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Woodward Asks Trump About Race Relations in America; Trump often Belittled Black Women in Politics; Trump Admits Misleading Country About Coronavirus; U.S. Financial Markets Reverse Three-Day Slide; CNN's Clarissa Ward Shares Experiences in New Memoir; Seniors in Retirement Community Become Online Tutors. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 10, 2020 - 04:30   ET



ROBYN CURNOW CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Live from Atlanta, I'm Robyn Curnow.

So, as we told you at the top of our newscast, Bob Woodward's new book, it's called "Rage," paints a pretty unflattering portrait of the President. And Woodward's sources are not anonymous. One of them is the President himself. An extensive on the record interviews over many, many months. Now one of the sensitive issues Woodward raised with him was racial unrest in the country. Brian Todd has that part of the story. Brian.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 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.

BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST, AUTHOR, RAGE: 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 --

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

TODD: In one conversation with Woodward, Trump escalated his contempt for former President Barack Obama saying, quote --

I don't think Obama's smart. I think he is highly overrated. And I 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's 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've 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 ATTORNEY: He asked me if I had known of any country that's 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, FORMER PRESIDENT AND COO, TRUMP PLAZA HOTEL AND CASINO: Cohen's description, his characterization -- that Trump believes blacks have a lower intelligence. It's absolutely true. He said these things 30 years ago.

TODD (on camera): 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: So earlier I spoke with CNN political commentator and "New York Times" columnist Charles Blow about the President's dismal comments on race. You heard many of them there in that report. But first I also just wanted to get his take on Mr. Trump's early knowledge on the coronavirus. We've been reporting it all day. And the decision not to make that information public. Take a listen to what Charles said.


CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is criminal. You're responsible for people dying and the reason that you did it was because you wanted to put yourself in a better position to be reelected. There is no way to describe what is happening here. And we keep talking about it in political terms, we continue to talk about it in attitudinal terms, rather than talk about it in terms of actual human beings who were alive, walking around on this earth breathing air are now in graves. And there are 190,000 of them and people -- and the experts predicted it would be 200,000 of them by the end of the month. And the models show it can get active one week sooner, we would have saved thousands of lives. If we acted two weeks, we could have even more tens of thousands of lives.

And the fact that he knew how dangerous it was. H knew the transmission rate -- the path of transmission. He knew how much more deadly it was than the flu which he kept comparing it to. He knew that children could be affected and were being affected. And he said things that went against what he knew because he thought it was better for him. It's outrageous. I don't know how we get over that.

All of the people who've had to deal with funerals, I've been to too many Zoom funerals. Why do I have to go to a Zoom funeral? Because this man chose to conceal this and to downplay it so that the people had to die. And we had to watch the funeral on a screen. That is not how it should have been. These people did not have to die.

CURNOW: Those comments are not the only comments that have come out in this Bob Woodward book and those tapes. We also hear how Bob Woodward himself tries to grapple with his white privilege and the President kind of disdainfully says, well, you've drunk the Kool-Aid. What does it feel like to hear that? I mean, and are you surprised?

BLOW: No, I'm not surprised that he believes that there's actually a privilege in blackness because he believes that affirmative action and political correctness give minorities an advantage. He's believed this for his entire life. He gave an interview in 1989, that's 31 years ago, in which he said that a highly educated black person has an advantage over a highly educated white person and if he had to do it over, he might choose to be a highly educated black person. He said that in jest, he laughs. Of course, he doesn't want to be that.

But he has always believed that we were getting something for free, that we were -- that there was an advantage over whiteness because the society felt guilty and they were giving black people things. Right? And so, he doesn't believe in the concept of white privilege.


CURNOW: Charles Blow there speaking to me a little bit earlier on.

So, U.S. financial markets bounced back in a big way on Wednesday. Take a look. U.S. stocks had their best day in months after a three- day slide. Tech stocks including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft helped lead the charge. Now the Dow gained 1.6 percent as you can see here, all firmly in the green territory. The Nasdaq saw its quickest correction ever, with a 2.7 percent surge. And then the S&P finished up more than 2 percent.

So, where will the markets go from here? John Defterios is live this hour in Abu Dhabi. John, hi. Is this extreme level of volatility we're seeing in global financial, it really is pretty extreme, but it's particularly acute here in the U.S. why?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, you know what, I think the best way to describe this kind of phenomena is a whiplash in the financial markets. Robyn, and you are correct.

CURNOW: But all of 2020 is a whiplash. So, I think we can agree on that.


DEFTERIOS: Yes, that's for sure. But you know, we have a couple of forces at play here in the financial market which makes this even more volatile. Right? Record amounts of stimulus, $11 trillion worldwide, about 3 trillion in the United States. But we're going into recession so what force wins the gain in the financial markets? There's a couple of different measurements. I think we have this in two charts that kind of describe the story or the narrative for the year.

First, the Dow Industrials with the Nasdaq Composite Index. You have this sharp drop in March. We bottomed out in April and then went higher again. That was all about the stimulus. And let's take a look at the Nasdaq on its own because it recently had a record. We start the year at 8,900, Robyn. Dropped down to 6,800 in April and then we climb up above 12,000 and then you saw Tuesday a sharp jolt again.

So, you say, what's going on? Goldman Sachs recently put out a report saying it's very unusual we are today because you have to go back to 2000 and the tech bubble when you see near records or records and really high levels of the VIX index which measures volatility. Again, we've seen this VIX index nearly double in the last year and it's a red warning sign according to Goldman Sachs. We haven't been there for 20 years. We know what happened 20 years ago and, again, we have more volatility today. If you look at the futures market, 2/3 of a percent with the Dow and S&P 500. And the Nasdaq is down another 1 percent. So, what do I say? Buyer beware.

