tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN July 6, 2017 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT
♪ winston churchhill famously said of russia it's a mystery wrapped in an inenigma. meet vladimir putin. is there he's been a leader far more than our president has been a leader. >> he was a kgb agent. >> he's a thug, and a murderer and a killer. >> he's the richest man in the world. hundreds of billions of dollars. >> what does he want from donald trump? >> putin is going to eat him like a sandwich. >> he'd rather have a puppet as president. >> just how powerful is he? >> putin has an untrammeled
authority. i don't see checks on his power. >> so powerful he rigged the american election? >> of course he wanted hillary clinton to lose. he despies hillary clinton. >> who would you like better? >> of the world. >> while russia celebrates. americans ask what does he want? and is he really the most powerful man in the world? >> december fifth, 1989, it was a cold night in drezden, east germany and it would change the course of vladimir putin's life. the berlin wall had just fallen.
all over east germany angry crowds roamed the streets, lashing out at symbols of communist rule. that night in dresden they found a target, the local kgb head quarters. a mob surrounded the building. as the hour grew later, the crowd grew larger. inside, peering through the curtains was a young kgbt lieutenant colonel named vladimir putin. is there he was terrified that they were going to storm the building. >> putin was a junior officer but the boss was away. he was in charge. >> the police weren't going to help and he called for
instruction. >> desperate for help, putin dialled quarterquarts in moscow over and over again. finally one official told him simply moscow is silent. >> and i think it felt like a deep betrayal to him. >> vladimir putin was on his own. he went down into the bowels of the building and fired up the furnace. >> he finds himself in a basement shoveling documents as he hears demonstrations out on the street. >> they are burning the street with fire so high -- >> putin torched thousands of pages of kgb documents and secrets as the crowd closed in. with the fire still raging,
putin went outside and faced the mob by himself. there are armed guards inside, he told him. they will shoot you. >> and he's able to blot his way out of it and tell the crowd don't try here. you'll get hurt. >> putin's threat worked. >> this is the drama that stays with putin all the time. the fear of popular uprising. >> vladimir putin quelled that fear with absolute control. this is what control looks like. ♪ in one of the world's busiest cities the streets are emptied
for vladimir putin's motorcade. 12 million people simply disappear on putin's inauguration day. [ speaking russian] >> the event was perfectly produced for russian television. every detail flawlessly planned. almost every detail. a few russians did not follow the script. >> literally a block away from his inauguration was a cafe where the opposition like to gather and drink wine and drink daufy. coffee. and the riot police descend on
the cafe. and start arresting people sitting at their tables outside, turning over tables, breaking cups and plates. ♪ >> the crack down was not shown on russian television. >> for 94% of russians their main source of news is television. if it didn't happen on television, it didn't happen. >> putin controls television. >> there was absolutely no
critical words about vladimir putin on the russian news, none, not one word. >> putin controls everything in russia. >> putin has an untrammeled authority. >> i don't see any checks on his power. he is able to make singular rapid decisions. the absolutism is anything like i've seen in russia. >> all that power is propped up by an astonishing approval rating, more than 80%. and that's according to american pollsters. ♪ >> donald trump wins the presidency. >> but when the united states elected a new president, it looked like russia had fallen for a new leader.
there were toasts all over moscow. at the parliament. on talk shows. and at bars. ♪ we are the champions of the world ♪ >> but one seemed utterly unsurprised by trump's victory. >> he's happy to take credit. and that means he wants it. the man who is simultaneously in charge of russia and the united states. >> trump impersonators are everywhere in russia.
but it could be an american tv program that best describes the putin/trump relationship. >> i think putin views trump as an apprentice. >> at the heart of all this are some deadly serious questions. does vladimir putin have some kind of pull over donald trump. did he tamper with the american election? >> i tried to ask him. mr. putin agreed to answer my -- didn't agree to answer my questions but his press aid did. fl the answer is very simple. no. your humiliating yourself saying that country can intervene in your election process. america, a huge country, the most powerful country in the world. it is simply impossible. >> we will get at the truth of all this but to do that, we need
to go back to the final days of the country vladimir putin loved. >> i think down deep in putin there is this sense of extraordinary humiliation over the collapse of the soviet union because it wasn't just the soviet union, it was the russian empire. >> putin returned home from his kgb posting in 1990 to a country he did not recognize. the u.s.s.r. had been transformed by mukyle gorbechev. >> things happened very quickly. a romance with things western.
