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Trump Says He Believes Putin Over U.S. Intel Community; Moore: I Am Not Guilty of Sexual Misconduct; Tracking Down Russian Oligarch Tied to Manafort, Putin; North Korean Citizens React to Trump's Taunts; Melania Reflects on Her First Year as First Lady; Double- Amputee Veteran Runs 31 Marathons in 31 Days. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 11, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Is that really the position of President Trump this evening?

In a series of astonishing statements today, the President repeatedly seemed to take the Russian leader's side over America's own intelligence community. The President told reporters, quote, every time Putin sees me, he says, I didn't do that. And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.

It's a pretty safe bet that every U.S. intelligence agency also meant it when they concluded that Russia did meddle in last year's election with the goal of help being then-candidate Trump win the White House.

Today, the CIA is defending that finding, telling CNN, quote, the Director stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 intelligence community assessment entitled, Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections. The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed.

Quite an evening. CNN's Sara Murray in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. The President on his 13-day Asia trip.

Not only do we have this to cover, Sarah, but now some absolutely extraordinary statements from the President. We'll get to that in a second. First, Russia.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John, we are fully amid a presidential tweet storm in what is morning here in Hanoi, and I will get to that in a second.

But as you pointed out, the President -- President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin did manage to have a couple more informal chats on the sidelines of this APEC Summit when they were in Da Nang, Vietnam before they moved over here to Hanoi.

They talked about a number of issues and apparently, Russian meddling also came up. And afterwards, President Trump's takeaway is that Russia insists they didn't do it.

Putin insists he didn't do it, and President Trump made clear he was inclined to believe Putin over his own U.S. intelligence community's assessment. So he took to Twitter to elaborate on that meeting, saying, when will

all the haters and the fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing? They're always playing politics. Bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine terrorism, and Russia can greatly help.

President Trump went on to slam President Obama as well, saying, President Obama had zero chemistry with Putin.

Of course, intelligence officials would argue that a foreign government interfering in America's democratic process, also a bad thing for a bad thing for our country, John.

BERMAN: All right. We're going to talk much more about that with our guests in just a moment, but first, Sara Murray, North Korea, a nation with nuclear weapons. The President made a statement moments ago with the words, Kim Jong-un, short and fat, all in, you know, 280 characters or less. Do tell.

MURRAY: Well, look, if President Trump toned down his rhetoric when he was in South Korea talking about Kim Jong-un, it is clear he now feels liberated in Vietnam. So let me just read you the latest from President Trump.

He says, why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me old when I would never call him short and fat? Oh, well, I try so hard to be his friend, and maybe, someday that will happen.

Now, the state media in North Korea did issue some scathing statements from Kim Jong-un in the wake of President Trump's visit to South Korea, but perhaps one of the biggest successes of this trip is we haven't seen a North Korean missile test since the President has been abroad.

But it's clear President Trump is back to his good old taunts on Twitter, John.

BERMAN: All right. Sara Murray in Hanoi. Sara, thanks so much. I do want to note, the President will get a chance to speak out loud, not just on Twitter. In a few minutes, he's going to hold a joint press conference in Vietnam.

In a couple of hours, he will take questions. No doubt he will get questions on Russia, also maybe on this new statement on Kim Jong-U.N. as well. That's about 10:20 Eastern Time. You can see that on CNN.

Again, President Trump says that he believes that Vladimir Putin believes it when he says that the Russians did not meddle in the U.S. elections. U.S. intelligence agencies say differently, as do many U.S. officials.

This is what CIA Director Mike Pompeo, the national -- and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray, three people that the President handpicked, have publicly said about Russian meddling.


MIKE POMPEO, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: I am confident that the Russians meddled in this election, as is the entire intelligence community.

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS HOST: Is there any dissent within the intelligence community that you oversee on the question of whether the Russians interfered with the American election?

HON. DANIEL COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: There is no dissent, and I have stated that publicly.

HOLT: Everyone's on board.

COATS: And I stated that to the President.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR OF THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: I have no reason, whatsoever, to doubt the assessment of the intelligence community.


BERMAN: I want to bring in our panel right now. Joining us from Washington, CNN contributor and "Washington Post" writer Adam Entous and CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin.

