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Turkish Source: Surveillance Footage Shows Saudi "Body Double" In Khashoggi's Clothes After He Was Killed; Pres. Trump: "I Am Not Satisfied With What Heard" On Khashoggi's Death; Kushner: We Want Transparency From The Saudis; Pres. Trump Now Calls Ted Cruz "Beautiful" Not "Lyin". Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 22, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:05] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

A senior U.S. counterterrorism official tells CNN there's no evidence that ISIS or any other Sunni terror groups are trying to get into the country by coming across the southern border. No evidence. That is a factual statement from a highly placed knowledgeable source.

No evidence of terrorist infiltration in the migrant caravan now making its way through Mexico. Zero, none.

Now, we're saying it at the top of the broadcast and we'll keep coming back to it because simple facts matter and the quiet truth bears repeating.

With just two weeks to go until midterm elections, President Trump who's in Texas tonight has chosen to fill the public arena with the exact opposite of a quiet truth or simple facts and he's doing it in a way that seems designed to scare people.

The president of the United States is intentionally, it appears, trying to scare you. He's been out there loudly repeatedly unabashedly spreading falsehoods, and that is not the same as painting the political opposition in the worst light possible which all modern presidents, Republicans and Democrats, have done.

In the past, some presidents have exaggerated, some have twisted words, some bent truths and some told lies. When asked about his nickname given Hell Harry, Harry Truman said I tell the truth, and they think it's hell. Well, he didn't always tell the truth either.

But, right now, this president who already utters multiple proven falsehoods every single day seems to be making them the center piece for Republicans next month.

We'll start with this migrant caravan. Now, we're only going to show this video sparingly because you can make the case that to play wall to wall pictures of thousands of men and women making their way north only serves the president's purpose of making it appear more threatening than it actually is.

And again just to be clear, here's more of what that senior counterterrorism official told CNN, and I'm quoting here. While we acknowledge there are vulnerabilities in both our northern and southern border, we do not see any evidence that ISIS or other Sunni terror groups are trying to infiltrate the southern U.S. border.

And also to be clear, neither have the correspondents and producers who have been in these crowds for days.

Now, keeping them honest, there are perfectly legitimate reasons why people might oppose the current immigration policies. And there are perfectly legitimate arguments to be made that current immigration policies are unfair or don't work or need to be strengthened. Those points can be argued on their merits and good people can disagree, but they don't need to be argued with misinformation, and that is what the president is doing yet again.

In fact, he had this to say about who's behind all of those people heading north.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats want caravans. They like the caravans. A lot of people say, I wonder who started that caravan?


COOPER: Well, the president is echoing part of a conspiracy theory on the far right that says Democrats possibly with the money of the billionaire George Soros have been paying Central Americans to leave their countries and come north. He elaborated a bit at an earlier rally in Missoula, Montana.


TRUMP: But a lot of money has been passing through. People to come up and try to get to the border by election day, because they think that's a negative for us. Number one, they're being stopped. Number two, regardless, that's our issue.

So, this is the problem with them. One thing, they stick together. They vote together.

They're bad politicians. They have horrible policy. They hate ICE. They don't like our military. They don't like our vets. They're always fighting us on that.

They have lousy policy. The one thing they stick together, but they wanted that caravan and there are those who say that caravan didn't just happen -- it didn't just happen. A lot of reasons that caravan, 4,000 people.


COOPER: Now he is right, it didn't just happen. Most of the people in that caravan have told reporters from multiple outlets, including CNN that they left their home countries fleeing violence from drug gangs, or the government, or simple poverty. A congressman, Matt Gaetz, posted video of what he claimed were

migrants in Honduras getting paid to be in the caravan. He later had to concede it wasn't shot where he said it was. And "The New York Times" found out the money was a token amount from local merchants who were also handing out food. Which of course is as scary as paid invaders sent to wreck the elections somehow.

Nor is it as infuriating as the false notion that Democrats want to give illegal immigrants luxury cars.


TRUMP: They want to open your borders, let people in illegally, and then they want to pay for those people, for health care, for education. They want to give them cars. They want to give them driver's licenses. I said last night, we did a great -- we did a great, great rally in Arizona last night and I said -- I said last night, what kind of car will they supply them? Will it be a Rolls Royce?


[20:05:01] COOPER: The president of the United States addressing undocumented immigrant are going to be given not just cars but maybe Rolls Royces. Do I even need to actually say that no one is giving immigrants Rolls Royces? Are we at that stage yet where I need to say that?

The president also has been repeating the notion that the idea of so- called sanctuary cities that's so unpopular in some places that people are rioting.


TRUMP: I don't think we like sanctuary cities up here. By the way, a lot of people in California don't want them either. They're rioting now. They want to get out of their sanctuary cities.


COOPER: Now, when the president of the United States says something, you check, so people checked. And although they found disagreement over sanctuary cities, certainly, and debates and dissents, sometimes heated debate, no one found any rioting.

So, late today, the president was asked again about that.


REPORTER: You said Californians were rioting over the sanctuary cities, where?