>> freedom came fast and it exposed the it rock at the heart of soviet communism. across the soviet union hundreds of thousands of people began demanding democracy and national independence. it was once again what putin feared most. the people rising up. and finally the people won. >> tonight in moscow at the kremlin the red flag at the failed soviet union at last came down and the flag of russia rose. >> 300 years of history erased. >> soviet institutions like the it kg brksz simply ceased to exist. >> vladimir putin views the
break up of the soviet union to be the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century. >> it was a traumatic time and it sparked a profound change in vladimir putin. he became a politician. deputy mayor in his home town of st. petersburg. it was not a big job but putin clearly had big dreams. he commissioned this rarely seen documentary about himself. presenting vladimir putin, the credits read, in power. weirdly the sound track is from the broadway show, cats. the ambitious putin may already have been looking towards moscow
because the russian people were desperate for strong leadership. under president boris yeltsin, it collapsed. >> it just collapsed. >> the oligarchs, the men who profited on the poils of communism became fantastically rich. but ordinary russians were sinking into desperate poverty. there were dire food short nls, even starvation. >> i don't know how to feed my kids without milk. i just don't know what we're going to do. >> president boris yeltsin was
in charge but seemed increasingly unstable. >> he is drinking. he's barely being propped up. >> russians began calling for a new leader. >> they were tired of the embarrassments of yeltsin. >> waiting in the wings was vladimir putin. he had taken a job in moscow in the kremlin hierarchy. and he had risen through the ranks with lightning speed. he had just become acting prime minister when it became blindingly clear the country needed a new president. >> so he's ready to topple over and they settled on putin because they knew yeltsin could retire without going to jail. >> power brokers wanted to
protect him. >> so the deal was made. deal was made. >> december 31st, 1999. >> the surprise announcement from boris yeltsin that he's resigning as president and turning over power to vladimir putin. >> in the very first moments of the 21st century, vladimir putin became president of russia. his first words. "we live in a competitive world and we are not among its leaders." and right away putin began to change his contry. he joined soldiers on the front lines. he assured russians that better times were ahead. >> i think we'll get paid and
we'll have work. >> the country quickly fell in love with vladimir putin. the number one song in russia was called a man like putin. >> he's just really -- you see. >> but the biggest surprise. america also loved vladimir putin. president george w. bush thought he'd found a kindred speared. >> i found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy. i was able to get a sense of his soul. ♪
>> even hollywood fell for the new russian president. he bonded with stars at charity dinner. but the honeymoon would soon come to a crashing halt. >> he was a kgb agent. by definition, he doesn't have a soul. >> next. when vladimir met hillary. >> it's important to remember how much he disspiesed. i'm a concrete mason. i own my own company. i had some severe fatigue, some funny rashes. finally, listening to my wife, went to a doctor. and i became diagnosed with hodgkin's lymphoma
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scandal that brought the 2016 presidential election was an old grudge. >> my mother, my hero, and our next president, hillary clinton. ♪ >> it went beyond ideology. it was personal. vladimir putin was not a fan of hillary clinton. >> of course putin wanted hillary clinton to lose. he hated hillary clinton. >> prime minister, we have a lot of problems. >> the tension between the leaders had been brewing for years. in 2001 another american leader, george w. bush, vouched for putin. >> i was able to get a sense of his soul. >> thank you. thank you. >> but on the campaign trail in 2008, hillary had a different
take. >> i could have told him he was a kgb agent. by definition he doesn't have a soul. this is a waste of time, right? >> mrs. clinton said you, as a former kgb agent, by definition, can have no soul. >> putin's reply, statesman shouldn't be guided by their hearts, they should use their heads. he had a lot of tough words for putin over the years. >> he's a very arrogant person to deal with. he will takes a much as he possibly can. >> but it was what happened in 2011 that marked a point of no return. it began with the arab spring protest early that year, the kind of popular uprising that putin dreaded. >> he begins to see himself
through the eyes of mobaric. >> mobaric of egypt was facing execution. syria's assad was on the ropes. gudaufy met a particularly gruesome fate. brutally killed after begging for his life. putin may have feared the same bloody fate for himself. just a few weeks later rebellion arrived in russia. 10s of thousands rallied in the streets of moscow. the biggest protest there since the fall of the soviet union. >> people were hanging off lamp posts, in the streets. it was really shocking. >> putin was now living the same nightmare he had endured as a
kgb officer in east germany in 1989. this time in his own backyard. and he wasn't even president at the time. he was prime minister. having handed the presidency over to his successor. >> as it went longer and longer, colder and colder, the protests got bigger and bigger. >> as putin saw people turning against him, hillary clinton weighed in. >> the it russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted. >> i imagine he hears bush talking about saddam hussein. he hears that as they're coming for me.
