Return to Transcripts main page


Bolton Lashes Out ICC; Trump to Hit Road for Campaign; Florence Gain More Strength as it Approaches U.S. East Coast. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired September 11, 2018 - 03:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: It is already dead to us. The U.S. national security adviser lashes out at International Criminal Court, slamming it as illegitimate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is it doing?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Better than I would have dreamed.


CHURCH: President Trump might be facing dipping approval ratings and a lot of bad press in Washington but supporters in the U.S. Midwest still seem to be standing behind him.

And as Idlib in Syria faces more air strikes and thousands of people are trying to escape the city to safety before an anticipated final assault.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom.

Trump administration has a warning for the world back us, not the International Criminal Court. In its speech on Monday, U.S. national security advisor, John Bolton called the court ineffective and outright dangerous. And he warned the U.S. will protect its citizens and allies from the ICC by any means necessary.

Also on Monday, the U.S. State Department announced the Palestinian delegation's office is Washington would be closed. This comes as the Palestinians prepare to take their concerns about Israel to the ICC.

The International Criminal Court is based in The Hague. Since it was founded, the court has heard cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

CNN's Michelle Kosinski takes a closer look now at John Bolton's warnings and accusations. MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we hear the

national security advisor hates the International Criminal Court for its potential of going after Americans, most recently they run up the possibility of going after U.S. service people for potential war crimes committed in Afghanistan.

But we didn't know quite how much he hates the ICC until this lengthy speech he gave today. Listen to just part of it.


JOHN BOLTON, UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court. We will not cooperate with the ICC, we will provide no assistance to the ICC and we certainly will join the ICC.


KOSINSKI: So he called the ICC unjust, illegitimate, dangerous, and assault on U.S. sovereignty and on the rights of all people. He said that the ICC is now dead to the U.S.

But what's more, he goes a step further saying that if anyone pursues Americans before the International Criminal Court the U.S. will go after them, go after prosecutors, judges, those who bring cases against Americans or its ally Israel and that could include sanctions against these people.

At one point he made the argument too that if you try to stop a country from prosecuting its own cases of war crimes, you stop that country from maturing if you take the hard decisions away from that country. And that the best people to decide whether a state has committed atrocity are people within that own state.

But he was pressed by reporters afterwards saying, well, what about countries that -- that don't have functioning Justice Departments because of the regime they have to live under? He did say, well, OK, maybe there is a role for the U.S. or some other organizations to play.

He didn't go into a lot of detail. But he tried to make every argument possible that the International Criminal Court is not effective and -- and really should not exist.

Michelle Kosinski, CNN, the State Department.

CHURCH: So let's get more on this with CNN global affairs analyst, Aaron David Miller. Thank you co much for joining us.


CHURCH: So as we just heard there, national security advisor, John Bolton calling the ICC unjust, illegitimate and dangerous and assault on U.S. sovereignty. What actually triggered this attack and what impact could this have on the ICC and its role going forward. MILLER: I mean, I suspect that the administration has been preparing

this for quite a while. In '98 Clinton -- Clinton intended to join during the Bush administration, that was rescinded, U.S. is not a member.

[03:04:55] And I suspect a number of things including the possibility of investigation of American activities in Afghanistan, of course what -- what -- since May has been a Palestinian decision to refer their punitive claims against the Israelis to the ICC in May created an opportunity for the administration to unload.

It also as you know is related at least tangentially to the administration's decision announced today by the Department of State and referred to by national security advisor to close the PLO mission, general delegation mission in Washington.

CHURCH: So it's like a preemptive strike from John Bolton, but what exactly -- he's basically saying, if you do anything like this, then we will come after you. How does a threat like that stand historically? Has anyone ever gone so far as that, and talk to us about how the ICC is likely to respond to a threat like that?

MILLER: The ICC is going to try to maintain its credibility. Whether or not any of these investigations will actually lead to criminal charges is another matter.

The administration, particularly this one has made its case against international organizations, the ones that it doesn't like pretty clear.

So I think there probably is precedence and certainly president in previous administrations for going after U.N. organizations withdrawing from UNESCO, for example, and associate organizations that were highly and very critical of the -- of the Israelis.

