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Jerry Lewis Dead At 91; North Korea Warns Of "Merciless Strike" At Any Time; President Trump To Address The Nation Tomorrow On Afghanistan; 3-4p ET

Aired August 20, 2017 - 15:00   ET



[21:00:40] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hello, thanks very much for joining us. I'm Jim Sciutto in today for Fredricka Whitfield. And we are following breaking news today, the sad news. The comedian Jerry Lewis, dead at the age of 91.

Best known for iconic movies like "The Nutty Professor," for all the signature slapstick characters during his run with Dean Martin. He was also -- and this is very key, a humanitarian.

He hosted the annual muscular dystrophy telethon for many years, decades in fact. A true legend that will be remembered by his fans and entertainment and by the many children whose lives he touched.

Larry King sat down --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was born Joseph Levitch in 1926 but he became known to the world as Jerry Lewis. The zany but lovable fool in films such as "The Bellboy" and "The Nutty Professor." Lewis hit at big at age 20 when he teamed up with another young entertainer, Dean Martin.

JERRY LEWIS, COMEDIAN: Dean was the virile macho and I was the monkey, and I knew we had lightning in a barrel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Martin and Lewis became one of the most popular comedy teams in history. Thousands of sold out performances, 16 hit movies and dozens of radio and T.V. appearances.

On his own, Lewis signed a seven-year $10 million contract with Paramount in 1959. At that time, it was the largest contract ever between a studio and performer.

Lewis went on to acting or direct shows and movies for several decades. He later offered this advice to fellow entertainers.

LEWIS: Be a hit, score. Get the audience laughing and happy. That's the secret of success in this business.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He didn't just make audiences laugh. Lewis used his fame to make a difference, taking up the fight against muscular dystrophy.

For more than four decades, his annual Labor Day Telethons helped raised more than a billion dollars for research and treatment. And almost always ended with his signature song, "You'll Never Walk Alone".

LEWIS: Walk on with hope in your heart and you'll never walk alone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lewis struggled with his own health problems over the years including prostate cancer, type 1 diabetes, pulmonary fibrosis, and heart disease.

LEWIS: It's been a long, long, grueling ride. I've ingested more than 24,000 pills.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But through it all, he kept his sense of humor.

LEWIS: You better laugh at it, because the alternative is not funny.


SCIUTTO: Well, another legend, Larry King, sat down multiple times with Jerry Lewis. Take a look at his recount of the breakup of that famous comedy duo, Martin and Lewis.


LEWIS: Without dean, I'd have been back doing a record act. I was only good, because he was there. I was only good, because he was the centerpiece.

This isn't false modesty. It happens to be the truth. I'm a brilliant comic when I had my partner standing there. The proof of that is, I wasn't quite the same when he wasn't there.

Now, when you dig that deep to be that honest, people have to keep to listen to you. He was the most brilliant comic mind and body.

LARRY KING, TALK SHOW HOST: So you broke it up?

LEWIS: I certainly broke it up, because it was time that he got his own, and, of course, at the time, I wanted to go on my own. And I said to him the day we discussed it. I said, Dean, let's not do what Joe Lewis did. Let's not get knocked out of the ring, let's quit while we're champs and we decided that was really the best thing for us.

Though we hated one another for a good year because we allowed the break, because that didn't came from another emotional place, but we did the right thing. We knew we did the right thing. For him and I, and everyone involved.


SCIUTTO: Larry King joins us now by telephone. Larry, thanks so much for taking the time. I know that through your many interviews with him you developed a personal relationship and I'm curious.

We spoke a short time ago to Penn Jillette of the famous comedy duo Penn and Teller, and he said that Jerry Lewis was bigger than the Beatles.

Place Jerry Lewis if you can in the pantheon of comedy and acting greats.

[15:05:04] KING: Jerry Lewis was incredible. He was a master of physical comedy. He was a kind of genius director.

"The Nutty Professor", that film "The Nutty Professor" can be shown for eternity as a masterpiece of acting and directing. He had a special quality. Jerry grew old not too gracefully, he get angry easily. I've known him for 40 years.

I'm the Dean of the famous flyers club in New York and Jerry as we have it, or what's we have it, sad to say, "was." But his telethons, his ability to embrace sick children. I never forget my late wife, Alene, the mother of Chaia and Andy, met him once year and years ago in Miami, and she said to him, thank you for the laughter of my childhood. I never forgot that.

