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Robert Mugabe Rest in Peace at the Age of 95; Hurricane Dorian Battering the Carolinas; Destruction by Dorian Seen All Over Bahamas; Hurricane Dorian Weakens Slightly To Category One; Former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe Dies; Trump Clings To Debunked Argument; Bahamas Death Toll Expected To Soar. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired September 6, 2019 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And we are following two major breaking news story this hour.

Welcome to viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell at the CNN center in Atlanta.

We'll have the very latest on Hurricane Dorian right there on the U.S. East Coast in just a moment.

But first, the former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe has died at the age of 95 years old. He was held the hope of a new nation after he first came to office nearly four decades ago. Mugabe was deposed in a military coup just two years ago, leaving a complicated and controversial legacy behind.

Our David McKenzie starts our coverage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After 37 years in power, demanding nothing less than absolute loyalty, Robert Mugabe's reign was never going to end at the ballot box. But few could have imagined those two weeks in November 2017, when his military moved against him and his people took to the streets.

So, what did those crowds mean to former President Mugabe? What did he say?

FIDELIS MUKONORI, LEAD MEDIATOR: He saw that they spoke. He saw that they spoke.

MCKENZIE: Did it break him?

MUKONORI: It moved him. It moved him in a sense that he realized they are speaking to say this is enough.

MCKENZIE: In negotiations the generals would salute the man they were looking to overthrow. Still, the coup and his resignation was a humiliating exit for Mugabe, whose very name came to define e Zimbabwe.

TREVOR NCUBE, NEWSPAPER PUBLISHER: This is a man who had so much to offer to Zimbabweans. But he didn't. He focusses on himself. What a tragedy. The death of Robert Mugabe breaks my heart, within the context of the millions of lives that he destroyed, the millions of lives that he wrecked.

MCKENZIE: Robert Mugabe's legacy was built by violence and oppression. And an economic collapse so bad money became worthless and millions fled. For many, he had left behind a shell of a country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT MUGABE, FORMER PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE: I, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, do swear --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKENZIE: So, it's easy to forget at first, he was likened to Nelson Mandela. Mugabe preached reconciliation after a brutal liberation struggle that he helped lead, repaired bonds with former colonial mass to Britain. He was even knighted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The historical links between United Kingdom and Zimbabwe which date from far back in history, had grown from strength to strength over the years.

MCKENZIE: The young Zimbabwe became the envy of the continent. Mugabe trained as a teacher, presided over an education revolution and a thriving agricultural powerhouse.

NCUBE: Robert Mugabe was my hero. And I looked up to Robert Mugabe's eloquence. Robert Mugabe's confidence and postulating amazing positions. And I decided that this is a man that impressed me.

MCKENZIE: But Mugabe like to say he had a degree in violence. And from the start, he squashed descent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALICE MWALE, SURVIVOR (through translator): Yes, I saw people being killed. I saw them killed. And you could not say a word.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKENZIE: Alice Mwale relives her trauma every day. Her back was broken by the North Korean-trained fifth brigade as they swept through Matabeleland in 1983. The operation was called Gukurahundi and Shona, all the reigns that washed away the chaff, meant to crush Mugabe's rivals, civilians were targeted, victims chosen along ethnic lines.

When Mugabe's power was again threatened, this time at the ballot, he sanctioned violent attacks, seizing white owned farms by so-called war veterans strengthening his hand. And he crushed the rising opposition using his hold on state security. But the violence shocked the world. Mugabe was abandoned by the west and its aid and the country never fully recovered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUGABE: They want to come to us and dictate to us what we must do. That shall never be. Not in Zimbabwe, never, never. Whatever the cost --

MUKONORI: Robert Mugabe was not an idiot in the country. He worked hard for this country. Mistakes were done. But he's a man who cared. But ultimately, of course, the president is, in the end, held responsible for whatever actions.

