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Khashoggi's Body Still Missing; Pompeo's Mideast Speech; Government Shutdown Enters Day 20; Trump Touts Wall in Texas; Trump Talks Before Leaving for Texas. Aired 9:30-10a
Aired January 10, 2019 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:30:00] NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: He made a very, very big point of saying and he was very, very precise in this, that he looked to the crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, to hold all of those -- he was very precise, all of those who were responsible, hold them all to account. That he wanted a fully accounting. And what we know from State Department officials in the past week or so is their assessment of the Saudi trial of people that the Saudis accused of killing Khashoggi is falling short of their expectations. So I think we're going to be able to read a significant amount into what and how Pompeo addresses this issue in Saudi Arabia now. But the latest video that we're getting from the Turkish about his killing raises questions about just how much people like Pompeo and others are pushing for answers.
ROBERTSON (voice over): It is 100 days since these fateful steps led Jamal Khashoggi to his brutal death inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, yet his body is still missing. Saudi Arabia admits its operative killed him but refuse to help find his remains, blaming unnamed local collaborators for disposing of his body.
But what is now clear, Khashoggi's murder culminated in his dismemberment. Turkish officials have searched forests, remote farms, city car parks, garbage dumps, the consulate where he was killed, and the nearby consul general's residence but were refused thorough access to the well on the property.
The most recent clue in the search, this video, made public last week by pro-government Turkish government newspaper Saba (ph) appears to show heavy bags carried into the building. On the afternoon of October 2nd, less than two hours after Khashoggi entered the consulate, several vehicles left, arriving minutes later at the consul general's residence. That's where the latest video comes into play.
Five heavy wheeled cases are rushed inside the consul general's house, quickly followed by a man carrying two awkward, large plastic bin bags. According to the Saba (ph) journalists, their Turkish sources believe Khashoggi's dismembered body was inside those cases and bags, something CNN cannot independently confirm.
ROBERTSON (on camera): It begs this question -- earlier, in their investigation, Turkish officials wanted access to the well, saying that finding Khashoggi's body was their greatest priority. But more recently they've been less vocal. Do they believe Khashoggi's remains were taken somewhere else or have they decided to dial back criticism of Saudi Arabia?
ROBERTSON (voice over): Last week, Saudi authorities put on trial 11 people they accused in Khashoggi's murder, calling for the death penalty for five of them. But they insist they need more evidence from Turkey and have rejected Turkey's demand that the suspects are extradited. U.S. officials say the trial has not reached the threshold of credibility and accountability they expect. But President Trump has insisted he doesn't want to punish Saudi Arabia. In life, Jamal Khashoggi was much more than an internationally
respected journalist. He was a beloved father and doting grandfather. But a hundred days after his death, he has become a pawn in a complex power game.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That was Nic Robertson reporting, who has done exceptional work on this the whole time.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: I mean that video is sickening, you know?
HARLOW: It is. We'll stay on this, of course.
Let's go to Clarissa Ward, our colleague who is in northern Syria, for more reaction, Clarissa, this morning to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's speech.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, I think the first thing everybody noticed was that this was a strong rebuke of President Obama's famous speech in Cairo. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying the day of America being ashamed are over. America will now have a reinvigorated role in the Middle East.
And he went on to sketch out -- or attempted to sketch out what the sort of defining tenets of that role would be. He said essentially the mission is to defeat ISIS, to curb or contain or oppose Iran and to strengthen alliances. But given where we are here in northern Syria, where President Trump has ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops, we're spending time with Kurdish forces who have been engaged against ISIS in a fight against ISIS here. And there's a very real concern on the ground that if U.S. troops withdrawal, or rather when they withdrawal, that this area of the country will largely be handed over to the regime of Bashar al Assad. And alongside the regime of Bashar al Assad, of course, you have Iran and Iranian-backed forces that, of course, the fight against ISIS may potentially -- may potentially recede facing (ph) some kind of a resurgence of ISIS forces. And when it comes to the point of, you know, renewing alliances, the Kurds here on the ground say they feel betrayed by the U.S. decision to withdraw.
[09:35:22] So an apparent conflict there, Poppy, between what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is laying out as the U.S.' new integrated role in the Middle East and what allies like the Kurds and the Syrian people who have suffered so much are seeing here on the ground.
