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HALA GORANI TONIGHT

Turkish Prosecutor Says Khashoggi Was Strangled and Dismembered; Potential Breakthrough in Ending Yemen Conflict; Mattis And Pompeo Call for Cease Fire In 30 Days; Families Grieve as Crash Victims Belongings Identified; Venice Flooded as Extreme Weather Hits Italy. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired October 31, 2018 - 13:00   ET

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


[13:00:00] HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani. The Istanbul prosecutor reveals gruesome details about

the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the same day the U.S. makes a move against Saudi Arabia's air campaign in Yemen. Could those two stories be

related? We're live inside Yemen this hour.

Also, promising pings. Investigators could be getting closer to the Lion Air flight data recorder. We'll have that story as well.

He was strangled and then cut up into pieces. This is the accusation made by Istanbul's chief prosecutor regarding the fate of the murdered

journalist Khashoggi, it is the most graphic description released regarding what that team of Saudi agents allegedly did to Khashoggi. The prosecutor

also said the whole thing was clearly premeditated. Jomana Karadsheh has been following this story, she is live outside the Saudi consulate in

Istanbul as we continue to follow this story. What else did the prosecutor reveal today?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN JOURNALIST: Well, Hala, this is the first time we're hearing this kind of detail on the record. Most of what we have been

getting the past few weeks has been this drip feed of leaks from unnamed officials. This is the first time you have the chief prosecutor for

Istanbul who is overseeing the criminal investigation into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi coming out with this statement. They say immediately after

entering the consulate, the building behind me on October 2nd, Khashoggi was killed. He was strangled to death, and his body was dismembered and

destroyed. Really unclear what that means. There are so many questions, Hala, that remains unanswered. At the end of the visit of the chief

prosecutor from Saudi Arabia where Turkish officials were hoping to get answers to some of the key questions from him. Our understanding from a

Turkish official is the Saudis were more interested in finding out what evidence Turkey had rather than real, genuine cooperation. The questions

Turkey is still asking for, where is the body of Jamal Khashoggi and who ordered the killing of the journalist? And they think key to that, Hala,

is the questioning of the 18 individuals who were arrested in Saudi Arabia in connection with the killing of Khashoggi.

GORANI: Indeed. Jomana, how do the Turks know this, that Khashoggi was immediately strangled? I mean, you would either need a source inside the

consulate or some other way of finding this out.

KARADSHEH: Well, Hala, Turkish authorities have not said that on the record. We've had leaks over the past few weeks that have indicated Turkey

has audio recordings of what took place inside the consulate that has never been confirmed by Turkey. We know from a couple of U.S. officials that the

CIA director during her visit here last week when she was getting briefed by the Turkish intelligence and Turkish officials that she listened to that

audio recording. This is something Turkey has not been very straight forward about. That is why they're insisting they want those 18 extradited

so they can question them and get more. Saudi Arabia so far has dismissed this notion of them being extradited saying they're Saudi nationals and

they will be facing justice in Saudi Arabia.

GORANI: Well, we don't even know what's going on with the suspects inside Saudi Arabia, what their status is right now. Thanks very much live from

Istanbul.

So, I was asking the question at the top of the hour, is what happened to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder, his premeditated killing, related in some way

to what the U.S. is doing now in terms of putting pressure on Saudi Arabia with regards to its war in Yemen? It's been called the forgotten war.

It's long been overshadowed by the Syria conflict. It has now surpassed it as the worst humanitarian crisis according to the U.N. the bloody conflict

started four years ago nearly and Saudi Arabia has been fighting Houthi rebels backed by Iran after the rebels overthrew a government they wanted

in place.

[13:05:00] Here's the real-life impact. The war has driven them to the brink. The United Nations says 12 million people are in danger of starving

if the bombs don't stop falling. You see in these images of children near death, skin on bones. After what seems like countless calls for peace

there is potentially a breakthrough. I'm not sure we should call it that. The U.S. Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis, along with Secretary of State Mike

Pompeo, called on all sides to agree to a ceasefire and, interestingly, they've set a deadline for that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Improved accuracy of bombs is still a war. So, we've got to move toward a peace effort here. And we can't say

we're going to do it some time in the future. We need to be doing this in the next 30 days. I believe that the Saudis and the emirates are ready

and, in fact, had the Houthis not walked out we would be on our way there right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: So, blaming the Houthis but still putting pressure on all sides. Sam Kiley has reported extensively on this conflict and joins me now live.