And, gentlemen, thank you so much for being with us.

Adam, look, I want to start with the obvious here. It goes without saying that the President has now taken a different position than his entire intelligence community. Not his, the entire intelligence community.

They say that Russia meddled in the election. They say it was done to hurt Hillary Clinton and really help Donald Trump. They say that Vladimir Putin knew it.

[20:05:04] And today, Donald Trump is saying, you know what, Vladimir Putin says they didn't. There you go.

ADAM ENTOUS, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. So you can understand this has been obviously something that has been very hard for President Trump. And when he was President-elect and when this information about the intelligence community's assessment began to leak out in December, he also took a very hard line and disputed it. There is a, you know, consistency here.

He, at different times, says that he doesn't dispute it. And then at other times when he's pressed on it, he does because, obviously, it raises questions, at least in his mind, about his legitimacy, which he seeks to address by questioning the intelligence community.

And also, in addition to appearing to take Putin's -- Putin at his word, he does lash out at former intelligence officials during the Obama administration, accusing them of being political, even though his own choices for those same roles have backed the intelligence community's assessments.

BERMAN: You know, Josh Rogin, John McCain came out with a statement on this just a short time ago.

He said, there's nothing "America First" about taking the word of a KGB colonel -- he means Vladimir Putin -- over that of the American intelligence community. Vladimir Putin does not have America's interests at heart. To believe otherwise is not only naive, it also places our national security at risk.

Your response?

JOSH ROGIN, GLOBAL OPINIONS COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. No, it's clear that President Trump doesn't understand the true character of Vladimir Putin and the regime that he runs.

And that is causing President Trump to make totally wrong conclusions about why -- about why Vladimir Putin says things and does things. And then that leads him to pursue strategies in dealing with Russia that are unlikely to get the result that benefits American interests and defends American national security.

You know, it's a straw man argument to say, oh, of course, we should have good relations with Russia. Everyone thinks it would be great to have good relations with Russia.

The question is, can we get there without, first of all, dealing with Russian interference in our election, and also Russian interference in elections all over the world and Russian interference in Ukraine and Crimea and Syria and all of its other bad activities?

And the answer is, we can't. So what McCain and a lot of others are pointing out is that, you know, President Trump's efforts to mend relations with Russia are destined to fail because he doesn't understand what Russia is doing. And what Russia is doing is combatting U.S. power and influence in theaters all over the world.

BERMAN: You know, Adam, Josh just said that the President is bringing up a straw man. Let me read you what he wrote tonight on Russia because he has been making statements now in advance of his news conference where you, no doubt, will be asked about this.

He said, when will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing? They're -- and he misspelled they're. They're always playing politics. Bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine terrorism and Russia can greatly help.

You know, Josh brings up a point, it's a straw man. It may not be mutually exclusive to say you want to have a diplomatic relationship with another major power, while at the same time saying, you know what, I believe the intelligence community when they say they meddled in our election.

ENTOUS: Right. I mean, you can sort of -- I think you can really understand Trump's frustration. I mean, he campaigned on this -- on the goal of having detente, to having a closer relationship with Russia, particularly on counterterrorism efforts.

And obviously, this -- the Russia story, you know, the allegations about Russia's interference in the election, the findings of the intelligence community about that interference, plus the allegations that are being investigated by the Special Counsel about any possible coordination with people associated with Trump in that effort, that has obviously made it virtually impossible for Trump to pursue what is actually a legitimate policy objective, which may not be the same policy objective that Hillary might pursue -- Hillary Clinton would pursue, if she had won the election.

But he has been -- he was consistent and has been consistent in saying that he's wanted to work together, particularly on terrorism issues. And there's no question that he has been unable to do so as a result of the political atmosphere.

That any move he makes to reduce sanctions or do anything else that would give Russia some of the things that it's seeking in order for its cooperation, he can't do because it looks like he's doing so in some sort of payback. Or raises additional questions about whether or not he's somehow beholden to the Russians per some of the allegations that are out there.

BERMAN: Josh, I want to read you the statement the President just made moments ago about North Korea one more time here to get your take on it.

Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me old when I would never call him short and fat? Oh, well, I try so hard to be his friend, and maybe someday that will happen.

