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Trump Apologizes to Kavanaugh's Family for "Terrible Pain and Suffering" You've been forced To Endure; NY Times: Trump Campaign Aid Rick Gates Requested Online Manipulation Plans From Israeli; President Trump Weighs In On Saudi Journalist Seen Entering Consulate In Istanbul But Not Leaving. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 8, 2018 - 21:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Chris Cuomo is off tonight. Welcome to a special hour of "360." Tonight the remarkable night at the White House, the ceremonial swearing-in, President Trump's second Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh at the White House, the consolatory tone he took and come combative words from the President. Here is Justice Kavanaugh.


BRETT KAVANAUGH, JUSTICE SUPREME COURT: The Senate confirmation process was contentious and emotional. That process is over. My focus now is to be the best justice I can be. I take this office with gratitude, and no bitterness.


COOPER: Justice Kavanaugh striking a far different tone than he did before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Now, here is the President revisiting the battle.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure. Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception. What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency and due process. Our country, a man or a woman, must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


TRUMP: And with that, I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent.


CUOMO: Now, whatever you think of the merits of this, whatever you think of the President's pick, it was quite a night at the White House. Our Jim Acosta joins us with more.

I mean, the President certainly taking a victory lap tonight for getting his nomination through?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDEN: He was taking a victory lap. And, Anderson, I mean from a conservative standpoint, you would have to say it was well earned. I mean, the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell who was there tonight received two standing ovations, really set the table for this President to tilt the balance of the Supreme Court to the right. And that is what happened with putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

I will say, Anderson, it was interesting what the President said to Brett Kavanaugh tonight that he was proven innocent because we -- I mean we just have to fact check that. There was no rendering from a court of any kind that set Brett Kavanaugh was proven innocent of any of the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford. There was an FBI expanded background check that according to some Republican senators, found no corroborating evidence. And so the President was taking a victory lap tonight. He was also playing past to moves with the facts, as usual.

COOPER: You were in this room while this happen, I'm wondering what is it like, especially with the eight other justices there?

ACOSTA: Well, Anderson, I never thought I would hear Donald Trump introduce Ruth Bader Ginsburg to an audience in my life. That happened tonight. It was fascinating. You don't often see all supreme court justices gathered in one room, but I think what you saw here tonight was, you know, history being made. It was President in just the first two years being in office, remember, Barack Obama got two justices in eight years in office, he was blocked by Mitch McConnell in terms of getting Merrick Garland put on the high court. Two Supreme Court justices and just two years, that's breaking a lot of land speed records, the likes of which we haven't seen in a very long time.

And what it achieved is what a lot of people -- I saw a lot of Christian conservatives, a lot of people from conservative activist groups who have been wanting and waiting for this day for a long time, Anderson. These folks who have said for years now that they were willing to accept a lot of President Trump's very big flaws in order to achieve this objective. And that's moving the Supreme Court in a conservative direction. And that's exactly what happened tonight.

COOPER: The President has a lot of campaign rallies between now and the midterm elections. Do you expect he is going to continue to keep mentioning the Kavanaugh confirmation battle? I mean I can't imagine him not?

ACOSTA: Exactly. Absolutely, Anderson, I mean, I've talked to a number of Republican sources close to the White House, people inside the White House, who believe that this is perhaps the most motivating factor for conservatives to get on the in the midterm elections. This has gotten the conservative base that put President Trump into office pretty excited. And I think that what you saw President Trump doing today, talking about how Brett Kavanaugh had gone up against the forces of what he called, "evil" and the Democrats had perpetuated this "hoax," according to the President on what he said. This was the President effort getting his Supreme Court justice on the Supreme Court, trying to keep this battle going. And my sense of it, Anderson, you're going to see more, you're going to see more rallies this week, one in Pennsylvania, one in Ohio, one in Kentucky. I would be very surprised if President doesn't mention this fight at each and every rally from here on forward. Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Jim Acosta. Thanks very much.

[21:05:00] Reaction not only on what the President said tonight but also what the House might do next year if Democrats to take control the body. I spoke with California Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu earlier tonight.


COOPER: Congressman, I just want to get your reaction to the President's comments apologizing to now Justice Kavanaugh on saying that Kavanaugh had been "proven innocent"?