MCKENZIE: Actions throughout a long rule and rapid demise that many critics say were driven by Mugabe's number one priority, himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[03:05:06]

HOWELL: David McKenzie there with a look back at the life of Robert Mugabe. And now let's bring in our Farai Sevenzo. Farai on the line with us from Nairobi, Kenya. And Farai, again, this is a leader who, during his life, his decades in power, was as revered by many people as he was reviled by many people.

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, George. I mean, it's incredible to think -- I mean, I'm speaking to you from Nairobi. I'm across the (Inaudible) of this continent. There are many people who value Robert Mugabe's contribution to African history. And there are many people, as you say, who revile you saw the turn to autocracy and dictatorship and all the rest of it.

But speaking to you now, George, as a Zimbabwean. I mean, I was very young, in my teens when Robert Mugabe took over control of what was then Rhodesia into Zimbabwe. And I can only speak to you that while we were marking the death of this man, there are some figures in our African history with which the African people have a very complicated kind of relationship with.

If it was not for Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe would not have come into being. He took power in all of South Africa. I'm talking about South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe were all in a great grip of apartheid.

But as my colleague David McKenzie just said, that kind of control of liberating his people, turned sour very fast. And the things that he's now remembered for are kind of all the worst things, the violence, the incredible control, the one-man leadership, one-party leadership.

But let's not forget, while we talk about these things, that Zimbabwe became one of the most educated countries in all of Africa through his education policies. I mean, even now, we were talking about xenophobia the other day. The reason why South Africa is so full of Zimbabweans, because their education allowed them to take those white-collar jobs. Where in South Africa, where they abandon education never reach that far.

And then of course, you talk about the land policies of grabbing the white farms, white-owned farms, et cetera. Where are we now in 2019? And South Africa is talking about the same thing. Namibia is talking about the same thing. He completely turned around the whole colonial narrative.

But, of course, what we can't forget that even as I was in Zimbabwe in November 2017, people were overjoyed that he had actually finally stepped down to a coup because after 37 years his entire kind of direction and purpose seemed to get lost in his views of a power grab. And of course, he was going to give power to his wife, et cetera. And Zimbabwe today was feeling a kind of grief but at the same time a kind of despair that, you know, his move from power hasn't changed very much within the country, George.

HOWELL: Our correspondent Farai Sevenzo speaking about his native country and the complicated relationship that it had with its once- leader. Again, Robert Mugabe, who has died at the age of 95 years old.

All right. Back here stateside, we're following another big story, Hurricane Dorian. Right now, it is still churning there along the U.S. East Coast. Take a look at this image here. Earlier in Wilmington, North Carolina that storm hugging the North Carolina coast, with winds of 90 miles or about 150 kilometers per hour.

Dorian caused a lot of flooding in the Carolinas and also kicked off a lot of tornadoes and left hundreds of thousands of people without power.

Another story to tell you about in the Bahamas. Take a look at the devastation left behind, Man-O-War right there. Take a look at so much left behind there. Each new day brings clear just how bad the destruction is there. Hundreds of people are still missing.

The death toll has risen now to 30. And the country's health minister warns the final number will be, in his words, quote, "huge."

Let's get the latest on where the storm is right now and how strong it is with our meteorologist Karen Maginnis. Karen?

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: George, something very interesting is taking place right now. All right. We got an update from the National Hurricane Center. It is moving more quickly. The wind associated with this is lower. But look at this. It's been a week. The last time this was a category one was a week ago.

And now, it looks like the northern edge of this eyewall is moving right in the vicinity of this Cape Lookout area. So, the people right in that lake, the Cape Lookout area right now, chances are, they are just moving through, if they are there at all they probably been evacuated.

[03:10:06]

But we will probably see the most intense winds. This is the closest that I have seen Hurricane Dorian come to an actual coastal area since it moved over the Bahamas. It is a little more ragged. It is moving towards the northeast at just about 15 miles per hour. If it makes landfall, landfall officially is 50 percent of that eye onshore. We're not seeing that yet. But we're definitely seeing the strongest winds associated with Hurricane Dorian right now.