How realistic is it this will lead us to some sort of breakthrough?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, I think it comes at a very interesting time. You alluded at the top of the show was there

any connection between the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in a consulate in Turkey and this geopolitical potential breakthrough. I think the answer is

yes in that it is clear now that the Trump administration believed their relationship with the Saudis is on the verge of toxic. It's certainly

toxic in terms of the relationship at the moment between the Trump administration and Republicans as much as Democrats on the hill. And that

is unlikely to change even after the mid-term elections. - so, in that context this is an opportunity for the Americans to put a bit of distance

between themselves and the Saudis and call on all sides to join in a peace process. A peace process, really, they're demanding get under way. Then

if you look at the belligerence, you have the Houthis who are entrenched in a pretty large area of the country but unable to really move and facing a

humanitarian crisis the U.N. says could claim 12 million lives. Then on the other side, yes, you have the Saudi-led coalition that enjoys air

dominance but it doesn't enjoy dominance on the ground. On the ground it's a very chaotic mishmash of militias, even elements of former Al Qaeda

fighters fighting against the Houthis. None of this is particularly secure and they've been getting quite badly hit and hammered by the Houthis in

small -- relatively small battles lately. So, both sides have an incentive now to agree to a ceasefire.

GORANI: And they're proposing this happened in Sweden. Logistically is it realistic to expect that it could happen within 30 days?

KILEY: Oh, I think it's pretty easy to organize if there's the will. The issue will be what is in it for all the various groups? I've been talking

to people on the coalition side and I don't mean people in terms of Saudi Arabia so much as people on the ground and Yemen. They are feeling the

pain of this war almost as much as they are on the other side. So, I think there is an incentive logistically to getting representatives to go to

Sweden relatively straightforward so long as they don't feel they're being asked to down their weapons before they have any kind of confidence they

won't get slammed for it. The American statement, which is consistent to the U.N. Security Council resolution that called for a ceasefire some

months back is consistent in demanding the Houthis make the first move. I think that's going to be the biggest problem that gets overcast to be

overcome, to get the Houthis to stop their operations before operations are stopped against them, Hala.

GORANI: That might be one of the biggest roadblocks. Sam Kiley, thanks so much, as always. I want to get more on this. Fawaz A. Gerges, professor

at the London School of Economics and the author of "Making the Arab World." the fact that the Americans are putting pressure on the Saudis and

giving them a deadline, that's significant.

FAWAZ A. GERGES, PROFESSOR AT THE LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AND THE AUTHOR OF "MAKING THE ARAB WORLD": Very significant.

GORANI: They haven't done this before?

[13:10:00] GERGES: It's the first time. It's an ultimatum, 30 days to stop bombing urban areas in Yemen. But the context is very important,

Hala. In the past year opposition to the Yemen war has been gathering momentum in the U.S. Congress both in the House and the Senate. In fact,

dozens of senators have made it very clear they want the war to end. It's an ultimatum, 30 days to stop bombing urban areas in Yemen. But the

context is very important, Hala. What really has happened in the past three weeks or so is the killing of Jamal Khashoggi has provided a trigger.

It has reinforced a position to the Yemen war and now within the U.S. establishment. In a way the Trump administration is listening to domestic

opposition as well as to the global opposition.

GORANI: But will the Saudis listen? Do they have a choice, in a sense?

GERGES: I think the understanding in the U.S. is the Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman is under attack, besieged, the United States has

leverage. That's why both the Secretary of States and the defense secretary made it clear. Both a Trump administration and the Saudis have

little choice but to accept a ceasefire. The question on the table is not whether the war itself will come to an end in the next few months. You

have an internal conflict, so you have a war between the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition but also an internal conflict inside Yemen between the

Houthis and the U.N. recognized government of President Hadi.

GORANI: We have all seen images of starving people that are gut wrenching, people who have been starved as a result of military action. What's the

probability they will get some relief?

GERGES: Immediate ceasefire. This carnage has to stop. The war itself, you just said it, the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. You

have 12 million Yemenis on the verge of starvation. We don't know how many. Children. You have cholera as well. That's why the ceasefire, I

think, it could be a game changer this particular ceasefire. The end of the war between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis. There are several

questions. What are the enforcement mechanisms? Secondly, if I were the Houthis who care about the coup against a legitimate government, why should

the Houthis play along with the ceasefire --

GORANI: Exhaustion?

GERGES: Well, given their patron, Iran is coming under tremendous pressure in the next few days. If I were Iran that supports the Houthis, the ones

in charge of the government, why should I play along with the U.N. basically attempting to have a ceasefire? The Houthis now, if a ceasefire

is accepted and most likely it will. They're going to celebrate this as a win for the Houthis themselves.

