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John Bolton Threatens War Crimes Court with Sanctions in Virulent Attack; Israel To Investigate Killings Of Palestinian Teens; Rights Group: China Committing Abuses Against Muslims; White House: No Lie Detector To Find Op-Ed Author; Trump's Approval Rating Drops; South Korean President to Mediate in U.S.-North Korea Relations; U.S. Threatens Sanctions against International Criminal Court; Airstrikes Pummel Idlib While Humanitarian Crisis Looms. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired September 11, 2018 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): New poll numbers indicate the turmoil in the White House is overshadowing the good news about the U.S. economy.
Meanwhile the Trump administration taking aim at another multi- national institution, threatening the International Criminal Court.
Plus a powerful storm is heading to the East Coast where more than 1 million Americans are under orders to head to safer ground as Hurricane Florence approaches.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN NEWSROOM.
CHURCH: Well, as the White House hunts for the sources of two devastating accounts of the Trump administration, the campaign to discredit both is in full force. And with an eye on midterm elections in two months, Republicans got more bad news Tuesday.
A new CNN poll shows President Donald Trump's approval rating taking a 6-point dive in one month. Jeff Zeleny has the report.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House tonight trying to move beyond a war within its own walls.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is frankly, I think, sad and pathetic that a gutless anonymous source could receive so much attention.
ZELENY (voice-over): It has been 19 days since White House press secretary Sarah Sanders had appeared at the podium. Aides had been cleaning it before she took questions in the Briefing Room for the first time since August 22nd.
She wasted little time blasting Bob Woodward and his new book, "Fear," that chronicles deep dysfunction inside the West Wing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: To not even take the time to get a $10 fact checker to call around and verify that some of these quotes were happened when no effort was made, it's seems like a very careless and reckless way to write a book.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY (voice-over): Yet, even if she tried to downplay the book it's the one-two punch of Woodward and anonymous op-ed in "The New York Times" that's enraging the president, who called the book, "A joke, just another assault against me."
A parade of top administration officials have come forward to say it wasn't them with the vice president taking the extraordinary step of volunteering to submit to a lie detector test.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would agree to take in a heartbeat.
ZELENY: Do you know if the president believes these denials that have coming in from the POTUS top advisors or does he believe that it's from within? And does he believe that lie detector test should be issued as the vice president volunteered to do?
SANDERS: No, lie detectors are being used or talked about or looked at as a possibility. Frankly, the White House and the staff here are focused on doing our jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: On the eve of the book's official release, Woodward defended his findings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "FEAR": There's more untruth by him. He says all these are unnamed sources but these are not unnamed incidents. Specific people on specific dates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: As for the op officials who have denied specific critiques of the president from Chief of Staff John Kelly to Defense Secretary James Mattis, Woodward said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODWARD: They are not telling the truth. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: Tonight a new CNN poll finds the president's approval rating has fallen six points in the last month and now stands at new low among independent voters, overall, just 36 percent approve of the way the president is handling his job down from 42 percent in August.
Among independents, the drop have been sharper. From 47 percent approval last month to 21 percent now. Only 32 percent find the president trustworthy. Yet nearly 7 in 10 Americans give the economy high marks. A ray of optimism for Republicans two months before the midterm elections.
The president crowed about the economy in a series of tweets today declaring it, "so good perhaps the best in our country's history." Yet, he incorrectly stately its exact strength. Writing, "The GDP rate of 4.2 percent is higher than the unemployment rate, 3.9 percent for the first time in more than 100 years."
But Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House council of economic advisers said that wasn't true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN HASSETT, WHITE HOUSE CHAIR OF THE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: What is true it is highest in 10 years. And at some point somebody probably conveyed it to him, adding a zero to that and they shouldn't have done that. And again, I'm not the chairman of the council of Twitter advisors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: Now at that press briefing Sarah Sanders was ask if the White House is trying to find out who specifically wrote that op-ed. She said we are focusing on things that matter.
Of course, the president made it clear that it does matter to him. So he of course is still fuming about it. We'll see if that author is ever revealed -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.
CHURCH: CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, joins me now. He's also --
CHURCH: -- a senior editor at "The Atlantic."
Great to have you with us.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be here.
