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President Trump Downplayed the Pandemic; White House on Clean- up Mode; COVID Vaccine Still on Pause; Russia on Full Speed for Sputnik V; Refugees Left with Nothing; Latin America Eager to be Free from Coronavirus; Trump Fails to Acknowledge White Privilege in Interview; Trump Calls Obama Highly Overrated in Woodward's Book; Trump, No Responsibility to Understand Black American's Anger; Numerous Authors Releasing Books About Trump Presidency; Woodward Obtain Letters Between Trump and Kim Jong-un; U.S. Wildfires, Three Dead as Oregon Fires Force Thousands from Homes; Deadly Fires Rage Along U.S. West Coast; U.S. Financial Markets Reverse Three-Day Slide; Oil Prices Faltering Over Demand Fears; U.S. Open Tennis Star Wears Mask With A Name Of Police Violence Victims. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired September 10, 2020 - 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)

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Hi. Welcome to all of our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow.

So just ahead on the show, in the middle of a global pandemic, the U.S. president said, quote, "I wanted to always play it down." The fallout from damning recordings from the new book.

And Europe's largest migrant camp consumed by flames, leaving thousands of vulnerable families seeking shelter yet again.

Plus, CNN gets exclusive access as phase three trials of Russia's COVID vaccine get underway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN's center. This is CNN Newsroom with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: So the U.S. President Donald Trump admits knowing as early as February just how deadly the coronavirus was and the dangerous health risks it posed. But he purposely understated it publicly.

Now veteran journalist Bob Woodward interviewed the president extensively for his new book called "Rage." Those audio recordings reveal in the president's own words a deliberate decision to deceive the public as the pandemic took hold.

Here is how he justified it on Wednesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy. We want to show confidence. We want to show strength. We don't want to instill panic. We don't want to jump up and down and start shouting that we have a problem that is a tremendous problem to scare everybody. We have to have leadership. We have to show leadership. And the last thing you want to do is create a panic in the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Well since March, more than 190,000 Americans have died from the disease. That grim toll is projected to go much, much higher in the coming months.

And President Trump is slamming Woodward's book as a political hit job and claims he only gave Woodward a few quotes. Well, the truth is he spoke on the record 18 times with the author from December to June, sometimes without White House aides even knowing about it.

We get more from Kaitlan Collins.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A damning new book reveals that for months, President Trump privately knew but intentionally concealed from the public how dangerous coronavirus was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, RAGE: Yes, sir.

TRUMP: Because I don't want to create a panic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: In his new book, "Rage," Bob Woodward writes that on January 28 Trump's national security adviser told him coronavirus would be the biggest threat to his presidency, a warning that made Trump's head pop up, though he barely mentioned it days later at the State of the Union.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: My administration will take all the necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Two days after that, Trump privately told Woodward how quickly coronavirus could spread. Something he was not saying publicly.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

TRUMP: It goes through the air, Bob. That's always tougher than the touch. You know, the touch, you don't have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air. That's how it's passed. And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one. It's also more deadly than your, you know, even your strenuous flus. This is five per -- you know, this is five percent versus one percent, then less than one percent. You know, so, this is deadly stuff.

(END VOICE CLIP)

COLLINS: But in front of the cameras, Trump was comparing it to the flu.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I really think, doc, you want to treat this like you treat the flu, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Though he recently claimed children are almost immune from COVID-19. In March, he privately acknowledged that it was a threat to young people too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Now it's turning out it's not just not old people, Bob. But just today and yesterday, some startling facts came out, it's not just old -- older people.

WOODWARD: Yes, exactly.

TRUMP: Young people too. Plenty of young people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Trump spoke to Woodward 18 times for his book "Rage." The quotes are on tape and impossible for the White House to deny, though the press secretary attempted to do just that today.

[03:05:02]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has never lied to the American public on COVID. The president never downplayed the virus.

TRUMP: I wanted to always play it down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: The book also paints a damning portrait of Trump in the words of his own aides. His former defensive secretary, Jim Mattis reportedly prayed for the nation under Trump's command and is quoted calling him dangerous, unfit and someone with no moral compass who took actions that showed American adversaries quote, "how to destroy America."

His former director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, had trouble shaking the belief that Russian President Vladimir Putin had something on Trump. And Dr. Anthony Fauci is quoted as telling people that Trump was rudderless with an attention span like a minus number. His sole purpose is to get reelected. Fauci has quoted to saying.

And one big question that has emerged from the revelations that were produced in this book is why did the president sit down with Bob Woodward? He is an esteemed journalist. People know the kinds of books that he has written about presidents.

Of course, starting with Richard Nixon, ultimately in the reporting he did there with Carl Bernstein on Watergate. One source told me, is because the president basically thought he could outmaneuver Bob Woodward. And he thought that if he sat down with him, he could convince him to see his side of the story and that the book could end up being potentially positive for him. And now, of course, he sees it in a very different light.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.

