The Briefing Room: "Rogue killers" may be involved in Khashoggi disappearance: Trump

POTUS and First Lady visit Hurricane Michael devastation in Florida; U.S.-Saudi relations under strain after journalist goes missing; Sen. Elizabeth Warren reveals Native American ancestry.
20:31 | 10/15/18

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Transcript for The Briefing Room: "Rogue killers" may be involved in Khashoggi disappearance: Trump
Hey welcome to the briefing him on this Monday on Devin Dwyer join madam tells her political reporter great to have you with us here. On ABC news live to kick off another week we are in the storm zone right now the president as aegis off. Touring some of the damage done in Florida with the First Lady. A pretty horrific scene down their allow last check 23 at least 23 Americans killed in that storm. Our hurricane Michael which blew through. I seem so long ago but it was just last week all that destruction there. The president says that he's taking this very personally he has been impacted already but what by what he's seen. Certainly in light of the winds the picture there of the images coming in much different from hurricane Florence and East Coast a few weeks ago let's listen. To what the president had to say. About what he had OK we don't have that some of the president Adams said that it was very tough for him to see. He's taking over to criticism. For his handling of this we've heard from troops on the ground there that FEMA at least FEMA trucks. I'm haven't been identified they haven't seen them in there yet I think. In light of the fact that he was out with governor Rick Scott who's running for reelection he's getting sort of a a bit of a pass but it sounds like from residents there there is a bit of growing frustration. Bullet and it's interesting to you to see the White House getting some criticism over this. Given the response that we saw or lack their of last year in Puerto Rico with hurricane Maria. Texas with hurricane Harvey would have thought at this point this is not their first rodeo it's not the first hurricane. I nets come into United States since president trumps been in office. And that media they would have beefed up the response a little bit in that regard so to have him go down there and it has to face that criticism like you said. You know just a week after the hurricane occurred it's obviously not what the White House policy part the president down their for most of the day to day. He then heads up to George or we do have that sound though let's take a listen at the president reacting to some of the scenes he's been torn this morning. Look behind your media messages recent district data new years we've seen mostly in order and ordered to be very damaging. Scary you know we have. Do you see water rising 1415 feet but nobody C. This is really. Part certainly our thoughts and prayers are with those families. Down there on the Gulf Coast and will continue to track coverage for ABC news that comedy recovery. Should be in quite some time. From hurricane Michael. Moving on today though there's another huge story this gripping the capitol it's also. Been put to president trump today and that is the mystery of that Washington Post columnist Joseph mall cop show he he is the a reporter the Saudi reporter who disappeared mysteriously earlier this month last seen going into the Saudi embassy consulate rather. In Turkey. There you see a picture of him the president just this morning on his way. How to Florida said that he had had a phone call with the Saudi king. Here's what he had to say about the latest he's hearing about this case. The king of Saudi Arabia. Who denies any knowledge of what their life would regard to. As she said hey Saudi Arabian. Citizen. I've asked that he firmly denied that. Mike Pompeo you'll immediately get on a blame go to Saudi Arabia and Doug you'll hide their flight from NASA's. It's probably well but would regard that did go to bed he had that there's. Big game tell me that Turkey and Saudi Arabia always game. Very close laid. Law and getting hit the bottom of water have. So we'll see what happened but Mike Bob Mayo gave me Mike pop mail is leaving. Early age where that an hour or so he's heading to Saudi Arabia. We are. Going to leave nothing not covered would that make instead sticking firmly denied any knowledge job but. Really know may be. I don't I don't wanna get at this time but it sounded to me like baby names that have been. Rolled Keller. Only we're gonna try getting in the bottom of a very. But as well as a flat denial. Part extraordinary turn their from the president on the heels of that phone call acknowledging for the first time. Perhaps something he heard from king -- mind this could be rogue. Killers a sign that perhaps the president. Is now believe you've been told that in fact Jamal could shall be. Is dead. Let's bring in our White House reporter Jordan Phelps has been tracking this Jordan that comment in his generated a lot of ripples. Perhaps a way out and for the president here to acknowledge. I give the Saudi pass on this it's not unlike what we've seen him do. When it comes to these two potential wrongdoing by countries like Russia and North Korea China. Other rivals. You're right seven wrote actors that seems like a pretty farfetched. Tax idea when you think about where things I suppose it killing took place. At but what you're seeing here of course is that the president is walking a fine line BI's. He US hats in very. And our relationships that this administration uses very important there are arms sales that are key there are. A lot of elements of that relationship that the president doesn't want to mask went frankly. And snow EC hand here. I seeing 1001 against Saudi Arabia pass to ease. I threw this ad bit of diplomatic crisis as at the same time the president saying that we are going to get the bottom of this he's walking a fine mind. Let's bring in that shoddy come need to a senior fellow the Brookings Institution here in Washington. Also an expert on middle east policy in US Saudi relations shoddy thank you so much frankly I mean and want to put that to you. The president as you heard Jordan say there is sort of starting to float this theory that perhaps this was an accident. Perhaps that these were rule could killers. What does that signal to you about where this is had a. So yeah it seems like trump is trying to find a way out and and ideas Jordan as Jordan said early year. That the theory of row killers is on its face. Kind of absurd considering that. They killing would have happened in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul so are ready there is a kind of it seems that. That trump is going to give