CHURCH: Let's look at new CNN poll numbers, the approval rating for Trump has fallen 6 points in the last month from 42 percent to 36 percent. For independents, the drop is even greater, 16 points from 47 percent to 31 percent and then only 32 percent polled found the president trustworthy.
What do you think is behind that plunge in approval for the president with independents and what might have this signaled for the midterms, do you think?
BROWNSTEIN: First of all, there are now five polls with the president down 40 percent or below in the last two weeks, including three today, including Gallup, Quinnipiac and CNN, so this is not just a random -- or the ABC and "Washington Post" a couple of days ago -- this is not a random finding. There clearly seems to be movement.
The movement I think began very clearly when Michael Cohen, his long- time lawyer, his consigliare pled guilty and, in effect, named the president as an unindicted conspirator in a conspiracy to evade the campaign finance laws by silencing various women who claimed extramarital affairs.
I think that was the beginning of the movement that we have seen and it has been reinforced by the op-ed and the widespread discussion of the latest Bob Woodward book, portraying chaos in the White House. And I think the important thing here is that we're seeing just an enormous divergence, really unprecedented divergence between attitudes about the economy and attitudes about the president. I mean --
CHURCH: Yes. Let's have a look at that. Because when it comes to the economy, the CNN poll showed nearly seven in 10 Americans are very happy with where things stand right now.
So it is no coincidence that, on Monday, the White House held an extensive briefing, on how good the economy is performing right now.
If the president can remain focused on the positive surrounding the economy and not be distracted by the anonymous op-ed and Bob Woodward's book, could this turn his fortunes around for the midterms?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, it is striking. I mean, the gap we're seeing is just unprecedented. The 4 percent unemployment rate, the idea that the president's approval rating is below 40 percent and that is not impossible, it should not be mathematically impossible. It probably should be somewhere around 55 percent.
And the difference, of course, is between where it should be and where it is, are the large portion of Americans who had doubt about Trump personally, whether he has the value, the judgment, the temperament that they expect in a president.
You know, I don't know if he talked more about the economy whether it would make a difference. His behavior is so intrinsic to his vision of the presidency as fomenting conflict and kind of igniting these cultural confrontations on Twitter or to his personal comments.
He views that as central to his political strategy and it does works with a portion of his base. But it is the principle reason, I think, why his approval rating, particularly among these swing voters, it is low, the white collar voters who are doing very well.
It is so much lower than what would believe, you would have anticipated it would be, given the strength of the economy, which is very real.
CHURCH: Right, just very quickly, I do want to go back to that anonymous op-ed and then Bob Woodward's book. We see the White House trying to turn the page on this.
But can the president do the same, particularly with Woodward's book releasing Tuesday?
And more than himself saying that those officials, who are denying the negative things that they have said about the president, are not telling the truth.
BROWNSTEIN: I'm smiling as you say that, because, you know, I've been around Washington for Bob Woodward's books since the 1970s. There is this kind of Washington ritual of everyone who is quoted immediately coming out and saying, it wasn't me, I didn't say it.
He is a pretty good reporter. I mean, he doesn't get everything right always but, you know, the basic stories have held up awfully well now over the presidents since Richard Nixon. So that is kind of empty gesture.
Again, I think it is so powerful. It has such a powerful effect because it is not like it is coming out of left field; it is enforcing the accounts of others, Omarosa, to Michael Wolff, you know, to many of the daily reporting that goes out of the White House.
And it goes to the central question, which is voters, that the reason why his approval rating is so much lower than where you believe it would be, given the economy, are personal doubts about his fitness for the job. And the Woodward book really strikes at that most vulnerable opening.
CHURCH: Yes. And it is coming from an award-winning journalist, who has been there in "The Washington Post" since 1971. So it would be interesting to see how that plays into polls going forward. Many thanks to Ron Brownstein for joining us. We appreciate it.
BROWNSTEIN: Good to be here.
CHURCH: Another big issue we're following, South Korea's president says he's been asked to act as a mediator between the U.S. and North Korea. Talks between the two sides over denuclearization have recently stalled. So Moon Jae-in will aim to get them moving again.
And CNN's Paula Hancocks is following all of the developments from Seoul.
Good to see you. So South Korea's president --
[02:10:00] CHURCH: -- will act as mediator as we see relations starting to warm again between the U.S. and North Korea.
