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Mail Bomb Suspect sent 240 plus Online Threats; Veterans Slammed Trump for Sending Troops to Border as A Stunt; Saudi Born Sisters Found Dead on The Banks of The Hudson River; 79-Year-Old Shares Her Struggle for The Right to Vote. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 31, 2018 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: The man who police say mailed pipe bombs to dozens of prominent Democrats and to CNN had been planning this for months. The Department of Justice said the suspect's computer had target's addresses and show she started playing the attacks back in July. And a CNN analysis found that he spent a lot of time going after people online. He tweeted more than 240 threats -- 240 -- directed at least 50 public officials, news media, organizations, personalities, that kind of thing. That's just a sample of them on your screen.

So, with me now K file senior editor, Andrew Kaczynski, you guys did a deep dive into his history. What did you find?

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, K FILE SENIOR EDITOR: We basically found this mind that had been very thoroughly corrupted by so many far-right conspiracy theories. There were these, you know, ones like chem trails, Obama's birth certificate, being a Muslim, things we commonly see on the right. But there was also darker stuff. He believes like a lot of things about CNN, that we had fake polls and actually did fake news. Now, as I was going to say from my notes, he also seemed to copy the President's rhetoric at times. So, on February 17th we might remember of last year, the President called the press the enemy of the American people. Now three days later, he actually echoes this language in a threat at Fox News's Chris Wallace. Truth

He did. He did. This is just an example of some of what he said and done and tweeted. This is what we have as far as his social media. Twitter responded saying they have suspended his account. "We are moving forward in two days, one, significantly improving our appeals process to address errors in enforcement decisions and using new technology to detect abusive content without requiring someone to report it first, we know we have to take more of the burden off the shoulders of victims of harassment and threats, we must do better and we will do better."

Do you think they're doing enough?

KACZYNSKI: The fact that there's really not a way to detect threats already -- I mean, like you said in the intro, 240-plus threats. Things like "you're next," "hug your loved ones and your family," tweeting photos of one's family. The fact this couldn't be caught beforehand I think is a little disturbing.

BALDWIN: Andrew Kaczynski, thank you for going through this. I can't imagine what you guys at the K file see.

Coming up next here, Trump is sending 5000 troops to the border as he doubles down on hateful rhetoric calling migrants "bad thugs." We will break down exactly what those troops will be doing. In a tragic mystery unfolding here, two sisters from Saudi Arabia have been found dead, bound together in the Hudson River. Hear who investigators are talking to ahead.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: A political stunt, that's what a number of veterans are calling President Trump's doubling down on deploying more than 5,000 U.S. troops to the border with Mexico, to stop that advancing caravan of undocumented immigrants. Officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations accuse this President of trying to fire up his political base just days from the midterm elections. Just a short time ago Trump's Defense Chief, James Mattis, when asked at the Pentagon took exception to those stunt accusations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MATTIS, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The support we provide to the Secretary of Homeland Security is practical support based on the request from the commissioner of customs and border police. So, we don't do stunts in this department. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, let's go to CNN military and diplomatic analyst retired Rear Admiral John Kirby. Admiral, you heard General Mattis say we don't do stunts, but a lot of critics are calling this one six days before the midterms. How do you see it?

RETIRED REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: I do think that people can be forgiven for thinking that the timing of this is tied to the elections next week and to really revving up President Trump's base. I understand where that criticism is coming from. I think where Secretary Mattis is coming from is the actual process and determining what are the requirements and how we're going to fill the requirements. And he rightly said as you pointed out in that clip, the Department of Homeland security is setting what they need and D.O.D. is filling the shopping cart and making that determination. I think he's talking about the process is being done in a genuine, open way and being done fairly. But I understand the criticism in terms of the timing because this caravan is like a month away. The timing is certainly suspicious.

BALDWIN: When you talk timing, you also have to talk cost. We've yet to get a solid number on how much sending 5,000 troops to the border will cost. Our crew is working on getting that, but looking at previous operations involving troops at the border -- granted this was over a much longer period of time. For example, from '06 to '08, it cost $1.2 billion to have 6,000 troops. My point being whatever it is, it's not cheap.

