Return to Transcripts main page


CNN Source: Pompeo Told Saudi Crown Prince "Time Is Short," Saudi Must "Own" What Happened; Wash. Post: Trump Administration and Saudi Royals Seek Mutual Agreeable Explanation For Khashoggi's Death That Won't Implicate Crown Prince; New Voter I.D. Laws Under Scrutiny; North Dakota Native Americans Says New I.D. Rules Threaten To Disenfranchise Their Votes. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 17, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:04] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin with breaking news in a disappearance and apparent murder of the American-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. New reporting on what was said at this meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the power behind the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman known as MBS, also known as the man who would have known in advance about the alleged torture, murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

According to a source familiar with it, the smiles you see there between the prince and the Secretary of State Pompeo which raised so many eyebrows today were only for show. Yet even as we bring you this new account of a tougher tone with the Saudis or alleged tone, we should also mention it comes against drum beats of recent statements from Secretary Pompeo and others that suggest the opposite.

When asked today whether the FBI is investigating the apparent murder of an American resident who worked across the Potomac from the White House for "The Washington Post", he underscored that Khashoggi was Saudi and not an American citizen. Secretary Pompeo who is back from that meeting in Riyadh had this to say when asked if Saudi officials told him whether Khashoggi is even dead or alive.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't want to talk about any of the facts. They didn't want to either. And that they want the opportunity to complete this investigation in a thorough way.


COOPER: So just a few hours ago, Secretary Pompeo suggested he is okay with a fact-free fact-finding visit, alleged fact-finding visit. Also that he is okay with a country suspected of detaining, torturing, drugging and dismembering a high profile American resident investigating self.

Combine that with the president's mention of how important an ally and arms buyer Saudi Arabia is and critics say that adds up to an administration helping the kingdom cover up a murder, which may or may not explain why we are being told about tough talk behind closed doors. But it adds a new dimension to the story.

And it's where we begin this hour. CNN's Alex Marquardt joins us with the latest.

So, what is this source saying happened in the meeting between Secretary Pompeo and the crown prince?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I imagine you're right. I think we are hearing this side of the story because of widespread criticism that Pompeo got for looking so chummy, for looking so smiley with MBS. Remember, of course, he was there to supposedly demand answers from MBS about this horrifically grisly murder.

But, Anderson, we are hearing from a source who is telling our colleague Jamie Gangel that Pompeo told MBS in no uncertain terms he has to own this situation, that eventually all the facts will come out and that even if MBS didn't know about the plot ahead of time, that he has to own this situation.

Now, we're told that the most dramatic moment in this conversation was when Pompeo told MBS his very future as king is at stake. Remember, he is just 33 years old, but his father is quite elderly. He could easily become king soon. We are already starting to hear noises from certain corners about demanding the king to replace his son as crown prince.

Most notably, from Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who said very bluntly, calling on the king to replace MBS as crown prince. He called him toxic.

So, we are told by the source that this was a very blunt message. It's unclear how it landed with the crown prince, Anderson.

COOPER: It also seems completely at odds with the photo opportunity in which they both are smiling, seemed to be enjoying each other's company. What did Secretary of State Pompeo allegedly tell the crown prince the U.S. would do if he doesn't own it? I am not sure what owning it exactly means.

MARQUARDT: Right. He basically said that action would be taken, that the U.S. would be forced to take action. The fact, the quote is, the U.S. will take action because the world will demand it and that President Trump's hand will be forced by the global pressure. It's not just global pressure. It's domestic pressure. Most of the pressure that President Trump is feeling right now is coming from Capitol Hill, from both sides of the aisle. A group of senators, bipartisan senators, saying that they are ready to levy sanctions under the Magnitsky Act which was enacted first against Russia, and they would be ready to block arms sales.

Now, Pompeo has just landed back on U.S. soil. He is expected to brief President Trump soon. The first indication, Anderson, of how the U.S. is going to manage this relationship, how the Trump administration is going to handle this relationship going forward may come tomorrow, because Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is slated to go to a conference in Riyadh next week. We have seen this list of political and business leaders who have pulled out. Mnuchin is still slated to go. He is not going to make a decision until tomorrow after the briefing by Pompeo to the president.

COOPER: All right. Alex Marquardt, appreciate that.

Reaction now from Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, thanks for being with us.

The new narrative of allegedly what happened in this Pompeo meeting, supposedly the smiles ended at the end of the photo-op, do you believe that, especially given the tone of everything else we've seen and heard from the administration thus far?

