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Donald Trump's Fresh Campaign Trail Controversy; Trump Blames Clinton for Birther Controversy; Woman Escapes Serial Killer; Analyzing U.S.-Russia Relations and the Election; Can Samsung Recover After Recall? Aired 7-8a ET

Aired September 17, 2016 - 07:00   ET




BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: With a 3D printer, and yes, Play-Doh a standard issued weapon can be molded to the individual.

JAMES CEURTS, U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND: Our operator asked us was hey, can you customize a grip, and then when you do that, can you embed buttons and switches so that I can control all the things I need without taking my hands off the weapon and my eyes off of what I'm looking at in the weapon.


STARR: Even in a converted tattoo parlor, the U.S. Military is looking for a different way of doing business. Christi, Victor?

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Barbara, thank you so much.

And, oh, my goodness, a lot to talk about this morning.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, there is a whole lot. Next hour of NEW DAY starts right now.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. Let's see what happens to her.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, led the birther movement to delegitimize our first black president.

TRUMP: Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's lied and he's divided this country enough.

DELANEY ROBINSON, ALLEGED SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIM: That does not give anybody the right to violate me.

ANNOUNCER: Nearly one in four female students will experience some form of unwanted sexual contact.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When it comes to an athlete, it's kind of like people don't talk about it. I chose this school because I thought honestly we were better than this.

DISPATCHER: What's the problem?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I've been abducted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The woman on the phone keeps her voice quiet as her alleged captor sleeps next to her.

DISPATCHER: Is there any way you can get out of the building?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know without waking him and I'm scared.


PAUL: Well, you have reached Saturday. I hope it's a little R&R for you today. Thank you for being with us, I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. We'll have a lot of politics to talk about this morning including what's becoming, I guess central to this conversation, U.S. relations with Russia and why Russia is commanding so much of the stage in the U.S. presidential elections for the first time in decades.

Comments coming from Vladimir Putin just a few moment sago. We'll have those for you.

PAUL: Definitely. Also, can Samsung recover after such a devastating recall on its phones? A lot of people are asking that question, we'll tell you where that stands.

First though, let's jump into the political arena together here.

Donald Trump taking waking up to fresh controversy on the campaign trail. The republican nominee off script last night at a rally in Miami, telling the crowd that Hillary Clinton wants to take away the second amendment. And he wondered aloud what would happen to her if her secret service detail was disarmed.


TRUMP: I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. They should disarm, right? Right?


TRUMP: I think they should disarm immediately. What do you think? Yes? Yes.


TRUMP: Yes. Take their guns away. She doesn't want gun. Take that. Let's see what happens to her. BLACKWELL: Well, that comment comes as Donald Trump tries to pivot

away from his birther claims. The claims that first thrust him into the political spotlight. He said he finished it, but he still is not apologizing for those years of publically questioning whether President Obama was born in the U.S.

PAUL: Also, this morning, former defense secretary, Robert Gates is wading into the 2016 campaign raising harsh questions about both candidates.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Gates says Clinton has no new ideas for dealing with the Middle East. He also calls Donald Trump "beyond repair and uninformed."


PAUL: Now, CNN's Chris Frates is joining us with more on this latest comment that has a lot of people talking from Trump yesterday. Good morning Chris.

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Christi. Well, as he often does, Donald Trump doubled down last night on twitter. Here's what he said after making that statement at the campaign rally. He said this, he said "Crooked Hillary wants to take your second amendment rights away. Will guns be taken from her heavily armed secret service detail? Maybe not."

And it's not the first time we've seen Trump call on Clinton security detail to disarm. Here's what he told the NRA Convention back in May.


TRUMP: Heartless hypocrites like the Clintons want to take this and they want to get rid of guns. And yet, they have bodyguards that have guns. So, I think that in addition to calling for them to name judges, we'll also call them and let their bodyguards immediately disarm. Okay?


TRUMP: Now, they should immediately disarm. And let's see how good they do. Let's see how they feel walking around without their guns on their bodyguards. In the meantime, nobody else can have the guns, right?


FRATES: That was Donald Trump back in May. And, last night, he went even further by saying let's see what happens if Clinton's security detail is disarmed. So, that was an even further escalation of this point that Trump's been making now for a couple months.


