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Jamal Khashoggi Killed at Consulate in Istanbul, Investigation Begins; Large Migration Making Way to United States; Russian Troll Operation Discovered to Influence Midterm Elections; Megamillion Jackpot Likely to Reach Two Billion. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired October 20, 2018 - 06:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saudi Arabia admitting that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now they're engage Friday a cover-up to protect the crown Prince. It's almost like a classic mafia operation.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it's a good first step.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Saudis very clearly seem to be buying time and buying cover, but this action raises more questions than it answers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thousands of migrants making their way to Mexico, even breaking through a steel fence that had been padlocked shut.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The crowd has managed to shove the padlocked gates open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not criminals. We come here because we want to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is the anti-Christ, this man says. If he doesn't repent, he's going to hell. We are not criminals.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN HOST: Good morning to everyone. I am Leyla Santiago in for Christi Paul this morning.

VICTOR BLACKWELL I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to have you this morning with us.

SANTIAGO: Thank you for having me.

BLACKWELL: All right, top story this morning, utter B.S. That's the response from his editor at the "Washington Post" after Saudi officials confirmed the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. SANTIAGO: Authorities in Saudi Arabia now claim that Khashoggi died after being placed in choke hold during a fist fight with security forces inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Now more than a dozen Saudis have been taken into custody in connection with his death.

Thousands of migrants on the Guatemala-Mexico border stuck on a bridge. Take a look at that incredible video. That is the river between two nations -- Mexico and Guatemala. The massive caravan bound for the U.S. was forced to stop by Mexican police in riot gear yesterday.

BLACKWELL: And a Russian woman is facing Federal charges for allegedly financing a troll operation to interfere in the upcoming midterm elections.

We'll start with the death of Jamal Khashoggi. We have reporters across the globe gathering the latest on this developing story.

SANTIAGO: We begin with CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Josh Campbell. He is in Istanbul. Josh, what are Turkish officials saying about that late, really late admission from the Saudis?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They issued a statement, according to media, essentially saying that the Turks continue their investigation, that evidence will be shared with the world whenever it's finished, whenever they're certain of what they have. We're still waiting to hear that. Obviously the ball is in their court to respond, to provide additional information. What is interesting here is that up to this point, we've been covering the story for some two weeks now and we've been referring to the journalist as missing or the disappeared journalist.

According to the people who run the facility behind me, we're at the Saudi consulate here, the alleged scene of the crime, he's not missing. He's not disappeared. They are referring to him as deceased which obviously that's sad news for Khashoggi's family, for his colleagues but it does bring this to a new step in the investigation where there appears to be -- according to the people who saw him last -- no question that he is deceased.

What does it mean for the investigation? We understand there's been some reporting from "The New York Times" indicating that his body was possibly handed over to a quote/unquote "collaborator." What happened after that we don't know? The body will be a key piece of evidence as we try to get to the bottom of weather the Saudi reports about his demise are actually true, whether there was some type of altercation, some type of struggle or whether it was more sinister.

The last part I'll say as far as Turkish investigators is up to this point we've heard reporting about alleged audio recordings that took place inside the consulate behind me. Now we've been talking to intelligence officials here who have indicated that they are so far not releasing that audio. There's a question of whether, in fact, the actual act of bugging this facility behind me violates international law. Again, the because is in the Turkish court to either provide the

evidence, to refute what the Saudis are saying. Absent that, it will be the he said, she said and it will come down to credibility. Again, a lot of questions now for the Turkish officials to answer, to lay out their cards and provide information on the investigation. We're told that's going to come in short order but obviously that's an important part the rest of the world is now watching.

BLACKWELL: Josh Campbell, thank you very much from Istanbul. Let's now go to Sam Kiley, CNN's Senior International Correspondent. Sam, some of those closest to the Saudi Crown Prince have been dismissed from their post, dismissed. Give us an idea of who they are.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's start with the top two, if you like, Victor. The first is Ahmed Allasiri, the Deputy of General Intelligence. He was the spokesman for the Saudi Coalition in the Yemen, caught the eye of the Crown Prince, very close to him indeed and indeed was promoted by him. He's been removed from his post. We had reporting to anticipate that already.

