hello. i'm wolf blitzer. 1:00 p.m. here. 1:30 saturday in north korea. thanks very much for warning us. there is global condemnation and outrage aimed at north korea for conducting what they say is their fifth nuclear test, its largest to date. seismic activity with a 5.3 magnitude was detected around 9:00 a.m. local time. the blast had the explosive power of ten kilotons. by comparison, the nuclear bomb dropped by the u.s. on hiroshima
was 15 kilotons. world leaders issued rapid responses. president barack obama called the nuclear test a grave theft. the japanese prime minister said it was absolutely unacceptable. the president of south korea called kim jong-un fanatically reckless. they are holding a closed door meeting in the yunited nations n two hours. >> we are joined by will, lisa and victor, joining us from washington. will, you have been to north korea several times over the last few years. probably more than any other western journalist. what is pyongyang up to? >> kim jong-un, when i was last
in north korea in may solidified his power and lined up his leadership to develop north korea's nuclear program at a dizzying pace in the last several months and weeks. in addition to this nuclear test which caused a 5.3 magnitude earthquake, still yet to are verified by the u.s., still testing radiation levels, three missiles launch from the ground capable of hitting here in japan. the week before that, there was a submarine ballistic missile. that capable of striking anywhere in the south korean peninsula. what we are seeing is north korean leader, kim jong-un, pushing forward despite international sanctions and nearly universal condemnation, even from china. throwing all of that by the wayside and aggressively growing these weapons programs at a pace far faster than any analysts
have predicted. >> alisa, you are joining us from geneva switzerland where secretary of state, john kerry, is negotiating with russia on a syrian peace deal. what is the obama administration trying to do about this situation. >> reporter: wolf, obviously, as will said, there is a growing concern about north korea's increased weapons programs and capability and provocation. within hours of the nuclear test, president obama was on the phone to south korea president pack, japanese president abe. they were already headed to the region to discuss north korea's program. they are calling that u.n. security council meeting today. you remember in march, the u.n. security passed the most biting sanctions against north korea.
their behavior has only worsened since then. not really sure what kind of options the u.s. has with the u.n. security council. a lot will be about consultations with japan and south korea. president obama's statement that you mentioned, talking about as commander in chief i have a responsibility to safeguard the american people and ensure the u.s. is countering against the north korean threat. the u.s. has deployed the thad missile defense system in south korea, something they think can fend off against north korean missiles. this latest nuclear test, very concerning to the u.s. and its allies. >> victor, you are an expert on the korean peninsula. how concern should folks in the united states and around the world be about this latest test? >> well, wolf, i think that from a u.s. perspective, this is shaping up to be the number one national security issue for the two candidates as we head into
the election. i mean, this is a threat that is a threat directly to u.s. forces in korea and japan as well as to the homeland. it is a prolib fer racial threat. north korea has sold every weapons system they have perfected. they file quite confident they have made advances in terms of the warhead they can mass produce and put on a range of missiles, short-range, medium-range or the prototype, long-range missiles. they are designating mobile launch, reentry and all the nin things that are proponents of a fully advanced nuclear program. they are not there yet. because they are advancing these capabilities, it is a direct threat to the united states as well as a direct security and proliver racial threat. >> i want everybody to stand by.
ed rice of california is joining us. he is chairman of the house foreign affairs committee. thanks for joining us. i assume he have been well briefed on this latest development, a serious concern across the board. what do we know? what are the north korean capabilities? what are they up right now? >> ten kilotons is twice the capable we saw on their last test in january. this is a 5.3 magnitude earthquake that resulted from this explosion. we know, yes, that they claim they can now miniaturize these and put them on a warhead including on a submarine. that puts many allies at risk. they are serial proliver ray tors. we also have an anecdote if we want to use it. >> serial prolive raytors. they provide nuclear bomb capability information to other
countries. >> nuclear and missile. so we know they have traded information with pakistan over the years. we know they have traded information and ballistic missiles with middle eastern powers and north african governments. part of this is the capability they have developed, the scud, for example. the official airline in north korea, we passed legislation where we could sanction and shut that airline down simply for the fact this it has carried scud missile parts. so what we need to do is utilize the laws that are on the books now as well as the new u.n. sanctions that the security council passed. what we have is a failure to fully enforce those sanctions. the consequence it would have on north korea if we fully enforced it would be to shut off the hard currency that north korea needs to continue these weapons programs. >> what should the u.s. be doing right now?