This is a broad -- however it goes beyond that. How the court can respond, I suspect they'll try to maintain their credibility. But as we know some of these court cases are taken or not on the basis of political calculations as well as evidence and legal claims. So how the ICC is going to respond is -- to me is not at all clear now.

CHURCH: So you say the ICC will continue being professional, doing what they plan to do, if they do decide that they will look into what they see as war crimes, with some U.S. service people, then what? How far would the United States take this, do you think?

MILLER: Well, you just heard just talking about sanctioning and additional pressure. I think it's tough to know. I mean, Nikki Hailey has threatened as we remember last fall basically to reduce the assistance to any nation that supported the actions at the U.N. that were critical of Israel.

That threat was never really followed through on because you have a lot of American allies that in fact receive U.S. assistance that are critical of Israeli behavior. You also have a number of American partners that are members of the --

of the International Criminal Court, so whether or not this is an empty gesture or threat made before the federalist society in Bolton's speech is unclear.

The gap very often leads as it pertains to the U.N. between American deeds -- American words and American actions is a pretty large one. I don't have a real sense frankly of precisely what the administration would do if the court tries to charge Americans. It seems to me that's going to be extremely difficult to do.

CHURCH: Aaron David Miller, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

MILLER: Pleasure, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, as the White House hunts for the sources of two devastating accounts of the Trump administration, the campaign to discredit both is in full force.

And with an eye on midterm elections in two months, Republicans got more bad news Tuesday. A new CNN poll showed President Donald Trump's approval rating taking a six-point dive in one month.

Jeff Zeleny has our report.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House tonight trying to move beyond a war within its own walls.


SANDERS: It's frankly I think sad and pathetic that a gutless anonymous source could receive so much attention.


ZELENY: It's the 19 days since the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders had appeared at the podium. Aides even cleaning it before she took questions in the briefing room for the first time since August 22nd.

She wasted little time blasting Bob Woodward and his new book, "Fear" that chronicles dysfunction inside the West Wing.


SANDERS: To not even take the time to get a $10 fact checker to call around and verify that some of these quotes were happened when no effort was made, it's seems like a very careless and reckless way to write a book.


[03:09:56] ZELENY: Yet, even if she tried to downplay the book it's the one-two punch of Woodward and anonymous op-ed in the new York Times that's enraging the president who called the book "A joke, just another assault against me."

A parade of top administration officials have come forward to say it wasn't them with the vice president taking the extraordinary step of volunteering to submit to a lie detector test.


MICHAEL PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would agree to take in a heartbeat.

ZELENY: Do you know if the president believes these denials that have coming in from the POTUS top advisors or does he believe that it's from within? And does he believe that lie detector test should be issued as the vice president volunteered to do?

SANDERS: No, lie detectors are being used or talked about or looked at as a possibility. Frankly, the White House and the staff here are focused on doing our jobs.


ZELENY: On the eve of the book's official release, Woodward defended his findings.


BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "FEAR": There's more untruth by him. He says all these are unnamed sources but these are not unnamed incidents. Specific people on specific dates.


ZELENY: As for the op officials who have denied specific critiques of the president from Chief of Staff John Kelly to Defense Secretary James Mattis, Woodward said this.


WOODWARD: They are not telling the truth.


ZELENY: Tonight a new CNN poll finds the president's approval rating has fallen six points in the last month and now stands at new low among independent voters, overall, just 36 percent approve of the way the president is handling his job down from 42 percent in August.

Among independents, the drop have been sharper. From 47 percent approval last month to 21 percent now. Only 32 percent find the president trustworthy. Yet nearly 7 in 10 Americans give the economy high marks. A ray of optimism for Republicans two months before the midterm elections.

The president crowed about the economy in a series of tweets today declaring it, "so good perhaps the best in our country's history." Yet, he incorrectly stately its exact strength. Writing, "The GDP rate of 4.2 percent is higher than the unemployment rate, 3.9 percent for the first time in more than 100 years."

But Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House council of economic advisers said that wasn't true.


KEVIN HASSETT, WHITE HOUSE CHAIR OF THE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: What is true it is highest in 10 years. And at some point somebody probably conveyed it to him, adding a zero to that and they shouldn't have done that. And again, I'm not the chairman of the council of Twitter advisors.


ZELENY: Now at that press briefing Sarah Sanders was ask if the White House is trying to find out who specifically wrote that op-ed. She said we are focusing on things that matter.