FRATES: But it's important to point out here that Trump's exaggerating Clinton's position on guns. She's never advocated for getting rid of guns or the second amendment for that matter. But she has called for tightening access to guns. And speaking of Clinton, her campaign pounced on Trump's remarks last night saying it's just another example that Trump's unfit to be president.

In fact in a statement, campaign manager, Robby Mook said this, he said, "Donald Trump has a pattern of inciting people to violence. It's an unacceptable quality in anyone seeking the job of Commander in Chief. This kind of talk should be out of bounds for a presidential candidate."

And that was a message that was echoed by former congresswoman, Gabby Gifford and her husband Mark Kelly. They both founded a gun violence prevention group. And they said, we have even more evidence of just how dangerously unfit Donald Trump is to be president of this great country. He is reckless, irresponsible and unworthy of the office he seeks.

So, just when Trump seemed to be getting back on message, we saw him and his campaign be consumed by the birther controversy yesterday. And now, this firestorm. Victor, Christi?

PAUL: All right, Chris Frates, we appreciate it so much. Thank you, sir.

FRATES: You're welcome.

BLACKWELL: All right, joining us now to discuss Former Chairman of the Washington, D.C. Democratic Party, and Hillary Clinton supporter, A. Scott Bolden. And CNN Political Commentator and Donald Trump supporter, Scottie Nell Hughes.

Good morning to both of you.

A. SCOTT BOLDEN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, WASHINGTON D.C. (D) PARTY: Good morning you all, good morning Scottie.

BLACKWELL: Good morning.

And Scottie, I just want to say off the top congratulations on the new book, I see it's doing well, and people are excited.

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you, it was actually two years ago but it was all about keeping Hillary Clinton out of the White House. And so the story lives on today.

BLACKWELL: All right, all right. I guess you just tweeting it out and I'm just seeing it. Okay.

HUGHES: I know, we're now friends, we weren't two years ago.

BOLDEN: But, congrats on the book -- congrats on the book though.

BLACKWELL: Let's focus -- let's focus on what Donald Trump said here. Donald Trump yesterday said, let's take their guns away, speaking about the secret service officers. Let's see what happens to her. You know, after the second amendment people comment a month ago, he

said that that was in reference to political activism. What is this in reference to? Let's see what happens to her?

HUGHES: Well, I think this -- you know, first of all, these were not the word choice I would personally choose, I would never encourage anything to happen. It's not necessarily a presidential candidate's rule. It's the secret service rules and they are governed by a different -- they don't 0-- the President can't tell them either way.

But, I think this just talks to the general hypocrisy that we feel towards democratic rules and people like Hillary Clinton and her policies. Whether you're talking about the ten foot wall that exists around all of her properties, yet she doesn't want to secure America's border, but she's okay in securing her own border.

Or when it comes to gun rights. That, well you know, she's come out and said that she likes the second amendment, she said that she's repealing the Heller case and putting supreme court justices that would do the same. And, she's also for allowing gun manufacturers to be liable and sued.

So, it's just talking about the continued double standard that, it's okay for the people of America to abide by these rules, a different kind of rules than she herself thinks is perfect for her and her family.

BLACKWELL: And, see, you're making a different point, though. And, I think people who are having this conversation can hear your point and argue you point for point. But, what Donald Trump is saying here is that, he wants to overrule the procedures of the secret service and federal law that was set back in 196, that her secret service should be disarmed.

You introduced, as Betsy McCoy did a few moments ago, hypocrisy. Donald trump when he made the comments back in front of the NRA, that, you know, she should have her secret service agent weapons taken away. He was standing in a gun-free zone. If he supports, you know, the right to carry a weapon, is that right limited when it comes to standing in front of him?

HUGHES: Well, it doesn't matter what Donald Trump or President Trump would say. The secret service has their own rules so they will always have gun-free zones when they're involved if that's what they feel like is most for protecting the people and the president themselves.

Like I said, this was just, I think a comment thrown out there just once again showing that she is protected but she doesn't necessarily believe that Americans should be able to protect themselves.

BLACKWELL: What do you make of that point, Scott?