>> one of the things we could do is go to china and say we know the only other way they are getting hard currency is because of the trade in commodities and coal and so forth that china is doing with its shipments it is receiving from north korea and sending back cold, hard cash, which is what the north koreans need to pay for these tests an missile parts. we could tell china these particular banks that are involved in this and these institutions, we are going to have secondary sanctions. we are going to impose the laws that we gave the administration the ability to impose on china so that just like some years ago when we shut down the chinese banks that were dealing with north korea when we caught north korea counterfeiting hundred dollar bills and using that money for their weapons programs. we could do that again. we need to see that kind of leadership. >> speaking of china, i want to
you listen to what donald trump told me about north korea earlier in the year in january. >> china has total control over them and we have total control over china in we had people that knew what they are doing, which we don't. we have no leadership in this country. china has to get involved and china should solve that problem. >> you agree with the republican nominee? >> well, i think we would have to add this to the statement. in order to get china to solve that equation, china has to understand that we will sanction those banks again, those chinese banks that are transferring the hard currency. so, yes, it is true, it can be solved if china gets involved. let's talk about the inducements that may be necessary. we have tried to tell the leaders in china, in our trips to beijing, look, you should not want to see the consequences of proliferation. if north korea develops this weapon, so will south korea, so
will japan, so will taiwan. you don't want to see that arms race and neither do we. you need to become more proactive. my concern here is that leave teeing to their discretion isn't going to be enough. we need to use these powers that now the administration has under the bill i authored that's been sign into m law by the president, to tell china, there will be secondary sanctions on any economic activity you are engaged with in north korea. our goal is to shut that economy down so they cannot continue this nuclear race program. coming up, north korea, russia, syria, iraq, the war against isis. the next president of the united states will have a lot of national seb security foreign policy. gary johnson, the libertarian party, you see him live. we will discuss national
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isis then the i'mapprgenerals do. age. s. john mccain, a war hero. he's not a war hero, he's a war hero because he was captured. i like people that weren't captured ok. donald trump compared his sacrifices to the sacrifices of two parents who lost their son in war. how would you answer that father? what sacrifice have you made for your country? i think i've made a lot of sacrifices, built great structures. i've had tremendous success, i think... those are sacrifices?
campaign issue in this 2016 presidential race here in the united states. let's bring in the libertarian party presidential nominee, the former republican governor of new mexico, gary johnson. >> governor, thanks very much for joining us. >> let's talk national security foreign policy. huge issue right now. north korea, if you were president, what would be your response to the news of another north korean nuclear test. >> wopt xz fob molgds are ever ev . >> for months i have been saying that north korea is the threat today. at some point these ballistic missiles are going to work. with this test today, the explosion itself, the device, itself, is getting more potent. the missiles are flying a little bit further. this is the biggest threat. i think the only way we address
this is through china. china recognizes this threat as much as anyone else. they are the number one trading partner of north korea and from a diplomatic standpoint, without china, this doesn't get resolved. there is no chance that north korea invades south korea from a conventional standpoint. we do have 40,000 troops in south korea. imagine if we had 40,000 chinese troops in central america. so i think there is an opportunity. by the way, hey, they launch missiles into south korea. we have them covered with our nuclear umbrella. that's the threat here. it is very real. >> would you keep u.s. troops along the demilitarized zone of south korea. i think there is about 30,000. would you keep them? would you keep the 60,000 troops the u.s. has in japan? would you keep those troops there or bring them all home? >> speaking specifically about
south korea, i think there is an opportunity to get our troops out of south korea. that would be joining arms -- joining hands with china to deal with this imagine if there were that many troops, 30,000 chinese troops in central america, we would be going crazy. we are kind of making china go crazy with our 30,000 troops in south korea, recognizing there is no chance that north korea invades south korea conventionally. >> why do you say that? >> they have 1 million conventional forces north of the demilitarized zone. the south koreans have close to 1 million members south. they have huge numbers of missiles, artillery. i was in north korea a few years back. why do you say there is no chance north korean forces would move against south korea? >> i don't think that capability exists. of course, that would be the input that i'm getting right now. in fact, south korea is so far