[20:10:00] When I first heard this, again, this is just from 21 minutes ago at this point. At first, I thought, well, is he trying to take the focus off of the statements he made about Russia so reporters in this news conference will have something else to ask?

Or is it that he is trying to provoke Kim Jong-un, maybe, into doing something, you know, silly? Or is it because, in some ways, he seemed to hold his fire on the North Korea front when he was in South Korea?

What's your take?

ROGIN: I think it's that last one. I mean, we can't really know what's in President Trump's head, but the best take of people, both in the Asia watching community and inside his own administration, is that when the President does things, it's mostly from a lack of self- discipline and a personal annoyance that Kim Jong-un is saying something bad about him.

And the reason that's so destructive is because, as you pointed out, he spent this whole Asia trip reorienting America policy towards North Korea. He said let's make a deal. He provided an opening. That opening gives space to his diplomats who have been working diligently, behind the scenes.

There's a really good article in "The Washington Post," that I wrote, all about what they're trying to do to avoid war and get to talks. And it's contingent upon him not upsetting the apple cart by getting into some sort of rhetorical back and forth for no reason, which seems to be exactly what he just did.

There -- you know, some people will say, oh, it's a mad man theory, and they're playing good cop/bad cop. But the mad man theory only works if you're doing it deliberately, OK?

BERMAN: Right.

ROGIN: If you're just mucking around on Twitter while your diplomats are trying to avoid a conflict, there's no way that that could be helpful.

BERMAN: Adam Entous, every time I see you, I assume that the minute we get off camera, you're going to go break a major story.

I won't ask if that is, in fact, the case, but I do want to ask, you know, the status of the Mueller investigation right now and whether or not the President's statements about Russia, you know, play or have any interaction with that investigation.

ENTOUS: Yes. I don't think know. I mean, I don't think his comments that he just made about his meeting with -- meetings with Putin would have implications.

I think some of his earlier comments that he made after the plea agreement was unveiled involving George Papadopoulos, former campaign adviser who, you know, Trump then belittled and tried to make it sound like he was very much kind of, you know, carrying the coffee at most, I think those can be interpreted as an effort to intimidate potentially.

And that is -- that's something that might be more relevant to the prosecution down the road. But, you know, his comments about Putin and him dismissing and taking, maybe, Putin's -- taking him at his word is rather consistent with what Trump has said in the past.

BERMAN: I will note, there is an interesting article about George Papadopoulos in "The New York Times" today, a competing paper. But usually, Adam's got all the good stuff.

Adam Entous, Josh Rogin, thank you so much for being with us. I appreciate it, guys.

And one quick programming note, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will be Jake Tapper's guests in "STATE OF THE UNION" tomorrow, 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

President Trump called both of them political hacks today to reporters. This will be a chance for them to respond.

Coming up, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore discusses the allegations of sexual misconduct against him of a 14-year-old girl. He is accused of sexually molesting a 14-year-old girl. He calls it a desperate attempt to stop his political campaign. What else he had to say, coming up.

Plus, President Putin and powerful Russian billionaire side by side at this summit in Vietnam. He's not just an oligarch. He's connected to Paul Manafort, and CNN asked him about just that.


[20:17:44] BERMAN: All right. Judge Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama, says he is being personally attacked. This comes after some shocking accounts of sexual misconduct involving teenage girls that allegedly happened many years ago.

Four former teenagers say that he pursued relationships with them. One, who was 14 years old at the time, says that he sexually molested her.

Earlier today, Roy Moore said that none of the allegations are true and that those making them have clear motivations.


ROY MOORE, ALABAMA REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR THE UNITED STATES SENATE: "The Washington Post" established -- or published, rather, yet another attack on my character and reputation in a desperate attempt to stop my political campaign for the United States Senate. These attacks involve a minor, and they are completely false and untrue.


BERMAN: All right. CNN's Alex Marquardt in Birmingham, Alabama right now.

Alex, give me a sense of the situation on the ground. What are you hearing from Roy Moore supporters?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're hearing a tone of defiance, both from Roy Moore and from his supporters. This is what you just played there. And what we heard today in his first public comments was a full-throated rejection of these allegations.