[20:05:04] SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: I'm not at all confident of that. The fact that the message to the world was that they discussed many things, bilateral relations, security in the gulf and got around to say that a thorough investigation would be nice, that kind of attitude certainly doesn't show the U.S. demanding answers on the murder of an American resident, murder of an American columnist for "The Washington Post."

We need to send a powerful message here, not one that basically tries to create space for some sort of spin or cover story to develop.

COOPER: It's been pointed out a number of times for people in the administration that Jamal Khashoggi was not an American citizen. Should that matter in terms of the U.S.'s response?

MERKLEY: Not at all. He was an American resident. He is a writer, columnist for "The Washington Post," an American newspaper. We should stand up for human rights everywhere in the world, and certainly such a murder is unacceptable if indeed the murder happened.

But there is plenty of connection to America for America to take the lead in demanding a thorough investigation. Not an investigation by the Saudis. We should be involved in this. We should deploy our assets, our FBI assets to find out what happened.

COOPER: Do you find it credible at all that MBS would not have known about an operation of this sort in advance given that some of the people have been identified as people in his close protection detail who may be part of the Saudi intelligence community or certainly in the security establishment?

MERKLEY: I do not find that credible at all. MBS is really playing a huge role in that country. I think everyone is terrified to do anything that doesn't go through him.

The idea that there would be some rogue element that would undertake such a massive preparation to bring in a team to lure him over to Turkey, to the embassy, to the Saudi embassy, to proceed to kill him, dismember him, torture him, so on and so forth, none -- I cannot imagine anyone doing that without MBS having basic said make this happen.

COOPER: You know, so this source of Jamie Gangel said that Secretary Pompeo told MBS he has to own. I am not sure, again, what that means. What would you -- what do you think the ramifications should be for the U.S./Saudi relationship?

MERKLEY: Well, certainly those individuals who we find out were involved should be subjected to the Global Magnitsky Act, which that has a limited amount of power, but it does say we will freeze your assets. It does say we will restrict your travel to the United States.

But then we need to think about other things involved in the relationship. We need to think about the use of the Foreign Assistance Act, the Arms Export Control Act, the War Powers Act, all of which have provisions which create a leverage regarding a foreign nation and our relationship with them and our supply of arms and our supply of intelligence and our supply of support in other forms.

COOPER: So, I mean, if the president doesn't take what you and your colleagues in Congress consider to be appropriate action, is there really enough political will or bipartisan support for Congress itself to take action?

MERKLEY: I think there very well might be. There were 44 votes for the Senators Lee, Murphy provision that went before the Senate to say that we should stop providing fuel and support for their attacks on Yemen and intelligence and cooperating with them, 44 bipartisan votes in that instance. I would suspect if that vote was held today, that there would be a majority.

And partly, we have to realize this is coming on top of just more and more knowledge about this Saudi targeting of civilians in Yemen, there'd be massive starvation that is imminent there. It's a horrific situation that the U.S. should not have its hand in, but we do, and there is a growing sense we must force the administration to quit partnering in this decimation of civilian infrastructure and bombings in Yemen.

COOPER: Senator Merkley, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

There is more breaking news. Moments ago, "The Washington Post" published a column by Jamal Khashoggi, apparently, his final column. In it, he talks about freedom writ large in the Arab world and more specifically freedom of the press. He pulls no punches in his criticism of the Saudi government, criticism we now know might have gotten him killed.

Arab governments, he writes, have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate. There was a time when journalists believed the Internet would liberate information from the censorship and control associate with media, but these governments whose existence relies on the control of information have aggressively blocked the Internet. He went on to write, the Arab world is facing its own version of an

iron curtain impose not by external actors but through domestic forces vying for power. During the Cold War, Radio for Europe which grew over the years into a critical institution played an important role in fostering and sustaining the hope of freedom. Arabs need something similar.

Khashoggi also writes about a friend and fellow columnist now in prison for supposed anti-Saudi commentary who he says is serving a five-year sentence, which now given what likely happened in Istanbul seems quaint.

Joining us now is "Washington Post" global opinions editor, Karen Attiah.

Karen, when did Jamal Khashoggi write this? And I'm wondering, what's behind the decision to publish it now?

KAREN ATTIAH, GLOBAL OPINIONS EDITOR, WASHINGTON POST: Sure. So this came to me about a day after we heard about his disappearance. You know, through his assistant translator, which he worked with from time to time while we worked together in the past year.

You know, he had been collaborating on this piece up until the day before he disappeared on October 1st, as far as I can tell. So, you know, like I said in my note above the column, we held off. We honestly thought that maybe we were dealing with, you know, perhaps an interrogation situation. We thought that maybe he would come back to us. We thought maybe we were perhaps even dealing with an imprisonment or a hostage situation.