Jerry Lewis knew how to make people laugh. He was extraordinary, and a hell of an actor. He did a couple, "Law & Orders" one of which got him an Emmy.

You had to be around him to see his genius and his perkiness and his ability to do site gags, and their in-person act. Martin and Lewis was the best in-person comedy act you will ever see, ever see.

SCIUTTO: At points in his career and their careers as they were together, he was the biggest comedy star, one of the biggest movie stars in the world. Put that into some context for us. Is there anyone today who can match that in terms of the appeal, the audience that he commanded? The fame he commanded at his peak?

KING: Well, that's a good question. In comedy, I can't think of anyone. I -- he was huge. I mean -- there was no one bigger -- no one -- there's no team bigger than Martin and Lewis.

Of course, we had Abbott and Costello, and other great comedy acts, but nothing can compare to Martin and Lewis. They worked off each other. Dean was very funny, and a great straight man. Jerry was a very accomplished singer, knew music well.

They blended well together and when they both -- when they got together with Frank Sinatra after they had broken up, Sinatra bought Dean Martin, as a surprise, to the muscular dystrophy telethons. And when he walked on -- I think you must have a clip that somewhere.

When he walk on when Frank Sinatra brought Martin on and looked at Lewis and they stood back. They haven't been together for a couple of years, the audience went crazy and Jerry Lewis said, are you working? And it just a beautiful line. . The pictures where you see him very overweight there, that's when he had that really bad illness and they had him on prednisone. In the prednisone you gain a lot of weight. At the end of his life he was very, very slim.

He'd lost a lot of height. He used to be like 6 '3", I think Jerry was -- at the end, was like 5 foot '9. But there'll never be another Jerry Lewis and you asked if anyone today is that big, the answer is unequivocally, no.

SCIUTTO: I want to ask you one more thing because it would be miss. It wouldn't be a complete biography not to mention his charity work. For all of those decades, Jerry's Kids, their support for muscular dystrophy.

You know, I asked his publicist just a short time ago, if he ever explained to her why that was such a key part of his life and she said no. She said it was very private to him.

Did he ever talk about that with you? About his dedication to Jerry's Kids as we knew them?

KING: I could never get him to answer that. He was -- in a great interview, he was very responsive, but on that question, why muscular dystrophy? He never would give an answer and I have no idea.

I -- that telethon started in New York, and he did it with a radio host named Barry Gray, and Dean Martin did the first one with him, in New York only. It was just a New York City telethon and then it became, of course, worldwide.

But, never explained why muscular dystrophy and I guess that mystery went with him to the grave.

SCIUTTO: Well, Larry King, thank you so much for your thoughts there. I know you had the honor of interviewing him so many times, built a relationship through the years. We appreciate it. Thanks for coming on.

[15:10:06] We have as well on the phone Carol Burnett, a comedy legend in her own right. Who knew and worked with Jerry Lewis through the years.

Carol Burnett thanks so much joining us. If I could just ask you now --


SCIUTTO: -- what do you remember most about him?

BURNETT: Well, I was so thrilled -- actually, it was back in the covered wagon days when I was doing "The Garry Moore Show" and he came on, and I was in awe of him. But he made me feel better. I mean, we were going to do a sketch together, and I mean, wow, you know, he was one of my favorite comedians ever when he and Dean were together. And -- so we did this very funny sketch where we were these two nerdy, rich kids, whose fathers want them to get married. And it was a very funny sketch, because we were all -- we were both nerds and Jerry was just fabulous to me.

So, years later, when I had my own show, we invited Jerry to come on and he did, and we repeated that sketch, and he was absolutely hysterical. He could do things with his body -- I mean, he wasn't short, really, you know, but he would create the type of character and then he wants to get across and his voice could go up several octaves when he's supposed to be scared or insecure.

And, you know, that moment in the sketch where we both started to dance as we were getting to know each other. Well, he had the audience -- I mean, our audience was just dying with laughter, because he did such wonderful things with his body and anyway, I miss him.

As I've said, I saw him the last time, I was really thrilled when he asked me to present an award to him from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. And that was in the 2000 -- three years in 2014, and we sat together, it was a luncheon.

And he was delightful, and -- one other thing, I don't know when he was doing my show, he (INAUDIBLE) when it came to remembering numbers versus during rehearsals. He would ask several of our dancers and crew members what their social security numbers were. And they would tell him, he wouldn't write anything down and the next day he come in to rehearsal, he say, hi, 478-35746.

