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CNN TONIGHT

Hurricane Dorian Left Thousands Homeless; Mother Nature's Wrath Excuses No One; Recipes For Killer Hurricanes; Hurricane Dorian Leaves Parts Of The Bahamas In Ruins And Could Make Landfall In The Carolinas; Former Secretary Of Defense James Mattis On His Resignation From The Trump Administration; Gaming And Healing. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 3, 2019 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[23:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

And we have breaking news. A brand-new forecast for Hurricane Dorian. Our correspondents are out all across the storm zone tonight. The storm lashing the East coast of Florida tonight, and there are fears of life-threatening storm surges in the Carolinas by the end of the week.

That after Dorian devastated the Bahamas, where the death toll currently stands at seven, and some 13,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged.

Let's get right to CNN's Tom Sater. He's in the weather center with the new forecast for us. So, Tom, what does the forecast show right now?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, we've got a new track now from the National Hurricane Center, Don. But for the most part as we focus in on this, it's still a strong category two and will remain that way for about 36 hours. It's still moving at six miles per hour, jogging now north-northwest.

But again, at six miles an hour, that's pretty slow considering this is still a tropical system. But because it's been so strong for so long, Don, we're going to continue to see the winds extend out ward.

So, don't concentrate that it went down from a five to a four to a three to a two, the winds have been broadening the wind field. So, the hurricane winds are out farther. The tropical storm winds are out now farther. So, we're going to look at this.

Now, the winds here in Grand Bahama Island, I know you've been showing and everyone's been showing this image of the inundation. The winds tonight have been onshore, which has been impeding the receding of the waters at the airfield. They were under five feet. It was submerged.

But now the winds are starting to push away. That should allow that water to move out, and they can inspect that airfield and hopefully we'll get some aircraft in there.

If you notice the bands of rain, instead of periodic bands, the feeder bands with downpours now and then and letting up, it's now pretty good downpours that are occurring from Daytona Beach all the way to Orlando, we've got some flood advisories. There have been a few scattered power outages.

The system is 100 miles now from the coast, and that's been pretty much the same the last couple of nights and days. It was 105 from Fort Pierce, 105 off the coast of West Palm, so it's running parallel. Hurricane winds extend outward 55, so that's half the distance. But the tropical storm-force winds do extend now 150 miles. So that is causing some of the power outages and the surge.

But here's the track change, and we still are looking at the possibility of a landfall possibly near North Carolina. Could it be Cape Fear? Could it be the outer banks? But Charleston harbor Wednesday night is looking at a rise in the waters of 10.3 feet. That is the second highest on record back behind Hugo in 1989, which was over 12 feet.

So, we're not out of the woods here with damages, and of course, even in Jacksonville we could see the St. John's River start to have that water pushed out. But the track still looks like a possible landfall, and we're going to have to watch that in the days ahead.

LEMON: Absolutely. Tom Sater, thank you so much.

Hurricane Dorian's outer bands are now hitting Florida's East Coast as Tom just showed us. CNN's Miguel Marquez is there for us. He is in Vero Beach.

Miguel, hello to you. Mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted in Vero Beach, but now the conditions where you are getting worse, is that correct?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, they have improved dramatically in the last couple of hours. For much of the day, they had pretty strong winds, tropical force winds, lots of rain. In the last hour or two hours, the winds have come down. The rain has calmed down quite a bit.

Some bands are still coming through, but for the most part, the worst seems to be done here. I mean, they predicted that around this time, this would be the end of it in this area. But now areas farther north, especially in Georgia and the Carolinas, they are looking at this storm and trying to figure out where exactly it will go.

Those pictures in the Bahamas, everyone here that we're talking to says that they are watching those and cannot believe the bullet they dodged here in Florida. Don?

LEMON: Miguel Marquez, thank you, Miguel. I appreciate that. Joining me now from Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce, is CNN's Leyla Santiago.

Leyla, thank you for joining us. How are the conditions where you are? LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, remember, Don, this is the

area where we were last night when we talked to you and the winds started to pick up. We're still seeing some pretty strong winds in the area, a little bit of light rain. But really much like what Miguel just said, this is a sigh of relief for folks here who are saying they understand this could have been a lot worse for the area.

[23:05:05]

Now, this is expected to go through the night. Emergency responders are saying they're actually scaling down when it comes to the emergency operations center. So, they believe that the biggest threat has now passed the area, Don.