But as time went on, it became increasingly clear that I wouldn't edit him again. And so, I think this week, we decided as the story is moving on to sort of the U.S./Saudi relationship, a geopolitical story, rumors are swirling about who Jamal was, we just decided we wanted to bring it back to his words, his ideas, to his thoughts and who he was as a person and why he was so passionate about being free here in Washington and being free here at "The Washington Post."

So, we thought it was appropriate just to remind people of the human, of the man who fell victim to apparently a horrific, horrific crime.

COOPER: I mean, it does seem fitting and also incredibly sad that his last column, this last column would be about freedom of the press in the Arab world.

ATTIAH: It's fitting, but it's in our time working together, especially in the last several weeks, he was very -- again, he would come into the office. We had lunch a couple weeks ago. He was very adamant about wanting to do more in Arabic. He wanted to create a sort of, you know, international "Herald Tribune" for the Arab world.

I think that he really -- he wanted to be free. He just saw how journalism was being smashed around the Arab world. So, it was something that he was really pushing for, very pushy about. He wasn't a pushy writer at all, but on this note, it was something

that he's really passionate about it to the point where he would say I would do this for free. Let me do this. I'll set up editors. I'll figure it out. We were discussing setting up some sort of newsletter perhaps that he could helm and take charge of.

And so, it is poetic and it is fitting that this would be the last column that I would write, edit for him.

COOPER: Karen Attiah, I appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

A bit later tonight, we will have more on the affinity that the president appears to have with the Saudis with the arguments for and against confronting them and more.

Coming up next, more breaking news. This is time in the Russia investigation. Signs it could be racing to what could be an early report and possible more indictments.


[20:18:05] COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight. And frankly, it won't be the last time I say that. A lot has been changing just in the last hour.

CNN has learned that Michael Cohen, the president's former personal attorney and self-described Mr. Fix-It met today with a group of state and federal law enforcement officials. According to sources familiar with the meeting, they are investigating the president's family business as well as his charity.

Cohen has also, as you know, been talking with Russia special counsel Robert Mueller's team. New reporting on how busy Mr. Mueller has been lately, although not in the headlines. Put some of these new pieces together to some in this quiet period before midterms is starting to look perhaps like the homestretch.

CNN's Sara Murray has the reporting behind this possible new timeline. She joins us now.

So what are you hearing about what's going on, what's been going on? It's obviously, you know, they have been kind of lying low in terms of there is no public indictments, and what are you hearing about possible more indictments in the future?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPNDENT: Well, that's right. You know, we're just a couple of weeks from the midterms. We don't expect any big public announcements. But there has been a flurry of activity behind the scenes.

And, you know, sources close to the president, sources familiar with this investigation still believe there could be more criminal indictments to come. And, you know, one of the big characters in this we haven't heard a lot about is Roger Stone, one of the president's long-time political advisors, and he even said publicly that he believes he could be indicted for some kind of criminal activity. He just doesn't know what.

COOPER: So just to be clear though, there is no reporting saying some criminal indictments are coming out? You are just hearing the possibility of?

MURRAY: Certainly, there is the possibility of. You know, we don't know from Mueller's team whether there will be a criminal indictment until the criminal indictment comes out. But what we know is that people who are familiar with this investigation, people who know what's going on behind the scenes in some of these ongoing investigations do believe that there could be more indictments to come.

Of course, we would expect that stuff to all become public later on down the road, after we get through the midterm elections.

[20:20:01] And as we get to this point, you know, where Robert Mueller wants to get these last few cases on the board, at least through the finish line in terms of the indictments and then start preparing his report.

COOPER: What about Paul Manafort? Has he been interviewed a lot?

MURRAY: Yes. I mean, when we talk about what's going on behind the scenes, we are talking about key players in this investigation. So Paul Manafort we know is cooperating. He has been in with his lawyers to meet with the special counsel's team nine different times.

And we've also seen something similar going on with Michael Cohen. As you point out, he met with state and federal investigators to talk about the Trump family business, to talk about the charitable foundation, but he has met with Mueller's team. We are not sure what they are cooperating on, but we know that the special counsel had questions for them. And who knows what kind of investigations or what other players they could provide intel on.

COOPER: Is it clear at this point, you know, if this does end, whether some public report will actually be issued? Because there is no guarantee that there would be a public report by Mueller, correct?

MURRAY: Exactly. There are plenty of Americans who have watched this play out, who have heard us talk about this, who wonder what the special counsel and his team have been up to. But the way the rules are written, the special counsel has to hand over a report to deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. It's up to him to decide what he wants to make public.

