tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN October 15, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
is not easy concerns about a deadly coverup. cries for help. as the president visits the hurricane disaster zone, some survivors are pleading for assistance. but tonight mr. trump is declaring his administration is doing more for the victims than anyone else would have done. show of solidarity. the united states is ramping up its military support for ukraine and provoking vladimir putin along the way. and now russia is accusing the u.s. of crossing a line and encouraging blood shed. and genetic mollification. after the president mocked elisabeth warren, the senator has her dna tested to confirm her native american roots. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room". ♪
this is "cnn breaking news". breaking news tonight. the saudi government apparently is on the brink of changing its story about the fate of a journalist whose disappearance has escalated tensions with the united states. cnn has learned that the saudis are preparing to admit that jamal khashoggi was, in fact, killed, claiming he died during an interrogation that went wrong. this just hours after president trump seemed to buy the saudi king's denial of any involvement in or knowledge of the khashoggi fate. also breaking right now, the death toll from hurricane michael just rose to 19 as mr. trump is wrapping up his tour of the disaster area. this hour, i'll talk with congressman jerry conley who represents the virginia district where khashoggi lived. our correspondents and analysts are also standing by. first, let's go to our chief international correspondent clarissa ward. she is joining us live from
turkey. clarissa, you broke the story on this report being prepared by the saudis. what are they planning to admit? >> reporter: so, wolf, what we're learning essentially is that this report, which we know the saudis have been working on for some time, what they've called essentially an internal investigation, that when it will be released it will contain, according to these two sources, an admission that jamal khashoggi was, indeed, killed while he was in custody in the saudi consulate. they will be framing it essentially as a botched operation, as an interrogation gone wrong, as an attempted abduction from turkey potentially or presumably, i should say, to saudi arabia with horrible and unintended, they will insist, consequences. they are also likely to say that the men who carried out the operation did not do so with the correct level of clearance and transparency, and also that
there will likely be repercussions, that there will be disciplinary action taken against these men. one of our sources did, however, caution that the report hasn't been issued yet. it is still possible that saudi arabia will change the narrative. it will not be, of course, as you know, the first time that we have seen the first tinarrative hins khashoggi disappeared. >> as you know, saudi arabia originally denied all of the allegations. is this just a cover story now in the works? >> reporter: well, certainly there are a lot of people who are going to see it that way, and notwithstanding whether or not it is a cover story, some serious questions remain. who ordered this? is it acceptable even if it wasn't the intention to kill him, is it acceptable that he should be interrogated, that he should be potentially beaten, that he should have been -- that there should have been an attempted rendition to take him to saudi territory? who would have known about this? who is in a position of authority to sign off on such a
thing? there's no sense really that just because the saudis offer this narrative that this story will go away, wolf. there are a lot of people with a lot of questions about how it was that this really happened. >> earlier today, as you note, clarissa, the president -- president trump touted the saudi king's denials. how will this admission, if it emerges in the coming hours, impact the overall u.s./saudi relationship? >> reporter: well, it was an interesting thing because at the same time, wolf, as he apparently said, oh, prince -- king salman told me he knows absolutely nothing about it, he then went on to almost break news himself by referring to rogue killers. it was unclear exactly what he meant by that, where he got that idea from, who was even talking about killers when it hadn't yet been confirmed that khashoggi had died in saudi custody. but certainly, as you say, this puts a real spotlight on the relationship, a very cozy, tight
relationship, particularly the relationship between trump's son-in-law jared kushner and the crowned prince, mohamad bin salman. after this a lot of people will be asking if it is an appropriate relationship to continue given the gravity of the nature of what we're hearing has happened. >> good reporting, clarissa. thank you very much. now to president trump and his response to saudi arabia's evolving story about khashoggi's disappearance. let's go to our chief white house correspondent, jim acosta. jim, the president talked briefly about this khashoggi case once again tonight as he was wrapping up his visit to the hurricane disaster area in florida and georgia. what did he say? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. president trump was talking about this mystery, a mystery that perhaps is on its way to getting solved after taking a look at the storm damage left behind after hurricane michael. before his trip, as clarissa was saying, the president was speculating perhaps rogue killers were behind the disappearance of "washington post" columnist jamal khashoggi. the president made that comment after speaking to saudi arabia's king salman as we saw earlier