advanced, the economies are nowhere near comparable in scale. north korea is just not going to happen. >> south korea is more than capable of defending themselves. south korea is more than capable of defending themselves. north korea is not going to embark on a conventional invasion of south korea. >> the 30,000 or so u.s. troops in south korea, you would bring home and the 40,000 in japan, you would bring home is that right? >> i think there is the opportunity to deescalate in both of those areas and by de-escalate, to bring those troops home. south korea, there is a big opportunity. that would be inconjunction with china. that would be in conjunction with actually less senning this nuclear threat, which is very real. >> let's talk about syria, another big threat. you caused a buzz yesterday when
you said what is aleppo. a political question and i want to get back to national security? can your campaign overcome that flub, if you will? >> i hope so. i am very aware of the policy and going on the show yesterday thinking aleppo was an acronym. i take complete responsibility. i am running for president of the united states. i should have known what he was talking about. we weren't even talking about it in the context of anything. that said, the policy that exists is aleppo is at the epicenter of what's happening in syria. on the east side of aleppo you have the regime forces, assad. they are fighting against the syrian, free syrian army, which we are supporting, that is also allied with the islamists. we are arming the free syrian army. those arms are falling in the
hands of the islamists. you have raqqa in the north. >> what would you do about raqqah? >> as president of the united states, i would have never gotten into this situation in the first place. i don't think that any time we support regime change that it has resulted in a safer world, that it has resulted in a less safe world. we are going to see the end to fighting isis. back to what we are currently doing, we are backing the kurds fighting isis. the kurds are sideways with our ally turkey and turkey is not as much of an ally as they were, because of us having invaded iraq, regime change, regime change. this would be a policy difference from prior
administrations. >> given the slaughter that's going on in aleppo and elsewhere in syria, the thousands and thousands of people, hundreds of thousands, over the past four years, does the united states have a moral responsibility to help these people? >> well, a responsibility to bring this to an end and you mentioned earlier that m kerry is negotiating. i am assuming this is taking place. the only way that the syrian situation comes to an end is with russia and, of course, we have the potential conflict with russia in the air that exists in this situation also. so it is a horrible situation that in my opinion can only be brought to an end if we involve russia directly in bringing back a diplomatic solution to this. obviously, that would start with a cease-fire. >> one final question. it sounds like you agree with donald trump as far as russia's
getting involved with russia. as far as using china to deal with north korea. are you a donald trund donald t these issues on the same page? >> on these issues, it sounds like it. those that are participating in nato have pledged to give 2% of their gdp to their own defense. social programs in europe have been able to flourish op the backs of us paying for their military defense. >> gary johnson is the libertarian presidential candidate. governor, thanks very much for joining us. >> thanks very much for having me on. >> still ahead, donald trump appears on russian tv and criticizes u.s. foreign policy. how comfortable are republicans with that move? we're about to find out. this week 50% off all backpacks. office depot officemax. gear up for school. gear up for great.
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donald trump down plays concerns about russia meddling in u.s. politics. he was interviewed on rt america. here is what he said about possible russian hacking of the democrats. >> i don't know. i have been hearing about it. i have been reading about it. i think it is probably unlikely. i think maybe the democrats are putting that out. who knows. it is pretty unlikely. who knows. i hope that if they are doing something i hope that somebody is going to be able to find out
so they can end it. that would not be appropriate at all. >> republican congressman, sean duffy, a trump supporter, is joining us here in studio. thanks for joining us. you are from wisconsin and i'm very proud of that as well. what's your reaction when you hear that trump went on russian tv and gave this interview to larry king on russian tv and that he is dismissing or tends to dismiss this notion that russia is hacking? >> first off, he went on with larry king, a guy that helped build cnn network. a lot of people pick up larry king and his podcast. it is not like he went to russia on a russian television. it was in an american house with an american perspective. >> what about the russians. >> i don't think we know who is hacking the dnc. >> paul ryan is suggesting the russians are doing it. >> we don't have any public evidence yet. to call them out when we don't have it i think we are
premature. when we talk about going on television, networks of people we don't like very much. obama went to cuba. these are people that killed dissidents and prison dissidents. he went down there with the castro brothers and went to baseball games. sometimes liberals are clutching their pearls over donald trump and larry king. >> are you okay with donald trump praising putin? >> i think putin is a bad guy. he is a thug. i don't think they are a friend of ours. i also think if you look at what happened with russia. democrats don't come in this conversation with clean hands. hillary clinton did the reset button and failed with russia. it was obama in the debates in 2012 that told mitt romney that the 1980s want their foreign policy back. romney said russia is the biggest foreign threat to the u.s. government. they have got in wrong at every turn. again, both parties don't come at this with clean hands. i think donald trump should be stronger against russia. they are not our friend.