You know, this will be a report that explains why Mueller decided to prosecute the things he did and why he declined to prosecute other things that were maybe left behind, left on the cutting room floor. But we just don't know if the American public or if we are going to get a glimpse of that at all, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Sara Murray, appreciate it.

Another potential sign that big things may be ahead comes from the president, he is talking about the investigation, disparaging, knocking the notion he colluded with Russia as he did just recently with Fox Business News.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was no collusion. There was no Russia -- do you think I would call Russia, I need help in Idaho? I need help in Iowa. Oh, let's call Russia.

It's a con job. I didn't make one call to -- the whole thing is so disgraceful. So it continues. It's a witch hunt. It's nothing more than a witch hunt.

And most people get it, including Democrats. They wink at me. They look at me, they wink at me. The Democrats get it, too. But we'll see what happens.


COOPER: Perspective now from "New York Times" White House correspondent and CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman, also David Gergen, who worked with four presidents and former defense attorney Paul Callan, a CNN legal analyst.

So, Maggie, you have been saying that something is agitating the president. What makes you confident it's related to the Mueller probe?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I don't know that it's related to the Mueller probe. It could be related to all kinds of things. He has tended to use witch hunt when something is going on with the Russia probe.

There were some sentences that were handed down, I believe, that Fox News was talking about the morning that he made that tweet. That could have been it. I think it is likelier that they have an expectation that there is a report coming, as you have been reporting and as we have heard as well, fairly soon after the midterm election, that there could be an indictment of Roger Stone, which while the president will distance himself from Roger Stone, Roger Stone has been a long serving off and on advisor to this president, the longest serving of his political group.

And so, it could be any one of these things, but he had taken a break from agitating about this. He had not tweeted the words witch hunt for a month. The way it had been described by several people close to him was, A, he personally believed that Mueller was winding down for whatever reason, and we don't know why. But he believed that, number one. Number two, he also believed that all he could do was rock the boat. Yet, here you had him doing it again this week.

COOPER: You know, David, if the focus is Roger Stone and any kind of indictment, I mean, to Maggie's point, Roger Stone left the campaign relatively early on, at least publicly left the campaign.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO NIXON, FORD, REAGAN & CLINTON: If at the end of the day there is only an indictment of Roger Stone and no indictment of anyone else or no charges leveled against the president with regard to collusion or obstruction, that will be a major victory. The White House would take that in a heartbeat.

But there are a number of indications that right now we are going through the quiet before a storm. And that a storm is coming after the midterms with a collision possibly between the Justice Department, Rod Rosenstein, and President Trump. Rosenstein has been acting in an interesting way. He has basically told Mueller to hustle it up, get this thing completed as soon as you can. He today had an interview in which he called what Mueller is doing completely appropriate and he was acting in an independent way, as he should.

That is Rosenstein from my point of view building a wall to protect Mueller, knowing that Trump may move in now, get rid of Sessions, bring in a new attorney general who is not recused, who can receive this report and throw it in the waste basket, you know?

[20:25:00] So, we don't know where this is going right now. If there is a time when Donald Trump is going to strike, it's likely going to be shortly after the midterms in order to head off Mueller.

COOPER: Paul, you know, the president, folks at the White House repeatedly have been distancing themselves from Michael Cohen, downplaying his role in the life of Donald Trump, and also obviously Paul Manafort's role in the campaign. What's not clear is what at this point Michael Cohen or Paul Manafort would know about that would be of interest to the Mueller team.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think that Mueller is following leads that he has been all along with respect to Manafort, and that is that Manafort had Ukrainian and Russian connections. What I'm wondering about now is if some of those connections would be helpful in proving charges against the Trump Organization because I have a feeling that in the end, there is no case against the president himself, but there may very well be a case being made based on Michael Cohen and what Manafort provides against the Trump Organization for some kind of business mal -- you know, practices.

And my take is a little bit different than David's on this odd statement that Rosenstein made. I mean, he's come out and said that the Mueller investigation is appropriate and independent. Now, this comes in the wake of a meeting with the president where a lot of people thought Rosenstein was going to get fired for allegedly suggesting that he taped the president or invoke the 25th Amendment. Whatever happened in that meeting, it was a friendly meeting because Trump came out and made no nasty statements about Rosenstein.

So I think in that meeting, there must have been some hint given to the president that what's going to happen in the immediate future will not involve an indictment of the president himself, but maybe others.

COOPER: Although, Maggie, it was in that interview, I believe with you, that you had with the president where the president, you asked about a red line. HABERMAN: Last year.