TRUMP: You shouldn't have -- take a look. They want to get out of sanctuary cities. Many places in California want to get out of sanctuary cities.

REPORTER: But that's not rioting, sir, right?

TRUMP: Yes, it is rioting in some cases.


COOPER: Well, keeping them honest, the president was merely exaggerating for a fact or speaking figuratively the other night. He had a chance to say so today, he didn't, leaving us to assume he meant real literal rioting in real literal cities, which really is not happening.

He was asked about the caravan, because this morning he tweeted this about it: Sadly it looks like Mexico's police and military unable to stop the caravan heading to the southern border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in.

Again, we'll return to what a senior counterterrorism official in his own administration told us, there simply is no evidence of that, which of course is something the president ought to know for himself. Of course he probably does.

Whatever the case, it didn't stop him from saying this as he headed to marine 1.


TRUMP: Go into the middle of the caravan, take your cameras and search, OK? No, no, take your time. Take your camera, go into the middle and search. You're going to find MS-13, you're going to find Middle Easterners, you're going to find everything.


COOPER: Keeping them honest, our cameras and others are there, and we've yet to find Middle Easterners.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was also asked about it today.


REPORTER: Does the president have credible evidence that Middle Easterners are in this caravan?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Absolutely. We have -- and we know that this is a continuing problem. It's not just in this.


COOPER: Well, she went on to say that tens suspected or known terrorist tried to get into the country every day, which jibed somewhat with the information CNN got from the Department of Homeland Security, an official telling us that last year, Customs and Border Protections prevented 10 known or suspected terrorists from traveling to or entering the United States every day. They didn't offer any specifics however about at which border crossings those occurred or even if they were actually stopped at border crossings at all because they could have for example been prevented from boarding a flight from another country or getting a visa, and still be included in that ten a day figure.

And the Department of Homeland Security could offer no evidence for claims that criminals or Middle Easterners are in that caravan crowd, and again, when asked specifically about the caravan, that senior counterterrorism official said there's no evidence of any terrorist infiltrators.

The president is also not telling the truth about building the border wall, suggesting it's well underway.


TRUMP: It's moving along. I want to build it rapidly. I can do it in a year. We did 1.6 billion, 1.6 billion. We have another 1.6. It sounds like a lot of money. When you're going for almost 1,000 miles, it's not that much, but the wall is moving.


COOPER: In fact, none of the president's new border wall that he campaigned on is under construction yet. Parts of the existing wall are being worked on, and that's not the only hot button issue the president is spreading falsehoods about.

Here's what the president said at a rally in Ohio recently about the opioid crisis.


TRUMP: And I'll soon sign into law the largest legislative effort in history to address the opioid crisis, Rob and so many others helped, very little Democrat support.


COOPER: OK. Keeping them honest, if by very little Democrat support, he meant 100 percent Democrat support, then he's absolutely right. The legislation passed the Senate 98-1. The lone no vote by the way came from Republican Mike Lee.

Now, the truth is most lawmakers and most Americans want to do something about opioid addiction. By suggesting that one party doesn't, the president is doing good people in both parties a disservice along with the truth.

And, of course, there's always more. The president also has been promising a big middle class tax cut by next month even though Congress is out of session. Today, he was forced to admit that he would merely propose one before the midterms with the vote, coming later. He's also being claimed as a many as a million defense shops are riding in he $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis.

Keeping them honest, the deal is not finalized. The dollar amount right now is closer to $14 million, and the job numbers are unfounded. When he began talking about this in March, he put the number at 40,000, and then it became 450,000 and 500,000 and 600,000, then a million jobs from all Saudi investments in the country.

[20:10:08] The list goes on and on. It is a flood of misinformation, and perhaps that's the point in hopes that the voter just can't keep up with what is fact and what is fiction. With just 15 days to go to the midterms, the truth has a long way to go, and lies -- well, they have a head start.

With that in mind, let's get some perspective on the president's depiction of the caravan as some kind of invading army, in fact, they're nowhere near the U.S. border. They've crossed the Mexico southern border. Some plan on staying there.

For the rest, they've got a 1,500 mile walk ahead of them, and that's to get to the nearest U.S. entry point. As for the president's challenge today to take a camera into the crowd in search for Middle Easterners, let's go to CNN's Bill Weir who has done just that.

So, Bill, you've been on the ground for days. Have you seen any evidence to support the president's claim there are Middle Easterners, members of this caravan?

BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Of course not, Anderson. No, it's a charge that's ludicrous. And it would be funny if it wasn't so insulting to this human tragedy we're seeing.

What we did see today was a man attempt suicide, unsuccessfully, thankfully. And then his Honduran country talked him into giving life another chance. I saw a pregnant woman pass out on the side of this busy highway until they flagged down an ambulance to save her.

I saw incredible sign of generosity from the Mexican locals like these folks who are just handing out clothing to passing migrants who might need it. And we see trucks full of freshly cooked tortillas and incredible sort of Christian gestures of welcoming a stranger, you know, the kind of empathy you might expect when you have thousands of really impoverished and genuine people streaming through your town there.

