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Trump's Military Comment Fall Out; Trump's Series Of Tell All Books; Cristiano Ronaldo Scores 100th Goal For Portugal; NBA Goes All Out For Election. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 9, 2020 - 02:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A setback for one of late- stage vaccine trials after a participant falls ill.

Mass evacuations in the Western United States, I'll speak to a group of hikers who escaped from one of the biggest fires.

And yet another tell-all book from a former Donald Trump insider. And the White House is in damage control mode.

So hello and welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Robyn Curnow.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: We begin with a new hurdle in the race for the coronavirus vaccine. Drugmaker AstraZeneca says late-stage trials of its Oxford University vaccine are now on hold after one research participants developed an unexplained illness.

The company says it is reviewing safety data to ensure this vaccine candidate will not cause serious reactions. This comes after AstraZeneca signed a pledge with eight other vaccine makers to uphold high ethical standards as they develop their drugs.

They promised not to seek government approval too quickly amid some concerns that some world leaders, notably the U.S. president, are trying to rush a vaccine to market before adequate testing has been completed.

Meanwhile, ,with coronavirus cases rising in England, prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce new limits on social gatherings to six people instead of 30, to take effect on Monday. There will be exceptions for work, school, funerals, weddings and organized sports teams.

Worldwide, the virus has now infected more than 27 million people, with almost 900,000 people dead. The outbreak in the U.S. remains the worst in the world by far. Nick Watt looks at how the country is still trying to manage this crisis.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Millions of students back in school, but most aren't actually in school. They're online only.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If you're in the red zone, you really better be very careful before you bring the children back, because you don't want to create a situation where you have a hyper spreading event as you might have in this school.

WATT: Hartford, Connecticut planned a hybrid model, but a cyber attack just forced a delay.

MAYOR LUKE BRONIN, (D-CT), HARTFORD: As difficult as that was in this year when so much work has gone into preparing for the first day of school.

WATT: Tens of thousands of confirmed cases now at colleges, West Virginia University just suspended nearly all in person teaching at one campus for two weeks. Friday night, a COVID positive frat member told to isolate went to a party anyway.

Nationally, case counts are still headed in the right direction for now.

DR. TOM INGLESBY, JOHN HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: But we are beginning to do things that we haven't done since the start of the pandemic.

WATT: Like opening some schools and colleges and moving indoors in colder weather. In New York, sheriff's deputies will now stop buses arriving from a staggering 33 states and territories.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: They will be pulling over buses before they arrived. And there'll be giving out those traveler health forms to get people right away to sign up so we can make sure they quarantine.

WATT: Eleven states are right now seeing a rise in average case counts. Arizona and Florida success stories of the late summer taking up again.

FAUCI: We need to hang in there together. This will end and it will end even sooner if we continue to go by the public health measures that have been recommended time and again for so many months.

WATT: A new study of cellphone data suggests people staying home in the spring did slow the spread of this virus. They saved lives. But the President thinks shutdowns are ridiculous. Claims Democrats are using them just to hurt him.

FAUCI: We've got to regain the trust of the community.

WATT: So, the CEOs of nine pharma companies racing to produce a vaccine just signed a pledge that they won't submit too soon for approval suggesting they won't bow to any political pressure. They hope to "help ensure public confidence in the rigorous scientific and regulatory process."

ALBERT BOURLA, CEO, PFIZER: It is, your right, it's an unprecedented moment. It's an historic pledge. We saw it as critical to come out and reiterate our commitment was that we will develop our products, our vaccines using the highest ethical standards.

WATT: Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.




CURNOW: Joining me now is CNN medical analyst Dr. Celine Gounder.

Doctor, good to have you on the show. Your reaction to this pause in the trial, because of an unexplained illness.

Is this a standard precaution or something people should be raising their eyebrows about?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Robyn, I wouldn't read too much into this, except to say that this is how phase 3 clinical trials or clinical trials in general, are supposed to function.

You are supposed to see if there are any side effects, any issues. And sometimes it's related to the vaccine. Sometimes it's just something happening at random. But the fact that they have paused the trial, that they are taking the time to evaluate what happened, that's exactly how things should function.

CURNOW: And this trial was one of 3, is one of 3 in late stage development, this phase 3 development.

If it's all going according to plan, also then, what do you make of this pledge that we have been hearing about in the last few days?

And what does that mean going forward as well?

GOUNDER: The big concern is that we might see approval of a vaccine before the data is in, before phase 3 clinical trials that are really the definitive proof of safety and efficacy, before those are completed.

