Return to Transcripts main page


Trump's Running Mate Releases His Taxes; Clinton Meets with Foreign Policy Leaders; Trump Praises Putin: Past and Present; North Korea Conducts Fifth Nuclear Test; Clinton: Time For "Rethinking" U.S. Approach To North Korea; Trump Blames For North Korea Nuke Test; U.S. And Russia Reach Deal On Syria Ceasefire; Photos Released Show Bill Clinton Hanging With Trump; Where Is Melania Trump?; What 2nd Graders Think Of The 2016 Race; Trump Campaigns In Florida. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 9, 2016 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

A busy Friday for both presidential campaigns. Donald Trump about to speak at a rally in Pensacola, Florida. We'll keep an eye on that.

Both he and Hillary Clinton spoke about an ominous sign that North Korea is getting better at nuclear technology, a test with massive explosive power, the equivalent of a 5.3 magnitude earthquake. We'll have more on that later in the program.

But we begin this hour with breaking news of the Trump campaign. Someone has just released his taxes. It is not Donald Trump.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty joins us now from Pensacola.

So, Governor Pence just released his tax returns. What do they tell us and does this put any more pressure on Trump to do it?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It absolutely does, Anderson, and Mike Pence releasing ten years of his tax returns and showing frankly, relatively modest numbers. These are not seven- figure salaries that we're talking here. The Pences in 2015, they had a tax rate of 8 percent. They earned $113,000.

And as you notice, it certainly puts the spotlight very much back on Donald Trump and his refusal to release his own tax returns and he's said that because they're under audit, but that argument has been weakened by a letter released from his tax counsel who has said that between the year 2002 and 2008, that they are not under audit anymore. So, meaning, essentially that they could be released. The Clinton campaign already picking up on this, drawing that contrast between the running mate saying that Donald Trump continues to make excuses not to release his -- Anderson.

COOPER: And Trump spoke earlier today at the Voter Value Summit in Washington. What was the message there?

SERFATY: Yes, this is a group of evangelical Christian conservatives and Donald Trump did his best to try to appeal to this group, he spoke about faith than he typically does. Here is a small part of what he had to say.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: So, let me state this right up front. A Trump administration, our Christian heritage will be cherished, protected, defended like you've never seen before.


Believe me.


SERFATY: So, certainly, interesting comment there from Donald Trump and he really needs this group of evangelicals to show up in November and he admitted as such today, Anderson. He said, look, you guys could determine the election.

COOPER: He also continues to face some backlash in some quarters in his comments about Vladimir Putin and this that aired on Russian state television. Has he or the campaign responded?

SERFATY: Yes, this is really interesting. The Trump campaign is continuing to downplay how that -- the meaning and how that interview ended up airing on Russian television. They said this was a favor that Trump did for the interviewer Larry King and that they had no control where his podcast would end up and they did not even know or were aware that that's where it would end up.

But certainly the substance is raising eyebrows as well as you said, especially given the praise that he had of Russian President Vladimir Putin this week. Trump in the interview downplaying concerns about Russia meddling in the U.S. elections and really dismissing all of the reports that Russia had potentially some involvement in the DNC hack that was so notable just a few weeks ago -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Sunlen, thanks very much.

Now to the Clinton campaign and strong words from the candidate about what she calls the most important election in her lifetime. Hillary Clinton met today with the bipartisan group of foreign policy experts in New York and took questions from reporters.

Our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny joins us now with the latest. So, what did she have to say?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the presidential campaign, it was a domestic one rooted in the economy, suddenly is a global one and that was front and center today when she convened a meeting of national security experts from both sides of the aisle, a lot of familiar faces there from the George W. Bush administration, as well.

But she had some news on North Korea. She said it is time for a rethinking of the strategy, trying to distance herself a bit from the Obama administration. She said it was time to pressure China more. She said the U.S. has more leverage than some people might realize and it's also time she said for more sanctions on North Korea.

But she also focused her time, Anderson, on that interview that we've been talking about on state television in Russia that Donald Trump gave. She was asked about that and she was walking away from the podium, she came back to answer the question and this is what she said.


REPORTER: Secretary Clinton, do you have a response on Donald Trump appearing on Russian-funded television?


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Every day that goes by, this just becomes more and more of a reality television show.

[20:05:08] It's not a serious presidential campaign. And it is beyond one's imagination to have a candidate for president praising a Russian autocrat like Vladimir Putin, and throwing his lot in with him in the way that he has approved of his wish list and not even really understanding what Putin has already done like invading and occupying Crimea.