But how difficult and how delicate will this role be for Moon Jae-in?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, it is a role that he's been playing for months. He's been the mediator between U.S. and North Korea. He brought the U.S. president Donald Trump to the idea of speaking to the North Korean leader when he was dead set against it, at some points over recent months.
He even once called President Moon an appeaser. Certainly it's not been an easy job for the South Korean president, there's been criticisms as well from within the White House and U.S. officials, suggesting the South Korean president is promising more than he can deliver.
But certainly Mr. Moon is taking on the role. He said in a cabinet meeting just today that both President Trump and Kim Jong-un asked him to be the mediator until there was more active communication and dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea.
It's something he's said he will do. And he'll be meeting with the North Korean leader on the 18th-20th of September in Pyongyang for the third summit between the two leaders.
A couple of interesting things he was saying in the cabinet meeting was saying that North Korea promised they would backtrack their nuclear missile program and they have kept their word, talking about how there have been no missile or nuclear tests since November last year, talking about the missile engine test site being destroyed and the nuclear site being destroyed, which hasn't been independently verified, and repatriating remains from the Korean War.
So he's pointing out what North Korea has done at this point since the U.S. and South Korea have suspended these large military drills. What he's calling for now is bold action, courageous action from the U.S. and North Korea.
You can tell from what he's saying at this cabinet meeting that the South Korean president has a lot riding on this and he definitely wants to bring these two sides back to dialogue.
CHURCH: Many thanks to Paula Hancocks, joining us from Seoul in South Korea.
The U.S. is taking aim at the International Criminal Court. National security adviser John Bolton delivered a scathing speech against the court on Monday calling it ineffective and outright dangerous. He's also sending a warning to those who might take the courts side against the United States.
Michelle Kosinski reports.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. national
security adviser, John Bolton, hates the International Criminal Court for its potential of going after Americans, most recently they run up the possibility of going after U.S. service people for potential war crimes committed in Afghanistan.
But we didn't know quite how much he hates the ICC until this lengthy speech he gave today. Listen to just part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court. We will not cooperate with the ICC, we will provide no assistance to the ICC and we certainly will join the ICC.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSINSKI: So he called the ICC unjust, illegitimate, dangerous, and assault on U.S. sovereignty and on the rights of all people. He said that the ICC is now dead to the U.S.
But what's more, he goes a step further saying that if anyone pursues Americans before the International Criminal Court the U.S. will go after them, go after prosecutors, judges, those who bring cases against Americans or its ally Israel and that could include sanctions against these people.
At one point he made the argument too that if you try to stop a country from prosecuting its own cases of war crimes, you stop that country from maturing if you take the hard decisions away from that country. And that the best people to decide whether a state has committed atrocity are people within that own state.
But he was pressed by reporters afterwards saying, well, what about countries that don't have functioning justice departments because of the regime they have to live under?
He did say, well, OK, maybe there is a role for the U.S. or some other organizations to play.
He didn't go into a lot of detail. But he tried to make every argument possible that the International Criminal Court is not effective and really should not exist -- Michelle Kosinski, CNN, the State Department.
CHURCH: And the ICC announcement comes at the same time the Palestinians are asking the court to investigate the actions of Israel.
CHURCH: That's part of the reason why the Trump administration is closing the Palestinian delegation's office in Washington. Bolton said it's being closed because the Palestinians are not doing enough to start peace talks with the Israelis.
He adds the U.S. won't allow any organization to constrain Israel's right to self-defense. Palestinian leaders say it is Israel and the U.S. that are blocking peace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a confirmation for us that we need to double our efforts both in the ICC and the international organizations, using international law and also double our efforts in the U.S. to address and engage with the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an admission of the U.S. administration's determination to continue its policies of blackmail and extortion and undermining the peace process and the two-state solution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: This comes less than two weeks after the U.S. dealt another blow to the Palestinians by withdrawing support for the U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees. The U.S. says the group is irredeemably flawed. That agency is now leaning on other states to fill the $300 million hole in its budget.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not about UNRWA. It is about the 526,000 Palestinian refugee, boys and girls that we have in our schools throughout the Middle East. It is the over 3 million patients that use our clinics every year and it is the 1.5 million people who benefit from our emergency work.
This is what is at stake. UNRWA's experience in many different types of crisis since it was created, the crisis of the original forced displacement of the Palestinians and then the different chapters in its history, the Lebanese war, the intifadas.
