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tv   CNN Special Report  CNN  July 27, 2018 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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heroes, and i'm a fan of the show and as i was volunteering here, i said, wait, cnn heroes and dr. gore and perfect match. i am so proud of my friend to see him excel in this way and show the world what he does. so surreal, so exciting and so rewarding. >> and you may recognize dr. gore's nominator from a recent blockbuster superhero movie, and which one? find out at cnn and while you are there, tell us about someone that you think should be a cnn hero, and head's up, nominations close tuesday night. thank you for watching. our coverage continues. >> the following is a cnn special report. >> winston churchill famously said of russia, it is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside of
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an enigma, and prime minister churchill, meet vladimir putin. >> he is really much very much a leader, and he has done an amazing job. so smart. >> and he doesn't have a soul. >> and vladimir putin is a thug and a murderer and a killer. >> he is the richest man in the world. hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth. >> what does he want from donald trump? >> putin is going to eat him like a sandwich. >> he'd rather have a puppet as president. >> you are the puppet. >> just how powerful is he? >> putin has an untram melled a authority. >> i have not seen the checks on the power. >> so powerful that he apparently tried to the rig the american election. >> of course putin wanted hillary clinton to lose. he despised hille lary clinton
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>> who do you want vladimir putin or a crook? >> and so americans are asking, what did putin get and what more does he want? is he really the most powerful man in the world? >> december 5th, 1989. it was a cold night in dresden, east germany, and it would change the course of vladimir putin's life. the berlin wall had just fallen.
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they were lash iing out against communist rule. that night in dresden they found a target, the local kgb headquarters. the mob was outside and peering through the curtaining was a young kgb lieutenant colonel named vladimir putin. >> 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 berlin wall had come down. police weren't going to help and he called for instructions. >> desperate for help putin dialed kgb headquarters in moscow over and over again. >> finally one official told him simply moscow is silent.
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>> 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 the basement at a furnace shoveling documents as he hears demonstrations out on the street. >> they are burning the secret files so fast that the furnace is blowing up. >> 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 them. they will shoot you. and he's able to bluff his way
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out of it and tell the crowd, don't try it here. you're going to get hurt. >> putin's threat worked. the mob dispersed. >> this is the drama that stays with putin all the time. the fear of popular uprising. ♪ >> vladimir putin quells 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.
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♪ >> in may with the usual grandiosity, putin assumed the presidency of russia for the fourth time. he won the way he always does, overwhelmingly. putin's chief opponent was otherwise occupied. opposition leader alexi ei navay was arrested. much of this was not seen on russian television. >> for 94% of russians, the main source of news is television. if it did not happen on television, it did not happen. >> putin controls television. >> there is absolutely no critical words about vladimir
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putin on the russian airwaves. none. not one word. >> putin controls everything in russia. >> putin has an untrammelled authority. >> i don't see any checks here. >> he is able to make sing ular rapid decisions around and the absolutism there is unlike anything even in russia. >> the approval rate is up over 80%, and that is according to american pollsters. >> donald trump win s ts the presidency. >> but when the united states elected a new presidency, it looked like russia had fallen for a new leader.