ZELENY: So, clearly using that answer as another avenue for her to question Donald Trump's judgment. Anderson, she's been doing it all week long as they've been having a running audition for who would be the better commander-in-chief here, with the national security suddenly front and center in this race, with some 60 days to go before Election Day.

COOPER: And, Jeff, it's interesting. I mean, Secretary Clinton there again taking questions. It seems like she's taking more questions this week than she has over the last year, certainly.

ZELENY: Anderson, you're right. By our tally, that is certainly true. She did it today in New York, yesterday in front of her campaign plane, and the two days before that, as well.

And when you ask her advisers why that is, they believe this is a new moment, but they also know this race is tighter than they had hoped it would be and they believe that it is time for her to be on offense. And if she is answering some of these questions, yes, the criticism that came up in the month of August about how she's sort of hiding and gone away, and it also gives her an opportunity to prosecute her case against Donald Trump, again, focusing on everything he says.

So one adviser tells me that she's going to now try and do a rebuttal for virtually everything he says going forward. She's also trying to do a bit more of a positive message on her own. We're going to see speeches next week on the economy and national service and other things.

But in this, by taking questions, you saw her walking back. She wants to engage in Donald Trump. She's trying to keep those voters who have skepticism about him skeptical and she believes that by engaging now, it's the best way to do it. Perhaps she wishes she would have done it before, but now she certainly is -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Jeff, thanks very much.

It's been a question that's been lingering for months and one just you heard Sunlen Serfaty talk about is Russia behind cyber attacks on the Democratic Party, in the election registration websites? It depends, of course, on who you ask.

As we mentioned in an interview that aired on Russian-backed television, Donald Trump said he thinks it's probably unlikely that the Russia is involved.

But CNN has learned FBI and Justice Department officials there is strong evidence that Russia is responsible, that's according to law enforcement and intelligence officials.

Now, as we mentioned, Trump said this a few days ago that Putin is a stronger leader than President Obama and Trump's running mate is rallying behind that sentiment.

He said this to our Dana Bash.


GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country, and that's going to change the day that Donald Trump becomes president of the United States of America.


COOPER: Whatever you make of Donald Trump, hard to get a handle on his comments on Vladimir Putin. He's given praise publicly and it seems to be reciprocated.

Tom Foreman tonight reports.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even as the Russian- staged military exercises in Crimea on land it annexed despite international outrage, Vladimir Putin is basking in praise from an American presidential contender.

TRUMP: He is very much of a leader.

FOREMAN: Donald Trump's most recent compliments came on NBC's Commander-in-Chief Forum.

TRUMP: Now, it's a very different system and I don't happen to like the system, but certainly in that system, he's been a leader. FOREMAN: The Trump-Putin bromance has been brewing for months. Trump

admiring Putin's military moves in Syria in support of the Assad regime which the U.S. opposes.

TRUMP: And he frankly wants to fight ISIS and I think that's a wonderful thing.

FOREMAN: Trump seemingly inviting Russian hackers to go after his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

TRUMP: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.

FOREMAN: Trump and his running mate, Governor Mike Pence, both praised Putin's, quote, "strength", but to some that strength looks awfully close to authoritarianism. Putin has cracked down on gays and lesbians in Russia, outlawing so-called gay propaganda, Russia says, to protect children.

Despite that, Trump cites Putin's popularity.

TRUMP: Well, he does have an 82 percent approval rating.

FOREMAN: That number came from Russia's only independent polling company which Putin just shut down ahead of looming elections. And as to the dismal state of Russian journalism, with dozens of reporters killed in mysterious circumstances under Putin's reign --

TRUMP: I'm totally against that, but I do hate them.

FOREMAN: Putin speaks well of Trump, too, saying he is a brilliant and talented person.

[20:10:02] And despite all the controversy, Trump appears pleased.

TRUMP: When he calls me brilliant, I'll take the compliment, OK? The fact is, look, it's not going to get him anywhere.


FOREMAN: But that is the question. Would Trump's admiration for Putin give Moscow too much sway in Washington? Critics fear it certainly would and maybe already has.

While Trump says he is opening up new channels of communication with an old adversary from which everyone can benefit -- Anderson.

COOPER: Tom, thanks very much.

Joining me to discuss it all, CNN political commentator and Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord, former CNN Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty, who is a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Tony Schwartz, who is the ghost writer for Donald Trump's "Art of the Deal" and supports Hillary Clinton.