BOLDEN: I think it's completely nonsense. It makes absolutely no sense and words matter. And it's illogical too. What does the secret service and all people who protect us who are licensed to carry guns have to do with reasonable gun control? Closing gun control --closing gun loopholes, doing background checks, closing the loophole in regard to buying guns at a gun conventions, it makes no sense. And here again, his propensity to suggest violence against Hillary Clinton is dangerous rhetoric and beyond the pale and completely unnecessary.

BLACKWELL: You believe that's what it is? You believe that this reference to let's see what happens to her is more than just a throw- away line like we heard in May after he made a similar suggestion? You believe this time he's suggesting violence against Hillary Clinton?


BOLDEN: The first time and second time. Were you throwing away that comment, too. If you take away her security, take away their guns with the people that support Donald Trump, what is he suggesting to them? When he says punch them in the face, when he says throw them out of here. We have videos of his own crowd at his rallies doing just that.

He is a dangerous candidate because words matter. And of course, what else would you be left with -- what else would you be left with, with let's see what happens to her. He is inciting, whether he likes it or not, an irresponsible approach to her or suggestion, that some of his supporter should do something wrong to her, specifically NRA supporters or gun owners. It makes no sense. He's completely unqualified for the presidency.

BLACKWELL: Scottie, let me ask you. It seems that there is a pattern here and before we shift to Hillary Clinton because I know how this works but I want you to just focus on this if you could. I could, and I'm quoting Donald Trump here, paraphrasing just to be precise. I could stand on Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and not lose a supporter. She could walk in here and shoot someone in front of 20,000 people and not be prosecuted. Her agent should lose their guns, let's see what happens to her. If you see someone about to throw a tomato, punch them right in the face, and I'll pay your legal bills.

I mean it goes on, and on, and on where there are these --

BOLDEN: -- unbelievable.

BLACKWELL: -- continuous suggestions to violence. Why does Donald Trump use this type of rhetoric and is it helpful?

HUGHES: Well, those are not the words I would use. Like I said I don't choose gun violence. I would never encourage that whether it be against anybody, friend or foe. And I think those kind of comments should be left to the other side.

But, it does bring up the gun conversation which helps republicans because obviously we're more pro second amendment, we're pro securing the -- protecting our rights to carry. So, it brings in that conversation. It's not the phrases that I personally would use.

BLACKWELL: Does it help get the independents he needs now that he's moved to the general?

HUGHES: You know, I honestly don't think so, unless once we -- once again if we shift the conversation to talk about constitutional rights are not necessarily his word choice and the verbiage that he uses. But, if we actually start talking about who actually -- and Hillary Clinton wanting to gut the second amendment with the Heller Act would once again restrict our second amendment rights, whether Scott wants to admit it or not --

BOLDEN: -- but Victor

HUGHES: This gets the conversation to gun rights, then he's accomplished his goal. Like I said, not the word choice that I would use.

BLACKWELL: Scott, go ahead.

BOLDEN: That -- you know I'm glad you can see that this was not just a poor choice of words but your candidate has failed in suggesting violence against his opponent in a presidential race --

HUGHES: -- that's ludicrous though --

BOLDEN: how indecent -- human decent -- how humanly indecent can that be? And she doesn't want to gut gun rights. She wants to restrict them, if will you. And she wants reasonable gun rights. If you look at the violence numbers in this country, it makes sense for reasonable gun control. And, it makes no sense to suggest that she wants to take guns from everyone. And, to take guns from the very people who protect us, the first responders. It's illogical. And, he should stop talking like this and stop being obsessed with guns and bringing harm to a presidential candidate.

BLACKWELL: Scott, and Scottie, stay with us, we've got another block we're going to have a discussion about what we heard from Secretary of Defense, former Secretary Gates, in the "Wall Street Journal." We'll bring those thoughts to you so stay with us we'll be back with that conversation. Christi?

PAUL: Meanwhile Russia's increasing confidence and influence on the world stage is of topic -- a topic of conversation today.

Why Russia is front and center in the U.S. election even though the Cold War ended a quarter century ago. And what President Putin is saying this morning about the U.S. election.

Also, a woman escapes from a suspected serial killer. This 911 call is so chilling, and there's so much more to this story. Stay close.



BLACKWELL: Donald Trump and his campaign are arguing that they ended the birther, controversy sometime ago and tried again yesterday. But it is not over.