That is essentially what happened with the story of convalescent plasma, is that the FDA did issue an emergency use authorization before randomized clinical trial data had come in.

So we have good reason to be concerned that this could be a politicized approval. And to see nine of the biggest pharmaceutical companies involved in developing these vaccines, including the three that are farthest ahead and development and testing, was very reassuring, to see the pharmaceutical companies say, look, we have to be sure a vaccine is safe and effective before we submit it for approval.

CURNOW: We have new polls of Americans and I'm sure this is felt across the world. If there was a vaccine this year, what would your first thought be, 35 percent said this would be a scientific achievement; 65 percent thought it would be rushed through.

GOUNDER: And I think there is reason to be concerned. We have seen the numbers of people who would be wanting to get vaccinated immediately upon approval of a vaccine. Those numbers have gone down in the last several months.

And I think it is because people are nervous that the approval of a vaccine would be rushed and wouldn't be done appropriately.

And I think this is where Big Pharma has really understood that it is in their self-interest as well as in the interest of the public health that they make sure a vaccine is safe and effective. It will backfire for them and for the rest of us if it is brought to market before it's ready.

CURNOW: Yes, essentially, they will try to sell a product. And what they want is for the product to be taken and bought.

With that in mind also, again, this poll, which is interesting in terms of where people are right now, if a vaccine became available to you this year at no cost, would you get one?

Twenty-one percent said yes, consider one but wait; 58 percent said they'd hold off and then 21 percent said they would never get one.

What does this tell you?

GOUNDER: We have always had a strong anti-vaccination contingent in the U.S. There has been for a long time a lack of trust in vaccines. But what's concerning to me is the group of people who say they are not sure, that they would rather wait and see.

I think some of that is actually rational. They want to wait and see, well, did we get phase 3 clinical trial results?

Do we see issues after people start to get vaccinated?

And I just hope that that fraction of people, if we do eventually have a safe and effective vaccine, that fraction of people shrinks and that they do step up to get vaccinated.

CURNOW: Dr. Celine Gounder, I appreciate your expertise. Thanks for joining us.

GOUNDER: My pleasure.


CURNOW: Straight to London now. Nic Robertson is standing by with more on this move to pause AstraZeneca's study.

What can you tell us about it?

Do we know anything about this illness that was developed and in which trial and which country it was?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: We understand it was a British patient. We don't know the details. We do know it was an adverse side effect. We are expecting to hear more from AstraZeneca.

I think this is, for the British public at least, because this was the trial that the government had got behind at the earlier stages, it was a trial that began here with the phase one and a handful of people to try out on a limited, in a limited way, to test the safety of the vaccine.

There was a big drumbeat from the government. In fact, the government invested heavily in buying and having vaccine prepared before the end of the trials, so that it can be ready to go as soon as possible.


ROBERTSON: In fact, yesterday, the health secretary said there were 30 million doses of this vaccine ready to go. There are 50,000 people worldwide who have been part of the phase 3 trial.

And one British person, which perhaps gives an indication that this is someone who received the trial vaccine some time ago, remembering the initial trial began at the beginning of summer.

So potentially because the trial has now been rolled out into the United States and Brazil and other countries where there are higher infection rates, what we understand from AstraZeneca is that they will be pausing, as your previous guest said, as part of a standard procedure, to examine the safety implications.

But I think for the British public today, because this was much vaunted by the British government, there was great hope and stock put around this, the outcome, positive outcome of this vaccine trial.

There was expectations it could be available as early as the fall. To have a knockback like this on the day when the British prime minister is expected to announce new COVID restrictions across the whole of England, that will now go back to limiting gatherings to just six people from 30 people previously, this will feel like a double blow for the British public today.

CURNOW: It certainly will. Nic Robertson, thank you live from London.

Canada is urging people to be more vigilant as it sees a spike in cases there. Infections are way up in the last week alone, as the country reports an average of 545 new cases a day.

The spike comes as schools have reopened across the country. In an effort to curb the spread of the virus, the border with the U.S. is remaining closed to nonessential travel. Anyone entering the country has to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

Another story we are following here at CNN, wildfires are burning through much of the Western United States and California. They have already scorched a record amount of land, turning buildings into kindling and the worst months could still be ahead. The governor says the state is facing an enormous challenge.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): 118,000 acres were burned in 2019 by this time last year. You can see it is just shy of 2.3 million acres burned this year. Historic is a term we seemingly often use in the state of California. But these numbers bear fruit to that assertion that this is historic.

