tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN October 15, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
he's never seen power like this. trees coming down left and right. to see this personally, it's very tough. very, very tough. total devastation. this is the mayor, by the way. come on over here. come. >> when the storm hit, the police, first responders and myself and our city manager, we were in the city hall and police annex, and you'll see, if we walk that far, everything had collapsed around us. and it lasted 55 minutes. >> that's what it seems like to me. it seems almost like a giant tornado. a really wide tornado. >> not quite as big as irma, but it was big. >> it was huge. >> and it bounced and -- >> more powerful than a category 5. >> on midnight, i got on the live facebook page and started talking with the people, and i
said, if you still have time, get in your car and drive 150 miles north or west. and we had no casualties in this town. it's amazing. it's amazing. >> keep moving, sir. >> all right, hold right here. hold right here, guys. hold on. >> midway through the tour there in florida, the president says, it's very, very tough to see the devastation up close. people needing help displayed the sign for the president and it reads, make mexico beach great again. there is a desperate need for food and water and to get those resources to survivors, many of whom are still trapped inside homes and unable to get out. search and rescue teams are
frantically searching for the missing and possibly trapped victims underneath the rubble. at least 18 people have died across multiple states. scott mclean is live this afternoon for us in mexico beach. and just talking to folks down there the last couple of days, a lot of people who chose to ride it out say they still haven't seen their neighbors. and now we're hearing, what number are you hearing? 30 people still unaccounted for where you are? >> reporter: yeah, that's absolutely right, brooke. but we have a little bit of context around that number right now. the search and rescue crews, they have been going through, doing an initial search, and a more detailed search after that. now they're on their last search and it involves those cadaver dogs. at last count, up to 30 to 35 people who are still unaccounted for, though that doesn't necessarily mean they believe they're going to find 30 bodies. they just vice presidehaven't b find those people. i just spoke to one man. he's rode out every single storm that's hit this area. he's only evacuated one time
before. and he planned to stay for this one, as well. except at the very last moment when it was upgraded from a category 3 to a category 4, he thought, maybe we should get out of here. he ended up going about 50 miles inland to mariana, florida. the problem is, he didn't go far enough. the problem heith him ended up getting knocked over, his truck ended up getting damaged and now he's coming back to a home that's very badly flooded. as for the search going on right now, they're about 90% finished. just behind me you can see those urban search and rescue crews, the people with the blue pants and gray shirts combing through this area. my colleagues have seen them using dogs at points, but they are really doing the last search to try to see if there's anybody buried under that rubble. obviously, they are hoping that they can find people elsewhere. one of the ways that they've been doing that is going along the main street, go to the area where they're handing out feet, talk to people there, get their
names, match it up with their list, and try to whittle them down, that list to as few people as possible, hoping, obviously, that they don't find anymore bodies. >> such a tight-knit community. we are thinking about them in mexico beach. scott mclean, stay on that for us. thank you very much. meantime, as forensic teams are searching the saudi consulate in istanbul, where missing journalist jamal khashoggi was last seen 13 days ago, cnn is now reporting that the saudi government considered delaying a major business conference as business and media companies are dropping out. so, cristina alesci is on this for us. and krthey're considering delayg it? >> they're considering delaying it or they did consider it at one point. we're not quite sure of the conference right now. a lot of the bigger banks, the investors on wall street were actually hoping they would delay it, so they wouldn't have to come out so publicly and say, we're not going. and one of my sources told me,
the saudis can't be tone deaf. they've got to know if they go forward with this conference, the story will be, no one showed up. and that's not going to be a great headline for saudi, either. so i think this is still a fluid situation. i think we might see even more people pulling out, all through the day today, i was on the phone, hour by hour, more people are saying, we're not going. david petraeus, who works for an investment firm now, is no longer attending. and i think we're going to see a steady stream of this. the question is, do the saudis press ahead? the really interesting story line here, though, is that as the u.s. becomes less independent on saudi oil, we are still independent on saudi oil, but as the u.s. becomes less dependent on saudi oil, it almost seems like wall street is becoming more dependent on saudi money. and you had a lot of money flowing from the saudi sovereign wealth fund into wall street over the years. so these people could be vocally saying, we -- vocally showing their opposition to how saudi
has handled this, but will they return the money that i have got orphan saudi arabia? that, i'm hearing, is very unlikely to happen. for example, one of the biggest investors on the street, blackstone, has $20 billion from saudi arabia. it's very unlikely, blackstone is not attending the conference anymore, but it's very unlikely that it will hand that money back to saudi. >> the conference, i was asking you a second ago, right around the corner, end of october. and though the administration is still planning on attending, yes? >> as far as we know, yes. but i was on the phone with administration officials all weekend and they are very much playing this, you know, day by day, hour by hour. at the end of the day, treasury secretary steven mnuchin still plans to attend. >> okay. >> but it's always couched as, we'll see what information comes out. administration officials i talked to said they anticipate some information coming out this week that will help them make a call, but we don't know what that information is. >> okay.