Jill, do you believe that Vladimir Putin is playing Donald Trump or at least attempting to play him?

JILL DOUGHERTY, FORMER CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: You know, Anderson, I think he understands him pretty well. After all, remember, when Vladimir Putin was a KGB agent, part of his job was to recruit other people to really understand, to get them to understand him immediately and then, sometimes, you know, maneuver, play with them, play to them.

And so these comments like Donald Trump is bright, you know, interpreted as brilliant. It actually meant kind of flashy and colorful, these are all meant, I think, to, you know, set up Donald Trump, to believe that the relationship can be good, but I think that Putin understands Trump a lot better than Trump understands Putin.

COOPER: So was that actually a translation mistake that it wasn't calling him brilliant? It was saying, the word was actually bright as in flashy?

DOUGHERTY: Oh, totally. Oh, yes, the word in Russian is yarkiy. And yarkiy means bright, but it's kind of like the lights were bright. It's not intelligent. It has nothing to do with intelligence.

It's kind of like, oh, he's a colorful character. I mean, that's the best way I would translate it.

COOPER: Tony, what is it that you think about Donald Trump's personal they makes him respond to Putin like this?

TONY SCHWARTZ, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: Well, he is at heart a deeply, deeply insecure man and he is a sucker for flattery, and he is -- he reveres -- and let's not kid ourselves -- he reveres authoritarians because he dreams of being one.

COOPER: Jeffrey, do you think there's any truth in that?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I don't. The other thing I find absolutely amazing, Anderson, Mollie Hemingway had a great piece today noting four years ago when Mitt Romney said that Russia and Putin were a geopolitical threat, President Obama mocked him and said the '80s are calling. They want their foreign policy back.

You know, President Reagan had a very tough relationship with the Soviets, but he was the first to go on Soviet television in 1986 and address the Russian people. I mean, I just find a lot of this silly.

SCHWARTZ: Oh, come on.

LORD: Very political.

SCHWARTZ: Let me just say this to Jeffrey. You don't know Donald Trump very well. How much time have you spent with him? I lived with him day and night for 18 months. I know this man.

Here was one of his favorite phrases. "I love that guy. He's a killer. He's a killer." You don't know him. You -- anybody who does know him well knows who

Donald Trump is, and no one who knows him well would doubt that to be a dictator and to be able to control everything would be his dream come true.

COOPER: Jeffrey, there have been some Republicans who have been concerned, particularly early on of some of Trump's staples sounding like doing things by executive fiat at the very least.

LORD: Well, you mean like President Obama who says he has a phone and a pen? I mean, this kind of stuff has been going on -- if you want to go down that direction, that's what the entire Obama administration has been about.

SCHWARTZ: Jeffrey, why don't you talk about your own guy? Why don't you talk about your own guy? Stop talking about Obama? What about Donald Trump? This is a man who wants to be a dictator.

LORD: Tony --

COOPER: Let him answer.

LORD: I am trying to answer Anderson's question and I am saying we've already seen hints of this with President Obama. Heavens, there have been articles out there for years that he's a wannabe fascist, for heaven's sakes.

You know, I just think his is ridiculous. Donald Trump, of course, has talked about how you need to work with Congress and not sign executive orders and run the government by executive order. He's talked about working with Congress.

COOPER: He has said also --

LORD: There is a constitution out there, Tony, whether Barack Obama and my Democratic friends want to recognize it or not.

SCHWARTZ: I'm not sure what Donald Trump knows what the Constitution says. I can tell you this, he's never read it because he doesn't read anything, as you know. He's not a person who reads. So the notion --

LORD: Tony?


LORD: Tony, let me just suggest something to you, when Franklin Roosevelt was elected president the people who knew him best who went to school with him and voted against him said one classmate wrote, "I can't understand all this fuss about Frank." In other words, they didn't get it.

The American people saw something in Franklin Roosevelt that the people who knew him best didn't get. I would suggest we've got the same --

SCHWARTZ: Jeffrey, you don't know this candidate so you're making statements based -- you don't know him personally, do you? You've spent almost no time with him.

LORD: Tony, I haven't spent nine years with him? No. Is that what you're asking? Do I know him? I certainly know him.

More to the point, Tony, this is about the American people's judgment of Donald Trump and they're in the process of making it. The Republican Party, millions of voters nominated him for president.

SCHWARTZ: Here's what I would say.