Of course, the president made it clear that it does matter to him. So he of course is still fuming about it. We'll see if that author is ever revealed.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: Hundreds of thousands on the U.S. East Coast facing mandatory evacuation orders, hurricane Florence is already a category four but it could strengthen in the coming days before making landfall. Plus.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it bother you that if our president is not always truthful?



CHURCH: Standing by their choice, despite relentless scandals, we will hear from some of the voters who make up President Trump's base.

We're back with that in just a moment.


CHURCH: A monster hurricane heading to the East Coast of the U.S. could intensify further, more than a million people have been ordered to evacuate along the entire coastline of South Carolina and hundreds of thousands of residents are also under mandatory evacuation orders in Virginia and North Carolina.

So let's get the very latest on all of this from our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. And this is a real concern, isn't it, Pedram because the problem is even though people are told to get out, they don't on a lot of occasions.


CHURCH: Hopefully it will happen this time.

JAVAHERI: We really hope, yes, we hope this has taken seriously. Because when you take a look at the presentation on satellite imagery and the conditions ahead of it. It's certainly is in place here to develop further strengthen potentially, and if anything at least maintain the major hurricane status over the next couple of days.

I want to show you exactly what is slightly to break down the forecast models and what the system is doing at this hour? Two hundred twenty kilometer per hour winds, gusting at almost 300 kilometers per hour, it sits out there about 1600 kilometers east of the land.

But again, the track of the system, one of the most ominous you'll see and the amount of water this is already displaced over the past several days and it will continue to do as it migrates back towards the west here, you know, a really hazardous conditions and beach erosion ad also rip currents from the Bahamas all the way up there towards portions of New England is going to be a possibility with this feature.

So not just a localized sort of a threat for the Carolinas but of course the most impactful zone will be right there across somewhere northern portions of South Carolina into much of the North Carolina and potentially up to Virginia as well.

There is the cone forecast. And we know around 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., that's generally where the best estimates are for landfall, sometimes Thursday evening. But one out of every three times we have seen storms actually exit the forecast cone zone and make landfall somewhere outside of that. So certainly that's a possibility.

Two out of three times they do stay within that boundary. So that's what we're watching.

But back in 1989 of course, a similar storm, it was hurricane Hugo made landfall in South Carolina just north of Charleston, left behind over $7 billion in damages. In fact, in 1989 it was the most costliest storm in U.S. history. It is 17th place now. So it kind of shows you what has happened since.

But the storm system again moves in a very similar sort of track, moves in to potentially North Carolina, Rosemary, and when you look at the model guidance on this confidence pretty high. The system will make landfall again somewhere around the central, maybe southern portions of North Carolina. So we have to continue to monitor this as we approach Thursday evening.

CHURCH: All right, I appreciate that, Pedram. Very important to keep an eye on what's going on there.

Well, it seems hard to imagine, a midterm election in the U.S. so eagerly anticipated by so many. Donald Trump is the not on the ballot but this vote in two months is seen by many as a referendum on his presidency. His approval rating has fallen six points in one month to 36 percent, that is according to a new CNN poll.

CNN's Martin Savage has been talking to some Trump supporters to find out how they feel about the president.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump became president not by winning in the big cities people know but by winning in the places people know little about. The America in between the big cities, Middle America. The heartland. What people here call the forgotten America.

Where people tell you they work hard and play by the rules and have faith in God and rely on their neighbors. Statistically these Americans are older and more often white and less often college graduates.

The only thing globalization did prevent, they'll tell you is shut down the factories. And as American's economy became more tech and service-focused and its population more diverse and morally accepting, these Americans say they felt left behind, politically ignored. Almost unwanted.


[03:20:00] RICK GREEN, IRON WORKER: The core foundation of our country is slipping away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, it got to a point where I did not like the direction that my country was going.

SAVAGE: Then came Donald Trump.

TRUMP: I love all of the people of our country.


SAVAGE: Trump, the New York City billionaire had the remarkable ability to relate with this very dissatisfied group.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He seemed he had the workers, the blue collar workers in his radar for helping them out.


SAVAGE: They liked he was a businessman, his tough stance on immigration.

MARIANO RODRIGUES, TRUMP SUPPORTER: It's not that I'm opposed to people coming over, but what I want is them to come legally.