today and the king denied his government killed the journalist. the president said he is aware of the reports that khashoggi may have died during a botched interrogation and that he is now looking into it. after talking up denials from saudi arabia that the kingdom had nothing to do with the killing of jamal khashoggi, president trump now says he will look into reports that the saudi journalist was killed during an interrogation gone wrong. >> i'm going to have to see what they say, and we're working very close with saudi arabia and with turkey, and they're working together to figure out what happened. i heard that report, but nobody knows if it is an official report. so far it is just the rumor, the rumor of reporting. >> reporter: earlier in the day the president said he was developing some theories that rogue killers were to blame. that revelation came right after a phone call with saudi arabia's kill salman. >> 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. >> reporter: the president didn't explain how the suspected rogue killers would have made their way into the saudi consulate in turkey. local investigators believe operatives tied to the king in riyadh murdered khashoggi. >> who else would it be besides saudi arabia? >> i don't know. >> reporter: he appears to be focused on the saudi citizenship, taking note of it with reporters. >> i just spoke with the king of saudi arabia, who denies any knowledge of what took place with regard to, as he said, his saudi arabian citizen. >> reporter: it is a distinction he made last week as well. >> well, we have -- it is not our country, it is turkey, and it is not a citizen as i understand it. >> reporter: the president's critics question whether mr. trump is falling into a familiar pattern, trusting blanket denials a little too quickly, whether they're from vladimir putin. >> i will tell you that
president putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. >> reporter: or alabama gop senate candidate roy moore. >> he denies it. look, he denies it. >> i want to tell you a story. >> reporter: one person the president refuses to believe is democratic senator elizabeth warren who revealed dna testing that appears to prove her native american heritage. >> pocahontas. >> reporter: that was in response to name calling from the president who referred to her as pocahontas. over the summer he dared her to put her dna to the test. >> we will say i will give you a million dollars paid to your favorite charity if you take a test. >> reporter: asked whether he paid up, he denied he made the offer. >> you said you would pay one million dollars. >> i didn't say that. read it again. >> reporter: the president added, he hopes it is warren he faces in 2020. >> she will destroy the country. she will make our country into venezuela. >> reporter: later in the day, the president traveled to areas
in florida and georgia devastated by hurricane michael. >> to see this personally, it is very tough. very, very tough. total -- total devastation. >> reporter: handing out supplies to residents, the president claimed his administration's storm response has already outperformed its predecessor's. >> we are doing more than anybody would have ever done. >> reporter: the president still has more questions to answer about jamal khashoggi. mr. trump has embraced the saudis as close allies, a relationship that continues to come under close scrutiny when you consider the fact that the president earlier today was echoing the denials of king salman, it raises the question whether or not the king was lying to the united states or whether or not the king was in the dark. wolf. >> jim acost cost acosta reporte white house. congressman, thank you for joining us.
>> my pleasure, wolf. >> as you know, one turkish official told cnn it was a premeditated murder. "the new york times" reported that the perpetrators actually brought a bone saw into the consulate to cut up and dispose of the body. so why are the saudis now suggesting that they're going to be releasing a report saying this was an interrogation that simply went horribly wrong? >> well, first of all obviously our hearts go out to mr. khashoggi and his family and his fiance for this terrible tragedy. obviously the answer to that question is this is all the beginning of both a coverup and separating the crown prince from the action because the blowback has been profound. i think the saudis and the crown prince grossly underestimated the kind of international program thprogr progrom that followed this action. after almost two weeks, the saudis are admitting what the turks and u.s. intelligence
certainly knew, which was that mr. khashoggi never left the consulate after entering it and was murdered and dismembered on the premises. now, for mr. trump today to say, well, maybe it was rogue elements simply is disingenuous. he is briefed every day by our intelligence community. he gets the highest intelligence brief anyone can get. he certainly was made aware of the fact that we knew this was what happened. for him to sort of play along with the saudis that, well, they deny it, maybe it was just rogue elements, nice try. not true. he knows it. >> how plausible would it be from your perspective -- you're on the foreign affairs committee -- that king salman and crown prince mohamad bin salman had no role, had no knowledge of what was taking place at the saudi consulate in insta instance tan bull? >> zero chance.