GORANI: A quick one or a last one on Jamal Khashoggi because when I was asking the question, could those two things be related and I think we

accept that the spotlight that was put on the Saudi leadership as a result of what happened to our colleague Jamal Khashoggi and that consulate has

also brought into starker relief the Yemen tragedy. What do you make of what the prosecutor in Istanbul has said, that they're basically saying he

was killed right away, strangled, dismembered, and the rest of it, and they want to question the 18 Saudis?

GERGES: This is the first time that the chief prosecutor in Turkey has come out and said this is what we think. We think that he was strangled as

soon as he entered the consulate, and we think he was dismembered. The Turks are very upset because the chief Saudi prosecutor who visited

Istanbul, obviously there was no meeting of the minds between the two and no major evidence basically introduced by either the Saudis or the Turks.

So, this is Turkey's way of keeping the story alive and telling the world we do not want the story to disappear. Still, we need to know what kind of

evidence does Turkey have? My take on it, and I'm being cynical, the Turks have an audio tape of the killing and they do not want to reveal their

sources. Obviously, they have listening devices and that's why the Saudi chief prosecutor wanted to know the evidence. He wanted to see whatever

evidence Turkey has and the Turks would not provide the evidence.

GORANI: That's why we had the Apple watch leak that made no sense.

GERGES: I think Turkey obviously had and has listening devices in many consulates and embassies.

[13:15:00] GORANI: A great level of detail there. Certainly, they must have something there to support those theories. Thanks very much, as

always.

Still to come, authorities in Indonesia say they are closing in on clues why a brand-new airliner plunged into the sea. What is holding up the

search?

And parts of Italy, including much of Venice, are now under water with the worst floods in a decade. We'll bring you just amazing images from Italy.

[00:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Authorities in Jakarta may be getting closer to finding out why an Indonesian plane crashed killing all 189 people onboard. As families

grieve for loved ones lost in the waters off Jakarta, investigators say they are now hearing what could be the ping from the plane's black box.

Right now, strong currents are making the search impossible. Ivan Watson is in Jakarta with the latest. I'm sure the grieving families want that

black box to be found but mainly would like the remains of their loved ones pulled out.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's what we're hearing from different relatives in this difficult time. One man who we

saw here identified a shoe of his son in an emotional moment, said he wants to get his son's body back as soon as possible. It is something we're

hearing from other relatives as well. That is what the search and rescue agency that is in charge of the search say is one of their primary

priorities. They are very confident that the head of that agency saying that he's hearing the ping every second from what he believes is the

underwater locator beacon of the flight data recorder. He believes that once you find that, you also will find the bulk of the wreckage of the

plane itself and then hopefully the remains of the victims as well. The depths of the java sea is 30 to 35 meters, and he says that their efforts

were hampered by under water currents but they're hoping to anchor a navy ship, send down a submersible with divers tomorrow during daylight and then

once he says the main fuselage is located they have authorization to bring in a giant crane and scoop that off the ocean bottom and that process might

take 24 to 36 hours before they could bring it in.

GORANI: Are we any closer to finding out what happened here even though I know we don't have the black box?

[13:20:00] WATSON: We've had a lengthy conversation with the deputy head of the national transportation safety committee here who has said they've

essentially ruled out suspicions about the runway and about the weather being contributing factors to Monday's crash. Now the aircraft itself, the

pilot, and the policies of the low budget carrier itself. They say they have interviewed a pilot of the plane who flew on the flight Sunday night

hours before its final doomed flight Monday morning. Pilot, and the policies of the low budget carrier itself. They say they have interviewed

a pilot of the plane who flew on the flight Sunday night hours before its final doomed flight Monday morning. This was a flight from Bali to Jakarta

during which three passengers have told CNN that the plane made a suggest plunge before righting itself in the first ten minutes of the flight. And

when you look at flight data published by flight radar 24 which monitors commercial flights around the world, it indicates there was a remarkable

plunge of about 1,000 feet in 30 seconds in the beginning stages of that flight. Flight experts are telling us, that is suspicious, and the NTSB

here says they got reports that some instruments were malfunctioning Sunday night. Why then did the plane fly again Monday morning and then crash?

Could the malfunctioning instrument have something to do with the subsequent crash? That's something they're investigating. We don't have a

concrete answer to that just yet.

GORANI: Ivan Watson in Jakarta, thanks so much. The Saudi consulate general, consul general in New York says the two sisters found on the banks

of the Hudson River have been identified as citizens of Saudi Arabia. Police say the bodies of 16-year-old tala and her sister were found last

week. There are details extremely troubling, that they were tied together at their feet and at their waist with duct tape. I'm joined now by Athena

Jones from New York. They were found, their bodies washed up on to one of the river banks tied together, two sisters. What more do we know?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Hala. This is a disturbing and bizarre mystery.

