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Massive And Powerful Hurricane With Destructive Category 4 Winds; President Trump Is At Camp David Where He Is Being Briefed On The Storm; 2020 Democratic Front-Runner Joe Biden Under Fire For Telling A Movie But Apparently False, War Story On The Campaign Trail; Hurricane Dorian Intensifies, Heads For Southeastern U.S.; West Palm Beach Officials Warn Residents to Keep Up Their Guard; James Mattis: "I Had No Choice but to Leave"; Biden Slams Trump for "Traumatizing" Immigration Policy; Several Women Running to Defeat Trump in 2020; Kamala Harris' Biggest Little Supporters. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 31, 2019 - 16:00   ET



[16:00:31] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Top of the hour. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

Thanks for being here as we continue to follow the breaking news right now, a massive and powerful hurricane with destructive category four winds. Hurricane Dorian is still churning toward the southeastern U.S., but suddenly on a much less predictable path after shifting east. Still people in coastal Florida could start feeling tropical storm force winds as soon as tomorrow, and now it's also threatening the Carolinas and Georgia.

Forecasters, however, say this eye of the hurricane probably won't make landfall in the U.S. But make no mistake, this is still a major emergency for people near the beaches and many miles inland.

Let's get to CNN's Chad Myers in the severe weather center for us.

Chad, this is, I guess, relatively positive news that the eye of the storm will maybe stay offshore. But people should not let their guard down, right?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I wouldn't let my guard down for 60 miles in a category 4 hurricane, absolutely not.

I will show you what the new European model does in the Bahamas and then realize how close the Bahamas are to the southeast U.S. So just watch that for a second. This is just a visible. This is an amazing image of the eye itself. I can zoom right in to it. And at least for a while earlier -- no, you can still see it -- you could actually see the ocean from space through the eye.

I think the satellite is becoming a little bit more impressive at this hour where we were at 150 a couple of hours ago. I don't know if the hurricane center will go to a category five, 157 or greater at 5:00. It's possible, but there's not a plane in it to confirm it, so they may not. They may wait for another airplane. See how it's getting brighter white. That brighter white means that

the cloud tops are getting colder. The storms are getting higher. And probably the intensity of the hurricane is still going up.

This is what it looks like, a nice big curve, but that's not what the models are saying. I'm going to draw a little spot right there. There's Nassau. There's Freeport and there's a hurricane right now. Watch what it does. I'm going to draw a spot here for Freeport, that right there. So there's our spot.

This is Sunday at 10:30 in the morning tomorrow morning. This is Sunday, 10:00 at night. This is Monday, 10:00 in the morning. This is Monday, 10:00 at night. That's 36 to 48 hours with a 140 miles per hour storm right over Grand Bahama Island, Great Abico and Freeport. It's over Nassau, but not as much.

Look, I can use my two fingers and get as close to the southeast border as that. We need to hope that this stops well before the Bahamas because that will be a devastating blow. And we also need to hope that it doesn't stop 60 miles later over south Florida. That's why you can't let your guard down. Models aren't perfect. They haven't been perfect for this thing now. For the entire time it was out there in the ocean.

So we are going to keep watching it. Obviously, the hurricane center will come up with an update in 50 minutes. We will have it for you soon as it happens. Hurricane warnings are in effect. There are no warnings or watches in effect for the U.S. just yet, just offshore. We will have storm surge, 50 to 20 feet in some spots. Probably at least 15 over parts of the Bahamas, and the waves are forecasted to be somewhere in the Ballpark of 30 to 40 feet on top of that.

Offshore, yes, but not offshore for the Bahamas, they are the shore. Some of those islands are sand islands that don't go over 12 feet tall. I think the highest spot is somewhere around 60 feet on Grand Bahama Island. So there you go. You start to put surge, you start put rainfall, and there will be 20 inches of rain over the Bahamas because it's just going to sit there and rain. It's just going to sit there and just blow for days.

There will be a good spot if you are in the middle of the eye. You may be in the middle of it for a long, long time. But it's the edges, that periphery, that eye wall, that will just pound those towns, those cities, those islands for such a very, very long time.