turkish intelligence has let it be known they have intercepts, we have intercepts, that this was plodded and involved personally the crown prince. >> it is one thing for the crown prince to be aware, to orchestrate, to authorize it, but do you think king salman himself, his father who is old, was involved in this as well? >> i can't imagine the crown prince would operate without informing the boss, the king of saudi arabia, and certainly by now the king of saudi arabia is fully aware of the international reaction and the damage this has done and has been briefed by the crown prince and other saudi officials about what happened, how it happened, and what the reaction has been. >> when the president said after his phone conversation with king salman that, you know, may go rog -- maybe rogue killers were responsible, what is your reaction? >> so 15 high-level saudi military and intelligence officials, including an autopsy expert, and somebody with a bone
saw went into that consulate. we know it was premeditated in terms of detaining and abducting mr. khashoggi, and all of that circumstantial evidence suggests this was plotted, planned, premeditated and with murder in mind. >> do you think they wanted to kill him or they simply wanted to kidnap him and bring him back to saudi arabia? >> why would you have an autopsy expert as part of that team if that's what they wanted to do? why would you have a bone saw? who goes into a consulate with a bone saw? no, i think it is very clear that they got caught is what happened. >> this notion that this was simply a rendition or a kidnapping or an interrogation run amok, you don't buy that at all? >> i don't. >> the intention from your perspective is they were going to get this guy into the saudi consulate and execute him? >> and eliminate him, that was the plan. i think the crown prince grossly miscalculated the reaction that ensued, and this will have lasting damage in the saudi
relationship with the western world but i think it also has catastrophic damage, wolf, to the foreign policy of the trump administration. they put all of their eggs in the saudi basket in the middle east and now it has blown up in their face. >> because the turks are the ones who released so much of this information over the past nearly two weeks, they've been releasing, releasing, releasing, and now all of a sudden the saudis have a joint investigation under way with the turks. i see a smile emerging on your face. >> well, the turks have sort of played both games. they have been the source of what has now turned out to be accurate information, even though it seemed almost fantastical. what do you mean they would kill him and dismember him, you know, on the premises? but apparently that is what happened. on the other hand, president erdogan wants to be able to maintain some kind of working relationship with the saudi king and the crown prince, so he has plausible deniability by saying, no, no, we're happy to work together.
i think it is a bit of a fiction, too. >> clearly the president doesn't want this to impact the overall u.s. strategic cooperation -- arms sales, for example -- to saudi arabia. >> yes, the president has clearly shown his values, you know, that sort of -- if i can say that trumps everything. but a cold-blooded murder of a very moderate dissenter. he never called for the overthrow of the royal family, just talked about reforms that would be reasonable to most of us certainly in the united states, and he gave his life for that. >> have you ever met jamal khashoggi? >> i did. >> tell us about your meeting with him. i know he lived in your district. >> it was only on one occasion at an event about a year or so ago, and very mild-mannered gentleman. you know, a very articulate critic but balanced. he also praised reforms by the crowned prince, but apparently the criticism was just simply
too much for the royal family, or at least for the crown prince. >> at one point, you know, he worked with the saudi embassy here in washington. >> absolutely. >> whhe was a senior media advir to prince turkey, so he wasn't always strictly a journalist. >> no. you know, he was a well-known figure here in washington and in saudi arabia and, indeed, much of the middle east region and was considered a very thoughtful commentator. this is -- i think his murder was designed to have an extreme chilling effect. the message is, my reach is far and i won't tolerate even that kind of moderate dissent, imagine what i would do with more radical or extreme dissent. >> congressman conley, thank you for joining us. >> my pleasure. >> jerry conley of virginia. just ahead, more on the saudis apparently poised to admit a missing journalist is dead and
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also breaking this hour, the new death toll from hurricane michael. it is up to 19. cnn's martin savidge in the hard-hit area of mexico beach and the florida panhandle. martin, this new victim was, what, found dead where you are in mexico beach? >> reporter: that's correct, wolf. it brings the death toll in mexico beach to two. this victim was found this afternoon in the debris field. there is a massive de-brie field. in fact, if you take a look just from the overhead drone shot, you can see how much debris there is. this discovery was made by one of the task force. there are several of them that have been sweeping through the community. they've done at least three sweeps through mexico beach. they've gone through all of the structures, but now it is coming down to this massive debris field that really is proving to be a challenge, both for humans and the dogs that are being used. they changed tactics, and the way they changed the tactics, number one, the first sweeps they went through they were using dogs that could sniff out live scents, meaning people
still trapped and alive. now, sadly, they've switched to using cadaver dogs and it was a cadaver dog that made this hit this afternoon. they're not saying if it is a male or female and, again, no identification, but we are being told one of the dogs has a third hit. it is not confirmation of a third victim in this community, but it could be a strong indicator. the other way they've changed tactics, wolf, is that they have been going back to the addresses of people they know stayed, and if those people haven't been heard from by now, five days in, it is an indicator of a problem. so they've been sending the cadaver dogs into those neighborhoods where they know people stayed and have not been seen or heard from since and tragically that is turning up results. >> tragically, indeed. are people living in the devastated areas getting the food and water they need? >> in mexico beach they are.