This is something that was striking - Saud al-Qahtani who is the senior media advisor to the crown prince. He's the right-hand man in terms of managing the prince's international public profile.


He's been dismissed alongside another three very senior intelligence officials all of whom though of course, their jobs depend in any case on their service to the crown prince here. He is the chief executive in this absolute monarchy; almost all of the power is concentrated in the crown prince's hands.

But that statement that came out 1:00 in the morning last night by the Saudis which went 180 degrees from denying originally that was the position of the Saudis that Mr. Khashoggi had met with an untoward end in the consulate to admitting that he'd been killed by Saudis in what they are suggesting was an accidental death during a struggle, still does not point the fingers toward the ultimate power in the land which is the crown prince.

Instead, Victor, he's actually now going to be presiding over a one- month study and investigation into not only what went wrong in Turkey but in a total reformation of the intelligence structures in this country. A cynic might say perhaps one of the top questions would not necessarily coming from the crown prince be whodunit to Mr. Khashoggi but actually how come it was possible for the Turks to bug their consulate, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Important question. Sam Kiley there for us in Riyadh. Sam, thanks.

SANTIAGO: All right so now let's turn to Sarah Westwood at the White House. SaraH, the president has been kind of slow to condemn the Saudis before now. So what is he saying now that they have admitted it, made the admission to playing a part in his death? SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, president Trump was

quick to accept the Saudis' explanation last night, even as lawmakers in both parties are essentially rejecting the Saudis' latest explanation for what happened to this journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. Trump had previously highlighted denials from Saudi leaders that they knew anything about Khashoggi's fate and last night he said he believed the latest party line out of Saudi Arabia to be credible. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I do. I do. I mean, again, it's early. We haven't finished our review or investigation. I think it's a very important first step and happened sooner than people thought it would happen. (END VIDEO)

WESTWOOD: That was last night, the president speaking in Arizona. President Trump saying that he still wants the investigation to continue but keep in mind that the Saudis have changed their stories several times now. At first Saudi Arabia was insisting that Jamal Khashoggi had left the consulate unharmed then Saudi leaders told the president and the president repeated to the press the denial that they knew anything of what happened to Khashoggi in the consulate. Now that the Saudis are acknowledging Khashoggi died inside the consulate, there's a lot of skepticism on Capitol Hill among Republicans and Democrats alike that the Saudis are telling the truth.

For example, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, saying the Saudis are simply trying to buy time. Even Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who is a close ally of President Trump's, saying that he's deeply skeptical of what the Saudis are saying, as well so President Trump likely to come under an enormous amount of pressure not to take the Saudis at their word and to impose the severe punishments he once threatened against Saudi Arabia if it turns out Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate, Leyla and Victor.

SANTIAGO: Lots of skepticism. Sarah Westwood, thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's bring in CNN Political Commentator and Political Anchor for "Spectrum News," Errol Louis, and CNN Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson. Gentlemen, good morning. Nic, let me start with you. President Trump's acceptance here of this explanation from the Saudis as credible. According to officials who have spoken with CNN puts him at odds with the U.S. intelligence community. What is the world saying about the Saudi statement, and does it put him at odds with the global community, as well?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, the British right now are saying that they need to investigate further and examine this. You know, they're taking the Saudi statement and are going to look at it. that's their point. I think the key voice we haven't heard from so far is President Erdogan. Of course, here in Turkey his investigators have maintained that a far more sinister series of events happened inside the consulate.

We have yet to hear him rebut or rebuff what we've heard from the Saudis. I think his view is going to be very key. Look, part of the Saudi statement said there was a cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Turkish investigators that on the 6th of October, that's four days after Khashoggi disappeared, Saudis sent its investigators to Turkey and part of this apparent coordinated working together investigation.

We know it was a further nine days after that, nine days after that Saudi investigative team arrived, almost two weeks to the day after Jamal Khashoggi actually disappeared, the Saudi authorities actually let Turkish officials into the consulate and when they got in, they discovered that much of it had been painted over. So what President Erdogen has to say about this apparent cooperation that so far publically is hinted does exist with the Saudis doesn't bear scrutiny. He did criticize overnight that the consul general here had allowed journalists into the consulate a couple of days after Khashoggi disappeared, but not the investigators.