Donald Trump now saying the actual words admitting that President Obama was born in the U.S. But he's also reviving false claims about Hillary Clinton. Here's 32 seconds of dealing with that issue yesterday.


TRUMP: And her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean. President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now, we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.



BLACKWELL: Well, let's be clear. There is nothing to directly link the Clinton campaign to Trump's claim that she and her campaign started the birther questions and the birther movement.

Now back with me, A. Scott Bolden and Scottie Nell Hughes. Good morning, again to both of you.

I want to start with you, Scottie this segment with a tweet that came out overnight from Donald Trump. Let's put it up.

This is a tweet of Chris Cillizza's piece for "The Fix" of "The Washington Post". He says here in the headline Donald Trump birther event is the greatest trick he's ever pulled.

I mean, this is a very serious topic to a lot of people. The years of pushing this lie that President Obama was born potentially outside the U.S. Why would he, if he wants those voters and takes their positions and perspectives seriously, send this tease out, saying this is the greatest trick he's ever pulled.

HUGHES: Well, I loved one of the tweets that came from the AP yesterday after we watched for 40 minutes, and the media was just salivating waiting for Donald Trump to step up and talk and address this issue. Saying we just got played.

And the media did get played kind of yesterday with it, because this is a preset press conference that Mr. Trump had done to basically honor and to broadcast that 164 different flag officers within the military were endorsing him and talking about how this administration has failed the military.

This is a great way to get the media's attention on what we should be talking about, what people care about, which is national security. And who's going to be the best Commander in Chief. And here were 164 people, wonderful heroes, our true American heroes, standing up there, and were able to tell their stories. And Mr. Trump was able to honor them.

Even our own Dana Bash said that we would not have covered that press conference if it was just about those 164 military that have now endorsed Mr. Trump. But guess what, we did. We showed it all live. And you guys -- you know a lot of people in the media wanted to have Mr. Trump say that Barack Obama was born in the United States. That's what he did. He ended it, He moved on just like the same thing that President Obama said just minutes before.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's pick up that point because his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said last night on "CNN Tonight" Scott that the democrats and critics of Donald Trump are moving the posts now, moving the ball. Watch this.



COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: For the last 24 hour, people have said Donald Trump did not say himself that Barack Obama was born in the United States. It was a statement by his campaign. And he needs to come out and stay this. So, you know what Donald Trump did today, he came out and said Barack Obama was born in the United States.


BLACKWELL: You heard it from Corey. You heard it from Scottie. Scott, is that enough?

BOLDEN: Certainly, it's insufficient. You know it's always -- you know it's almost like they confirmed it's okay to lie to the media and to the public, so long as we get this trick of coverage of these veterans. And, even though the basis for the press conference, was for him to do -- to do the birther piece and to say that Barack Obama was born in the U.S.

Well, we know Barack Obama was born in the U.S. we've known that from day one. He's served two terms. Since 2011 he released a long term.

But, let me talk about Donald Trump how he can't end it. One, he turned around and blamed Hillary Clinton, no evidence of that from 2008. And, secondly, he drove his dialogue, it was the core base of his supporters. He almost ran in 2012 and it was an opportunity to build his base by this racist decision on his part to press the birther movement. To put up $5 million to say get me information. To say he sent investigators to Hawaii to find out what happened. And even after the birth certificate was released he said he had his own very reliable evidence, who knows what that is, hearsay, that this is a fake birth certificate.

So, he fanned these flames. He can't close it without an apology and without retracting that Hillary Clinton's campaign started this in 2008. (Inaudible)

BLACKWELL: Scottie, let me ask you, and we only have about 30 seconds left. But, who did they think or how did he think that this would settle the issue? Who did he think that these 32 words, dealt with in about 32 seconds would apiece?

HUGHES: Well, I don't want to go and rehash the whole birther movement and talk about you know --

BOLDEN: -- well, he's rehashed it for five -- BLACKWELL: -- Hold on Scott -- hold on Scott.

And Scottie, my question is about the way he dealt with it yesterday specifically. What did he think that these 32 words would solve?

HUGHES: Well, whether you like or not that he brought the issue up six years ago or how he handled it is his constitutional right just like you and I to question anybody running for president whether they have the qualifications to do it --

BOLDEN: -- oh, my goodness.