we'll stand by for that. in the meantime, cristina alesci, thank you very much. the president did offer an alternate theory as to what happened to "the washington post" columnist, jamal khashoggi. the theory came up as president trump told reporters several times today that the saudi king, quote, firmly denied any involvement in the case of khashoggi. >> the king firmly denied any knowledge of it. he didn't really know, maybe, i don't want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. who knows. we're going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon. but his was a flat denial. >> king salman is not the only autocrat getting softer treatment by president trump. here was trump's responses when asked about north korean dictator kim jong-un and russian president, vladimir putin. >> this is a guy you love? >> i know these things. i mean, i'm not a baby. i know these things.
>> i know, but why do you love that guy? >> look. look. >> mm-hmm? >> i get along with him, okay. >> but you said "love him." >> okay. that's just a figure of speech. >> no, it's like an embrace. >> well, let it be an embrace. be it be whatever it is -- >> yeah, but he's a bad guy. >> look, let it be whatever it is. i get along with him very well. i have a good energy with him. i have a good chemistry with him. look at the horrible threats that were made. no more threats. no more threats. >> do you agree that vladimir putin is involved in assassinations, in poisoningpoi? >> probably, he is. >> probably? >> probably, but i rely on them. it's not in our country. >> but, why not "they shouldn't do it, this is a terrible thing" instead? >> of course they shouldn't do it! >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> we are now getting breaking news on this story. according to two sources, the saudis are preparing a report that there acknowledge jamal
khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong. let's go straight to our senior international correspondent arwa damon who's there in istanbul. arwa, tell me exactly what the saudis are preparing to admit. >> reporter: well, very scant details at this stage, brooke. and one of those two sources is cautioning that this report is still being prepared, that things could end up changing. according to the other source, this report is most likely going to conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and transparency and that those involved will be held responsible. of course, the backdrop of all of this is coming just as turkish investigators, the forensics team was allowed inside the saudi consulate. they are still indoors. their advance a-- vans are stil outside. those involved, who are they? well, throughout our reporting of all of this, the turks have always been saying that there are 15 saudis nationals who are
persons of interest who arrived in country the same day that jamal khashoggi did go missing. if the saudis do, in fact, come out with this statement, this could be their way of distancing themselves from what happened. and then, of course, what we don't know is what sort of burden of responsibility. whether or not individuals within the consulate itself will also be among those that saudi arabia decides to end up holding responsible. there had been prior to the announcement of this, some speculation. and we heard president trump speculating about this, as well, that perhaps there would be this narrative of rogue elements who did carry out this killing without the authority, necessarily, of the upper-most echelons of the saudi government. but this has been a story that has had so many different twists and turns. one really needs to actually wait and see what it is, what kind of statement it is that the saudis do end up coming out,
brooke. >> but if they are prepared to say what we're reporting, that they'll acknowledge his death was the result of this interrogation gone wrong, then how does that square with the denials that our president has gotten from the king and also from nbs? >> well, i think it is going to raise a lot of questions. it's going to raise the question of, well, if this is going to be your conclusion, why are you coming out with this 13 days later? surely, there must have been some sort of intelligence gathering information that came your way throughout the entire process. because if you'll remember, the saudis, up until this very point, when we got this information, when cnn got this information from these two sources had been saying that jamal khashoggi left the consulate the day that he arrived. that doesn't necessarily square with this. but it most certainly would not be the first time over the course of the last 13 case that information was contradictory, did not necessarily make full sense. it would seem from this statement, from the little bit