We still don't know which direction he's headed in. Look, there clearly are many, many holes in what the Saudis are saying; that point on cooperation, not the least of it. President Trump said the statement from the Saudis has come much quicker than most people expected it would. I don't think that's how the Turkish authorities would characterize it but what position are they going to take? There's a lot of skepticism out there and people are holding their opinions at the moment.

BLACKWELL: So Errol, let me come to you here. Several congressional Republicans, the Chair of Senate Foreign Relations, Bob Corker, you've got Lindsey Graham as Sarah Westwood mentioned a moment ago saying that they are skeptical of this statement. Senator Corker saying it does not hold water. The Saudis want 30 days to investigate. The legitimacy led by MBS aside, does Congress wait 30 days?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, no. absolutely. They do not have 30 days because we have a midterm election coming up in something, like, what, 26, 27 days from now.

BLACKWELL: Seventeen.

LOUIS: Seventeen. Well, there you go. There's no way Congress or the many -- hundreds, frankly, of candidates who are running for various offices are going to sit on their hands and wait for a nonexistent investigation to play out. So I think we're going to see those who are auditioning for a possible run for president really speaking out against the bankruptcy of this particular policy.

I think we'll have other candidates that are opposed to the administration making the argument that, look, the United States has not -- this administration has not even nominated an ambassador to this country, to the extent that people want to find fault with the human rights policy such as it says with the administration, with its failure to fill critical positions, with its questions that are lurking in the background of possible financial ties between the Trump family and the Saudis -- all of these things are going to come up. They're not going to wait 30 days for a bogus investigation.

BLACKWELL: Errol, let me stay with you and there's a growing whisper campaign about Jamal Khashoggi. I want you to listen first to Virginia Republican Senate candidate Corey Stewart and then to "Fox News" anchor this week. Watch.


COREY STEWART, (R) VIRGINIA SENATE CANDIDATE: One thing we have to understand is Khashoggi was not a good guy himself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now some things have come out, and we're reporting the facts. Lisa, we don't have to fall down one way or the other on this. But Khashoggi was tied to the Muslim brotherhood.


BLACKWELL: Harris Walker(ph) then said seconds later, I just put that out there because it's in the constellation of things that are being talked about and then doubled down later saying that, you know, she was asking the tough questions and that's her job there at "Fox". Is the strategy to make his life less valuable so the response from the president isn't as important? What do you see here with that?

LOUIS: Well that's right. First of all, any journalist who carries that particular bucket of tainted water should be ashamed of themselves. There have been 44 journalists killed worldwide this year, of which Mr. Khashoggi was one. For anybody to sort of play these cover-up games is -- is really disgraceful and an embarrassment to our profession.

But having said that, look, from the very first moment we heard the president kind of throwing out these little talking points saying he wasn't really a citizen. He was a resident of the United States. They're going to try and find any possible way to insulate this administration or try to make the world's attention sort of point somewhere else. It's transparent -- a transparent strategy, and it is a very dishonorable one, I have to say.

I mean, look, this is a guy who did what all of us do in this business which is put ourselves out there, try and find the truth, express for those of us on the opinion side, express the truth as you see it, and see if you can shed light on things. What was Mr. Khashoggi even writing about? What he was writing about was the future of the Muslim world, the future of democracy and human rights worldwide and especially in that part of the world, to lose your life over that, is not something any journalist should take as one more talking point and an excuse to try and defend it.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Nic, let me come back down to you and the big question here even after the statements from the Saudis, what about Mr. Khashoggi's remains? Any mention of them and the effort to get an answer to that question?

ROBERTSON: You know what we are witnessing here, as much as over the past 2.5 weeks, drip, drip feed of information from Turkish officials, is a very, very carefully-positioned platform of messaging coming from the Saudi royals. There have been few surprises in what they said, particularly about the people who were removed from office, talking here about the deputy head of intelligence, the top media aide, also really a very much an enforcer for Mohammed bin Salman himself.

Some of this has been foreshadowed by leaking to journalists. No mention in the official Saudi statement whatsoever about what happened to Jamal Khashoggi's body. Indeed, the inference being almost in the Saudi narrative is that it's his fault he got into a fight with more than a dozen guys. So to the point of the body, "The New York Times" is reporting from their sources that the body may have been passed to some kind of associate here in Turkey who was then charged with disposing of the body. It remains a mystery. It remains a deeply difficult point for his family. That's despite what we've heard from the -- in the Saudi statement that they expressed their condolences and deep sorrow for what happened.

