democrats in these local races where you are focusing on the state of georgia. she is talking about health care and jobs and not talking about donald trump or anything like that. >> yeah, and that is what they are trying to focus on e especial specially in these rough races. thank you very much for joining me and watching inside politics today. wolf blitzer picks up right now. hello, i'm wolf blitzer. it's 1:00 p.m. here in washington. thanks for joining us. desperation in the florida panhandle. leveling entire blocks and homes and businesses alike smashed to splinters and seeing what's left. for so many, there is nothing. >> my home was taken off the foundation, cracked in two, and was floating away with my cars.
mexico beach is devastated. it looks like a war zone. >> the cars started floating by. all the debris was there and so strong. >> what do you do? where do you start? i came here and it was like there is somebody else's couch in my house. >> it was bad. it was bad. >> didn't what to leave what we had. we had no choice. >> the stuff i thought i had, it's gone. >> take a look now at the before and the after. the damage we are seeing in mexico beach is the exact reason you evacuate as ordered ahead of a storm like this. it wasn't just the 155 mile per hour winds, but the ocean rising up as an angry force. laying waste to anything in his way. brian todd got the firsthand
look at this unbelievable devastation. you spoke to so many residents and you heard their stories. what can you tell us about what you are seeing and what people are going through? >> reporter: wolf, they are going through shock and sheer heart break as they come back to their homes for the first time since the hurricane. many are advised by the mayor and others not to come back because it's not quite safe. what's incredible is you walk around the rubble in mexico beach that is so devastated. it's the partial personal aspects of people's lives. this is a young child's game of boggle. this is an ice shaver for shaved ice and flavored ice and ice cream and things like that. it's very heavy with a motor on it. this was tossed we don't know how many yards zeec. we have furniture from other people's homes that was tossed about. if we go wide from where i am,
you can see the scope of what happened to just this neighborhood in mexico beach. look at it. it has every structure right immediately behind me that was completely flattened. you can see the other structures that did make it through, but even they are uninhabitable right now. no structure we have seen that made it that is inhabitable at the moment, that we can see. governor rick scott is touring around and we asked him about the operations now that are being undertaken to help the people who survived this. >> we are still going through and what you do after this is go building by building and we are still doing it, trying to make sure there was nobody that is stuck and needs help. >> a short time ago, i spoke to the mayor of mexico beach and asked him in particular, is there anyone who might still be trapped under this rubble?
he said we think we have a handle on that, but first responders are still coming through here. a big part of the challenge is again having to sit through all of this rubble and debris. you have it for as far as the eye can see in some places. they are even larger parts of it than what you see behind me. there are sides of buildings that they have to move. it is an incredibly difficult task and you don't know that when you move something like that, there might be something underneath. that's what they have to painstakingly go through. it tells you what the scope of this recovery is going to be like. this place may not be inhabitable for months. >> utter devastation. thank you very much. for some, evacuation was not an option as hurricane michael roared ashore. those are patients in panama city, florida. the hospital suffered extensive damage and lawsuit power, leading to the evacuation of many patient who is were there.
the national correspondent is there in panama city, florida for us. what are you seeing there now? >> wolf, we were just at bay medical sacred heart about a mile away. it also suffered a lot of devastation because like everybody else, we are having a hard time using our cell phones to get out and communicate. we came to a location where we could. brian is in mexico beach. bay medical is the only trauma center between pensacola and tallahassee. they get patients from all over. they were preparing and hoping after hurricane michael passed to be able to assist in that. it turns out they have to evacuate the patients now. they are running on generators and we saw ambulances from as far away as new mexico and michigan and louisiana and georgia who came in to transport all of those patients who rode the storm out to different hospitals that are safer right now. those patients rolled out with
the doctors, the staff there, and all of their families. one of the doctors talked about how terrifying it really was. >> i had my children, my puppy, my wife. i had a good number of patients in this hospital during the storm. these are patients i carried for a long time. there was a time when i worried that, could the whole structure collapse? and when would people be able to get in to help us? if they would be able to help us, if it wasn't too late. there was a time where i wasn't sure, but everyone had their game face on. >> that game face that he is talking about apparently worked. wolf, there were no injuries, no death. there was a lot of moving patients around, but nobody was hurt during the storm, miraculo miraculously. >> truly miraculously. thank you very much. more on the disaster in florida,
but other important news. the release of an american pastor could be the sign of warming relations between the united states and turkey. he had been charged with helping to plot a coop against president erdogan. the court sentenced him to three years and one month in prison, but chose to release him based on time served. they have strained relations between turkey and the united states. president trump threatened further sanctions if he was not released. there are new and startling revelations around the disappearance of the journalist, jamal khashoggi. turkish authorities have audio and video evidence that shows khashoggi was murdered in the saudi consulate in istanbul last week. that falls in line with another report that turkey planted listening devices inside the consulate. reuters also learned that