LORD: Case closed.

SCHWARTZ: Here's what I would say, Jeffrey, do the American people want someone who has already said he wants to abridge free speech abrogated?


SCHWARTZ: Stop with you mean like this or that? That's so silly. That's ridiculous. Talk about this man. What we're being asked to do.

LORD: Tony, the basis of this is that you're a liberal and you don't like the guy's politics.

SCHWARTZ: It has nothing --

LORD: Let's be honest about it.

SCHWARTZ: It has nothing to do with that. I don't like his character. I stood with this man --

LORD: OK, don't vote for him.

SCHWARTZ: Of course, I'm not, but I'm here to tell America that he is not the person who they think he is. If they want a dictator, if they want a person who does the kinds of things Putin does they should vote for Donald Trump. I'm encouraging people who want a dictator to vote Donald Trump. Everybody else should not.

COOPER: We're going to continue this conversation in just a moment. We're also keeping an eye on Pensacola, Florida, where Trump is speaking at a rally tonight that's getting under way.

Also ahead, the U.N. Security Council calling an emergency meeting after North Korea claims a successful test of a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on ballistic rockets. What we know about it when we continue.

TRUMP: We're going to bring back common sense. We are going to bring back something that the country has not had in a long, long time. We are going to start winning again.


[20:20:52] TRUMP: For all Americans, Democrats, Republicans, independents, conservatives, liberals, even liberals who failed us in this corrupt, corrupt system, we are fighting --

COOPER: Donald Trump speaking live to supporters in Pensacola, Florida. We are keeping an eye on that, seeing if he brings up the back and forth about Russia and Vladimir Putin. We've been talking about it. As we reported, Hillary Clinton today joining in the chorus of voices, singing and kind of incredulous that Donald Trump has been praising Putin.

With me again is Trump supporter, Jeffrey Lord, former CNN Moscow bureau Jill Dougherty, and Tony Schwartz, who is the ghost writer for Trump's "Art of the Deal."

Jill, let me ask you, how are Donald Trump's comments about Putin actually playing in Russia?

DOUGHERTY: Oh, they're all over the map. I mean, they are ecstatic and I would have to say the coverage of what Donald Trump says actually, the things that come out of his mouth are -- play very well with what the Kremlin says, and so they don't even have to bring up their own propaganda or media strategy or whatever.

They just use the quotes by Trump and then it plays very well. NATO is weak. Obama's a wimp. We should let Russia have influence in where it wants to. You know, things that ultimately are what Vladimir Putin wants, but they're coming out of Donald Trump's mouth.

I mean, I remember an old phrase in the Soviet days, it was called a useful idiot. (SPEAKING RUSSIAN). Useful idiot, and they are people who mouthed what somebody else is saying, let's say the leader of another country or whatever, not knowing what they're actually saying, what the result of what they are saying is.

So, these are parroted back and accepted by the Kremlin and used in their media to great success. I mean, Donald Trump has become just a very popular guy because he says exactly what Putin himself says.

COOPER: Jeffrey, you talk about Ronald Reagan a lot who confronted the Soviet Union time and time again, not just directly and with his words, but on the growth fund all around the world. That was U.S. foreign policy.

And Donald Trump, I mean, seems to be embracing Vladimir Putin and seems to -- his claim that he had a relationship with Vladimir Putin and under questioning of George Stephanopoulos became clear and he's never actually met Vladimir Putin, he's never actually talked to him on the phone, just by saying that they had a relationship and then, he asked, you know, how do you define a relationship?

Do you -- I mean, I don't -- I'm not sure I see the comparison to Reagan in that have you heard Donald Trump in any way sort of talk tough to Vladimir Putin?

LORD: Well, I -- I think -- I mean -- I've heard him talk repeatedly about peace through strength which is exactly Ronald Reagan's mantra, and let's remember that all of my liberal friends of the day of the 1980s were criticizing Ronald Reagan for not talking to Soviet leaders. He used to joke, well, they keep dying on me. He never got together with a leader of the Soviet Union until he was in office five years.

So, yes, he was very tough on him when he needed to be, but he was also very open to a relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev.

COOPER: But you never really heard Ronald Reagan praising how authoritarian or how tough the leaders of the Soviet Union were. I mean, they were certainly tough leaders you could say --

LORD: Well, I mean, this business about leadership, Anderson, leadership is an interesting term. I mean, there are some pretty bad people in history who were, quote/unquote, "leaders". They took their countries and the world in the wrong direction, but they certainly led them there.