the saudis a pass if it continues going in this direction other there have been other reports. That the saudis might blame it on a failed abduction but that would still be pretty bad because that would mean they were trying to. Kidnap and then extradite him back to Saudi Arabia which presumably is something that would also be seen as quite problematic. I'm so the basic idea here though is that the saudis are trying to find a way out. And they're trying to find a way to save face we'll see if it works but it seems that trump is a ready positioning himself to accept what the saudis. Are trying to tell him. I eat half hour. Luckily the saudis to date has said it. And that their theory in this case is that Akron show he actually left the consulate right that he. The video caught him going and they didn't record the video that he actually has gone. And no one has seen his body although today we've seen a bunch of cleaning crews. Going in and out of that consulate higher team on the ground there's certainly reason some suspicions. Yeah I mean so what that means is that the denials that the saudis have been offering over the past thirteen days. Where false because if they if they admit that there were row killers are it was a failed abduction. That means that the show he did not actually leave the consulate. It means that they did know something about what happened but didn't want to offer that information or come to terms with it. So you would think that in whatever scenario we're talking about the saudis come out looking pretty bad. And I would say that at least in the court of international opinion it's hard for me to see how the saudis come away from this. Unscathed. That's a different question than how they come out of it would Donald Trump and Donald Trump. As as we saw from his remarks earlier might have a different standard would which he's willing to judge the saudis. You know like most authoritarian regimes it seems just yesterday telling sixty minutes that he loves Kim Jung on despite the horrors there has a strong affinity for Vladimir Putin's. And he even has explicitly said as you know that he doesn't want to. Do anything to disrupt the US arms deal with Saudi Arabia which is over a hundred billion dollars at this point so we wouldn't expect that perhaps to go away here. We did talk about severe punishment. On indeed what could that be what could the US leverage against Saudi Arabia in and punishment for this if infected that's come out. This was some sort of a botched killing earn outright murder. So it was striking to me when trump said severe punishment now the problem with arcing out Donald Trump's words. Is are we meant to take. Take that. Presumably some what off hand comment. Seriously was he just kind of there he was speaking in this came out but he didn't really mean anything in particular by. I mean the main point of leverage our arms sales and the problem is trump has a ready said that he doesn't want to halt arms sales of from the very. Start of a negotiation. Or. We with the saudis he's conceding that he's not Guinea used the main point of leverage. So it's unclear what else is what else there is there could be sanctions against senior US officials under the mag knit ski act but. I can't imagine trump would be comfortable would that because that would mean targeting officials from a close ally. And that would probably be even more controversial. Since then halting arms sales so what does that really leave the U west's. And I think trump has a ready put himself in it is difficult situation by eight. By conceding the points of leverage from from the very start and I think that will they'll come to be seen as a mistake. And shoddy before we let you go. As someone who has studied the US relationship is Saudi Arabia for such a long time it does have a long storied history. What would you see is the bottom line here in simple terms about what this incident went this international episode means. There for us going forward wept when people what should people take away from this regardless of outcomes now. So we as Americans have the misfortune of having really bad allies in the Middle East and I think. Saudi Arabia in particular does not share our values and it also doesn't share our interest I think it's that latter part that's becoming more clear to people in Washington. That Saudi Arabia's unstable under this new leadership you have. A young crown prince. Who is acting brazenly and recklessly. And causing an international episode that could have major repercussion is not just for the US. And Saudi Arabia but also for Turkey. And it's not just about the killing the killing it seems this journalist. But also with Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen which has let two humanitarian catastrophe. And there's an ongoing crackdown on dissidents more broadly in Saudi Arabia right now. So you just have to wonder where is this all going and can someone tell. I Saudi Arabia's it. Crown prince Kate you know you have to you have to. Take it easy and you have to get your house in order and get yourself under control because this is really causing major problems. Ford the US and four regional stability more probably mean is this really sustainable. Ari Charney who needed Brookings Institution great insight thank you so much for come in and again shoddy appreciate that very much. We will continue to monitor that of course the secretary of state in the air right now headed to Saudi Arabia and Turkey to follow up on this case stay with history here at ABC news live from more. On the secretary of State's visit. Meanwhile moving on the president turning to some politics 22 days away now from the mid terms. And he was lighting up the storm this morning over an bombshell report really think we can call it in the Boston Globe. Relating to senator Elizabeth Warren of course the a rising democratic star from Massachusetts who has stirred some controversy in the past about her. About her or her heritage Adam give us the back story on this today she releases. I'd done a study of her DNA which is that she has some native American Heritage which is is significant because she has made it a cornerstone of her campaign in the past. All India and even before that before she got into politics I EU is believed today she had claimed native American Heritage when she was applying for a professor chips to be a law school professor. If there is a big investigation into it when she became a public figure there were some question as to whether or not she actually was native American and obviously like you said prison trump has meted. An attack on her he's called her Pocahontas again and again and again. Basically pointing out the fact