But no, no signs of -- for the record I've confirmed these clothes were not provided by George Soros.

COOPER: You've been talking to people there about the president's comments. I'm wondering what they've been saying to you about it.

WEIR: Well, I did. I've been asking everybody that, and the answer is always the same. I mean, how could he say these things? We're not terrorists. We just want to work. We're running away from a form of terrorism in Honduras.

The strongman president there, Orlando Hernandez, President Orlando Hernandez who Donald Trump congratulated and endorsed has cracked down in violent, with violence the impression there. But I met a young man from Honduras named Paolo, and I put that question to him. The president is using you as an image to frighten people. And this is what he told me.


WEIR (voice-over): We are honorable people. We're workers. Would you call a group of kids terrorists, a group of women who need help? We're asking for support but, of course, we know he has no conscience, he is crazy.

(on camera): there are some who believe you're being organized for political reasons, you're being paid to do this.

(voice-over): There's a lot of people, so there could be some with bad intentions, she says, but if you look around, there are lots of mothers with young kids. Why would they want to come here if they weren't so desperate?


WEIR: I hear that again and again. And there's also this idea out there that this is somehow timed to, you know, to coincide with the midterm elections, which again when you consider where they come from, they're not watching the news, they're not really reading the president's tweets. We're informing them of what he's saying, but almost to a person they're saying, look, we're putting our faith in god and we have no other choice.

COOPER: Bill, just finally, for people who don't understand, why -- how is it that that there is this caravan, that there just happen to be thousands of people all walking together in the same direction. I mean, it does sound like there's some level of organization of people figuring out, okay, this is the time we're all going to kind of go together. I assume it's for their safety, but can you just explain that?

WEIR: Right. Sure, fair question. Well, it starts with what I was mentioning about this hotly contested violent election, a recount they had in Honduras led to a lot of discontent, a lot of the opposition saw violence in response to their opposition to the re-elected president there. The crime there has spiked in recent months, so that touched off a relatively -- compared to this size, a relatively small caravan.

And then as they moved, people who are think about going might see this as, oh, here's my chance. It's literally like catching a passing train.

I talked to people who sold everything they had within a few days because they heard it was coming. And now that it's in Mexico, even the Mexican government is acknowledging that hundreds if not thousands of Mexicans will be joining this as it goes north.

[20:15:04] So, now, you have four or five different nationalities banding together because there is security in numbers. It's dark now. So, you have to camp wherever you stop walking. And if there's only two or three of you with your children, that can be a scary thing, obviously.

The price they pay for that, of course, are the optics of this huge group of people surging north. And it seems that if you judge by past caravans, they will disperse when they get closer to the border. Some will go to Brownsville, some might go all the way up to Tijuana, which is another thousand-mile walk. Bu who knows if they have family in California?

So, the timing may seem suspicious, but I think it's just like people taking advantage of what is passing literally through their town.

COOPER: All right. Bill Weir, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Two views now, former Trump campaign adviser, Steve Cortes, joins us, and former Obama special advisor Van Jones, host of CNN's "VAN JONES SHOW".

Van, first of all, does it make any sense to you the president's argument the Democrats love these caravans or are behind these caravans? Because if anything, it seems to me just from a political standpoint, a caravan like this weeks before the midterm election seems to serve the president's interest more than the Democrats.

VAN JONES, CNN HOST, THE VAN JONES SHOW: I think it's much more likely that Donald Trump is paying for this than for George Soros to be paying for. This is exactly the worst thing to be happening in a moment like this because what it does is it gives another talking point to Donald Trump. Look at these invading hoards, et cetera, et cetera.

I do want to say one thing, which is just because someone is Middle Eastern, of course, there are no Middle Easterners there, but doesn't mean that they're bad, it doesn't mean that they're terrorists. You know, we're in this world now where Trump can say Middle Eastern, and everybody then immediately somehow begins to think of terrorist. Most of the terrorists that we -- instances we've had in the United States are not being committed by Middle Eastern people, by Muslims, they're being committed by right wing extremists in our country.

So, I just -- this is lie on top of lie on top of lie wrapped in lies, and then with some lies on top of it, and I appreciate you trying to fact check it but I just --

COOPER: I mean, there are clearly people from other parts of the world who would try to come through the southern border. There is no evidence of terrorists or people with terrorist affiliations.

JONES: According to the people who know, and I'm just saying that I don't want the world Middle Eastern to be continued to be used by the media as a synonym for terrorist.

STEVE CORTES, FORME TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: Van, that's not what the president is saying when he references Middle Eastern. Of course there are homegrown terrorists, but we can't exclude them from America because they're homegrown. They're Americans.

When we look at other counties, there are clearly countries in this world where terrorism is prevalent and where governments don't cooperate with us in terms of intelligence. And so, those countries, it is only fair to take a look at everyone whether they want to visit here or become American citizens. So, that makes sense.

I do want to point out by the way regarding Mexico --

COOPER: Steve, are you -- do you say what the president is saying is true, that there are Middle Eastern terrorists or Middle Eastern people with these notions in this caravan?