investigators said they are examining apple watches. they believe it may provide clues as to what happened to him. the bbc is reporting that khashoggi said he didn't think he could return to saudi arabia, days before he went missing. in saudi arabia for us, sam, with the latest developments, has the saudi kingdom responded? >> reporter: wolf, they have, finally. they have through the state news agency issued a release, a statement. that's all we had. we had no public figures or members of the kingdom speaking on camera, for example. they have put out a statement saying that saudi arabia welcomes turkey's approval to a joint investigative team to investigate the disappearance. that refers to the arrival in istanbul of a team that is supposedly working alongside the turks to investigate what went
on or did not go on inside that consulate and where on earth is the missing "washington post" columnist? the turks have given the saudis until the end of the weekend to deliver on significant information as to his whereabouts, but the official position here is that they have nothing to do with saudi arabia. as far as they were aware, he is safely left the consulate. this is also seen by saudi arabia's allies, notably the united arab emirates. they are saying that anybody who says otherwise and implies in any way that saudi arabia is behind this disappearance and committing on top of that. the saudi-backed newspapers are suggesting this maybe a plot and organized by qatar.
qatar is close to turkey and they are standing in rivalry for sunni dominance over the mideast at the moment. saudi arabia and the united arab emirates are in an embargo against the small island nation of qatar. there is regional rivalry coming up and no real information about the whereabouts of mr mr. khashoggi. >> there are closed circuit television cameras all-around the consulate in istanbul and we did see the picture of khashoggi walking into the consulate. if he left as the saudis claim, why don't they release evidence of that, pictures of him leaving the consulate? >> there has been rather mixed reporting on that, wolf. suggestions from the saudis, unconfirmed by cnn, but carried
by turkish media organizations that maybe the tv was turned off. the counter argument is if and only if the turkish allegations that they have audio or video of what happened and according to many sources both talking to cnn and other media organizations, the videos show pretty horrific murders. somebody had control inside the building. >> yeah. it sounds pretty far fetched to think they turned off the cctv for whatever reason. let's see what happens on that front. sam kylie, thank you very much. let's look at the geopolitical implications of this case. cnn military and diplomatic analyst, john kirby. this raises all sorts of major strategic questions for the u.s. which has a long standing and very close partnership with saudi arabia.
this is a political tight rope for the president. >> this is one of the staunchest, most powerful allies in the region. it's hard to imagine this relationship not being affected. what are the implications? there could be sanctions against members of the royal family and saudi government. arm sales. the president protest doesn't want to touch that. congress may force him to. speaking of yemen, the military relationship could be affected including support for saudi operations and we rely on the saudi arabians to really help us counter iran's influence in the region. this is something the trump administration wants to be aggressive on. >> remind our viewers why the influence in the region is so important to the united states. >> they are a very, very powerful country in the region economically and military and we have been praising the efforts
that the crown prince has been enacting. the reform effort which we want to see succeed could be put in jeopardy by this investigation. foreign investment and corporate support. the saudis are getting ready to have a big summit. it's their davos in the desert. we are seeing ceos pull out of that. they are having foreign investment problems as they try to gersify their economy. they see. >> he is still planning on on attending this event while others are pulling out. what about the fallout for turkey? he's a nato ally and there have been such serious strains between turk skpet u.s. and other nato allies. >> we are not talking as much about turkey as we should. president erdogan is trying to
get in better graces with the united states. he sees his status in the islamic world as a rival to, if not a successor to saudi arabia. he is in this ideological conflict and a chance to boost turkey's status and he has been sharp on his rhetoric against this incident in istanbul. the economy is in tatters and the currency devalued. he oh,s $200 billion in foreign debt and some of that is owned by the investigation. >> the leaks from turkish government sources have been incredibly damaging to saudi arabia and they are doing it very, very deliberately. thank you very much. how the missing saudi journalist is putting the president's close ties to the test and raising red flags among top lawmakers. major developments in the russia investigation as the president's team prepares answers to the
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the unexplained disappearance of a u.s. resident. the journalist, jamal khashoggi, produced backlash for saudi arabia. very serious backlash. a number of high profile ceos such as richard branson are distancing themselves at a critical time. the kingdom is preparing for a lavish event described as davos in the desert. president trump is not quite ready to take that step. >> i will tell you up front right now and i will say it in
front of senators, they are spend thing $110 billion purchasing military equipment and other things. if we don't sell it to them, they will buy it from russia or thank you very much, we will buy it from china. that doesn't help us. >> let's discuss this. national security analyst and analyst david gregory. samantha, you went to saudi arabia and spent extensive time working with the saudis. when you hear the president making that assertion, what do you think? >> he is not wrong. we get a lot out of our relationship with saudi arabia. it's all about trade offs. they can make the decision that economically and in terms of defense, we get more out of saudi arabia by staying an ally and not criticizing their human rights record. saudi arabia didn't become a gross abuser of human rights overnight.