Police did put out photographs of the two sisters which I believe we have. We are getting details that are seeping out in this investigation. The

real question is, there you see it. That is her younger sister bound along the banks of the Hudson River not far from here last Wednesday afternoon

after police responded to a 911 call. The question is what were they doing so far away from home? They had been living in Fairfax, Virginia. Now we

know, as you mentioned, they're Saudi citizens and that the younger sister had been reported missing and was last seen in August, August 24th. The

Saudi consulate here in New York is saying the sisters were students who were accompanying their brother who was in Washington, and "The New York

Times" is reporting that their mother received a call informing her daughters had applied for asylum.

Another odd detail. The detectives are making significant progress. Several are down in Virginia and have been interviewing family members to

get to the bottom of what they were doing in New York and where they've been since august 24th. They noted that she may be with her older sister.

So much is unknown here. Police are still waiting for the medical examiner to determine the cause of death and won't say whether they're treating this

as a homicide. Hala?

GORANI: That's been the question since they were discovered, that they were bound together and there were theories it was a suicide pact. Others

said it makes no sense it should happen this way. Are the police any closer to determining at least that, if someone else was involved in their

deaths?

[14:25:00] JONES: If so, they haven't told us yet. They're getting closer to putting together the pieces of the puzzle as to what the sisters were up

to and how they ended here in New York. The Saudi consulate is monitoring this along with the embassy and the State Department. They have appointed

a lawyer to follow this case closely. But we really have more questions than answers. They've identified the two young women, but a lot else is

still unknown, Hala.

GORANI: Thank you very much, Athena Jones, discussing the tragic deaths of two sisters, Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22.

Now to Italy. There have been some extremely violent storms, even small tornadoes, hurricane force winds. They have lashed the country, at least

11 people killed. And Venice is under water pretty much after ferocious winds drove the high tide to flood historic areas with the highest water

levels recorded in more than a decade. That is St. Marks Square. Here is Delia Gallagher.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN ROME CORRESPONDENT: Torrential rains and high tides have pounded Italy this week killing a number of people and flooding the

canal city of Venice. The city now paralyzed after water levels rose more than 1.5 meters. Even the elevated sidewalks used throughout the year are

flooded. Three-quarters of the city now under water. To the south the impact of the storms was also severe. In the resort town, high winds

destroyed the flood walls as floodwaters overturned yachts. But in Venice where the flooding is an annual occurrence, a marathon still went ahead as

planned. Runners managed to navigate their way to the finish line. But in St. Marks Square, the damage is historic. The square under water and the

public banned from this area. The basilica flooded for only the fifth time in its 1,000-year history. The bronze doors and marbled columns drenched

and damaged by the salt water. The official in charge told Italian state tv in a single day the basilica aged 20 years. Venice has sought for

decades to install a flood barrier program to protect the city and its treasures. Most of the project is still on the drawing boards and is an

object of public scorn because of corruption and cost overruns now totaling billions of dollars. In the meantime, Italian officials are responding to

the thousands of emergency calls throughout the country as they try to limit further damage and prevent any more casualties. Delia Gallagher,

CNN, Rome.

GORANI: Still to come, it's been labelled the world's worst humanitarian crisis, but could there be an opportunity to end the bloodshed in Yemen

with a ceasefire, one that actually holds? We'll take you to the capital to discuss that live next. And then U.S. President Donald Trump is making

a final push to rev up Republicans and his base before next week's midterm elections. We'll tell you about his all-out campaign blitz.

[13:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Let's get back to the war in Yemen. Earlier we told you of a significant development in the effort to end the three-year-plus bloody

conflict. The United States is putting pressure on the actor Saudi Arabia, telling them to come up with a ceasefire agreement within 30 days. I want

to take you to Yemen now for a reaction. Hakim Almasmari is the editor in chief of the Yemen Post and he's in Sana'a live via skype.

Hakim, thanks for being with us. Is this realistic? Is there appetite on the ground for a ceasefire one that could hold?

HAKIM ALMASMARI, EDITOR IN CHIEF, YEMEN POST: Well, Hala, it sounds good on paper and also on T.V. But it's a very complicated process. This war

has been ongoing for the last three and a half plus years. And the last peace talks that took place on Yemen was almost two years ago. So it's

easier said than done.