This is the largest fire season we have had in terms of total acreage impacted in some time; in fact, in recorded recent modern history. Nonetheless, you put it in comparison terms and contrast to last year and it is rather extraordinary.


CURNOW: "Extraordinary, "historic," we know thousands of people have been forced out of their homes. Some have literally had to out-run the flames. Imagine being behind the wheel of this car, with the fire in front of you and the fire behind you. The driver just has to gun it as you can see here and go through.

The ride of their life, no doubt.

I want to bring in some hikers who escaped the massive Creek fire in central California when it began as a birthday trip and turned into quite an ordeal. Asha Karim, Jaymie Shearer and Lucas Wojciechowski.

You are all in Berkeley, California, snuggled up together. No doubt you got to know each other very, very well over the past few days. Thank you so much for joining us.

Asha, to you first, happy birthday. That was a wild trip, wasn't it?

You won't forget that birthday.

ASHA KARIM, CALIFORNIA HIKER: Certainly not this one, no.

CURNOW: Tell us what happened.

KARIM: This actually came about because we had initially planned to go to Mt. Whitney but scrapped it because it was too smoky because of another wildfire. And so instead we planned this one with the main tide billing (ph) there was minimal smoke.

When we began, there were clear skies and about maybe the first few miles into the hike or two hours into the hike, we started seeing thickening smoke. We started seeing this darkening sky, this starting a roll of thunder just overhead as it starts to expand.

CURNOW: Jaymie, how terrifying was it?

And how quickly did you realize you were in trouble?

Did you think you could walk out of the smoke or did you realize you might be trapped?

JAYMIE SHEARER, CALIFORNIA HIKER: We definitely had time to assess the situation. It took a moment to try to get as much information as possible. Luckily, we had not one but three in-reach devices, which is like a satellite phone you can use to text without cell phone service. So we were able to gain enough information to make the decision to move forward.


SHEARER: So it was frightening but there wasn't really time to sit in that fear, because we just knew we had to do something.

We ended up moving back to the car to try to drive out. This didn't work. We decided that wasn't a good option, so we turned around and parked the car, which we hope is going to be there once it is safe to return to. And we decided to hike 13 miles back to the western side of the Sierra.

CURNOW: And, Lucas, there are a lot of photographs you took on the way. There were four of you. There seems to have been this sort of terrifying sense of knowing that you are hiking for your life.

But at the same time, what got you through?

There seems to be a lot of camaraderie and a sense of real grit.

LUCAS WOJCIECHOWSKI, CALIFORNIA HIKER: Yes, as a group, we have a lot of experience together and a lot of experience independently in difficult situations in the outdoors. So it was really like we had a lot of practice and a lot of past experience to draw upon.

CURNOW: Did you call your families?

Did you say goodbye?

Did you tell them in these phone calls that you were in a bit of a tricky situation?

KARIM: I waited to tell my mom until I was safe. My attitude toward that was it does me no good to have her panicked and be trying to manage her stress at the same time as managing our stress and that whole dynamic.

The people that we were reaching out to via satphone were different friends who were really familiar with the tools that we needed to figure out the fire footprint and forecast and things like that. My attitude toward reaching out to family is if it's absolutely (INAUDIBLE) fatal, absolutely.

And once I am safe or at a point where I know I will be safe, I am happy to reach out.

CURNOW: Did you think you might have to make that call, though?

KARIM: We did sit and discuss under what circumstances we would push the call e-back (ph) button on those phones, what circumstances would need to be met and at what point the self rescue was still the right way to go.


SHEARER: -- that we would be able to get back home. It wasn't until later when we got home that we realized how close we actually were.

CURNOW: It's just how quickly this fire doubled its footprint, the sheer speed at which it seems to be engulfing these areas. Even though you are experienced hikers, do you feel like you misread the situation?

WOJCIECHOWSKI: I know I certainly did. I remember, as we first saw the smoke, I was very skeptical that there was any fire because of how large it was. I've been around wildfires before. I just expect a certain rate of growth.

So what I was seeing just didn't make any sense at all. It wasn't until we got a message from a friend, telling us about the new fire at Mammoth Pools that we realized what was happening and how serious that fire was, how unusual that fire was.

KARIM: I remember checking the satphone in the morning so after we had started hiking in. We camped at the first site and that morning I asked for an update on the fire footprint. And I saw it had grown from 1,000 acres to 36,000 acres. And just rereading that a couple times to make sure it wasn't a typo.