LEMON: What about the latest you said there on local evacuations? What's going on again?

SANTIAGO: So, this was an area that did have a mandatory evacuation in place. That has since been lifted. The beaches are still closed. They plan to open the beach back up tomorrow morning around 6 a.m. But now beach erosion is the big concern. The assessment of that will continue tomorrow. They plan to spend a little bit of time.

Last time I checked in with emergency responders, they told me that their biggest concern was flooding and beach erosion. So, we expect that that will be part of tomorrow. We'll just -- not so much the flooding portion, but assessing the damage that was done. They don't have any major reports of damage beyond that.

LEMON: Leyla Santiago reporting from Fort Pierce. Leyla, thank you so much.

In the Bahamas, Hurricane Dorian has left behind a grim reality. Entire neighborhoods are washed away. Ordinary citizens are scrambling to rescue people who are trapped by floodwaters.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann is in Freeport.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, today was the first day that we had the opportunity to get around and see other parts of this heavily damaged island. Finally, the winds let up a little bit. We tried to go to a hospital that we hear is crowded with people needing assistance, but the road was actually a river. We couldn't get there. We tried to go to the airport, which is destroyed. But there were flooded cars submerged underwater that blocked our path.

And finally, we got to a place that was supposed to be a bridge, but it was underwater, not over the water, and there we saw people risking their lives to save other people's lives.

One jet ski ride, one boat strip at a time, these Bahamians are saving the lives of their family, neighbors, and complete strangers. They launched from a bridge that is now underwater. Theirs is a dangerous mission.

Hurricane-force winds are still raging here. Howard Armstrong was rescued after his house flooded to the ceiling. His house was one of hundreds lost as storm surge from Dorian swallowed whole neighborhoods. Armstrong's wife, Lynn, didn't make it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD ARMSTRONG, BAHAMAS STORM SURVIVOR: It came over the roof. I would imagine 21 feet at least. We were doing all right until the water kept coming up, and all the appliances were going around the house like a washing machine. That's probably I got hit with something in there.

And my poor little wife got hypothermia, and she was standing on top of the kitchen cabinets until they disintegrated. And then I kept with her, and she just drowned on me.

OPPMANN: I'm so sorry.

ARMSTRONG: I know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OPPMANN: There's no power on Grand Bahama Island, no running water, sporadic cell service at best. Submerged cars block many roads. Maybe the last thing working here is this all-volunteer crew of boaters, risking their lives to save lives. Dorian fights them every trip they make.

People are coming. They're bringing their jet skis. They're bringing their boats. They're going to get their neighbors, they say. Everyone says they know of people. They say it's very hard to navigate because of course there are no more streets, and yet they are doing it.

You don't see anybody from the government here. It is all very ad hoc, people coming with what they have. The jet skis they have. They are dealing with horrible weather conditions.

It's not safe to be out on a boat right now. It's not safe to be out here at all, and yet they say they know there are people out there, there are people who have lost their lives out there, we are told.

They brought back at least one body, and they say they will not stop until they get everybody. They have hours, if not days, of work ahead of them. While we are there, winds halt the jet ski and the rescuers have to halt their efforts. Rescuer L. Daniel (ph) says there isn't much time left.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was some exhausted. Some we had to carry. Some couldn't make it. Some we put on the jet ski. We turned the jet ski over because they couldn't hold their weight up. First thing we found was my brother. He was clinging on to a tree, and he made it out safe, but we were unable to locate his wife at the moment. We hope that she's OK.

But the rescue goes on and on. We have a lot of people supporting us. Everybody working as a team, you know. It's very hard, but we shall overcome.

OPPMANN: How are you doing? You made it to safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OPPMANN: Dozens have been rescued but many more remain in total desperation as they spend their third night waiting for salvation.

[23:09:58]

Don, a bit of good news. We earlier tonight saw what appeared to be a Coast Guard helicopter flying over. It's the first aircraft we have seen over this island since the storm hit. It gives us some hope that perhaps tomorrow, if not in the days ahead, some rescues could begin.

But in the meantime, we know that hundreds of people likely are spending the night again in their flooded homes, the third night in a row. Their desperation is growing. They need to be rescued, and they need to be rescued now, one man told me. He said that Bahamians would work around the clock until everybody who has been marooned by Hurricane Dorian's terrible devastation is rescued and safe. Don?