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there were toasts all over moscow. and the parliament known as the du duma, on talk shows, and at bars. ♪ we are the champions ♪ ♪ of the world >> but withone man seemed utter unsurprised by trump's victory. >> he is happy to take credit, and that means that he won the u.s. election. the man who is simultaneously the president of russia and in charge of the united states. >> at the heart of all of this are some deadly serious questions. does vladimir putin have some kind of hold over donald trump? we simply don't know. but one reality is now crystal
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clear, american intelligence has established that putin interfered with our election in order to help donald trump. mr. putin did not agree to answer questions about this, but his closest aide dmitri peskov did. >> the simple answer is no. you are humiliating yourselves saying that the country can intervene in your election proce process. america, a huge country, and country number with the most power nfl the world, and this is simply impossible. >> we will get to the truth of all of this, but to do that, we need to go back to the final days of the country vladimir putin loved. >> i think that down deep in putin, there is this sense of extraordinary humiliation over the collapse of the soviet yun n
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union, because it was not just the soviet union, but it was the russian empire. >> putin are returned home from the kgb posting in 1990 to a country he did not recognize. the ussr had been transferred by mikhail gorbachev and his policy of openness known as glasnos. >> a lot of things happened quickly. a romance with things western. >> freedom came fast and expose ed the rock at at the heart of the soviet communism. across the soviet union, hundreds of thousands of people
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began demanding democracy and national independence. it was once again what putin feared the most, the people rising up. and finally, the people won. >> tonight in moscow at the kremlin, the red flag of the failed soviet union at last came down, and the flag of russia rose. >> 300 years of history erased. >> plagroup s like the kgb ceaso exist. >> he said that it was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century. >> it was a traumatic time, and it sparked a profound change in
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vladimir putin. he became a politician, deputy mayor in his hometown 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 soundtrack 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 the new democracy was a mess. >> the entire soviet system, it just collapsed. >> the oligarchs, the men who profited on the spoils of
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communism became fantastically rich. >> mercedes-benz is selling more of its top line cars in russia than in all the rest of europe. >> but ordinary russians were sinking into desperate poverty. there were dire food shortages, even starvation. >> translator: 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 he 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.
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>> 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. >> from city bureaucrat to kremlin superstar. >> he had just become acting prime minister when it became blindingly clear the country needed a new president. >> so yeltsin was ready to topple over, and they settled on putin because they knew that yeltsin could retire and not be put in jail. >> boris yeltsin was notoriously corrupt, but kremlin power brokers wanted to protect him. >> so the deal was made, the deal was made. >> december 31st, 1999. >> the surprise announcement from boris yeltsin that he is resigning as president and turning over power to his prime minister vladimir putin.
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>> 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 are not among its leaders. and right away putin began to change his country. he joined soldiers on the front lines of the war in chechnya. he reassured russians that better times were ahead. >> translator: 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 very -- he's a
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beautiful man that you'll see. >> but the biggest surprise, america also loved vladimir putin. president george w. bush thought that he'd found a kindred spirit. >> i looked the man in the eye. 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 a charity dinner. ♪
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but the honeymoon would soon come to a crashing halt. >> he was a kgb agent. by definition he doesn't have a soul. >> so glad to see you. >> next, when vladimir met hillary. >> it's important to remember how much he despised hillary clinton.
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today! how many times will she leave her mark? how many ways will she light up the world? this is the woman. >> at the heart of the hacking scandal that rocked the 2016 presidential election. >> ladies and gentlemen. >> was an old grudge. >> my mother, my hero and our next president hillary clinton. ♪ this is my fight song >> it went beyond ideology. it was personal. ♪ this is my fight song >> vladimir putin was not a fan of hillary clinton. >> of course putin wanted
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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 south. i mean, this is a waste of time, right? >> mrs. clinton said that you as a former kgb agent by definition can have no soul. >> putin's reply. statesmen shouldn't be guided by their hearts. they should use their heads. clinton had a lot of tough words for putin over the years. >> he's a very arrogant person to deal with. we have to stand up to his bullying.
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he is somebody who will take as 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 protests early that year. the kind of popular uprising that putin dreaded. >> he begins to see himself through the eyes of hosni mubarak. >> mubarak of egypt was facing prosecution. syria's bashar al assad was on the ropes. libya's strongman moammar gadhafi 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,
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rebellion arrived in russia. tens of thousand rallied in the streets of moscow. the biggest protest there since the fall of the soviet union. >> people were hanging off lamp posts. people were in the streets. it was really shocking. >> putin was now living the same nightmare he had endured as the 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 associate, dmitry medvedev. >> as the winter went longer and longer and got colder and colder the protests got bigger and bigger. as putin saw people turning against him, hillary clinton
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weighed in. >> the russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted. >> when putin hears something that, i imagine he hears bush talking about saddam hussein. he hears that as they are coming for me. they are trying to drive me from power and what the hell do you know about me and whether or not our people should have their voices heard? i will tell you if they should be heard. >> that fall, it was announced that putin would run for president again, for a third time. that meant that he could potentially rule russia until
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2024. >> some people said, oh, my god, i will 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 conducts of the elections. >> hillary clinton called out the election rigging. i don't think she realized quite how badly that was going to go down. >> with his back against the wall putin turned the tables. he blamed the protests on hillary clinton. claiming that she was the one who incited them with her complaints about the election. >> there are growing restrictions on the exercise of fundamental rights. >> quote, unquote, she sent a signal, that was his words.