It's an amazing looking storm. I wish it was in some other ocean a long, long way from land but it's not. It's too close right now.

CABRERA: Yes, it is a cat four status but a very high intensity category four with 150 miles per hour winds. That's just seven miles per hour shy of cat five, right?

MYERS: Exactly right, 157 plus is the cat five. And they found 166 miles per hour gusts but it's not the gusts, it's the sustained winds that's how you get your category. It would be a category five gust but it's not a category five storm. [16:05:09] CABRERA: OK, Chad Myers, thank you very much for watching.

MYERS: You are welcome.

CABRERA: Every change, every slight change which means who knows where it's going to go next.

In Florida's east coast, residents are getting the news there that Dorian's track is drifting, that the hurricane's eye is not likely to make landfall.

CNN's Martin Savidge is joining us from Vero Beach.

Martin, with the latest forecast, are people starting to breathe a sigh of relief yet?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it is just what a difference the day makes. Yesterday everybody was stocking up. Their faces were really grieving. Then this morning, clearly, they wake up and they see a very different kind of forecast.

But I don't want to jinx it here. The mayor is saying there's a 30 percent chance they believe they could get hurricane force winds. But of course, that is greatly down from yesterday what they were talking.

Felicia Carter (ph), please come and join me here.

Felicia, you are a resident, been here all your life, how are you taking the news about the way the storm is changing.

FELICIA CARTER (ph), RESIDENT: I'm very happy that the storm is curving. So, yes, I'm very happy.

SAVIDGE: Have you prepared? Were you ready for this?

CARTER (ph): Yes, I was. I was getting prepared. Water was gifted. But supplies, as for candles, and you know, food -- nonperishable food, yes, I was preparing for it.

SAVIDGE: This is something the area has been through a couple of times. In fact, I would say this is the third hurricane you faced and all of them have not been fortunately as bad as predicted. Does this create a problem where if it does get serious, people may not take it seriously next time?

CARTER (ph): I don't know because we also have people moving in from out of state, so those are the people that are going to take it seriously. Me as a Floridian, I still do take a serious, but just prepare. Being prepared.

SAVIDGE: We were talking about buffalo sauce, you needed that today.

CARTER (ph): Yes, I did.

SAVIDGE: The whole joke about this, Ana, is that this is chicken that you bought for the storm, and now she is going to make the buffalo sauce but that chicken is going to be good, especially without a hurricane.

CARTER (ph): Yes.

SAVIDGE: Enjoy it, Felicia. Thank you so very much.

CARTER (ph): Thank you.

SAVIDGE: So right now this community is guarded, optimistically that the weather is going to go unfortunately someplace else. But they are willing at least for the time being to keep an eye on the sky and see what the 5:00 forecast brings and that's especially what the city leadership is going to be doing here, looking at what the 5:00 forecast is because they want to see a trend and trend away from here -- Ana.

CABRERA: Sending that community, all of our positive energy.

Martin Savidge, thank you.

Now Florida's east coast is where we have the sprawling Kennedy Space center. No stranger to hurricane preps over the years. Cape Canaveral has seen its share of damage most recently from hurricane Irma in 2017 which caused significant trouble with water systems at the space port.

Mayor Ben Malik of Cocoa Beach, Florida is joining us now.

Mayor, just a day ago, mandatory evacuation orders went out for part of the state, I know, to take effect tomorrow morning. Are you breathing a tentative sigh of relief given this latest forecast showing Dorian's track has shifted.

MAYOR BEN MALIK, COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA: Yes, Ana, thank you very much. Actually, we are. But, you know, unfortunately the vents are not static. And despite the fact we launch rockets here literally including weather satellite, we still don't know as you have seen this thing has shifted all over the place. We are certainly thankful for the east drift, and we'll be happy if it just continues moving that way.

CABRERA: You have been the mayor there since 2016. And just a couple of years ago you saw your city hall, your police station get devastated by hurricane Irma and the damage to just those couple of buildings was an estimated million dollars. What worries you the most about a storm like Dorian?

MALIK: Well, the good part is that it shifted east. The bad part is that it's growing in intensity and width. And it's over extremely warm water right now which is very conducive to strengthening further. And you know, we have a lot of older infrastructure, a lot of older buildings. We are a barrier island surrounded by water. We have the river behind us and the Atlantic ocean block from the area (ph).