CURNOW: Thanks, Kaitlan, for that.

So public health experts are furious the president knowingly misled the country about the true nature of the coronavirus. They said it cause needless confusion in the public and delayed proper medical response.

Well, Dr. Ashish Jha, a dean of Brown University School of Public Health has expressed his dismay over the president's stunning admission. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: It's very distressing. And it's distressing because the administration really has not used science to guide its policy in the months of January and February. We didn't build up the testing infrastructure. They've downplayed the role of masks. They have downplayed the seriousness of this virus.

And what it is (Inaudible) has been there is a massive misinformation campaign out there, telling people this is nothing worse than the flu. That the president himself iterated, and yet, we're now learning that the president knew better. The president knew what all the public health people knew.

And instead of martialing the forces of the U.S. government to protect the American people, we've had six months of immense suffering, 190,000 Americans stepped. It's all very, very preventable and obviously distressing.

If we had marshaled the forces of the U.S. government back in January or in February or in March, or really any time before now, we could have saved the lives of many Americans.

And look, we have normal political disagreements about the role of government and that's all pretty normal and reasonable, and that's fine. But in a public health crisis, we need an effective federal response driven by science. We have not had that. And hearing the president talked about acknowledging the science, but deciding to go in a different way is very distressing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Now it's hard to know just how many Americans have actually lost their lives over the government's slow response. The recent calculations by Columbia University shows that had social distancing been encouraged just two weeks earlier, both infections and deaths could have been cut by more than 80 percent.

And one woman believes her father's death from COVID-19 could have been prevented. Katherine Urquiza shared her personal and powerful story about loss at an emotional moment at the Democratic National Convention. She said her father's only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump. And now in light of the reporting in Bob Woodward's book she is expressing even more anger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHERINE URQUIZA, DAUGHTER OF COVID-19 VICTIM: I am so enraged. His words confirm that the president intentionally lied to the American public about the severity of this crisis. It's undeniable. And it's inexcusable.

My dad was a follower of President Trump. He trusted him, and the president betrayed him, and tens of thousands of other people across the United States.

Listen, in late May, when the state of Arizona was opening up, I was telling my dad, look dad, it's still not safe. And my dad retort to me was, well, Kristine, I hear what you are saying, but why would the president and the governor say it's safe if it's not safe? I couldn't compete with the lies from the White House, and because of that, my father passed away, and it's inexcusable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: So, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also speaking out strongly about these revelations. He sat down with CNN's Jake Tapper saying it's, quote, "disgusting" that Donald Trump knew about the seriousness posed by the virus and still downplayed its threat. Take a listen.

[03:10:06]

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This caused people to die. And what did he do the whole time? He acknowledged that you could breathe. It's in the air, and he won't put on a mask. He is talking about it's ridiculous to put on a mask. Why do you need social distancing for? Why have any of these rules?

It was all about making sure the stock market didn't come down, that his wealthy friends didn't lose any money and that he could say that in fact, anything that happened had nothing to do with him. He waved a white flag. He walked away. He didn't do a darn thing. Think about it. Think about what he did not do. And it's almost criminal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: And you can see Jake's full interview with Joe Biden later on The Lead with Jake Tapper at 4 p.m. on the East Coast in the U.S. That's 9 in the evening in London.

And more than 900,000 people have died of COVID-19 around the world. Johns Hopkins University recorded that sad milestone on Wednesday. The U.S. accounts more than 190,000 deaths or 90,000 of those deaths that we have been saying. Now that's far more than any other country.

Let me turn now though to the race for a vaccine. AstraZeneca confirms that this is the second time it's had to pause its trial because of a patient contracting an undiagnosed illness. The country says -- the company says in the first case, an independent panel concluded the illness was unrelated to the vaccine. As the world watches every development in this effort, the WHO is underscoring that safety remains the top priority.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN, CHIEF SCIENTIST, WHO: Just because we talk about speed and scale, it doesn't mean that we start compromising all (AUDIO GAP) on what would normally be, you know, assess. The process still has to follow the rules of the game, which is, that you go through the process of clinical trials. And particularly I'm talking about drugs and vaccines, diagnostics as evaluation methodology.

But for drugs and vaccines, which are given to people, you have to test their safety first and foremost, most important, and efficacy. That is how effective is the drug.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Russia's health minister is reportedly saying the third phase of clinical trials for their country's coronavirus vaccine is now underway. U.S. public health officials are slamming Moscow saying it shouldn't have approved the vaccine this early to begin with. Some are calling it Russian roulette.