More clarity for the family at the least on what happened to Jamal Khashoggi's body would be important. I think what we're seeing here is a very, very thin cover being put forward by the Saudis, leaving journalists to try to piece it together and piece together a fuller narrative. They're not saying it. And again, leaks that hint of something when for 17 days now it would seem to beg some kind of belief that the Saudis could not offer a little more detail for his family on that body, that does beg of somewhat belief at this time.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it is as you called it a thin cover. It's one that the president says that he finds credible. Nic Robertson for us there in Istanbul. Errol Louis, thank you, as well.

LOUIS: Thank you.

SANTIAGO: Well, these pictures say it all. Take a look at this. Just a sea of people walking together toward the U.S. border in hope of a better life but the question remains, will they even make it that far.

BLACKWELL: Plus, the Feds charge a Russian woman with election meddling, accusing her of trying to manipulate and divide voters ahead of the election, just 17 days away.

SANTIAGO: Also, it's where they made their debut as a couple just a year ago. Now, Harry and Meghan stepping out again at the international games he founded, by the way, this time as husband, wife, and, oh, yeah, parents-to-be.



BLACKWELL: Crucial question this weekend -- will Mexico allow the people who are part of this caravan, the migrants, traveling to the border, to get to the U.S. border?

SANTIAGO: President Enrique Pena Nieto says they will not be welcome if more scenes like this play out. On Friday, a violent confrontation broke out. You can see someone washing the face of a child. That's because there was tear gas. A violent confrontation between Mexican police in riot gear as migrants pushed through a steel gate on the Guatemalan border. What an image to see all of these migrants; thousands of them, according to our crew on the ground. Now the caravan that formed a week ago. Thousands have joined the

them. Some told CNN they're fleeing because of violence; others are desperate for work but President Trump says that can't be the case.


TRUMP: These are some bad people coming through. These aren't babies. These aren't little angels coming into our country. These are some hardened criminals coming in and we're not letting them in. (END VIDEO)

SANTIAGO: All right but let's get some important and much-needed perspective on this story. Joining us now is Eric Olsen, an expert on Latin America from the nonpartisan Wilson Center. and Rick Jones, he is joining us and he is a youth and migration adviser in Latin America and the Caribbean for Catholic Relief Services. Gentlemen, thank you very much for joining me today. Rick, I'm going to start with you. You are right now in El Salvador. You work with farmers and youth and communities that are plagued by violence. Many of these migrants are saying they're fleeing gang violence and poverty; President Trump not on the same page. Help us understand what is the magnitude of that violence and poverty?

RICK JONES, CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES: Well, really, these are refugees fleeing violence. Honduras is one of the five most-violent countries in the world, and the homicide rate for per capita is over 100 and anything over 10 is considered an epidemic. And so what we're seeing is violence has a stranglehold on these communities which also affects their opportunities for development. Businesses won't history people from these communities because they think they're tied to the gangs or drug cartels. If you start your own business, you're likely to get extorted in these communities and oftentimes, families who -- kids who want to go to school can't because of gang-controlled territory. There's one instance in San Pedro Sula where a young 13- year-old boy was selling the bread that his family makes, and the gangs wanted him to take drugs from one neighborhood to the another. He refused, and they shot him. That's why people are fleeing.

SANTIAGO: San Pedro Sula you mentioned that's actually where this caravan started. Eric, now to you, earlier this week, President Trump tweeted, he said, "we have today informed the countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador that if they allow their citizens or others to journey through their borders and up to the United States with the intention of entering our country illegally, all payments made to them will stop - end. So it seems like he's talking about foreign aid here. If aid is cut, what does that mean for the U.S. - Mexico border which there are only about 1,000 miles away from right now? Could this approach actually be counter-intuitive?

ERIC OLSEN, LATIN AMERICA EXPERT FROM THE WILSON CENTER: I think it could be counterproductive. Exactly what Rick said, people are fleeing extreme poverty, extreme violence, most of that foreign aid is intended to address some of those issues. If we cut it off and walk away from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, I think the chances are that things won't just magically get better on their own; they'll get worse and the worse it gets the more people will flee those countries.