Of course, in human terms, those were absolutely catastrophic. In financial institutional terms, yes, this is the worst crisis ever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: We'll have more on this story next hour. Let's take a quick break and just ahead, it is huge, extremely dangerous and getting closer to the U.S. East Coast. Hurricane Florence has intensified to a category 4 with predictions it could cause historic destruction.
Plus the fight for Syria's last major rebel stronghold intensifies with thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire. The U.N. warns of the worst humanitarian crisis this century. Back in a moment. (MUSIC PLAYING)
CHURCH: The last major rebel stronghold in Syria is under heavy fire amid growing fears an all-out ground and air offensive is imminent. In just the past week, 30,000 people have fled their homes in Idlib province as Syrian government forces, aided by Russian airpower, tried to flush out rebel fighters there.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is urging the international community to act. In an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal," he warns, "The purpose of a regime offensive against Idlib would be indiscriminate attacks to wipe out its opposition, not a genuine or effective campaign against terrorism.
"A regime assault would create serious humanitarian and security risks for Turkey, the rest of Europe and beyond."
His appeal comes just days after Turkey failed to get a cease-fire pledge from Russia and Iran on Syria.
A 22-year-old volunteer with the White Helmets rescue group was filming a bombed factory in Idlib on Friday when he got caught in the middle of an airstrike. Wounded and bleeding, he still kept filming as friends pulled him to safety. More now from CNN's Clarissa Ward.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rescue worker Anas al-Diab is shooting the aftermath of an airstrike.
Moments later, more strikes hit. This time, Anas is the victim. His camera is still rolling, revealing serious injuries to his legs.
"Guys, guys, please come get me," he calls out to his fellow rescue workers. "I can't move."
The men try to drag him to safety. Without so much as a stretcher, it is hard work. Another strike lands, pinning them to the ground, and another. They call for backup.
Scenes like this are playing out across Idlib as regime forces begin an operation to take back the last rebel-held province, raising the specter of a bloodbath. Russia provides most of the airpower and claims that it only targets terrorists, an assertion that's contradicted by facts on the ground.
Here a woman's hand pokes up through the rubble, still moving. Rescue workers rush to free her from beneath the concrete. Eventually, they succeed. But it's not clear if she survives.
Anas was lucky. He made it safely to a hospital though his injuries are serious.
"They are targeting innocent civilians," he says. "They're trying to kill as many of us as possible."
In spite of the risks, some of those civilians are taking to the streets again, in scenes reminiscent of the early days of the protest movement against President Bashar al-Assad.
"Idlib, we are with you until death," they chant.
They may well be the last words of this uprising -- Clarissa Ward, CNN, London.
CHURCH: Back to the United States now and Hurricane Florence is getting stronger, bigger and closer to the U.S. East Coast. In just hours on Monday, Florence intensified to a category 4 hurricane. More than a million people have been ordered to evacuate from the entire coastline of South Carolina.
Hundreds of thousands of residents are also under mandatory evacuation orders in Virginia and North Carolina. The governors of the Carolinas are sounding the alarm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY MCMASTER, SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: This may be inconvenient. This is a very dangerous hurricane. But we are not going to gamble with the lives of the people of South Carolina, not a one.
ROY COOPER, NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: This is going to be a tough storm. It is going to be pretty intense. So we want people to stay safe and --
COOPER: -- to obey evacuation orders. We got to hope and pray for the best but prepare for the worst.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: How do voters in America's heartland feel about Donald Trump?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the man has lot of capabilities but sometimes he just lets his mouth overload and it is very unfortunate.
CHURCH (voice-over): Trump supporters weigh in on the U.S. president and whether they think he has delivered on his promises to them.
And Russia pivots eastward. Moscow and Beijing taking part in Russia's biggest war games since the fall of the Soviet Union. What this might mean for the West. We'll take a look at that. Back in just a moment.
[02:30:48] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we're being following this hour. The European Union and the United Nations are urging the Syrian regime not to mount an all-out military offensive on Idlib Province warning it would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences. Despite the appeals, Syrian government forces have ramped up air strikes on the rebel held region.