they're trying to drive me out of power and what do you know about my people and whether they deserve to have their voices heard. i'll tell you if they should have their voices heard. >> russians have h a lot of reasons to be angry. that fall it was announced that putin would run for president again for a third time. that meant he could potentially rule russia until 2024. >> some people said oh, my god, i'm going to die with this guy in power. >> a few months later the elections for russia's parliament were a farce. >> we do have serious concerns about the condicauct of the election. >> hillary clinton called up the election -- >> with his back against the
wa wall putin turned the tables. he blamed the protests on hillary clinton. claiming that she was the one who incited them. >> there are growing restrictions on the exercise of fundamental rights. >> quote on quote she sent the signal. that was his words. >> putin's strategy propelled him to victory. in march 2012 he won reelection handily. fighting back tears after a tense fight to maintain his
power. he may have won the day but vladimir putin never forgot about the woman who had kicked him when he was down. >> do you think he resolved you interfered in my elections. two can play at this game? >> i think that's the line of thinking that led him to the intervention. i'm totally convinced russians were interfering covertly. >> they determined that putin personally ordered a campaign to influence the election. in part because he hold as grudge for clinton's comments in 2011. putin has denied that russia was hacking the democrats. >> i don't know anything about that. you know how many hackers there
are today. it's an extremely difficult thing to check. >> the russians allegedly focus their attack on a particularly weak target. the democratic national committee. you could have broke inhto the dnc with a can opener. it took les work than it took the watergate burglars back during the nixon campaign. >> the leak revealed transcripts. >> embarrassing emails myst mysterio mysteriously leaked from the email campaign were all over the news. >> pretty much a trump dream come true. >> donald trump was delighted by clinton's miss fortuned. >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the
30,000 emails that are missing. >> in the end america's election went putin's way. >> i just received a call from secretary clinton. >> hillary clinton was quite negative about our country in her attitude. >> it wouldn't be bad to get along with russia, would it? >> and to the contrary, the other candidate, donald trump was saying we have to find some understanding sfwlp when people like me, i like them, even putin. >> who would you like better? >> this is not the outcome we wanted. >> hillary clinton suffered one of the most shocking defeats in american history. >> i know how disappointed you feel because i feel it too. >> at least in part some observers say because of the alleged hacking operation. >> this is painful and it will be for a long time.
>> putin had avenged his old grudge. >> congratulations, mr. president. >> and he may have achieved even more. >> the 45th president of the united states. >> if donald trump is in some way compromised. if the russian government has something that it feels has on him in terms of leverage, that's a very serious thing. i don't suggest i have the answer to this question but we can't gist let this matter drop. >> up next. >> a prominent russian opposition figure has been shot and killed. >> the story vladimir putin might want the world to forget. so, your new prescription does havoh, like what?ffects. ♪ you're gonna have dizziness, ♪ nausea, and sweaty eyelids.