there aren't that many people here. in other parts of the region, and it is a massive area, there are reports of long lines of people waiting for the basics of food, water and ice. the help is coming in. the problem is the need is tremendous, wolf. that's what people are running up against five days in. also, tomorrow the first people will be allowed to return into mexico beach. however, they can't come back to live. they're only allowed to come in for a day, retrieve what they can and leave. this town, city officials say, cannot support the people that once lived here, at least not now. wolf. >> a horrible situation. martin, thank you. martin savidge reporting for us. just ahead, are the saudis manipulating president trump with their changing story about missing journalist jamal khashoggi and the theory about, quote, rogue killers? and the president, he says he doesn't care that senator elizabeth warren now has dna proof of her native american ancestry. will voters care if and when she runs for president?
interrogation gone wrong. let's get more from gloria borger. this new version of what the saudis will be announcing is totally different from the earlier version. >> yes, totally 180. he left the consulate, he was alive. oops, now, you know, he died but it was some rogue open rise. -- operation. i think the reason the president sent pompeo is to try to get straight answers. jerry connelly completely disbelieves this and said it is not true, and we don't know the intelligence he is looking at. but if there is video, i'm assuming the intelligence has it. so you need to get to the bottom of this because this is kind of ridiculous, and there was a flat denial. nobody -- we didn't know about it, nobody involved. i also am skeptical about that. >> but isn't the real story here nepotism? isn't the real story that president trump has turned over this incredibly important relationship to his incompetent and unqualified son-in-law,
jared kushner, who has invested the american relationship with nbs, the prince there, who turns out to be just as bad and authoritarian as the saudis have always been. you know, the president has bought into this program. why? why is jared kushner in charge of this and how much could he mess it up? >> you know, david, listen to the president right after his phone conversation with king salman of saudi arabia. he walked out to reporters and said this. >> i just spoke with the king of saudi arabia, who denies any knowledge of what took place with regard to, as he said, his saudi arabian citizen. i've asked and he firmly denied that. 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. >> what do you think? >> a couple of things. first of all, it is possible the king didn't know everything that the crown prince knew or the crown prince didn't know everything, but i have my own degree of scepticism. the other thing is that the president has gone out of his way in a number of interviews to point out this isn't an american citizen. okay, but he is a "washington post" colleague of mine and he is a journalist and he is a person, and the united states is supposed to at least in theory stand for something. one quick final point, wolf, none of these explanations, whichever turns out to be true, is good. let's say it was a botched interrogation, that's not exculpatory. it means he was questioned orator tour oor oor or tortured. >> it is the same kind of response. >> the president when he hears denials from people he wants to believe he says the denials were
very firm, very strong. >> it is not that he is willing to take the denials at face value, this is also a president who time and again has down played some of the brutality of dictators around the world. in fact, he has embraced those like kim jong-un and vladimir putin, and you have also seen it, of course, now with the saudi kingdom. the problem with that is that it gives off the sense that the regimes can get away with anything they want because they won't be held to account. i think there's a real question now as to what, if anything, congress will do. they're not currently in session, but on a bipartisan basis they've called for an investigation and they've called for the administration to administer sanctions against anyone who might be complicit in this killing, but they did, of course, force the president's hand on russia. whether they will be able to do it with the saudis remains to be seen. >> i have a prediction about what congress will do. >> nothing. >> nothing. >> yeah. >> they never take on the
president, the republican house, republican senate. >> the only one -- lindsey graham has been quite vocal on this. >> oh, please, gosh. >> i'm just saying. >> they're very concerned. you know, bob corker will be very concerned, ben sasse will be very concerned and they will do jack. >> well, we'll see. >> for two weeks almost the saudis saying, you know, he came into the embassy, he left, everything was good. they never released video or a picture of him leaving, but that's another story. now for them to say, you know what? there was an interrogation, rogue killers, they killed him, sorry about that. is anybody really going to believe any of that? >> well, the president. >> i mean is that an exculpatory explanation? the fact that they killed him during an interrogation? i mean that's worse. >> i think the big question is whether the king -- when the crown prince knew. i have to assume somebody with this degree of visibility that people up in the government knew, just like i assume putin knew about the hacking of the election. i mean these things don't just