that she in his interpretation lied about this native American. And not only had she say that she had in American routes but she had put down on paper that she was a minority. Characterized herself. As such and now this bombshell report in the Boston Globe. We can walk through a little bit of it put out also with a glossy video by her team seeking to rebut some of this narrative from the president. They found from an independent DNA analyst at Stanford University that her. DNA strongly suggests she does have the American routes between Sorgi and 164. In 11024. I kept her. Right squint to equate the range of percentages there so maybe some some little line of light back to her native American. And they put out a video explaining this new study take a look at the sympathy. You don't didn't president likes to call my mom a liar. Facts and Chad absolutely happen in American ancestors your editors. OK so why is she doing this now let's bring back Jordan Phelps is over at the White House. Jordan I think it's pretty clear these two C 20/20 flashing on the horizon. Yet where Greg just about a month out from two when he eighteen mid term elections have bet the also have. A lot of voters attention out right now. I that you won't have once we get through these mid terms a have to wonder maybe Elizabeth Warren is seeking to capitalize on that. Now as you both noted the president often uses this disparaging term hope a hot it's. To talk about Elizabeth Warren on the campaign stunt. I night after night and the president was asked this morning as he laughed purport that. About this report that Elizabeth Warren does in fact. I seem to have Sam I legitimate need American Heritage and he. Sen who cares he and he wanted to blow. Past this and he was also reminded. I that he once sat back if he were ever on the debate stage with Elizabeth Warren that he would throw down a million dollars to her. Favorite charity I issue it undergo a obviously it seems like the Tri-State. I didn't think that Elizabeth Warren actually had any native American Heritage in her I say oh this isn't good news for that. For that line that the president likes to rip out at these campaign rallies team despaired Elizabeth Warren knots pressure. Aren't there won't be any pain out today about nine dollars it sounds like that's remaining in hypothetical. Jordan thank you so much for your reporting Adam. It's not just Elizabeth Warren in the spotlight though where a number of key house races now 22 days away. It. Including a race in California that has has in large part been solidly Republican races as. Congressman Duncan Hunter who's been embroiled in controversy. This morning and released a striking new campaign ad that has a lot of people. Simply stunt. Yeah it's really unbelievable and and just to take a step back in and talk about talk and honor for a second this is like you said solid Republican district just in Linda's San Diego so a military community there that. Always tilts ran his father Duncan Hunter senior was in the house for quite some bit of time silk. Not a not a seat that Republicans ever thought would be in play. Duncan Hunter indicted on some campaign finance charges earlier this year and if you've read through the indictment there are some striking charges. And now all of the sudden deceit is in play and he is attacking. His 29 year old opponent. Mark company Nahar who is say I'll low level but Obama administration staffer not too much political experience Lisa -- elected level and this advertisement that Duncan Hunter put out it calls him a Palestinian. Mexican millennial Democrat. As it attacks him and some of his alleged ties to an incident of T. Or is an act in a seven simply shocking let's take a little take a glimpse at some of Duncan hunter's new campaign ad. California. A mark company John. To infiltrate congress he's used three different aims to hide his family's ties to terrorism his grandfather who masterminded the Munich Olympic massacre. His father said he deserved to die. Mexican millennial Democrat named a large cap on the jar doesn't get his support from the people of San Diego. I supported by care. Well orchestrated plan mom my company. A risk we can't ignore him on Duncan Hunter and I approve this message. It's stunning to me the race baiting there and the scare tactics the playing on fear. But an indication as you say that this is actually competitive race now. Yeah absolutely. If you we'd asked me about this race a couple months ago I said there is not a chance for any Democrat could even come I think within single digits. Obviously Duncan hunter's legal troubles have ads. Push this race into into one that is now in play. Com that advertisement as he said obviously. Connections to terrorism beyond the pale there is eat a shred of truth in there that I company jars fact checkers have given this for Pinocchio is the Washington Post post factor her we should be clear here this for Pinocchio us. On the accuracy front race I do I will say that his grandfather was involved in the 1972. Munich massacre during the Olympics that being said he's never met his grandfather he died eighteen years before camp and a jar was born. He's never hidden the fact that his grandfather I was involved in this attack the to draw some sort of connection between. I this democratic candidate and terrorism obviously something we haven't quite ignorant. Interest in case to watch though race in California Duncan Hunter are also one of two. Republican candidates and have been indicted and are running Chris Collins and upstate New York. And of course both of these guys Duncan Hunter Chris cons some of president trumps earliest supporters. As well so much more ahead on our political coverage on the mid terms the races to watch this week we're digging into the big issue of health care. But tomorrow on our new weekly show called the big vote we hope you join us tomorrow. At 4:30 PM eastern will be our reporting live of a great show for you this week. To tune in tomorrow before we go though we want to just have a little bit of fun and point out something we spotted. In the Oval Office if he saw the president's interview with sixty minutes you might have seen. This picture I think we had a control room perhaps we don't have it all right. It was killing me today the go check it out it was a pretty shocking. Picture of president from sitting with some other. Republican. President's and it's a painting in the office go check it out. Online. Agreed to have Adam with us today thank you for watching this year in a briefing when we see you tomorrow and then inform Washington cynics.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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