>> you disagree with donald on that? >> absolutely. >> hillary clinton and tim kaine had some harsh words for his vice-presidential running mate counterpart, mike pence. i want you to listen to what he said. >> what is it about running your economy into the grund as putin has in russian, what is it about invading other nations that's leadership, what is it about persecuting them that's leadership? if you don't know the difference between leadership and dictatorship, where do i start with you? >> he was referring to mike pence's defense of donald trump's comments about putin and russia. >> again, i just told you, i don't think putin is a good guy. if you look at leadership, i agree, he is a dictator. i think the campaign is wrong on that front. i do think the point in the forum that was on nb, what trump was trying to say was that obama
hasn't been a strong leader. we also have a faltering economy where we are growing at 1%-2% a year. we have a foreign policy that is a mess. obama has tried to leave from behind that has allowed the rise of russia and isis. the middle east is on fire. that was the greater point that obama has failed on the leadership side. you can't transfer that and say, putin is a great leader. >> the birther issue has come back. rudy giuliani was on nbc saying donald trump agrees the president of united states was born in the united states. kelly ann conway was on cnn this morning and said this. >> he believes president obama was born here. i was born in camden, by the way, new jersey. he was born in hawaii. the point is, what kind of president has he been? he was born in the united states. no question to me he was born in
the united states. he has not been a particularly successful president. >> he said that donald trump agrees the president was born in the united states. he didn't talk about it. >> frankly, i wouldn't want to talk about it either. there are so many other bigger issues. >> should he come out and say, yes, the president was born in hawaii? i apologize to the president for raising all those questions. >> you know that's a distraction from the larger issues we face as a country. >> there are obviously a lot more important issues. >> this is a sensitive issue. >> it started with hillary clinton. >> not with hillary clinton but some of her aides. >> and her supporters that still support her today. >> you know who kept it going and going? >> you are right. >> where do you stand? if he said to you, congressman, what sh i do? what would you say? >> i would say, obama's presidency.
he served for eight years. this is a nonissue. let's focus on the economy and security and the border. let's not get distracted by side issues that can inflame a lot of people and cause us to lose votes. let's stick on the issues americans care about. this isn't one of them. >> should he apologize and move on? >> listen, i have had sufficient evidence that he was born in hawaii. i feel comfortable with it now. earlier, i was concerned. we are now moving on to the big issues of the day. >> sean duffy, thank you very much for coming in, the congressman from wisconsin. >> up next, hillary clinton is changing strategy. she says the trump attacks will no longer be her focus. i will speak with one of the democratic leaders in the house of representatives. we'll get his take. steny hoyer. he is standing by live on capitol hill. you're not you. tylenol® pm relieves pain and helps you fall fast asleep and stay asleep. we give you a better night. you're a better you all day. tylenol®.