Matthew Chance reports now from Moscow. Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is what Russia hopes will be the vaccine that beats the global pandemic. We've been given access to the start of crucial phase three trials. And trial volunteers like Andrey to discover whether Sputnik V., as it is called, really can save lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREY OLSHEVSKY, TRIAL VOLUNTEER (through translator): I've been looking forward to this third stage of trials. I want this vaccine to come into wide circulation as soon as possible so that all citizens of our big country can be safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHANCE: Russia has good reason to want this battle one against COVID- 19. With over a million confirmed infections, it's one of the world's worst affected countries. But Moscow has been accused of cutting corners. Using spies to steal western research, which it denies, and after a positive early result, approving its vaccine even before third face trials had begun.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD HORTON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE LANCET: What we can say is that this new Russian vaccine, the results are encouraging. But it would be premature, highly premature to think that this is the basis for a successful vaccine for public use.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHANCE: But it's city hospital number two in Moscow where we witnessed the first of an unexpected 40,000 trial volunteers being injected. Doctors told me they're optimistic that these important trials will help establish the Russian vaccine.

It's why Yekaterina (Ph), a nursery school teacher said she volunteered to take part, despite the risks. "It's necessary," she told me, not just for herself, but for everyone else.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.

CURNOW: Latin America and the Caribbean are anxiously awaiting coronavirus vaccine as the region surpasses 300,000 deaths there, and thousands in Peru are now volunteering in a clinical trial of a Chinese vaccine.

As Matt Rivers now explains. Matt?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know that several countries across Latin America have been playing a crucial role in the development of what will hopefully be an effective and safe vaccine against COVID-19. Part of the reason is because this pandemic has hit this region extremely hard. And also, because there is some existing health infrastructure in some of these countries that allow these clinical trials to be carried out the way they need to be.

[03:15:00]

The latest information that we got comes from the country of Peru. It was announced on Wednesday that phase three clinical trials of a vaccine currently being developed by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm, those phase three clinical trials began on Wednesday. That trial is expected to include roughly 6,000 participants.

Meanwhile, here in Mexico, an announcement of about a Russian developed vaccine. In fact, Russia's sovereign wealth fund announced that Mexico will receive 32 million doses of a Russian developed vaccine, which the fund says is good enough to help roughly 25 percent of Mexico's total population.

Those deliveries are expected to begin in November of this year. This deal of course they're pending approval by Mexican regulators.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.

CURNOW: And you are watching CNN. Still to come, a new fire scorched more of Europe's largest migrant camps. What's happening now and what led to this crisis.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CURNOW: So, there's reportedly been another fire at migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. According to a new report, this fire broke out in part of the refugee camp that had not been affected by a massive earlier phase -- a blaze. Now Greek authorities believe the original fires were actually started by the camp's residents who are upset over coronavirus lockdowns.

Well, now, a charred ruins are all that's left of this massive migrant camp from Europe's largest.

Phil Black actually visited the camp back in March, and he has this story. Phil?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's almost nothing left of Moria. Mostly ash, some charred ruins. Fences buckled by the flames. The destruction is so complete. It's almost hard to picture what was here, a vast settlement of makeshift tents and shacks, more like a slum than a camp, spreading out through the surrounding hills and olive grass. We saw it back in March.

Perhaps the most surprising thing is simply the scale of it, it is extraordinary in size.

The conditions were appalling, little food, freshwater or sanitation. A facility built to care for a touch of over 2,000 people overwhelmed by a population then of around 18,000, people from many countries, many families with children, and some just weeks old.

There is an awareness at the highest levels of the Greek government that this place is abhorrent and shameful, and it can't be allowed to go on. Its plan is to build a new purpose-built facility. But the government's efforts were blocked by angry Greeks who say they just want their island back because on Lesbos, Europe's migrant crisis never ended.

[03:20:05]

For five years, boats continued crossing from Turkey with numbers spiking again in late 2019. The migrants desperately dreaming of Europe were blocked from traveling further and forced to live in Moria's cloth.

Temperatures were rising on Lesbos, long before flames tore through the camp. Its population had recently dropped to 13,000 because of efforts to speed up asylum applications, but with so many still living with filth and helplessness, aid workers had predicted the pressure was going to blow. The final trigger? A COVID-19 lockdown.

A small number in the camp tested positive and no one was allowed to leave. Witnesses say anger spread and fires were lit. Ultimately destroying a site long considered a symbol of Europe's collective failure to help some of the world's most desperate people.

Phil Black, CNN, London.

CURNOW: Well, in the last hour, I spoke to Niklas Fischer, the head of the mission of the NGO Mission Lifeline. And I asked him why the migrants in this camp would have started the fire.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIKLAS FISCHER, HEAD, MISSION LIFELINE: I think the people, they wanted to free themselves, somehow, they wanted to send, maybe, a big message out before whatever happens next, but they were just frustrated. I think we cannot see really rationally their motives because there are lock downs in six months, and nothing is happening. And still, they don't know when they will get asylum, if they will get asylum. So, there is a lot of traumatized people, and they don't know, sometimes, they don't know what they are doing.

CURNOW: But now their futures are very much in the air. What happens to 13,000 people who don't have a home? As you can see, many of them are children and families. What next?