I've talked about with the city Houthi official involved in the negotiations and he was not optimistic about the U.S. calls saying that his

calls have been repeated many times over the past two years and in all occasions they were fruitless.

So they are taking it positively but also -- before we had known that it's not serious. They are taking the U.N.'s comments seriously, but making a

deadline to end this war is unrealistic, especially after all these complications and the divisions within the country and those clash inside

Yemen.

GORANI: So you think people who think this is significant, that the U.S. is putting pressure, that it's giving a deadline, that they're wrong, that,

in fact, there is no real cause for optimism here?

ALMASMARI: There is a slight cause but not major. Again, the last talks on Yemen were two years ago. So since then, the entire country's economy

has been devastated and bankrupted, collapsed, et cetera. So these calls are positive. But on the ground when it comes to reality, it's easier said

than done.

The complications that are still on the table are great. The Houthis also me an hour ago that they don't want to be tricked whereas the U.S. removes

its umbrella on the war while keeping Yemenis fighting each other and making it seem as if it's a civil war rather than Saudi-led coalition of --

supported by the west, et cetera.

GORANI: So what is the biggest challenge here? What is the biggest that needs to be overcome for this to become more realistic?

ALMASMARI: First of all, more media presence. Because it's -- the forgotten war mainly because of the airport being closed for the last two

and a half years. So there's no coverage on this case and that's why it's being ignored, some way or the other.

But the real complications in the Yemen war are -- each side right now control certain territories. How will they bring each side united army?

Now, each side has its own army. The Houthis have their own central bank. Rather Saudi allies have their own central bank. Even now the territories,

the Houthis control massive areas of land while the Saudi coalitions are the same.

So it's not easy. Especially now we have tens of thousands of new recruits militarily. The Houthis have their own intelligence apparatus. Same thing

goes -- how do you merge them? Will this be a --

GORANI: But I mean beyond merging and having a unified central bank, right now, there is such an emergency. You just need a ceasefire even if it's --

if it's just a few weeks to give people some time to breathe. The situation is so dire. Is that too unrealistic, just -- at least just the

ceasefire? I mean, forget trying to come together as a unified country just yet.

ALMASMARI: Exactly, Hala. A ceasefire is possible. That's one of the things that makes sense. A big, big difference between ending the Yemeni

war or reaching a ceasefire agreement. There could be a very possible to have a ceasefire agreement, at least to lessen the burden that's being held

by millions of Yemenis who are paying the price with this deadly war.

So a ceasefire is possible and the Houthis are also optimistic that the ceasefire is possible, and they are saying that it's not in our hand. It's

on the Saudi allies hand, they are the ones who are attacking the country and not us. So that's possible and that's hopeful. Hoping that it could

happen soon.

GORANI: Let us hope for that. And hopefully someone will go first. I think that's going to be one of the challenges as well.

Hakim Almasmari, thank you so much. We really appreciate having you on the program. Hakim Almasmari of the Yemen Post, live from Sana'a.

From a somber visit to console victims of a synagogue, a massacre to an all-outs flashy campaign blitz. The American president, Donald Trump is

making a hard turn today as he begins a six-day sweep of key states to rally Republican voters.

Just hours from now, he's kicking off the first of 11 rallies on his schedule before next week's midterms. He's trying to fire up his base, big

contrast to his role yesterday during his relatively speaking understated trip to Pittsburgh. The city's mayor and others had asked him to stay away

while they focused on funerals and grieving families.

[13:35:12] But sources tell CNN the president wanted to keep his campaign schedule and was itching to hit the trail.

Well, Mr. Trump himself is not on the ballot next Tuesday but his message certainly is, as voters decide between Congressional candidates who support

or oppose his agenda.

Let's bring in CNN Sarah Westwood at the White House. We're also joined by CNN political analyst, Molly Ball. She's a national political

correspondent for Time Magazine. Thanks very much.

So, Molly, is this essentially a referendum on Donald Trump in six days' time?

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it is. I mean, the president has certainly positioned it that way. He has said so in so many words. Of

course, I think both parties in Congress would rather it not be that. The Republicans in Congress have been trying to get the message across to

voters that the Republican majority is about more than the president particularly since the president is overall unpopular and unpopular in a

lot of swing districts. They'd certainly like to convince voters that something else was at stake.

And on the democratic side, you have Democratic candidates trying to convince voters that they too have a positive agenda, a message that isn't

just about being against and about economic issues as well.

But when you go to these swing districts and swing states and you talk to voters, on the top of their minds often is Donald Trump. Because he so

dominates the news cycle and because he himself has so positioned himself at the center of our politics.