So I think it's counter - counterproductive to talk about cutting off aid. I understand the frustration but it is not the time to walk away and abandon these countries.

SANTIAGO: But Eric, is it working? They spend millions of dollars in foreign aid. In fact in 2019 F.Y. between El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, you're looking at nearly $260 million that they have planned. Are these programs worth it?

OLSEN: I think they are in certain places. There are specific programs that are designed to help people to come out of gangs, designed to reduce violence, to provide alternatives to young people who are tuning 11, 12 and are vulnerable to that kind of violence. I think there's strong evidence that they're working.

But $260 million amongst 4 countries including Mexico is a drop in the bucket. These are countries that need much more help, much more assistance.

SANTIAGO: And $260 million is actually less than what we've seen in previous years. Rick, let me go back to you. If - if this is cut, if you don't get that foreign aid that you depend on from Catholic Relief Services or for Catholic Relief Services rather, what would that mean for those communities that you're in and you're serving right now?

JONES: I think that we're seeing thousands of refugees that number is going to turn into 10's if not 100's of thousands. We at Catholic Relief Services run programs and we've been able to place over 5,000 young people in jobs and starting their own businesses in the last three years and so we don't need to stop aid, we need to put it on steroids because the problem is not just 5,000 young people, it's over a million kids are out of school and unemployed.

If we pull the plug on that now, those bright futures that those kids have are going to go dark real fast.

SANTIAGO: Wow incredible to hear you say there could be more as we look at the video from the current caravan. What organizers are saying, nearly 4,000 migrants heading north right now; fleeing those very factors the two of you speak of. Eric Olson, Rick Jones, thank you so much for providing that prospective.

JONES: Thank you.

OLSEN: Thanks for having us.

BLACKWELL: A Russian woman is facing federal charges now. She's accused of being the chief account for a troll operation trying to sow discord ahead of the midterm elections just 17 days away now.



SANTIAGO: Welcome back, I'm Leyla Santiago in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, happy Saturday to you. We have new details this morning about the Russian meddling in the midterm elections just two and half weeks away. A Russian woman has been charged with federal crimes over funding for online propaganda.

SANTIAGO: Now these charges are linked to the same social media troll operation that was charged with crimes by Special Counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year. CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray is following the story.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The Justice Department charging a Russian woman with conspiracy for trying to manipulate voters in the 2018 midterms and it cracks down on election meddling beyond Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Elena Khusyaynova of St. Petersburg, Russia, allegedly managed the financing for a social media troll agency that sent out these ads and memes to fan division between racial minority groups, political radicals and disaffected voters. Soon after the Justice Department announced the charge against her, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, Department of Justice, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security warns the American public of continuing efforts from countries like Russia to divide America along political lines.

The coordinated show of strength against election interference coming just weeks before the November midterms. The agency called out Russia, China, and Iran for ongoing efforts to manipulate voters in the 2018 and 2020 U.S. elections and warned Americans that foreign actors use social media to amplify divisive issues, spread disinformation, and sponsor content through English language media including RT and Sputnik.

There's no evidence the interference efforts have impacted voting infrastructure, to prevent voting, change vote count or disrupt our ability to tally votes in the midterm elections according to the joint statement.

And when President Donald Trump was asked about this Russian hacking, he simply said it had nothing to do with his campaign. Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.

BLACKWELL: Actually I think we have that, just so you can hear the president speaking yesterday as he addressed reporters in talking about any connection - denying any connection between this woman who has been arrested and his campaign. Let's play that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justice Department unleashed - until the indictment against a Russian national who is accused of trying to influence the election in 2018.

TRUMP: That has nothing to do with my campaign. You know all of the hackers and all of the - everybody that you've seen - nothing to do with my campaign. If the hackers - a lot of them like Hillary Clinton better than me. Now they do, now they do. But they go after some hacker in Russia and they say oh, that had nothing to do with my campaign.