REPRESENTATIVE TED LEIU (D), CALIFORNIA: I think those comments were unfortunate. Certainty they are not true. Brett Kavanaugh was not proven innocent. In fact the FBI did an investigation that was incomplete. I'm a former prosecutor. I've never seen a background or law enforcement investigation that did not interview their accusers, or the person being accuse. And if the Democrats flip the House, then the House Judiciary Committee will interview the witnesses that the FBI was not allowed to do.

COOPER: So are you're saying -- are you calling for impeachment proceedings?

LEIU: No, I'm calling for an investigation that is complete, meaning we need to interview the accusers and the accused and need to do an investigation that the FBI was not allowed to do. And that's something the House Judiciary Committee can do. We have oversight over judicial misconduct allegations.

CUOMO: What would the goal of that be? Because I mean, there are plenty of people who say, well, look, isn't this -- this is done, this process is over, he is on the Supreme Court, why go back and revisit it if in fact the Democrats take the House?

LEIU: Because anytime you have credible allegations of sexual assault that are not properly investigated, then the House Judiciary Committee should investigate those claims. And again the FBI did not interview these accusers. And I think someone needs to do that. I respect the senators, but senators are not trained to do these interviews the way that House Judiciary staff would or other law enforcement could.

COOPER: Back on, I think it was September 26th, you tweeted and I'm quoting -- "based on the numerous allegations of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and including these new criminal allegations by Julie Swetnick, the House Judiciary Committee must immediately start an investigation into Judge Kavanaugh to see if he should be impeached. Do you still believe that the possibility of impeachment should be there?

LEIU: It would depend on what the evidence shows. We should look at this investigation and abide by the central principle of any investigation, which is we should take the evidence where it leads us. In the case of the FBI, they were not allowed to do that. The White House put restrictions on them and who they could interview, what documents they could see, and again, if we have the opportunity to do so, we should subpoena the relevant documents and interview the relevance witnesses that the FBI was not allowed to do.

COOPER: For all the talk about the damage that this confirmation process did to the country, what do you and other Democrats calling for further investigations and throwing impeachment of a sitting Supreme Court Justice into the conversation do? I mean, how does that help unite the country?

LEIU: This is not impeachment. This is calling for an adequate investigation, something that most people would agree that the FBI was not allowed to do. So at a minimum, we need a complete investigation, and then see where the evidence takes us. Also, there have been numerous complains filed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. They have referred those to the Supreme Court. Those allegations separate from sexual assault they deal with perjury by Brett Kavanaugh, those shall also be investigated.

COOPER: But you have -- I mean, in the tweet you raise the idea of impeachment. Obviously that would be the end result of whatever further investigation found. Does that set -- I mean, do you risk kind of setting the country back? And there are plenty of people I'm sure who think, you know what? This is done it's time to move on?

LEIU: At a minimum, sexual assault victims have the right to be heard. We deserve given that right they need to have the ability to have a complete investigation. We cannot move on until an adequate investigation was completed. This was a whitewash by the White House and the FBI, and if people wanted adequate investigation they need to help us to flip the House so that we can do that.

COOPER: Congressman Leiu, I appreciate your time, thank you.

LEIU: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: More perspective now tonight and what comes after tonight's CNN Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic joins us now, along with CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who's learn extensively on the court.

Jeff, I'm wondering if -- did anything you hear from the White House ceremony tonight surprise you?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Not really. I actually thought it was good to see Justice Kavanaugh pretty much take the high road. I mean, he praised a lot of Republicans along the way, but he did say the confirmation hearing is over and he doesn't have any bitterness. He sure seemed bitter during the confirmation hearing, during his testimony, but there is at least a statement now on the record that he's ready to move on in an even-handed way.

COOPER: Joan, I mean to Jeff's point, Justice Kavanaugh vowed the party tonight. Ideology won't play any role in his job. It doesn't certainly stand in contrast the fact that he was vetted and picked by staunchly conservative legal groups who oppose decisions like Roe v. Wade?

[21:10:04] JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Yes, Anderson. Just think of the contrast we saw between what he was trying to say and how many ways President Trump undercut that. President Trump's speech was so partisan and had us versus them quality to the named of the people who were such supporters of now Justice Kavanaugh, and sort of scorned those who opposed him. So that wasn't helpful.