CABRERA: Earlier you said you have a military precision like plan in place for Cocoa Beach. Walk us through that plan. MALIK: Sure. Well, every community, this actually is called incident

command system and it was basically designed by a firefighter to fight forest fires and improved on by the department of homeland security post 9/11. It's basically triage of coordinating all our resources, police, fire, and staff to make sure everything is done in a very logical, methodical method. Unfortunately, we are all too good at it.

CABRERA: Do you generally get good compliance from the residents in Cocoa Beach when evacuations are ordered or do you have concerns that not enough people are going to heed the warnings?

[16:10:02] MALIK: Well, that's always a concern. And you know, at the end of the day, you know, we're not going to drag somebody out of somebody's house, but you know, we would prefer that they heed the caution. Our mandatory evacuations were actually bumped out to Monday at 8:00 a.m. So obviously the 5:00 hour will be something to look at. But again, it's more the flooding and the rain event that I'm concerned about with potentially storm surge. And once, you know, winds reach a certain speed, they can't come get you, and you are on your own.

CABRERA: And we are hearing the storm could just sit. It's been moving at a snail like pace. Meaning if it is as strong as it is now, those rains, the storm surge, those winds would obviously be sitting there for quite some time.

Mayor Ben Malik, I appreciate you taking the time, helping to get the word out. And we will be continuing to check in with you. I wish you all the best.

MALIK: Thank you, much, take care.

CABRERA: You too.

Happening now, President Trump is at Camp David where he is being briefed on the storm as we speak. But the President is facing this storm surrounded by acting officials in key roles. How could that affect the response?

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:14:52] CABRERA: It's about a quarter past four. So that means according to the President's schedule, he is being briefed on hurricane Dorian right now. The Presidential was supposed to be in Poland this weekend but he cancelled the trip so he could stay back and monitor the storm. He is doing that at Camp David. But we know he left the grounds briefly today for an outing of golf where the White House said he continue to receive hourly briefings.

CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is live for us at the White House.

Boris, the storm is making a B line now for the southeastern coast. It is outer bands are expected to hit Monday night. But the President is now facing this storm surrounded by acting officials in key roles. What's the potential impact of that?

[16:15:33] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, as you know, President Trump has said that he likes his cabinet secretaries and other advisers to operate in an acting capacity because it gives him more flexibility. Those are his words.

In this case, the President's choice to lead FEMA, Jeffrey Byard is actually caught up in a confirmation process in the senate right now. So he is not even actually leading that agency.

In his place, the acting administrator, Peter Gainer is working this hurricane Dorian. It's his first time overseeing a hurricane while working for FEMA. His resume includes a decade of emergency management most notably in Rhode Island where he handled a series of tropical storms.

Notably also, you see there, the acting secretary of the department of homeland security, Kevin McAleenan, he doesn't have a great relationship with this White House. Sources indicate that the President views him with a measure of distrust. People close to McAleenan actually told CNN that he was considering resigning earlier this summer because of disagreements that he had with the President over the issue of immigration.

And lastly, the Homeland Security adviser, a position that typically reports to the President as Tom Bossert did until he left the administration, rear admiral Peter Brown now in diminish role. That position now reports to the national security advisor John Bolton. So it is unclear how much President Trump is hearing from him.

We should point out as you said Stephanie Grisham, the press secretary, telling reporters that the President was briefed every hour by a FEMA official while he was out there at his golf club. And as you said right now, he is getting a briefing on the situation with Dorian. We will provide you with any updates as they come in. We are refreshing twitter to see what the President has to say, Ana.

CABRERA: Again, he is being brief right now.

Thank you, Boris Sanchez.

Another week, another self-inflicted wound for Vice President Biden. But is the Democratic front-runner benefiting from new rules when it comes to having command of the facts in the President Trump era?