LEMON: Patrick, thank you so much.

We've got incredible stories of rescues from the floodwaters in the Bahamas. You'll meet two people who were rescued next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:14:59]

LEMON: Well, the death toll in the Bahamas now stands at seven, and the prime minister says that number is expected to rise. The Red Cross says some 13,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged. Floodwaters spread as far as the eye can see.

I want to bring in now photographer, Tim Aylen. He and his family escaped their home as the waters were rising, and they captured their escape on camera. Tim, thank you so much. Man, I wish we could have met under better circumstances, but you were not in an evacuation zone, so you decided to stay. You wanted to ride it out at your home.

But as we can see from this, when you look at this, unbelievable this video you took where your daughter is holding her dogs above water. I mean things clearly took a turn. You say you were fine until like 4 p.m., and then after that it all went south?

TIM AYLEN, PHOTOGRAPHER: Yes, literally at about 4.15, the floodwaters started, and in the space of about two minutes, everyone will tell you two minutes, this surge came along, and it just -- it just wouldn't stop. It just kept coming in the house.

It started coming in the garage, and then the front door, we -- we saw it coming in the front door. We thought that might be our best exit. So, we tried to open it, but it was pouring in, and we knew that it would fill up the house faster, so we quickly closed that.

And then we considered the attic. That just looked like a trap. We thought about the roof. That was just not going to happen. So, my wife suggested the window and just go and look for dry land. So that's what we did. We just pushed out a screen, and my son just filmed me just wading through the water, and I saw some dry land and decided that was the best place to go.

LEMON: So, tell me -- tell me what happened. I mean, I'm looking at these pictures of you and your family and those poor little dogs. And I was like, man, if they get even pulled slightly by that current, it could be, you know, disaster. So how long did it take you to find dry land, and what was --

(CROSSTALK)

AYLEN: Yes. It wasn't too long. It was about 75 yards away. But it got worse every minute. Like the wind kept -- and then the water kept rising as well. So, it started --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: How strong was the current?

AYLEN: Five, 10 miles an hour. I mean, yes, and you keep losing your footing. So, it's just a road. People describe it as the ocean, but that's just the road. They've seen the footage, and they think it's the ocean, but that's just the regular street inland.

So, yes, we were all -- we had no idea that this was going to happen to us. I honestly thought what would happen to my house would be the roof would blow off. We never thought about flooding.

LEMON: So, you said you found some dry -- how long did it take you to find dry land?

AYLEN: That wasn't long. We found it. It was like 75 yards away, and so we just, you know, piled everybody out of the window. I think my son and I came out first, and then we took some bags to the dry land.

Then we came back, and that's when you see me filming my daughter coming out with the two dogs, and then my wife came out with another dog. We had a small dog in a bag. So, we actually had three dogs. So, we got all of them out, and then my wife came out. And that was it.

I actually went back into the house because we forgot some bags. We had our passports and everything and clothes. We just didn't have time to get anything. But I went back in, and it was already like waist height, and I just couldn't move about the house quick enough.

And my son actually came back and said, we have to go now. We have to go now. So that's when I realized, you know, it was life-threatening. So, I just -- I picked up something. I picked up a five-gallon bottle of water and carried that out.

LEMON: So, no passports or anything like that? AYLEN: Nope. No. That bag made it. It was a clothes bag. We have no

clothes, no nothing. So, passports made it, birth certificates, but we have nothing else, yes.

LEMON: You have nothing else, but you have each other. That's important.

AYLEN: Yes, exactly. I mean everything's in the house. I was just walking past papers and TVs, and you kind of just -- you just forget about it honestly like when your lives are -- you know you're at risk, you just forget.

The last image I see of my son swimming back to dry land, and the water was right up to his neck. And he's not a strong swimmer really, so, but I took a picture of that. That was really tough to see because I wouldn't know what to do if he had went under. So, yes, you forget about everything honestly, yes.

[23:20:00]

LEMON: So, listen, we've been watching the reaction from some of the people who were there who were being interviewed, and I can only imagine from their reaction that they're still in shock because of how quickly it happened and the pressure they were under and the circumstances they faced.