He remembered everybody's social security number. He had that kind of a brain, and he was very sweet to me. He -- I had heard at one point a long time ago where he had been quoted saying women can't be funny.

Well, he certainly didn't feel that way around me, and I heard him complement Lily Tomlin and Madeline Kahn. So I don't know where that came from, maybe he changed his mind. But it's a sad day.

But -- what a wonderful legacy Jerry Lewis leaves for all of us. You know, in his films and television appearances and all, we can still go back there and laugh. You know, he provided belly laughs, and you don't get too many belly laughs nowadays.

A lot of comedy, they feel, has to be edgy, you know? But he -- his comedy holds up. Kids, grown-ups, everybody, laughs at him.

He just had that spark of genius. And I'm glad he lived as long as he did. And I think he had a wonderful life.

SCIUTTO: Well, Carol Burnett, I'll tell you, just as a fan, I watched your show so many times when I was a kid. You gave me a fair number of belly laughs as well so I --

BURNETT: Oh, thank you.

SCIUTTO: -- I appreciate that, me and my sisters, but thanks so much for your thoughts. So personal, as I -- as it seems to me having spoke to a few people this last hour, he left a very personal mark on so many beyond his comedy. So thanks for sharing those with us.

BURNETT: Well, thanks for asking me to be a part of your show.

SCIUTTO: We continue to follow the breaking news in the passing of Jerry Lewis, the comedy legend, the humanitarian legend as well. The sponsor of Jerry's Kids for so many decades, dead today, surrounded by family, we're told, passing peacefully in his home at the age of 91.


LEWIS: Atom bombs, Cape Canaveral in false alarm, half the universe is up in arms. So I flip a little tune until I'm holding you. What --




[15:19:14] SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: As we look into -- look to the future its may very difficult for this president to lead if in fact moral authority remains compromised.


SCIUTTO: The moral authority of the president compromised. That was Republican Senator Tim Scott, who's been very critical in recent days of President Trump.

Right now, the president is in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he is spending the final hours of his working vacation. CNN's Boris Sanchez is nearby in Bridgewater, New Jersey. Boris, the president returning to the White House but he's not going to be there for long?

[15:20:01] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jim. This 17-day working vacation for President Trump in Bedminster, New Jersey is almost over. He's just a few hours away from heading back to Washington, D.C. before then going on to Arizona later this week. But the White House is still reeling from the criticism that the President has received after his divisive remarks about the violence in Charlottesville last week, and we've seen the fallout not just in criticism from members of the president's own party but the implosion of the specialized councils that the president had put together on manufacturing and strategy and policy, and the infrastructure council.

We've also seen several charities fleeing events that were scheduled to be held at the president's estate in Mar-A-Lago. All of that, though, still the main focus here in Bedminster, as several people are now coming forward to defend the president. One of them, Jerry Falwell Jr., the evangelist, was actually on ABC earlier today saying that the President's response to the violence from Charlottesville was appropriate. Listen to some of what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JERRY FALWELL JR, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: The bold and truthful statements I was referring to were his willingness to call evil and terrorism by its name, to identify the groups, the Nazis, the KKK, the white supremacists, and that's something a leader should do and I admire him for that. He's substance over form.

So many of our politicians, recent leaders, national leaders have been form over substance. They tell people what they want to hear. They sugar coat everything or they have sugar coated everything. And I think the American people have gotten sort of thin-skinned and I think they need to listen to the substance of what he said.

One of the reasons I supported him is because he doesn't say what's politically correct. He says what's in his heart, what he believes. And sometimes that gets him in trouble, but he does not have a racist bone in his body.

I know him well. He is working so hard to help minorities and people in the inner cities up through -- school choice is the civil rights issue of our time. Betsy DeVos has been traveling around the country trying to promote school choice, to help inner city youth get to choose which schools they attend and not be stuck in a public school that's failing in a big city. And he's doing so many other things to bring jobs back to the United States.



SANCHEZ: Now, Falwell went on to give a very interesting answer to a question trying to clarify what the president meant when he said that there were good people on both sides referring to counter-protesters and Nazis. And Falwell said that it's very possible that the president might have specific inside information that the rest of us don't. Still unclear exactly what he meant by that.