That's next live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:21:09] CABRERA: 2020 Democratic front-runner Joe Biden under fire for telling a movie but apparently false, war story on the campaign trail. Biden's story details his interaction with an American war here in Afghanistan who Biden says repelled down a ravine under fire to retrieve the body of a fallen comrade. Here's how he tells it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A four star general asked me whether I would go up into the fob. Now everybody got concerned a vice president going up in the middle of this but -- we can lose a vice president. We can't lose many more of these kids. Not a joke. This guy climbed down a ravine, carried this guy up on his back under fire, and the general wanted me to pin the silver star on him. I got up there and stand, said God's truth, my word as a Biden. He stood his attention. He said, sir, I do not want the damn thing. Do not pin it on me, sir. Please, sir. Do not do that. He died. He died.


CABRERA: "The Washington Post" on Thursday fact-checked Biden's story, and writes in the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong as well as his own role in the ceremony. And according to the newspaper, Biden visited Afghanistan's Kunar province in 2008 as a U.S. senator, not as vice president. And the military service member was Kyle White, a 20-year- old army specialist, not a much older Navy captain.

Biden is defending himself, suggesting his story may have referred to a different event, one that did take place in 2011 when Biden as vice president pinned a bronze star medal on a heartbroken soldier named Chad Workman, an army staff sergeant who felt he was unworthy of that honor.


BIDEN: What is the gaffe when I said there was a young man, I tried to pin a medal on, he said I don't want it, he died, he died. It was a young man, my recollection was that in fact pulled a colleague of his out o a burning Humvee and he risked his life doing it and the young man died that he tried to save.


CABRERA: He knows he's prone to gaffes, even making light of that on the campaign trail this week.


BIDEN: One school psychologist for every 1,500 to 1,700 children. I don't want to set an exact number because the press will say Biden is losing his mind, he didn't remember.


CABRERA: I want to bring in "New York Times" reporter, Matt Flegenheimer who back in June wrote about how Biden embellishment and accuracy issue affected his first White House bid in 1988.

Matt, in your article, titled Biden's first run for president was a calamity, some missteps still resonate. How do you compare what brought down Biden's presidential run in 1998 to what we are now seeing today. MATT FLEGENHEIMER, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It's interesting.

You have heard a lot of sort of rumblings during this campaign, you know, is it his age, is he rusty, is there something inn this campaign that is different. Joe Biden has run for president three times now. And each campaign we have seen missteps, we have seen stumbles.

The '88 was essentially doomed by misstatements and a plagiarism scandal and that failed his campaign 88. So this is the connect that we have really seen a lot -- throughout his campaigns. And certainly lately, we have seen perhaps sort of crucial massive episodes that have concern some of his supporters. But this the same Joe Biden that a lot of his former aides have seen for more than three decades now.

CABRERA: How do you explain it? Was it not a lesson learned?

FLEGENHEIMER: It's interesting. In 1988 there was an episode that's got less attention on the plagiarism that we wrote about. And which was that he would say he marched in the civil rights movement. This was (INAUDIBLE) to tell, sort of speaking of his own coming of age politically and as a young politician, that he marched in the civil rights movement.

He was galvanized by it and that helped him inspire it. And he did not actually march in the civil rights movement. His aides reminded him time and again. It's a key distinction to say you were inspired, that is one thing. To say you marched, very different.

He sort of kept telling the story anyway. And that there was a sense among his aides that he just sort of could get comfortable kind of riffing on the campaign trail. And that as you heard in the interview this week, he sort of feels like if he gets the spirit of something correct that's maybe good enough. And his intentions were good, and he didn't mean any harm by it, and so if some of the details are wrong, that's not necessarily the worst thing in the world.

[16:25:43] CABRERA: Let me read you what David Axelrod, former campaign chief strategist for President Obama said on Twitter after reading the article from "the Washington Post." He says, it reads, like the product of pretty sophisticated opposition research dump. And there will be more because Joe Biden is a gaffe and embellishment machine. Despite all the conflation and embellishments, the core of his story was true.

Matt, do Biden's war story embellishments still resonate with the American public in the age of Trump in which facts have sort of taken a backseat.

FLEGENHEIMER: That's the key question, right? I mean, you can see the Biden campaign pushing back. They have pus a press release out over the course of this week, linking to a story from, I believe, CBS that spoke to a lot of supporters, people on the ground who said it doesn't particularly matter to them if he has some sort of missteps, gaffes here and there.