This is a closer view. Cape Lookout, Cape Hatteras, I thought maybe if it came close, it would be in this vicinity. This is protected area. This is a national seashore. It is very fragile, one of the more fragile coastlines in the entire world.

Certainly, probably at least along the eastern seaboard. All right. Here's more head city. There is Cape Lookout. There is Hatteras. A ragged looking eye, to be sure. Winds now at 90 miles an hour. As I mentioned it's moving off towards the northeast.

Still, the possibility of storm surge maybe as high as six feet along some of these coastal areas and the potential for tornadic activity. We saw that early in the day Emerald Isle, lots of damage there. Also, damage reported a little farther to the north. And most of these are very short-lived but happened nonetheless.

You typically think of these as something, George, that happens over the plains and the springtime. But now you get the quick firing up of tornadoes that can happen primarily from the feeder bands on that eastern side of the hurricane.

HOWELL: We're just thinking about all the people right now who are under that storm dealing with it at this hour. Karen Maginnis, thank you. We'll continue to keep in touch with you.

Some of the worst devastation seen so far has been in the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas. Our Paula Newton and her crew made it to Man- O-War Cay in Abaco and saw the devastating power of nature along with the resilience of human nature. Here's her exclusive report for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The people on the Abaco Islands that we spoke to are still trying to process everything they've gone through and now trying to figure out what happens next.

When they look at their own city, their own towns, their own streets, they cannot believe what they survived. Take a listen.

It is so much worse than they had feared. The Abaco Islands forever scarred by mass destruction. Home after home, entire rooftops blown away. Debris scattered in unrecognizable heaps. Boats tossed like confetti. The images belie the obvious question, how could anyone survive this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, OK. You're OK. You're OK. You're going to be OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know. I know. NEWTON: We arrived by helicopter in Man-O-War in Abaco with Billy Albury, embracing his wife Chana after days of not knowing if she was dead or alive. Chana hunkered down with friends in their seaside home until the roof blew off and they all scrambled to find anything still standing.

So, Nancy, this is what kept you guys alive, this little bathroom?

NANCY ALBURY, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: This little room. Came in and hunkered down. And Chana was on the ground crying and we were just turning --

(CROSSTALK)

CHANA ALBURY, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: I was hysterical --

NEWTON: What did it sound like here at the time?

N. ALBURY: It was loud. Well, there was a lot of crashing.

C. ALBURY: Crashing.

N. ALBURY: And I remember all the crashing banging and whirling.

C. ALBURY: And stuff was coming through this wall.

NEWTON: So many in the Abaco Islands lived through hours that resembled a horror movie, exposed to winds that 215 miles an hour like tornadoes touching down every minute.

SHERRIE ROBERTS, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: Words can't describe it. I don't wish it on nobody, nobody. Words can't describe it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I can say something --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My grandfather --

ROBERTS: They can never categorize this. Never.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My grandfather and I --

ROBERTS: It was like an atomic bomb went off.

NEWTON: Residents here tell me their little island paradise is unrecognizable even to them. They're resourceful and self-reliant they say but they could have never imagined a storm as powerful as Dorian.

You know, there's no better way to describe to you the force of Hurricane Dorian to be right here, where people rode out the storm in their living rooms in their dining rooms.

[03:14:55]

I mean, look at this. The roof blew off the house here. The entire kitchen came down. Their refrigerator ended up here on the ground. Their living room and dining furniture room is thrown all over. People describe these things being tossed around the island like projectiles. They all cowered, hovered in their bathrooms and closets. Anything they could find to take shelter.

There are now the beginnings of recovery, but only the basics, medical attention, private helicopters to take out those who are sick, the elderly young families.