FISCHER: I have no idea, actually. And unfortunately, the people also don't know what is going to happen. As I heard, there is some news that they are coming by some ships or some ferryboats who are going to take a few people, but it's just a small, small amount of the people.

I mean, it's a small city, you cannot just burn down a small city and don't help the people.

CURNOW: And what about coronavirus? If there was concern that there were infection rate or high infection rates in the first place, what does that then say also about the safety of people now who are on the island? And these people, particularly, as well?

FISCHER: Yes, but, when we see -- when we take a look at the numbers, the numbers inside the camp were not as high as the numbers outside of the camp, so just because they are migrants doesn't mean that the virus is more on their side.

But, of course, there were like 34 or 35 cases of the coronavirus inside the camp, and a few of these people could be -- could be put in quarantine again, but there are still some out there.

CURNOW: Yes, and what I mean is that, clearly, there is not going to be any social distancing taking place on Lesbos when you try to manage that the trauma of 13,000 people now homeless, and that doesn't help the situation on the island at all, has there been any offers of help? I know that there's been some pressure on Germany to do more here. What do you think the European reaction should be, and will be?

FISCHER: I'm not really full of hope anymore, unfortunately. I mean, this is a political, political level we are talking about, and I'm not a politician. I'm a humanitarian and a journalist, and I want to help these people, and I am not even allowed to help these people here on the ground.

Police and authorities are blocking NGOs and other organizations to help the people to help -- yes, giving them food, giving them clothes. So, in my understanding, it's difficult to have big hope when we are not even allowed to help on the small level. How can we be able, in Europe, to help on a much higher level?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Niklas Fischer there with the NGO Mission Lifeline speaking to me earlier from Lesbos.

So, you are watching CNN Newsroom. Still to come, what the president knew and when he knew it. President Trump's own words show he knew the deadly threat that the coronavirus posed to the U.S. long before it became a public health crisis.

[03:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CURNOW: After months of listening to President Trump downplayed the coronavirus, we are now learning from his own mouth that he knew how deadly it was seven months ago.

Well, veteran journalist Bob Woodward taped numerous on the record interviews with the president for his new book "Rage." Audio clips obtained by CNN reveal Mr. Trump candidly explaining the dangerous health risk back in February. And weeks later, why he chose not to make that information public.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

TRUMP: It goes through air, Bob. That's always tougher than the touch. You know, the touch, you don't have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air. That's how it is passed. And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one. It's also more deadly than you, you know, even your strenuous flus. You know, people don't realize it. We lose 25,000 or 30,000 people a year here. Who would ever think that? Right?

WOODWARD: I know. It's much forgotten.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I mean, it's pretty amazing. And then I say, well, is that same thing?

WOODWARD: What are you able to do for --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: This is more deadly. This is five per -- this is five percent versus one percent and less than one percent. You know? So, this is deadly stuff.

I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.

WOODWARD: Yes.

TRUMP: Because I don't want to create a panic.

(END VOICE CLIP)

CURNOW: Well just days after President Trump told Woodward how serious the coronavirus was. He embarked on a campaign to minimize the health risk. Back then, the government could have been preparing for the pandemic, but instead, here's what the president was saying publicly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think the virus is going to be, it's going to be fine. You know in April, supposedly, it dies with a hotter weather, and that's a beautiful day to look forward to.

We have it very much under control in this country.

People are getting better. They're all getting better. There's a very good chance you're not going to die. In fact, we are very close to a vaccine.

This is a flu. This is like a flu. Of the 15 people, the original 15, as I call them, eight of them have returned to their homes.

We are going down, not up. We are going down very substantially down, not up. And again, when you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we have done.

It's going to disappear one day. It's like a miracle. It will disappear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Well during his interviews, Bob Woodward also asked President Trump questions concerning the issue of race and white privilege.

Here's Brian Todd with his response.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bob Woodward put the question bluntly to President Trump. In one of the interviews he did with the president for his new book, "Rage," the investigative journalist asked Trump whether the white privilege he experienced in his youth put him in a cave. Isolated him.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP) WOODWARD: It put me, and I think lots of white, privileged people in a cave. And that we have to work our way out of it to understand the anger and the pain, particularly black people feel in this country. Do you --

(CROSSTALK)

[03:30:00]

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn't you? Listen to you. Wow. Now I don't feel that at all.

(END VOICE CLIP)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In one conversation with Woodward, Trump escalated his contempt for former president Barack Obama saying, quote, "I don't think Obama is smart. I think he is highly overrated. And don't think he is a great speaker." Trump told Woodward he often wanted to refer to Obama by his first and middle name. Barack Hussein, but that he would not do that in his presence so that he could be quote, very nice.

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALIST: He started his politics on trying to delegitimize the first black president of the United States. But at the end of the day, it is more than just that. There is a personal angst against President Obama.