And certainly lot of his supporters think part of his kind of unscripted charm is a reason to support him. That he has a folksy manner about him that we have seen throughout his whole career. So I think maybe the age of Trump has changed the calculation to some degree on that. But this is also part of who Joe Biden has been for s long as he has been a politician.

CABRERA: And I still just wonder why he feels he has to embellish. I mean, is it that it's a lack of discipline? It could be, you know, not remembering everything clearly? It could be that he just is wanting to tell the best story, he's a story teller? Maybe it's that, you know, he doesn't feel like the truth has as much of an impact. What is your take?

FLEGENHEIMER: I certainly don't think anybody has suggested any sort of malice on his part. In this story this week, in '88 and the plagiarism scandal and the civil rights episode that I spoke about, he was certainly a storyteller. I do think that is part of his appeal.

He calls himself a gut-politician. He reads the room. He tries to connect. And maybe in some of those moments, this is certainly the case in '88, in reaching for the connection maybe went beyond the scope of the truth of a certain anecdote in the interest of telling the best story.

I don't think he sees that as all as ill intent. It's certainly him trying to connect with an audience. And occasional if he goes a few inches too far, maybe more than that, on a given story, that's sort of within the bounds of acceptable for a politician.

CABRERA: And now this is out in the open, I just wonder how it's going to impact the next debates coming up in just a couple of weeks if a candidate goes on the attacks, how do you think he would handle it?

FLEGENHEIMER: I think he handle like he has handled a lot of this so far which is to say that his heart was in the right place. He doesn't see the issue. He is talking about, you know, war heroism, the core of that story is still true. It's not like he is embellishing something in service of his own, sort self-aggrandizement.

And I think, you know, he is right about that. This is not somebody, in these particular cases recently who have said things that were untrue that were in service of some sort of a great narrative that Joe Biden is a spectacular man. And it's maybe different when he's talking about a war hero in his telling here.

So I do think that (INAUDIBLE) for the debate, he would certainly have no issue sort of defiantly, proudly saying, that he was, you know, speaking of the heroics of the American military, and that he was never willing to apologize for that.

CABRERA: Matt Flegenheimer, so great to talk to you. Look forward to having you back as we continue throughout the campaign.


CABRERA: Coming up, hurricane Dorian inching closer to Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, winds are just shy of category five status. And in about an a half hour, we'll get an update on its track.

Live to the CNN weather center next.


[16:32:49] CABRERA: It's our breaking news right now. Hurricane Dorian, a category 4 storm with sustained winds up to 150 miles per hour. It's bearing down on the Bahamas now. And will head toward Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas next.

CNN's Chad Myers is live in the Severe Weather Center.

Chad, what kind of timeline are we talking about at this point?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Still probably 30 hours from the Bahamas. But the problem is it may stop and sit over the Bahamas for 36 additional hours as either a 150- or 140-miles-per-hour storm.

You can see the eye on the visible satellite now, very distinct, very clear. Even at times, you can see the ocean through it.

Hurricane hunters were in it earlier, and they took this picture. You can see the round part of the eye itself. And every time they get into the eye, and the eye is calm, but it's a raucous flight trying to get there, they drop one of these little guys.

They drop it all the way down to the ocean. And what they do, when it hits the ocean, they will get the pressure of the storm. And they will send it out, too, in thunderstorms to see what the wind might be in the eye.

It's an interesting thing that they can get those things all the way down to the ocean surface, see what the pressure is doing with the storm, and see if it is getting stronger or weaker. And so far it's gotten stronger.

There's not a plane out there right now. There will be. There's a plane flying over the top of it, dropping those off from space, 45,000 feet, almost like an inverse weather balloon. Instead of going up like a weather balloon, it goes down. We get the same kind of data and the data goes into the models.

We've seen this all day long where it looks like a nice smooth path all the way through Bahamas. That's not the case. It actually gets the Bahamas, and then it stops.

Here we are right now. Still about from here. If I drew a line -- and I will draw it now -- all the way from here to West Palm, it's about 380 miles. But it's not going there. It's actually going to stop for a very long time, like 36 hours, and then go to the north like this. At least that's what the models think right now.