The U.N. says more than 30,000 people have fled their homes there in just the past week. The Trump administration is threatening sanctions on the International Criminal Court. National Security Advisor John Bolton calls the ICC ineffective and dangerous, and says the U.S. will use any means necessary to protect its citizens and allies from prosecution by the court. The ICC says it acts strictly within its founding treaty. Hurricane Florence is heading to the U.S. East Coast after quickly intensifying to a Category Four.
A large and dangerous storm is forecast to make landfall in the Carolinas on Thursday. It's possible Hurricane Florence could strengthen further and become a Category Five. Well, it seems hard to imagine a midterm election in the U.S. so eagerly anticipated by so many. Donald Trump is not on the ballot but this vote in two months is seen by many as a referendum on his presidency. His approval rating has fallen six points in one month to 36 percent.
That's according to a new CNN poll. And CNN's Martin Savidge has been talking to some Trump supporters to find out how they feel about the president now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump became president not by winning in the big cities people know, but by winning in the places many people know little out. The America in between the big cities, middle American, the heartland, what people here call the forgotten America. Where people tell you they work hard, play by the rules, have faith in God, and rely on their neighbors. Statistically, these Americans are older more often white less often college graduates.
The only thing globalization did for them they'll tell you is shutdown the local factory. And as America's economy became more tact in service focus in its population more diverse and morally accepting. These Americans say they felt left behind politically ignored, almost unwanted.
RICK GREEN, IRON WORKER: The core foundation of our country is slipping away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean it got to a point where I did not like the direction that my country was going. SAVIDGE: Then came Donald Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I love all the people of our country.
SAVIDGE: Trump, the New York City billionaire had the remarkable ability to relate with this very dissatisfied group.
LORA DILLEY, SAFETY COORDINATOR: He seemed he had the workers -- the blue collar workers in his radar for helping them out.
SAVIDGE: They liked he was a business man, his tough stance on immigration.
MARIANO RODRIGUEZ, TRUMP SUPPORTER: It's not that I'm opposed to, you know, people coming over, but what I wanted is to come over here legally.
SAVIDGE: They liked he was pro-guns and anti-abortion rights. They liked he supported appointing conservative judges and his pledge to put America first. They loved he was not a politician. Not part of what they see as the dysfunction of Washington.
BOB HILDERBRAND, MAYOR OF MANCHESTER, OHIO: Men in overhauls built this country. The men in suits have worked destroyed it.
SAVIDGE: But he's a man on a suit.
HILDERBRAND: But he has touched the working people. He stood up for the working people.
SAVIDGE: But what about now after the Russia investigation, after the scandals, after the turmoil and turnover and all those tweets, how are these voters feeling? Satisfied but exhausted.
SAVIDGE: They see a president who has delivered on many others promises, tax reform, a strong economy who ended the Paris environment accord, the Iran nuclear deal, and cracked down on immigration.
JASON NEIGBBOR, TRUMP SUPPORTER: That's exactly what I voted for. We want some a little bit of a change.
SAVIDGE: They would like less turmoil. But the Russia investigation most blame on Democrats and Trump's opponents considering the whole thing --
[02:35:06] VINCENTE JAVIER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: A political witch hunt from the get-go. To be honest, it's a disgrace.
SAVIDGE: As for the two women who were paid hush money after an alleged affairs, these voters say that they're willing to accept some bad in the man in exchange for the good they see in his policies. Does it bother you that if our president is not always truthful?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not really.
SAVIDGE: They do have advice for the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
SAVIDGE: They're not always fans of his tweeting believing it distracts from his accomplishments and could suggest the president who is vindictive, compulsive, off-balance. There is a sense of fatigue with the political brawling.
KURT MUELLER, VIETNAM VETERAN: I think the -- I think the man has a lot of capabilities, but sometimes he just lets his mouth overload sometimes. It is really unfortunate.
SAVIDGE: Trump voters are tired of being blamed for being like Trump simply because they voted for Trump.
WAGAS KHAN, TRUMP VOTER: I had to receive comments like I never knew you were racist. You are anti-Islamic. You're a traitor.
SAVIDGE: Many are swing voters who voted for President Obama not once, but twice. There's another R word that comes up a lot in our conversations, respect. Trump voters remain bothered that those who didn't vote for the president have never seemed to accept that he won. Do you think he's being treated fairly?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think -- I think it's awful.