SAVAGE: They liked he was pro-guns and anti-abortion rights. They like he supported appointing conservative judges and his pledge put America first. They loved he was not a politician. Not part of what they see as the dysfunction Washington.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The man in overhaul has built this country. The man in suit to destroy it.

SAVAGE: But he is a man on the suit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he has touched the working people. He stood up for the working people.


SAVAGE: And what about now after the Russia investigation, after the scandals, after the turmoil and turnover all of those tweets, how are these voters feeling? Satisfied but exhausted.

They see a president who has delivered on many of his promises, tax reform, a strong economy, who ended the Paris environmental accord, the Iran nuclear deal and cracked down on immigration.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think exactly what I voted for we wanted a little bit of a change.


SAVAGE: They would like less turmoil. But the Russia investigation most blame on Democrats and Trump's opponents considering the whole thing--


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Political witch-hunt from the get-go. To be honest, it's a disgrace.


SAVAGE: As for the two women who were paid hush money after allege affairs, these voters say that they're willing to accept some bad in the man in exchange for the good they see in his policies.


SAVAGE: Does it bother you that if our president is not always truthful?


SAVAGE: They do have advice for the president. They're not always fans of his tweeting, believing it distracts from his accomplishments and could suggest a president who was vindictive, compulsive, and off balance. There is a sense of fatigue with the political brawling.


KURT MUELLER, VIETNAM VETERAN: I think the man has a lot of capabilities but sometimes he just lets his mouth overload sometimes and it's very unfortunate.


SAVAGE: Trump voters are tired of being blamed for being like Trump simply because they voted for Trump.


WAQAS KHAN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I had to receive comments like I never knew you were racist, you're anti-Islamic, you're a traitor.


SAVAGE: Many are swing voters who voted President Obama, not once, but twice. There's another R word that comes up a lot of conservations, respect. Trump voters remain bothered that those who didn't vote for the president have never seemed to accept that he won.


SAVAGE: Do you think he's being treated fairly?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I think it's awful.


SAVAGE: In their minds, if you don't respect this president then you don't respect the people who voted for him. And it was feelings of disregard and being ignored that turned them to Trump. And now, many still feel Trump was not just the right choice but the only choice.


SAVAGE: How is he doing?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great. Better than I would have dreamed. I mean, that sincerely.

SAVAGE: Really?


SAVAGE: Show of hands who would vote the same.


CHURCH: So let's bring in Alice Stewart, she is a Republican strategist and CNN political commentator. Always good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So I so want to talk to you about the Trump factor in the upcoming midterm elections. The president is planning to spend at least 40 days on the road campaigning for Republican candidates and that's more time on the road than his two predecessors during that time period. What's the motivation behind this?

STEWART: Well, more than anything it's because he likes to be on the road, he likes to be out amongst the crowd and his adoring fans and supporters and hear the roar of the crowd. It energizes him and he's the kind of president, he can either be in the White House and with all of the turmoil and the drama that's going on in this White House.

He's more comfortable and happier when he's out there on the road energizing his base and supporters. And in areas and in districts or states where he's popular that is where his time is best served.

It is great to get him out there. His base is very strong and supportive, but more than anything, he needs to be luring in independents and those who aren't quite sure how they're going to vote. So the more he can get out there, he's quite popular.

Now there's a lot of issues going on with all of the turmoil with books and rumors and gossip and palace intrigue in this White House. But he's very popular and that the crowd, when he goes out at an event are massive.

[03:25:04] So it's good for him. It is also a great way to energize voters. And midterm elections are all about enthusiasm and energizing the voters to get out there.

Historically, in presidential elections here, the party in power generally in the first midterm election, it is not favorable for them. They lose a lot of seats. So if he can get out there and get his voters enthusiastic, it's good for him and it's good for Republicans.

CHURCH: Right. Of course no one doubts that he has that support with his base. You mentioned the independents. So we saw with the new CNN polls that independents, he's lost some 16 points of support there.

That is a critical loss and the president of course is popular among his base as we say in certain districts but his style of governing alienates others.

How concern are you that he will be a liability for Republicans in swing districts who need to woo these independent voters. How do they strike the balance of supporting the Republican president at arm's length?

STEWART: Well, the key and you hit the magic number, and that is a key component of the poll that came out on Monday is the independents, the loss of approval amongst those independents.