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>> putin's strategy propelled him to victory. in march 2012 he won re-election 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 had resolved you interfered with my elections, two can play at this game? >> i think that that's the line of thinking that led him to the intervention. beginning as early as 2015.
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>> putin personally ordered a massive influence campaign to sway the 2016 e election towards trump according to the ci a a the fbi and the nsa. and why? in part, because he holds a grudge against clinton for her actions in 2011. the alleged operation was sophisticated and multi faceted. an army of internet trolls bankrolled by millions of dollars to launch and at attack on clinton in key swing states. >> they are smart enough to know that the social media is the way to touch americans personally. >> 13 russians have been indicted by special counsel robert mueller. and elite hackers linked to russia esasing embarrassing
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information with astounding results. >> the wikileaks -- >> and this latest leak is a tr trump dream come true. >> and several more russians were indicted for that operation. donald trump was delighted by clinton's misfortune. >> russia, if you are listening, i hope that you are able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. >> donald j. trump will become the 45th president of the united states defeating hillary clinton. >> again, america's election went putin's way. >> i have just received a call from secretary clinton. >> hillary clinton the was quite negative about our country and the attitude. >> it would not be bad to get along with russia, right? >> and to the contrary, the other candidate, donald trump was saying that we have to find some understanding. >> and when people like me, i like them. even putin. >> and whom would you like
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better? >> this is not the outcome that 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 because of the alleged hacking operations. >> this is painful and it will be for a long time. >> putin had apparently avenged his old grudge. >> so help me god. >> 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 it has on him in terms of the leverage, that is a very serious thing. i don't suggest for a second that i have to a answer to this question, but we can't just let this matter drop.
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>> up next -- >> a prominent russian opposition figure has been shot. >> right out in the open just blocks from the kremlin. >> the story that vladimir putin might want the world to for get. -omar, look. [ thunder rumbles ] omar, check this out. uh, yeah, i was calling to see if you do laser hair removal. for men. notice that my hips are off the ground. [ engine revving ] and then, i'm gonna pike my hips back into downward dog. [ rhythmic tapping ] hey, the rain stopped. -a bad day on the road still beats a good one off it. -tell me about that dental procedure again! -i can still taste it in my mouth! -progressive helps keep you out there. -i can still taste it in my mouth! i love you, basement bathroom of solitude, but sometimes you stink. febreze air effects doesn't just mask, it cleans away odors. because the things you love can stink.
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february 27th, 2015, nearly midnight. a man and woman walk across the bolshoi bridge, a common area
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littered with surveillance cameras. a all of those cameras, and amazingly this grainy faraway video is the only footage that exists in a critical moment of russian history. inside the circle of what a moscow tv station purports to be boris nemtsov and his girlfriend. nemtsov was, of course, the well-known russian opposition leader who led the protests in 2011. the station says that while the snowplow hides the two from cameras view nemtsov was killed, shot four times in the back. >> a prominent russian opposition figure has been shot and killed. >> four of the shots hit him in the back. >> right out in the open, just blocks from the kremlin. >> so who murdered boris nemtsov? vladimir putin condemned the killing calling it shameful and
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impudent, and five chechens are found giuilty of the murder, bu many doubts remain. >> the assassination was extremely professional. >> russian-born journalist julia joffey says that only one group could be that profession aal. >> nemtsov's girlfriend, who was walking with didn't realize he had had been shot until the car was driving off. it was quick and professional and nobody has that training outside the government. >> senator john mccain takes it one step further. >> vladimir putin is a thug and a killer and a murderer and a kgb agent. he had boris nemtsov murdered in the shadow of the kremlin. >> this is personal insult. this is lousy behavior from a politician. >> that is putin's top aide and spokesman dmitry peskov. >> that's nonsense. it's nonsense. there's nothing to comment on. >> over the course of putin's
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time in power his regime has been accused of involvement in the deaths of many of its critics, including the journalist anna politskaya and the former kgb agent litvinenko. some russian experts say that there are doz ens more like the. and then there are those who live to tell. the man seen in the surveillance footage at a u.k. convenience store is sergei skripal who moved here eight years ago after being are released from moscow where he was convicted of selling secrets as a member of mi6. he and his daughter were found unconscious on a shopping bench
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in salisbury. the police concluded that the pair had been poisoned with a military grade nerve agent. and the u.k. authorities placed the blame on one person. >> it is tragic that president putin a has chosen to act in the way. >> putin shot back calling the accusations complete dribble and rubbi rubbish. >> it is nonsense. >> pro kremlin tv went further to blame the double agent himself. >> back to that night on the bolshoi bridge, the idea that president putin had anything to do with nemtsov's murder.