SAVIDGE: In their minds, if you don't respect the president, then you don't respect the people who voted for him and it was feelings of disregard and being ignored that turned them to Trump. And now, many still feel Trump was not just the right choice, but the only choice. How is he doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fantastic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Better than I ever would have dreamed. I mean that sincerely.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes.
SAVIDGE: Show of hands who would vote the same.
CHURCH: So let's bring in Alice Stewart. She is a Republican strategist and CNN Political Commentator. Always good to have you with us.
ALICE STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Great to be with you, Rosemary. Thanks.
CHURCH: So I do want to talk to you about the Trump factor in the upcoming midterm elections. The president is planning to spend at least 40 days on the road campaigning for Republican candidates. That's more time on the road than his two predecessors during their time period. What's the motivation behind this?
STEWART: Well, more than anything it's because he likes to be on the road. He likes to be out amongst the crowd and his adoring fans, and supporters, and hear the roar of the crowd, and it energizes him. And he's the kind of president. He can either be in the White House and with all the turmoil and the drama that's going on in those White House. He's much more comfortable and he's happier when he's out there on the -- on the road energizing his base and supporters.
And in areas and in districts or states where he is popular that is where his time is best served. It is great to get him out there. His base is very strong and supportive. But more than anything, he needs to be luring in independents and those who aren't quite sure how they're going to vote. So the more he can get out there. He's quite popular. Now, there's a lot of issues going on with all the turmoil with books and rumors and gossip and palace intrigue in this White House, but he's very popular and that the crowd when he goes in event are massive, so it's good for him.
It is also a great way to energize voters and midterms are all about enthusiasm and energizing the voters to get out there. Historically, in presidential elections here, the party in power generally in the first midterm election it is not favorable for them. They lose a lot of seats, so if he can get out there and get his voters enthusiastic, it's good for him and it's good for Republicans.
CHURCH: Right. Of course no one doubts that he has that support with his base. So you mentioned the independents, so we -- so we saw with the new CNN polls that independents -- he's lost some 16 points of support there. That is a critical loss and the president of course is popular among his base as we say in certain districts, but his style of governing alienates others. How concerned are you that he will be a liability for Republicans in swing districts who need to woo these independent voters?
How do they strike the balance of supporting the Republican president at arm's length?
STEWART: Well, the key is -- and you hit -- you hit on the magic number and that is a key component of the poll that came out on Monday is the independents, the loss of approval among those independents and the key was getting them motivated is to focus on the economy. Focus on jobs. This administration does have encouraging numbers to report on the GDP is at 4.2 percent.
[02:40:07] The unemployment rate at 3.9 percent. People like to see the government regulations being decrease because it allows companies and businesses to create jobs. The number of job creation is at a -- is at an all-time high. Those are the key issues that will motivate not just his base, not just Republicans, but independents that want to get out there and support this president and his policies because it is all about the economy and what people put in their own pocket books. That is a great motivator to get people out to vote.
CHURCH: Yes. And of course, Alice, there is another president hitting the campaign trail, Barack Obama, will be showing his support for Democratic candidates. On Friday, he slammed Mr. Trump saying he capitalizes on resentment but politicians have been fanning for years. What do you make of that?
STEWART: Well, he's -- has a good point. Look, I voted for President Trump. I support his policies, but I do not support his tone and his tactics. I don't like the way he runs this White House and the disrespectful way that it is run. That is in stark contrast to President Obama who was more respectful and did have a certain level of discourse and respect for the office.
CHURCH: Alice Stewart, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
STEWART: Thanks for having me. Have a great day.
CHURCH: Well, Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as the Eastern Economic Forum. CNN's Ivan Watson joins us now from Hong Kong to tell us more about all of this. So Ivan, this summer coincides with military exercises Moscow described as the largest since the fall of the Soviet Union. China's people's liberation army is participating. Is that a coincidence and what are we to make of the shift to the east that we're seeing?
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean Russia periodically does this. It's the world's largest country geographically speaking and it's clearly trying to focus attention on its far east. So the military exercises which are described as Vostok 2018. That means East 2018. The defense ministry has described it as you mentioned as the biggest since the days of the Soviet Union taking place in the east and justifying it due to the current international situation.
The Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov saying describing that international situation as, "Quite aggressive and unfriendly for our country." So this is a clear display of Russian military might. Here's some numbers for you. Some 300,000 servicemen participating, more than a thousand aircraft helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles, up to 36,000 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and armored personnel carriers, and up to 80 ships and support vessels.
Now, two countries at least are contributing troops. That's Mongolia and China which is sending a force considerably smaller a little bit more than 3,000 troops. But, nonetheless, showing that it is moving arm and arm with its Russian neighbor, Rosemary.
CHURCH: And so what all can we expect to come out of this forum in Vladivostok? WATSON: You know, we haven't gotten a lot of concrete details here.
The Russian-Chinese partnership is one that has been growing for years. Traditionally, the two countries, they vote together in the United Nations Security Council for example. Xi Jinping and Putin have meet several times this year already while Russia Navy more aggressive with its military on an international front. China is unquestionably the bigger partner when it comes to the economy.
China's ambassador to Moscow has talked about setting a goal of trying to get up to a hundred billion dollars' worth of bilateral trade by the end of 2018 which isn't huge when you consider China's trade with the U.S. or U.S. trade with Japan for example. And a Russian ambassador to Beijing has talked about welcoming China's involvement in for example the possible reconstruction of war-torn Syria saying that China could bring a lot if infrastructure to the table.
There are also meetings that have been taking place between Putin and Japan's prime minister, and this is an interesting relationship because those two countries haven't signed a peace treaty since World War II and that's largely due to a territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands which the Soviet Union sees at end of World War II and Japan still lays claim to. The Japanese prime minister spoke about this after his meeting with Putin. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[02:45:04] SHINZO ABE, PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN (via translator): Our new approach changes Russia-Japan cooperation without infringing upon the rights of either side. We're doing our best with Mr. President to reach our common aim to sign a peace treaty. We will use every effort to do it within our generation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: So Putin and Abe, they talked about economic cooperation in those disputed islands. But as you heard there, Abe is setting the bar quite a low saying, maybe a peace treaty within a generation. It's not terribly ambitious. Rosemary.
CHURCH: No, doesn't appear to be. Our Ivan Watson bringing us the latest on that from Hong Kong which is 2:45 in the afternoon. Many thanks.
Well, the U.N., some U.S. lawmakers, and now Human Rights Watch all raising their voices over what they say a China's human rights abuses against Muslims. A closer look when we come back.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, Israel's military says it will investigate the killings of two Palestinian teenagers shot by soldiers during protests in Gaza last week. Palestinian say one was a 16-year- old boy killed while waving his arms in the air. Video of that shooting has been shared widely on social media. And we warn you, it is disturbing. You can see the teenager throwing something toward the security fence between Gaza and Israel. Then, jumping up and down, clapping and waving his hands. Seconds later, he is shot. The boy died of his wounds a day later.
Israel has warned the Palestinians not to demonstrate near the fence, saying it will defend itself against riotous. For mass detentions, political education camps, people being held without being charged. Human Rights Watch says it's all part of China's abuse of Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang. Our correspondent Alexandra Field, faced a wall of restrictions making it difficult to get into the region. And here is her report.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Xinjiang, a region in Western China where as many as 1 million Muslim minorities are believed to be held in political education camps. Human Rights Watch describes it this way.
SOPHIE RICHARDSON, CHINA DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Abuses of a scope and scale in China we haven't seen in decades. And the question now is how the world's going to respond to that.
FIELD: Human Rights Watch spoke to one man who is now in Kazakhstan and says, he was detained.
[02:50:04] KAIRAT SAMARKAND, FORMER DETAINEE (through translator): At the camp, they taught us the national anthem, songs praising Mao Zedong, a song wishing 1,000 years of life to President Xi Jinping and the overall history of China.
They wanted to exterminate Muslim nations, Muslim writing, and Muslim dress. They are planning a nation that's homogenous. Everyone has to be Chinese.
FIELD: Human Rights Watch interviewed 58 former Xinjiang residents and five who say they were sent to camps according to the organization. The detainees in political education camps are held without any due process rights. Neither charged nor put on trial. And have no access to lawyers and family. They are held for having links with foreign countries, particularly, those on an official list of 26 sensitive countries, and for using foreign communication tools such as WhatsApp. As well as for peacefully expressing their identity and religion, none of which constitute crimes.