JEREMY SWEETING, COUNCILOR, ABACO ISLAND: I'm sure it will never be the same again. Our -- but I mean, the people are strong and we are going to try our best to rebuild the best way we can. But we knew it will never be the same.

NEWTON: This was a storm of biblical proportions, Abaconians tell me. And yes, they worry it will take a miracle to recover from it all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: Now these people are terrified about what comes next, still traumatized by this storm. It is the death toll, of course, that raised them. They know it will rise anecdotally. I've heard from many people that have loved ones missing and that's a problem. And yet, they are also wondering whether or not it will be possible to rebuild given the magnitude of the destruction.

Paul Newton, CNN, Nassau.

HOWELL: Paula Newton, thank you.

As Newsroom continues, we have more on the death of the former president of Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe who has died at the age of 95 years old. Stand by.

[03:20:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Back to our top story this hour.

The former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe has died. He was 95 years old and ruled for almost four decades, that is until he was deposed in a military coup in 2017.

To talk more about his life, let's bring in Knox Chitiyo, an associate fellow of the Africa Programme at Chatham House and a native of Zimbabwe. Good to have you with us.

KNOX CHITIYO, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, AFRICA PROGRAMME, CHATHAM HOUSE: Hi there. Good morning.

HOWELL: Let's talk just a bit more about this man once compared to Nelson Mandela. many people remember him from the days of the liberation movement that led to the founding of Zimbabwe.

They revere him as an icon. But many younger generations have a very different view. They see him as a man who clung to power, who cracked down violently on descent. Overall, how do you believe Robert Mugabe will be remembered?

CHITIYO: Hi there. Yes. He definitely leaves a legacy. And as you pointed out, it is also generational. I mean, I'm from the older generation. I was actually there at independence in 1980, and certainly in the '80s and the '90s, there were a lot of positive things that happened in terms of education, in terms of health, you know, a chief, possibly the highest literacy rate on the continent in terms of the health sector was really rebuilt.

So, there are lot of positive things then. Although even then, there was still a negative side which was the killings of people in Matabeleland which is now known as (Inaudible). But overall, I think there was a much more positive legacy.

For the younger generation, the decline of the economy, issues around political violence. And I think particularly corruption. These are things which the current government is now having to grapple with. And which they have admitted themselves, you know, particularly the corruption legacy is a big issue.

So, certainly, a mixed legacy. Beyond Zimbabwe, I think people see him, will see him in a perhaps more favorable light in terms of his role within the liberation struggle. You know, he is in the same league as people like Kenneth Kaunda who is still there. People like Julius Nyerere. You know, they reaffirmed African identity.

And you know, you can't underestimate the power of that because I remember, you know, growing up in Rhodesia in the '60s and the '70s, where being black, you know, people -- you're part of an underclass. So that's a very powerful thing. So, he will be remembered partly for that.

But certainly, you know, we cannot condone the more negative aspects of his rule. And you know, even that part of his legacy still remains today.

HOWELL: Yes. It is, to quote one of our correspondents, "a very complicated mixed bag when you look back to the past and consider his legacy." But now let's look to the present with the current president of Zimbabwe who tweeted recently, who actually, you know, let us know about the death of this former leader. But what change has happened since that transition of power?

CHITIYO: Again, you know, I think that the government has to grapple with various issues. You know, they have brought in economic reform process, in terms of the economy. You know, I think the government has been -- the current government is very much aware that they have to reform the economy. They have to make it more inclusive.

They've put up an anti-corruption commission to try and grapple with the issues of corruption. There's a land order going in -- going on. So, some of those things, it is a reformist -- more reformist government. There's an international reengagement going on. We've seen a lot of Zimbabwean government visits to the U.K. and the west. So, there is a broader kind of look west aspect taken by the new

government, which, you know, Mugabe was renowned in many ways for not being friendly to the west. I think the current government has taken more of a look west, as well as look east approach.