SCIUTTO: Yes, and ask the Kurdish allies whether they think that alliance has been strengthened.
SCIUTTO: Clarissa Ward, thanks very much.
HARLOW: Thank you.
Up next, one of the newest -- one of the members of the freshman class in Congress on pressures that she faces with the government shutdown. Has she answered her constituents, ahead.
[09:40:12] SCIUTTO: Frustration is building among freshman Democratic lawmakers as the shutdown now enters day 20. According to a report in "Politico," some members were, quote, freaking out at a member held over the weekend.
HARLOW: Do they support their party's leadership in negotiating all of this as almost a million federal workers tomorrow will not get their paycheck.
Joining us now is freshman Democratic Congressman Debbie Mucarsel- Powell of Florida. She won a close election defeating the Republican incumbent Carlos Curbelo there by just over 4,000 votes out of about 235,000.
REP. DEBBIE MUCARSEL-POWELL (D), FLORIDA: Thank you very much.
HARLOW: Welcome -- welcome to the big show, or shutdown, shall I say?
MUCARSEL-POWELL: Yes. Yes.
HARLOW: We're really interested in some comments from your fellow freshman Democrat, Abigail Spanberger, who like you represents a district Trump won, had a close race there. She's in Virginia, former CIA employee. And she expressed some concern in this "Politico" piece about what's going on in the Democratic side of negotiations. Quote, if I'm getting comments and contact from my constituents expressing concern that Democrats are not prioritizing security, then I think we can do better.
Is she right?
MUCARSEL-POWELL: Well, I can't really speak on behalf of Abigail, but I can tell you that, yes, it is extremely frustrating to start our tenure on January 3rd with a government shutdown. I want to remind everyone that we came in and we were sworn in under a government shutdown. Republican majority House of Representatives, Republican majority Senate and this administration were not able to ever fund a wall or do anything as it relates to what Trump right now -- President Trump is requesting.
So what we did on day one -- and I have to tell you, I was very proud to do that -- we were voting on the floor. We got sworn in and we were on the floor until about 10:00 p.m. because our focus was to re-open the government.
So I believe that all of us agree -- the freshman class, the Democrats and, of course, the majority of the American people, that we have to address border security. We have done that. But the problem here is, the way that I'm looking at this is that we cannot rule or govern under the personal whim of this administration. It's very dangerous to do that. And that is why we have separated the appropriations bill from the homeland security so that we can have a healthy debate after that.
SCIUTTO: But the fact is Democratic leadership is digging its heels in just as much as the president is.
SCIUTTO: As Nancy Pelosi said, she won't even give a dollar to the border when in votes passed Democrats have supported legislation that gave billions of dollars to the wall here.
I wonder if you're more than frustrated? If you're worried that this damage is a new Democratic majority that was voted in, in part to get things done. It's an ambitious agenda, but it's not happening.
MUCARSEL-POWELL: Absolutely not. I am not frustrated with my caucus. I am extremely frustrated with the Republican Senate. I have actually led a letter asking my two senators in Florida to take on this bill that was unanimously passed in December. This is a bipartisan bill. We need to open the government.
We have, right now, 13,000 Floridians that are suffering because they're not receiving their paychecks. And if you want to talk about national security, I can tell you something, we have the Coast Guard that is based right now in Islamorada, in my district. And they're not able to do their duty of protecting our coast because they're not receiving their paychecks because they're unable to do their job.
HARLOW: No, they -- they even have a letter -- I mean they even posted -- there was a letter that was posted on their website and then taken down about other ways they can make money, like having a garage sale, like selling unwanted larger ticket items.
MUCARSEL-POWELL: You know, and these --
HARLOW: I mean they -- they shouldn't have to be doing this. But we -- just -- I want to get your answer on this because you just told Jim absolutely not. Why should the Republicans give anything if you don't think the Democrats should give anything?