Are we correct in that assessment, that people are just in shock and they can't believe it's happening? So a lot of them are giving these matter of fact interviews, and I don't understand how they're doing it when such devastation is all around them.

AYLEN: Yes. No, absolutely. Nobody suspected this, especially inland like this. As I've been telling people, I'm two miles from the south, roughly a mile and a half maybe, and then five or six miles from the north. And this water came from the north, so it practically just came all across the island. And we just had no idea.

I was in a non-evacuation zone. We had dogs so we couldn't go to shelters, so we just decided to stay. But everybody in that neighborhood was completely stranded, and I actually went back in like a front loader truck and started rescuing other people in the same situation. And there were just dozens of them, on porches and kids that just running away from the waters.

LEMON: Tim Aylen, thank you so much. Best of luck to you.

AYLEN: My pleasure. Thanks a lot.

LEMON: Is the climate crisis making storms like Dorian even deadlier? We're going to dig into that next.

[23:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, we're following the breaking news tonight. The new forecast for Hurricane Dorian. The storm could make landfall in the Carolinas later this week after devastating the Bahamas and killing at least seven people.

But the question on a lot of people's minds in the face of all of this is the climate crisis. Is it making storms like Dorian worse?

Joining me now, hurricane chaser Mike Theiss and also Jody Freeman. Jody Freeman is the former counselor for energy and climate change in the Obama White House. Thank you so much. I appreciate both of you joining us.

Professor Freeman, I'm going to start with you. Let me read this. This is from the New York Times. They cite studies published in the journal nature. It says "Recent research suggests that climate change has made stalled Atlantic storms more common since the mid-20th century and that they are more dangerous because they stay in one place for a longer period of time, potentially concentrating their destruction." Is the climate crisis making these storms worse?

JODY FREEMAN, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Yes, I think what we know is climate change is making hurricanes more destructive, and we can expect stronger storms in a warmer world.

The government did a study about this. They put out a national climate assessment last year, and they actually looked at the 2017 hurricane season and they looked at all the storms. And they concluded two things.

One is that climate change is making hurricanes more intense, and the second thing is that the storms are reaching that intensity faster. And what that means practically speaking is that you're getting higher wind speeds, more rainfall, and you're having kind of this force that's being fed by warmer seas gain speed and gain intensity and push water onto land with much more destructive power.

LEMON: I see you shaking your head there, Mike. I've got to ask you because you chased storms for a very long time, and obviously there have always been hurricanes. But when you see the devastation that left the Bahamas, what is the link you see between warming oceans, temperatures, and the strength of these hurricanes?

MIKE THEISS, HURRICANE CHASER: Right. Well, this is what I do know, Don. Hurricanes are fueled by warm ocean. That is a fact. Another fact is this planet is warming. I'm not going to get into science whether humans do it or it's a natural cycle. It's just the fact is the planet is warming. We'll leave that up to the scientists.

But with the warming water, of course it's going to result in stronger hurricanes because that fuel is more potent now. So, I think we're seeing these stronger hurricanes because of the rising temperatures of the oceans.

But don't forget it's not like all of a sudden, we have hurricanes like crazy. The last two years we have, but don't forget we had a 10- year drought of no hurricanes in the United States. So, I do believe there's somewhat of a cycle of active periods, and then you have a lull. But just the fact that the oceans are warming, I mean they've got to be getting stronger, right? That is the energy for a hurricane.

LEMON: You know, you're calling what we saw in the Bahamas, Mike, downright scary. You don't scare easily.

THEISS: No. I'm basically speechless. I don't have a lot of words to explain what I'm feeling when I see these images come out other than it reminds me of Katrina. This was kind of like the Katrina for the Bahamas except they had 185-mile-per-hour winds on top of 20-foot storm surge, which Katrina did not have.

So, this is a disaster (technical difficulty) people are really going to need our help. It's going to be a long time to recover in those northern islands.

LEMON: Professor Freeman, you are an expert on the climate crisis and environmental regulation. From a policy perspective, what can we do?

FREEMAN: Yes. I mean here's the thing. We see these devastating storms happen over and over again. We also see other disasters like wildfires, heatwaves happen with greater intensity, all influenced by climate change and it's a sign of things to come.

It's true we can't say that hurricanes happen with more frequency because of climate change, but they're certainly more powerful and stronger. So, the kinds of policies we need to put in place are going to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are the root cause of a warming planet.