CORTES: We know this is true. We know this is true. We don't know who's in the caravan, first of all. We have no idea.

And what we also know is this, not quite Middle Eastern, but --

COOPER: Wait, when you say this is true, but we don't know about this caravan. What does that mean?

CORTES: No, I'm saying what is true is that we don't know who's in the caravan. We know they haven't been vetted. And what we also know is true is the border patrol --

JONES: But why would you say Middle Eastern. There could be Swedish people in there or --


CORTES: Hold on, at the Laredo station, we have seen -- we have seen a massive spike at the Mexican border of Bangladeshis entering the United States illegally from Mexico. There are over 600 already this year from none just two years, and that's at one border crossing.

And reason I bring up Bangladesh isn't because we're anti-Bangladeshi, but it is a country with a serious problem with terrorists at home. So, again, it would make sense to take a more careful look at the Bangladeshi who wants to come to the United States, and they're coming via the Mexican border, which, of course, doesn't make any geographic sense, which is an added reason for us to be worried.

COOPER: But the point is, Steve, you have no evidence there are Middle Easterners with evil intensions in this caravan. I mean, the president said this is happening. This is --

JONES: He's saying it could happen, it might happen, I'm worried about it happening. They're there, and we have --


CORTES: What I'm saying is woo do know there's a massive spike in Bangladeshis. In other words, people who want to come to the United States are using our southern border, wherever they're from in the world are using it as an entry point. That I think should be very worrisome. JONES: Honest question here, doe it bother you, I mean, if he said

there were Swedish people there, I don't think you would say, well, perhaps, we don't know. He's making an affirmative claim, this is group.

CORTES: Because Sweden is not a country with a terrorism problem.

JONES: No, no, OK, listen. You're not following me. Stay with me now.

COOPER: Really?

JONES: Yes, by the way, I'm not talking about terrorism or not terrorism. I'm talking about a factual assertion of any kind being made by the president of the United States. Don't you think that the president of the United States making a factual assertion should actually be referencing facts, not fears, facts?

[20:20:03] CORTES: Of course he should. And the most important fact is this, even if this group is 10,000 Latin-American Mother Theresas, that still doesn't mean it is okay and right for them to demand entry, to break and enter into our country and demand of us entry into our country. That is wrong. It's an abuse of the United States.

And here's why borders are important. Here's why borders are important, OK? I lock my doors at night not because I hate those on the outside but because I love those --

JONES: I love those on the inside.

CORTES: -- on the inside. The same is true for a country. We control our borders because we love Americans.

And unfortunately --


JONES: I love those talking points, I've heard for like a year now.

CORTES: We cannot accept all of them unless we want to share in their poverty, and that would be an absolute abuse of American citizens and their security.

COOPER: Steve, can I just ask you, look, why doesn't the president just stick to facts? He's got a lot of positive stuff to run on. Why is he lying repeatedly about Middle Easterners in this column, you know, going to be coming up and that Democrats are paying them and they want them here, and I mean, just claim after claim the Middle East -- the midterm middle class tax cut -- I mean all the things we just went through, he's got a lot of positive stuff to run on. Why is he trying to scare people or lie to people?

CORTES: Well, look, I don't know he's lying about Middle Easterners. Perhaps he has information that we don't have. He certainly has access to intelligence, we don't know. I don't know. But, regardless, I agree with you he shouldn't major in the minors. I think that's a mistake. Let's focus on what is known to everyone with eyes who sees the visuals. What's known is we have a massive column of people who are demanding, again, they're waving Honduran flags, demanding that America accept them in --


JONES: You know, what's major? There are -- when your neighbor is in trouble, you're talking about sick kids, you're talking about pregnant women. They're not demanding they're being -- they're asking for help, they're applying for asylum.

You know why they feel comfortable applying for asylum? Because we fought as Americans all around the world to say after World War II, if someone is fleeing persecution or violence, every country in the world should give them a chance to make their case. We led the world in that, and they are now taking us up on that. If they don't belong here, they'll be turned away.

But the idea you're going to participate in this smear campaign against these sick, hungry, scared people, it's not fair, it's not right. And I'm sad to hear you do it.

COOPER: We've got to leave there.

CORTES: You know --

COOPER: Steve, quick comment if you want.

CORTES: For you to say they're all sick and tired I mean and hungry --

JONES: Did you see the pictures?

CORTES: These are economic migrants. Look, I don't begrudge them wanting to be Americans, all right?

COOPER: That's like you don't believe many of them are scared to live in neighborhoods with gun violence and government repression.


CORTES: It's not xenophobic or racist of us to have standards and filters for how we determine who will best add to the prosperity --

COOPER: Middle Easterners, though, that's not -- it's not racist or xenophobic to just say Middle Easterners in this column which therefore implies terrorist, right?


COOPER: That's not racist?

CORTES: Once again, if someone is from a country that has a terrorism problem -- (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Norway had terrorism problem (INAUDIBLE) killed a bunch of kids on an island and setoff a bomb, if there was a bunch of Norwegians --

CORTES: OK, but, Anderson, you know better. That was one lone wolf, there's not a systemic problem.

