Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has directly accused Saudi Arabia of the premeditated murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, calling it a political killing orchestrated by Saudi officials. Khashoggi was last seen alive entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in Turkey on October 2. Erdogan said a team of Saudi officials had planned Khashoggi’s murder days in advance. During a speech in the Turkish parliament today, Erdogan called for the Saudi suspects to be tried in Turkey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: “And now there is official acknowledgment that there was a murder. Where is the body? Why do we still not have the body? If the information that the body was given to a local cooperator, co-conspirator—and this is information by an authority, by the way—now my question is: Who is this local co-conspirator?”
President Erdogan’s remarks directly contradict Saudi Arabia’s claim that Khashoggi died during a “fistfight” in the consulate. Turkish officials have claimed that audio and video recordings show Saudi officials used a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi’s body, but Erdogan made no mention of any recordings of the killing.
In the wake of Khashoggi’s murder, Agence France-Presse is reporting that exiled critics of Saudi Arabia have shared stories of apparent Saudi attempts to lure them to their local embassies—where they feared they might be kidnapped or killed.
Meanwhile in Riyadh, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Monday despite international outcry over Khashoggi’s murder. His trip came as the Trump administration sent CIA Director Gina Haspel to Istanbul.
In more news from Riyadh, hackers briefly took over the official website for Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative—also known as “Davos in the Desert”—as organizers prepared to host the high-profile event amid international outcry over Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. The hackers posted a doctored image of Khashoggi wearing an orange jumpsuit, with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman standing behind him holding a bloody sword. Bin Salman has the letters ISIS written on his clothing.
This month, the heads of the World Bank and IMF joined a boycott of the conference after top executives from JPMorgan Chase, Uber, Ford, Blackstone Group, Siemens, The New York Times and every other major Western news media organization pulled out. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin also announced he would not go but surprised many when he showed up in Riyadh and met with the Crown Prince Monday. We’ll have more on the death of Jamal Khashoggi after headlines with journalist Rula Jebreal, whose new cover story for Newsweek is titled “Jamal Khashoggi Secret Interview: The Saudi Journalist’s Views of Islam, America and the 'Reformist' Prince Implicated in His Murder.”
In Yemen, health officials are warning of possible new outbreaks of contagious illnesses like cholera and malaria, due to stagnant waters left behind after Tropical Storm Luban tore through eastern Yemen last week, killing 12 people. This month the U.N. warned about 10,000 new cases of cholera appear each week in Yemen. The water-borne disease has been spreading rapidly since much of Yemen’s sanitation and medical infrastructure has been destroyed by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing campaign, which is led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The U.N. has called Yemen the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world.
National security adviser John Bolton is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin today to discuss President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or the INF. On Monday, President Trump confirmed the plan to withdraw and said he would build up the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
President Trump: “Until people come to their senses, Russia has not adhered to the agreement. This should have been done years ago—until people come to their senses—we have more money than anybody else by far, we’ll build it up. Until they come to their senses— when they do, then we’ll all be smart and we’ll all stop. And by the way, not only stop but we will reduce, which I would love to do. But right now, they have not adhered to the agreement. It’s a threat to whoever you want— and it includes China, and it includes Russia, and it includes anybody else that wants to play that game.”
Many experts fear a new arms race. Other countries have spoken out against Trump’s move to withdraw from the INF nuclear treaty, including France, Germany and China. Ahead of his meeting with Putin, John Bolton held talks with top Russian officials Monday, including foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. Bolton reportedly criticized Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections but said the actions didn’t have “any real effect” on the election’s outcome.
President Trump continued to lash out at the Central American caravan making its way toward the U.S. border Monday, claiming without evidence that terrorists and members of the MS-13 gang had infiltrated the group. Trump tweeted, “Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!”
Trump also doubled down on his threat to cut aid to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and called out Democrats over U.S. border policy, in an ongoing attempt to turn the caravan into a main issue in upcoming midterm elections. Meanwhile, people who live on the caravan’s route have been providing volunteer assistance and basic necessities to the migrants. This is Mexican resident Ana Gamboa.
Ana Gamboa: “The only thing I can say to people is that they should be more human, that we should look into our hearts and imagine ourselves in the migrants’ shoes, because it isn’t easy, what the migrants are doing. We Mexicans like to criticize Donald Trump for the way he treats Mexicans in the United States, and now we’re acting just like him. We don’t have any walls on our border, but sometimes we ourselves are the wall.”
We’ll have more on the caravan later in the broadcast.