TODD: Many of the president's divisive comments have been directed toward black women in leadership. He tweeted that the four congresswomen of color who formed the so-called squad on Capitol Hill should quote, go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. He has referred to Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters as having a quote, low I.Q. One of his new favorite targets? Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris.

TRUMP: She could never be the first woman president. She could never be. That would be an insult to our country.

DAN BALZ, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: Certainly in his presidency he has used race as a divisive issue. He has played to white voters and not to the entire country.

TODD: The president apparently doesn't see it that way. Telling Bob Woodward quote, I have done a tremendous amount for the black community, and honestly, I'm not feeling any love. Some who have known Donald Trump for decades believe racially polarizing comments are more than a political tool for the president. Former Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, also out with a new book told NBC News of a conversation he had with Trump after Nelson Mandela died.

MICHAEL COHEN, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY: He asked me if I had known of any country that is run by a black that is not an s-hole. And I said well, how about America? In which he gave me the proverbial F- you.

TODD: A former COO of one of Trump's hotels believes it goes even deeper.

JACK O'DONNELL, AUTHOR, TRUMPED: Cohen's description, his characterization -- that Trump believes blacks have a lower intelligence. It is absolutely true. He said these things 30 years ago.

TODD: We reached out to the White House for response to our story. White House spokesman Judd Deere issued this statement quote, the individuals you cite have slandered the president. Verbally attacked his supporters and covered his administration with animosity, bias and lies. And he will not sit by and allow this hateful rhetoric to go on responded to.

Donald Trump's record as a private citizen and as president has been one of fighting for inclusion and advocating for the equal treatment of all. Anyone who suggests otherwise is only seeking to sow division and ignore the president's work for underserved communities. Judd Deere also cited the president's work on criminal justice reform, in creating opportunity zones and in funding historically black colleges and universities.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

CURNOW: Well, as Brian reported there, President Trump dismissed the notion of white privilege. For a short time ago, I asked Charles Blow, an opinion columnist with The New York Times, to weigh in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I'm not surprised that he believes that there is actually a privilege in blackness, because he believes that affirmative action and political correctness get minorities at an advantage. He has believed this for his entire life, you have an interview in 1989.

It's 31 years ago in which he said that as highly a black person has an advantage over a white person and he had to do over he might choose to be highly educated black person. He said that in Jessi Labs. Of course, he doesn't want to be that.

But he has always believes that we were getting something for free. That there was an advantage over whiteness, because society felt guilty, and they were giving black people things. Right?

And so, he does not believe in the concept of white privilege. That he believes that everything he has ever gotten he has gotten on his own or he's worked his way -- or somebody has given him who was white also or someone, or that you know, that there is just something special and magical about him.

He does not believe that the system has racism built into it. Also because he does not read. You know, because if you just read a little bit, you could understand that, but he does not read. He does not understand history. And he denies history. He denies science. So, yes, it's hard to get that, to get to him, but of course that is what he believes. So, it does not surprise me that he would still believe that at this age.

[03:35:04]

CURNOW: You've also written a powerful piece that sort of expands on this, about what you see as the president's fear of black competence or black governance, as you put it. And this does seem to in many ways come out on these tapes and in some of these books, whether it's about Nelson Mandela or Barack Obama or many of these strong women politicians who challenged him.

BLOW: White supremacists around the world, Trump being only one of them, believe the same thing. They look at black people in their society or abroad in Africa and they say, oh, my God. They are having so many problems. There must be something about their character and capabilities that is causing this. What they don't do is look at the history that it's the white supremacist who inflicted that pain.

You cannot look at Africa and say oh, my God. They have problems, and not recognize that the slave trade trained that planted of mostly is young and vibrant people. You also can't do that in America. You can't look at the oppression that you put on black people in this country for hundreds of years.

You can't deny that and say oh, there is something broken about black- ness and not recognize that you are part of the breaking of it. But that is the white supremacist logic. They try to make you believe that is endemic, it congenital. You were born broken. Which is a lie.

CURNOW: These comments that we are hearing from Bob Woodward, from Michael Cohen and in his book and a variety of other sources. How does that move the election? We know that Donald Trump was elected after the Access Hollywood tape struck. We know that he said he could shoot somebody in Fifth Avenue and his supporters would still stay with him. Do these tapes, these words, these books, reinforce what voters already know? Will it move voters? Will it energize voters?

BLOW: It's not very clear. It's interesting you bring up the Access Hollywood tape, because they -- the John Podesta's emails literally started to be released the day that Access Hollywood tapes were made public. There is no way to know -- you know, our intelligence people here in America say that right now the Russians are working to undermine this election.

There is no way to know how they will respond, because we do not know what they are doing. And none of that information had been made public. They briefed members of Congress, but it is classified information. They can't tell the public. We do not know. In addition to that, there had been so many times where we have said, oh, my God, of course this will be the thing. Oh my God. He paid off women he was having affairs with and lied about it. Of course that's going to be the thing.