COOPER: And business dealings, the family finances, and that was clearly something the president felt was a red line?

HABERMAN: Sure. And this is something that has been looming for a while. We don't know exactly. It's really important to keep stressing, A, we don't know exactly what Mueller is doing, and b we don't know what the Southern District of New York is doing, and they are dealing more specifically with Michael Cohen on aspects of the Trump Organization.

I think most people close to the president cannot imagine a scenario where he is going to be, again, barring the unforeseen, that he is going to be indicted while in office for any of the things that they are looking at.

I think that Paul is dead on. I think that there has been a desire to suggest that Rosenstein is the bulwark against Mueller being tampered with or Mueller folding or something happening with Mueller. There is a real reason to bear in mind that rod Rosenstein wrote the original memo that led to Comey being fired which led to the appointment of Robert Mueller. I think that Rosenstein has been at various places on this, and we don't know what was said in that private conversation.

But there is no reason to assume that the conversation was Rosenstein drawing a line in the sand.

COOPER: David, how important do you think it would be for whatever report Mueller puts together to give to Rosenstein, that that be made public or that there is at least some sort of public explanation of the results of the investigation or decisions not to have any other indictments?

GERGEN: I think it's extremely important. The country has been put through 17 months of this drama, and now there are all sorts of questions about what was this all about? What was going on in the Trump Organization? How should we make adjustments about this president, about his inner circle?

And for us to then be shut out of that process and to have selective leaking by one side or the other is as the process goes forward would be a most unfortunate result. The public has a right to know in a democracy more than just the outlines of things. This is a time to be transparent and straightforward.

COOPER: David Gergen, Maggie Haberman, Paul Callan, appreciate it very much. Thank you.

Up next, "The Washington Post" breaking more news just now, reporting that the Trump administration and Saudi royal family are searching, in so many words, for a cover story in the death of Jamal Khashoggi. We'll have more on the reporting ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:33:24] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We continue to get new reporting on the breaking news that we began with tonight that Secretary of State Pompeo took a tough line with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at their meeting in Riyadh behind the scenes telling him, according to one source familiar with the meeting, that he had to "own the facts of Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance and apparent murder."

Then, minutes ago, new reporting from "The Washington Post" which contrasts with that narrative. The "Post" reporting that the Trump administration and Saudi royal family are searching for what the "Post" describes as a mutually agreeable explanation for what happened, one that does not implicate the Saudi crown prince.

The "Post" also reporting that American intelligence intercept show MBS had ordered an operation to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia. Certainly adds yet another dimension to that grip and grin video from Riyadh between the Secretary of State and MBS, and that's just the latest in a string of developments today.

For more, I want to turn to our Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, I mean, it certainly seems like the administration is in some sort of a cleanup mode right now over this meeting between Pompeo and the crown prince in which -- I mean, it was seemed to incredibly cordial and happy in front of the cameras.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, there's no question. For the last, at least, couple days the President has been agitated, I'm told, by what he sees as news coverage here that is painting him in a pretty favorable and cozy light, if you will, with the Saudi government and the Saudi leadership, so no question at all.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo trying to assert that, "No, I really did have tough words privately." But the public words are what the world is watching here, and the President once again today said he was going to take a wait and see approach, allowing the Saudis to complete their investigation.

[20:35:05] Now, we're more than two weeks into this situation already and the President not showing any sense of urgency, not saying if the U.S. intelligence officials are involved or if he is getting any information from them seemingly to put everything on the Saudi government.

Well, the Secretary of State clearly mindful of his own reputation and politics in all of this as well, pushing back saying, no, he did take a tough line. But, Anderson, no question here the White House feels exposed to this as they are hearing privately from Republican senators and others, you know, saying that why aren't you sort of being -- at least more skeptical at the very least of this Saudi government story.

COOPER: And the Secretary of State is scheduled to meet with the President tomorrow about this, right?

ZELENY: He is, indeed. The Secretary of State is back now in Washington after that fact-finding mission, if you will, unclear how many facts he actually found. But he is scheduled to meet with the President, at least expected to meet with the President likely in the Oval Office sometime perhaps midday. It's not been publicly advised yet, but then the President is going out west for a series of campaign swings. So clearly, this is hanging over him but they are expected to have a one-on-one meeting.

And, again, though, it's unclear what that is actually going to do to develop this since the U.S. government and the President had said we're going to wait for the Saudis to finish its investigation here. But they are scheduled to have a meeting tomorrow, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thanks. All of this, of course, is the crisis the White House clearly did not want.