Both models that we have out there, the American and European model, are saying a similar thing.

We will not get a new track at 5:00 that says it's back on land again. That's not going to happen. We won't have new models until the 11:00 or even as late as tomorrow's 5:00 a.m.

[16:35:07] Maybe a breath of relief for people across the U.S. Certainly not for the Bahamas. A rough couple of days to come -- Ana?

CABRERA: Chad Myers, thank you for the latest.

MYERS: You bet.

CABRERA: There's still plenty of anxiety as residents along the southeast coast watch and wait for Dorian to pick a spot to strike.

At one point, West Palm Beach Florida looked to be directly in Dorian's sights. Now that the latest models have the storm drifting east, officials in West Palm are warning, this is no time to drop your guard.

CNN's Randi Kaye joins us from a restaurant in West Palm.

Randi, what are you hearing? Are people keeping up their guard?

RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Some of them are, Ana, and a lot of them aren't. It seems as though the day has made a difference from where I was yesterday.

We were at Home Depot yesterday, and people were in a panic. They were buying plywood, looking to board up their homes. Today, they are out bar hopping, having cocktails on a sunny, Saturday afternoon in Florida.

You can see where we are not far from the beach. Just over the trees is the public beach in West Palm Beach.

This restaurant, Two Drunken Goats, is the name, is usually packed on a Saturday. Some people obviously staying home. They usually have some live music. That's not happening today.

We have been talking to folks here this afternoon, and some of them, really, most of them are just having a good time.

Like these two here we were talking to earlier, Ashley Harris and Brie McLeod.

And so now you have decided that it's safe to come out and play, I guess.

ASHLEY HARRIS, WEST PALM BEACH RESIDENT: Absolutely. We're all set up. We're ready to go. We have our water. My car is filled up. I'm about to go board up my grandma's House, and it's not like we're going to sit and dwell.

KAYE: You think it's taken a turn. You have been watching the weather and you feel pretty safe.

HARRIS: Yes. Even if it doesn't, Florida is pretty built up to sustain a hurricane.

KAYE: You told me earlier you have a cement house, so you're feeling pretty good about it.

HARRIS: Exactly. Even if we were to go to a shelter, they're all made of cement as well so I might as well stay at my house. It's a new house.

KAYE: Let me ask your friend, Brie, here because you booked a ticket to visit. You knew the hurricane was coming and you decided to come anyway.

BRIE MCLEOD, TOURIST: I'm here on vacation and I'm going to try to enjoy as much as I can before the hurricane hits.

KAYE: Are you happy to see it take its turn up north?

MCLEOD: I feel relieved it's going to go the other way.

KAYE: So you guys today are out watching college football and cocktailing and --

HARRIS: Swimming, enjoying ourselves, just enjoying the weather. It's nice out for sure. Going to enjoy it while it lasts.

KAYE: Stay safe. Enjoy yourselves.

And that's the general attitude around here. People are feeling like they dodged a bullet for sure.

This is Ryan Brady, the general manager of this restaurant.

So obviously, the crowd may be a little smaller than it is on a typical Saturday.

RYAN BRADY, GENERAL MANAGER, TWO DRUNKEN GOATS RESTAURANT: Yes, definitely, a little bit smaller. I think people are being, you know, cautious and doing their preparations last minute.

KAYE: And you guys were probably ready to close up shop but now you think you might be able to stay open?

BRADY: Well, the latest reports are looking a little more optimistic for us, so we're praying that we're going to be OK. We're still planning on closing tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday. Hopefully, you know, we'll be open Wednesday, fingers crossed.

KAYE: I hope so, too. I hope so, too.

This is a very popular spot along the beach. Part of the prep will be pulling chairs and tables, and closing these doors, and making sure that the restaurant holds up.

Ryan, thank you so much and best of luck to you here.

BRADY: You're welcome.

KAYE: Ana, back to you. That's the scene of West Palm Beach.

CABRERA: OK, Randi Kaye, thanks for giving us a sense of how people are feeling right now. I sure hope that their hopes come true.