And then, when you go back to May of 2016 when President Trump was campaigning and he first put out a list of people who he would choose for the court, carefully vetted list, for Brett Kavanaugh didn't end up on that list until November of 2017, but it was precisely because people from the federalist society and other conservative advocates felt that he would be a good appointee from their point of view, and he wasn't -- he was standing there in the east room only because President Trump trusts him to be loyal to him.

Now, you know, that's from President Trump's point of view. We'll have to see how Brett Kavanaugh handles that, but he did try to say he would be a justice for everyone. And finally to your point about the vetting and perhaps someone who would definitely reverse Roe v. Wade, during the hearings, Anderson, Senator Blumenthal said, did you get on that list? Were you chosen specifically because a month before you ended up on the list, you had written an opinion that was quite antagonistic to abortion rights? And Brett Kavanaugh responded that he essential got on the list because he knew, knew people in the White House, and that's it. He was an insider, and he proved that he would be the kind of candidate that President Trump would want.

CUOMO: Jeff, the other justices were all there. How does that -- I mean, you've written extensively about the inner workings of the court. How does it work? I mean, the judge stressed that he's one of a team of nine, he's a team player. Is that how it is? I mean --

TOOBIN: You know, they are exquisitely polite to each other. You know, they do not -- there's not a lot of back biting. There's not, you know, a lot of hostility. They are hostile in print. I mean, they write scathing dissents to each other, but starting with Chief Justice Rehnquist, before Chief Justice Robert, he really believed that good fences made good neighbors.

And he did not encourage a lot of interaction among the justices. And they're sometimes described as nine different law firms, which is I think a pretty accurate description. They're very correct. They're very polite with each other. There's not a lot of close friendships on the court, but, you know, I think even though I think some of the justices privately may have been pretty appalled by the hearings, he is going to be welcomed as an equal. He is going to have exactly the same voice --

COOPER: But Ruth Bader Ginsburg, didn't she have a relationship with Scalia?

TOOBIN: Justice Scalia. You know, this is, in my opinion, the most over-hyped relationship in American history. I mean, they were friends, there's no doubt about this. But you would think from the discussions that they, you know, were like arms around the neck buddies. I mean, Joan has the covered the court longer than I have. Joan, am I wrong about that? I mean --

BISKUPIC: Actually, you're right, Jeff. They were very close, and they did travel together and they did plenty of things together, but it has been hyped so much just to say, look at they can be palled. I can tell you right now that Brett Kavanaugh will not be going to the opera with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

TOOBIN: I doubt that as well. And you know, they are very aware of the political differences. And you know, they know that this is going to be a different court going forward. You know, Justice Kennedy, was the center of this court in a way that no one in my lifetime has been. The power he exercised was so enormous on abortion, on affirmative action, on campaign finance, marriage equality, all the gay right cases were written by Justice Kennedy. He's gone, and he has been replaced by someone who was selected by the federalist society, because he disagreed with Justice Kennedy on all those issues. It's going to be a very different court.

COOPER: And you think you're going to see that very quickly?

TOOBIN: It depends on -- at the moment the cases in the pipeline are not super earth-shaking but it never takes long for these cases to come up. And a lot of the state, the more conservative states, they know who's on the court now. They're going to pass abortion laws that are going to force the justices to re-evaluate Roe v. Wade even if they prefer to kick can down the road.

COOPER: It's interesting, Joan, because, you know, Senator Collins made a big points saying that Justice Kavanaugh has said to her, you know, he believes in precedent not just as a tradition, kind of a tradition but rooted in the constitution. Jeff, has raised, you know, some doubts about that as lots of people say that, and yet they overturn precedent all the time?

[21:15:04] BISKUPIC: You know, that's exactly right, Anderson. I remember when Susan Collins first came out from a very first meeting with then Judge Kavanaugh and said, he says it's settled precedent. And you know, that is -- that doesn't get you very far. The Supreme Court is always overturning precedent. They say they don't like to, but many times they say they will, and again we have got a couple things going on here. We have a President who has avowed to appoint justices who will reverse Roe v. Wade. He wants the matter sent back to the states. That's for starters, we know that this has been a decades-long, many conservatives in the Republican Party going back to the Ronald Reagan era where they worked very hard to put people on the bench, who would reverse the 1973 land mark that give women a right to end the unwanted pregnancies.