Of course meeting with Putin or coming out and rejecting a council of his own intelligence officials in front of Putin, I'm sure that's going to be the thing. Every single time he say that, it's not the thing. So, I don't know exactly how (inaudible). Or if it does. CURNOW: Either way, it's going to be a pretty messy two months, is

what you are saying, potentially. I just also want to know the question when we sat here and reported on the RNC, the Republican National Convention and as it was happening, there was clearly a reach out to African American man. How real is the support among black man for Trump, and even with tapes like this coming out, is that appeal deep and still sustainable? And why does it matter?

BLOW: Well, it matters because, you know, these elections are decided by fractions and hairs, so anytime you could shave off few percentage points of any group, move a few percentage points of any sort, it matters. Because at all that together you might win it. So, among black man, it is something that's been interesting that has been happening. So, in 2008, the gap between black man voting for Democrats and black women voting for it was 1 percent. It was always in the nineties.

By in 2012, the gap between black men and black women voting for Democrat was 9 points, percentage points. By the time Trump comes along in 2016 that gap rose to 12 percentage points. Trump sees that line moving and he wants to open that gap even more. Now, black people still overwhelmingly, men and women vote for the Democrats, but there is a shift. And people are trying to exploit that shift.

CURNOW: That is interesting. We will see whether that proves to be the point. Charles Blow, thank you very much for joining us.

[03:40:02]

BLOW: You are welcome.

CURNOW: Sharing us you're important perspective. Thank you, Charles.

BLOW: Absolutely.

CURNOW: Well, Bob Woodward also reveals never before seen letters between President Donald Trump and the North Korean dictator Kim Jong- un. Now there are full of flattery. Mr. Trump has described the note as quote, love letters. Woodward says the unusual letters show quote, diplomatic courtship and filled with details that might be uttered between suitors.

Well, Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul with more on all of that. So, Paula, what is in these letters?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Robyn, these 25 letters that Bob Woodward saw from Donald Trump to Kim Jong-un and it really shows the level of their friendship, now within these letters, the North Korean leader calls the U.S. president, your excellency, and one of the letters talks about Singapore, this was a summit back in 2018, which was a historic summit between the two leaders.

And just afterwards he said, quote, even now, I cannot forget that moment of history when I firmly held your Excellency's hand at the beautiful and sacred location as the whole world watched with great interest and hoped to relive the honor of that day. Now that just really shows the importance that the North Korean leader

put on that summit. But it also, to some, would be quite flowery language. This is, however, how North Korean state-run media is quite often written as well so that's in keeping with the style.

And the after that, you had the Hanoi Summit in 2019 where thinks didn't go so well, and the U.S. Presidents apparently told Bob Woodward that while he was trying to negotiate with Kim Jong-un, he said, quote, do you ever do anything other than send rockets up to the air? Let's go to a movie together. Let's go play a round of golf.

Now, these are just interesting insights really into the relationship between these two men. Now we've heard from the U.S. President, that they got on well together. You could see from those two summits, and of course, the third meeting at the DMZ in June of 2019 that they had some kind of rapport.

But it also shows us when it turns sour. This was just a month after the DMZ meeting when the U.S. South Korean military drills were not canceled as the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appeared to believe that they should have been, according to this book.

And then we saw the sourness in one of the letter, as Kim Jong-un said, I am clearly offended, and I do not want to hide this feeling from you. I am really, very offended. So, what this does give is a chronological example of the relationship between the U.S. and North Korea, as represented by these two men. How it started so promisingly in 2018, and then degenerated when it was clear that the deal could not be done, that the denuclearization deal towards -- well, up until today, Robyn.

CURNOW: Thank you very much, Paula Hancocks there live in Seoul. So, nod to another story we are following here at CNN, raging, raging wildfires on America's West Coast have left three people dead in Oregon with really no sign of weakening.

Now, this video, I want to show you this, it was taken in the middle of the afternoon as fires and smoke turned the sky a hellish shade of red as you can see here. We know a couple and her daughter who are camping felt they had no choice but to drive through the flames.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are going to be OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to be great. It's going to be a.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll go right through it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: But when their car run out of fuel, friends at another vehicle pulled over and rescue the family who then left their car and boat behind, as you heard there, they were trying to keep calm and make sure their daughter did not panic during the scene. Wow, well we know currently 14 fires are burning in Oregon, scorching

for 1,900 square kilometers. Also, some 28 million people are now under red flag warnings across five states where wildfires are raging, and more than 140,000 households and businesses are without electricity.

Well, Lucy Kafanov joins us now with the scary conditions in one county in Oregon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The situation here in Oregon is incredibly dangerous. All across the state, including Clackamas County where I'm located right now, this is Oregon third most populous county, it is under a level three mandatory evacuation order. I'm going to step out of the shot so you could see the scene behind me. The fires out there in the distance moving forward because of these high wind conditions and incredibly dry air.