[03:24:58]

But there are still questions with regard to corruption where the government is to blame, and then the question of political reform. I think that's something that the government is really grappling with. And that, I think that is taking -- it's occurring at a rather slower pace than the economic reform agenda.

HOWELL: I do remember covering that transition back in 2017. There were so many people, Knox, who were cheering on the streets, cheering in the streets excited and hopeful about change under the current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, the crocodile, as his nickname is.

But many people still seem a bit frustrated, according to the reporting that we're hearing. Frustrated about the economic, the lack of economic change, the lack of change since the transition of power.

Knox Chitiyo, we appreciate you being with us to give us perspective on the death again of the former President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, at the age of 95 years old.

We're also following the big story here stateside, Hurricane Dorian from an island paradise to piles of rubble, this storm left its mark.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hurricane Dorian came here and ripped the roof clean off. But not only that. You think of the power that a storm needs to knock down entire cement walls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: I mean, wow. Look at that. We're finally getting to some of those hardest hit areas. Our exclusive report ahead. Stand by.

[03:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We continue following the breaking news this hour. Hurricane Dorian moving up the U.S. East Coast as we speak. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. The very latest on this hurricane. The center of the storm right now is brushing right along the North Carolina coastline. It's weakened slightly to a category one storm, with winds around 90 miles per hour. That is about 150 kilometers per hour.

Warnings and watches extend up the East Coast into Canada. The storm has kicked off many tornadoes and waterspouts in the Carolinas and high winds have downed trees and power lines. So far, five storm- related deaths have been reported in the United States. And in the Bahamas, a much worse story to tell you about. The official

death toll there now stands at 30, but hundreds of people are still unaccounted for. That country's health minister warns the final death toll will be, in his words, huge.

Some areas in the Bahamas had been cut-off since hurricane Dorian tore through the islands a day ago. High rock and Grand Bahama Island, for instance. Those are two areas hardest-hit. No one could see the level of destruction there until now. CNN's Patrick Oppmann shows us what's left behind in this exclusive report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're in the town of High Rock on Grand Bahama Island or I should say what used to be the town of High Rock. This behind me is the clinic. And it has been leveled by hurricane Dorian's category five winds that came screaming through here. There are people in the Bahamas who say that the Abaco, different islands, received the worst damage. And they need to come here. They need to come to remote places on Grand Bahama Island that very few have visited.

We are only about an hour from Freeport, but it took us much longer to get here, driving around debris, like this. You see, in every direction for miles, all the power lines are down. Most of the poles are down. There are trees down. You don't see any cars coming back and forth because there's nothing or nowhere to go to here. This was the town center.

Over there, come look at this. It's amazing. This was the police station. Hurricane Dorian came here and ripped the roof clean off, but not only that, you think of the power that a storm needs to knock down entire cement walls. We don't know if anybody can survive, because residence say the storm surge, and you can see the line just up there, got this high. Almost all the way to the roof, 17 feet, they said. They measured it.

You can see the water stains all the way down to the ground. The devastation everywhere you look. It kind of goes all the way back to the water. There's some 300 homes here. Every home is either damaged or destroyed. You can see where the wind smashed into the sign, but somehow didn't tear it off. These are slabs of concrete and they've been thrown around like they were nothing. Like they weigh nothing.

This is the High Rock prison. There's only one jail cell. And it's not guarding anybody now. We don't know if anybody was here when the storm came, they surely didn't stick around. And the people say, they have yet to receive any help from the government. Like so many Bahamians they are waiting for that assistance to come. Patrick Oppmann, CNN, the town of High Rock, on Grand Bahama Island.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[03:35:10]

HOWELL: Wow, Patrick Oppmann, thank you. The main priority now for the Bahamas is search and rescue. The U.S. Coast Guard is helping with that, they have rescued more than 200 people since Dorian hit the islands. The Coast Guard said it will be continuing its air operations with 11 helicopters across the Bahamas.

The other story we're following this day, the death of the founding father of Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe has died. And when we come back, we have a look back at his legacy and the impact on that nation.