Getting back to the president's schedule this week as he heads to Arizona on Tuesday. He scheduled to take part of some tours in Yuma before then heading on to Phoenix later on Tuesday night to take part of a rally.

Several Republicans including Ohio Governor John Kasich pleaded with the president on the Sunday morning show earlier today to be more inclusive in his language. Others, including the mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton, said the president should, perhaps delay this event in light of the divisive comments that he made, again, last week on Tuesday. Jim.

SCIUTTO: Boris Sanchez there with the president in New Jersey. Be sure to watch Paul Ryan's Town Hall tomorrow right here on CNN, 9:00 Eastern Time. And we'll be right back.


[15:27:52] SCIUTTO: A sobering new warning from North Korea today. Pyongyang saying it is ready to, quote, "mercilessly strike" at any time. This warning comes as the U.S. and South Korea prepare to begin just a few hours from now joint military exercises.

North Korea says those exercises are reckless, warning that they bring the two countries closer to nuclear war. Secretary of Defense James Mattis says there is no reason to see the exercises, however, as a provocation.


JAMES MATTIS, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: They're very transparent in what we're doing just to avoid miscalculation. North Korea knows this is a fully defensive, for whatever they may say for public consumption, they know this is a defensive exercise.

It's been going on, you know, for decades. I mean, the name has changed over the years, but it's the same exercise that's been going on. So it's calculated to not allow for miscalculation.


SCIUTTO: The U.S. military says those drills will go ahead as planned starting tomorrow, Asia time, coming tonight, U.S. time.

I want to bring in CNN's Kyung Lah who is in Tokyo, David Rohde, online news director at the New Yorker and CNN global affairs analyst, and CNN military analyst lieutenant, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, he is a former military attache in Syria.

Kyung, I want to start with you because you're in the region there where at the end of two volatile weeks at least in rhetorical terms, where the president laid out that famous fire and fury comment and you had the reactions in the region. The sort of rhetorical one-upmanship coming from North Korea threats of firing missiles towards Guam.

What is the feeling in the region right now? Are things calming down? Is there concern still about a military versus a rhetorical escalation there?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What everyone's watching for is, what are the ground troop movements? Are there anything -- does there appear to be any movement out of North Korea? That's what the region is watching for.

As far as the average person, sure there are, you know, some nerves out here from Japan to South Korea. But it's really the movement on the ground that people look for here.

[15:30:06] It is not necessarily the start of the exercises that has the region concerned, at least when it comes to the Far East from Japan and South Korea. It's whether or not North Korea responds quickly.

You know, if you look at the history of how North Korea has responded, its nuclear tests, it's launching ballistic missiles from submarines. That has been what North Korea does, and we do anticipate, if you speak to military experts, especially here in Japan, they do anticipate some sort of a response. Exactly what that response will be, you just have to wait to see, and the even if they will respond. That's really going to tell us something, Jim. If North Korea doesn't respond, then that tells us a lot about the war of words.

SCIUTTO: Rick Francona, going into these last couple of weeks there's been a lot of talk from the White House, from the president, that the president has a different approach to this. He's going to be tougher. What's the bottom line here? Is U.S. strategy actually changed with regards to North Korea?

Have they pushed North Korea somehow in a better direction than they were a couple of weeks or a couple of months ago or when the president came into office? Or are we going back into that same sort of -- I don't know if it's equilibrium is the right word, but the same back and forth that the U.S. and North Korea have had for number of years?

RET. LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, I think that's what happening, Jim. I think it's ratcheting back down and I think we saw a key move by the North Koreans when their leader decided to call off this planned demonstration, warning shots against Guam. And I think that that really started to diffuse the tension, and I think what we're seeing now is we're diffusing the crisis, but the problem is not going away.

We will continue to have this almost brinkmanship with North Korea, and the start of this exercise will be very key. (INAUDIBLE) a really good point. Let's see what happens with the North Koreans on the ground.

If they don't respond, I think that they're actually sending a signal that they really would like to lower the temperature on the Peninsula. And I think that would be probably be a wise move. And I think if you look at the U.S. portion of this exercise and it's a multination exercise. It's not just South Korea and United Stated, there are bunch of other nations as well.

This is going to be a command post exercise, where they're mostly exercising the staff functions of coordinating the various militaries of all of these countries. So we're nothing going to see a whole lot of U.S. forces and South Korean forcers moving. They'll be some of them, but very, very limited.