BLACKWELL: -- six years ago. You might not like the tenacity he did or the fervor he put into it but it is still his constitutional right.

BLACKWELL: So, you believe that Donald Trump treated Barack Obama, in a way he would treat any other presidential candidate?

HUGHES: Well, we saw him also question Ted Cruz. We've seen -- we've seen -- McCain was questioned. This is not the first time. This was just someone that wasn't in politics on the outside questioning. He just had a lot more resources to do it.

BLACKWELL: But you think it's fair to ask for the birth certificate though -- you think it's fair to ask for someone's birth certificate if they're running for president?

BOLDEN: Of a sitting President?

BLACKWEL: -- hold on Scott. Hold on Scott. Let me get her to answer that.

HUGHES: We're actually constitutionally -- he have three -- there's three qualifications to be president and the third one is that they --

BLACKWELL: -- a natural born -- I get it.

HUGHES: -- they must be a natural born citizen. It is the right.

BLACKWELL: Is that a requirement to run for -- I mean we know it's a constitutional requirement, but, do you believe that it's fair to ask someone to show their papers, show their birth certificate in order to run?

HUGHES: Every American has that right to ask that of their elected official for their qualifications. That's all Mr. Trump did. He might have not done it your way. But that's the way he did it and he ended it yesterday so that we can move on.

BOLDEN: I want to see Donald Trump's birth certificate. And I want him to confirm where he was born in the U.S. right now.


BLACKWELL: All right, Scott Bolden, Scottie Nell Hughes, thank you both. HUGHES: Thank you.

BOLDEN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, remember, the first presidential debate is just a little more than a week away. All-day coverage, Monday, the 26th, an important day for me. Right here on CNN.

PAUL: It's Victor's birthday.


PAUL: Just so you know.

All right, there's a suspected serial killer that is slapped with a monster bail.

And he quite a reaction to it when the judge told him the amount. Probably not what you think it's going to be. We'll talk about it.



PAUL: 27 minutes past the hour. Right now, good morning to you. I want to talk about this Ohio man suspected of being a serial killer caught after one of his alleged captives was able to dial 911 for help.

After his arrest, police say they found the bodies of three other women. And, now that suspect is on $1 million bail.

CNN's Rachel Crane, is live in Ashland, Ohio, that's where this investigation is under way.

And what's interesting here is his reaction, is it not, to this bail amount?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Christi. His response, a chilling sounds fair when he's read his bond amount. As well as the conditions of his bond. He is not able to contact a surviving victim in any way shape or form. Not even through a third party.

Now, he's been charged with two counts of murder, as well as one count of kidnapping. Authorities tells us his arraignment is set for first thing Monday morning. And according to his defense attorney, he is expected to plead not guilty.

Now, Grate did lead authorities to a second location where they found a third body. But that body has not yet been identified. That's why Grate has not yet been charged in that case. Authorities say that identification process could take over a month.

But, it was here at this location that that terrifying 911 call was made. Take a listen.


DISPATCHER: Is there any way you can get out of the building?

CALLER: I don't know without waking him, and I'm scared.

DISPATCHER: Is there a bathroom in the house?

CALLER: Well, his bedroom is closed and he made it so it would make noise.

DISPATCHER: So if you told him you had to go to the bathroom, he would do something to you?

CALLER: Yeah, 'cause he had me tied up.


CRANE: A makeshift memorial being set here. As you see, there's flowers, candles, stuffed animals, signs, in honor of the two women that were found here dead. Those women being Emily Griffith and Stacy Stanley. Now Stacy Stanley is survived by her two sons who tell CNN that her funeral is today. Christi.

PAUL: Just thinking about those families. My goodness, Rachel, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: The University of North Carolina is defending its policies as it faces tough new criticism over how it handles sexual assault cases.

The chancellor released this statement. Here's part of it " We are committed to ensuring every step of our policy and procedures is correctly followed. Sometimes, to get it right that takes longer than anticipated. But in the end, a respectful reliable and equitable investigation must be the result."


Well, the chancellor is responding to allegations from UNC sophomore Delaney Robinson. She says the University and local police failed her and did not thoroughly investigate her reported rape in February. She took her allegations to an Orange County magistrate. And Allen Artis now faces misdemeanor charges and a criminal investigation is underway to determine whether he should face felony charges.