Like there's a comma in there. It's very purposeful. But for that jump and then it doubled the following day is, it's incredibly aggressive.

CURNOW: Before you go, quickly, what was the first thing you did when you found yourselves safe?

Quickly, from all of you, what did you do?

What did you want?

A shower?

A beer?

What did you need?

SHEARER: We had the best snacks in the world. They were waiting for us already in the car that was picking us up. And we sat down, even though we were still covered in smoke, and just enjoyed a nice snack and drink together.

CURNOW: OK, well, to all of you, Lucas, Asha, Jaymie, thank you. Thank you all for joining us, congratulations for making it home. What an ordeal and you did it on your own. Also that is a huge accomplishment.

And happy birthday again, Asha.

KARIM: Thanks


CURNOW: Well, cheers, have a lovely day.


CURNOW: Thank you.

So you are watching CNN. Time for a short break. When we come back, masked men attack a campaign office in Russia. We will explain how it's linked to poisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny. That story next. You are watching CNN.





CURNOW: Welcome back. In Russia, at least three opposition volunteers have now been hospitalized after masked men attacked their office with an unknown yellow liquid.

The office is the local headquarters of Putin critical Alexei Navalny, who, you know German doctors say, was poisoned last month. Here is Matthew Chance in Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is yet more evidence of the dangers facing opposition activists in Russia.

This time an office in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, which opposition workers linked with anti-corruption campaigner, Alexei Navalny, have been using as a local headquarters ahead of forthcoming local elections there.

Security cameras recorded two masked men bursting into the office and dousing it with an unknown liquid before running away. The office was evacuated.

But some of those inside have both suffered breathing difficulties, one of them passing out. At least three of them were taken to hospital by ambulance, where they were treated and later discharged.

But there are heightened fears among opposition activists in Russia, as Alexei Navalny himself lies in a Berlin clinic with suspected nerve agent poisoning.

The latest update on his condition is that it's improved. He's out of a medically induced coma. He has been weaned off his mechanical ventilator. The clinic says he is also now responding to voices.

But doctors say it's still too early to know what long-term effects his serious poisoning may have had. Russian officials, meanwhile, are still refusing to open an investigation into the suspected poisoning of the Kremlin's most prominent critic, despite growing international calls for them to do so or face consequences -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


CURNOW: Wall Street's losing streak is getting worse by the day. Investors are really concerned over a coronavirus resurgence and U.S.- China relations. The Dow fell 632 points on Tuesday. But the Nasdaq's plunge officially puts that index in correction territory, defined as a 10 percent drop from its most recent peak.

Also, oil prices fell to their lowest level in three months. John Defterios is live in Abu Dhabi.

Hey, John, it has been a blistering six months of gains.

Are investors now suddenly waking up to the risks that are circling here?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: It looks like, it. Robyn the clock is running on that rally we saw here over the last six months, as you are suggesting. The rally was 40 percent to 50 percent of the lows of the initial shock of COVID-19.

The Nasdaq fall was the worst since March. Stability is returning, to market, at least the futures market. The Dow is run at the break even point. S&P 500 is stable. The Nasdaq, however, was up better than 1.3 percent on the futures; it is now off those highs on the session.

Three drivers hitting the market right now. The COVID-19 snapback, Joe Biden and Donald Trump getting pretty nasty but very uncertain how this will turn out after November 3rd. Investors don't like that.

And then Trump is banging away at China again, saying he wants to decouple from China, protectionist measures not the right climate for growth and a recovery from COVID-19. The Asian markets, as a result, are lower across the board.


DEFTERIOS: Australia has been the most hardhit market in Asia for the last couple of weeks after the announcement of the recession and some of the challenges they're facing. You talked about the sell-off in the oil market.

We saw Saudi Aramco in Saudi Arabia cutting prices to Asia, an indication demand is falling. We already see record demand drop of up to 10 percent in 2020. So you can see the narrative here. A second wave of COVID-19, stimulus spending running out for governments and stock markets starting to fall because they realize growth will be slower in 2021.

CURNOW: Then there are indicators from the tech markets as well. John Defterios, we will speak in the next few hours, live in Abu Dhabi.

Leaders around the world, including President Trump, are urging Iran not to execute a champion wrestler. The 27-year old faces the death penalty on Wednesday. Afkari was sentenced for the 2018 murder of a water and sewage department employee during an anti-government protest in Shiraz.

The president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship is also coming to his defense.


DANA WHITE, PRESIDENT, UFC: This is one of us, could be any of my fighters. And the only thing I thought to do was to call the president and see if he can help this man. And he said, let us look into it. Let me talk to my administration, and see if there is something we can do to save his life.