So this court, all it takes is five justices who want to overturn Roe. That's all it would take and you know, they would have to look at a very old precedent, and they would disrupt the country both legally and politically, frankly, I think that could be ahead on the whole thing but there's nothing that would stop a Brett Kavanaugh from voting against it once he's a justice, which he is now.

TOOBIN: But just this spring they overturned a labor law precedent --


TOOBIN: A very controversial case, that's almost exactly as old as Roe v. Wade.

BISKUPIC: Right in 1978, right.

TOOBIN: 1978 case, they completely overruled it because the conservatives didn't like it, they could do it to Roe v. Wade when they get the right case.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, Joan Biskupic, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Coming up next, a question, will a red state Democrat hype political price for voting no on Brett Kavanaugh, with the one who is and perhaps the tightest race for political lives Senator Heidi Heitkamp.

Later, everything we've learned about limousine crash that took 20 lives. We'll tell you how investigators hoping to get closer to the truth exactly what happened ahead.


[21:20:36] COOPER: President Trump tonight apologized to Justice Kavanaugh for the "terrible pain and suffering that he endured during the nomination process." He also slammed Kavanaugh's opponents for what he called campaign of personal distraction. The President also thanked a number of senators for their efforts and putting Kavanaugh on the court. But he singled out Susan Collins from Maine for special praise for vote obviously decisive and she's now facing a backlash among some voters that said she is up for reelection this year. Senator Heidi Heitkamp is -- she's a red state Democrats, he's in a very close race, and unlike in other red state Democrats, Joe Manchin in West Virginia, she did not vote yes on Judge Kavanaugh. She voted no. More on that from CNN's Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Heidi Heitkamp having fun walking in a classic North Dakota parade.

SENATOR HEIDI HEITKAMP (D) NORTH DAKOTA: Hi there. BASH: Her smile matched her political reality. He is the most

endangered Senate Democrat, and knows voting against Brett Kavanaugh probably didn't help.

HEITKAMP: It's been a tough week for me because, you know, the political rhetoric is you can't vote that way if you expect to come back. And I tell people, Ray and Doreen Heitkamp didn't raise me to vote a certain way so that I could win. They raised me to vote the right way.


BASH: Applause but elsewhere reminders that President Trump carried the state by 36 points.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know we're ever going to get over that.

BASH: So you're obviously a North Dakota voter, you're disappointed with her vote against Kavanaugh?


BASH: Her Republican challenger, Kevin Cramer well ahead in the polls said he was shocked.


BASH: Why?

CRAMER: Because she had been building her entire campaign, really her entire brand as the bipartisan senator from a North Dakota.

BASH: Heitkamp voted for Neil Gorsuch and planned to do the same for Kavanaugh.

HEITKAMP: I had the office prepared -- begin to prepare a statement saying that I was going to vote him.

BASH: Really?

HEITKAMP: -- up until that hearing.

BASH: That changed everything?

HEITKAMP: It did for me.

BASH: She didn't believe him and worried about the temperament especially after watching a second time with the sound off.

HEITKAMP: We communicate not only with words, but we communicate with body language. We communicate with demeanor --

BASH: And what did you see in his body language?

HEITKAMP: I saw somebody who was very angry, very nervous, and I saw rage.

BASH: Cramer is appealing to voters who see all this as victimization run amok.

CRAMER: The qualities of personal distraction as -- with this broad stroke being just accepted is offensive to a lot of the women in my family.

HEITKAMP: You should be so grateful that your mom's never been victimized and your wife has never been victimized, and your daughters haven't but people in my life have, including my mother. And, you know, to suggest she's not strong because she's a victim was like a trigger for me.

BASH: Heitkamp is trying to focus elsewhere.

HEITKAMP: This is high tech.

BASH: Super high tech.

HEITKAMP: Yes. And it's also really expensive.

BASH: Hurting farmers like Tom Brzuski (ph) whom she invited us to meet. He says, China's soybean tariffs, retaliation for Trump trade policy already cost him $100,000.

CRAMER: How is it going to work out? I haven't heard a plan yet.

BASH: Cramer says he opposed Trump's new tariff plan against China at first and last.