PAUL: Still to come, could the U.S./Russia deal on Syria be at risk?

What President Obama is saying has to happen for this to continue.


PAUL: Well, mortgage rates inched up this week. Here's a look.


PAUL: I know you're sitting there all comfy in your chair on Saturday morning.

BLACKWELL: Or still in bed, 7:30.

PAUL: It could absolutely still be happening. We are glad that you're with us though. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, good of you to be with us.

Let's start with Donald Trump trying to put the birther controversy behind him, but he may have stumbled into a new controversy.

Well, last night at a rally in Florida, he argued that his he's a staunch defender of the second amendment. And that's not what perked up some ears. He argued that Hillary Clinton wants to take away the right to wear arms and wondered aloud to his supporters about Clinton's security detail.



TRUMP: I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. They should disarm, right? Right?


TRUMP: I think they should disarm immediately. What do you think? Yes? Yes.


TRUMP: Yes. Take their guns away. She doesn't want gun. Take that. Let's see what happens to her.


BLACKWELL: The U.S./Russia deal on finding a way to end the civil war in Syria, well that could be at risk. President Obama says the U.S. will not be a part of any deal until he sees, and this is a quote, "seven continues days of reduced violence and sustained humanitarian access," in Syria.

So far, trucks with humanitarian aid have been unable to reach the war-torn city of Aleppo. The White House blames the delay on Syrian President, Bashar al Assad. Here's CNN's Fred Pleitgen, he's there witnessing the devastation first hand.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: In Aleppo, this is what it looks like. Government forces moving around armor personnel carriers in a contested district, and often time this is what the ceasefire sounds like.

Syrian army personnel acknowledging they don't trust the truce. We're sticking to the ceasefire, this pro-government fighter says, but the other side is not, that's why I don't think the ceasefire will work.

For their part, rebels accuse government forces of breaching the cease-fire. Despite the transgressions, though, the U.N. says by and large, the cessation of hostilities is working. But many Aleppo residents are still suffering from the clashes that took place before it went into effect.

At the Ramsey Hospital, Ahmed Jabber and his 7 year old son, Mahmud lay side by side, both wounded by rebel shelling that killed three of Mahmud's brothers.

When the bomb shell fell, I went to the ground, the boy says, and I was bleeding. I felt the shrapnel in my body.

It happened last Friday, the day the ceasefire was announced, crushing Ahmed Jabbar's faith that the cessation of hostilities might work.

Even after the ceasefire, I was here in the hospital, he says, and I saw wounded people still being brought here. And the calm remains strained. Damascus saw heavy clashes on Friday around the rebel held district of Jobar.


BLACKWELL: Our Fred Pleitgen is joining us now on the phone from Aleppo. Fred, since the filing of that report have we seen any of this -- this aid come in? Are you continuing to hear those rounds off in the distance?

PLEITGEN: Hi, Victor. Yes, I mean we have definitely been hearing a lot more of those rounds being fired in the distance. Sometimes actually, not too far away from us. It seems to us as though most of that's still happening in the southwest of the city. There's certainly a lot of gunfire that we were hearing there last night. We were out until about I would say about half past midnight and there seemed to be a lot of what seems to be artillery, possibly some mortar fire as well.

We've also heard that there's some other areas in Syria where similar breaches have taken place. And today actually, Victor, right now, I'm in an area that was on the frontline until very recently. And we're also hearing some machine gun fire actually right now, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Ongoing as this so-called cease-fire continues. Fred Pleitgen there for us in Aleppo. Fred, thanks so much.

PAUL: And also new this morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin weighing in on Russia's role in the U.S. election. He says Russia is, "Closely monitoring what's happening." And he says there's a reason his country's being brought up in the 2016 race tells Russian state news "I hope that this is due to the growing influence and importance of Russia. But, I think it's mainly due to attempts of manipulation of public opinion inside the country. We see an attempt to re-create the image of the so-called evil empire and scare the townsfolk this way."

Now, he goes on to call those actions "a rather rude and counterproductive attempt which has nothing to do with the essence of the problem in the United States."