the donald trump trump has just issued a statement on north korea. >> north korea's fifth nuclear test, the fourth since hillary clinton has become secretary of state is one more example of her catastrophic fate yurs. she promised to work to end that but it has grown in sophistication. her north korean policy is one more calamitous diplomatic failure from a failed secretary of state. that statement from jason miller, senior adviser to donald trump. the hillary clinton supporter, congressman steny hoyer is joining us. you heard the statement. the first time we heard it as
well. bha what's your reaction when you hear the trump campaign blame hillary clinton for what north korea is up to? >> i think it is absurd. the bush administration had problems with the north koreans. we have had problems. the chinese need to weigh in. it is dangerous to them. the north koreans have acted irresponsibly and what is usually the case. that statement says nothing about what donald trump would do. what his policy would be, how he would effectively curb north korea's dangerous behavior as we ought to do. donald trump says nothing about that. to blame it on hillary clinton is absolutely absurd. i think it is typical, however, of the trump campaign. i have seen this ad where hillary clinton's economy is such and such. hillary clinton doesn't yet have an economy. if they are referring to the obama economy, we took it back
from the depths of recession under a republican administration to the heights of almost full employment. most economists think we are at full employment. a creation of 14 million jobs and an economy that has come back from the recession the republicans delivered to us. he says things. this is his spokesman that is saying it. trump is not saying it but i'm sure he believes it and will blame hillary clinton for anything and everything he can think is not absolutely perfect in the world. >> let's talk about jobs. he does say that he would, if he were president, force the chinese to intervene. they have influence over north korea. on that specific issue, that's what he has told me. he has said it several times elsewhere. let's talk about jobs. >> wolf, can i stop you there? >> force the chinese. >> how is he going to force the chinese? how is he going to force the mexicans to pay for the wall? donald trump has no idea.
he thinks everybody works for him. everybody saint cashing stdoesn. we have been working to strongly request, urge, pressure the chinese to act. he is right on that. when he says we are going to force them to act, they are a major nuclear power themselves, one of the second economy in the world. he thinks we can force people everywhere in the world to do our will. i think we ought to do everything we can. donald trump has no idea how he is going to force china to do that. >> he argues that given the amount of trade, the amount of exports from china to the united states, the amount of exports from mexico to the united states, they are very dependant on that u.s. market. if he threatened to shut it down, they would do whatever the united states wanted. the u.s. has lefverage. he suggested he could force them to do that. do you buy that?
>> no, i don't. the chinese have lefrm. they own a lot of our debt. they sell our debt at a cheap price, we are in trouble. there is a two-way street. i think we need a forceful representation to north korea, a forceful representation to china that this activity must stop or there will be consequences. i don't think we know it will be very specific of what the consequences should be. this is not a problem certainly that hillary clinton brought on us. the bush administration tried to confront this. the clinton administration tried to confront it and the obama administration has as well. we need to act on this however in a multilateral way. trump's representation, very simplistically, that we are going to force china to make north korea do their will i think is simplistic and not possible. >> steny hoyer is the democratic whip in the house of representatives. congressman, thanks very much
for joining us. >> thanks, wolf. >> this sunday, cnn has an exclusive with the democratic presidential candidate. hillary clinton will be on cnn's state of the union at a special time, 8:30 a.m. new poll numbers on president obama's job performance are just being released
also. how do the pareamericans think president is doing in this war against isis?
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george w. bush. bill clinton was at 61%. ronald reagan was at 53% to give us a perspective. when it comes to handling isis, the president's approval drops to only 37%. just 44% approve the way he is handling terrorism overall. our senior political approval, nia-malica henderson and ron brownstein. what do you make of these numbers? >> good news and bad news. the good news for democrats is that obama seems solidly, at least since february, to be at about 50% or over 50% in terms of his approval rating. when he goes out on the stump. he will be in pennsylvania next week. he will draw big crowds and good feelings from voters that like the job he is doing. bad news is the isis numbers. i think you will see republicans exploit those and also in these numbers, you see independence
when they think about who they want to back in their congressional district. they seem to be leaning by over 50% to republicans. i think that's good news for republicans. >> there are some other apparent good news for the president right now, for the democrats. the polls show that 53% of the american public right now have a positive impression of the u.s. economy. that's the best it has been. they think the economic conditions are good. 53%. the highest numbers since 2007. does that help hillary clinton if people think the economy is good, 53%. >> to some extent, it does. as we have seen in the election, there are big portions of america that feel left behind. the positive views that may be most valuable in the group that has proven to be the tilt of this election, which are these college educated white voters that are resisting trump in greater numbers. they have supported other
republican nominees. those are voters that tend to be the most optimistic about the economy. on the attitudes for the outgoing president had an enormous impact on the way people voted. 51 is not a slam dunk, but every point that's gains it makes hillary clinton a xwlit stronger. >> what he's saying basically when george w. bush at this point in the second term had a very low job approval number helped get barack obama elected president of the united states. >> that's right. you saw obama really effectively running against bush and therefore running against john mccain. george bush was such a drag on the republicans at that point that it made obama's job much easier in terms of making the case that the country should turn the page. i think it will be a little bit more difficult given that people still like obama. >> in 1992, you remember when bill clinton was elected president, james carville, paul
begala had a slogan, "it's the economy, stupid." >> i think this is an election fundamentally about national identity. you look at the coalition mobilizing around trump, it is centered around voters most uneasy with the rapid demographic change we are going through. i think the biggest single faultline in this election. but having said that, the stronger the economy is, the stronger the case for continuity. >> this race is pretty tight right now if you look at national numbers and the key battleground states. >> that's right. it's closed from what we saw in august. hillary clinton had that pretty big bounce out of her convention and donald trump had a difficult august. but it looks like it's neck and neck here. you got the polls here. she's up by five in pennsylvania, by four in north carolina and florida. i think it was separated by
something like 75,000 votes in 2012. it is going to be close in ohio, the same thing. >> hillary clinton has real problems. you can see her coming down in the polls. one thing that's not happening if you look at the four-way polls, donald trump is not going up very much, having trouble getting above 40% in some of the key states. >> thanks, guys, very much. coming up, vladimir putin is showing off his military muscle with war games right now in and around crimea despite heightened tensions with the u.s., nato and ukraine. when we come back. i'm terrible at golf.