Xinjiang is home to 13 million Turkic Muslims including ethnic Uyghurs. Activists say detention and human surveillance technology are widely deployed to control that population. A U.N. committee independent reporting and other activist groups have all raised alarm about the treatment this Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
RICHARDSON: Now, the use of everything from facial recognition to the compulsory gathering of DNA and other bio-data to the use of Q.R. codes outside people's homes to monitor how often they pray.
FIELD: Journalists who have visited the region faced heavy restrictions. One says, she sent the fear everywhere.
MEGHA RAJAGOPALAN, CORRESPONDENT, BUZZFEED: I went back last fall. You know, after covering it on and off for a few years, but having heard -- you know, just how bad it had gotten. And even though, I had heard things about it, I was really, really shocked at how tense it felt like you can walk down the street in Kashgar, and you don't hear kind of ambient music coming out of storefronts, you don't hear people talking to each other really.
You know, that kind of ambient noise, it's just the sound of police sirens. And you hear people kind of moving like, like might.
FIELD: Xinjiang has a history of independent rule. A spate of violent attacks linked to Uyghurs in recently years stoked fears in Beijing of a separatist movement. Last month, at the U.N., Chinese officials denied reports that political education camps exist. Now, they're slamming the Human Rights Watch report.
GENG SHUANG, SPOKESPERSON, FOREIGN MINISTRY, CHINA (through translator): The policies implemented in Xinjiang are aimed at promoting stability, developments, solidarity, and people's livelihood. Meanwhile, they also aim at cracking down on national separatism, terrorism, protecting national security and people's lives.
FIELD: Officials went on to say that Chinese government protects religious freedom according to the law. Alexandra Field, CNN, Hong Kong.
CHURCH: And we'll be back in just a moment.
CHURCH: Well, Nike took a lot of heat for its new ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. But, you know that old saying there's no such thing as bad publicity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: The shoe company just saw a 31 percent increase in sales. That is according to one analysis. The former NFL quarterback has been a lightning rod for controversy after taking a knee to draw attention to police brutality. But young and diverse customers don't seem to have a problem with Kaepernick's political statements or Nike celebration of them. Nike stock led the Dow closing up more than two percent on Monday.
Well, everyone wants to know who wrote that scathing New York Times op-ed about Donald Trump and his administration? But the White House says a lie-detector test will not be necessary. Here's Jeanne Moos.
[02:55:25] JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Folks in the White House must be quaking at the specter of lie detectors.
DONALD TRUMP IMPERSONATOR: I'm going to hook myself up to this lie detector.
MOOS: No, not him, the senior staff as the president tries to find out who wrote that op-ed. Even if Sarah Sanders, said --
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No lie detectors are being used or talked about.
MOOS: They were talked about the Vice President Pence when he was -- they asked if he would take one.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would agree to take it in a heartbeat.
MOOS: Seems like there's a lot of lying to detect, the president tweets, "Bob Woodward is a liar." Bob Woodward says that the president.
BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN: Because he can't tell the truth.
MOOS: President Trump is depicted pressing start with his Pinocchio nose as he makes staffers take the test. Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, tweeted, "If anyone in the administration has to take a lie- detector test it should be Trump.
Back during the campaign, an impersonator on CBC played the candidate testing himself.
TRUMP IMPERSONATOR: I am going to build a wall at the border that is going to be amazed. Oh, yes I am, buzzer, yes I am. And you know, who's going to pay for it? A Mexico. All wrong.
MOOS: Know the lie detector got one big thing wrong.
TRUMP IMPERSONATOR: We are going to win this thing. And we are, OK.
MOOS: Comedian Ricky Gervais did an unscientific survey, "What would be the funniest test for Trump to take?" I.Q. beat out lie-detector.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll ask you a few yes-or-no questions and you just answer truthfully. Do you understand?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
MOOS: And while the president is looking for rats in the White House, in D.C., Washington on our surveillance video they described as showing an actual rat pulling a fire alarm. Forcing the evacuation of a D.C. condo that rat's smart enough to operate a White House polygraph. It takes one to know one, to ferret one out. Jeanne Moos, CNN --
TRUMP IMPERSONATOR: You're a loser.
MOOS: New York.
I just want to say --
CHURCH: And thanks so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter, @rosemarycnn. And I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. Do stick around.