Those weather conditions preventing rescue and fire teams from being able to even begin to try and contain these fires. The focus, right, now is on preventing the loss of life, on evacuating people, Oregon Governor State Brown -- Kate Brown describing these fires as, quote, unprecedented. She says this could be the greatest loss of human lives on property due to wildfire in our state's history. No part of Oregon are effected at the moment.

[03:45:05]

The problem with these weather conditions is that some of the fires are merging, so things could get a lot more worse before they get better. We are expecting a potential change in the weather conditions in about a day, or two, with cooler western winds coming in that have more moisture in the air.

But, again, the question, really, is how much of these properties, how much of these areas will burn before those conditions change? Again, 0 percent containment right now, Oregon also struggling because neighboring California and Washington State struggling with their own fires. We know that some firefighters will be deploying from Utah to help the state, the National Guard has been activated as well.

But this, is again, a historic, unprecedented fire event across the state of Oregon. Folks are on high alert, authorities telling people not to gamble with their lives, to get out before it's too late.

Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Clackamas County, Oregon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: And the West Coast wildfires are casting a very ominous haze over one of California's most celebrated cities. The skies over San Francisco looked like this, almost Martian on Wednesday. A deep orange haze hung over the entire bay area, this bizarre color came from SHARPTON: and smoke from wildfires carried on the wind in wind for about 200 kilometers away. Now, while officials say it certainly isn't healthy, it looked worse

than it, that the smoke was high in the atmosphere, not near on the ground where people could breathe it in, but it certainly an ominous warning as what is happening to Mother Nature.

With that in mind, the former U.S. President Barack Obama is using the moment to encourage voters to go to the polls in November. He tweeted, in part, the fires are the latest examples of the very real ways our changing climate is changing our communities. Protecting your planet, our planet, is on the ballot. Vote like your life depends on it, because it does.

Derek Van Dam joins us now to talk about why these wildfires are still widespread, so destructive, and I suppose Barack Obama, I know he is not a meteorologist but he's calling it what it is, and its climate change and there it is right behind you. We are living in the middle of this.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN'S METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Without a doubt, Robyn. I mean, the undertones of his message are almost like our house is literally burning right now. The fingerprints of climate change written all over the images that you've seen on the screen and the one behind me. I've got to visit these apocalyptic scenes in San Francisco, because what exactly is causing that red orange haze in the sky? Well, here's an answer for you. It's a quick version of it.

But really, think of this as Mother Nature's natural Instagram filter for instance. It is literally blocking the shorter wavelength colors from the sun. The shorter U.V. wavelengths, colors like -- the violets, the blues the greens. Those are getting literally blocked by the ash from the smoke that drifted overhead across the bay region.

It is allowing the longer wavelengths to penetrate into our eyes -- so the reds, the yellows and the oranges. That creates that almost eerie look to the sky. I mean, you could see the cloud that blanketed the entire West Coast throughout the past 24 hours, to put the state of California's fire season into perspective so far.

We have never seen more hectares burned in a season so far. And we haven't even reached the peak of our fire season which, usually occurs right around early October when the Santa Ana winds pick up to their maximum intensity.

A lot of that smoke is going to get lofted in to the upper levels of the atmosphere. Drifting eastward by the jet streams. So, this has the potential to bring smoke and haze as far as the East Coast by the middle of next week. We want the winds to relax across the Pacific Northwest and we won't get any relief from that over the next 24 hours, as many large fires continue to burn.

But there is some rain in the forecast. And Robyn, before I let you go, check this out. The second, the third and 4the fourth largest wildfires in California state history burning right now. Back to you.

CURNOW: Goodness. I mean, it is just so hard to watch, isn't? Just difficult listening to. You know, all of us had friends and family there.

VAN DAM: I agree.

CURNOW: and we all know, you know, this is our reality. Derek, thank you. We appreciate it. OK. So, coming up, U.S. stocks have their best and months after a massive three days saddle. We'll look at some of Wednesday big winners. That one is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:50:00]

CURNOW: What a difference a day makes on Wall Street. The U.S. financial markets bounced back in a big way on Wednesday.

U.S. stocks had their best days in months after a three-day slide. Takes stuff including Apple, Amazon and Microsoft helped to lead the charge. The DOW actually gained 1.6 percent as you can see. Positive territory all around. The NASDAQ so as quick as correction ever. With a 2.7 percent surge. And the S&P finished up more than 2 percent.

Now, while U.S. stocks have mostly been rising, oil prices have been faltering. Struggling to get about $40 a barrel and stay there. That is hurting many businesses and workers in America's oil belt.

So, John Defterios joins us now live from Abu Dhabi to talk more about this. John, hi. So, roughly $40 a barrel is a big recovery from last spring, but does it work for all the U.S. Shale companies and their workers?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, in a word, no, Robyn. Because $40 is a so-called breakeven price for most U.S. Shale producers, and even that prices has come down over the years. There are much more competitive, but there is a lot of pain in the process here, because of the volatility and this downturn that we have seen in 2019.