They see it as a smear campaign launched by who knows. Maybe it's these women. Maybe it's the Democratic Party. Maybe it is establishment Republicans. But they see this as an effort to derail Roy Moore's campaign in the weeks ahead of this special election.

Now, we're hearing more and more out of Washington, D.C. from more and more Republican senators that they want him to step aside. This is not someone who has ingratiated -- who has done well, who has become successful, and who has become popular because he has ingratiated himself with the likes of Washington, D.C.

This is someone who is seen here as a fighter, as a brawler, as an antagonist. Someone who has twice been removed from the state's Supreme Court where he was Chief Justice. And so this is someone who his supporters say is being tarred and

feathered, and they don't believe these allegations. And until they see proof, they say, they want him to stay in this race. And they believe he can win it, John.

BERMAN: Also interesting, Alex, there are starting to be accounts of people who know Roy Moore or worked with Roy Moore during these years. What are you hearing?

[20:20:10] MARQUARDT: That's right. One account in particular, from a woman named Teresa Jones, who was the Deputy District Attorney at the same time that a young Roy Moore was the Assistant District Attorney in his early 30s. So this was in the late '70s and early '80s.

Teresa Jones spoke with CNN today, and she told us, it was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls. Everyone we knew thought it was weird. We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall, but you really wouldn't say anything to someone like that.

She's saying it was common knowledge, which means there's the potential for more people to come out with some sort of allegations, which could pose a huge problem for the Moore campaign. But for the time being, they are standing firm, and there is no indication that they are pulling out of this race, John.

BERMAN: All right. Alex Marquardt for us in Birmingham, Alabama. Alex, thank you so much.

Let's bring in our panel right now. CNN's senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein, and senior writer for CNN politics, Juana Summers.

Juana, I want to start with you because we do have a little bit of breaking news this evening. Bill Cassidy, the senator from Louisiana, just pulled his support for Judge Moore and the language he used, I think, is pertinent to the discussion we're having here.

He says, based on the allegations against Roy Moore, his response, and what is known, I withdraw my support.

Interesting language from Senator Cassidy because this is different than we have heard from, say, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, who say, if the allegations are true, then Roy Moore should leave.

Bill Cassidy says he's seen enough, he's not supporting him anymore.

JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: Absolutely. I think the language, John, is incredibly important here. Make no mistake, this is a seat that Senate Republicans see as critical to keeping their Senate majority in the years to come, so they care a lot about this.

But what we're hearing from Senator Cassidy and a number of others is that, you know, they've heard enough. They've seen enough. That if there is this account of this woman who was 14 years old at the time, they seem to be indicating that they believe Moore could come out, and so they're taking their distance from this.

What remains to be seen, though, is what the voters of Alabama will do if Roy Moore does not decide to step aside ahead of the election in December.

BERMAN: Well, that's the key question, Ron Brownstein. You know, does one Bill Cassidy, 10 Bill Cassidys --


BERMAN: -- a hundred Bill Cassidys, post-Mitch McConnell in Washington, do they matter to Roy Moore or voters in Alabama?

BROWNSTEIN: I don't think they matter to Roy Moore. I think they will matter to some voters in Alabama, and they would certainly matter after the election.

I mean, the Senate with a two-thirds vote can expel a member. And it's hard for me to imagine that if Roy Moore wins this election, that the Senate can avoid having a full-scale investigation and a full- scale debate on whether he should be expelled from the body.

I mean it has rarely happened. Fifteen times, I believe, in Senate history, almost all of them connected to the Civil War, but it is something that, I think, is unavoidable.

And this does not go away for Republicans, if he wins. And, you know, morally, I think -- what's really striking to me about the Cassidy tweet is that he cites the response from Roy Moore, right, yesterday with Sean Hannity.

I mean, Sean Hannity did not exactly press him to the max. He did not do a Tim Russert or Mike Wallace impersonation, but nonetheless, you know, he -- Roy Moore did not dismiss, out of hand, the idea that he was dating teenagers.

He dismissed the specific allegation of the 14-year-old. He did not offer a very stern defense. And, of course, now, you have this further corroborating testimony from people who were there at the time.

BERMAN: Yes, and that's just one and that's just today. Will there be more?