COOPER: Why praise that form of leadership? That's what I don't understand.

LORD: I don't think he is praising it.

SCHWARTZ: Well, he has praised him.

LORD: I think he's simply saying that the Russian people see him as a leader.

[20:25:00] I mean, he is a leader.


COOPER: Tony, go ahead.

SCHWARTZ: Yes, he says he sees him as a leader. He admires him. He's the one that thinks it's really, really important that he has high approval ratings, 82 percent approval.

Well, guess what? If your life is at risk when you say that you don't approve, you're going to approve. There seems to be no understanding on Trump's part that we are talking about a despot and dictator.

LORD: Whoa, whoa, Tony, let me ask you this -- let me ask you this, if this was the case then why was poor Mitt Romney mocked for saying these very same things that you're trying to say in 2012.

SCHWARTZ: Mocked for what?

LORD: I mean, Mitt Romney made this case, and he was mocked by President Obama, by the Democratic Party, by "The New York Times." they said oh, you know, that's just old stuff. This is a new era.

So, you're saying the Obama administration has failed in its foreign policy.

SCHWARTZ: You know what? I'm not a political commentator. I am an observer of a man, of a particular man whose judgment and character I have come to -- came to understand very, very deeply. And what I know about Donald Trump is that he likes tough guys, authoritarians, dictators, despots because that's what he aspires to. That's what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a character issue here, and that's a terrifying thought for every American including those who support Trump right now that the guy they support, when he takes office will use every possible means to consolidate his power so that he can make decisions.

Jeffrey, as you know -- as you know, he has made the statement I -- "only I can solve the problems." That's the statement of a singularly self-absorbed thinker.

COOPER: Jeffrey, I want you to respond ask then we've got to go.

LORD: Ii just think, Tony, with all due respect. That's silly. You oppose him politically, I understand that.

But the American people on the Republican side have come to their own conclusion about Donald Trump. They've made it. It's done. He's the nominee of the Republican Party.

SCHWARTZ: It's done?

LORD: And a lot of people want to vote for him.

COOPER: We'll see what happens some 60 days from now.

Jeffrey Lord, thank you. Tony Schwartz, good to have you on, and Jill Dougherty, as well.

LORD: Thanks, Anderson. Thank you, Tony.

SCHWARTZ: Thank you, Jeffrey, Jill.

COOPER: Well, much more ahead, including North Korea's nuclear test, the underground blast was equal to a magnitude 5.3 earthquake. Why this blast was creating a lot more worry than the previous four have.


[20:31:36] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN AC360 ANCHOR: As we said at the top of the broadcast North Korea conducted another underground nuclear test possibly twice as powerful as its last one. It happened overnight. Reaction from world leaders was swift and harsh. The U.S. presidential candidates also weighed in.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDTE: I think it's clear that the increasing threat posed by North Korea requires not only a rethinking of the strategy, but an urgent effort to convince the neighbors, most particularly China that was not just a U.S. issue.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was announced that North Korea performed its fifth nuclear test, its fourth since Hillary Clinton became secretary of state. It's just one more massive failure from a failed secretary of state.


COOPER: North Korea conducted the test on the 68th anniversary and the founding of the government and just hours after President Obama wrapped up the final Asian tour of his presidency. Barbara Starr tonight has the latest.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: North Korean state TV announcing the nation's fifth nuclear test, the second test this year potentially it's most powerful yet. The regime claims it tested a nuclear warhead that could be tested on a missile that could some day hit the U.S.

SEC. ASHTON CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The international community, United Nations Security Council and especially the other six-party powers must hold North Korea accountable for this latest act and heighten the pressure on North Korea.

STARR: A U.S. official tells CNN, North Korea has embarked on a rapidly developing and increasingly successful nuclear and missile test program, this time more than just worldwide condemnation.

In Tokyo, patriot missiles continue to sit outside the Japanese Defense Ministry ready to shoot down any possible North Korean missile. The South Korean government immediately gathered as South Korea's president Park called Kim Jong-un's regime, "fanatically reckless".

KIM HONG-KYUN, SOUTH KOREA SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE (Through Translation): This is a significant threat to world peace and security, and puts the Korean peninsula into a security crisis.

STARR: President Obama issuing an unusual long statement calling it a "grave threat" and with a very precise warning to Kim Jong-un that the U.S. maintains "the commitment to provide extended deterrents guaranteed by the full spectrum of U.S. defense capabilities."