[15:40:00] KIRBY: It's not going to be cheap, Brooke. It's going to be multiple millions of dollars, and it could run over a billion depending on how many total troops are going and not just how many but what capabilities. If you're sending aviation assets, that costs more money. And then for how long are they going to be there?

I understand where the Pentagon is unable to provide an exact estimate. This is an evolving requirement process. As General O'Shaughnessy said yesterday, he still getting requests that they are trying to work through. I do wish they would be a little bit more forthcoming right now about two things. They have to know what the initial costs are going to be. Number two, I wish they would be much more specific about what units are going. It hard to gauge the sincerity of this operation until the Pentagon is more transparent with exactly what units are going and for what purposes.

BALDWIN: How about the fact that this president is further stirring the pot not only referring to this caravan and the invaders, he refers to people in the caravan as made up of some very bad thugs and gang members. I ask what evidence does he have?

KIRBY: Brooke, I don't know. You and I don't get to see his intelligence assessments. The northern commander in the press briefing yesterday did say on camera they are seeing elements inside this caravan that is of a different, more violent nature than they've seen in the past. We have to trust that they're basing those assessments on intelligence that they are getting. We've seen it even when I was in public office, you do see some ne'er-do-wells and some criminals mixing into these caravans.

BALDWIN: But is that the exception or is that the norm?

KIRBY: It's the exception. By and large without question the vast majority of the people in this caravan are simply people seeking a better life, seeking asylum, seeking refuge from gang violence in their home countries. There's no question about that. You have to understand while the President might like to pit those troops as going after those bad guys, what the troops will be doing are not front-line defense. They'll be support to custom and border agents on the ground. They're not going to be arresting people. They're not going to be involved in law enforcement activities. They're engineers, provide transportation to get border agents to and fro. They're going to provide logistics like tents. It's backup. It's not going to be the front line.

BALDWIN: Admiral John Kirby, good to see you, sir. Thank you. Coming up next, these two sisters have been found, their bodies on the banks of the Hudson River, both of them from Saudi Arabia. The young women had apparently been found bound together. And there's new reporting on something they had just applied for.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: Tragic story out of Indiana. Three children getting on the school bus were killed by a woman driving a pickup truck. A young girl and her twin brothers, 6-year-old twins Xavier and Mason Ingle along with their 9-year-old sister, Olivia, were crossing the street to get to their stop when their uncle is remembering them fondly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELGIN INGLE, UNCLE OF CHILDREN KILLED: All three of them were really shy. But once you get under that shyness, the two boys were a life spark. They were nonstop, happy, go fast, up high boys. Olivia, my niece, she was the kindest girl you'd ever meet. She treated those boys more like a mother than a sister. She was holding their hands when they were hit and it looked like she tried to shield them a little bit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: A fourth child, 11-year-old Maverick Lowe was also hit, was airlifted to a hospital with several broken bones and internal injuries. The driver is out on bond and facing multiple charges with three felony counts of reckless homicide and the misdemeanor for passing a school bus with its arm extended.

And now to New York in a gruesome discovery on the banks of the Hudson River, it's turned into an international investigation. New York police say the bodies of two sisters from Saudi Arabia, ages 16 and 22, were found last week on the upper west side. They were duct taped together at their feet and their waists according to Saudi officials. They were in the states with their brother and now the State Department is involved. Athena Jones is here following this one for us. What -- what happened?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's an unsettling story and it's a real mystery as to what happened to these two sisters. Why were they so far away from home? They had been living in Fairfax, Virginia, 250 miles away. Interesting details are beginning to emerge here.

[15:50:00] The "New York Times" is reporting that their mother received a telephone call from the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington informing her that her daughters had applied for asylum. We have reached out of course to the Saudi and have not got a response yet on that front.