CRAMER: Once the President sets a strategy -- a global strategy I think it's better if we go ahead behind him, unify and win a trade war fast rather than undermine the entire process.

BASH: Six years ago Heitkamp won by a single point. This year, the shrinking middle need more gridlock.

HEITKAMP: If someone like me can't get reelected, what does that speak to others who want to be moderate? I just encourage people to do to their base. I think that's a real concern.

BASH: For now Heitkamp is determined to be herself, when a band plays, she grabbing the mike.

HEITKAMP: You are my sunshine my only sunshine.


COOPER: And Dana Bash joins us now. The race, I mean, really does have larger implications for the balance of power in the Senate?

BASH: In a big way. As we've been talking about throughout this whole Kavanaugh process, the Republican majority is razor-thin, just 51, which is putting some Democrats in a position where they're saying, well, maybe you can be aggressive in the House, we could be aggressive in the Senate as well. The Senate is a very different situation, because a lot of the tough races are on Republican ground. This is one of them. But in this one in particular, Anderson, Democrats who are looking at the larger map say that it is going be very difficult to take the Senate back for them if Heidi Heitkamp doesn't win reelection. She knows that, she knows the calculus, but she says, she's just plugging along doing the best she can. She was behind the pools six years ago and she eked it out. She says she's going to try to do the same thing of course in four weeks.

[21:25:41] COOPER: One of the many races to watch. Dana Bash. Dana, thanks.

Perspective now from someone who is taken as deep with personal, journalist Sally Quinn is a "The Washington Post" contributor, she founding editor of the decision forum on Faith. She was married for many years to Post legendary editor Ben Bradlee, what we did not know, not until fairly recently is that she too is a survivor. She writes about her experience in "finding magic, a spiritual memoir." Sally Quinn joins us now.

Sally, thanks so much for being with us. First of all, I just wonder what your response is to the President's comments tonight saying that Kavanaugh has been proven innocent that what happened to him was a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception.

SALLY QUINN, WASHINGTON POST CONTRIBUTOR: Well, those were two words that stuck out to me were lies and deception. Because of course, he doesn't know whether they were lies or deception. He's just made that up. The other thing that stuck out was when he said he's been proven innocent, which of course he has not been proven innocent.

And I think that Kavanaugh tonight was the choirboy and not the frat boy that we had seen during the hearings, but I mean what the President said basically implied that Christine Blasey Ford was a liar and that she had made it up, and this was a hit job, and this is what Kavanaugh also said, a hit job by the Democrats, revenge for the Clintons, and anger at Trump being elected. And it just -- it had such a partisan overtone. I mean, when Kavanaugh was trying to make nice tonight and trying to sort of rehabilitate himself, the President was just going full out against Christine Blasey Ford and against any woman who might come forward and say that she has been sexually assaulted.

COOPER: In your memoir, you talk about an experience, where -- that's really just stunning, a sitting Senator John Tower basically tried to sexually assault you in the backs of a taxi. You didn't come forward then and you didn't come forward when the senator was nominated for secretary of defense, can you just explain what happened and what you're thinking of it was done?

QUINN: John Tower was conserve and he was a friend of my father and Senator Barry Goldwater, who was my father's closest friend. And he -- I was theater major in a political science major at Smith College and he was talking to me about being a political -- politics measure and wanted me to come up to the Hill and have lunch. And then suddenly lunch became dinner because he was caught up in important meetings. And so I felt really creepy about having dinner with him, but I didn't want to say no, because I didn't want to imply he had ulterior motives. And we went to dinner. And then I realized what was going on, I tried to get out and get a cab. And he dragged me over to a nightclub and ordered brandy, and wouldn't let go of me. And I finally I got a way, and ran out and got out and cab, and he came out and jumped in the cab and jumped on do that of me, and basically tried to assault me. And the poor cab driver was desperate because I was screaming pounding at him, senator, stop and I was living at Fort Myer, Virginia where my father was stationed. He was a general in the army at that time.

And the cab driver was going about 90 miles an hour because he realized what was happening in the back of the car. And sort of screeched to a halt in front of our quarters, and I think then tower got scared, because he thought maybe the general would come out with a shotgun or mps would got him. But I went in the house that night. I cried all night long. I was absolutely traumatized, I never told my parents or Barry until much later, several years later because I was so ashamed and so guilty, and I kept thinking, you know, this must be my fault, because why did I go to dinner with him? Why did I go to the nightclub? Why did I let me in -- I must have done something to lead him on. I felt that it was my fault.