In Mexico, Tropical Storm Vicente killed at least 12 people in the southern state of Oaxaca over the weekend as landslides and flooding in the region forced many others to evacuate. Meanwhile, Hurricane Willa is set to make landfall as a Category 4 storm when it hits Mexico’s Pacific coast Tuesday afternoon with sustained winds of 145 miles per hour. The hurricane is expected to pass through the archipelago of Islas Marías, which houses a federal prison, before hitting the coastline.
Human Rights Watch is reporting the United Arab Emirates has been detaining a British academic for months in terrible conditions and without charging him until last week. UAE authorities have now charged Matthew Hedges of Durham University in the United Kingdom with spying after holding him for over five months in prolonged periods of solitary confinement, without access to sufficient legal assistance, medical attention or visits from his loved ones. Hedges’ research focused on the Arab Spring. Human Rights Watch has raised concern over the UAE’s practice of detaining critics, academics and activists and called for transparency and a fair trial in Hedges’ case.
Protests continued Monday against the Trump administration’s plans to narrow the legal definition of gender to an individual’s biological sex at birth. In Washington, D.C., demonstrators gathered outside the White House to denounce the proposed rollback of transgender rights, as the hashtag #WontBeErased trended on social media. This is activist Aryah Lester of the National Minority AIDS Council.
Aryah Lester: “No words, no action can erase me and those who stand here with me, as well. We must end willful ignorance in this country. We must end the use of bigotry to frame government policy.”
The Trump administration is planning to expand exemptions that allow employers who cite moral or religious objections to deny birth control coverage to female employees. President Trump already attempted to roll back the Affordable Care Act mandate requiring employers to cover birth control last year, but several states sued in response, stopping the rules from going into effect. Those cases are still pending. The newly proposed rules could be an attempt to circumvent the ongoing lawsuits from 2017.
In Nigeria, authorities have ordered a 24-hour curfew and deployed special forces after sectarian clashes killed 55 people last week. The violence took place in the central state of Kaduna after fighting broke out between youths in a marketplace. Kaduna is home to both Muslim and Christian communities and has seen periods of intense sectarian violence in recent years.
In environmental news, The Washington Post reports that a 14-year-long oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico is set to become one of the worst offshore disasters in U.S. history. The leak is releasing between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day off the coast of Louisiana with no end in sight. The spill started after a mudslide caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 sank an oil platform, owned by Taylor Energy. Taylor Energy kept the spill a secret for six years until environmental groups discovered it while monitoring the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill just a few miles away. Earlier this year, the Trump administration proposed the largest expansion of leases for oil and gas exploration in history, which would open most of the Outer Continental Shelf to offshore drilling.
The Supreme Court decided Monday to shield Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from being deposed over his role in adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, reversing a federal judge’s recent order. Last month, Mother Jones reported that Wilbur Ross lied under oath to Congress about the citizenship question by saying that Justice Department officials requested the addition of the question, rather than Ross himself. Immigrant rights advocates have condemned the citizenship question. They say it will deter immigrants from participating in the census and could help Republicans win more congressional seats.
Authorities found an explosive device Monday in the mailbox of billionaire philanthropist George Soros at his Westchester County, New York estate. Soros was not home at the time, and the investigation has been handed over to the FBI. George Soros has become a target for conservative attacks and is often used as a bogeyman figure for Republican lawmakers and conservative media. President Trump accused protesters at the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings earlier this month of being paid by Soros.
In legal news, The Guardian is reporting that recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh once lobbied for the judge who is now charged with reviewing over a dozen ethics complaints filed against him. Earlier this month, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts referred misconduct complaints to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado, alleging Kavanaugh lied to Congress while showing a lack of “judicial temperament” during his Senate testimony.
Beginning in 2001, Kavanaugh was heavily involved in campaigning for Timothy Tymkovich, a conservative judge nominated by George W. Bush who faced resistance from lawmakers over his stance on LGBTQ rights. Legal experts have called out the conflict of interest in the selection of Tymkovich to oversee the complaints against Kavanaugh.
And at Yale University, the words spoken by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during her historic Senate testimony last month were seen graffitied on buildings around campus Monday. One quote from Dr. Blasey Ford—who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of attempted rape when she was 15 and he was 17—could be seen on the Sterling Law Building, where Kavanaugh once studied. Students tweeted photos of the quotes “I have had to relive my trauma in front of the entire world” and “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter…” The full quote from Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony is “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two [men], and their having fun at my expense.” During the contentious confirmation battle for Brett Kavanaugh, Yale Law students held protests and a sit-in at the school, with many also going to D.C. to protest. Kavanaugh attended Yale University and Yale Law School.