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>> he was about to reveal information that had to do with russia's involvement in ukraine. >> that was released after his murder, but there was an earlier report by nemtsov that was clearly embarrassing for president putin. it claimed the president had 43 planes, 15 helicopters and 4 yachts at his disposal, including one super yacht and then there are the palaces. nemtsov's report says there were 20 presidential palaces available to putin at any time. one of the palaces known in the press simply as putin's palace was said to be worth $1 billion. >> this is not true. this is actually perverted commanding of reality. >> putin's spokesman dmitry peskov says every world leader, especially the leader of a
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nuclear power like russia or the united states has access to state-owned homes and planes and helicopters that are safe and have secure communications. >> of course he uses these vehicles, this plane, these residences, but it's not his property. the rumors about his wealth, the rumors about the palaces has nothing to do with reality. it's just lies. >> the rumors of putin's wealth? well, some of them are simply staggering. >> and some people including myself believe that he's the richest man in the world or one of the richest men in the world. >> bill braddo was once the largest foreign investor in russia. now he's one of vladimir putin's toughest critics. we talked in 2015. you really think that putin is the richest man in the world? >> i think that and i'm not saying that crazily. >> estimate his net worth. >> 200 billion. >> really? >> i believe it's 200 billion. >> that would make putin almost
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two and a half times wealthier than the man whom "forbes" says says it is more than the world's wealthiest jeff bezos. >> all these rumors, all the accusations about billions and billions of dollars as his fortune, this is not true. don't believe in that. >> he's got nothing. he's got what he writes in his personal financial declaration every year. >> putin's most recent financial declaration says he personally owns less than half an acre of land, a roughly 900-square foot apartment and a 200-square foot garage into which maybe he puts the vehicles listed in that document. two vintage russian sedans, a russian 4x4 and a trailer like this one. the document does not say how much putin has in the bank or in investments. top treasury official adam szubin talked to the bbc. >> i'm not prepared to give you figures, but what i can say he
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supposedly draws a state salary of something like $110,000 a year. that's not an accurate statement of the man's wealth. >> we may not know exactly how much putin is worth, but we do know this. vladimir putin is remarkably popular in russia. why? we will tell you when we come back.