I just would like to say that I, too, respectfully and humbly ask the government officials in Iran to please not execute this man and spare his life.


CURNOW: The World Players Association is calling for Iran's expulsion from international sport if Afkari is executed.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, President Trump promises to build up the military after seemingly criticizing the military. We will have the latest from the campaign trail.




CURNOW: Now to politics. President Trump campaigned without a mask in front of a big crowd in North Carolina on Tuesday. He promised to build up the military. This comes a day after he appeared to criticize military leadership and after reports he had made disparaging comments about U.S. troops.

Here is Kaitlan Collins to take a look at how the president is dealing with the fallout.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's a story that resonated with the president and something we are told he spent a good portion of the weekend talking about, leading up to that Labor Day press conference, where he made the comment, saying he believed top Pentagon leaders are beholden to Defense contractors.

And basically the concern overall was that the president that it could erode his support with the military. And the reason he made that comment on Monday, in part, I was told, is because he didn't feel like enough senior people at the Pentagon were speaking out in his defense after "The Atlantic" story came out.


And that's what led him to make that insult saying, basically, that they're in the pockets of these defense contractors, and that's why they want to start all these wars.

Now, of course, the chief of staff tried to clean that up saying that he was not talking about the defense secretary.

Though, of course, it's notable the defense secretary is a former top lobbyist for Raytheon, which is one of the biggest defense contractors in the world.



CURNOW: CNN Politics White House reporter Stephen Collinson joins me now from Washington. Stephen, hi.

So for a man who said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still not lose supporters, what do you make of this reporting that the president was really visibly upset about the fallout from his comments about the military that were reported in "The Atlantic?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, I think, Robyn, that there are a couple things going on.

First of all, the president never likes to be embarrassed. He sees himself as a great advocate of the military.

He's kind of based his whole persona on the idea that he's this kind of General Paton style leader who's tough and who's provided the military with all the resources they need.

So of course, these stories and these reports cut against that. I think there's also a political thing going on here.

If you look at some of the swing states, Wisconsin, for example, North Carolina, where the president was tonight, there are large numbers of veterans and serving military in those states.

For example, in Wisconsin and North Carolina, it's around eight, nine percent of the adult population. In a really close election in a state, for example, like Wisconsin that was decided by about 27,000 votes last time, it wouldn't take too many of those votes to move away from Trump for him to really be in a difficult situation in a close election.

CURNOW: Can the public be swayed here? This is a man who got elected after a pretty devastating recording of him describing grabbing women.

So will comments about losers, people dying at Vietnam being losers, will that actually move a lot of his base?

COLLINSON: Right. There's this kind of joke in Washington where reporters say, "Well, this is the thing that will really bring Trump down."

And of course, that refers to your point that if Donald Trump's political career was dependent on his good character, he would have been destroyed as a political figure years ago.

Donald Trump's base is absolutely loyal, as we have often said over the last four years. It's unlikely that they will be swayed by this.

CURNOW: We see Joe Biden trying to sell himself as the every man, as somebody who is stable in terms of his policies, that he's the guy you can trust.

We've got a video out coming with Barack Obama and Kamala Harris chatting about how Joe loves ice cream and pasta.

In many ways, it is quite vanilla but does that matter, and why is his campaign doing that? Taking this tack.

I think that Barack Obama would have been, in normal circumstances in a non-pandemic election, he'd be out there in the country by now doing rallies in places like Philadelphia, Cleveland, areas where Biden needs a very strong African American turnout that Hillary Clinton didn't get.

So I think the campaign, the Biden campaign, is looking for ways to activate Obama, and of course, placing him with Kamala Harris is, again, that kind of passing of the torch moment.

Obama is trying to transfer the Obama coalition, the young, affluent, African American voters who he was so successful in bringing together, that Hillary Clinton failed to really get out in big numbers.

So I think that's what is going on. That comparison, I think, of Obama and Kamala Harris, is something that the Biden campaign really likes.

On a more a broader sense, Biden is trying to act, already, as the president.

This election, in many ways, is reversed. It's almost like President Trump is acting as the outsider, and Biden is campaigning as the incumbent, behaving in a way in which a normal president would behave in the pandemic and as we talk about this national racial reckoning.

So it's a very interesting dynamic that's going on, I think.

CURNOW: Yes. It certainly is interesting. But also, difficult to measure, difficult to gauge.