Evil empire or not, some say the Cold War, it seems to be reheating. And now in response U.S. intelligence agencies are sending in reinforcements. Here's CNN's Jim Sciutto.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: U.S. intelligence focused on Vladimir Putin and Russia, viewed as increasingly assertive and ambitious in countering U.S. leadership and national security interests around the globe. Russia's activity now includes what appears, to be an unprecedented effort to undermine confidence in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. As Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Mike McCaul detailed on CNN.


REP. MIKE MCCAUL, (R) TEXAS: The idea of a foreign power, particularly one like Russia, a foreign adversary attempting to mess with our elections. And, Director Comey basically told us that the motivation was to undermine the integrity of the American political electoral process. These facts, allegations, are very disturbing.

SCIUTTO: Sources tell CNN that the intelligence community is expanding resources aimed at Moscow to match Moscow's evolving threat to the U.S.

Those resources include human intelligence, electronic surveillance and cyber capability.

A ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff tells CNN "Putin has taken Russia in a much more hostile, aggressive and adversarial direction. And the U.S. is directing more resources and focus towards Russia and that's a necessity."

Russia's cyber threat is of particular concern. The deputy director of the NSA has told us that Russia today has alarming capability. Not just to hack places like the Democratic National Committee, but to harm the U.S. homeland, via cyber attacks.

Your saying that today foreign actors already have the capability of shutting down key U.S. infrastructure?


SCIUTTO: Via cyber attack?


SCIUTTO: Russia?


SCIUTTO: Some intelligence analysts say the renewed focus is late and has allowed Moscow to gain advantage. COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, (RET), FORMER INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: To properly

resource our intelligence agencies vis-a-vis the Russian problem is really coming home to roost right now. And, because of that failure on our part, we're playing catch-up in a very large way.

SCIUTTO: U.S. intelligence officials tell me that they never took their eyes off of Russia, but they grant it is very difficult to judge Russia's intentions. In particular with President Putin. They say he has a very insular decision making circle and that he can, in their view, in their description, make decisions in the foreign policy realm that they describe as impulsive.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


BLACKWELL: And, next, we'll get some insight into President Putin and Russia at large. Their possible connection to the U.S. election.

CNN Digital Correspondent, Steven Collinson has more on that asking is there a new red scare?



PAUL: Well, Russia continuing to play a part in the 2016 race both behind the scenes with accusations of hacked DNC servers and in public statements like the one just out this morning. Russian President Vladimir Putin accusing some in the U.S. of trying to recreate an "evil empire."

Let's bring in Stephen Collinson to talk about this. CNN Politics Senior Reporter. Stephen, what do you make of the comments from Putin this morning first of all?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: Well I think it's just the latest example of the almost cy-ops operation the Russians conducting around the U.S. elections.

What's happened is that the Russian intelligence services have been accused of trying to interfere in the U.S. Political process. You have to remember that Vladimir Putin's entire political property is to restore the respect that he believes that Russia lost after the end of the Cold War, in a humiliating period. And to -- and one way of doing that is to undermine U.S. moral authority around the world.

So, these hackings of Democratic National Committee servers and other issues are one way in which Putin can point to the U.S. political system. And then say, look, the United States isn't this great moral paradigm of democracy. It's shouldn't be telling other countries what to do.

He's saying that to global audience and to a Russian audience. And, these comments today are basically a furtherance of this. He's saying look, we're not doing anything but the U.S. is accusing

us. The U.S. is attacking us. We've done nothing wrong. It's going back to the evil empire rhetoric of the Reagan years. It's the U.S. that's responsible for sort of whipping up the atmosphere of almost a new Cold War.

So, this is a message that, you know, Vladimir Putin's political power base in Russia is based largely on nationalism. The economy's not doing very well. It's increasingly an authoritarian state. So one way of doing that is to increase hostility among the population in Russia to the United States.

PAUL: And do you see it working?

COLLINSON: Well, you have to say that in one sense Vladimir Putin has succeeded in increasing Russian influence. Look, he's in the middle of a conflict in Syria. John Kerry has been, you know, going through this exhaustive negotiations with the Russian foreign minister over that.

Back at the G20 summit a few weeks ago, he was in the thick of it in China. This is a leader that two years ago left the G20 summit early because he was ostracized because of his actions in Ukraine and Crimea.