they didn't become 169 out of 180 overnight. we made the decision that we are not going to turn a blind eye because of defense sales and we are working with them in yemen and they are part of the campaign and they are very heavily invested in the united states. >> president keeps making the point that the u.s. is selling to saudi arabia that $110 billion among the military equipment and if the u.s. were to stop selling it, the russians or the chinese would pick up the sales. >> that may be the case. this is a time when he has to be bigger and thinking about america's role in the world and thinking about the importance of the presidency. it's the wrong time to talk about the economic ties or that they can buy aircraft from other countries. what he needs to be focused on is how to send the strongest
possible message and to come clean on this. if they assassinated a journalist and dismembered his body on foreign soil, it is so appallingly wrong, the united states has a take a firm stand. this is not a political issue. you have republicans and democrats who are sending that message. this is a time when the president should be strong and mostly silent on this except to get answers. i'm surprised he is not being stronger about getting answers. why do it here? he should be demanding especially given close ties that they come clean and saudi arabia not get away with this. you are right in terms of our relationship, but saudi arabia cannot have this record and abuse the world and good will from 9/11 onward and get away with it. >> the u.s. had a very close strategic partnership with saudi arabia not just during the trump administration, but the obama and bush and clinton
administrations. for years and years, despite, as you point out, the human rights record that exist within saudi arabia. >> the most frequent visitor was a saudi ambassador who is now the foreign minster and i agree that the game played here is to show you want to know what? we will have a call with vladimir putin and consider buying arms with them. we will go to the other team and seeing countries pick sides. they just announced and said publicly don't you dare blame the saudis. it's qatar. now is the time for every country to say we want a thorough investigation and want to see the intelligence that the turks are referencing and arm sales and everything else are secondary to up holding human rights around the world. >> there is a couple of things. you have a president of the united states who calls the press the enemy of the people. that's all bs, frankly.
he needs to show that. if there is a journalist who works for "the washington post" who has been assassinated, he needs to be in the forefront saying that's not going to happen. you can't have any regimes doing these kinds of things impunity. i think back to when the president was interviewed about vladimir putin murdering opponents and the president not condemning that and saying we don't have a great record either. this is where he needs to be big and realize he is president of the united states now and do the right thing. this is separate from the other areas where there is a left and right debate. he has to assert american valleys. >> let's not forget, the first country that president trump visited after he became president was saudi arabia. he know his son-in-law, jared kushner, has a close relationship with the 33-year-old crown prince who for all practical purposes really runs that country right now.
there is so much of what kushner has been trying to do the middle east is based on the partnership with the saudi crown prince. >> there has been leaked intelligence on this. it's no accident that he decided to get close to jared kushner. i think he thought he could manipulate him and he was a reformer and he could come to the united states and wine and dine with the private and public sector and again, get this administration to turn a blind eye to what's happening in saudi arabia. yes, women can drive. that's a step forward and he is somewhat of a reformer. the human rights record has not gotten better. the state department put out a report in 2017, talking about the judicial killings and the torture and the targeting of dissidence. the only thing that change side he is perhaps better at pr. that is what it boils down to.