Joining us now, Jen Psaki, former White House Communications Director for President Obama, former Republican Senator Rick Santorum, and former Senior Adviser to President Obama, David Axelrod.

David, what do you make of this new reporting from "The Washington Post" that just -- that we were just getting that the Trump administration and the Saudi royal family are searching for a mutually agreeable explanation for Khashoggi's death that doesn't somehow implicate the crown prince?

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Yes. My impression from the beginning was that the trip was more about getting the stories to coordinate and jibe than a fact-finding mission. This is a sticky wicket for the administration because they've lashed themselves so closely to the Saudis, particularly to the crown prince.

And if he is implicated as a mastermind of this assassination, it is an enormous problem for them. So I think that -- you know, let's just stipulate, by the way, that if you are serious about getting to the bottom of it, would you rely on the Saudi government if, in fact, the crown prince was involved to come up with a story that got to the bottom of this? I don't think so. I think this is about stalling for time to find the plausible way to explain all of this.

COOPER: Senator Santorum, do you buy this notion that the crown prince would oversee an investigation that would have any validity into what happened to Jamal Khashoggi?

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR, PENNSYLVANIA: Well, look, I mean, the Saudis aren't the only one investigating this. I mean, obviously, this happened within Turkey. The Turks have already been very clear that they have information and there is a great motive -- motivation on the part of President Erdogan to stick this, you know, squarely between the Saudis' eyes, if you will. So, I don't think there's any doubt that the truth is going to come out about this.

And, you know, some reporting that I've heard said that the Secretary of State delivered that. That this is -- the truth is going to come out. You can play games. The idea of trying to get our stories straight, there's not going to be getting stories straight. The truth is going to come out about what happen here and, you know, there's going to be consequences probably looking like it's going to be MBS is the one that's going to be holding the bag.

And then really the question for the President is, you know, how do you maintain the relationship with Saudi Arabia, which is key and very strategic and important and, you know, deal or not deal with MBS? I mean, that becomes another internal issue for the Saudis.

COOPER: Jen, I mean, the notion that the U.S. is waiting around for a Saudi investigation or the results of a Saudi investigation, does that seem to make any sense to you?

JEN PSAKI, FORMER DEPUTY W.H. PRESS SECRETARY FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, it's clearly a delay tactic. It's kind of like that old saying about the fox watching the hen house, but the fox is overseeing the investigation of the break-in to the hen house. In this case, I mean, his feather is coming out of his mouth. I mean, this is not obviously a valid investigation.

But I think, ultimately, we know what happened here or we know enough to know that MBS likely knew, because an operation of this level probably wouldn't have happened without his knowledge, that obviously there was an international reporter who was murdered, in all likelihood in this case, and that there needs to be some international action.

So as Rick Santorum just said, there is a reality here that the United States has an important relationship with Saudi Arabia. Past presidents, Republican and Democratic, have been able to balanced the call for human rights action and for freedom of press while also having that relationship. And this administration has to figure out a better way to do that because obviously this is not working and they're really giving them a free pass at this point.

[20:40:08] COOPER: David, what would be the way to do that? It's obviously a very complex alliance, it's a complex situation and, you know, it's obviously a complex part of the world.

AXELROD: Yeah, it is. And everything that was -- that Jen and Rick said is true in terms of the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. It's an important strategic relationship. But what's clear is that the Congress isn't going to sit still if these facts come to the fore about the prince's involvement, and Saudi Arabia is going to have to make a decision.

And the hard message that may have been delivered by the Secretary of State is that if this is the fact that he was involved in this, he can't be the next in line. He can't be the de facto leader of the country and have us work closely with you. So you need to figure this problem out yourselves. So that would be the tough message to deliver.

I don't think the message was let's, you know, we better find out what happened here. I suspect the Secretary of State has a pretty good sense of what happened here.

COOPER: Senator Santorum, has the U.S. tied itself so closely to Mohammed bin Salman that that relationship is essential to the Saudi relationship, or could you see a Saudi relationship in which MBS is no longer the crown prince or in charge?

SANTORUM: I mean, you know, MBS is a controversial leader. It has, you know, a lot of enemies, not just in Turkey, but in Saudi Arabia. And so -- and there are certainly are other capable people there to fill in if MBS steps aside. And, in fact, you know, maybe a better course forward for the Saudis. So, this may be a gift-wrapped present that the President wasn't expecting, but could be a better course.

I think the Saudis are committed to -- from a geopolitical point of view, to lining up against Iran and trying to establish a new partnership in the Middle East with the United States, Israel, Egypt, and others. And that's a very good sign.