of information we have from these two sources that this allows the saudi, it allows nbs to say, we had nothing to do with this. and that is pretty much what king salman did tell president trump. that he had no information, that nbs had no information as to what was going on. it seems, according to these two sources that it was an interrogation gone wrong, or perhaps they were intending to try to take him, smuggle him out of the country. but again, we'll have to wait and see. this has been a story, a tragedy that has been fraught with all sorts of, as i was saying, different competing narratives at times and all sorts of twists and turns. >> but to your point, arwa, this is 13 days after he walked in and no one ever saw him walk out. and you have been standing there in istanbul reporting on these forensic teams, these turks who have been inside the saudi consulate. and i'm wondering, do you know if that has anything to do with the timing of this potential
saudi statement? >> reporter: it most certainly would appear on the surface if it does. one also has to look back at what happened over the last 24 hours. you know, sunday morning, there was some pretty harsh rhetoric that came out from the saudi government that was in response to president trump saying, if it did turn out that the saudi government was involved, there would be severe repercussions. the saudis then came out and said that they would respond even more -- to a greater level. you then had that op-ed by the general manager, that they then distanced themselves from. but that basically threatened the u.s. economy, threatened to jack up oil prices. you have all sorts of statements then coming out from d.c., trying to sort of do damage control, it would have seemed, late yesterday, saying that, you know, they have nothing to do with these statements by the general manager. and then today, we have this flurry of activity where finally the investigators, the turkish
forensic team was allowed on the ground, into the consulate. we don't know exactly if they're going to have access to all of the rooms they want to have access to. and now, of course, this information coming out from these two sources. >> this is huge, huge news. arwa damon, thank you so much. we're not going to go too far from you. if you're just joining us, this is what we have. according to two sources, the saudis are preparing a report that will acknowledge that jamal khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation gone wrong, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from turkey. we have experts standing by to analyze what this means. stay with me. you're watching cnn. hi i'm joan lunden. today's senior living communities have never been better, with amazing amenities like movie theaters, exercise rooms and swimming pools, public cafes, bars and bistros
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we have been following the story of missing "washington post" opinion columnist, jamal khashoggi, now for 13 days. you've seen the surveillance video. you saw him walking inside that saudi consulate in istanbul. left his fiancee, never to return. and the question has been, what happened to him? so now we have news from two sources that the saudis are preparing a report that will acknowledge jamal khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from turkey. it goes on, one source says the report will likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and without transparency and that those involved will be held responsible. obviously, this goes against any of these denials we've been hearing from king salman, according to president trump and also from the prince from nbs.
let's analyze all of this, as this is pretty, pretty huge. this just dropped on us this afternoon. with me now, cnn national security analyst, mark mazeti, and former spokeswoman for the u.s. mission to the united nations and for the treasury department, welcome to both of you. and mark, let me just start to you first on your reaction to this forthcoming report from the saudis. >> i think it's actually not surprising that the story is evolving this way. as you said, there have been flat denials in the beginning that they knew the whereabouts, they knew his fate. and now the story has evolved to, they weren't trying the to kill him. this group was not trying to kill him, but it was an interrogation gone bad. and at the very least, it was not blessed from the top. i mean, the saudi strategy now from the beginning and continues to be to protect crowned prince
mohammad bin salman at all costs, to make sure he is not tide to that. and it seems this is the direction it's going in, where they will perhaps even have to blame possibly people of some significance in saudi arabia, but to insist on the fact that the crowned prince and those immediately around him did not order this. and that's really the stakes going on right now. >> sure. so, precisely to your point, hagar, the fact that they're going to try. this is perhaps a way for the saudis to bring cover for nbs, to maybe blame some pretty significant people and say that, okay, it wasn't intentional, interrogation gone wrong, really, we're planning to abduct. do you buy that? >> no, it's too convenient. first of all, they had been lying up until this point, right? nbs saying that the saudis thatted nothithat -- had nothing to do with this, that he had left the consulate. so now to come out with this story, it tells me they felt the pressure, the turks honing in and they wanted a way out to protect themselves to ensure that maybe there is something