>> the real issue beyond standing up for the free press and the safety of reporters, not just the ability to freight freely or about human rights. the saudis are still sunni muslims who are going to help the united states counter the shia muslims and the regime in iran. that is the priority. that will, i think, supersede concerns about saudi arabia. right now, that calculation and the president speaking so openly about arm sales versus getting the facts in this particular case, it looks pretty bad. >> let's see if they get the facts. it shouldn't be that complicated. >> some video. >> we will see that. thank you very much, guys. appreciate it. we are keeping our eye on the markets. u.s. stocks rally after two days of sell offs. with the mid-terms weeks away, the russia investigation is now back in the spotlight after the
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losing 1400 points over the last two days. over the new york stock exchange, stocks have been on a roller coaster ride today. what's behind the volatility? >> they have. if you look at the board, the dow is up 71 points and that's pretty good after the dow losing over 1,000 points. to stay at the point where you see the dow up. it was up over 400 points and then into the negative, wiping out all of the gains. it's anyone's guess where it will end up. they are trying to figure out how to trade in this environment. the underlying issues that trigger that sell off, they still remain. i'm talking about higher interest rates. the fed is on track to continue through the rest of next year. the interest is moving higher at
this moment. the tariffs remain in place. cut into profits. the good news is president xi of china and president trump are expected to meet at the g-20 summit next month that did give positivity earlier and doesn't lock like it's keeping your bounce going. as far as the other issues, we have the slowing housing market where we see mortgage rates we haven't seen in years and higher oil prices. you have all of these things continuing to happen. whether you see the green on the screen, the underlying issues will continue to cause volatility. all of the issues are not going away any time soon. >> we will see what happens as the markets continue to deal with this. allison, thank you very much. coming up after months at the negotiating table, president trump's lawyers are preparing answers to the special counsel's questions, signalling the
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written questions. only written questions were submitted to the legal team who are right now preparing written answers. the q&a will all be in the form of written questions and answers. joining us now is legal analysts, thanks very much for joining us. just to be precise, it only involves the questions. this is what the trump legal team agreed to. what happened during the campaign about alleged collusion or conspiracy to deal with russians interfering in the election and all of that. it doesn't deal with what happened after the president took office and nothing to do with obstruction of justice and the firing of comey, for example. >> the president's legal team has been successful in delaying this process and let this process really take a long course. here we are at almost two years into his administration and they are just about to maybe answer questions about this in writing
which of course was always their desire. they don't want him to have to testify in person. i don't think at least. >> of course they don't want him to testify in person. it's not totally unprecedented that the president will have written q&a. >> for happened in iran contra with ronald reagan. what we have here most probably is phase one. phase one is preinauguration. that topic is collusion or what we call conspiracy and coordination. then, i think, mueller will review the answers and determine if there needs to be follow-up questions on that topic and then the issue needs to be joined about post election or inauguration and that involves more topics like the tiring of comby and obstruction of justice. >> given the ground rules of what they agreed to, only before
inauguration, what do you think are the top questions they are seeking answers to? >> one of the big ones is the trump tower meeting. the senior trump campaign officials attended with russian government affiliated individuals where the topic of it kept changing in terms of what had been the trump folks said it was about and whether or not donald trump knew about that meeting in advance. that is one documented particular event that we know was an in-person meeting in the campaign. that's a major issue. the other question i think is important is why was the president during his 2016 campaign events constantly talking about russia and wiki leaks and looking into hillary clinton's e-mails. those are issues that pertain to potential collusion that the special counsel's office want to know about what was motivating donald trump. >> what positions do you think
robert mueller's team submitted? >> those are probably the top two. wikileaks is hacking. we understand it's a communications with wiki leaks and what do we know about the hack of the dnc and podesta. you want to know the allegations of reaching out by trump campaign kislyak and others. about carter page and sessions and reaching out during critical stages of the campaign. that will be a broad tommic as well. >> what does it say that they submitted written questions to the president of the united states. is it suggesting this investigation is coming to a close? >> they have been negotiating this for so many months now. he was the head of the campaign. he was the candidate. getting his answers to some of these questions really is
critical to the investigation. they can conclude it, perhaps, without these answers, but the conclusions that the prosecutors are able to draw will be much stronger if they do have input and this particular issue seems to be one that the president's legal team feels more comfortable about donald trump's specific answers. i think they are putting a little bit of distance between him and the campaign, perhaps more generally. >> you know the legal team is preparing the answers to all of these. >> right. in the preinauguration president, there is no executive privilege. they were in a much more difficult position to resist those. >> part of the giuliani team. >> to resist questions around this. we will have to see when executive privilege comes into play after inauguration and whether they have a similar ability to resist and request for oral testimony.