Juana, one of the interesting notions posited in "The New York Times" today -- Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin are saying that there are some Republicans who want to see the Governor in Alabama postpone the election. That it might be legally possible to push back the date of the election, maybe get more time for a write-in candidate to succeed, more time for Roy Moore to get pushed out.

Hugh Hewitt, you know, a conservative, you know, radio talk host, pushing this notion also. Do you think that there's any likelihood that these extreme measures will be taken, or how would they be received?

SUMMERS: So far, there are no indications that the Governor plans to do that. In fact, in that same article, there's a suggestion that that would not happen.

I think that -- you know, Alex Marquardt in Alabama made this point. You know Roy Moore is someone who has risen to prominence, who is beloved among Alabama, for his staunch opposition to the status quo.

If you look at his record, even though he has made some outrageous statements in the past regarding African-Americans, LGBT people, things that have no -- and he is still beloved among a number of people there.

I think that you would see a lot of people while the -- certainly, if the story is true and the things that these women have said that he did are abhorrent, but I think that there are a lot of people in Alabama, you know, who will stick by Roy Moore, who want to go out and cast their vote for him despite the -- these horrific allegations still.

BERMAN: All right. I promise I want to come back to Alabama, but I would be remiss if I did not talk about some of the news of the last few minutes, which is that President Trump has been making statements, this time about North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

And I want to read you this latest one, Ron Brownstein.

[20:25:03] BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

BERMAN: Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me old when I would never call him short and fat? Oh, well, I try so hard to be his friend, and maybe someday that will happen.

Now, Ron, we're friends.


BERMAN: Full disclosure, the first time I read that, I chuckled.


BERMAN: Then, though, you kind of take a step back and you remember, well, he's talking about a guy who has nuclear weapons potentially. Is this something that's very smart?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I think, you know, the question answers itself in terms of diplomacy. Just think about it politically, though, as well.

Look at what happened this week. Republicans in Virginia, New Jersey, the suburbs of Philadelphia, the suburbs of New York City, all the way to the suburbs of Seattle, were buried in a suburban tsunami from White-collar -- largely White voters who don't like Donald Trump.

And a big reason they have turned off Donald Trump, why his approval rating among them is so much lower than his vote was among them, is simply because of the way he behaves as President.

There are policy objections, sure, but the root of the problem is a sense that he is not personally fitted for the job in temperament, judgment, values, and behavior.

And so every time, I think, this happens now, post-Virginia, the idea that Trump is -- that President Trump is existing in some separate orbit and that voters dissatisfied with him will be less likely than earlier generations to take it out on elected officials of his party, I think that idea was pretty well blown up, John, this week.

And I think for Republicans on -- looking at these kinds of tweets, they are fingernails on the blackboard counting down toward 2018.

BERMAN: You know, Juana, we expect this on a Saturday night, but we can have a pretty good preview of what the Sunday morning shows will be like tomorrow. And I'm not so sure it's what the White House or, certainly, Republicans leaders would have wanted.

They have Roy Moore. They have, you know, what's going on in Alabama. You know, every Republican that sits down for an interview over the next 24, 48 hours will be asked about this.

And now, they're all answering new questions about Russia. New questions, but in some ways the same questions, which is why won't the President say or admit, you know, to the fact that the Russians meddled in the election?

Tomorrow, Jake -- our friend, Jake Tapper, has got -- you know, got James Clapper and John Brennan on tomorrow to respond to the President's statement. In some ways, the President keeps on pushing these discussions, which I'm not sure do him any political favors.

SUMMERS: You're absolutely right, John. You know, this is a pattern that we've seen with this White House time and time again. You know, this was a very high-stakes trip for the administration to Asia. Nearly two weeks.

And when we could be talking about the type of high stakes diplomatic work that's going on there, instead we're talking about 280 characters or less comments from the President about the stature and appearance of a world leader who, as you mentioned, has access to nuclear arms.

So once again, seeing the President kind of distract from the work that's being done in the White House, instead we're having this conversation about his temperament and his tone, certainly not helpful for some of the big discussions, high stakes events, going on right now.

BROWNSTEIN: And, John, even the story of this trip, though, I think is not necessarily a helpful narrative for the administration because I think it is going to be seen as a moment where the world was moving on from America.