Even as a journalist, you look at the polls and you think well, last time around it didn't quite work out the way it said.

You drive around Atlanta neighborhoods and you see yard signs and sometimes in American elections you can gauge voter turnout or at least momentum by how enthusiastic people are on their front lawns.


And in a variety of ways, just how to gauge this election.

As you said, there's so much noise and it really is difficult to try and measure.

COLLINSON: There is so much that's uncertain because of the pandemic. We don't even know now many Americans are going to vote.

There are efforts in states which the president is decrying to expand mail-in voting and absentee voting so people don't have to go to the polls.

That is going to make election day almost an election week, that is going to prolong the process.

And that opens up the chance of all sorts of mischief on the part of the president, who's already tried to devalue and say this election is corrupt and unfair.

Many Americans have been isolated for months. Do we know that every American is picking up their phone when the pollster rings? How accurate are those polls?

Right now, Biden is seven points ahead on average nationally. That seems like a very big lead, and it would be if it turned out that way in an election.

But bear in mind, because of the vagaries of the electoral college system which currently really favors Republicans, Biden probably needs to win by four percent in the national popular vote to ensure an electoral college victory.

CURNOW: CNN Politics White House reporter. Always good to speak to you, get your perspective. Thanks so much. Stephen Collinson there.

So President Trump is expected to announce in the coming day that he is withdrawing more U.S. troops from Iraq.

A senior administration officials say the move would leave about 3,500 U.S. forces in Iraq, down from the current 5,200. An announcement on a drawdown in Afghanistan is expected soon as well.

This all comes amid the fallout from an article claiming the president disparaged fallen U.S. service members. So still ahead. Michael Cohen's book is out with sordid details about

Donald Trump. But it's not the only tell-all bound for the bestseller list.

And how the White House is responding.


CURNOW: South Africa is condemning U.S. President Donald Trump over allegations in a new book by his former attorney.

Michael Cohen claims Mr. Trump crudely insulted South African president Nelson Mandela after his death in 2013. A statement from South Africa's ANC party describe Mr. Trump as divisive and disrespectful.

The White House calls Cohen's book, quote "lies."

But is that just the tip of the iceberg? Here's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael Cohen now says working for Donald Trump was like being in a cult.

The president's former lawyer, fixer, and henchman, is out with a new book titled "Disloyal," in which he describes Trump as a bully, a liar and, as he told "NBC News," a blatant racist.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER TO MICHAEL Trump: Right after Nelson Mandela had passed away -- and I talk about this in the book -- he asked me if I had known of any country that's run by a black that's not a s-hole.


And I said well, how about America? At which he gave me the proverbial "f- you."


TODD: The White House calls Cohen a disgraced felon who's lost all credibility and is trying to profit off his lies.

It's one of many denials and counterattacks that the president and his team have made this summer as an onslaught of tell-all books about Trump and his family have hit bookstores.


ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "The NEW YORK TIMES:" I don't think I've ever seen this kind of avalanche of insider accounts on the presidency this close to an election. Or even at any point while the president is still serving.


TODD: Another insider account, "Melania and Me," by Melania Trump's former friend and adviser, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, depicts a cold relationship between Melania and Ivanka Trump. Both denied it.

Many of these tell-alls reinforce what some voters believe about the president's public personality.

But his niece, Mary Trump, has another take on the family in her book titled "Too Much and Never Enough."


MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": She really goes after his father and mother in an analytical way. And reveals the cruelty that was practiced against Donald himself as a child, the way that his father treated him, his mother's absence.

Trump tweeted that Mary Trump's book was an untruthful account from a quote, "seldom seen niece who knows little about me."

Investigative journalist Bob Woodward book, "Rage," about to be released, has shocking details of the president's behavior and decision-making during the coronavirus pandemic and the racial justice protests.

The season of bombshells began with a book by Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, which claimed Trump asked for China's help in this year's election and got played by Kim Jong-un.

Trump called Bolton a warmongering fool. A common theme and many of these tell-alls, analysts say, they all paint unflattering portraits of the president's character and temperament.


D'ANTONIO: The people who work around the president and his family work with so much lying and deception.

They experience so much fantasy, and they're enlisted in promoting these lies and deceptions that eventually they reach a point where they can't stand it anymore.


TODD: But will any of these books hurt the president on election day? Or will they have the same lack of impact as the "Access Hollywood" tape released just a few weeks before the 2016 vote?


BURNS: I don't know that these books will take people who are core Trump supporters and turn them into Trump skeptics, I don't know that it's going to crack the president's political base.