MUCARSEL-POWELL: Because -- no, no, no, because --
HARLOW: I don't -- I don't understand that. MUCARSEL-POWELL: Because let me tell you something, because we've
asked those questions, right? We have those conversations when we're all together in caucus. And I can tell you that we -- the homeland security bill includes billions of dollars for border security. What we cannot do is fund something that does not make sense. And you can ask Abigail about this. She has a lot of experience with, you know, dealing with some of these issues and the wall doesn't work. You can build tunnels. You can have ladders. We've talked to border patrols. And the problem is that if we're giving $5 billion to something that is going to be ineffective, it's wasteful spending. And that is why we have to be extremely careful that we do the things that is -- that are going to be right for the American people because this is a long term problem that we need to discuss. This is not something that you give $5 billion -- we're talking about $5 billion. We were elected to reduce health care costs, to tackle the issues that are most important. This is now becoming an issue of theater by this president.
[09:45:02] SCIUTTO: Final question, just quickly here, there's been talk, even Republicans pushing an idea of some sort of exchange, including protection for dreamers.
SCIUTTO: Have your Republican colleagues offered anything credible to you about protection for dreamers in exchange for wall funding?
MUCARSEL-POWELL: I haven't seen anything that I can tell you or speak about. But I can -- I can definitely tell you that it's a priority for us in the caucus to find a solution, but it's not going to be in exchange for funding for an ineffective wall.
And I have spoken to dreamers that have asked me not to do this. And the majority of the people living in my district have asked me to stay strong and to, you know, do what's right for the American people.
SCIUTTO: Congresswoman Mucarsel-Powell, thanks very much for taking the time.
MUCARSEL-POWELL: Thank you so much for having me.
HARLOW: Thank you. Good luck.
SCIUTTO: President Trump, well, he, today, is headed to Texas to make the case again for his border wall, but what do the people who live down there at the border, right on the front lines as it were, what do they think about it? We're going to give you some surprises, next.
[09:50:28] SCIUTTO: Right now as President Trump makes his way to the southern border, people actually living there say they have mixed feelings about whether a wall is really necessary. In fact, some question if there is a crisis at all as the president has claimed.
HARLOW: Our correspondent Polo Sandoval is in McAllen, Texas, with more. That's where the president's going. What are we learning?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and, Poppy, the president will be visiting a fairly unique part of Texas. This part of the border is a very Democratic region in a largely red state. So, as you can imagine, there are a lot of people here, in McAllen, Texas, who will see the president today who don't necessarily see eye to eye with the commander in chief when it comes to his immigration policies, specifically the construction of that border barrier some seven miles south of here.
SANDOVAL (voice over): In the south Texas city of McAllen, most people we talked to disagree with the president about his proposed border barrier. Ahead of Trump's arrival, the mayor feels like most do in this Democratic stronghold, that the wall is not the answer to the country's immigration problem. He also says the real crisis is not happening here.
MAYOR JIM DARLING, MCALLEN, TEXAS: The crisis over -- is really over for them when they hit the border and they can seek asylum. The crisis for them in their home country and the journey across Mexico is over.
SANDOVAL: Since 2014, Mayor Jim Darling's McAllen has become the epicenter of the border debate. It's where the tens of thousands of undocumented families, apprehended in the region by border patrol, are released with future immigration court dates. After their release, the legal asylum seekers make their way into Sister Norma Pimentel's Humanitarian Respite Center.
SISTER NORMA PIMENTEL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY: The crisis is a crisis that we create when we don't facilitate a safe passage for families who are innocent, children, moms, infants.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, sister, how are you?
PIMENTEL: Hi there. (INAUDIBLE) thank you.
SANDOVAL: As an opponent of Trump's border barrier, she's among the majority in this predominantly Democratic region of a red state. But upriver from McAllen, Ruperto Escobar supports not only building Trump's wall, but letting it cut through his 600 acre ranch.
RUPERTO ESCOBAR, SUPPORTS BUILDING BORDER WALL: In my opinion, nothing has changed, other than him, and I'm talking about the president, not being able to find a way to get it done.
SANDOVAL: For Escobar, a Trump supporter, it's about securing the rugged south Texas ranch land that's been in his family since 1767. He says he's seen the influx of people and drugs crossing the border illegally first-hand.
ESCOBAR: One night two men -- two armed men stood right in front of that gate right -- the last gate we passed by and they stopped my men from coming to shut down the pump. They told them, we're going to shut the pump down. Leave it. We need this place. This place is ours tonight. What were they going to do with it if they were armed like that? They were passing -- they were going to smuggle drugs, or humans. I have no idea. I didn't come to check. It's not my part. It's my government's duty to secure my border.