And I've told very few people, but the word got out in a small group, and when Tower, after he had retired from the Senate was nominated by George H.W. Bush to be secretary of defense, one day the two FBI agents showed up at my house. I was married to Ben Bradlee then. They said -- we're vetting Tower, we've heard your story about his sexual assault attempt, and we'd like to talk to you about it. And I said, no way, and they said, no, no this is going to be confidential -- totally confidential. I said, are you kidding where do you think "The Washington Post" get their stories from guys like you who leak? And I wouldn't talk to them. And this was before Anita Hill. And so they left.

[21:30:26] And what happened was, the great heroine of this story was Nancy Kassebaum, Republican senator was the only Republican who voted no on Tower and he was defeated. And so for that reason he was defeated because of this -- she had heard my story and there were other stories, too. But when I think about it, I thought I'm so glad I didn't do it. I could have been Anita Hill, and Anita Hill's life has been completely ruined, destroyed. I mean, she's always going to be the person who was in that hearing having to talk about these disgusting things.

COOPER: So do you still --

QUINN: Yes, go ahead?

COOPER: So do you still feel that way? I mean, because some might hear it and say it, you know, it's not worth it and if survivors in sexual assault don't come forward, perpetrators will never be held accountable.

QUINN: Well, you know, what I think is -- this is obviously most survivors of sexual assault don't end up in a Senate hearing in front of the millions of people all over the globe having to go into gory details without some kind of a backup. And she didn't get herself into this any more than Anita Hill did. I mean, Anita Hill was subpoenaed, her name, Christine Blasey Ford's name came out against her will. She didn't want to be there. But she did it because she said it was her civic duty.

What I think is that if I had been Anita Hill and I had known better, I wouldn't have done it. If I had been Christine Blasey Ford, she didn't expect it to go public, but I would not have done it. And even though it's civic duty, look at her. Today I read a story that she can't live in her own house.


QUINN: Because she has so many death threats. She's scared for herself, her life, her children, her family. Her entire life has been disrupted, and she's always going to be known as this woman who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault and couldn't prove it. And, of course, the FBI investigation was a complete sham, because they didn't even interview her or Brett Kavanaugh or 40 other people who came forward. And said we'd like to be interviewed. And so the question is, was it worth it? He got confirmed, and he is now a Supreme Court justice and she has to go back to her life that will never be the same again.

COOPER: Yes. Sally Quinn, I appreciate your time and I appreciate your writing about your experience. Thank you.

Coming up, we have more breaking news, a scope tonight from the "New York Times" which is reporting that Trump campaign aides Rick Gates who was looking for help from an Israeli intelligence firm to make fake online identities to manipulate people on social media, the latest on the details of this, next.


[21:36:33] COOPER: The top Trump campaign official reportedly was looking into getting help from an Israeli intelligence company to create fake online identities and social media manipulation and gather intelligence to help defeat opponents. This is new reporting are "New York Times" which reports that Rick Gates asked for proposal back in 2016 from in company. Mark Mazzetti is one of the reporters in byline of the story, he joins us now.

So mark, can you just walk us through your reporting, exactly what Gates was trying to do here?

MARK MAZZETTI, WASHINGTON INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Right. So this is the spring of 2016 right's Donald Trump was emerging out of the primary fight, and the big concern at the time was the convention, and this idea that there could be a revolt at the convention where delegates didn't actually go for Trump, they went it for Ted Cruz.

So at this time Rick Gates who just join the campaign with Paul Manafort, he has a meeting in Washington with a guy named George Birnbaum, who presents this idea of, this Israeli company can do all sorts of social media manipulation in order to help the campaign. They can create fake identities Botts Avatars et cetera to influence the delegates, so they don't do this defection towards Cruz.

Gates appears interested in the proposal, and he has Birnbaum tell the company to draw up multiple proposals, not only on the convention strategy, but also to gather intelligence about Hillary Clinton and her closest aides, because they were already worried at that time about the general election.

COOPER: So the campaign according to your reporting never accepted the firm's proposal, is there anything illegal about this?