left there for nbs to continue u.s./saudi relations or relations with any other country. it's just too convenient to try to pawn it off on someone else. and frankly, it's not surprising the way governments in this region go. >> but 13 days later. and as i was just talking to arwa, who's standing there in istanbul, as the turks, the investigators are bringing in this forensic team inside the saudi consulate, that's when saudi drops that they're going to send this statement out saying, oh, killed but essentially on accident. >> right. i think that perhaps they believe that if -- and by assumption, and i'm speculating a little bit on what the saudis are thinking and what's going on through their mind, but if they're thinking that they couldn't keep up the lie, that they had nothing to do with it and that khashoggi absolutely left the embassy and they came up with this plan that i think they think saves themselves and ends up throwing a few of their employees turned bus, right? they're going to take action against them. it's not exactly what they had intended. and if president trump and the
administration is thinking of sanctions that, oh, you could just sanction those guys. they're kind of throwaway. and i don't see how that actually could work. for example, on the sanctions front -- >> you worked at treasury. >> right. and i remember, you know, if i remember there now, and i know this is probably what they're doing, they're probably looking at potential targets that could have the most effective and credible response to some kind of sanctions action. and it's not going to be on some throwaway employees, it's going to be on the heads of the agencies that ordered this attack. that, you know, that oversaw it, that knew about it. people like the minister of interior, the minister of justice, perhaps the head of the intel agency. perhaps the ambassador at that post. they're going to do something that is strong enough, but perhaps not target mbs himself. and there's precedent for this. they've done this before. >> brian stelter has just popped a microphone on, and so are you talking to "the washington post"? how are they responding to this? >> i'm thinking about a conversation i had with the editor there yesterday who said,
until there's any confirmation of a death, if there's 1% chance he's alive, we'll talk about jamal in the present tense. but obviously, every day, this outcome seemed more and more likely, as time has gone on. and frankly, i think it may give 1% of closure to some of his friends and family, to finally have some sort of a mission, some sort of confession from someone in the saudi government, but as y'all were just talking about, this is some sort of excuse that it was a rogue operation, it makes you wonder about why president trump was using the word "rogue killers" earlier today given that that's where this is heading. that's not going to be real closure, that's going to be the beginning of this story. and of course, jamal has so many friends and advocates and colleagues who are going to insist on getting to the actual truth here. and not just the truth that the saudi government might want to present initially. >> stay with me. mark, stay with me, with as wel quick break here. we're awaiting some kind of
information from the saudis, who are slated to say that "washington post" journalist jamal khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong. we'll be right back. but allstate helps you. with drivewise. feedback that helps you drive safer. and that can lower your cost now that you know the truth... are you in good hands? endless shrimp is back at with all the shrimp you want, any way you want them. there's new sesame-ginger grilled shrimp with savory soy-ginger sauce and sprinkled with asian seasoning.
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correspondent, elise labott standing by with, you know, the news that the saudis are preparing to acknowledge -- this is all very carefully couched. preparing to acknowledge that khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation gone wrong. is this finally the saudis saying "yeyes, we did this? >> brooke, i think they realize at this point, and just from talking to sources, that they're not going to come out of this looking like a rose. jamal walked into the consulate, he did not walk out. everyone know hs somethi-- some happened. and the narrative that's been taking shape is that he wasn't, you know, wasn't an assassination attempt. that is really what the saudis kind of stuck to all along. they did say that they didn't know what happened to him. but you kind of heard over the weekend, the president, trump leaning into the idea that jamal was killed. today, he's talking about coming killers and our understanding now is that the saudi are going to say, listen, this was a