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february 27th, 2015, nearly midnight. a man and woman walk across the moscow bridge right next to the kremlin. a highly monitored area littered with surveillance cameras. all those cameras but amazingly this grainy far away video is the only footage that exists of a critical moment in recent russian history. inside what they prupors to be boris nensof and his girlfriend. the well-known opposition leader who led the protests in 2011.
they say while this snow plow hides the two from camera's view, he was killed, shot four times in the back. >> a prominent russian opposition figure has been shot and killed -- >> right out in the open blocks from the kremlin. >> so who murdered boris? vladimir putin condemned the killing, calling it shameful and impueitant. and five shechniaens were found guilty. russian born journalist says only one group could be that professional. >> his girlfriend, whom he was walking with didn't realize he had been shot until the car drove off. nobody has that kind of training
outside the government. >> vladimir putin is a thug and a murderer and a killer and a kgb agent. he had boris murdered in the shadow of the kremlin. >> this is personal insult. this is lousy behavior from a politician. >> that is putin's top aid and spokesman. >> it's nonsense. it's nonsense. over the course of putin's time in power, his regime has been accused of involvement in the death of many of its critics including the journalist and a former kgb agent. the scholar of russian studies, steven cohen responds. >> there's not a shred of evidence but they take on a kind of folk lowerish reality. >> the allegations that putin might have played a role in
boris's murder may stem in part that it may have been accumulating against the president. >> he was about to reveal information that would prove russia's involvement in the ukrain. >> that report was produced a few months after his murder. but there was an earlier report p published in 2012 that was embarrassing for putin. it claimed the president had 43 planes, 15 helicopters and four yachts at his disposal, including one superyacht. then there are the palaces. the report says there were 20 presidential palaces available to putin at any time. one of the palaces known simply as putin's palace was said to be worth $1 billion. >> this is not true.
this is actually commanding a reality. putin's spokesman says every leader, especially the leader of a nuclear power like russia or the united states haz access to state owned planes and helicopters that are safe and have secure communications. >> of course he uses this plane, this residences but it's not his property. the rumors about his welt, the palaces has nothing to do with reality. it's just lies. >> the rumors of putin's wealth, well, some of them are staggering. >> some of them including myself believe he's the richest man in the world or one of the richest men min world. >> he was once the largest foreign investor. we talked in 2015. you really think putin is the richest man in the world? >> i do and i'm not just saying
that crazally. >> estimate his worth. >> 200 billion. i believe it's 200 billion. >> that would make him almost two 1/2 times wealthier than who forbes says is the wealthiest, bill gates. >> his fortune, this is not true. don't believe in that. he's got nothing. he's got what he writes in his financial declaration every year. >> putin's most recent declaration says he owns a roughly 900 square foot apartment and a 200 square foot garage into which he puts the vehicles listed in that document, a vintage 4 by 4 and a trailer like this one.
the document does not say how much putin has in the bank or investments. top u.s. treasury official talked to the bbc. >> i'm not in a position to give you figures but what i can say is he supposedly draw as state salary of something like $110,000 a year. that is not an accurate statement of the man's wealth. >> but if putin was getting rich, he certainly wasn't the it only one in russia. in 1996 when putin had just moved to moscow and begun his climb to the top, there were no billionaires in all of russia. by 2014, russia had 111 billionaires. and while moscow has multiple bentley dealerships, the average wage in russia is less than 4$40
a month. that's lowest than the lowest wage in china. but despite all the allegations, despite all the accusations, the fact remains, vladimir putin is wildly popular in russia. why? we'll tell you when we come back. termites, feasting on homes 24/7. we're on the move. roger. hey rick, all good? oh yeah, we're good. we're good. termites never stop trying to get in, we never stop working to keep them out. terminix. defenders of home. afi sure had a lot on my mind. my 30-year marriage... ...my 3-month old business...