But you also have to add to that putting defenses in place because we're going to have to adapt one way or the other. So, we're talking about things like seawalls. We're also talking about putting housing and infrastructure up in more protected places up on pylons or caissons.

We're also talking though, eventually about a kind of managed retreat from the coastline. We have a lot of infrastructure and a lot of population increasingly along the coast, and this is a recipe for disaster in a warming world.

[23:30:02]

It's interesting you guys are going to have the town hall tomorrow, and it will be a real opportunity to hear what at least the democratic side has to say about their policies on climate change and a real opportunity --

LEMON: Can I ask you that?

FREEMAN: -- to hear what they want to do.

LEMON: What is the most important thing you want to hear from these democratic candidates? By the way, it's going to be 10 presidential hopefuls tomorrow, back-to-back town halls. We're going to be discussing climate change. But what is the most important thing that you want to hear from these candidates?

FREEMAN: Well, so they all actually generally agree on the direction we have to go. We have to transition to a clean energy economy. They all agree with that. They all want to put a lot of investment into research and development, into clean tech. They want to protect people who are going to suffer from that transition. So they share a lot of policies.

But what I would want to know from them is which among them has put down on paper, has already thought about what they would do on day one, day 10, the first 100 days as the executive branch leader, as the president of the country. What can they do with executive action? What are the pieces of the puzzle that they can put in place because we would want to know how much are they going to rely on Congress for their ambitious plans and how much can they do with the pen of the president by themselves?

LEMON: OK.

FREEMAN: If they're relying on Congress for more spending, to pass a new law, to pass a carbon tax, for example, that's going to be a heavy lift unless they own both houses of the Congress. So I want to know what can you do as president, how are you going to get from here to the ambitious plan that you've put out as part of your agenda.

LEMON: I've got to go, Dr. Freeman. Thank you so much for your time. Mike Theiss, thank you. You be safe out there. I appreciate both of you. Be sure to tune in tomorrow night for CNN's unprecedented democratic presidential town hall event on climate crisis. Ten candidates take the the stage, take to the stage to address the critical issue tomorrow night starting at 5:00 Eastern right here on CNN. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:35:00]

LEMON: Former Defense Secretary James Mattis is speaking out about his resignation and defending his reluctance to openly criticize the Trump administration. In his first CNN interview since resigning eight months ago, Mattis is telling Christiane Amanpour today there will come a time when it is right for him to speak out about this administration's strategy and policies, and he says he'll know that moment when he sees it. This is part of that interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR AND HOST: General Mattis, you resigned over Syria, you made your letter public, but there are many, many things that President Trump said and did over the years that potentially rose to the level of unacceptability in the public sphere. Let's just play some of his sound bites.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You also had people that were very fine people on both sides. I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

It's working out very nicely, and we're going to have a very, very strict ban and we're going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.

I was really being tough, and so was he. And we were going back and forth. And then we fell in love, OK? No, really. He wrote me beautiful letters, and they're great letters. We fell in love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: So, Secretary Mattis, President Trump opining on a whole load of issues. The last one, we fell in love, talking about the North Korean leader. There were many, many reasons potentially for somebody such as yourself to resign. Why not over any of these?

JAMES MATTIS, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Christiane, if you go into the military, you swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. The elected commander in chief is the elected commander in chief.

But if we're going to protect this democracy, even in its most raucous moments, even when there are fundamental issues going on, you don't want the Defense Department coming in and saying, we're not going to defend the country today. The thousands of young troops, they do not get a chance to say, I'm going to quit today.

So, what you do is you protect the institution. You protect the country. You stand up for the Constitution. But what you don't do is get engaged in the political fray, the day-by-day, especially right now when it's so corrosive. You don't get involved in that and wonder why the country is now vulnerable because you've allowed the troops to be distracted.

Abraham Lincoln, in 1865, early 1865, the war is still going on, the country is tired of it, there has just been an election, I don't think the votes are even all counted yet because it takes months to get the full count, he sends a one-sentence letter, telegram actually, to General Ulysses Grant.

He says, let nothing that is happening -- I'm paraphrasing here -- that nothing that is happening in the political realm disrupt and delay your military operations. In other words, keep your head focused on defending the country. I'll take care of the politics. That is the tradition from Abraham Lincoln to now, that the U.S. Military stands by.