But I do think it reinforces and emboldens the folks who were pretty much inclined to vote against the president to begin with.


TODD: One other trait that these tell-all books share? Their ability to fly off the shelves. They've all been hot sellers, especially the books that Trump says he hates.

As one literary agent told "The New York Times", quote, "You pray for Trump to hate your book, and you pray for him to tweet about it."

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CURNOW: Well, there will be more news coming up. This is CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow.

I'm going to hand you over to WORLD SPORTS and then I'll be back with another hour. Enjoy.



PATRICK SNELL: Hi there, welcome to CNN WORLD SPORT. Thank you for joining us today.

Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has at least 100 very special reasons to be celebrating this Wednesday. We'll get to that in just a few moments.

But want to get started in New York City at the U.S. Open. A tournament that's seeing the 2018 women's champion moving ominously into form in the most powerful and impactful way too.

It was early in his first week of this COVID impacted U.S. Open that Japan's Naomi Osaka revealed she'd brought seven masks to New York to honor African American victims of racial injustice.

Now on Tuesday night, Osaka booking her spot in the semis. And if things do go according to her plan, at least, she'll be revealing mask number seven ahead of Saturday's title match.

The fifth mask on display here, this ahead of a quarter final match up against the American player, Shelby Rogers.

This mask in tribute to George Floyd who died in police custody in Minnesota last May, his death sparking protests right across the U.S.

The match itself pretty straightforward, I have to say, for Osaka, the world number nine. She advances in straight sets.

She'll be facing another American player next, Jennifer Brady, in the semis.

Now the story though of her Tuesday night was not complete.

Because after the Osaka victory, the 22-year-old then joined the "ESPN" broadcast here in the States.

She then played video messages from the respective parents of other victims she had honored earlier in this year's U.S. Open.


SYBRINA FULTON, TREYVON MARTIN'S MOM: Hi, Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mom and also Jahvaris Fulton's mom.

I just want to say thank you to Naomi Osaka for representing Trayvon Martin on your customized mask and also for Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Continue to do well, continue to kick butt at the U.S. Open. Thank you.



MARCUS ARBERY SR., AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: Naomi, I just want to tell you thank you for the support of my family. And God bless you for what you're doing and you supporting our family for (inaudible). And my family really appreciate that. And God bless you.


SNELL: All right. Well, an emotional Naomi clearly moved by what she'd just seen and heard.


NAOMI OSAKA, U.S. OPEN TENNIS PARTICIPANT: Yes. It means a lot. I feel like -- I don't know, they're so strong. I'm not sure what I would be able to do if I was in their position.

But -- I don't know, I feel like I'm a vessel at this point in order to spread awareness.

And hopefully -- it's not going to dull the pain but hopefully I can help with anything that they need.


SNELL: Such a strong and powerful storyline at this year's U.S. Open.

All right. Well, on the men's side of things now.

Germany's world number seven, Alexander Zverev, through to his second Grand Slam semi of the year, having reached the last four at the Australian Open too. The number five seed dropping the first set against the Croatian player Borna Coric but hit back in style to win the next three.

The 23-year old from Hamburg will have very high hopes indeed now of a first career major after Novak Djokovic's disqualification over the weekend.

Zverev is through. And looking good at this year's tournament.

Now when it comes to football's biggest prizes, there's not a lot the iconic Cristiano Ronaldo hasn't won.

Multiple league and champion's league titles in different countries, glittering success for his country Portugal too. Most notably, of course, in France 2016.

But you don't need me to tell you the 35-year old Juventus man is also a goal machine. On Tuesday, Portugal traveling to Sweden in UEFA Nations League action.

That's a stunning free kick and you know what else it is? It's his 100th goal for his country. Kudos, celebrations, a magical milestone.

And there was much more to come too. Number 101 wasn't too far away. Such a great free kick, wonderful technique. 2-0 the final score on Swedish soil.

Ronaldo now the first European player, by the way, to reach the century mark for his country in men's international football.

Well, CR-7 has just one target in mind. He wants 110.

At least that would surpass the current all-time men's record for international goals set by Iranian football legend Ali Daei who scored 109 times for his country.

You scroll down that list. Who else do we see? We see the legendary Pele there with 77 for Brazil. And Ronaldo's former La Liga rival, Messi, with 70 currently for his country, Argentina.

The very latest from the NBA playoffs. In the Orlando bubble just ahead for you this Wednesday.

And we'll tell you why South Africa's double Olympic champion, Caster Semenya, facing another legal setback.