That full spectrum language is reminding Kim that the U.S has its own nuclear weapons to protect Japan and South Korea. The test comes amid increasing numbers of successful missile tests, meaning if North Korea did successfully test a nuclear warhead the regime is now on the path to a nuclear attack capability.

BRUCE KINGNER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: They clearly have a nuclear weapon. It's just a question of how many missiles they've been able to make it to.

STARR: President Obama says the world will not accept a nuclear North Korea, but even as the United Nations met to discuss potential new sanction, there is no agreement on what would stop Kim short of military attack.

The Pentagon may decide to send ships and aircraft to the region as a symbolic show of force, but the sheer size of this latest nuclear test has unsettled governments around the world.

[20:35:08] KINGNER: Another nuclear test by North Korea is worrisome and quite dangerous. Some experts are saying that it could have been 10 to 20 kilotons. That's significantly larger than previous nuclear tests.


COOPER: Barbara Starr joins me now, along with Gordon Chang the author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On The World", he's also a columnist for the "Daily Beast".

Barbara you talked about the idea of sort of a symbolically sending ships. Any idea of how soon that could happen and what sort of, I mean impact of any that actually?

STARR: Well, sources are telling me that, you know, that kind of discussion is always going on. When it comes to North Korea, there's always options on the table. If they do this, what does the U.S. do in response? So they're always ready for that sort of thing.

There are a number of ships in the aircraft that are maintained out in the far pacific routinely. But now with this, the discussion inside the administration is do you in fact make a show of force. Or is he so unpredictable right now, Kim Jong-un, it's better to see if he can get the Chinese in to then they'll talk to him. Or try something on diplomatic fund. It's just very uncertain.

COOPER: Gordon, the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, our Christopher Hill was on CNN today. And he was talking about that saying that the U.S. should look at the nuclear program in North Korea and, "What direct means we can take to either slow it down or kill it".

Which was a very strong language. How likely -- you know, what are the options?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR OF "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES THE WORLD": You know, that was an extraordinary interview because Chris Hill was very much a dove when he was in the Bush Administration and for him to talk or at least to affirm military options really are striking.

You know, I don't know if there's really a military option on the table at this point. But there are so many things that we can do short of that. So, for instance, we haven't been enforcing sanctions.

The administration has no secondary sanctions on China. And will you need to impose costs on Beijing because that's the really the only way that you can get them to be cooperative on North Korea.

COOPER: And why doesn't Gordon -- and why doesn't Beijing see this as -- as their problem, as well? I think -- I mean a nuclear North Korea?

CHANG: Well Xi Jinping, the Chinese's ruler, views the U.S. as his primary strategic adversary across the board. So he's not going to help the United States on anything even if it's in China's interest. And besides, you know, every time North Korea acts up we run to Beijing, we ask for help.

You know, it gives us another reason to be cooperative with China. It distracts us from things we want to do in the region and certainly it keeps us off balance. So you know, if -- you know, North Korea didn't exist, China would have to invent it. It's that beneficial for them.

COOPER: Barbara, Hillary Clinton saying that we actually have more leverage with the Chinese than we think.

STARR: Well, I think I agree with Gordon. I think everything we're hearing in Washington from government officials is they at least hope so. I mean there isn't really an option because if you're going to go the other way. If you really, you know, went the awful route of military action against the regime. You know, what would happen?

The thinking is that Kim does not really want to attack the United States. Because he knows retaliation would be massive. He knows he and his regime would be obliterated. So that's part of the message that the administration is certainly sending. So that the alternative is diplomacy, working with the Chinese, incentivizing the Chinese, how do you get them off dead center right now?

And I think Gordon would agree, one of the big unanswered questions, is it possible that the Chinese are actually helping them a bit with this ...

COOPER: Is a, how in control is Kim Jong-un and how much of a rational actor is he? I mean a -- you know is one thing off. He doesn't want his own regime to be eliminated but that implies that he is rational in his thought process. In the way he views himself and his regime.

CHANG: Well I think that he's rational but I also don't think he has a firm grip on power as most people think he does. You know, the U.S. intelligence community said that he quickly consolidated his grip after the death of his father in December 2011. But we've seen so many executions of senior officials and now high-level defections that neither regime right now is fluid and because of that, Kim Jong-un has a very different risk calculation than we do. He views the world in much different terms and so therefore, you know, what we think he should do -- he's doesn't look at it that way.