SANDOVAL: Escobar believes the wall is a solution, but that opinion isn't a popular one. The mayor of McAllen says, given the vast majority of people coming across the border who are legally seeking asylum, there is no simple solution.
DARLING: We all agree national security is important, border security is important. We live on the border. We think it is important. But living on the border, you realize there's different ways of accomplishing that.
SANDOVAL: So, a very quick update on what we can expect today.
The president lands here in a few hours. He will meet with local representatives, law enforcement, that Catholic nun, who you just heard from. And then, we are told, the president will also visit the banks of the Rio Grande according to what we are hearing. And, of course, that would be the first time that we see a U.S. president here on the ground for the first time in over 12 years. Very significant here.
The question here, though, will three hours on the ground provide him enough to take back to Washington, Jim and Poppy, to bring this shutdown to an end?
SCIUTTO: Polo Sandoval, good to have you there on the border.
SCIUTTO: Well, President Trump just spoke to reporters at the White House as he heads down to the border. We're going to bring you those comments momentarily.
Stay with us.
[09:55:32] HARLOW: The president heads to the border. He spoke to reporters at length. Watch this. In 30 seconds you will see it. We know that he's going to McAllen, Texas.
SCIUTTO: This is -- we do and we know that he spoke a lot, teeing up the decision of possibly declaring a national emergency to get around this impasse with Capitol Hill on border funding.
HARLOW: And he's -- he's going with the secretary of the Army, as well, which is interesting.
SCIUTTO: And his lawyer, which is interesting. Two unusual guests. HARLOW: Yes.
SCIUTTO: Here's the president.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, folks.
So we're going to Texas. We're going to the border. I just spoke to some of my friends in Arizona. We have tremendous support. The Republicans are extremely united. They all want to see something happen, but they're extremely united. And I don't think I've ever seen unity like this in the Republican Party.
The media, which I call the opposition party, a lot of the media, in coordination with the Democrats, they're not talking about the Democrats' folding. For instance, this morning, a number of people came out and said, you do need very strong border security and that includes a wall or whatever it is. A number of Democrats said that, but people don't like to report on it.
We have tremendous unity in the Republican Party. It's really a beautiful thing to see. I don't think there will be any breakaway because they know we need border security and we have to have it. And the only way you're going to have border security, there's only one way. You can have all the technology in the world. I'm a professional at technology. But if you don't have a steel barrier or a wall of some kind, strong, powerful, you're going to have human trafficking, you're going to have drugs pouring across the border, you're going to have MS-13 and the gangs coming in.
And we've done record apprehensions. We're doing a great job. But we need help. If we have the wall, we could have far fewer people working in terms of border security and doing an even better job. So if we had the wall, we could have a tremendous saving. I really believe the steel barrier or wall would pay for itself every three or four months and maybe even better than that in terms of overall. So that's it.
Just a couple of things, because I know the fake news likes to say it, when during the campaign I would say Mexico is going to pay for it, obviously I never said this and I never meant they're going to write out a check. I said they're going to pay for it. They are. They are paying for it with the incredible deal we made called the United States Mexico and Canada -- USMCA deal. It's a trade deal. It has to be approved by Congress. It probably will be, other than maybe they even hold that up because they want to have -- you know, they want to do as much harm as they can, only because of the 2020 presidential election.
So Mexico is paying for the wall indirectly. And when I said Mexico will pay for the wall in front of thousands and thousands of people, obviously they're not going to write a check, but they are paying for the wall indirectly many, many times over by the really great trade deal we just made. Congress has to approve the deal.
QUESTION: Are you going to go to Davos or are you going to cancel it? TRUMP: Well, I intended to go and speak in front of the world financial community in Davos. That's still on. But if the shutdown continues, which is in a while from now, but if the shutdown continues, I won't go.
I had planned to go. It's been very successful when I went. We have a great story to tell. We have the best job numbers we've ever had in many ways, certainly with African-Americans, with Hispanic, with Asian-Americans. And, overall we have the best job numbers in at least 50 years.
We have a lot of great things happening. The economy is incredible. We're negotiating and having tremendous success with China. And I find China, frankly, in many ways to be far more honorable than crying Chuck and Nancy. I really do.
QUESTION: Mr. President --
[10:00:08] TRUMP: Think that China is