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Pompeo Meets with Saudi King; Trump Offers Theory; Rubio talks Florida Recovery; Rubio on Climate Change Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired October 16, 2018 - 06:30   ET



[06:31:50] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Saudi Arabia for talks with the king and the crown prince. This comes as sources tell CNN that Saudi Arabia is preparing to admit that journalist Jamal Khashoggi died inside their consulate in Istanbul, but they say it was during an interrogation gone wrong.

Joining us now to talk about this and more we have Republican Senator Marco Rubio. He's a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for being here.


CAMEROTA: So if this comes to pass, if, in fact, the Saudis prepare a statement and they say that Jamal Khashoggi was the victim of an interrogation gone wrong, gone too far, would you believe that explanation?

RUBIO: Where's the body? Why wasn't the family notified? Why have they spent the better part of eight or nine days saying they didn't know anything about it? And there's all of the things that didn't happen here. So, you know, why did you send 18 people, or whatever it was, to fly into Turkey and immediately leave afterwards? And, I mean, those are the other questions that are going to be asked. Like this is a catastrophe for them and this is a fear we've had for a long time is that the crown prince is a young and aggressive guy that would overestimate how much room he had to do things, would get over aggressive and overestimate his own capabilities and create a problem such as this.

So, look, I mean, Saudi Arabia's a -- it was a big part of this Middle Eastern strategy that the administration has, which was generally a good idea, and that is to try to hedge against Iran's ambitions in the region. The risk in that was always that this guy was reckless. And we've seen a little bit of that in some other places, but -- but now, you know, we saw that dust up, for example, in Lebanon where the prime minister was basically abducted for a week or whatever. But now this would really blow apart our Middle Eastern strategy. And it's something we have to address from a human rights standpoint. Just because a country we're working with did it doesn't mean the U.S. can just shrug its shoulder and say, well, nothing happened here. CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, senator, you're asking all of the right

questions and you're asking the questions that I think that Americans would hope that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is posing to the crown prince right now and that President Trump would have posed to the king when he spoke to him on the phone. But, instead, it sounds like President Trump just accepted the king's denial, I guess, that he knew nothing. I mean the president -- President Trump came up with a curious explanation for what might have happened in there. Here's how he explained his thinking now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The king firmly denies 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?


CAMEROTA: Senator, I don't know if you could hear that, the audio wasn't great, but he was said -- he said it sounded to me like maybe it could have been rogue killers.

RUBIO: Yes. Well --

CAMEROTA: Who knows? What do we do with that?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, I think it's important to understand the way the president expresses himself. I've now been around him, both running against him as a candidate, and now that he's been president for almost two years. I think he's just relaying back what he heard in the conversation and talking almost colloquially about it. I mean he's not talking like a member of the Foreign Relations Committee or the Council of Foreign Relations because he's not a politician, he's a businessman. He's just talking like a regular person and sort of relaying back what he heard.

[06:35:13] Ultimately what's going to matter here is what they do about it. And there's going to be strong measures. The president has said that. And this is true, there will be strong measures.

I can tell you that a separate branch of government that I belong to, the Senate, the Congress, I believe will act in a bipartisan way. And this is going to alter the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia for the foreseeable future. What those specific measures are obviously is going to be up for debate, but they'll be strong and they'll be meaningful. Congress will act. We'll see what the administration does. It sounds to me like, in the end of the day, they will also follow suit?

In terms of those strong measures, just one more question, and that is, look, you have pointed out that this is bigger than arms sales. The president seems fixated on the -- what he says is the $110 billion dollars' worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. He wants to keep that intact. You've pointed out that it's bigger than that and that Saudi Arabia is

key to our Middle East strategy, they act as a hedge against Iranian influence in the region. So is one journalist's gruesome murder enough to blow all of that up?

RUBIO: Well, I can tell you that human rights is worth blowing that up and luring someone into a consulate where they're there by murdered, dismembered and disposed of is a big deal. By the way, this happens to be a green card holder of the United States and -- who had been a journalist, but he could have been, you know, a maintenance worker at "The Washington Post," it wouldn't have mattered. It's a human being whose life was taken by a direct act of a foreign government by luring him into a diplomatic facility in a third country. I mean any one of those factors is bad. Put them all together and it's catastrophic.

And as far as arms sales are concerned, it's not the money. You know, there are other countries we could sell that to and (INAUDIBLE). It's just not the money. The arms sales does give us leverage over a country when they have our weapon systems they need our maintenance, they need our replacement equipment and the like, and that gives us leverage over their behavior, you know? That's why we're talking about arms sales now because it's leverage.

But they'll buy those weapons from someone else. But I don't know -- I don't care how much money it is. There isn't enough money in the world to purchase back our credibility on human rights and the way nations should conduct themselves. And we lose our credibility and our moral standing to criticize Putin for murdering people, Assad for murdering people, Maduro in Venezuela for murdering people. We can't say anything about that if we allow Saudi Arabia to do it and all we do is a diplomatic slap on the wrist.