happen -- >> won't they -- >> there has to be intelligence. the turks don't want to let you know how they bug embassies, so we'll just have -- >> and remember, sabrina, the prime minister of lebanon was forced to come to saudi arabia and deliver in effect what was a hostage videotape declaring support for saudi arabia before they let him go. i have no idea how much money he had to leave behind. remember all of those hundreds of saudi billionaires rounded up, held at the ritz carlton hotel in riyadh and forced to give away a few hundred billion dollars to the crown prince before they were allowed to leave. there is a history of this kind of stuff in recent months. >> there's certainly a history, and yet you had a charm offensive everyone fell for when the crown prince came to washington. they rolled out the red carpet. let's not forget saudi arabia was a country that the president chose for his maiden foreign trip when he took office, you know. it was mentioned, the close ties between jared kushner and mbs
who, you know, he sees as some sort of kindred spirit. there are obviously also investments on the part of the trump organization inside saudi arabia. again, i don't think you are going to necessarily see the response from this president that you would have seen in any previous administration. that certainly will, of course, have broader implications for america's moral authority on the globe stage. >> jeffrey, you don't anticipate any significant change in u.s./saudi relations? >> no, the president and jared kushner are all in with mbs. they view saudi arabia as the major check against iran in the area, which is a reasonable position to take, but, you know, the complete embrace of saudi arabia that's gone on during the year and a half-plus of this administration is a dramatic departure. look what you get. look who you are embracing, these killers. >> what is interesting is you see businesses, big ceos like jamie diamond, pulling out of the big conference the saudis
are having saying, look, we don't feel we can go until this is resolved. the president hinted today -- hinted -- maybe steve mnuchen will not go. no firm decision has been made. it will be interesting to see whether or not the treasury secretary shows up. >> the saudis might postpone the entire conference not to be embarrassed when nobody important shows up. that would be pretty awkward. >> it would. >> everybody stand by. there's more news we're following just ahead. . when elizabeth warren's dna test may tell us about the 2020 race for the white house. plus, president trump with some of his most illustrious predecessors. we have details of the unusual portrait now hanging in the white house. at humana, we believe great things are ahead of you when you
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president trump is dismissing democratic senator and possible presidential candidate elizabeth warren's dna test. the president has mocked senator warren's claim of native american heritage, calling her pocahontas, but the test results she released today shows strong evidence she has some very, very distant native american ancestors. let's discuss and play a portion of the video senator warren released together with the dna test. >> my daddy always said he fell head over heels in love with my mother the first time he saw her, but my daddy's parents were
bitterly opposed to their marrying because my mother's family was part native american. >> and we did find segments of native american ancestry where we believe the error rate is less than one in 1,000. >> now, the president likes to call my mom a liar. what do the facts say? >> the facts suggest that you absolutely have native american ancestry in your pedigree. >> okay. >> gloria, what does this video tell you about her 2020 plans? >> it is here. she's running. i don't know why she had to do this today before the midterm elections, that's another story. the democrats need to stay on their message, but when 23 and me arrives, i guess you just have to tell the world and she wanted to pick a fight with donald trump, which is probably good for donald trump and his base, but she's running. i mean there's no doubt about it. she has released her tax returns, ten years of tax returns. you know, she is trying to get all of the housekeeping done before any kind of announcement. >> she is clearly running, as a