[03:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: More now on the former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe who has died at the age of 95 years old. Mugabe was the first head of government for Zimbabwe after independence in 1980. That, until a coup, a military coup took over in November of 2017, and removed him from power.

Mr. Mugabe was also led the African National Union to overthrow the white minority government of Ian Smith and to bring independence to the territory. Many people remember him as a brutal autocrat, but the current president called him an icon of liberation. While the African National Congress remembered him as a revolutionary comrade.

To talk more about this, let's bring in Geoff Hill. Geoff is the chief Africa correspondent for "the Washington Times" and the author of the book "What happens after Mugabe." Jeff joining again this hour in Johannesburg. Good to have you with us.

GEOFF HILL, CHIEF AFRICA CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: Hi, George.

HOWELL: So, let's talk just a bit more about this man and his legacy. Because clearly, there is a generational divide here. Older generations remembering him as part of the liberation movement, likening him to Nelson Mandela, considering him a hero or an icon. Yet, younger generations remember him clinging to power, cracking down on descent. Overall, how will he be remembered in that nation?

HILL: George, I don't think it's a generational divide. I think it's a divide between those who are quite comfortably often, maybe at the time he had been supported, Mugabe and (inaudible), and the survivors, the victims, who made it through some of his bloody campaigns. They certainly do not have good memories.

And I like to recall that in the 1970s, George, the country then known as Rhodesia (inaudible), Africa after South Africa and it's now one of the poorest countries in the world. And millions of Zimbabwe are driven into exile. These are the people who now are celebrating and are happy with his passing. So I think it rode to a very comfortably off and that's have a better memory of him.

HOWELL: As far as the transition of power back in 2017, I was speaking with one of our correspondents earlier, who covered this. He is also a native of Zimbabwe and he recalls people cheering in the streets, people who are hopeful about change in the new government, under the current president Emmerson Mnangagwa. What has that change been for people? Have they realized those hopes?

HILL: George, there really has been no change, because Mnangagwa has continued the economic policies under Robert Mugabe. And he was going to talk about the new investments have never happened. There were still known sanctions against the country, the U.S. and Britain and others will not put money into Zimbabwe until there's a credible, free and fair election.

And until the government let go it's strangle hold on the (inaudible). Which is essentially just a (inaudible) singer of the ruling party. So, very difficult to bring about change under the circumstances. Some analysts compare it to the (inaudible), the self-inflicted injury that has destroyed one of the richest countries in the region.

HOWELL: We just spoke a moment ago, about how he will be remembered, Mugabe, how he will be remembered within his own country, but internationally, around the world, people who know of his history, his legacy, how do you suppose he will be remembered around the world?

HILL: George, I think he will be remembered as the great educator. You and I talked an hour ago about the (inaudible) -- the world class education system brought to the country. Going to cause all those graduates. Shakespeare and algebra could not find jobs. And that's when the anger on people turn against him. One of my reporters, (inaudible), has been on the streets in Johannesburg in areas that have been moved in by exiled Zimbabweans. There's well over a million of them here in Johannesburg.

People out on the street, celebrating, dancing, playing music out of their apartment windows. There is a huge amount of jollity and happiness here. And that is very unusual in African culture. No matter how bad someone is, there's generally respect and regard for the dead on their parting. They don't refuse to be that way with Mugabe. Internationally, I think he will be remembered for his role in opposing the party, for his wonderful educational system. And I think he's a great (inaudible). He was the great (inaudible) man that would like to go fast, very charming. That of course, that covered up quite an evil streak.

[03:45:25]

HOWELL: Geoff Hill with perspective, live for us. Geoff, thank you.

Still ahead, we're following, of course, the aftermath of what we saw happen in the Bahamas with hurricane Dorian. And that storm is continuing to churn along the East Coast. The U.S. president also is in the mix here, how he is clinging to that and that sharpie. We'll have more of that in a moment. Stay with us.