botched, kind of kidnapping attempt. we call it a rendition, when somebody is extra territorially abducted and taken to another, questioned for investigation. you know the u.s. has a long is history of that with black sites during the bush administration. the u.s. has ended that practice, but it's still practiced in many countries around the world, and in particular, saudi arabia. and the idea was that jamal would be kidnapped from saudi arabia -- from turkey, taken back home to saudi arabia, interrogated. i don't know what exactly the point was going to be at that point, maybe to be under house arrest or something, but that there was no intent to kill him. but this operation was by a rogue element of saudi intelligence and went horribly wrong. and that this person was not transparent about the operation and here we are, the saudis now trying to do cleanup. and you can also see these conversations taking place with the turks. there's a narrative being
constructed between the turks and the saudis. the united states is waiting for information, but from hearing from president trump, it seems like they're going to go along with that story, as well. >> elise, stand by pinpoint to go back to turkey to our chief international correspondent, clarissa ward who is the one who has broken this story. and clarissa, you tell me everything you know. >> essentially, brooke, we're hearing from two sources. we knew that saudi arabia was working on this internal investigation into what exactly happened at the consulate. now we are hearing from these sources that saudi arabia is preparing a report in which they will acknowledge that jamal khashoggi was killed in the saudi consulate. that it was not intentional. that it was the result of essentially a botched operation, a botched interrogation that was likely supposed to end up in a kidnapping or an abduction to
take him from turkey, presumably back to saudi arabia. we are hearing from the sources at this stage that this was not carried out with the proper clearance. this was not carried out with the proper transparency. although, brooke, it is certainly fair to say there'll be plenty of people who will have difficulty swallowing that narrative, who will say that it's hard to believe that anything of this nature, of this sensitivity could possibly take place without those in power in saudi arabia, and namely, of course, the crowned prince, mohammad bin salman, being privy to it on some level. we are also hearing from these sources that it is expected that saudi authorities will take disciplinary action against those who were involved with the operation. but one of the sources also did caution that at this stage, the report could still change. saudi arabia could change their attempt in how they want to
frame this narrative. they are not entirely predictable when it comes to dealing with these things. and we have seen over the past week how the narrative has started to shift from an initial, we just want to know what happened to our citizen, to actually some leaks even really seeming to come out not just from here in turkey, but from president trump himself, using that lnanguage today. "i think maybe it was the work of rogue killers," thereby confirming that khashoggi was dead before that had been officially confirmed. so we may yet see some official changes in the narrative from saudi arabia. but so far the understanding that we have is that they are planning to present a report that indicates that this was, essentially, a tragic outcome of an operation that was carried out in a poor way, without the proper clearance and transparency, brooke. >> so, clarissa, if one were to believe the saudi and this narrative, that is forthcoming in this report, that this
interrogation went wrong and they actually just meant to abduct him out of turkey, isn't that also a problem? like, don't they also need to explain why they were planning on abducting and interrogating this journalist? >> reporter: well, i think there, brooke, the devil will be in the detail, because i don't have confirmation of this yet, but one could speculate that possibly they will say that they had no knowledge of this. that this operation was the work of a kind of rogue intelligence officer, as you heard elise saying there. that they will really try to distance themselves from it, and that they will try to enforce that by taking disciplinary action against the men who are involved with it. now, again, there will be a lot of skepticism about that narrative. because the fact that you had these two jets arriving from saudi arabia, 15 citizens onboard and with the way the vertical power structure works in saudi arabia, very difficult
for many people to buy into the idea that something like this could tapes without their being knowledge of it at the highest echelons. it's also possible that saudi arabia will cop to it in full. will say, yes, we were aware of this operation. it was just supposed to be an interrogation. the fundamental thing that we should expect or we are anticipating is the idea that they say, this wasn't supposed to happen like this. this wasn't done in the proper way. and disciplinary action will be taken as a result. >> okay. clarissa ward, the one breaking all of this news here on jamal khashoggi, thank you so much, clarissa. quick break. we'll talk to a former cia and also a forensics expert on all of this, next. this place isn't for me. that last place was pretty nice.