bunch of democrats are clearly running. david swerdlick, watch this clip of how the president responded. >> she owes the country an apology. what's the percentage? 1/1,000th? >> what about the money you told her? >> you mean if she gets the nomination in the debate where i was going to have her tested? i will only do it if i can test her personally. okay. that will not be something i enjoy doing either. >> during the campaign he did say he would give a million dollars to the charity of her choice if she did take a dna test. >> sure. so there's a debate to be had about the percentage of native american ancestry she has, and that's fine and we will have it. i'm not someone who uses the term gas lighting. i'm going to use it here, wolf. the president was trying to gaslight people today. there's tape of him saying, i will give a million dollars to the charity of your choice if you take a dna test, and now he is throwing all of these conditions on it. this is what president trump does. he's going to keep doing it, but
i just want to call it out for what it is because this is -- this is the definition of gaslighting. i didn't say what i once said. >> some have started making comparisons when he used to go after president obama and the birther controversy. finally president obama released his original birth certificate from the state of hawaii, showing he was born in hawaii, not in kenya. the president -- then candidate, private citizen, donald trump, he still didn't believe it. >> no, it wasn't a birther controversy. it was a birther lie that began from day one, that was always a set of lies. this is a somewhat more complicated subject, but i think elizabeth warren is trying to get ahead of it and say, look, you want to call me pocahontas, go ahead, i do have native american blood, i told the story, it is a family tale that now has been confirmed. i think it is about the least important thing you can say about elizabeth warren's politics, but it obviously has gotten a lot of attention and she wants to get ahead of it. >> how do you see it, sabrina? >> i think there's certainly two
issues here, and would is this sort of ground work elizabeth warren is laying out when it comes to a possible presidential bid, but when it comes to this feud she has had with president trump, as everyone has pointed out, i don't think anything she has said or does is going to stop the president from using the derogatory nickname he had to kind of attack her, having talked about her native american heritage. but it is also worth noting "the boston globe" did a fairly comprehensive investigation and they did not find any received to support the notion that she benefitted from her claim of native american ancestry. >> right. >> it didn't help her necessarily. >> get a job. >> get a job at various law schools around the country. gloria, take a look at this painting hanging at the white house. >> art critic, gloria. >> you can see -- >> how thin the president looks. >> you can see a bunch of guys there, sitting around enjoying -- clearly president trump loves this painting. >> well, he looks quite svelte. everybody is looking at him.
he is having a conversation with abraham lincoln, and everybody is smiling and laughing and he is the complete center of attention. what is not to like? now it hangs in the white house instead of being on a jigsaw puzzle, right? >> and the artist, andy thomas, made a similar portrait depicting former democratic presidents. none of those, of course, made their way to the white house, but this is a president who referred to the west wing as a dump and has undergone renovations that include gold drapings and upholstery. he likes to be the center of attention. he also has a map hanging that shows his winnings on the night of the 2016 election, so i don't think it is surprising this now has its place. >> let's get art expert jeffrey toobin into this discussion. >> it is superb. it is superb painting, i think. no, look, if he's happy, i'm happy. if he likes that painting, god bless. >> my eyes go right to who i think is calvin coolidge over teddy roosevelt's shoulder and the look on his face says, this
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explain this development. >> big win for the president and his lawyers. big loss for stormy daniels and her lawyer. i believe michael avenatti has a tweet in response to this, what is this? >> judges limited ruling, daniels other claims against trump and cohen proceed unaffected. trump's contrary claims are as deceptive as the claims about the inauguration attendance. we are confident in a reversal. >> this relates to a tweet that the president made that was critical of stormy daniels, that -- she filed a libel suit. a defamation case against him for that. the part of stormy daniels lawsuit against the president to be free of the agreement --
nondisclosure agreement is still pending, and so there are more legal fights pending between the president and stormy daniels. today is a complete win for the president including a grant of attorneys fees to the president, which is a particular slap in the face toward stormy daniels and. >> he's going to be pretty happy about this, the president? >> yeah, because he doesn't have to pay his attorney fees, avenatti will have more time to run for president, maybe. it's not over, because the other nondisclosure agreements are in contention and she wants to be free of that. >> there are all sorts of other legal battles going on as well. >> i think the issue may end up being a bigger issue for the public at large. everyone has an opinion about what happened or didn't happen between president trump and stormy daniels. >> michael avenatti really wants