BLACKWELL: Let's bring in Senior International Correspondent, Fred Pleitgen. Fred, good morning to you and we're getting some new reaction just out from the Russians.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes we are. It just came through, Victor, a couple minutes ago here in Moscow. We've been working this story since late last night. We've been in touch with the Russian Foreign Ministry, in touch with the Kremlin as well. They didn't comment last night but just a couple of minutes ago we got a statement from Russia's Deputy Foreign Ministry angrily denying any of these accusations and firing back at the United States and of course the American legal system as well.

I want to read part of it for you. He said, "We have repeated said that this is quote, 'a shameful slanderous campaign.'" He then said that its dictated by some American politicians to try to gain advantage in what he calls interparty quarrels. He then goes on to say that nasty means are in use including what are obviously fabricated criminal cases containing absurd accusations and a ridiculous quote, "base of evidence." So that is the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister commenting on all of this. Obviously the Russians are saying none of this is true. They've been saying that basically from the beginning since 2016 that there's no evidence as they say. But even though obviously a lot of things have been put forward that they were behind any sort of election meddling.

I think one of the interesting things though if you read the indictment that came down, it seems as though this troll operation which when we named here in Russia changed its business model a couple of times really seems as though if all of this is correct that they never really stopped any of their operations and if anything it seems as though their budgets were larger than they have been even in the past, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Fred Pleitgen for us there in Moscow; Fred, thanks so much.

SANTIAGO: All right, coming up, there is no winner -- I know, sorry to say it -- no winner for that mega billions lottery, so I'm saying there's a chance.

BLACKWELL: I woke up this morning optimistic that the $5 I contributed to the pool would have been the lucky five ...

SANTIAGO: Not today, Victor.

BLACKWELL: ... didn't happen?

SANTIAGO: Not today but you still have a chance. You can get that lottery pool together. A live report on your next chance to win big. talking big... BLACKWELL: Yes.

SANTIAGO: ... and how big the jackpot is ahead.

BLACKWELL: And more evidence that our executive producer is British. Huge day for the royal couple, sports fans, royal watchers alike, Prince Harry, Duchess Meghan, down under in Australia to kick off the international competition that he created.



BLACKWELL: So let's get to the question a lot of people woke up this morning asking. Who won last night's mega millions lottery. Not us. Actually, nobody won.

SANTIAGO: I know. I get so excited -- who -- no, okay. That's all right. The billion-dollar dream, though, lives on.


SANTIAGO: CNN Corrrespondent, Paolo Sandoval is in New York with more. Paolo, it wasn't you either, huh?

PAOLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I would clearly not be here. Let me tell you, this paper right here is what I had hoped would be worth $1 billion this morning. It is our office pool. Sadly, as you mentioned there, those hopes were shattered at least for now because what you guys just said is very important, that the spirit of optimism, it is still alive because now this number will be climbing significantly high to $1.6 billion for Tuesday's drawing.

This is going to be the new mega million numbers. It is a number that's surpassed the lottery record of $1.5 billion that was set in 2016 with the Powerball jackpot won by three people. I remember covering that, and here a $1.6 billion jackpot could potentially be up for grabs come Tuesday's drawing.

I should mention that this is a number that's slowly been growing. The last mega millions jackpot that was won was in late July. I can personally tell you guys, this is something that we're clearly going to see peak interest. Yesterday we were at a convenience store watching people go up to one of the automatic ticket dispensing machines and so many people were putting their money into this machine, Victor and Leyla, that I watched store management have to open the machine at least three times to remove the money from inside.

That's something that usually happens once a week. There was so much cash being put into that that they were struggling to keep up. Last thing I should mention here, there were still 15-second tier winning tickets last night in states like California, in Florida, in Illinois. These tickets would be worth up to $1 million each. Yes, even here in New York, four second-tier winning tickets which means only a few of the numbers were matched. I'm pretty sure the four tickets aren't these. BLACKWELL: Yes, a million bucks is still worth it.

SANTIAGO: Yes, I'm OK with that. Yes, yes, I'll take that and $1.6, I'll take that, as well.

BLACKWELL: I'm hoping to get to $2 billion.

SANTIAGO: I don't doubt it won't.

BLACKWELL: I'm hoping it cruises up to $2 billion.

SANTIAGO: Yes, all right, Paolo, better luck next time babe.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, guys.

BLACKWELL: Look at this. My executive producer always giving me the royal stories because he knows I love them so much.

SANTIAGO: You are welcome. You're welcome.