I don't think MBS is unique in that regard. And I think the President has to take a step back here and look at what's in the best interest of those alliances and those relationships and look at it particularly with respect to Turkey.

I mean, Turkey can benefit greatly if this is mishandled and the Saudis are besmirched and, you know, end up getting harmed, the country getting harmed by this. We can't let that happen. The Turks are, I think, a greater threat than this administration realizes.

COOPER: Senator Santorum, appreciate it. David Axelrod, Jen Psaki, thanks very much.

PSAKI: Thank you.

COOPER: A lot more ahead tonight on the program. There are new tougher voter I.D. laws in effect in some states with the November midterms just 20 days away. Just ahead, we'll take you to the one state where the old voting traditions for one group of residents will be much different when votes are cast next month.


[20:46:46] COOPER: We're now 20 days away from the November midterm elections, as you probably know. And then -- as if there weren't enough at stake already, voter I.D. laws are at the center of a lot of the debate.

Democrats are complaining that for the most part changes enacted by several states are designed to hurt their turnout. Republicans disagree. Our Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin tonight investigates.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, Terry Yellow Fat, for years voted with an I.D. with no address. In fact, he didn't know street address, he knew his post office box, and that was enough until now.

TERRY YELLOW FAT, STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBE: I have no idea why they want a physical address. The post office box always worked. GRIFFIN: A North Dakota law passed last year and upheld by the Supreme Court last week demands voters in this state and on tribal lands present a valid I.D. with an actual street address.

While that may sound like it's no big deal to you, here on the Standing Rock Reservation and tribal lands across North Dakota the law is seemed to have one purpose, keep Native Americans from voting.

MARGARET LANDIN, NATIVE VOTE ND: It is a very complicated problem because we don't -- some reservations, they don't have street addresses. Majority of them don't have house numbers. So what they've been utilizing is a P.O. box.

GRIFFIN: Margaret Landin, a Native American voting rights advocate says just weeks before November's election some Native Americans, her husband included, are scrambling to get new I.D.s just to vote.

Neil Landin (ph) had no idea what his street address was. He had to call his county emergency coordinator to find out.

NEIL LANDIN, NATIVE AMERICAN: So I got 3 First Avenue East is what they told me on the phone.

GRIFFIN: The process did take just minutes and he now has a tribal I.D. he will be able to vote.

(on camera) Did it cost anything?

N. LANDIN: No fee.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): That's not the point, says wife, Margaret.

M. LANDIN: It's discriminating and disenfranchising to our people to not allow them to vote. And it's discouraging on top of that.

AL JAEGER, NORTH DAKOTA SECRETARY OF STATE: It's not designed to disenfranchise anybody.

GRIFFIN: Al Jaeger, North Dakota's Secretary of State, he is trying to implement the new law, which he says is designed to protect the integrity of the vote. And what could be simpler, he says, than to merely present an I.D. that says who you are and where you live.

JAEGER: Pretty simple process. And so other seems to be, you know, making it a lot more than it is. It's pretty simple.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Well, other seems to be saying that you're kind of disenfranchise Native American voters, right?

JAEGER: Well, we're not. We want every qualified person in the state of North Dakota to be able to vote.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The backdrop for the push to get this voter I.D. law in North Dakota began shortly after Democrat Heidi Heitkamp narrowly won her election for U.S. Senate in 2012. She won by less than 3,000 votes with the backing of Native Americans, who tend to vote Democratic.

(on camera) There is a much bigger story going on here. Laws across the U.S. are being passed to make it harder, not easier to vote.

(voice-over) Since the 2016 election, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, nine states with Republican state legislatures have passed laws restricting the vote.

[20:50:04] In Georgia, a law requiring an exact match of voter registration information has placed 53,000, mostly African-American voters, on a pending list. In Arkansas, a new photo I.D. requirement goes into effect this election. And in Indiana, the state's use of a nationwide cross check system to purge voter rolls was ruled a violation of the national voter registration act. Why so many laws? Take a guess.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In many places, like California, the same person votes many times, you probably heard about that. There was like to say, "Oh, that's a conspiracy theory." Not a conspiracy theory, folks, millions and millions of people.

GRIFFIN: Actually, it is a conspiracy theory. There is no evidence, none, that massive voter fraud is taking place anywhere in the United States, North Dakota, included.

(on camera) So Mr. Secretary, was there, is there, a large problem with illegal voting in the state?

JAEGER: Well, one thing we can't prove one way or the other. In the past, we have -- I can't prosecute, so in the past we have referred situations and they haven't been prosecuted. We had, you know, a case --

GRIFFIN: But -- I mean, how many?

