on how much damage could be left behind and lose impacted by it.
CHURCH: Totally understand that. Pedram, thank you so much for keeping a close eye on that. We'll check back in next hour. And thank you for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. You're watching CNN. Do stay with us.