COOPER: Interesting. Gordon Chang, thank you so much and Barbara Starr, as well, thank you so much.

More breaking news tonight. But on another foreign policy front. The United States and Russia have reached a deal on the cease-fire in Syria. Secretary of States, John Kerry and the Russia's Foreign Minister announced the multi-step plan in Geneva. The pack calls for the Syrian Government and the opposition to respect in nationwide cease-fire starting at sundown on Monday. If that truce holds for seven days and humanitarian aid can get in, the U.S. has agreed to begin coordinated air strikes with Russia against a greed terrorist targets in Syria.

Just ahead, back to the campaign trail here at home where newly released photos show how Chummy Bill Clinton once was with Donald Trump and his then girlfriend Melania. That was back in 2000, now she could be obvious of there person -- the next first lady.

[20:40:05] Many questions are being asked about why she's keeping such a low profile since the Republican convention when it's crunch time for her husband?


COOPER: More proof tonight that the long and winding history that the Trumps and Clintons share is certainly complicated. The Clinton Presidential Library has released almost two dozen photos of Donald Trump socializing with Bill Clinton in 2000 at the U.S. Open Tournament with Trump's then-girlfriend Melania and sports illustrated swimsuit model Kylie Backs. They look like they're having a pretty good time.

Other photos taken at a political fund-raiser at Trump Tower. Of course a lot has changed since them to put it mildly. The Trumps and Clintons aren't exactly hanging out these days, trading verbal punches is more like it. Except for Melania Trump who hasn't been seen much in public since July.

Randi Kaye tonight reports.


MELANIA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S WIFE: My parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That was the last time Melania Trump said anything on the national stage, July 18th at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Why the silence since? Perhaps it has something to do with the blowback after her convention speech. Part of it had been plagiarized from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech.

[20:45:08] MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF UNITED STATES: The only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them.

M. TRUMP: The only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.

KAYE: The Trump campaign denied she copied a word. Instead, a Trump staff writer said it was all her mistake, and with that, Mrs. Trump quietly disappeared from the public eye. She hadn't even been seen on the campaign trail in nearly two months until this week in Philadelphia when she attended her husband's national security speech.

Has Melania Trump just been busy at home caring for the couple's young son Baron or is there something more going on here? After all, she's come under scrutiny for more than just her convention speech. Her website was taken down after it came to like that there was actually no record of her earning a college degree even though her website claimed she did.

And what about her path to citizenship? That, too, became an issue after the "New York Post" published nude photos of Melania Trump taken in the United States in 1995, but she told CNN she came to the U.S. as a Slovenian immigrant in 1996. Even with her husband's central issue being illegal immigration, no one from the Trump campaign has provided any record of how Melania Trump obtained legal status here.

In an interview earlier this year, Melania told Anderson Cooper she obeyed the law.

M. TRUMP: I came here on visa. I flew to Slovenia every few months to stamp it, and came back. I applied for green card and then after few years for citizenship.

KAYE: That only adds to the confusion though. Since the proper visa Melania Trump would have needed to work legally in the U.S. as a model would not have required a stamp every few months. In fact, it wouldn't require a renewal for at least three years. Melania recently took to Twitter to in her words set the record straight. Writing she has been at all times in full compliance with the immigration laws of this country. Mr. Trump addressed the issue last month.

D. TRUMP: By the way they said my wife Melania might have come in illegally. Can you believe that one? Let me tell you one thing, she has got it so documented.

KAYE: At that time, Donald Trump promised his wife would address the immigration controversy in a news conference, but one month later and still no date has been set. With just two months until the election, it's usually all hands on deck including spouses, though nothing indicates Melania Trump will be returning to the trail any time soon.


COOPER: And Randi joins me now. I mean given that we're 60 days or so before this election I would find it highly surprising if they decided to have a news conference about, you know, Melania Trump's immigration issue.

KAYE: Yes, I think you're probably right. I mean he -- Donald Trump had promised it would happen. He mentioned this in the news conference and he said that she would address her legal status and her path to immigration here in the U.S. but that was a month ago today, Anderson. We haven't heard another word about it. So of course that's not surprising.

But he also said look, let it simmer and let's sit on it for a little bit. He seemed to be, you know, enjoying all he reporters' questions about it. But as you said, it's a month away, it's unclear -- two months away for the elections and its unclear if that news conference will happen before then. Then clear is she'll hit the campaign trail again. Before then, but this is a critical time but also as you know, she's always been the reluctant campaigner staying home with the son Baron. So she seems to just be sitting it out this point.