What would you like to see done about the climate crisis? Join CNN and presidential hopefuls, Biden, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Booker, O'Rourke, Yang and Castro for an unprecedented Democratic presidential town all event on the climate crisis. All 10 candidates take the stage on one night to address this critical issue. That's Wednesday night, starting at 5:00 Eastern, here on CNN.

He was once President Trump's secretary of defense. Now General James Mattis is shedding light on why he, quote, "had no choice" but to leave the White House.

My next guest also worked for Trump for almost 20 years, in fact, and left. We'll get her reaction, next.

[16:39:27] You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: A former secretary of defense is speaking out about his very rough tenure on President Trump and says he's got a lot more to say when the time is right. James Mattis, a general with 44 years in the Marine Corps, lasted just two years in the Trump cabinet, oftentimes openly at odds with the president.

Mattis is on a book tour right now and says he's holding off deeper criticism of the president while there are people in the administration still working to defend the country.

Barbara Res joins us now. I want to talk to her because she worked for Donald Trump for 18 years, eventually becoming an executive vice president in the Trump Organization.

And, Barbara, you heard me talk about James Mattis as he's shedding light on his time in the Trump administration.

He said this in a new interview in "The Atlantic." Quote, "I had no choice but to leave. That's why my resignation letter is in the book. I want people to understand why I couldn't stay,"

And he goes on, "I have been informed by four decades of experience, and I just couldn't connect the dots anymore."

Barbara, does that ring familiar, his reason for leaving?

BARBARA RES, FORMER EXECUTIVE, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: It rings very familiar, not only with my experiences but with things that we have heard from, you know, new experiences, people in the cabinet. But --

CABRERA: How so?

RES: Well, just, it didn't matter. You can see, he thinks he knows anything. It really doesn't matter. He knows more about nuclear war than the scientists. And he knows more about climate control. But it wasn't what Mattis encountered. Trump used to listen to the people that worked for him, and so he backed down on a lot of things. CABRERA: What do you think has changed?

[16:45:06] RES: He's gotten so into himself. He's carried away by the fame, the money, but the fame. He believes he walks on water. He thinks he's a great president, you know. He thinks he's the answer to everything.

CABRERA: How hard is it to stand up to somebody like Trump if you disagree with him?

RES: Well, you know, again, it was different when I was there because we were a small organization, you know, and he had a handful of people, and he listened to us and respected us.

Now, I can't imagine standing up to him. I can't imagine anyone in the cabinet or on his staff that actually stands up to him.

CABRERA: Let me read you something we heard from Joe Biden. He's taken hits from a number of 2020 Democrats. And this is what Joe Biden said about a recent immigration policy as it amounts to bullying.

I'm quoting from the former vice president, "There's no national security justification for further traumatizing sick kids at their most vulnerable. Like all bullies, Trump is purposely targeting the little guys. But I would have thought even he would understand that kids with cancer and cystic fibrosis were off limits. And so many others have said cruelty is their point, it's their only point, and it's all they have to run on, fear, anger, division and cruelty. We must restore to the soul of the nation."

He's referring to the administration's recent move to end a medical relief policy and that allowed undocumented families, up until now, with serious medical conditions to remain in the U.S. while they received medical care.

You previously told the "Rolling Stone" that the Trump you know is, quote, "not so much a bully, more of a loudmouth." That was in 2016.

Has what you have seen of President Trump changed anything in terms of your perception of him?

RES: Yes and no. I mean, interesting what I said to "Rolling Stone." I myself was a different person then. A little soft peddling.

Yes, he was a bit of a bully. His goal, what he did was sought out weak people. He sought out the weakness in even strong people and exploited it. That's his way.

Now, I mean, he has absolutely, in my opinion, no regard for humanity. I mean, I do believe that this whole policy is about scaring immigrants out of coming here, and he doesn't care what the fallout is.

CABRERA: Do you think he's racist?

RES: I do think he's racist, yes.

CABRERA: You were a woman in a position of power in his administration. There's a number of powerful women now running to be president he could face come the general election. You know, Senator Elizabeth Warren has been the target of the president's derisive nicknames already.

Have you ever witnessed anything that makes you feel like the president doesn't take a powerful woman seriously?