Let's take a look at the chart. We started 2020 at above $63 a barrel and then COVID-19 hit. And we actually went negative for the first time in history, and there has been a staircase up again in terms of prices, because OPEC Plus took 10 million barrels off the market. U.S. producers lost 3 million barrels of production, but it does not mean that it has not meant an overall overhaul in the Shale patch of the United States. A major overhaul. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEFTERIOS: Midland Texas, the beating heart of U.S. Shale production. In this part of America, they know all too well with boom and bust feels like. Oil service companies CEO Bobby Bounds was all smiles during the boom. He and a dozen of employees did industrial painting on storage tanks, pipes, valves, anything related to oil and gas in the giant Permian basin. Then COVID-19 hit, striking first our Wall Street and in no time, mainstream midland felt the pain.

BOBBY BOUNDS, OWNER, HEAVY DUTY INDUSTRIAL: So, I woke up, I think it was on a Monday. The DOW Jones had dropped 2,300 or something. And it wasn't 12 hours later, I'm getting phone calls from my big customers telling me to stop all work.

DEFTERIOS: An oil price more than broke out between Saudi Arabia and Russia. And prices went below zero for the first time in history. And so too did Bobby's business. All told, he lost half 1 million dollars of work.

BOUNDS: I'm the entrepreneur risk taker, I put resources at risk in hopes of a gain. If I hit some gain, but then it goes bad, well that is bad for me, but I see it is almost a gamble.

DEFTERIOS: And in this high stakes game of oil he was forced to fold his hands. Pack his bags through the Mexico where he started a new business. The economic fate of the Permian is closely linked to what is called the active oilrig recount.

Last on when I was on the ground in midland, it was listed on assigned downtown, 860 nationally, 414 locally. Today, as of early September, its 256 nationwide and only 125 in the Permian. Even the big boys feel the pain as an independent player. Pioneer Natural Resources sits on the region's largest Shale assets.

[03:55:06]

RICH DEALY, CEO, PIONEER NATURAL RESOURCES: The world does not need 1 million barrels a day of growth coming from the U.S. We will have to adjust our staffing levels down to right sizing into our activity levels. We are still in the middle of that process right now.

DEFTERIOS: that's reflected on the local unemployment rate. Rising nearly fivefold in a year from just over 2 percent to 9.4 percent. Next door in (inaudible) it's the highest in Texas. Other oil producers and service companies did not survive. With three downturns in 5 years, 492 of them have gone bankrupt with debt of nearly $3 billion.

How do you abide down on the hatches and for what length of time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really unknown at this point. It's really dependent on when we get a vaccine and see what happens to demand. So, I would say, it kind of early to the second half of 21, but it could roll into 22, 23 until we really see demand for oil get back to over 100 barrels a day.

DEFTERIOS: Meaning the Shale shake out for players big and small is far from over.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DEFTERIOS: And perhaps a recovery in 2023, Robyn. And already in 2020, a loss of 100,000 jobs in the oil patch. Back to you.

CURNOW: Yes. Heard that one too. John Defterios, thanks so much for that report. I appreciate it. Tennis star Naomi Osaka were a face mask during George Floyd's name

wearing featuring George Floyd's name on Tuesday. It is her most recent tribute to the series meant to raise awareness of racism in the U.S.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CURNOW: Welcome back. A tennis sensation, Naomi Osaka is using her platform at the U.S. Open to highlight the names of Black Americans who have died at the hands of the police.

Here is Don Riddell with the story, Don.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks very much. Say their names. That is the refrain of the Black Lives Matter movement. It speaks to the importance of publicizing the victims of racial violence, either by the hands of the police or others who have evaded justice.

The tennis star Naomi Osaka isn't just saying their names. She is wearing them. Ahead of the quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open on Tuesday, her face mask carried the name of George Floyd who died under the knee of a Minnesota policeman in May. The campaign is simple but very effective. And after she did this, parents of two of the victims that she has featured thanked her on video.

MARCUS ARBERY SR., AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: Naomi, I just wanted to say thank you for the support for my family. And God bless you for what you are doing and for your support.

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Continue to do well. Continue to kick but at the U.S. Open.

RIDDELL: These are the names that she has worn so far. Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin and George Floyd. And if she gets to the final, she will have worn seven different names in total. You will surely know some of these names, but perhaps not all. Naomi Osaka wants you to know their names. Look them up and read about them and what happened to them and she's humbled by the response of those two parents.

NAOMI OSAKA, TENNIS STAR PLAYER: I was just trying really hard not to cry. But for me, it's a bit surreal. And it's extremely touching that, you know, they would feel touched by what I am doing. For me, I feel like what I am doing is nothing. It is a speck of what I could be doing. So, yes, it was -