SNELL: We're back with the story we've been following very closely indeed in recent months concerning South Africa's double 800 meters Olympic champion Caster Semenya who we can now tell you has lost an appeal to Switzerland's federal supreme court.

This over the restriction of testosterone in female runners. The 29-year old had been refusing to comply with regulations by the

sports governing body requiring her to take testosterone limiting medication in all events between the 400 and 1,500 meters.

With the ruling, it means she can't defend her Olympic 800 meter title at 2021's rescheduled summer games.

World Athletics saying it welcomes the decision adding in a statement that reads in part:

"The regulations are not about challenging an individual's gender identity entity but rather about protecting fair competition for all female athletes."

While Semenya herself taking to Twitter.

"Chills, my people. A man can change the rules but the very same man cannot rule my life.

What I'm saying is that I might have failed against them. The truth is that I have won this battle long ago.

Go back to my achievements then you will understand. Doors might be closed, not locked."

To the NBA playoffs inside that Orlando bubble where there no Giannis for the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday night due to injury. And the reigning league MVP's absence certainly proving a factor.

The Greek star trying to make the game against the Miami Heat but the ankle injury ruling him out of this game five of a semifinal series here.

Meantime, Miami's Goran Dragic on an inspired night for the Slovenian there. The Heat sealing the series 4-1. They're through to the Eastern Conference finals where they will face Toronto or Boston.

It was last month the Bucks' decision to boycott an earlier game following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, making global headlines.

Their stance led to an agreement to establish a social justice coalition as well as voting initiatives too.

Now with the U.S. presidential elections this November, the majority of teams are converting their arenas into voting facilities including the Atlanta Hawks, whose leading figures have been talking with our Don Riddell.


STEVE KOONIN, ATLANTA HAWKS, CEO: During the first week of June, the protests in Atlanta over the George Floyd murder were raging.

And looking at that you saw the youthful energy on the streets, you saw people protesting but it struck me that the only way to achieve real change is to vote. And so we had the idea, what if we turned State Farm Arena into a

voting center? We made one call to the phone county commission and offered our building, our staff, our services and within 24 hours we were announcing a deal.

And we were the first sports venue to be used as a voting center in the country.


DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Can you recall a moment where yourself and the players realize that voting was so complicated in this country?

And at what point did you decide that was something you really wanted to address?



LLOYD PIERCE, HEAD COACH, ATLANTA HAWKS: You know in 2018 with the gubernatorial race, you see first-hand the difficulty of voting here in the city of Atlanta.

The extremely long lines, machines failing on election day, the constant conversation about why and what is happened.

And so instantly it's been a topic of conversation here in this state. We have to engage our fan base, we have to educate them on why our arena is being used as a voting site, and then we have to make it easy. And voting should be easy, voting is our right.



KOONIN: One of the keys is the size of the building plus the tech savvy customer service orientation of the staff.

We're not relying on volunteers. These are Hawks paid employees and this is assigned work.

We'll have 300 voting machines which is significant because most buildings used to have eight to ten.

So we'll have 300 voting machines, we'll have over 300 employees, we will be open between 11 and 12 hours six days a week. And I am anticipating tens of thousands of people.

NBA arenas are usually in city centers. And so one of the problems has been its accessibility to some underserved neighborhoods.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RIDDELL: Why do you think the NBA is always out in front?

PIERCE: Well, I think it's representation. Eighty percent of our players in this league are African American.

And when there are issues in our communities, in our society, a lot of them are in low-income areas, a lot of them are in communities of color.

And we also serve as pillars of our community. We're the ones that they look up to through sport.



KOONIN: I think it's tragic than in our country we don't have equal justice for everyone.

And these players, these entertainers, these people who bring so much joy to us have another dimension and they're human. And they care about communities and their communities and families.

And they want to see this police brutality brought to an end. As do we.


SNELL: Do make sure you join us for later Wednesday editions of WORLD SPORT.

From the team here in Atlanta, we'll see you again next time.

Bye for now.



ALIKO DANGOTE, PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, DANGOTE INDUSTRIES LIMITED: Nigeria now and other African countries, we are now out of polio. So it is a great achievement.

And I am really, really very delighted. It has given me a sense of satisfaction and achievement to see that, yes, we have actually achieved this.

I never ever thought that we would achieve this within this short period of time.

The role of Aliko Dangote Foundation is more sort of to provide advocacy.

We had a very, very great partnership with various governments, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, USAID and a couple of global partners to make sure that yes, we work together all jointly to eradicate polio.