>> these questions are only just the beginning. we will see if the president is ready to answer the other questions either in written form if that's okay with mueller, or in a face-to-face meeting. >> the first lady is speaking out on her husband's alleged affairs. she calls them not a concern for her. in florida, it's described as a war zone after hurricane michael. residents are describing what's left.
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a brand new cnn poll shows the first lady's melania trump's favori favorability is moving higher. mrs. trump recently returned from a trip from africa. she did speak with abc about her time as first lady and got candid about her marriage. >> reporter: you're not the first first lady to have to deal with her husband's infidelities. has this put a strange on your marriage? >> it is not a focus or concern of mine. i'm a mother and a first lady. i have much more important thing to do. i know people like to speak -- speculate and media like to speculate but i have other things to do. >> do you still love your
husband? >> yes. it's gossip. it's not always correct stuff. >> kate bennett who traveled with the first lady to africa. kate, has the first lady ever addressed questions like this before? >> never. in fact, this is her first on-camera interview in a year. she's intensely private. during the peak of her headline, she remained quiet. she cancelled the trip to davos, she took a few other separate motorcades. so certainly the public could infer maybe that something strange or unusual was afoot in their marriage, but she's never commented on it. >> what do you think of her answer? >> it's interesting. she remains very unemotional. she doesn't lose her cool. she's maintaining that privacy. it was interesting to me the way the country's been wrapped up in this implications with the
payoff and legal ramifications for the president. the first lady literally said she found it unpleasant to have these headlines and allegations made. she's sticking with the first lady we've seen so far, holder her cards close to her vest. interesting to hear her speak out and be honest and touch on these topics. >> you traveled with her every step of the way, including egypt where she showed up at the pyramids, she seemed to be very, very self-confident. >> she was. when she's outside of washington and typically when she's around children, she lights up very much. we're very used to seeing her behind the president and her face is sort of expressionless, but she was a very different mrs. trump in africa, very happy, lots of laughter. she was playing with baby elephants. who wouldn't laugh and smile with baby elephants? but she certainly feels more
comfortable, perhapss are , on global stage doing her own thing. she is quite independent. >> she certainly is. we're showing videos from her trips to africa. do you think she'll be doing more of these international trips? >> we asked her that. we said where are we headed? when is the second trip? >> she said let's get home first and take stock, there will be planning for another one soon. it's interesting she chose africa, a company very much associated with previous modern first ladies, michelle obama, laura bush, hillary clinton made a trip to africa when she was first lady as well. she's following in that tradition. >> there was political controversy. her husband, the president of the united states, supposedly said some not-so-nice things about parts of africa. >> the first lady said they were from an anonymous source and not
to be believed. a also that her husband had major some budget cuts with who she partnered on this trip. again, she downplayed them so they weren't an issue this time. >> in our brand new poll, let's dig a little bit deeper about the support for the first lady. 83% favorability among republicans, 55% among independents. only 28% favorability with democrats. she's struggling with democrats right now. my suspicion is she's struggling more because she's married to donald trump. >> agreed. it really is a party line issue here. she has not made a small initiative push for be best, people are still confused what it's about and what the focus is. there are a high number of people who doesn't have an opinion of her, which is at 14%,
which is somewhat unusual that no one can say whether they're favorable or unfavorable. she is higher than the president, whose favorable remains at 41% in the same poll. she's a good 13 points ahead of her husband in terms of favorability. >> and we'll see more about her internationally? >> i think so. >> what about domestically? >> i think she's going to visit more schools and hospitals. i think we can see her raise her profile in the coming months. >> and be best. >> be best. >> good work. thanks so much. just ahead, homes leveled, businesses demolished. we take you to florida's panhandle as the search for survivors continues. and we'll discuss the wild week in politician when kanye west entered the oval office and the midterm battle.
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you see for yourselves, the mattress in the tree. what you can't see to my left, stairs that go to nowhere, missing an entire home. there's a home just mind me where two parents and two kids rode the storm out. their neighbors close to do the same. there is one man that was in this home who stayed, who is no longer. they tried to coax that man to come into their home. he never did. he hasn't been seen sense. today is different in the sense that the clean-up has begun. i've seen front loaders, caterpillars here trying to begin to pick up this. the death toll from this hurricane is now up to 13. it is expected to rise. the scope of just the utter devastation is beginning to come to light, and many, many homes just wiped away. the story here was the storm surge. some of the momenhomes that do remain, you can see on the wall