COOPER: All right, Randi Kaye. Randi thanks very much.

Up next what second graders think of the presidential race. They're not old enough of course to vote but they sure do have some opinions on the candidates and what the winner should do. You may wish one of these kids was on the ballot, their thoughts when we come back.



[20:52:37] D. TRUMP: ... United States do something that was great and you put your chest out and you said that's great. When does it happen?


COOPER: Donald Trump speaking to supporters in Pennsville, Florida right now, his second campaign stop today. He and Hillary Clinton just about everywhere, just about everyone seems engaged in this election, even kids. They are watching and as only kids can do, absorbing it all, and forming their own opinions.

Gary Tuchman spoke to a group of youngsters who weren't shy about sharing their thoughts on the presidential candidates. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I point to it we can read it together.

GARY TUCHMAN: This is a two-room schoolhouse in Corolla, North Carolina, one of the smallest public schools in the state. The Water's Edge Village School.

And this is the whole second grade class. Nice to see you. Do you know that we are electing a president of the United States in this country right now?


TUCHMAN: You do? Do you know who's running for president?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

TUCHMAN: And who's Barack Obama, by the way?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama is the president right now.

TUCHMAN: So why isn't he running?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he already had two times.

TUCHMAN: How old do you have to be to vote? Do you know? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to be 18 or up.

TUCHMAN: 18 or up. Are any of you 18?



TUCHMAN: Oh I mean, how old are you?












TUCHMAN: 6. Well 7 is the lucky number at this table. Have you heard anything on T.V. about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?


TUCHMAN: Do you know they yell a lot?


TUCHMAN: You do know they yell a lot at each other?


TUCHMAN: Why are they yelling at each other, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they're mad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because they don't want the other person to win.

TUCHMAN: What do you think Donald Trump does for a living?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Building. TUCHMAN: Buildings, right. He made a lot of his money building buildings, like big buildings well-known buildings. And you know what, he says he has billions of dollars. Isn't that amazing? Do you know how much a billion is?


TUCHMAN: A billion is a thousand million.


TUCHMAN: What would you do with that much money, with billion dollars?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Buy a Bugatti Veyron.

TUCHMAN: Buy a what?


TUCHMAN: A Bugatti, is that a car?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Bugatti Veyron.

TUCHMAN: I don't even know what that is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the fastest car in the world.

TUCHMAN: So do you think it's time for the United States to have a lady president?



TUCHMAN: You do?


[20:55:00] TUCHMAN: I mean I'm not going to ask if you think Hillary Clinton should be that lady or not, but do you think that's an important thing for the United States to have a lady president?



TUCHMAN: Do you think it's an important thing for the United States to have a kid president?



TUCHMAN: No? Like maybe someone who's 7 years old in second grade.



TUCHMAN: What's wrong with that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't know how to do it.

TUCHMAN: Do you know who Hillary Clinton's husband is?


TUCHMAN: Who's Hillary Clinton's husband?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wasn't he one of the presidents?

TUCHMAN: He was one of the presidents. His name is Bill Clinton. So if Hillary Clinton would win, Bill Clinton would be the husband of the president, that's kind of unusual, right?



TUCHMAN: What would be the best thing to do if you were president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep the laws how they are.

TUCHMAN: Keep the -- so you're happy with the laws?


TUCHMAN: OK. What if we didn't have a president? What if we just all made our own decisions? Would that be a good thing or bad thing?






TUCHMAN: Bad thing, why do you think that would be a bad thing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it would start out really crazy and terrible and we would have car crashes.

TUCHMAN: We'd have car crashes. If Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were sitting on this bench with me, what would you say to them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say -- well, actually I would faint.

TUCHMAN: You would faint? That's an honest answer. It's been great meeting all of you. And I hope that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton come to your school some day so they can hear from some smart kids. So thank you very much.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're welcome.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're welcome.



COOPER: Smart kids indeed. A program note, this Sunday at 9:00 a.m. eastern, don't miss the CNN exclusive interview with Hillary Clinton on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Terror and national security will be the focus, that's Sunday 9:00 a.m. at noon eastern.

Still to come in the next hour of "360". Donald Trump campaigning in Florida, key battleground state. He continues to come under fire for praising Russia's President Vladimir Putin. I'll ask one of his senior advisers about that and much more.


D. TRUMP: ... very, very high price, for our country and for the world. Her policies ...