COOPER: Actually, right wing extremism is actually a problem --

JONES: And growing.

COOPER: -- in a lot of countries.

CORTES: OK. But Norway doesn't have a systemic problem. They had one absolutely evil crazy person.

COOPER: The president actually launched more people from countries like Norway here, which is what he said. He just doesn't want people of color from countries in Africa, which as we go --

CORTES: Anderson, that's a lie. He never said anything about color. And this, you know, you keep going down this path. It's not about color.

COOPER: He said he doesn't want shit hole countries, people in Nigeria, they don't want to go back to live in their huts, people from Haiti have AIDS, and more people from Norway.

CORTES: He never acknowledged he said that, first of all.


COOPER: He never acknowledged he said, but it's been reported by numerous --

CORTES: We want people with the skills and hustle to be great Americans who accept our values. And America is not a race.

COOPER: OK, so people from Honduras and stuff, they don't have the skill, they don't have the hustle? Because it seems like it takes a lot of hustle to walk thousands of miles.

CORTES: They may very well. No, they may very well, and that's why they should apply as legal immigrants to America. Look, legal Hispanic American citizens are a treasure to this country, 60 million of them strong.

And, by the way, partly to protect them, you should not allow --


COOPER: Unless they're judges. If they're judges, they can't really be fair, right?

CORTES: OK, well you keep trying to hop around.

COOPER: No, I'm quoting you the president. The president has raised questions about the loyalty of a judge of Mexican descent, so I'm just pointing out things your president said.

CORTES: OK, and I think that was a mistake during the campaign. I think that was a mistake.

COOPER: All right. Steve Cortes --

CORTES: What isn't a mistake, though, is protecting our borders for all Americans for whatever color they happen to be.

[20:25:02] American first, we all bleed red, white, and blue, and we salute one flag and it's not a Honduran flag.

JONES: This is like a list of the greatest hits. It has nothing to do with any facts, what's happening down there, sad.

COOPER: By the way, we all bleed red. It's like they bleed red, we bleed red. That's actually technically how we all bleed.

Steve Cortes, thank you, and Van Jones.

A reminder, don't miss "THE VAN JONES SHOW" this weekend. Van's guest is Jared Kushner. You can catch it Saturday 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time right here on CNN.

Just ahead, breaking news. A report on the fiscal altercation involving the president's chief of staff and president's former campaign chief.

Also, stunning new video in the Jamal Khashoggi murder, evidence a body double was part of this team sent to interrogate -- not to interrogate but to kill.


COOPER: New evidence tonight that killing of Jamal Khashoggi was no accident, unless accidents involved a body double wearing the victim's clothing. CNN obtained surveillance footage showing what appears to be exactly that, a Turkish source saying it's a Saudi operative, part of the alleged kill team, wearing the journalist's clothing picked up on surveillance footage at locations around Istanbul.

Now, the Saudis, you'll recall, initially said that Khashoggi left the consul alive and well. This may have been an effort to sell that lie. Then they said he died during a fist fight.

Today, President Trump said he had spoken to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about the investigation. He says more details will become apparent tonight or tomorrow morning. And earlier today, Van Jones spoke with senior adviser and first son-in-law, Jared Kusher, about the investigation.

(BEGN VIDEO CLIP) JARED KUSHER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRES. TRUMP: With regards to the situation in Saudi Arabia, I'd say that right now as an administration we're more in the fact finding phase and we're obviously getting as many facts as we can from the different places and that will determine which facts are credible. And then after that, the President and the Secretary of State will make a determination as to what we, you know, deemed to be credible and what actions we think we should take.

VAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR: What kind of advice did you give in MBS in this whole situation?

KUSHNER: Just to be transparent, to be fully transparent, that the world is watching. This is a very, very serious accusation in a very serious situation. And to make sure you're transparent and to take this very seriously.

JONES: How did he respond with that? How did he respond to that counsel?

KUSHNER: We'll see. I mean, I know that the Secretary of State had some good meetings over there and we will see.


COOPER: For more perspective now, joining us is Chris Murphy, Democratic senator from Connecticut. Senator Murphy, thanks for being with us.

Jared Kushner advising the crown prince to "be fully transparent." I'm not sure why he's advising the crown prince, frankly, about what to do in the first place on this. But, is there any expectation that the Saudis or the crown prince have any real interest in being transparent here, given the number of stories that they have seem to have concocted over the last weeks?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, the jury is not really still out on this question. I love the response, we'll see if they're going to be transparent. They lied. They lied for two weeks. They let the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo go over to Saudi Arabia, stand next to the crown prince as they told him the President of the United States and the world that Jamal Khashoggi was still alive, that he walked out of that consulate alive when they knew the entire time that he was dead.

Now, listen, they killed him. They lured him there. It was purposeful. It was intentional. This whole this is a cover up. I think that's what the facts will eventually be. But we know one fact for sure and that was for two weeks the Saudis lied and tried to get away with it when they knew that he was dead.