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let's bring in now former cia operative, bob baer, and forensics specialist, karen smith, retired detective for the jacksonville sheriff's office in florida. she has conducted 500 death investigations and we wanted to talk to you today, because we knew that those turks, the investigators were inside the saudi consulate, finally allowed in 13 days later to do their own investigating. but bob, i want to go to you first. you've been watching our coverage. you know the news. you've dealt with the saudis. what do you think? >> i think it makes sense. i think they probably intended to kidnap him and fly him back to saudi arabia and disappear him and just claim that he'd gotten lost in istanbul or whatever. the two planes, the number of people, these interrogations do go bad. i don't know if they had a
doctor, but i've seen over and over again in the middle east, people get so beat up that they die. and this makes total sense to me. what doesn't make sense to me is the president's claim that this was a rogue operation. you don't send two airplanes from riyadh to istanbul with a team like that without the approval of mohammad bin salman, the crowned prince. >> two planes, 15 people, including one forensic expert. so karen, here's my question to you. how does this -- how -- you know, if you're the turks right now, you're inside this consulate, what -- 13 days later, what can you find? >> you can find all kinds of things, brooke, including blood evidence, trace evidence, hairs, fibers, evidence of a violent crime. that's what they're looking for. and they're going to use chemicals, they're going to use light sources, and they're going to use every possible forensic tool that they have at their availability to find out what happened, if they can. it's going to be a little bit of a test. i'm sure it's a very large place
and i'm not even sure that they know exactly where they need to go to look. so it's going to take a sweep and every single skill that they have to try to find some evidence that a crime took place inside the consulate. >> if you find hair, if you find blood, that's proof that he was there. is it proof that he was killed? >> that's a great question. you're looking for quantity of blood. if there was a large, violent crime and off copious amount of blood left behind at that crime scene, it's a good bet that someone was either violently injured or died at that scene. that's how we've always worked crime scenes. you not only look for the trace evidence, but you look for copious amounts of blood. if we're dealing with a violent crime and they use aluminum knoll and the entire room lights up like a christmas tree, it's normally evident to the forensic investigators, even if that scene has been cleaned up with bleach, we have ways of telling the difference between the bleach that reacts with aluminum knoll and the blood that reacts
with aluminluminal. >> we saw the president leaving for florida this morning. he mentioned this notion of a rogue killer as a possibility. and everybody kind of went, what is he referring to? i'm just curious what you made of his, you know, alternate theory in the wake of this news? >> well, wii mean, that would b claiming that there's an alternate power structure in saudi arabia and there's not. mohammad bin salman purged the military, the national guard. there is one person in that country who could give an order like that, and that's the crowned prince. which of course presents a huge problem for u.s. relations with saudi arabia. because, after all, this man was a contributor to "the washington post," there was an attack on the press, in a nato country, there is no excuse for this. and i don't think the president's going to get away with it, claiming it was a rogue operation. anybody with any sense is simply not going to believe it. >> quickly, is it possible they can claim that nbs had no idea
this was happening? >> i think they will, but here's the thing. is the turkish tapes and the intercepts that have been going on, but there was a concerted effort for nbs to get him back, as we know, from the intercepts, back to saudi arabia, and all arrows point to him. >> bob and karen, thank you so much. a quick break. more on our special coverage after this. (vo) this is not a video game. this is not a screensaver. this is the destruction of a cancer cell by the body's own immune system, thanks to medicine that didn't exist until now. and today can save your life. ♪ ♪
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so back on this jamal khashoggi news. we were talking in commercial break about how secretary pompeo got on that plane. he was sent immediately over to saudi arabia, and should the plane turn around? >> i would say yes. i mean, i would argue, yes. i'm curious to see how swiftly the administration responds to this type of news. i mean, the saudis have yet to come out, but they should be prepared for it. and in that case, if i were president trump or his adviser, i would say turn the plane around and let's prepare a sanctions package right away. let's not wait for the end of the investigation they're doing and come out hard and fast. >> what do you think? >> for nearly two weeks, the saudis denied knowing anything about this. in fact, there were claims early on that jamal left the back entrance of the consulate. that he walked right out that day, never to be seen again. obviously, that's not credible. so why would it have credibility now, if the saudi government is going to say this was a rogue operation. why would that be any more
credible? why are they to be believed after denying this for two weeks? president trump seemed to believe the denial, seemed to be taking the denial seriously. now all of a sudden the saudi government changing its tune, leaves president trump in a tough situation, as well. >> the last couple images the world saw of jamal khashoggi, entering that saudi consulate in istanbul, turkey, 13 days ago now. quick break. we're back with more special coverage after this.
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president trump obviously making headlines during his "60 minutes" interview. one image getting a lot of attention today. this is the look we have, see on the wall, between lesley stahl and the president, on the wall there is this painting, which we're going to get to. a couple of things stood out to us. first of all, one, the directv remote on the table, which speaks to what we already know about the president's habits. the "new york times" reported he spends 48 hours a day watching television. then there is the candy jar filled with red and pink star bursts. according to the house majority later, kevin mccarthy, the president only likes to eat the cherry and strawberry flavors. and finally, the painting there on the wall of president trump with former republican presidents lincoln, nixon, reagan, others, playing cards. it was apparently a gift from california congressman, darrell issa. and the artist joins me now. he is andy thomas. andy, a pleasure to meet you. welcome. >> brooke, thank you.