Where the President, abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade agreement, the other nations announcing a tentative agreement to move forward without the U.S. China moving forward on its own trade agreements in the region.

I mean, it is a moment where, as "The Washington Post," I think, correctly put it, people are going to question whether "America First" in fact means "America Alone."

BERMAN: Ron Brownstein, Juana Summers, thanks very much.

And, of course, the President will be speaking himself about two hours from now, and CNN will be taking that live. He'll have a chance to answer some of these questions himself.

Coming up, the Russian billionaire with ties to Paul Manafort at Vladimir Putin's side today. CNN caught up with the powerful oligarch and asked about his relationship with the President's former campaign chairman. You're not going to want to miss this.


[20:33:07] BERMAN: We have a CNN exclusive. One of Russia's wealthiest businessmen with ties to former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort was by Vladimir Putin's side today.

His name is Oleg Deripaska. And tonight, he faces growing questions amid the Russia investigation here in the United States. CNN's Matthew Chance tracked him down.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Arriving at the APEC Summit, Oleg Deripaska walked side by side with the Russian President, a sign of how close he is to Vladimir Putin. And reminder of why Deripaska's business relationship with Paul Manafort --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Manafort, did you commit a crime?

CHANCE (voice-over): -- Trump's now indicted former campaign chairman is so controversial.

CHANCE (on camera): Mr. Deripaska, it's Matthew Chance from CNN. And is it true that Mr. Manafort owed you millions of dollars when he was the head of the Trump campaign? Mr. Deripaska?

Did he offer you at least private meetings so that he could try and repay that debt?

CHANCE (voice-over): He clearly doesn't like it, but his connections with Manafort have thrust this magnate into the spotlight.

Oleg Deripaska made his fortune in the metal ore industry. And with the chaotic collapse of the Soviet Union, at one point, he was Russia's richest man.

ERIN BURNETT, CNBC HOST: How did you get there so quickly? Because nobody understands that, and I think that's why they say there's got to be something shady here. How did it happen? OLEG DERIPASKA, RUSSIAN OLIGARCH: You just need to be prepared to

work 15 hours a day and take responsibility, you know, on a lot of things.

CHANCE (voice-over): Deripaska's rocky relationship with Paul Manafort began more than a decade ago. One of their ventures was a plan to invest in Ukraine.

Deripaska sent Manafort millions of dollars to buy a telecommunications firm, according to court documents. But by 2014, the deal had broken down and Deripaska wanted to know where all his money had gone.

[20:35:05] In a court petition filed in the Cayman Islands to retrieve the cash, Deripaska's lawyers said it appeared Manafort had simply disappeared.

The court documents also names several shell companies controlled by Manafort into which cash from Deripaska is said to have been paid, raising concerns that Manafort was heavily in debt to the Russian oligarch.

Those same shell companies appear in the recent Mueller indictments, which asserts they were also among those used by Manafort to loan the money and conceal his work for pro-Russia figures in Ukraine.

There are also concerns about more recent contacts between Manafort and Deripaska. A spokeswoman for the Russian billionaire has rejected allegations first reported by "The Washington Post" that Manafort offered Deripaska private briefings while he was Trump's campaign chairman.

Mr. Deripaska never received any communication about it, she told CNN. Manafort's spokesman told "The Post" that any briefing offered on the state of the campaign would have been routine but that no briefings ever took place.

But the reports have fueled speculation of secret contacts between the Trump team and Russians with close Kremlin ties, which the Trump team deny.

CHANCE (on camera): Were you a secret back channel from the Kremlin to the Trump campaign, Mr. Deripaska?

Mr. Deripaska, why won't you answer the questions?

We tried to get an interview with you properly, sir, and you keep walking away.

CHANCE (voice-over): Deripaska's ties to the Kremlin have, at times, seemed strained. At the height of the global financial crisis, President Putin publicly scolded the billionaire, impatiently tossing him a pen as he ordered him to pay his workers.

But Russia also issued Deripaska with a diplomatic passport. For years, he was refused a visa to the United States over concerns, according to one former U.S. official involved in the process, about his alleged links to organized crimes, money laundering, and financial fraud.