And by the way, all those young men and women who raised their right hand, all volunteered and rallied to the flag and give you and I and all the rest of us here a blank check payable with their own lives to uphold the Constitution, they're the people you stay focused on when you're dealing with the defense of the country.

[23:40:06]

MATTIS: I spent 45 years in uniform or as the secretary of defense, and that's where I stand.

AMANPOUR: You talked about right after 9/11, you were within days fighting in Afghanistan with a huge coalition.

MATTIS: Yeah.

AMANPOUR: Right now, as you know, the United States is involved in talks with the Taliban, who the United States coalition defeated back in 2001 and defeated al Qaeda as well and sent them packing. They have remained a very, very strong force --

MATTIS: Mm-hmm.

AMANPOUR: -- and they seem to be calling the shots right now, the Taliban, and the United States is talking about the president withdrawing all U.S. troops. What is your military analysis of whether all U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan, and do you believe that it will become again a terrorist hotbed?

MATTIS: You know, I prefer, having parted from the administration over matters of policy, a disagreement, I laid those out in the letter. I think that what I now occupy is what I call the cheap seats. I'm not responsible, so I can sit on the outside, and frankly it frustrates me sometimes to see people who speak so authoritatively --

AMANPOUR: Mm-hmm.

MATTIS: -- when they don't know the back channel things going on and when they have no responsibility for the outcome. So, the French called it a devoir de reserve, where you have a duty to be quiet.

This president, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, they have big responsibilities right now, and I don't believe that I add anything to it by representing contrary views or something like this. There will come a time when it's right for me to talk about strategy and policy.

AMANPOUR: When might that happen?

MATTIS: I will know it when I see it.

AMANPOUR: But will it be before the next election?

MATTIS: I can't say that.

AMANPOUR: But you talk about a duty. You're a military man. Duty and honor are very important in your life and in your career. Do you believe it's your duty to speak about what you know from the inside before the next election?

MATTIS: Well, duty and honor absolutely are important, and you don't surrender your oath to support and defend the Constitution when you leave active duty. But that said, I don't think right now for a person steeped in the military tradition, in the Defense Department, that I should be speaking up on things that are political assessments. Why do --

AMANPOUR: Except for -- I'm asking you a military assessment. I asked you about --

MATTIS: Right.

AMANPOUR: -- the military assessment of what is on the battlefield in Afghanistan, something you know really well from fighting and then from being secretary of defense.

MATTIS: I may speak about the military, strategic, even policy at some point. I just owe a time when I don't walk out and start talking about it. I laid out why I left. Now it's time for those responsible, who have got grave responsibilities, Christiane. This is not a simple war right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: You heard former Defense Secretary James Mattis speaking to our Christiane Amanpour about his reasons for leaving the Trump administration.

Let's discuss now. Susan Glasser is here. Susan, hello to you. I've got to get your reaction to why General Mattis says that he resigned from the Trump administration. What do you think?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, look, I mean, he was very clear. If you read the text of his letter, although months ago, you know, he has this core belief that without acting with allies, as he said to Christiane and again and again and again, that the United States is not as safe in the world.

And I think that he's made that at the foundation, the idea that I went to Afghanistan after 9/11, and I was there with troops from all over the world, acting in a united way, and that this was something that fundamentally offended him about President Trump's approach to the world. And yet, of course, he's not very willing, is he, to elaborate on it.

LEMON: Yeah. Well, you heard Christiane lay out all the times that, you know, someone in his position might have decided to leave before he did. She could have laid out a lot more, but she only had so much time in the show. I mean, you've got the president talking about Vladimir Putin. You've got Kim Jong-un, very fine people on both sides. Why don't you think Mattis resigned in any of these other moments that he could have resigned?

GLASSER: You know, that's the mystery that very frustratingly he's chosen not to clear up for us, and by promoting a book that doesn't elaborate on it, by going on book tour and doing all these appearances. I mean, I think he may be surprised at the kind of backlash that awaits him.

I have to say that, you know, this is in a certain form the frustration of anyone like I have been trying to write about and cover and understand the Trump administration foreign policy. It requires us essentially to be dealing with people who refuse to ever say what they actually think, and frankly what is the line that can't be crossed.