And the key with getting them motivated is to focus on the economy and focus on jobs. This administration does have encouraging numbers to report on. The GDP is at 4.2 percent. The unemployment rate at 3.9 percent.

People like to see the government regulations being decreased because it allows companies and businesses to create jobs. The number of job creation is at an all-time high.

Those are the key issues that will motivate not just his base and not just Republicans but independents that want to get out there and support this president and his policies.

CHURCH: Right.

STEWART: Because it is all about the economy and what people put in their own pocket books. That is a great motivator to get people out to vote.

CHURCH: Yes. And of course, Alice, there is another president hitting the campaign trail, Barack Obama, will be showing his support for Democratic candidates. On Friday he slammed Mr. Trump saying he capitalizes on resentment that politicians have been fanning for years. What do you make of that?

STEWART: Well, he has a good point. Look, I voted for President Trump, I support his policies but I do not support his tone and his tactics. I don't like the way he runs this White House and that this disrespectful way it is run.

That is stark contrast to President Obama who was more respectful and did have a certain level of discourse and respect for the office.

CHURCH: Alice Stewart, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

STEWART: Thanks, Rosemary. Have a great day.

CHURCH: So is the U.S. economy doing well enough to help Republicans in the upcoming elections or could the controversy surrounding President Trump overshadow the economic news? We will discuss all of that coming up.

Talks between the U.S. and North Korea seem to have hit a speed bump. Can South Korea's president get things rolling again?

We are live in Seoul after this short break.

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: Welcome back, everyone. This is

CNN Newsroom and I'm Rosemary Church. Let's update you on the main stories we are following this hour. The Trump administration is threatening sanctions on the International criminal court. National security advisor, John Bolton called the ICC ineffective and dangerous and says the U.S. will use any means necessary to protect its citizens and allies from prosecution by the court. The ICC says it acts strictly within its founding treaty.

Hurricane Florence is heading to the U.S. East Coast after quickly intensifying to a category 4. The large and dangerous storm is forecast to make landfall in the Carolinas on Thursday. It is possible hurricane Florence could strengthen further and become a category five.

A new CNN poll shows President Trump's approval rating dropping six points in one month. That comes as the White House deals with two scathing accounts of a dysfunctional administration, one, a New York Times op-ed and the other a new book by Bob Woodward.

CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein joins me now. He is also a senior editor at the Atlantic. Great to have you with us.


CHURCH: So let's take a closer look at the new CNN poll numbers. The approval rating for President Trump has fallen six points in the last month from 42 to 36 percent. But the independents, the drop is even greater, some 16 points from 47 percent to 31 and then only 32 percent polled found the President trustworthy. What do you think is behind that plunge in approval for the President with independents and what might it signal for the midterm elections do you think?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, first of all, there are now five polls with the President down 40 percent or below in the last two weeks, including three today, including Gallup Quinnipiac and CNN. So this is not just a random, or the ABC and Washington Post a couple of days ago. This now a random finding and clearly it does seemed to be moving and the movement I think, it began very clearly when Michael Cohen, his longtime lawyer pled guilty and in effect named the President as unindicted co-conspirator in a conspiracy to evade the finance laws by silencing various women who claimed extra marital affairs. I mean that was the beginning of the movement that we have seen.

It has been reinforced by the anonymous op-ed and the widespread discussion of the latest Bob Woodward book. Portraying chaos in the White House. And I think the important thing here is that we're seeing just an enormous divergence, really unprecedented divergence between attitudes about the economy and attitudes about the President. I mean --

CHURCH: Yes. Let's have a look at that. Because when it comes to the economy, the CNN poll showed nearly seven in ten Americans are very happy with where things stand right now. So, it is no coincidence that on Monday the White House held an extensive briefing, on how will the economy is performing right now. If the President can remain focused on the positive surrounding the economy and not be distracted by the anonymous op-ed and Bob Woodward's book, could this turn his fortunes around for the midterms?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, it is striking. I mean, the gap we're seeing is just unprecedented. The 4 percent unemployment rate, the idea that the president's approval rating is below 40 percent, and that is not impossible, it should not be mathematically impossible. It probably should be somewhere around 55 percent and the difference of course is between where it should be and where it is, are the large portion of Americans who had doubt about Trump personally. Whether he has the value, the judgement, the temperament that they expect in a president. You know, I don't know if he talked more about the economy whether it would make a difference. His behave is so intrinsic to his vision of the presidency is fomenting conflict and kind of igniting these cultural confrontations on Twitter, or to his personal comments. He views that as central to his political strategy and it does works with a portion of his base. But it is the principal reason I think why his approval rating, particularly among these swing voters it is low, the white collar voters who are doing very well. It is so much lower than what you have believe you had anticipated it would be given the strength of the economy which is very real.