So, certainly Vladimir Putin has increased Russia's punching weight if you like, on the global stage. Whether in the long run that's in Russia's interest is another thing.

As I said, the economy is crashing. It's overly reliant on energy sources, which is a very unstable way to build an economy. And he has taken the country down an authoritarian path. There's a lot of repression of opposition figures. There's heavy press censorship.

So, in this sense, I think it's possible to argue that there's one thing that's in the government in Moscow's interests and Vladimir Putin's interests. And, one thing that's in the long-term interest of the Russian people.

PAUL: All right, we appreciate it so much, Stephen Collinson, thank you. Thank you for being here. And we'll be right back.



BLACKWELL: Samsung has a big job ahead, perhaps its biggest challenge yet in the face of a massive federal recall. Well, now it must rebuild its reputation after consumer safety regulators decided that the Galaxy Note 7 Smartphone is unsafe. 1 million phones were recalled after dozens of users said that the device caught fire while charging.

So, where does Samsung begin to repair this damage? Here now, is Pete Pachal, a tech editor for Pete, good morning to you.

PETE PACHAL, TECH EDITOR, MASHABLE.COM: Good morning. BLACKWELL: So, this is a huge company, the world's largest smart phone

maker. First, just in a couple of seconds for people who hear I guess peripherally what's happening. We're talking about essentially 1,000 phones, but nobody knows of the million sold which thousand have the problem, right?

PACHAL: Yes, exactly. They've shipped, you know, roughly 1 to 2 million of these already. And, they know that all of the phones that are affected were shipped before September 15th. But, there's really no way to tell which ones have the actual defect.

You know, the defect was obviously in the manufacturing process. A few were affected, most weren't. But, all they know is sort of the time frame of when these phones were shipped. So, they're recalling all of them which is, as you said, roughly a million.

BLACKWELL: And, this was supposed to be a prime opportunity for Samsung because there was some questions and some backlash toward Apple after the release of the iPhone 7. This could have been their moment, but they blew it.

PACHAL: Totally. The Note 7 in its initial reviews, it got stellar reviews. Many sites, including Mashable, gave it a huge rating, some called it the best smartphone ever made. And, it was poised to be released right around the same time as the iPhone 7 which controversially has taken away the headphone jack. Which, a lot of people are still very unsure about. So, it seemed like if you were unsure about that, well there's this great phone over here from Samsung for you to buy. Now, not so much. It is they -- clearly it has not been good for them and I personally know at least one person who basically was an Android Samsung user and has jumped ship to Apple for this.

BLACKWELL: Yes, that is a difficult switch over to make when you have everything. I'm an Apple person so, everything I have is on the Apple side. To make one change to the other is difficult. Let's talk about how the federal regulators got involved after there was this back and forth confusion between the service provider and Samsung and who was going to take the phone back. Where do things stand now after that debacle?


PACHAL: Yes, things were a little confusing when the reporters first started. Samsung is a massive company, and so sort of took a while for them to get their ducks in a row on sort of when the replacement Note 7's were going to be available.

And so, there was this issue like anecdotally people were going to their carriers, the carriers were telling them to talk to Samsung. Samsung was telling them to talk to their carriers. They were issuing refunds, it was just very unclear when the new Note 7s were coming.

Now they've finally got the full recall going with the CSBC and they know that they are going to have replacement Note 7s that will not have exploding batteries -- BLACKWELL: -- that's good.

PACHAL: -- by September 21st at the latest they're saying now.

But, if you still want to get rid of your phone, I mean you should power down and get rid of your phone in the meantime. But, you can get -- exchange it for either a Galaxy S7 or a full refund, or just wait for the -- as I said the Note 7, which should be in by September 21st. And they're throwing in a $25 store credit if that -- for what's that worth.

BLACKWELL: All right. Well, I mean it's something. Maybe not enough for some people, but it's something. Pete Pachal, thanks so much for being with us.

PACHAL: My pleasure.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: And do stick around. There's an awful lot to talk to you about today including Donald Trump wondering aloud on the campaign trail what would happen to Hillary Clinton if her secret service detail was disarmed.

BLACKWELL: Yes, so stay with us. Next hour of your NEW DAY starts after a short break.