[23:44:57]

GLASSER: He resigned over the immediate withdrawal of troops from Syria. That was the proximate cause. But just a few weeks earlier, the president of the United States had proclaimed that America was under invasion in the days before the 2018 midterm elections and had sent Mattis's troops to the border, U.S. troops to the border. And that didn't cause him to quit.

I always felt like, you know, to me that was one example. As you point out, there could be many others. But it's going to frustrate an awful lot of people. And frankly, you know, as a journalist, I'm frustrated.

LEMON: Yeah.

GLASSER: I would like to know what these folks really think. I think that's part of public service.

LEMON: He was reluctant to criticize President Trump in that interview at all. I'm wondering why you think that is, if you have an answer for that, and if as you say he's in for a rude awakening, do you think that he is that naive or has he -- I don't know, is that apart from the public sentiment out there about the president and people who work for the administration?

GLASSER: Well, he might be pretty isolated in the sense that he's almost like this sort of high military priesthood in a way.

LEMON: Mm-hmm.

GLASSER: That he's lived in that bubble. He was extraordinarily successful, obviously, as a marine general. But to your point about why is it that he insists that President Trump is entitled not to be criticized by him, earlier today in a separate appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, he did not hesitate to criticize former presidents Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, who after all, Obama was the president who unceremoniously essentially forced him out of office early.

And I think that has always rankled General Mattis. Again, I think it's quite out of touch with where the political sentiment is in the country in many ways.

And it goes to the question of do you believe and does General Mattis believe that Donald Trump is really some kind of an exceptional threat to the country, that he's not just another president, even one with controversial views? If the answer to that is yes, then you have some sort of a duty to speak out. If the answer is no, then you would do what General Mattis is doing.

LEMON: I want to read something. This is from your column. You said, "Trump's wacky, angry, and extreme August." This is the portion you write, you said, "The Trumpian extremes on display in the third August of his presidency revived a debate about whether he is descending into even less presidential behavior, shedding the remaining constraints imposed upon him by his office and the efforts of his ever-changing staff. If it seems as if Trump is wackier, angrier, more willing to lash out, and more desperately seeking attention, that is because he is."

Why do you think we're seeing these extremes from him?

GLASSER: Well, you know, Don, this is a debate that has cropped up obviously at various points of the Trump presidency. I was a little skeptical. I thought, well, you know, Trump has always courted controversy. He's always been out there. It's his outrage machine, and that's fundamental to who he is in terms of politics.

But, you know, it was really instructive to go back and look at the Trump of two Augusts ago versus the Trump of today. He is tweeting so much more than he did. Remember, two Augusts ago was a pretty nutty time. That was fire and fury against North Korea. That was Charlottesville and good people on both sides. And yet Trump was tweeting more than two and a half times as much in August of 2019.

He's become much more insulting of -- directly insulting of individuals. He attacked his own Federal Reserve chairman 30 times on Twitter in the month of August alone. Again, this is the chairman of the Federal Reserve, whom he called an enemy of the United States of America. He has attacked individual journalists by name to a much greater degree than ever before.

He routinely hurls epithets and insults. In fact, he not once but multiple times appeared to release secret information from his briefings. It wasn't just that Iran picture from last Friday, but there were two other incidents.

And so I think it's quite amazing how inured we are. Even those people like you and me whose job is to be professional observers of this presidency, there's only so much that we can process. And so, you know, in effect, normalization is occurring whether we want it to or not.

LEMON: Thank you, Susan. I appreciate it.

GLASSER: Thank you so much, Don.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

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[23:50:00]

LEMON: Many studies show that too much screen time can be unhealthy for young people. But one CNN hero is teaming up with hospitals to make screen time healing time. As a high school student working out of his parents' basement, Zach Wigal set out to prove that gamers can also be do-gooders. Today, he is making video games part of recovery for sick kids all across the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZACH WIGAL, CNN HERO: Sometimes people believe that video games are corrupting the minds of America's youth. But video games are incredible tool for kids to find a source of fun and relief during stressful and difficult times.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To people who think that games are just games, there's so much more than that.

WIGAL: I got to talk to you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't have to talk about me being sick. We can play the game because that's way more cool than having to talk about me being sick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: To see Zach and his gaming team in healing action, go to CNNheroes.com. Thanks for watching. Our live coverage of Hurricane Dorian with Robyn Curnow continues after this.

[23:55:03]

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