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the most powerful man in the world is also the most popular! >> vladimir putinin's approval rating has soared as high as 86% in recent years. consider that american presidents are happen we they break the 50% mark. >> how has he done it? partly it's the cult of putin. he has mastered the art of the manly photo-op. he rides horseback bare-chested and finds ancient treasures
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under water and he rides a submarine to the bottom of the black sea and flies planes and fights forest fires. >> something ridiculous about a middle-aged world leader riding around shirtless on a horse like conan the barbarian after a dozen doughnuts. who thinks this looks good? >> everything that we find ridiculous about vladimir putin is very appealing in a media universe that he controls absolutely. >> perhaps the foundation of the putin juggernaut is a political truism no matter where you live. it is the economy, stupid. after the chaotic years of boris yeltsin, putin stepped in and stabilize the country, and he rode the wave of ever rising oil prices which in russia's resource-rich economy translated into rising wages and soaring
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stock indices. then in late 2014, the party stopped. the 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 and and allowed the ruble to al fall, and the central bank has kept inflation in check. putin is a fiscal conservative. >> the outward seemings seeming of wealth is similar to dubai. >> and then add to it his secret sauce, nationalism. and it surged in 2014 after an invasion that shocked the world. >> the bigger nations must not be allowed the bully the small. >> vladimir putin grab ad pie p
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of ukraine for russia. the west was horrified. >> it is something that adoff hit ler did in the 1930s. >> but it was different in the russian eyes. >> i have never met a russian who believes that ukraine is a separate state. >> of course, many of the ukrainians deeply resented the invasi invasion, but not the russians, because they see it as a revival of the deep sense of power and destiny. >> putin has given them pride back. and russia is once again a great power. pewti putinism is national vichl a-- nationalism and above all he has
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made russian great again. sound familiar? >> we will make america great again. >> usa. usa. >> 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 is playing in poker terms a couple of deuces at the highest level. he has reasserted russia on the world stage from a position of relatively weakness like nobody i can think of. that is an amazing feat of geopolitics. . id you have in mind? i don't know. $4.95 per trade? uhhh and i was wondering if your brokerage offers some sort of guarantee? guarantee? where we can get our fees and commissions back if we're not happy. so can you offer me what schwab is offering?
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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've seen in other great nations, as the russian chess grand master garry kasparov has noted, himself a harsh critic of putin, the entire construct of
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russian political authority rests on one man. when the czar died, after all, you knew the process by which is his successor, his son, would be elevated. when the general secretary of the soviet communist party died, the standing committee and the politburo would pick his successor. but when putin dies -- almost said if, what will happen? no one knows. to understand putin you have to understand russia. the last 100 years for that country have seen the fall of communism, war, communism, collapse, and then comes vladimir putin. he ushers in two decades of stability and thanks to rising oil prices, increases the standards of living and prominence in the world.
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russian russians do have immense national pride, and russia is after all the largest country on the planet, and 48 times larger tharn germany. it encompasses 11 time zones and stratles europe, asia and the middle east, and demands a prominent place on the world stage. after the summit in helsinki, he appears to have accomplished that goal and much more. but what did america get from this meeting? at the press conference after the summit, donald trump gave the perhaps most embarrassing performance of a american witness that i have witnessed or read about. his preposterous ways to get out of the troubles are even more absurd. >> the sentence should have been i don't see why it wouldn't have been rush sharks and sort of a double negative. >> but what is obscured by the embarrassing and disastrous performance is russia's
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narrative. donald trump has always said that having better relations with russia would be a good thing. >> wouldn't it be a great thing if we could get along with russia. wou wouldn't that be a good thing? >> in this he is not alone. barack obama and hillary clinton both agreed on a reset in russia. >> so glad to see you. >> it was one of many efforts at conciliation including one from george w. bush. >> russia is not the enemy of the united states. >> but every reset and rapprochement failed. it is obvious they are not willing to bill themselves into the national order, but to destabilize the order. as he tries to the destabilize the west, he understands the vulnerabilities of the free societies and the internal divisions and the discord and the gaping openness, and he understands the fragility of the institutions like the european union and nato and the ideas
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like integration and diversity, and in other words, vladimir putin understands us very well. the question is do we, does donald trump really understand him? xxx. good evening. it says something about the kind of week we've seen or month or year, three, for that matter that the big question tonight is who are you going to believe? someone for not known for telling the truth or someone on record having made more than 3,000 false or misleading statements since becoming president. it says even more that this entirely deeply offensive notion seems to be the president's entire defensive strategy tonight. sources tell us michael cohen is prepared to tell russia's special counsel robert mueller that candidate trump had advanced knowledge of the new infamous june 2016 meeting between his son, son-in-law, campaign chairman and russians promising kremlin intelligence on hillary clinton. in short, if mr. cohen is to


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