BLACKWELL: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, at the international competition he started for wounded and disabled veterans. Plenty for royal watchers and sports fans in Australia to see. We will talk about that next.


SANTIAGO: All right royal watchers and Victor, I know it's your favorite.

BLACKWELL: Can't wait.

SANTIAGO: One you do not want to miss all eyes on Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan. The parents-to-be in Sydney, Australia today to cheer on athletes at the International Invictus games he started four years ago. It is a key stop on their first international tour as a married couple; a 16-day trip which also includes a couple more visits -- visits to New Zealand, Fiji, as well as Tonga. But let's talk about it. Joining us to talk about this is Royal Commentator, Richard Fitzwilliams. Richard, what a week?


RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: It's been extraordinary. I mean if you talk about a royal tour that that has hit the jackpot which you've just been discussing in another context, this surely is unique because a year ago when Invictus opened in Toronto, that was when we first saw Meghan and Harry as a couple together and look at the drama the beginning of the tour when they landed in Sydney. The announcement of Meghan's pregnancy. The new baby due next spring will be seventh in line to the throne and of course, we knew they wanted a family, but no one knew when this was being planned and so this was global news.

And now Invictus about to begin, and a really wonderful initiative by Harry, the fourth Invictus games for injured and ill service men and women. The next will be in the Hague apparently in 2020 and also a very important tour for the commonwealth. So it's all there.

SANTIAGO: Why is that -- why are these games beyond for the world, this is where we were sort of, as you mentioned, introduced to Harry and Meghan. Why are these games, in particular, so important to him? Why did he take this on four years ago?

FITZWILLIAMS: Well, firstly he was inspired in 2013 by the American Warrior Games which is the the equivalent, and he served himself, as you know, a decade in the military. He feels very, very strongly that not enough was being done to help those who were wounded or sick, and that is why it has been such a deep commitment and what we have in the Invictus Games about to begin in Sydney, 500 competitors for dozens of sports. It also led to a friendship between Harry and the Obama's which is important and we saw the fact that he lobbies at the top, and together with mental illness and Sentebale, the forget-me-not, the charity that he began to help HIV/aids suffers in Lesotho. These three are so important to him as something I think that the Princess of Wales would be very, very proud of him for it.

SANTIAGO: Now I want to look at a photo that was tweeted out by Kensington Palace, a rare moment taken from sort of far away but you really see this -- I don't know if commitment is the right word between Harry and Meghan, as Harry is practicing his speech at the Sydney Opera House. What -- we've had a lot of images already come from this couple. This is another one. A cute one under an umbrella; there will be many more in the years to come, I'm sure. But what does this tell us? You know that there is Harry practicing a speech. Meaghan is in the front row paying attention. What does that tell us about their relationship?

FITZWILLIAMS: One of the things that I've been noticing looking at all the images that we can see on this tour is that they are mutually so tremendously supportive. Contrast that with 1983 with Charles and Diana (inaudible) so popular with Australians and New Zealanders but which caused trauma because people wanted to see Diana, not Charles. In this case, what you've got are two people deeply in love, but playing to each other's strengths. So Meghan will -- and has been doing -- work on female empowerment and diversity. Harry has been concentrating on mental illness and also Invictus and what the tour -- it will be dramatic for Meghan who's pregnant, to some extent. She said it rather resembles a prolonged jet lag having to do 76 engagements.

She's feeling it a bit, but they've got energy. They've got dynamism. They've got commitment. The fact that she's biracial will have a great appeal in the wider commonwealth and also the fact that Harry's commonwealth, youth ambassador. So what we see, the images of them together, and I'd also mention the images of them with the crowds, it's not just a question of the walkabout. The queen began that in 1970. There's the high fiving and hugging. SANTIAGO: Yes, there's such history that goes with along with all of

these trips and of course all of this family. Richard Fitzwilliams, I cannot wait to hopefully soon talk about baby names next time. I'll take your bet on that. But I'll -- keep me guessing. We'll talk about that next time. Thank you much, Richard.



BLACKWELL: All right, our top story this morning -- Saudi officials admitting now finally, a missing "Washington Post" writer is dead. Now dozens of Saudi officials arrested or removed from their posts, the world waits for a reaction from the White House.


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