GORANI: And, Sarah Westwood in Pittsburgh, there were some elected officials even from his own party who did not want to appear alongside him

as he paid his respects to the victims of the synagogue massacre. What can he bring to the table as he campaigns in 11 different states just in the

next six days? What is he hoping to achieve where he's actually traveling?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, President Trump is focused increasingly on immigration, on the caravan of Central American migrants

heading to the U.S. border and over the past few days, even on ending birthright citizenship. That's sort of a lot of contentious issues and

makes his rhetoric right now an ill fit for this sensitive national moment.

But if you look at what those eight states on his campaign schedule -- what kind of races are in those states, those are statewide races. Those are

states where President Trump was elected in 2016 overwhelmingly. Montana, for instance, where Democratic senator, Jon Tester is considered

vulnerable.

Florida, for example, a state that President Trump won, West Virginia. And look at where he's not going heading into Election Day. He won't be seen

in Arizona even though there is a Republican candidate who is struggling in recent polls to hold on to a GOP Senate seat. He won't be going to Nevada

where Senator Dean Heller has been trailing in polls and is considered vulnerable.

They're keeping President Trump out of states where, for example, in Nevada, he didn't win in 2016 where this kind of divisive rhetoric wouldn't

be a help to struggling Republican candidates and they're keeping his focus on states where his popularity is still high and this kind of divisive

rhetoric could turn out Republican voters.

GORANI: And, Molly, of course bringing up this migrant caravan that's still basically almost 1,000 miles away from the southern border, the

birthright question which is a constitutional right, it wouldn't something he could change with an executive order, all of that is designed to

energize his base. Is it working?

BALL: That is the million dollar question as we go into next Tuesday. And that is really what this midterm election is going to test. It is going to

test whether President Trump is popular enough among his base voters to get them to go out and vote in an election where he is not on the ballot and it

is going to test whether this issue of immigration which he firmly believes was key to his success in 2016, whether that is really what moved voters to

his side and what will still move voters to his side.

There's a lot of evidence to suggest that immigration is not on the top of voter's minds, even Republican base voters. And to try to gin up, you

know, people's fears around this topic, may or may not work. It is not, at all, clear that that is the issue that won him the 2016 election and where

obviously there were a lot of moving parts and he didn't win the popular vote.

So that's one of the really interesting things about this midterm is to see whether that immigration focus message, which is so much about his themes

of nationalism and national identity, whether his instinct is correct that that really is what revs up the voters on the right side of the spectrum.

GORANI: Well, we'll know soon enough. Thanks to both of you. Pleasure having you on. Molly Ball and Sarah Westwood.

A major Trump strategy blame the media -- I should say attack the media. The president is almost constantly and tweeting about fake news.

Christiane Amanpour spoke to comedian Jon Stewart about that very question.

Now, his answer was really fascinating. He said he thinks journalists are basically taking the bait. They're falling into the Trump trap.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[13:40:08] JON STEWART, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: I think the journalists have taken it personally. They're personally wounded and offended by this man.

He baits them and they dive in. And what he's done well, I thought, is appeal to their own narcissism, to their own ego. Because what he says is

these -- and the journalists stand up and say, we are noble, we are honorable, how dare you, sir? And they take it personally and now he's

changed the conversation to not that his policies are silly or not working or any of those other things. It's all about the fight. He's able to tune

out everything else and get people just focused on the fight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Brian Stelter, our chief media correspondent joins me now. Our journalists taking the bait, is this about their narcissism that they

become interlock in those, that's they're part of the story so they can't help but cover the attacks by the president on the press?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, not all the time. But I think Jon Stewart does have a really important point. Others have made

this as well. But Stewart, as a comedian, he's able to see this really vividly and I think he expressed it so well in that sound bite, that

sometimes Trump does play on journalists' narcissism or maybe in other times insecurities. And by attacking the media and trying to make the

media the story and the content of the media the story, he diverts attention from his own controversies and scandals.

I think said as recline of Vox said this, some orderly yesterday, he said, the media doesn't want to be the opposition party. The media just wants to

report on Trump. But when Trump attacks the media, then the media responds, reporters respond, they fact check, they point out his lies.

That allows Trump to turn around and say, hey, look, I was right. You are the opposition. So it's a vicious cycle where scrutiny of Trump, then he

says, proves his point about the press.

GORANI: So we were in our editorial meeting yesterday or a couple of days ago and we were talking about everything Trump related from the migrant

caravan to the birthright question. And then there was a sound bite by Sarah Sanders, once again, for the umpteenth time attacking CNN.