And the fact that the administration is still wondering whether or not the Saudis are going to be transparent shows you how naive they are and how weak we are, how sort of willingly in the pocket of the Saudis this administration is for mysterious reasons.

COOPER: Do you think it is just naivete on the part of the administration or do you think that they are in fact part of the cover up if in fact there's a cover up on the part of the Saudis?

MURPHY: Listen, I don't know. But I think that we've got to start asking some questions as to why the Trump family seems to be so eager to let the Saudis control this relationship. I mean, this idea that we can't really upset the Saudis because they buy weapons from the United States or they sell us oil is ridiculous. The Saudis are much more dependent on the United States than we are on them and it's a sign of just immeasurable weakness to the world.

Yes, there are these reports that the Trump family has deep financial connections to the Saudis. Of course, we already know that the Saudis buy a lot of real estate and rent a lot of property from the Trump family. Maybe that alone is enough for them to have an overly cozy relationship with the regime and with the family.

But I think we're going to have to ask some deeper questions about why we have become so pliant to the Saudis when we already have all the evidence we need to know that they had been lying to the world and to the American public.

COOPER: You know, some have made this kind of an either or either we just continue the relationship as it is or we do something that's still damages the regime, that the regime falls and then a hospital regime takes over in Saudi Arabia. To me that seems like a false choice.

If that notion is depending on the idea that Mohammed bin Salman is the only person who is capable of filling this role in Saudi Arabia, do you believe there are others who could take his place and continue a relationship with the U.S.?

MURPHY: There are absolutely others. This is not the only substantial figure in the family who could lead that country moving forward. And I think that the whole world is now seeing what many people like me who are regular Saudi watchers have seen for years that this is a very unstable leader, that he has been making a number of decisions in the region which are inexplicable, whether it would be kidnapping of the Lebanese prime minister or this ongoing war in Yemen that's getting worse not better.

[20:35:13] Ultimately, look, the relationship is complex. And as someone who has been calling for a reset in this relationship for years, I acknowledge that the Saudis are often an important counterterrorism partner, that they have been responsible for creating a detent between the Sunni states in the region and Israel. That's really important to the United States.

But increasingly, they are doing things that are hurting the United States, whether it'd be the war in Yemen or this crackdown on the free press. And we've just got to have a much more nuance relationship with them than we have today and that might involve Mohammed bin Salman stepping aside. There are certainly others that could step up.

COOPER: Senator Murphy, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much. Chris Murphy, thank you. Coming up next, new reporting on John Kelly and Corey Lewandowski physically squaring off outside the Oval Office. Maggie Haberman joins us with the latest. She's got just posted it in "The New York Times" tonight.


[20:40:00] COOPER: As breaking news goes, this is certainly something. "The New York Times'" Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers have it tonight, they're reporting on an episode that took place back in February just outside of the Oval Office, an argument between Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Senior Campaign Official Corey Lewandowski turned physical. So much so, the Secret Service have to step in. We have Maggie Haberman joining us on the phone. So, what exactly happened here?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Sure and thanks for having me, Anderson. This came to light for us after the reports about John Kelly and John Bolton getting into a fight last week outside of the Oval Office. We heard that there had been other memorable occasions and one took place in February on the same day that the families of victims of the shooting at the high school in Parkland, Florida were showing upfront event in the east term (ph) with the President at February 21st.

Corey Lewandowski was at the White House apparently for some previously scheduled meeting. He and John Kelly ended up arguing in front of the President in the Oval Office, again, that seem we had become somewhat familiar with various aides. Eventually the phone rang.

The two ended up outside of the Oval Office and John Kelly wanted Lewandowski to be escorted out of the building. Lewandowski said something, I think it wasn't friendly back on somewhat aggressive. John Kelly went and grabbed his collar and pushing him forward to wall. The Secret Service intervened.

I don't -- from my understanding it's not conflicting things, but I've heard a lot from more people that if Lewandowski didn't take a swing at John Kelly that would make sense since John Kelly is a Secret Service protectee and that would have, I think, probably resulted in a problem for Lewandowski.

They ended up working this out amongst themselves behind close doors soon after and then went back into the Oval Office. But, it really does speak to the level at two things, one, the level of chaos that the President who gets very angry when people talk about chaos in his White House, the level of chaos that he's willing to tolerate and it also speaks to John Kelly's temper.

I mean, this was around the time that John Kelly was on under fire for how he had handled the crisis surrounding the Staff Secretary Rob Porter who left after previous allegations, the domestic violence against that became public. Lewandowski have been critical with John Kelly's handling of that on television. That was one of the things they were arguing about. This is unusual. We have heard of lots of fights in the west wing. It is rare that we have heard of the Secret Service getting involved.

COOPER: Is it known what this particular fight was over?

HABERMAN: It was over a couple of things. But, again, I think the main one was that Corey Lewandowski had been on television criticizing John Kelly over the Rob Porter situation and Kelly was very sensitive to that.

That whole period open up a pretty dark chapter of Kelly's tenure as chief of staff in the White House where there have been questions about the durability for him in that role and how much control he actually has over the staff and he seems just lost the temper.