the russian president, vladimir putin, has seemingly become a key player in the u.s. presidential election as candidates battle over his leadership, skills and his influence. either way, you can't deny president putin's showmanship. as our fred pleitken is reporting, that eye for the spectacular is right now on display on the shores of crimea.
>> reporter: moscow putting on a huge show of force. war games from land, air and sea. in crimea, the territory russia annexed from ukraine a little over two years ago. >> the russians are sending a very clear message with these large-scale and top-flight military drills. their forces are entrench here this crimea and they are a he ready to fight any time. >> reporter: the maneuvers take place not only in crimea but in russia's entire southern military district right on the border with ukraine. the drills involve more than 12,000 soldiers. dozens of fighter jets flying mock dog fight missions. strike aircraft hitting ground and sea targets. and land forces in an amphibious assault. still, the defense ministry spokesman insists it is not a provocati provocation. "this is not at all a provocation," he says.
"i want to stress that this is a planned event. we announced these drills last november. the troops have been preparing for a long time." but they come at a time of heightened tensions with the u.s. and nato over the annexation of crimea and other issues. the russian air force intercepted a u.s. p-8 naval aircraft in the region just as the drills were getting under way. only three weeks ago, russia accused ukraine of trying to smuggle operatives into crimea for sabotage operations, the claim kiev denies. the military drills will likely cause more unease in ukraine and eastern european nato member states. russia's military chief of staff says the initial assessment is that they went smoothly. "we need to fully analyze everything," he says. "but these drills were very beneficial to the southern military district and for the troops from other districts involved as well." with russia and the west at odds over syria and ukraine, moscow is continuing to advance and refine its armed forces for all
the world to see. >> very dramatic pictures coming in. fred pleitken is joining us on the phone right now. he is in crimea now watching this all unfold. the russians have been conducting these massive bombing campaign operations in syria, fred, even as we speak. did that factor in to the way they've been conducting these drills in crimea? >> hi, wolf. yeah, that's actually one of the things that we asked the russians today. we were quite interested to find that they said, yes, absolutely. it is a big thing for them. all of the things that they've been doing in syria they say very much factored in to their exercises here today as well. they say one of the things that they found is that crimea actually from the terrain side of things is very similar in some ways to syria, and they say that some of the things that they conducted today is actually bombing insurgents, for instance, as they call them. they said that some of the exercises that they planned were specifically tailored toward their war that they're currently
conducting in syria. of course, many feel that war is going very badly, there are so many civilian casualties. but russians do say there are valuable lessons they've already learned and also intel that they are specifically trying to refine their effort in syria through this exercise that we saw here today, wolf. >> fred pleitken in crimea, thanks for that report. that's it for me. the news continues right now right here on cnn. hi there, i'm brooke baldwin. you are watching cnn on this friday afternoon. thank you so much for being with me. right now with 60 days to go until election day, swing state polls tightening to razor-thin margins. hillary clinton is trying to flex her commander in chief muscle. she is meeting as she has announced with a group of former and current national security leaders, including these high-profile individuals appointed, by the way, by