We're talking about, as you said, 16-year-old Tala Farea, and her 22- year-old sister, Rotana Farea. Their bodies were found on the banks of the Hudson on the Manhattan side, not far from here. The bodies themselves had no obvious signs of trauma. The medical examiner is still trying to determine the cause of death. They're waiting for the forensics report on that. But we should mention that Tala, the younger sister, the 16-year-old, had been reported missing back in August. August 24th. So, what's really unclear, what was going on in the two months since August. Now, police detectives here, NYPD, said they made significant progress. Let's listen to what the chief of detectives, Dermot Shea, had to say about where they are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DERMOT SHEA, NYPD, CHIEF OF DETECTIVES: Detectives have been down in Virginia, conducted a number of interviews in Virginia, including members of the immediate family, as well as others. And those interviews are really unraveling in some way a piece of the puzzle of behind the scenes what was going on in the two young ladies' lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Now, interestingly, the New York police are not yet commenting on whether they're treating this as a homicide. They're still investigating. Of course, the Saudi consulate, Saudi embassy and State Department are involved, watching closely this investigation.

BALDWIN: Stay on it for us. Athena, thank you very much.

The blame game and a new fight, both with his own allies. The President hitting speaker Paul Ryan. Hear why, and what he blamed Don McGahn for in their final encounter in the White House.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Less than a week until midterms. Wanted to take a moment for a segment we call mighty millennials, highlighting a generation of political candidates and in Michigan's Congressional district, millennials on both sides of the ticket. Both women are running for the office for the first time. 35-year-old Haylee Stevens, former chief of staff on President Obama's auto task force that helped save GM and Chrysler. And 37-year-old Lena Epstein is Republican businesswoman who co-chaired the Trump campaign in Michigan in 2016. CNN's forecast predicts the most likely outcome is that Stevens will win and flip the district from red to blue. You can check the predictions for your district at CNN.com/forecast.

Already more than 20 million people have cast early ballots in the midterm elections. Many of them will check a box for the record number of women running for office this year. And that was the inspiration for my series, "American Woman in Politics." And I spent the last few months traveling across America, talking to so many of these candidates about why they're running. But I also wanted to focus on the female vote which took me to Birmingham, Alabama, and a woman by the name of Marian Haslem who takes personal offense if you don't vote. Here's why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: What did you tell your daughter about the power of voting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told her, you've got to vote, because I made way for you to vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was made aware at a tender age that my voice, even though it may be a small cry to someone else, that it made a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I owe my kids this, I owe my ancestors this, to say, you know what, you didn't do that in vain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm an American, because I have earned that right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm an American woman, because of determination and perseverance.

GERRI HASLEM: I'm Gerri Haslem, and I'm an American woman because I have integrity.

BALDWIN: Tell me what these pieces of paper are.

MARIAN HASLEM, VOTING RIGHTS ACTIVIST: This is the test that said I was eligible to vote for the next six months.

BALDWIN: This was before the voting rights act of '65. This is dated January 20th, 1964.

MARIAN HASLEM: That's right.

BALDWIN: Was that the first time you were allowed to vote?

MARIAN HASLEM: That's the first time. And this is what I paid to vote. I had to pay a tax. This is a poll tax. I had to pay to vote after I passed the test, because of the color of my skin.

BALDWIN: For 79-year-old Marian Haslem, the fight for voting rights is something she lived through firsthand. You had to take a test because they were trying to keep you from voting.

MARIAN HASLEM: That's right. I'm coming out of a segregated community, a segregated life. That was a time when I would say that I would like to vote, and they would say, you know, gal, you won't vote. That's what I was told by the white man. It was shameful. Voting was not so much as a right for me as a want for me. It was a big deal to be a voter.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

[16:00:00] BALDWIN: The first time Marian voted in a Presidential election was 1964. It's a privilege and a right that this mother made sure to pass along to her children. There's so much of that story. I'm going to get to that in a second. Here's a number for you. In the last Presidential election, 43 percent of eligible voters did not vote. So, for Marian's sake and her entire family, do not be one of them. However which way you want to vote, do not be one of them this time around. And if you want to see more of Marian and her daughters and her back story and so many of these female candidates who will be on the ballot this year, just go to CNN.com/Americanwomaninpolitics. And let me know what you think.