MAZZETTI: Well, there was a legal review that was done by the company with Covington & Burling firm right here in Washington. It's -- in this sort of gray area of what exactly in an election is legal and illegal, we don't know the results of the legal review. Certainly we know that there is -- there are regulations about extensive foreign help to a campaign by foreign citizens. That would have been one of the things that Covington would have looked at about the legality. Certainly it seems in that area of question, which is, as we know, kind of at the heart of what Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is looking at, which is what did the Trump campaign know about what Russia was doing in a very similar effort? You know, I think stepping back for a second is really interesting to see that what this Israeli firm is proposing was similar to what the Russians ended up doing for the Trump campaign.

COOPER: But as far as we know there's no connection at least with this proposal to Russia?

MAZZETTI: Not that we know of.

COOPER: And I assume -- I mean, obviously Gates is cooperating with Mueller, so Robert Mueller has all this information and more?

MAZZETTI: Right. So we reported that Mueller has the proposals that we wrote about in the story, and has not only we presume questioned Gates about them, but is also his investigators in the FBI have gone to Israel and they've interviewed numerous employees with a firm called cy-group. The firm no longer exists. But this has been an information gathering effort by the Mueller team to get to the bottom of this and see where else it goes.

COOPER: Yes. Another hint of where the Mueller investigation may go. It's a fascinating reporting. Mark Mazzetti. Mark, thank you so much.

MAZZETTI: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up, we have new details about the horrific limousine crash that killed 20 people in Upstate New York this past weekend. New York's governor says the vehicle shouldn't have been on the road and the driver shouldn't have been driving it. The latest on that is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:43:41] COOPER: Well, the equivalent of the black box has been found in the investigation of that horrible limo crash that killed 20 people in Upstate New York over the weekend it could be one piece of the puzzle for investigators and a tragedy that will obviously shouldn't have happened at all. Athena Jones tonight has more.


ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was supposed to be a day of celebration. 17 passengers in the modified limousine gathered to celebrate a birthday. They were all killed, along with the driver and two people standing nearby.

SHERIFF RONALD STEVENS, SCHOHARIE COUNTY NEW YORK: This was a tragic accident, the worst I have seen in my 44 years in law enforcement.

JONES: The accident happened in Upstate New York just before 2:00 p.m. Saturday when the limousine came down state route 30 and blew past a stop sign, crossing the intersection and hitting a parked SUV before ending up on its side.

BRIDEY FINNAGEN, WITNESS: I heard a loud bang, then I heard screaming. I could walk up and I can see this large van, very unusual-looking vehicle for out here in Schoharie in the bushes, and really wrecked, hit a tree.

JONES: Among those killed a newlywed couple, married just four months ago. Also part of the group, four sisters all lost in an instant. They were on their way to a brewery to celebrate a 30th birthday. Karina Halse remembers her sister, Amanda.

KARINA HALSE, SISTER OF AMANDA HALSE: My sister was the most beautiful soul I've ever -- I'm so grateful to know in my life. I'm so grateful that she was my sister out of everyone else on earth and I will always have her in my heart.

[21:45:13] JONES: Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the state police are working to determine what caused the crash.

ROBERT SUMWALT, NTSB CHAIRMAN: We are here to investigate this particular crash, to understand the facts, circumstances and conditions surrounding this crash. However, we can't prevent this accident from happening. This one has already happened, so our larger goal is to see if in fact this is a more widespread issue.

JONES: State police say they have obtained the air bag control module from the vehicle, which they hope contains clues. Speaking at a Columbus state parade in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said there were issues with the driver and with the vehicle.

GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D) NEW YORK: Number one, the driver of the vehicle, the quote-unquote limousine, did not have the appropriate driver's license to be operating that vehicle. Second, that vehicle was inspected by the New York State Department of Transportation last month and failed inspection, and was not supposed to be on the road.

JONES: Another key question -- did the vehicle's design play a role?

SUMWALT: It was stretched, so we want to make sure that the vehicle when it was converted, that that was -- the conversion was conducted in accordance with federal regulations.

JONES: But for the mourning families, the answers won't change their new reality. Among those left behind, three small children who are now parentless.


COOPER: This was awful. Athena joins us now. What do we know about how fast the vehicle was going?