And I thought, yes, let's cover it but let's just put it lower in the program because this is this endless circular discussion. It just never

ends. It's a -- it's a he said/she said like a couple that just needs to breakup finally, you know.

And in the beginning you have these big policy proposals or discussions. Let's do that up top. I mean, it is a discussion we're having every single

day in our editorial meetings across this network and across the media.

STELTER: Yes. And that is reflective of what's happening in other newsrooms as well. Discussions about how to play up Trump's tweets, when

to ignore his tweets, how much attention to give Sarah Sanders attacks. When the White House says something, yes, it is news, but it's not always

the top story.

So I agree with the point you're making about that. We need to recognize the strategy behind this, the tactic is to delegitimize the media in order

to take away objective independent sources of information. That's a problem. But honestly at this point, Hala --

GORANI: But why do you that? What do you do? Do you ignore the attacks? Do you just ignore them and then just focus on covering policy and that's

it?

STELTER: I think we fact check and then move on. We fact check, tell people why it matters and then move on. We don't take it -- we try, I

think, not to take it personally. And frankly, that is hard sometimes. I was at one of Trump's rallies on Friday last week. When he gets the crowd

booing at you, it does provoke a reaction. But it's our job to focus on the crowd and not ourselves, and to know that he's doing this out of

desperation, not out of strength. His attack on the media message, it's a midterm strategy. Yes.

GORANI: I will say it is -- it is easy for people to criticize how we cover this administration when they're on the sidelines and we're having to

do it every day.

Quick last one. Because there's been criticism of the media and journalists for quoting Donald Trump without fact checking some of his

misleading statements. For instance, The AP deleted a tweet, the Associated Press. This is what they put up in the end. We've deleted a

tweet about President Trump's claim that the U.S. is the only country that grants birthright citizenship because it failed to note that his statement

was incorrect.

This is -- I'm finding that this is happening more and more often.

STELTER: Yes, the audience needs us and wants us to be more than stenographers. We should not just be repeating the president's words when

he says things that are flagrantly false.

Ad in the case about birthright citizenship, he made a number of statements that were just flagrantly false. We've got to, every day, make sure that

we're not just repeating his words but instead, explaining what he's saying is right or wrong.

Unlike the president, we are not elected officials, so we do not have the responsibility he has, but we do have to make sure we get things right and

explain when he's not getting it right. It's the test of our time though. We've never seen a leader of the free world lie as often as this president

lies. I hope we never do it again. But until -- for now, though, it's a constant daily challenge.

[13:45:55] GORANI: All right. Brian Stelter, thanks so much. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Asia Bibi was sentenced to die. The Christian woman was on death row in Pakistan convicted of making derogatory remarks about the prophet

Muhammad.

But today, a landmark ruling by the country's Supreme Court gave her back her future. Ann Coren has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Eight years languishing in a jail cell, almost a decade on death row. In one single verdict, Pakistan's

Supreme Court wiped away all of Asia Bibi's alleged sins.

A Christian woman from a small village in Pakistan's agricultural hot land of Punjab. Asia Bibi was accused of blasphemy by two Muslim women in a

dispute over water. A deathly charge which would lead to a snowball of consequences that would grip Pakistan. The case divided the country and

sparked international outrage.

In 2009, at a press conference soon after her arrest, Asia said she was innocent.

ASIA BIBI, SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR BLASPHEMY (through translator): What happened to me was unjust. My accusers are against me. I don't know what

they have against me. They've always had enmity against us.

COREN: A young mother of two little girls and five stepchildren, Asia's case became a rallying cry against the injustices of Pakistan's stringent

blasphemy laws where any criticism of the prophet Muhammad is punishable by death.

In 2011, Punjab's outspoken governor, Salmaan Taseer, was shot dead by his bodyguard for speaking out on her behalf.

The pope weighed in early this year calling for Asia's release.

And on Wednesday, after three weeks of deliberation over Asia's appeal against her death sentence, Pakistan's Supreme Court announced her

acquittal.

GHULAM MUSTAFA CHAUDHRY, LAWYER FOR THE PROSECUTION (through translator): The verdict is that the earlier decision of the Lahore High Court and that

of the trial court, has been overturned and Asia Masi (ph) has been acquitted.

COREN: While human rights groups celebrated the ruling, thousands have now taken to the streets in protest of the acquittal calling it a betrayal of

the fundamentals of Islam.

Five rank clerics from the far right to (INAUDIBLE) party have shut down traffic in the capital and all other major cities calling for Asia's death,

threatening the judiciary and the government.