CAMEROTA: Senator, I want to talk to you about Hurricane Michael. Obviously your state, Florida, has been so affected and it's been so adversely affected by climate change. The sea level is rising. Hurricanes seem to be increasing or intensifying. And I just want to play for you what President Trump said when he was questioned this weekend by Lesley Stahl about his thoughts now on climate change.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not denying climate change, but it could very well go back. You know, we're talking about over millions of years.

LESLEY STAHL, "60 MINUTES": Well, that's denying it.

TRUMP: They say that we had hurricanes that were far worse than what we just had with Michael.

STAHL: Who says that, "they say"? You mean the people on the phone?

TRUMP: Well, people say -- people say that in the --

STAHL: Yes, but what about the scientists who say it's worse than ever? TRUMP: You'd have to show me the scientists because they have a very

big political agenda, Lesley.


CAMEROTA: Senator, are you satisfied with that answer? Would you like him to take a different stance?

RUBIO: Well, here's what I will tell you. First of all, we have this tendency in American politics as soon as something terrible happens, to figure out, who can we blame and what's at fault so we can create the political angle to it. No one can tell you, I don't care who they are, that this particular hurricane happened because of any changes in the climate.

Number two, as far as climate change is concerned, that is a measurable. You can measure what temperatures are. You can measure the sea level rise. It is rising. And we know that these are some of the hottest months we've had in recorded history and the like. But as a policymaker, which is what the president does, as well as being an executive and what we do, the question is, what can we do about it? I know we can adapt to it. There are things we need to do for adaptation. I know we need to mitigate against it. The building codes, the higher sea walls and the like.

And there there's this talk about, how can we change our energy policy to reverse some of this? And that's where I think we get ourselves into a problem because none of these measures -- all of these measures that are being talked about have significant economic impact and it's not clear they have any sort of immediate or short-term impact, particularly because other countries on that may not necessarily follow suit.

This is a nuanced and complicated issue. And to just talk -- and to just act like if we had banned all oil and gas and just gone to solar and wind in this country that the hurricane wouldn't have happened, I do think -- I'm not saying that's what you're saying, but I do think that argument is a misleading one. Hurricanes are a fact of life. Andrew happened in '92, devastated south Florida. We've had hurricanes that have hit the state repeatedly forever. We know -- you go back to the Native Americans that were in Florida during that time and hurricanes hitting them was a big part of their lure because they happened.

But that said, yes, the sea level is higher and getting higher, temperatures are warmer. And, as a policymaker, we've got to adapt to that. We've got to mitigate against that. And we've got to have a serious conversation about whether what percentage of that is due to human activity and what laws or policies can we change that do not destroy our economy but address those factors. It's a complicated issue. It's not a sound bite.

[06:40:16] CAMEROTA: For sure. For sure. And, I mean, you say that the conversation always turns to assigning blame. And I hear you. Obviously that's where we are in our political culture. But, you know, people also are trying to fix it. They're trying to come up with a solution. And so I'm just wondering if you think that the president's stance where he says vague things like, well, they say that hurricanes -- worse hurricanes have happened. If you think that that goes in any way towards fixing this problem?

RUBIO: No -- yes, I do. I think, ultimately, for someone who says that he doesn't -- I think part of that is he basically had said he didn't think it was a hoax, you would see where someone would be helpful in doing some of the adaptation that we need to do. We need -- one of the reasons why we want to start -- look, here's the bottom line. If insurance companies believe that the climate is changing and as a result it's going to create more and stronger hurricanes down the road, then we all have to believe it because we're going to have higher premiums and we have to adjust to that. That's why we have to improve building codes and do all sorts of work in infrastructure to adapt to that new reality. We're going to have to do it from a an economic perspective. And I don't think anything the president says runs counter to that.

The broader question of what we can do, what percentage of that change is cyclical and what percentage of that change is manmade, that's a complicated question. Even scientists still grapple with that. They can say it was the leading cause. They can't tell you if it's 50 percent of it or 80 percent of it.


RUBIO: But the most important part of it is, what laws can we change right now that would have an immediate impact in the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years, because America's not a planet. That's a complicated question. And some people act like, oh, we know the answer to it. If you just do these things this will all stop. No, it won't. No, it won't. And it will have an economic cost. There's a difficult balancing act there, but adaptation and mitigation I absolutely think what the president said would be supportive of that.

CAMEROTA: Senator, can you give us an update on the recovery efforts? I mean when we were on the air yesterday there were still people on missing lists. So we're just wondering what's happening in Florida this morning.

RUBIO: Yes, and we're just hope -- yes, well, we're hopeful that those are people whose cell phones are dead and haven't been able to communicate with loved ones and the like. You know, the reality of it is, if you look at the devastation that happened in Mexico Beach and other places, our fear is the death toll will rise. I hope that's not the case, but that's quite possible. And we should be prepared for that.

This is a disaster. I mean that's why they call it that. It's going to take a long time. You're talking about rebuilding the electric grid. You're talking about areas inland, frankly, that in many cases are quite isolated. There are not a lot of TV cameras. Some journalists have done a great job of going in and finding people in some of these multi-acre properties far off the main road who have been isolated for days and haven't seen anyone. The good news is, that of all the parts of our state, and we have a

great state, but northwest Florida is a place where neighbors are helping neighbors. I saw it firsthand. And, you know, the -- in the county I was in yesterday, we saw -- we really saw people stepping forward in Jackson County and helping each other. And all the agencies working together.