[03:35:12] CHURCH: Right, just very quickly, I do want to go back to that anonymous op-ed and then Bob Woodward's book. We see the White House trying to turn the page on this. But can the President do the same particularly with Woodward's book releasing Tuesday. And more than himself saying that those officials who are denying the negative things that they have said about the president are not telling the truth.

BROWNSTEIN: then I'm smiling as you say that, because you know, I've been around Washington for Bob Woodward's book since the 1970s. Theirs is this kind of Washington ritual of everyone who is quoted immediately coming out and saying, it wasn't me, I didn't say it. He is a pretty good reporter, I mean, he doesn't get everything right always, but you know, the basic stories have held up awfully well now over the Presidents since Richard Nixon. So, that is kind of empty gesture. Again, I think it is so powerful. It is such a powerful effect. Because it is not like it is coming out of left field, it is enforcing the accounts of others, Omarosa, to Michael Wolf, you know, to many of the daily reporting that goes out of the White House. And it goes to the central question which is voters, that the reason why his approval rating is so much lower than where you believe it would be given the economy are personal doubts about his fitness for the job and the Woodward book really strikes at that most vulnerable opening.

CHURCH: Yes. And it is coming from an award winning journalist, who has been there in the Washington Post since 1971. So, it would be interesting to see how that plays into polls going forward. Many thanks to Ron Brownstein for joining us. We appreciate it.

BROWNSTEIN: Good to be here.

CHURCH: Well, many of the small towns in rural areas that voted for President Trump are enjoying something of an economic revival. The Washington Post reports blue collar jobs are growing at their best rate in more than 30 years, but how might these economic achievements translate in the midterm elections less than two months away. Clare Sebastian has more.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We accomplished an economic turnaround of historic proportions.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If Americans vote with their wallet this election season, the President has some reason to feel confident. Economic growth is a four year high.

TRUMP: These numbers are sustainable.

SEBASTIAN: Unemployment at half century lows.

TRUMP: We created 3.7 million jobs since elections.

SEBASTIAN: The stock market is hitting records.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump created an environment that the markets really like. With regulatory reform. Again with the tax cuts, so he does gets some credit.

SEBASTIAN: Tax cuts at this administration signature policy, feeling strong corporate profits including a record setting courses the America's bank. And yet experts question whether the President's campaign promise of a tax cut for all is materializing.

TRUMP: We will massively cut taxes for the middle class.

SEBASTIAN: To what we saw is more nontraditional investment cycle. Companies taking that additional cash and reducing debt and buying back stock and increasing dividends. The vast majority of consumers reports they did not notice a meaningful change. In their after tax take home pay post tax reform.

Despite the low unemployment those consumers are also facing stagnant wage growth and signs of rising prices due to tariffs. The president had not only asked the voters to trust him on trade.

TRUMP: I'll have to tariff your cars. They said, when could we show up? When can we be there? Would tomorrow be OK? No, folks, stick with us.

SEBASTIAN: He has also provided pockets of short-term relief aimed at the mostly Republican agricultural states.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president has promised substantial aid, many billions of dollars to farmers who are lightly concerned about soybean tariffs and other action by the Chinese that could hurt the U.S. Middle America. Whether that is enough is unclear.

SEBASTIAN: What is clear for this scandal plagued administration, the strong U.S. economy sends a powerful political message. TRUMP: Once again, we are the economic envy of the entire world.

SEBASTIAN: When the President and his (inaudible) will continue to trumpet.

Clare Sebastian, CNN New York.


CHURCH: South Korea's President is calling for bold decision from United States and North Korea to help break the stalemate on denuclearization. Moon Jae-in's comments comes as he announces he will continue his role as mediator between the two sides. He is set to visit Pyongyang next week for talks. One bold decision had come so far. North Korea leader, Kim Jong-un has requested a second meeting with Donald Trump and the U.S. President said he is open to it.