[03:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: For those watching here on the U.S. East Coast, let's get you updated on what's happening with hurricane Dorian right now. It's a category one storm, right now, hitting with Carolinas on the Southeast Coast of the United States. And its bringing heavy rain, winds of 90 miles per hour. That is about 150 kilometers per hour.

The storm has leveled homes and caused flooding and has left thousands of people without power and has left a trail of destruction, as well. Take a look at what's left over there at the Bahamas. At least, 30 people have died there, hundreds more people were still unaccounted for.

One state though that was not impacted by Dorian is the state of Alabama. Though the U.S. President claims it was in the danger zone, danger from this hurricane. And days later, he is refusing to admit that he could have been wrong. Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, has this for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Leaving what may become an indelible mark on the Trump presidency, it was hardly a master stroke. Now, the White House is dragging its feet admitting just who altered the weather map, held up by the president in the Oval Office, falsely showing Alabama in the path of hurricane Dorian. Aides refused to say whether if it was doctored by the president.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That was the original chart. And you see it was going to hit not only Florida, but Georgia, which is going toward the gulf. That was what we -- what was originally projected.

ACOSTA: The president is defiant he's been right all along. Tweeting, Alabama was going to be hit or grazed and then hurricane Dorian took a different path up along the East Coast. That followed this tweet from Mr. Trump. This was the originally projected path of the hurricane in its early stages. As you can see, almost all models predicted it to go through Florida, also hitting Georgia and Alabama.

But hold on, zoom in on that spaghetti line map, it is from August 28th, roughly four days before the tweet that got the president in trouble in the first place. When he said on Sunday, in addition to Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama will most likely be hit.

TRUMP: They made that a little piece of -- a great place. It's called Alabama. And Alabama could even be in for -- at least some very strong winds and something --

ACOSTA: But that is not true. Contrast what the president said Sunday, with this map provided by NOAA which shows at that moment the storm was nowhere near Alabama.

TRUMP: I know that Alabama was in the original forecast. They thought it would get it. As a piece of it.

ACOSTA: Sources tell CNN the map was altered just before the president presented it to the public. White House aides know who did it, a problem for the president's team, as Mr. Trump has already said he doesn't know what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That map that you showed us today, it looks like a sharpie.

TRUMP: I don't know. I don't know.

ACOSTA: And there's one more problem. As a Fox News meteorologist noted, it's a violation of federal law to falsify a National Weather Service forecast. Democrats are pouncing.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-SOUTH BEND-IN) 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I feel sorry for the president. I think he felt it necessary to pull out a sharpie and change the map. I don't know if one of his aides believe they have to do that in order to protect his ego. No matter how you cut it, this is an unbelievably sad state of affairs for our country.

ACOSTA: The Alabama blunder comes as the president is diverting funds from storm ravage parts if Florida to pay for his border wall, including money designated to rebuild in parts of Tindall Air Force base which was hit by hurricane Michael. Mr. Trump had pledged he was coming to Tindall's rescue.

TRUMP: I have just come from a stop at Tindall Air Force base where I saw the devastating effects of that category five hurricane. Category five. Never heard of a category five's before. So, we're rebuilding the whole place. And we're doing a job.

ACOSTA: And one of the president's top homeland security advisers appears to be taking the blame for the altered map. An official saying in a statement that the president's comments were based on a briefing that included the possibility of tropical storm-force winds in southeastern Alabama. The statement from the White House does not say who altered the map. Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

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HOWELL: All right. Back to what really matters here, of course, the devastation that so many people are dealing with. If you would like to help the victims of this hurricane, Dorian. Head over to our special impact your world website. That is where you will find a list of organizations that are helping to reach those who are in need. That address is CNN.com/impact.

[03:55:00]

Thanks for watching CNN Newsroom. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Stay with us as we continue to following the breaking news.

Hurricane Dorian on the East Coast and the death of the former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe.

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