So, we have a long road ahead and the number one issue right now is getting power restored. But we have a lot of work ahead. This is as bad as it gets.

CAMEROTA: Well, for sure. I mean, that's the silver lining is that we always do see humanity, you know, come to the fore during these times. But last question, we only have 30 seconds left, does Florida have enough money for not only the recovery that you're talking about, but all of the retrofitting that you're talking about, the building of higher roads, the building of newfangled houses to try to cope with this climate change?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, it's not just a Florida issue. I think Florida and local governments can contribute to that. There will have to most definitely be a federal aspect to it.

A couple of years ago I -- we started the study, the Atlantic coast study, to look exactly into that issue of what exactly needs to be done and what the impacts are. But basically any coastal areas along the eastern seaboard and in through the gulf are going to be facing this reality. And it includes federal properties. You know, McDill (ph) Air Force Base is an example, is a place that's going to need to be -- is going to need to adjust to this reality. And so the bottom line is, people and development went to the coasts. There are a lot of expensive property now at risk of higher sea level rise, flooding and the like and there will have to be adaptation spending as part of any infrastructure spending, and they'll have to be a federal contribution to that. But our state and local partners will contribute. They need to contribute.

CAMEROTA: Senator Marco Rubio, we really appreciate you coming on NEW DAY. thanks so much.

RUBIO: Thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Great to have him here. A fascinating discussion.

Where's the body, he asks. Very skeptical of what might be the Saudi spin on Jamal Khashoggi.

CAMEROTA: There's a lot of questions. Why bring a bone saw to an interrogation as the sources say.

[06:44:49] BERMAN: All right. We have an alarming medical news this morning also. A polio-like illness affecting children across the country. Cases on the rise. More than half of U.S. states now suffering. We'll tell you what you need to know about this, next.


BERMAN: There's some pretty alarming medical news this morning. More than half of all U.S. states are facing a polio-like illness that paralyzes children. CNN has learned that 15 states had confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. Seventeen other states report cases that were suspected or investigated. Symptoms can include sudden limb weakness, facial dropping, difficulty swallowing or slurred speech. And, as of now, there is no vaccine. This is something being watched very, very closely right now. We'll stay on it.

CAMEROTA: That is scary.

All right, now to this. Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft has died. He succumb to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at the age of 65. Allen created Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975 after they met as students at a private school. He left the company in 1982 after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. Gates says he's heartbroken by the death of one of his dearest friends.

BERMAN: Less than 24 hours after announcing they are expecting their first child, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle getting showered with baby gifts on their tour of Australia.

[06:50:04] CAMEROTA: Wait a minute, move the stuffed kangaroo. I need to see the baby bump.

BERMAN: I'm just so happy we're on day two of this story. I'm so happy it hasn't gone away.

CAMEROTA: Oh, we'll be following it every single day for the next, I guess, seven months.

BERMAN: Well, let me just tell you what we're seeing here. Apparently they got a pair of baby Ugg boots and hats because every, you know, eight pound baby needs a hat that's nine times your size.

CAMEROTA: I think the hat was for her.

BERMAN: Oh, really?


BERMAN: You see the kangaroo, the stuffed kangaroo?

CAMEROTA: Yes. But tell us about the koala that recently gave birth.

BERMAN: There -- they visited a koala that gave birth.

CAMEROTA: To two twins named Harry and Meghan.

BERMAN: Yes, but -- OK, let's just say that those twins will be sister and brother and Harry and Meghan are not sister and brother. There's like -- I don't think it's a one for one.

CAMEROTA: That makes no sense what you're saying right now. Look, we're talking about adorable koala twins. BERMAN: More adorable, the koala twins or Meghan and Harry?

CAMEROTA: Meghan and Harry.

BERMAN: See, that's why we keep on doing this.

CAMEROTA: Late night laughs is next.


CAMEROTA: All right, late night comics wasting no time getting in on the feud between President Trump and Elizabeth Warren. Here are your late night laughs.


TREVOR NOAH, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": Even though Elizabeth Warren took the test, now he says he's not going to pay the million dollars. So basically this white man made a promise to Senator Warren and then went back on what he said. So I guess she really is Native American after all.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": No reasonable person would take Saudi Arabia's denial seriously. I'm sorry, you had a theory, President Columbo.

[06:55:06] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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?

COLBERT: Who knows? Everybody knows. King said he didn't do it and he's got witnesses, Sqi (ph), PJ (ph), Tobin (ph), solid dudes.


CAMEROTA: Any time I feel that you can inject Sqi (ph) into a punch line, you should.

BERMAN: Sqi's not going anywhere. Sqi endures.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at this moment, in Saudi Arabia, about to meet with the crown prince there. Will he get any answers on what happened to the missing and presumed murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi? We have breaking news, next.


[07:00:07] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Saudi's got a problem. They've got a lot they need to explain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The part of the story that this was an absolutely rouge operation is not believable.