So, let's turn to CNN's Paula Hancock who is following all these developments from Seoul in South Korea. Good to see you again Paula.

[03:40:00] So, how difficult and delicate will this be for the South Korean President to continue to act as mediator as relations just start to warm again between the U.S. and North Korea and what bold decisions is he actually looking for?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary as you said, it is that key word, continue. This is really what the South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been doing all along. He is been the bridge between the U.S. and North Korea and not always a very good position to be in. Certainly in the past, the U.S. President has even called the South Korean President an appeaser by saying he was pushing too hard to have this dialogue with North Korea. But we are seeing this warming once again between Washington and Pyongyang.

And what we heard from the South Korean President Moon Jae-in today, the cabinet meeting is that he believes that North Korea is keeping its word. He said that they have made measures. They destroyed a nuclear test site which hasn't been independently verified and destroyed a missile engine test site with remains in the Korean War and in return the U.S. and South Korea has suspended some of these larger military drills that annoyed Pyongyang.

So really, what we're seeing is that the South Korean president is almost lobbying on behalf of the North Koreans, saying that so far, they have kept their word and both Kim Jong-un and President Trump have asked him to be the negotiator, a mediator between the two sides and he is happy to do that, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And Paula, what more are you learning about that letter from Kim Jong-un asking for a second meeting with President Trump?

HANCOCKS: Well the White House has been talking about this, Rosemary, they haven't given the details. They said they'll only do that if Kim Jong-un agrees that is possible, but they say according to Sarah Sanders, they said it was warm and that was very positive and already saying that they're in coordination to try and set up a potential second summit and that the White House is very open to it.

Now we did see this just after that Singapore summit back in June where the U.S. President in his press conference afterward was asked about this and potentially would even meet Kim Jong-un at the White House. And he said, yes, why not? So we don't know whether if this will happen. But certainly the White House is saying they are open to it, but we don't know the timing and location and we are really back to where we are a few months ago speculating on where these two leader could meet once again.

But unsurprisingly, the South Koreans had welcomed this. We heard a statement from the Foreign Minister here in Seoul saying, we welcome and support it. Saying that they believe that this will be pivotal and very important to try to push towards denuclearization. But the fats remained the same even though we didn't see any signs of missile or long-range missile or nuclear activity or the signs of the nuclear program that the -- the parade in Pyongyang. We still haven't seen a huge amount of movement from North Korea towards nuclearization. A lot of reports, a lot of experts, and a lot of officials point to that as well, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Still an interesting developments to cover there. Paula Hancocks, joining us from Seoul, in South Korea, it is nearly 4:45 in the afternoon. Thanks again.

Well, thousands flea amid shelling and air strikes and warnings of a humanitarian catastrophe, the situation in Idlib, Syria is growing more dire by the minute and the worst may be yet to come.

And China's president visits Russia as Moscow is set to kick off massive war games with Chinese troops also taking part. And what Russia's pivot eastward could mean for the west. That is next.


CHURCH: Israeli's military says it will investigate the killings of two Palestinian teenagers shot by soldiers during protests in Gaza last week. Palestinians say one was a 16-year-old boy, killed while waving his arms in the air. Video of that shooting has been shared widely on social media and we warn you, it is disturbing.

You could see the teenager throwing something toward the security fence between Gaza and Israel and then jumping up and down and clapping and waving his hands. Seconds later, he is shot. The boy died of his wounds a day later. Israel has warned Palestinians not to demonstrate near the fence, saying it will defend itself against rioters.

The last major rebel stronghold in Syria is under heavy fire amid growing fears on all-out ground and air offensive is imminent. In just the last week, 30,000 people have fled their homes in Idlib province. A Syrian government forces aided by Russian air power try to flush out rebel fighters there. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is urging the international community to act. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, he warns the purpose of regime offense against Idlib would be indiscriminate attacks to wipeout its opposition. Not a genuine or effective campaign against terrorism. The regime assault would also create fewer humanitarian and security risks for Turkey and the rest of Europe and beyond.

His appeal comes just days after turkey failed to get a cease-fire pledge from Russia and Iran on Syria.