to depose president trump. >> yes. >> this doesn't change the fact that had it not been for the lawsuit brought by stormy daniels you probably wouldn't have michael cohen go and implicate the president in a federal crime in a court of law. >> breaking news, we'll stay on top of this story as well. president trump is taughting his support for ukraine as it faces russian aggression saying that's sending weapons to ukraine. while president trump sent pillows and blankets. let's go to our senior international correspondent matthew chance. he's in moscow with an exclusive report. what's the reaction to these war games? >> the russians certainly are happier, and they're even less happy with what u.s. officials are telling me this evening,
which is that ukraine will be receiving more military aide from the united states over the months ahead. something that's going to anger the kremlin even further. all this, of course, as the california national guard have sent their warplanes to ukraine for joint exercises with the ukrainian air force in a bid to lift that country's military performan performance. this is the united states ramping up its military support for ukraine. these clear sky exercises with the u.s. and ukrainian warplanes flying wing to wing are meant as a show of solidarity. but with ukraine fighting russian-backed rebels in the country's east, it's a potent message to moscow. >> as the ukrainian security forces and their armed forces become more and more capable. it allows them to better defend the sovereignty of their country and deal with the problems they have internally.
>> isn't that provocative? aren't you worried that could pour aviation fuel on the flames? >> we are demonstrating our resolve. what we're doing here is not as aggressive or controversial as supporting insurgents across international boundaries. >> but u.s. military support for ukraine is evolving fast. in september, the country's president formally took delivery of two u.s. patrol boats to bolster ukraine's navy. and more controversy, u.s. javelin tank missiles are in ukrainian hands. they've not been used in battle yet. the deployment crosses a line and encourages bloodshed. it's not just the sky that's clear, but the risk of escalation too. these joint exercises are just the latest sign of the dramatic changes that have taken place in
u.s. policy toward ukraine. the old reservations about ramping up tensions with moscow seem to have receded into the background while the new policy of training and arming ukraine has really started to take off. >> u.s. officials say their support is a response to moscows meddling. the u.s. embassy in ukraine posting a link to these drone images earlier this month. they show military vehicles driving in and out of ukraine from russia, according to international monitors. moscow must stop providing deadly weapons under the cover of night to its proxies in eastern ukraine the embassy said on twitter. it is a diplomatic balancing act for the u.s. ambassador. grappling with what critics say is confusion in the trump administration toward ukraine. >> on the one hand you're arming the country as we discussed. on the other hand president trump has on occasion spoken
about -- in what's been described as a deferential way toward russia. do you believe america is sending mixed messages when it comes to ukraine? >> well, i look at our policy, i think our policy is getting, is a pretty good one toward ukraine and is getting stronger. so we are providing assistance as you described. and i think we're on the path to providing more assistance on the security side in this coming fiscal year. >> more assistance, more training, more weapons. the trumpeting of a dangerous new era. the kremlin has been eyeing these u.s. exercises in ukraine with some concern. stepping up its own military exercises in response.
vladimir putin says it will meet what it calls western u.s. aggressiveness with an assertive response. wolf? >> matthew chance reporting live from moscow for us, good report, thank you very much. thanks very much for watching, i'm wolf blitzer in the situation room. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. out front next, saudi arabia changes its story. sources saying the saudis are now prepared to admit the washington post contributor was accidentally killed. why did it take them 13 days to come up with that explanation. will president trump buy the story. the leadership of the cherokee nation slamming elizabeth warren tonight after warren said she's part native american and has the dna test to prove it. one of those leaders is my guest. the race of the day, from now until the midterms we're bringing you one race to watch every sin