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vladimir putin's approval rating has soared as much as 86% in recent years. considered american presidents are happy when they break the 50% mark. ♪ how has he done it? partly it's a cult of putin. he has mastered the art of the manly photo op. finds ancient treasures underwater. he rides a submarine to the bottom of the black sea, flies planes, fights forest fires. >> there's something ridiculous about a middle aged world leader riding around shirtless on a horse like conan the barbarian after eating a dozen doughnuts. >> in a media universe that he controls absolutely. >> perhaps the foundation of the
putin juggernaut is a truism no matter where you live. it's the economy, stupid. after the chaotic years of boris yeltsin. putin stepped in and stabilized the country. and he road the wave of ever rising oil then in late 2014, the party stopped. oil prices slumped and soon after, came western economic sanctions. vladimir putin has navigated hard times well. he has slashed social spending, implemented an austerity program, allowed the ruble to fall. putin is is a fiscal conservative. >> the outward seeming aspect of wealth looks closer to dubai
than moscow 30 years ago. just an amazing transformation. >> add to the economics putin's secret sauce, nationalism. and it surged in 2014 after an invasion that shocked the world. >> bigger nations must not be allowed to bully the small. >> vladimir putin grabbed a piece of ukraine for russia. the west was horrified. >> that's the sort of thing adolf hitler did in the 1930s. we thought those days were gone. >> but it all looked very different through russian eyes. >> i have never meat a russian who accepted the notion of ukraine as a totally separate state. >> of course, many ukrainians deeply resented the invasion. but not russians. they see it as a revival of a deep sense of power and national destiny. >> putin has given them their pride back. russia is once again a great power.
♪ >> putinism is an ideology of social conservatism, of anti-westernism, but above all, of national power. putin might say he has made russia great again. ♪ we are the champions sound familiar? >> we will make america great again. [ crowd chanting with t ining "] >> like putin, trump has used nationalism to boost his support, but many believe that donald trump is no vladimir putin. >> putin is a much more practiced, subtle, cunning, player. he's playing in poker terms a couple of deuces at the highest level. he has reasserted russia on the world stage from a position of relative weakness like nobody i
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finally, here are my thoughts on he whom we have called the most powerful man in the world. first, let me explain the title. the united states and china, for that matter, are more powerful countries than russia, of course, but the power of a head of state is determined both by the country's strength and the capacity he or she has to exercise that power. unilaterally. unconstrained by other institutions, parties or political forces. and combining those two metrics, it's easy to see why vladimir putin rises to the top. he has created what he calls a vertical of power unlike any we have seen in other great nations. as the russian chess grand master has noted, himself a harsh critic of putin, the entire structure of russian political authority rests on one man. when the czar died, after all,
you knew the process by which his successor, his son, would be elevated. when the general secretary of the soviet communist party died, the standing committee in the bureau would select his successor. but when putin dies, i almost said if, what will happen? no one knows. to understand putin, you have to understand russia. the last hundred years for that country have seen the fall of the czar, the collapse of democracy, the great depression. world war ii with its tens of millions of russian dead. stalin's totalitarian brutalities, the collapse of communism, the breakup of the soviet union, borris yeltsin's years of chaos. and then comes vladimir putin who ushers in two decades of rising standards of living and increasing prominence and respect in the world.
respect is important. russians have immense national pride. russia is, after all, the largest country on the planet. 48 times larger than germany. it encompasses 11 time zones and straddles europe, asia and the middle east. it is also a rich country, containing some of the largest deposits of raw materials from oil and natural gas to nickel and aluminum. culturally, it has often thought of itself as the third rome, preserving christianity even as roman fell to the barbarians. putin understands russia. but he also understands the world. he's not foolish enough to make frontal assault on america or europe. he knows how to use power ace m asymmetrically with cyber tools and disinformation. he understands the vulnerabil y vulnerabilities of free societies, the internal division and discord and the gaping openness.
he understands the fragility of institutions like the european union and nato, ideas like integration and diversity. in other words, vladimir putin understands us very well. the question is, do we, does donald trump, really understand him? good evening, john burman here in for anderson. breaking news tonight on perhaps the only growth industry in the united states, the president will not be touting any time soon, russian spying. here at home, on the rise. a new twist as president trump gets ready to meet his russian counterpart who happens to be russia's former top spy and someone who may have ordered intelligence operations aimed at getting him elected. today, president trump issued his strongest statement yet about russian mischief around the world but abundantly unwilling to decisively include russian meddling in the u.s. election as part of it. that's the reality tonight in hamburg, germany, on the