COOPER: And White Houses are obviously stressful places to work.

HABERMAN: They are.

COOPER: I'm not sure I ever heard, though, these kinds of fights happening in other administrations. Have you?

HABERMAN: No. I mean, look, we have certainly heard of fights. Is it possible that these kinds of fights happened and we just didn't hear about the, sure, but I find that's somewhat unlikely. This White House is certainly weak more than most White Houses. But, again, I don't know of previous White Houses where Secret Service intervention has been, you know, a thing let alone a norm.

COOPER: Maggie, thank you very much for the reporting. I appreciate it.

I want to bring in the two Davids, David Axelrod, former Senior Adviser of President Obama and David Gergen, former Senior Adviser to four presidents.

David Axelrod, did you ever grab somebody by the collar in the White House and have to have the Secret Service step in?

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: No. But -- and I'm not sure that any other person from any other White House would answer that question yes. But, I mean, you're right, Anderson, white Houses are terribly pressureful places. There are things of great consequences going on there about -- at all times. People feel passionate.

Chill as I am, I had arguments with people. But the idea of near fist fights outside the Oval Office, which apparently is not an uncommon event there, we now know about two of them, is really, I think as Maggie suggests a consequence of the leadership style of this president.

He is his own chief of staff. He encourages conflict among his people and this is the result of that. And, you know, one wonders what impact that has on the day-to-day operations of the government.

COOPER: David Gergen, I mean, chief of staff -- Kelly is obviously a retired four-star general. He's a Gold Star parent, very well respected. Corey Lewandowski, you know, I don't believe if memory serves me, he has any, you know, time served in the military. Should -- does it surprise --


COOPER: Yes. I think I believe state police, yes, or -- yes. Does this surprise you? I mean, how do you see this?

[20:45:03] DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO NIXON, FORD, REAGAN, AND CLINTON: Yes, certainly surprises me. As always, Maggie's reporting is just so eliminating. I think it speaks to John Kelly's frustration as well as his temper. This is a man who has proven himself time and again to be able to act well under pressure.

You know, Leon -- he worked for Leon Panetta very closely when Leon was Defense Secretary. Leon speaks very highly of him and even keel sort of guy. Yes, he's -- but in this White House, there are so much to be angry over. And it's the same way issue we have when we go on the air at night to talk about what we've learned.

I mean, we've say around tonight from line about the -- about Central American immigrants trying -- migrants trying to come here to, you know, all this other stuff. And it is, I think, symptomatic of a real problem and it's a degrading one within the White House as the President, according to Maggie's reporting, shows "reverence," reverence for verbal fisticuffs in the Oval Office. He likes the idea of people shouting at each other. He enjoys it. And that's just goes back to his wrestling days or whatever.

But, Anderson, I -- just dates me, but I first started run (ph) in the halls of the west wings back in the early '70s, that was almost five decades ago. And I've been aware of tensions and, you know, hatreds and all the rest. But never, ever have I heard of any physical altercations there.

And White Houses as David Axelrod will tell you, the reverence traditionally has not been for verbal fisticuffs. The reverence has been for the White House to be a symbol for the country of a well led, you know, inspiring and inspired group of people who are trying to do their best by the country and never, ever would they obtain to get into an argument in the halls of the west wing and then sort of shouting each other, shoving each other up against the wall.

COOPER: David Axelrod, though, I mean that makes an interesting point which is that the White House is a symbol for the country. You could make the argument and we're now in the stage where politicians and their wives are yelled at in restaurants by people whether it's on the left or the right who are so consumed with their own sense of self- righteousness that they think it's appropriate to, you know, in a personal moment with the family attack somebody or verbally abuse somebody in a restaurant just because of their political positions they hold.

And we've seen the kind of stuff that happens, you know, on the campaign trail the President encouraging, you know, people to knockout somebody who is, you know, protesting. In some ways, maybe this is a reflection of where the country is moving.

AXELROD: Well, certainly the country -- every organization in the country itself takes cues from the person at the top. And if the President sends a cue that decorum is -- doesn't matter and that -- and uses the kinds of inflammatory language that he does, it has -- it makes a difference.

But one thing I want to point out just before we go, the fact that this story leaked eight months after happened is another problem in this White House, which is somebody leaked this story to embarrass John Kelly. And this happens persistently in this White House and it's another symptom of a dysfunctional place.

COOPER: Yes. David Axelrod, David Gergen, thank you very much.

Coming up next, the midterm is just two weeks away and the President campaigning hard new numbers on what voters are thinking. Perhaps more importantly, which voters are fired up and ready to go?


[20:51:38] COOPER: With 15 days until the November midterms, the intensity on both sides is getting pretty close to 100 percent. The latest polling by "The Wall Street Journal" and NBC News shows Democrats holding a nine-point advantage among likely voters when it comes to control of the Congress. President Trump's approval rating given a boost as well, it's important to point out, it's now at 44 percent at the latest CNN Poll of Polls.