His spokeswoman told CNN that Deripaska has, quote, never been convicted nor accused of any crime anywhere in the world. But she added, he does confess to the currently serious crime of being Russian.

CHANCE (on camera): It's a big issue in the United States, sir. Did he offer you those private briefings to try and repay some of that debt to you? Is that why he offered them?

DERIPASKA: Get lost, please. Thank you.


BERMAN: Get lost, please. Matthew Chance says, no, not ever.

All right. Our thanks to Matthew for that.

Coming up, alternate universe. After President Trump taunts Kim Jong- un's regime and criticizes life in North Korea, we have exclusive reaction from inside North Korea where people tell CNN that life there is great.


[20:42:07] BERMAN: All right. Moments ago, President Trump openly mocked the leader of North Korea. This is what he wrote.

Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling him old when I would never call him short and fat? Oh, well, I try so hard to be his friend, and maybe someday that will happen.

Perhaps the most eye-opening thing there is he said, I try so hard to be his friend. The President has painted a dystopian picture of life inside North Korea, calling it a country ruled by a cult.

CNN's Will Ripley is the only western journalist in Pyongyang, and he got exclusive reaction from citizens there.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In North Korea where the news is under strict government control, state media gave only a brief mention of President Trump's speech at the South Korean National Assembly. No details of his scathing indictment of North Korean human rights and harsh words for their Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Despite heavy restrictions on the flow of information, our government guides allow us to tell Pyongyang citizens exactly what Trump said.

That's absurd, says housewife Ri Young Hui.

RI YOUNG HI, HOUSEWIFE, NORTH KOREA (through translator): The reality here is very different. We are living a happy life and we enjoy exclusive rights.

RIPLEY (on camera): When you say you have rights that people don't have outside of North Korea, what do you mean by that?

RI YOUNG HI (through translator): One example is our outstanding leader, Marshall Kim Jong-un, she says. He's leading us to a better future. Trump has no place to talk about human rights. He's a simple war maniac.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Her answer echoes North Korea's leading newspaper, which called President Trump's words, quote, warmongering, filthy rhetoric, spewing out of his snout like garbage that reeks of gun powder to ignite war.

Ri Won Gil is an editor at a publishing company. I asked him about President Trump's claim that North Korea is a failed state where most live in poverty, drawing a stark contrast to their neighbors in the South.

RIPLEY (on camera): Why do you think that South Korea's economy is so much larger than North Korea's? Do you agree with President Trump that it's your government's policies that are to blame?

RI WON GIL, MEDIA EDITOR, NORTH KOREA (through translator): He knows nothing at all about this part of the country. Here, we have free education, housing, medical care.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Ri was raised an orphan. His parents died serving the government. Now, he has a cushy job in the showpiece capital. The United Nations says most North Koreans live without regular electricity, clean water, and nutritious food.

RIPLEY (on camera): What about people who don't live here in Pyongyang, people who live out in the countryside?

RI WON GIL (through translator): We're building our economy, even under the sanctions and economic blockade by the Americans. And even in Western countries, there's a big difference between life in the capital and small towns.

[20:45:06] RIPLEY (voice-over): On 17 trips to North Korea, I've never heard anyone criticize the government. There is zero tolerance for dissent of any kind.

Defectors testifying to the U.N. often paint a much darker picture of life inside North Korea. But here, no deviation from the party line. They say this country is not hell, it's home.

Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang, North Korea.


BERMAN: Our thanks to Will Ripley for that report.

Coming up, first lady Melania Trump speaks exclusively to CNN about her trip to Asia in this whirlwind last year on the job.


[20:50:09] BERMAN: These are live pictures of the presidential palace in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. Shortly, President Trump will arrive there for a meeting with the Vietnamese leader.

He will also hold a joint press conference. We will bring that to you live when it happens at about 10:20. There are a series of questions now to ask the President about some of his recent comments about Russia, and also on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Now, he is there; first lady Melania Trump, she's home. She wrapped up her first official trip to Asia.

For the first part of the journey, she was with the President. But then she travelled without him across the region, including a trip to the Great Wall of China. That's where our Kate Bennett spoke with her for an exclusive CNN interview.


KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: How are you feeling, one year into this role as first lady? How has that been for you? Has it been what you expected?

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it's my honor to be a first lady of United States. And it was very busy year, and we love to live in Washington. We have very busy life, and it's exciting as well. And I'm looking forward to work on behalf of the children.

BENNETT: Great. And any frustrations or anything that has been unexpected or surprising for you?

M. TRUMP: It's a -- it's very exciting life. And it's a lot of things that you need take care of, a lot of responsibilities. And it's part of being the first lady.


BERMAN: All right. Joining me now, CNN White House reporter Kate Bennett who has travelled thousands and thousands and thousands of miles to be with us tonight.

Talk to me about the first lady's trip to Asia. You know, how was it received?

BENNETT: It was received very well. I mean, it was largely ceremonial. She was at the President's side a lot of the time. I think, like we see here at home with the first lady, she really sort

of warms up and comes alive when she is not with the President, when she is around children. Which is, I think, why perhaps she's made it her platform.

I think there two important things to know about Melania Trump, one year into this. One is that her platform and her -- the things she has said about are sort of fly in the face of her husband.

I mean, she's talking about teaching children compassion and anti- bullying and inclusion and, you know, practicing kindness. And I think those are all things she's doing naturally for herself sort of without understanding -- or without knowing or caring, really, about what the President's perceived personality is.

I asked her straight up. I asked her communications director. Does she feel the need to reconcile her platform with the behavior of her husband? And I was told absolutely not. She is independent. She acts independently. That's something new for a first lady.

BERMAN: Really. And, look, it's a message that is a positive, important message, completely independent of anything else that might be happening around here.

On your interview on the Great Wall, which is fascinating to watch, she said, it's been a very busy year, a very busy life, which seemed like the understatement of a century here.

BENNETT: Yes. I mean, listen, this is a woman who, if you had told her several years ago, even, that she was going to be first lady of the United States, I think she would tell you herself she wouldn't have expected it, right?

So this is a completely new role. Politics wasn't really in her orbit. She is an immigrant. She is a mom. She keeps a relatively low profile, and she's somewhat mysterious.

And she's still very private. However, CNN did a poll this week, and Melania Trump's popularity, her approval rating, is at 48 percent, which is four points higher than it was just in September.

She's the only Trump family member person that we polled whose points are actually going up in that direction. So she is still compelling and interesting. And I think, as she takes on more and more with this platform of helping children, we're going to see and hear more from her.

BERMAN: Well, you know, on that platform, I think everyone wishes her the best of success.

Kate Bennett, thanks so much for being with us. Thank you for the herculean task of traveling from round the world to be home here this evening. Thank you.

BENNETT: Sure. BERMAN: All right. Coming up on this Veterans Day, one former

Marine's -- or one Marine's incredible journey across 31 cities in 31 days.


BERMAN: All right. One Marine meets a remarkable goal on this Veterans Day.

Today, in Washington, double-amputee Rob Jones completed the last of 31 marathons in 31 days.

That's right. The retired Marine Corps sergeant has competed in one marathon a day over the past month from London to Boston, from Houston to Denver. He set out to raise money for a group of charities for wounded warriors, and so far, he has raised more than $125,000.

Rob lost both legs in Afghanistan in 2010, but it never slowed him down.


SGT. ROB JONES (RET.), UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS: My objective with the 31 marathons in 31 days is to just get a story out there about a veteran that went to Afghanistan, had a traumatic experience, came back, you know, minus two legs, but was still able to find my new way that I was going to contribute to my country and my society and keep fighting for my brother veterans.


BERMAN: Since his injury, Jones has won a bronze medal in the Paralympics. He biked 5,200 miles of cross-country and climbed 104 flights at it Freedom Tower here in New York.

That's all for me this evening. I'm John Berman.

Up next, Bill Weir explores the Amazon and Machu Picchu for a brand new episode of "THE WONDER LIST: PERU." Don't miss that.

And as we say goodbye, I want to show you live pictures from Hanoi in Vietnam. This is the presidential palace there. You can see the band starting to play.

[20:59:59] President Trump arrives there shortly. Then at 10:20, a joint news conference. CNN will bring that to you live. Stay with us.