JONES: Anderson, that's one of the big questions. There's a lot of talk about whether there were skid marks on the scene, and there were no apparent skid marks. But the National Transportation Safety Board chairman made a good point today. He said that just like today with weather was moist and misty, yesterday was similar and that could affect whether or not there were going to be any visible skid marks. He also pointed out that modern-antilock brakes are supposed a car from skidding. So right now they don't know how fast the car was going at the time of the crash and they don't know if the driver tried to put on the brakes. Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Athena Jones, I appreciate your reporting. Thank you.

Coming you know, the latest on a Saudi journalist missing and feared dead inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.


[21:51:44] COOPER: President Trump tonight weighed in on that Saudi journalist missing and rumored dead after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.


TRUMP: I am concerned about it. I don't like hearing about it. And hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now nobody knows anything about it, but there's some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it.


COOPER: The President is talking about a man named Jamal Khashoggi, last seen entering the consulate but not seen actually leaving it. He is a writer for the Washington Post, once a loyal court insider, now turned critic of the Saudi regime. Our Arwa Damon joins us tonight. So walk us through what we know so far? ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very little,

actually, Anderson, in terms of concrete evidence, which is why we're hearing President Erdogan coming out and really putting the responsibility on the Saudis to back their claim that they had absolutely nothing to do with his disappearance and that he did, in fact, leave the consulate on that day. But they're not providing any sort of CCTV evidence to prove what it is that they're saying.

The Turks are trying to go through images that they have access to, but they really don't have, at least as far as we know, eyes inside the consulate itself which is leading to all sorts of speculations and theories as to what may have actually befallen Jamal Khashoggi.

And then there's of course this case of the 15th Saudi nationals among them officials who according to a police report released to state-run news agency, that they arrived the same day that Khashoggi went missing, were in the consulate around the same time and since then are believed to have departed the country. So there's a lot of questions being asked right now and according to Turkey at the very least and so many others watching this, the Saudis not really doing a lot to try to push speculation off them and on to anyone or anything else.

COOPER: And Turkish sources, I mean, believe that he may have been murdered inside the consulate. He had gone there for what reason, and was he concerned about it? Do we know?

DAMON: Well, he went in, according to his fiancee and his friends that we have been talking to, because he was trying to get married and needed official documentation from the Saudi consulate. His fiancee had said at one point he was a bit anxious about going in, bearing in mind of course he's not really a dissident, but he is a known critic. But he did have perhaps some doubts. But he'd already gone in the Friday previous, come out without any drama, was given his follow-on appointment, and that's when he basically went missing, whether or not he was according to Erdogan's adviser and others who are putting statements out there, murdered inside the consulate, whether he was somehow sedated and then moved elsewhere, we don't really know. There's no evidence to back that up. But at the same time as I was saying, and this is what's quite chilling about all of this, Anderson, the Saudis aren't providing any sort of CCTV footage, evidence to show him departing on October 2nd, which is why there are so many questions, because one would expect that would be fairly easy for them to provide.

COOPER: Right. I would imagine they have cameras all over their embassy. I mean in terms of evidence, I understand there is footage of him leaving the consulate a week and a half ago but not leaving the consulate last night, right?

[21:55:00] DAMON: Exactly. So there's no footage of him leaving the consulate on October 2nd. His fiancee was waiting outside for hours and hours. No one has heard from him. Some of his family members in Saudi Arabia have said that his disappearance is being politicized. They say they have full faith in the Saudi authorities. But right now at this stage, there is no evidence first and foremost on what transpired inside, whether he was killed or he was somehow drugged and moved elsewhere. But there's also no evidence to prove that he did, in fact, leave. He has quite simply disappeared.

COOPER: We'll keep following it. Arwa Damon, thanks very much.

Coming up, breaking news on Hurricane Michael as it takes aim at the United States.


COOPER: More breaking news tonight. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center say that Hurricane Michael has gotten stronger as it moves towards the Florida Panhandle this where the storm is tonight about 60 miles off the western coast of Cuba. It's expected to pick up intensity in crossing over the warm ocean water. This is the projected path if things don't change. Expect it to hit the Panhandle sometime Wednesday where 10 counties are under evacuation orders tonight. We'll of course be watching it and bring you full coverage.

The news continues, right now I want to turn things over to Don Lemon for "CNN Tonight." Don?