The President, as we reported tonight, is giving a full-throated endorsement to his former rival, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, this after a series of campaign speeches across the country in which have been chockfull of misinformation, sometimes outright lies.

Here with me to discuss is Max Boot, a columnist for "The Washington Post" and author of the new book, "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the New Right?" It's so interesting to me. First of all, what do you think is behind the rise in President Trump's polls?

MAX BOOT, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: That's a great question. I don't know. I think he's firing up the base and its unfortunate the way that he is doing it is what appeals to prejudice and bigotry. But, you know, I think Republicans -- some Republicans are probably coming home ahead of the election.

COOPER: In your book you talk about why you left the right. And obviously it fills a book so I can't just ask you why you left the right. But, I mean, you were a lifelong Republican. You were a foreign policy advisor to three Republican presidential candidates.

BOOT: Right.

COOPER: How -- to you, what is the Republican Party today that it wasn't when you were part of it?

BOOT: You know, it's utterly transformed from what it was when I was growing up in the 1980s, Anderson, in the days of Ronald Reagan. I can't recognize this Republican Party, which is why I can't be a part of it. It's in many ways become a cult of personality built around Donald Trump and his appeal. Beyond the cult of personality is essentially to white nationalism. It's to racism, it's the xenophobia.

I mean, you see the way that he's fear mongering and conspiracy mongering trying to pretend that these small numbers of impoverished Latin American refugees are somehow Middle Eastern terrorist that they're going to invade America. And most Republicans approve of that. This is the farthest thing you can imagine from the days of Ronald Reagan.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan actually gave a speech in which he talked about making America great again, a familiar slogan. But when he was talking about that, he was celebrating the achievements of immigrants. He was not demonizing immigrants. It's just a vastly different party from the one I joined and I can't be part of it.

COOPER: So you left the right, so where are you now? What are you?

BOOT: I'm confused, Anderson. I'm in the middle. I'm a centrist. And I don't feel like either party really speaks to me because I think they're both getting polarized.

COOPER: Sometimes being a centrist is the most dangerous place to be, even in like revolutionary times, it's the centrists who they attack first.

BOOT: Right, absolutely. I mean, about 42 percent of the American public is undecided, they're not Democrats or Republicans. They're undeclared voters but they're not really being spoken to by either of the extremes.

Now that said, even though I'm not a Democrat, I urge everybody to vote for Democrats just because I think it's imperative to have a check and balance on Donald Trump. And this Republican Congress has not shown any willingness to do that.

They will not request his tax returns. They will not look into his potential conflicts of interest. They will not hold him to account. In fact, they're even helping him to obstruct justice. So I'm just disgusted with the state of the Republican Party today.

COOPER: After Donald Trump, whether it's, you know -- whether it's one term or two terms, what happens to the Republicans?

BOOT: That's a great question.

COOPER: Does it remain the Trump party with all the values and the strategies of Trump?

[20:55:00] BOOT: That's a great question. I think that's going to be decided in the next few elections, because if Republicans see that they can win with this Trumpian approach of dividing us, of pandering the fear and bigotry, they're going to do more and more of it. It's going to get worse and worse.

I think only if they suffer shattering and irreversible political defeats will they realize that appealing to fear and prejudice is not the way to win votes. But I think the future of the Republican Party and will the other Republic is up for grabs in the next couple of elections.

COOPER: Well, the book is just out now. It's getting a huge amount of attention. It's "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." Max Boot, thanks so much. Great to have you on.

BOOT: Thanks for having me on.

COOPER: I just want to quickly correct something that came up in the conversation in the last segment, the question whether or not Corey Lewandowski was a state police officer. David Gergen said he'd been part of the state police. He was not actually. According to "The New York Times" bio, he was a part-time state Marine Patrol Officer trainee from 2006 to 2010.

I want to check in with Chris Cuomo and see what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time" at the top of the hour. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Lies is what we're working on. I mean we are --.

COOPER: Which ones?

CUOMO: I mean that's the problem. We are like in a watershed moment. In truth, the President is flooding the zone right now. He is clearly in campaign mode. His caravan is a gift for him and so just stoking (INAUDIBLE) fears, but the truth isn't good enough, right, even though the truth of that situation plays into his politics on immigration, he's still lying about it. He's still lying about it every way he can.

So tonight, there's no dancing around and trying to figure out what does he mean as he trying to say that he's lying. We're going to call it out. We're going to show you how we know and we're going to have people in who -- there's a -- we have a journalist tonight who tracks him in real time. That's what he does for a living. Think about that as your job. And we're going to take him on.

We also have former Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter is here to talk about whether or not we really need Saudi Arabia, and if so how, and it kind of break through a lot of what's being sold to the American people.

COOPER: Sounds good. Three minutes from now. Chris, thanks very much. I'll see you then. We'll be right back.


COOPER: It has been a very busy night. We've run out of time on "360". A reminder, don't miss "Full Circle," our daily interaction newscast on Facebook. You get to pick some of the stories we cover. It's weeknights at 6:25 p.m. Easter at 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 and welcome my friends to "Prime Time." You got lies --