SCIUTTO: And we should note that these exercises happen every year, they're very regular. North Korea always makes a stink about it but the exercises tend to go forward.

David, I want to ask you this. Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist to the president in one of his quote/unquote exit interviews last week, he told a reporter that there really is no military option for North Korea. That the president was almost misleading, it seemed to be saying, Bannon seemed to be saying about there being military option. That too many millions, in his words, would die in South Korea.

Was he speaking the truth, in effect there, revealing the actual thinking, even inside the Trump administration, regarding a military option?

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFARIS ANALYST: I think he's, you know, revealing more of his own thinking. I mean, Bannon is well known for sort of a -- he did not favor interventions overseas and he was a voice against the missile strike in Syria, for example. But I do think he was just speaking for himself, but he's reflecting, you know, the view of many, many experts, and frankly the view of the South Korean government, that this sabre rattling by the Trump administration, if there actually were a use of military force it could result in tens of thousands of South Korean casualties typically around Seoul.

So, there isn't a good military option. To be fair to the administration, the statement today came from the state newspaper, not from Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea. And I think they have backed off a bit since President Trump made these much more serious threats.

And I agree with what's been said. Let's see how they respond to these exercises. If they stay quiet, that shows that this tough Trump approach might be working.

SCIUTTO: Rick, the other issue that is front and center for the White House has been a decision on an Afghan -- Afghanistan's strategy changed. Just a short time ago, General Mattis said, quote, that the president has made a decision on Afghanistan. He wants to announce it to the American people. He added that he's staying silent on exactly what that decision is and it's up to the president to announce it.

What are the options on the table for the president, Rick Francona, regarding Afghanistan? What could we see? More troops, fewer troops? What are the actual choices that the president is face here?

FRANCONA: I think that most of what they were discussing was, are we going to increase U.S. troop levels and actually put American combat forces back on the ground and change the mission of U.S. forces from the train and advise and assist into actually ground combat again. And we may see a hybrid decision, we may see American combat forces going into that, the ISIS Khorasan area, that southeast of Jalalabad, to take that out. Because I think that -- they regard that as one of the priorities of this and continue the training and assist mission.

[15:35:10] But, I think the president is going to take a really hard line on what's going on because if you look at what's going on, we've been doing this for 16 years. And what do we got to show for it? We still haven't created a credible Afghan force, the government in shambles, there's an ongoing civil war and even the secretary of defense said that the Taliban has the upper hand on the ground.

So, I think we can expect to see a decision now that American forces going after ISIS. But about anything else, Jim, I really don't know and I think we're all waiting to see how the president articulates what our policy is going to be going forward.

SCIUTTO: America's longest war and Americans are still dying there, some died just in the last couple of weeks. Rick, Kyung Lah, David Rohde, thanks very much for joining us.

The president's approval ratings plummet in three key states. Could this be a sign that he's losing support from the voters who helped sent him to the White House? We're going to talk about it. Please stay with us.


[15:40:08] SCIUTTO: Welcome back, and more breaking news now. We just learned that President Donald Trump will address our nation's troops and the American people tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern Time. This from Fort Myer, the (INAUDIBLE) river in Arlington, Virginia, to provide an update on the path forward for America's engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia.

Let's talk now with Ben Ferguson, he's a CNN political commentator, conservative radio host and columnist, and Ellis Henican, he's a political commentator. This is the issue that the president and his advisers we were told were discussing this weekend in Camp David. He had the whole team in there from Vice President Pence on down. It appears now he has made a decision.

Ben Ferguson, hard for us to telegraph or to guess what's in his mind here but this could be a very significant one. Here is a president who did not like America's foreign entanglements. It's very possible that he may be sending more troops there or deciding something different. How sequential a decision is this for the Trump presidency?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think anytime that any president is dealing with something on this type of stage, and obviously, feeling as if they need to address the people in prime time, it's very important. And I think the president here is obviously met with his team this weekend. These are issues that as an American I think we all want the president to succeed in.

I always say when a candidate, President Obama, I never wanted him to fail when it came to foreign policy, especially when it comes to men and women in uniform. So I hope that we all look at this through the eyes of maybe not politics and say, OK, this is going to be significant. Whatever it is he's choosing to say, whatever his decision is here.

I think General Kelly also probably has been pretty influential in this decision to address the country and to have some clarity. So, I hope and I pray for the men and women in uniform, that they see a strong leader tomorrow night and they see a very clear and decisive message from the president.