RES: Yes and no. I mean, when I was there, he did have a lot of powerful women, and he did absolutely listen to us. But telling things, what he said to me when he hired me, he said men are better than women, but a good woman is better than 10 good men.

And it took me until now, and with my child's help to really understand that he was sort of taking advantage of the fact that I, being a woman, would work harder and smarter and probably for less money.

But he told me that he really believed women were inferior to men, and I see that.

But he struggled with Pelosi, and he struggled with her because she had as much power as he did. Whereas Hillary was an ex-secretary of state, but she wasn't equal to him. Pelosi is. She's the head of a branch, or you know, part of the branch that's one of the branches of the three branches.

How is he going to deal with Warren and the like if they are nominated? I think he's going to underestimate them. And I think he's going to try to undercut them. I think he's going to do things like he did with Hillary. Like say, do you think this is presidential, does this look presidential.

But now it's going to grind more than it did back then because we know what he's about.

CABRERA: Barbara Res, good to have your insights. Thanks for being here.

RES: My pleasure.

CABRERA: Good to see you.

[16:49:17] We'll be back.


CABRERA: The 2020 Democratic field is the most diverse in U.S. history as both a woman and a person of color candidate, Kamala Harris, is getting plenty of attention from the next generation.

CNN's Kyung Lah has more.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another rally in the race for 2020.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Hi everyone.

LAH: For sisters, Anna Maddox --

ANA MADDOX, HARRIS SUPPORTER: I'm half Mexican, half Vietnamese

LAH: -- and Leah Chow, this is the destination.


LAH (on camera): Why did you drive two hours to be here?

MADDOX: Really, I want to for her, you know, to see a woman, if anything and especially a woman of color runs for president.

KAMALA HARRIS: It's time to take action.


MADDOX: You know, it took 24 years to get to this point for me and she is only nine, so imagine when she is 24, she's not going to think this is abnormal.

LAH (voice-over): From Davenport, Iowa --


LAH: -- to Denver, Colorado --


LAH: -- there is a recurring theme among the parents who bring their children to see a biracial woman run for president.

(on camera): Your daughter asked you to come?

SHELDON SHADRACH, HARRIS SUPPORTER: Yes, she is actually a big fan, a big supporter, she's been following Kamala Harris.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I think it is really special to be the first female president.



LAH (voice-over): Hillary Clinton helped pave the way. Elizabeth Warren shares that message.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): I am running for president because that is what girls do. LAH: But 11-year-old Styler Tony (ph) sees her reflection in Harris.

STYLER TONY (ph), HARRIS SUPPORTER: I think she is pretty brave to try and do that. She's not like holding back or anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The connection and when they look and see someone who looks like them, a lot of times that kind of lift them sort of visualize their future and feel it's possible for them as children even.

LAH: It's something Harris knows, why she takes the time, especially with children of color.

(on camera): Win or lose what does that mean for you?

KAMALA HARRIS: It means the world to me. I mean, when I see those little girls, in particular, I mean, I see myself, right. And I see the children of my family. And I see the children of our country. And I see the promise of our country.

My mother had many sayings and one of them is, you may be the first to do many things, make sure you are not the last.

And it is my true hope that my career and whatever I can do is -- empowers other people. Whatever it is.

[16:55:16] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Authorities investigating a racist anti-immigrant manifesto, that they believe it is posted by the shooter just before the massacre.

LAH: In these divided times, when children have questions about the news, some parents consider a political rally the antidote.

ERIC LITTLE (ph), HARRIS SUPPORTER: With us being interracial couple, it's important that we gave him a sense, it's OK to be who he is in his community.

JESSICA LITTLE (ph), HARRIS SUPPORTER: He's aware that his dad is black and that his mom is white. So we push really hard to make sure that he knows that is not bad, that's beautiful, that's wonderful, and that's what United States is.



CABRERA: Three moving words from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after her latest cancer scare: "I am alive." Up next, what she had to say on her anticipated return to the bench.

And J. Lo.


CABRERA: Welcome back.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg earned a huge round of applause at an event in Washington today.


RUTH BADER GINSBURG, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: This audience can see that I am alive.



[17:00:07] GINSBURG: And I am on my way to being very well.