thank you for having me on. >> so i know you painted the republican club, the table with the republicans. you also have a separate painting of democratic presidents, as well. but give me a quick back story, andy. why did you paint this? what inspired you? >> well, the original painting was done in -- i did -- i've done three sets now. the first set was done in 2008 in the lead up to the election. and then we came up with another set that included obama, president obama. and so with president trump, we needed to do another one. so we call it just the republican club and the democratic club. >> and andy, did you have any idea that your painting was hanging so prominently in the private residence? >> no, i didn't -- i actually had gotten a call a couple of weeks ago from president trump, and that was a real highlight. darrell issa was there, and so was vice president pence. and so that was quite a treat.
but, you know, whether they actually hang the painting or not, we didn't know until last night. >> hang on, hang on. so the president calls you up. what does president trump say to you? >> well, i didn't think he was going to call. but he said that he had seen a lot of paintings of me, and most of them he didn't like. but that he liked what i had done. he's very -- he was very gracious and kind. and just everything -- very nice. very nice. >> all right. so he liked -- all right. so he liked the painting of himself. and also, just so we get everybody's politics out. i read that you are an independent-mind midwesterner. so andy, does that mean you voted for democrats, you voted for republicans? >> you know, i have not registered any way. i have some political leanings. i hope it doesn't show in my paintings. >> okay. so when you look at this painting with president trump and these other republican presidents, it really does catch your eye.
and i'm just wondering, what were the challenges in painting president trump, and what were you hoping to capture about him? >> well, on all the presidents, in every painting, i always try to make the presidents look as nice as i can. i want them to still look like them, but i want to flatter them, if i can. i want them to be happy. so i look for a good smile. president trump was another challenge, because he's -- even though he tans, he's a fair -- has a fair complexion. and no deep recesses. and so, you know, he's a very subtle person to paint. and the face i painted on there is actually the second face. the first one i painted i was happy with, but it wasn't a real -- it wasn't the smile we usually see. so i found a bunch of photographs with this particular smile, and i thought it seemed more appropriate. >> i'm wondering when the president called you up recently. was there anything in particular about how you painted him that he really appreciated? >> he just was -- effusive,
really and just as kind as he could be. i have seen some paintings of him. he's a challenge to paint. you know, he has different looks and different profiles. so all i know is, he said he liked what i had done. and that made me feel great. >> now, andy, there is a subtle or not so subtle feminist message in this painting, which i also found fascinating. we have got a spotlight on this female figure kind of blurry in the background. it's in both paintings. it's a woman. >> yes. >> tell me who she is. >> in both cases, that kind of evolved, and i can tell you the story. but that would be, in this case, the first female republican president walking over to take her place at the table. and same way with the democratic painting. and i -- you know, i've heard people call it a feminist message. i'm far from -- i would be a big
disappointment to feminists everywhere. but it's something that's going to happen. you know, it doesn't need to be advocated or anything. we're going to have a woman -- you know, 50% of our presidents will be women, probably, from this time on. >> what makes you so sure? >> other countries are doing it, and doing it well. >> so it's about time we do it here. well, there is a record number of women on the ballot this year, so we'll see. baby steps. and maybe it will finally happen. why was this so important? 30 seconds. why was it so important to have that representation in your picture? >> well, the story was, i didn't want to have it all men. just because it begins to look like a good 'ole boys club. i knew i wanted to put women in there. i started painting the woman in and i thought i'll just make her the woman walking over to the table and i looked at the painting as i was painting it, and i thought, wow, that would be pretty intimidating to walk
up to that table of powerful people. but then i thought, my daughter would walk right up there. she's been doing it for 20 years in business. so, you know, i may be intimidated. my daughter wouldn't be. she would walk right over there. >> i love that your daughter would walk up to the table. there will be a woman who will walk up to that table. andy thomas, thank you so much for taking time with me. i appreciate you. i'm brooke baldwin. "the lead" starts now. first time i've ever heard, no no, no, i'm sorry. we just meant to torture him used as an excuse. "the lead" starts now. breaking news. two sources now saying he was killed. and the saudis are getting ready to acknowledge that a u.s.-based journalist died in their custody during what they call an interrogation gone wrong. will this force president trump to take action against the saudis. president trump mocking her as pocahontas, but today senator elizabeth warren claiming she has dna proof of a native american