Well, a young volunteer with the white helmets rescue group was filming bomb factory in Idlib on Friday when he got caught in the middle of an airstrike. Wounded and bleeding he still kept filming as friends pulled him to safety. More now form CNN's Clarissa Ward.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rescue worker Anas Al-Diab is shooting the aftermath of an air strike. Moments later more strikes hit, this time Anas was the victim. His camera is still rolling revealing serious injuries to his legs. Guys, guys please come get me he calls out to his fellow rescue workers. I can't move. The men tried to drag him to safety without so much as a stretcher, it is hard work. Another strike lands pinning them to the group. Another. They called for backup. Scenes like this are playing out across Idlib, as regime forces begin an operation to take back the last rebel held province, raising the specter of a bloodbath.

Russia provides most of the air power and claims that it only targets terrorists, an assertion that is contradicted by facts on the ground.

[03:50:00] Here, a woman's head pokes up through the rubble, still moving. Rescue workers rush to free her from beneath the concrete. Eventually they succeed, but it is not clear if she survives. Anas was lucky, he made it safely to a hospital though his injuries are serious. They are targeting innocent civilians, he says. They're trying to kill as many of us as possible.

In spite of the risks, some of those civilians are taking to the streets again in scenes reminiscent of the early days of the protest movement against President Bashar al Assad. Idlib, we're with you until death, they chant. They may well be the last words of this uprising. Clarissa Ward, CNN, London.


CHURCH: Chinese President Xi Jinping is now in Russia, he is holding talks with President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the eastern economic forum. It is the third meeting this year and it comes as China and Russia begin joint military exercises. They're Russia's biggest war games since the fall of the Soviet Union. CNN's Ivan Watson joins us now from Hong Kong with more on all of this. So, Ivan, what will likely come out of this forum?

IVAN WATSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, this is the fourth that Russia has hosted like this. We haven't gotten specifics from the government public statements from Moscow or Beijing for example about what they hope to accomplish, aside from more kind of jagged statements about cooperation and economic development together. Though the ambassadors that are dispatched to both capitals have

talked about trying to expand bilateral trade to up to about a hundred billion dollars by years end which would be an increase from past years, but far below trade that you see between other Eastern Asian nations such as Japan and South Korea whose economies that are much larger than Russia for example. Also the Russian Ambassador to Beijing has said that Moscow will welcome China's role in helping rebuilt Syria after the horrific war there indicating that -- that China is very good at infrastructure projects.

So that is another example of perhaps areas where the two neighbors could cooperate. This is also been an opportunity for the Russian President to meet with the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe. It might be worth noting that Japan and Russia have not signed a peace treaty since World War II, if you could believe that, Rosemary. That is largely due to a territorial dispute over a chain of islands and Prime Minister Abe addressed that after the two leaders met. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (TRANSLATOR): Approach changes Russia-Japan cooperation. Without unfriending on the right of either side. We are doing our best with Mr. President, to reach our common aim, to sign a peace treaty, we will use every effort to do it within our generation.


WATSON: What signing peace treaty within a generation does not suggest that it is a pressing priority or something that will be done anytime very soon? Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, Ivan Watson, reporting there, many thanks to you. We'll take a short break here, but still to come, John Legend is now a member of an exclusive club in entertainment. The details on his history making honor.


CHURCH: Everything is all right with John Legend, his Emmy win for a performance in a recent production of Jesus Christ Superstar, just put him in the Egot Club. The singing actor now has an Emmy, 10 Grammys, and Oscar and a Tony Award. Legend is one of the youngest Egot winners and the first African-American to earn that honor.

He started racking up awards in 2005 with three Grammys including one for this song, Ordinary people. Legend's wife model Chrissy Teigen celebrated by sharing this video of the performer putting his newest trophy on the top shelf of a display of awards. Well done.

And finally a Saudi Arabian princess said her Jewels were stolen from her suit at the Ritz hotel in Paris on Friday. A police source said the Jewels are worth close to a million dollars. But the princess told prosecutors her precious belongings were not in the room's safe. It is the second heist from the hotel this year. In January axe wielding thieves stole millions of dollars' worth of necklaces and other jewelry from display cases. Those sparkles were recovered. We'll see what happens this time. Thanks for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church, remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter @rosemarycnn, I love to hear from you. And the news continues now with Max Foster in London. You're watching CNN, have a great day.