JAEGER: Well, we -- just a handful.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Myrna Perez with the Brennan Center for Justice says these voter fraud laws have little to do with fighting actual voter fraud.

MYRNA PEREZ, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: We're instead seeing the kinds of laws that make it harder for people who are poor, traditionally disenfranchised, minority groups and folks who generally have a hard time participating on elections and this is just another barrier for them.

GRIFFIN: Now, because of this new law, activists fear thousands of North Dakotans will not be able to vote. And while CNN has yet to find any evidence to back that up, those same activists say the real effect could be discouraging voters from even showing up, with or without proper I.D.


COOPER: And Drew joins us now. So, Drew, just explain in each of these states, voters will not be turned away. I mean, they can still vote. They can still meet the requirements to vote, is that correct?

GRIFFIN: Correct, Anderson, and that's the message. Show up and vote even if it's a provisional ballot. The poll workers can hopefully help you resolve any issues.

And to be absolutely transparent here, we spent a good deal on the time in North Dakota on the phone working with the activists and tribes trying to find even one person who will not be able to vote because of this new law and we couldn't find that person.

What activists fear, though, Anderson, is people who think they may be affected just won't show up, that's difficult to measure. Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Drew Griffin, appreciate the reporting. I want to check in with Chris and see what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time" at the top of the hour. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: How are you doing, brother?

COOPER: I'm good. How are you doing?

CUOMO: Good. We've got new information and new insight tonight. Insight into what's going on in this hunt for facts with Khashoggi. Is that's what it really about with Jamal Khashoggi, finding facts or is it about buying time? We've got Michael Hayden and hear about some key insights into this process and what doesn't make sense.

We also have new information about what Michael Cohen might mean to President Trump and the scope of all the investigations that are going on. He's not talking to prosecutors just about paying women, it's a lot more, it's a lot longer, and it could mean things that we have not anticipated in the past. So we're going to take you through all of that.

And then I have a closing argument, my friend, you're going to want to watch. I heard something from the President today that literally almost made me lose a filling from laughing. Now, I'm not going to give it away.

COOPER: Do you want to say what -- you're not going to give it away?

CUOMO: No, no, no. I got to keep them guessing.


CUOMO: And I don't like that you have been hiding the most important information that we have tonight, God forbid there's any other breaking news. I know where you are, Anderson. I know where you are.

COOPER: Oh, yes.

CUOMO: You are in Arizona and you are getting your just desserts. You are getting the award of all awards for a journalist, the Cronkite Award for Lifetime Achievement, and you're only 37 years old.

COOPER: Bless you. CUOMO: No.

COOPER: Yes, 37, I wish.

CUOMO: Bless you, my snowy-haired brother. You are our best. You represent the best instincts, the work ethic second to none I have ever seen. You make us proud and I am proud to be your friend.

People often say to me, "Man, that Anderson, he doesn't like you, huh? You try to make him laugh, it never happens." I say, "No, he's just that committed to the job. He is all about the job. And when he's not on, we're fast friends."

Congratulations. Well deserved. I'm proud of you and I'm proud to be your colleague. Congratulations.

COOPER: If I didn't have so much makeup on, Chris, you would see me blush. Thank you very much.

CUOMO: I don't think you're capable of blushing.

[20:55:01] COOPER: Yes, I'm probably not, actually. This is my version of blushing. But, yes, I know I'm going to be at ASU at the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications, it's been a huge honor. And thank you for your kind words, Chris. Appreciate it. I'll see you five minutes from now for "Cuomo Prime Time."

Coming up next, what the Secret Service has to say about the incident holding camera involving Jared Kushner's security detail, a reporter and some shoving. Details on that ahead.


COOPER: An update now on a story we brought you last night. We showed you what happened when CBS News' Errol Barnett tried to ask Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law who reportedly has a close relationship with the Saudi crown prince, about the royal family's denial of involvement in the disappearance of the Saudi journalist. Here's part of what happened.


ERROL BARNETT, CBS NEW CORRESPONDENT: Hey there Jared, Errol Barnett with CBS, any comment (INAUDIBLE)?


COOPER: Those were Secret Service agents in the video. Tonight in a statement, the Secret Service said it has a long standing practice of respecting First Amendment rights of the press and it added, "The actions were taken solely in response to an abrupt movement by an unknown individual who later identified themselves as a member of the media." All well in good, but as you saw, Barnett did in fact identify himself before he tried to ask anything of Jared Kushner.

The news continues right now. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?

CUOMO: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to "Prime Time." How hard is it to know what happen to Jamal Khashoggi? And why are these two --