As security ramps up outside the jail where Asia still resides, rage spills out across Pakistan's streets and questions swirl as to how free Asia

really can be in a country of her birth.

Ann Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: In just a few hours' time, the U.K. will join the likes of Australia, Germany, and Ireland in legalizing medical marijuana.

Erin McLaughlin spoke with a family who has been desperately awaiting the treatment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHBOOB HANIFA, FATHER OF EPILEPTIC BOY: One, two, three. Abe (ph) is the light in our house and basically, you know, if Abe is happy, we are happy.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 5-year-old Abe was born partially blind. He suffers from cystic fibrosis and epilepsy. The

frequent and uncontrollable seizures worry his family most.

[13:50:08] HANIFA: The first time when we got seizures, we were so scared and we didn't know what was happening.

MCLAUGHLIN: His parents believed medical marijuana may help.

HANIFA: And he's in about three medications of the minute to keep the seizures down. The amount of medication he takes for a small baby like

this is a lot. And I want to try to --

MCLAUGHLIN: You want to try something else? You want to try medical marijuana?

HANIFA: Yes, because there's a lot of success stories. You know, I don't -- and there's a lot of people -- a lot of countries that have legalized

it. And I need to have a right to try to my son.

DR. MIKE BARNES, NEUROLOGIST: We have children with several hundred seizures a week and they can go down to very, very few seizures a week on

some cases, even stop the seizures altogether. At the same time it was stopping or certainly reducing the dose of their existing anticonvulsants.

MCLAUGHLIN: Abe, may now get that chance. As of November 1st, doctors in the U.K. can legally prescribe cannabis products. The full plant will be

made available for medicinal use. British home secretary Sajid Javid released a statement saying having been moved by heartbreaking cases

involving sick children, it was important to me that we took swift action to help those who can benefit from medicinal cannabis.

Which is vital news for Carly Jayne Barton. This is her daily routine. She admits to skirting the law for years.

CARLY JAYNE BARTON, DIRECTOR, UNITED PATIENTS ALLIANCE: So this is THC balm.

MCLAUGHLIN: Barton suffers from fibromyalgia, an agonizing condition in which the central nervous system misfires pain signals around the body.

BARTON: Morphine for pain, fentanyl for pain.

MCLAUGHLIN: For doctors first prescribed opioid painkillers.

BARTON: I have morphine. It's not working. OK. I have fentanyl. Fentanyl is not working, OK. I have more fentanyl, have more fentanyl,

have more fentanyl.

MCLAUGHLIN: Desperate for a solution, she tried cannabis and it worked.

BARTON: All of that is gone. With this. Just this one medicine. This is the reason I can get out of bed. This is the reason I can walk my dogs, go

see my friends, run a business.

BARNES: There are some people like Carly who can actually stop all the opioids they were on and replace them with cannabis which is much, much

safer. You don't die from a cannabis overdose.

MCLAUGHLIN: The global domino effect of cannabis legislation has landed in Britain. For those like Carly and Abe, it gives hope.

Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: We'll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: All this week CNN is exploring some of the most iconic traditions in India. Tonight, we take a look at an ancient dance form that is uniting

different cultures. Amara walker has that.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: A barrage of strikes on the Tabla, the whine of the harmonium, the full-throated cry of the singers.

This is a rehearsal of Kathak. One of the eight major forms of Indian classical dance. Scholars say the dance first emerged in 400 BCE in

northern India as a way for traveling bards to transmit Hindu epics. It was then further developed within the Mughal courts between the 16th and

19th centuries.

Today, it's the only classical dance with links to both Hindu and Muslim cultures.

MANJARI CHATURVEDI, SUFI KATHAK DANCER: Kathak is a language. So you learn the alphabet, the words, you learn where to put the right comma.

That is exactly what the classical dance forms are. They're grammar. So I learned the grammar of classical Indian dance then reinvented to tell a

different story.

[13:55:10] WALKER: The word Kathak itself is a sad script for storytelling. And the story that Manjari Chaturvedi wants to tell through

her work is about Sophism, a mystical branch of Islam with a history of more than 1,000 years in India.

CHATURVEDI: You're in a complete state of meditation because you're mindless. The only difficult part for me as a dancer, during a

performance, is that I have to get my mind back to thinking that I'm on stage and have to finish it. So there's a turn which the universe is

experiencing. So if we turn ourselves, then we are at one with the universe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Thank you for watching. I'm Hala Gorani. I'll see you the same time, same place tomorrow. Remember, we're a little bit earlier at 6:00

p.m. Central European this week. Next week, we're back at 8:00 p.m. Central European time. "AMANPOUR" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END