SCIUTTO: Ellis, this is a decision that successive presidents have had to make and made regarding both Iraq and Afghanistan. A decision to send more or fewer troops, to begin or end U.S. military engagement there. Of course, you have President Bush launching both of those invasions, later with the surge, President Obama choosing to increase forces in Afghanistan, reduce them in Iraq. With consequences, some positive, some certainly negative in both places.

As you look at this from your perch, what -- what's at stake here for President Trump and his administration?

ELLIS HENICAN, COLUMNIST, METRO PAPERS: Well, the frustrating reality is, it's a whole lot easier to get into these wars than it is to get out of them. And we now have three presidents discovering that.

If you read through the lines of what General Mattis is saying, I suppose we should steel ourselves for a sort of a modest uptick in our engagement there. Which you're right to point out in the preamble, Jim, is a different from what the president ran on, but here he is as president or his generals saying, whoa, bad things will happen if we just pull out precipitously. And so, here we are.

SCIUTTO: Now Ben, if it is -- and again, this is a big "if" that it is a modest uptick in forces there that wouldn't be too different. In fact, it'd be virtually identical to what President Obama did when he came into office and was forced to make a decision on Afghanistan.

HENICAN: Exactly, exactly.

FERGUSON: Absolutely. And I also think one of the things here is that, the president has been very clear about the threat of ISIS and making it clear that we are going to take it to ISIS. It would be, I think, very hard in that part of the world to take it to ISIS if somehow we started a pullout of Afghanistan.

This is something where I always say, politics during a campaign is a lot easier than when you get into the office and you realize whether your name is Obama or Donald Trump, the reality on the ground. And when you start getting those briefings and understanding exactly how great the consequences can be from pulling out too quickly or not having the appropriate resources and what this allow is not only Al Qaeda but also ISIS to do and operate in these parts of the world. I think you're probably pretty correct in looking at it from the standpoint of, this seems to be at least a telegraph that the president understands, if we're not involved in this part of the world, by default, we're going have to be later on.

And the more ground that ISIS and Al Qaeda gains, and more safe havens they gain, the more of a problem is not only to the U.S. but also our allies.

SCIUTTO: Well, it also then raises a question that's been consistent in Afghanistan for the 16 years of this war does it not, Ellis, as to what constitutes victory? Is it a lifetime police action in effect to prevent these places from becoming a safe haven for, first, of course, Al Qaeda was the current concern, and the sort of, follow on groups, the Khorasan group which you may remember. But in addition to that now, ISIS getting a foothold there.

What does success look like in Afghanistan? That's a question the president going to have to answer as well.

[21:45:01] HENICAN: Well, as you know, Jim, there's no satisfying result. Every scenario we can dream up is awful. And frankly, we're not the only ones to experience that. The Russians did, British did, and whoever it is that comes after us, they're likely to discover it, too.

SCIUTTO: Ben, I want to ask you this because the president is in a weakened position, in recent weeks, not just because of Charlottesville but a declining approval rating. We had a new poll out today, NBC/Marist poll showing declining support in those three key states that helped win him the election, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. We have the president question his own intelligence services repeatedly for their credibility, of course, he'd be relying on the intelligence services for part of his assessment on where Afghanistan is going and what the threat is there.

Is the president weakened as he makes a decision and speaks to the nation on an issue like Afghanistan tomorrow night as a result of that?

FERGUSON: I really don't, I don't think so. I think most Americans understand that there's a real threat. I mean, when you see just the videos that have happened over the last week with the attacks that we have seen around the world. One thing that people understand is, there is always a real threat from Al Qaeda and ISIS and other terrorist groups.

And I think when you have a president that comes out there and talks about those threats, most people just want to know, are we doing enough to protect us, to protect the homeland? To protect our men and women in uniform? To protect our way of life and our freedoms?

And I think that really the other issues don't, in my opinion, come across. It's what I said when we started out this conversation. I always rooted for President Obama on foreign policy issues that dealt with national security, because I always want America to be safe and secure. And I think a lot of Americans look at it the same way as -- you know, you can disagree on domestic issues, you can disagree on the way that he responded to Charlottesville.

But everyone seems to be on the same page that we want to have a free and safe country, and not have to be always looking over our shoulder from terrorist actions, whether it's home grown, domestic or international terrorists. And we've seen what they've been able to do around the world recently.

SCIUTTO: Ben Ferguson, Ellis Henican, thanks very much for joining us today.


SCIUTTO: And we'll be right back after this short break.


[21:51:38] SCIUTTO: Tonight on CNN, the big finale of THE NINETIES, and this one is all about the music.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me about the Seattle music scene?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With all the attention, no one's ever asked us that before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He never heard that question. So tell me about the Seattle sound. What's going on up there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's in the water?

CHRIS CONNELLY: Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, they wanted no part of the music industry machine. And yet there they were on MTV, on the charts, selling millions of records.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a little bit overwhelming to see this many people. We're used to playing small clubs, you know. And we want to go back to playing small clubs.


SCIUTTO: Cannot believe that's 20 years ago. Joining us now is the associate editor and columnist for the Boston Globe, Renee Graham. Renee, it might surprise you, our viewers that I was alive during the 1990s, I remember this music.

What -- I mean, describe for us, like put your finger on what the '90s sort of music thing was. I think people at home, they know what the '80s were, the '70s, the '60s, the '50s. Put your finger on the '90s for us.

RENEE GRAHAM, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, THE BOSTON GLOBE: The '90s to me were about the variety of the music. You know, everything was exploding in the '90s. You had (INAUDIBLE) with bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana and Soundgarden. You had hip-hop which suddenly went global with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Biggie, Tupac, Missy Elliott.

Country, you know, crossed over to the pop charts in a big way with Garth Brooks and Shania Twain. I mean, Garth Brooks was essentially (INAUDIBLE) in a cowboy hat during the '90s. I mean, that's what it was like, everything felt possible.

And, you know, MTV was really at its zenith, excuse me, at that point. So everything was getting pushed out there, and these videos were on 24-hour rotation.

SCIUTTO: You know, it's interesting, all those things you mentioned -- I mean, they're still very much alive today in music culture, right? I mean, country, pop country, I mean, it is there. It's huge.

You think of some of these artists, I mean, certainly Pearl Jam, they're still around, but hip-hop's influence -- I mean, these are things that have lasted, I mean, decades, right, since they came in the '90s.

GRAHAM: Exactly. You know -- I mean, it's -- you know, the artists have changed but the impact that these different genres had on the billboard charts are still very much there. So hip-hop, you know, now is rock and roll, it is the dominant music. But that (INAUDIBLE) comes to the fore in the 1990s, and you have albums that suddenly aren't just being played on urban radio, they're being played everywhere. And it's all different kinds of hip-hop.

SCIUTTO: Sorry to interrupt that. I was just -- we were showing another '90s phenomena there which is the Boy Band, right? I mean, probably peaked in the '90s, but it certainly not gone anywhere.

GRAHAM: Teen pop, you know, that's the original later '90s and suddenly you have this explosion of Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys NSYNC. It's all very slick, you know, a lot of these kids came from the Disney factory.

[21:55:01] And -- you know, but they were seasoned, they knew how to perform and how to get a song across. And by the '90s, you know, these albums were selling a million in their first week, 2 million in their first week. It was -- you know, it really shocked everyone in the kind of power that this music was having.

SCIUTTO: No question. As folks get ready for a Sunday night, relaxing and kicking back in watching this, what do you think people would take away from it.

GRAHAM: You know, I think everyone goes into a certain decade and thinks the music was terrible and that's why people always remember. I think this would be a good reminder there was some really powerful music that came out and great artists.

Again, Lauryn Hill, Radiohead, you know, really important artists that, you know, continued to have an impact. Whether that putting music (INAUDIBLE) by they're the specter of what they did still really cast a long shadow.

SCIUTTO: Yes, right on cue, there's Pearl Jam as well, certainly a lasting artist. Renee Graham, thanks very much for joining us. THE NINETIES, it airs tonight right here on CNN at 9:00 Eastern.


SCIUTTO: Hello and thanks very much for joining us. I'm Jim Sciutto in today for Fredricka Whitfield.

And we are following the breaking news today. We just learned moments ago that President Trump will address our nation's troops and the American people tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern from Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia, just across the river from Washington. He'll provide an update on the path forward for America's engagement in Afghanistan and the region there in South Asia.

Let's go now to CNN's Boris Sanchez. Boris, do we have a sense of where the president is going here? What decision he's made? More troops, fewer troops? What's the strategy?