CURNOW: OK. Warnings all around. John Defterios thanks so much for that.

So, you're watching CNN. Still ahead, she's covered conflicts and crises around the world including Syria. Well now CNN's Clarissa Ward shares her experiences in a new memoir. We'll speak with Carissa next.




CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: ISIS has control of the next village along which is over a mile in that direction, but the men at this base tell is that ISIS fighters often go at night to that building just over there so that they can launch attacks on these positions.


CURNOW: CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward there reporting from the front lines in Syria where she documented the destruction and the tragedy. And we are now learning Syria is among several countries that have seen at least 37 million people displaced by wars America has fought since 2001. "The New York Times Magazine" is citing that new number from Brown University's Cost of War Project. The report accounts for people mostly civilians displaced in and from countries where fighting has been the fiercest.

Well, Clarissa Ward has reported from some of the world's most dangerous places and she writes about this in her experiences in a new memoir. It is called "On All Fronts, The Education of a Journalist." And Clarissa joins me now from London, Clarissa, hi, lovely to see you. Is Syria the place then that has left the biggest mark on you?

WARD: Hi, Robyn. Thank you for having me on. You know, I think every journalist who's been doing this for a long time will tell you that there's always one conflict or one story that kind of takes ahold of your heart and doesn't let it go. And for me, that story was absolutely the Syrian civil war, which I started covering in 2011.

And I think that was for a number of reasons, primarily of course because of the really just horrendous suffering that the Syrian people have been put through, the brutality of the methods and tactics used by Bashar al Assad against his own people. But also, unlike other conflicts I've covered, Robyn, this was unusual in that you couldn't retreat to the hotel at the end of a day of reporting. You were living with Syrian people, staying in their homes. Often, they're risking their lives to host you and that gives you a very different window on to any conflict. CURNOW: Yes, it certainly does. Another window also is motherhood. I

know we've talked about this before. But I remember when you started writing this book, I was reporting from London for little while. I was sitting at Hala Gorani's desk, and you were saying you were writing a letter to your unborn son. You've since then had another one. How has motherhood changed you, and in particular that question, how people react to you as a female journalist, a female journalist going to dangerous places compared to a dad who does the same thing?

WARD: There's definitely a double standard. The minute people find out I've had children, of course, they question my decision to continue to cover war and conflict in a way that I don't think they do of my male colleagues.

At the same time, of course, there is this sort of urgent responsibility that you have towards your children, towards maintaining the best levels of security that you possibly can, and I'm very mindful of that, more so even than I was before. But I really say, Robyn, the primary way that I think my reporting has changed or my approach to my work has changed is that having children has made me so much more acutely emotionally sensitive and particularly to the suffering of children.

And I think that that has, I hope at least, given a newfound sort of urgency and compassion to my reporting and I would like to think that in this era that we're entering where there is a broader diversity of voices telling stories, that having more mothers covering conflict with the perspective they bring can only really be a positive thing.

CURNOW: Thanks so much, Clarissa. Great to speak to you. Look forward to reading the book. So, another look at your memoir. Let's look at the cover here. There we go. "On All Fronts, Education of A Journalist," thanks, Clarissa.

WARD: Thank you.

So, still to come on CNN. Engaging with the outside world after months of isolation. We'll tell you about a virtual program that connects seniors with students. That's next. You're watching CNN.



CURNOW: After months and months of being cooped up during the pandemic, some seniors and pensioners in the U.S. have now found a way to engage with the outside world. The retirement community in Virginia has actually started a program that lets qualified seniors tutor students online. Kim Brunhuber reports now.


NEOLA WALLER, TUTOR: Hi, Lily. I'm Neola Waller.

KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A former high school math teacher for more than 30 years, Neola Waller now has a new pupil for the first time in a long time.

WALLER: I love to teach. So, having a student will be a nice change for me, and if I can help her, then I'll feel I was a success.

BRUNHUBER: During months of lockdown in the coronavirus pandemic, Mrs. Waller is one of the seniors at her retirement community in Virginia Beach who's become a virtual tutor. She'll be helping eighth grader Lily Yale with geometry as Lily begins the semester, like many students across the U.S., going to school online.

ALEXANDRA YALE, MOTHER OF STUDENT: I was concerned, because at the end of last year, Lily did have some trouble, like, getting used to the virtual learning program. It just eases my mind and know that she has the support and guidance from Ms. Waller.

LILY YALE, STUDENT: Instead of me having to raise my hand while being in a room with, like, over 30 other classmates, I can, like, actually ask my questions.

BRUNHUBER: Lily and Mrs. Waller were paired as part of an initiative developed by the Westminster Canterbury Retirement Community. It's the first to offer residents a specialized tablet named the Birdsong with content aimed at improving cognitive health and keeping seniors connected.

WALLER: This looked like a wonderful opportunity to engage with a student to have fun and to get me something to do.


BRUNHUBER: Still in its trial stages, the program focuses on retired former educators leveraging decades of experience in topics ranging from math to history, like Robert Felty. He'll be tutoring his grandson, who's a freshman in high school a few states away.

ROBERT FELTY, VIRTUAL TUTOR: I will help him via the tablet, Birdsong tablet, to -- to do history and tell a little bit about where I've been and my father being in World War II, in the Army Air Force. I look forward to it. And I get to see him. It's nice to be involved.

What classes are you going to be taking?

BRUNHUBER: After years working in military intelligence, Mr. Felty says he trained more than 10,000 Navy police, teaching up to three classes a day before he retired. Like Mrs. Waller, he's been on lockdown since March.

FELTY: Westminster gave me a chance to reach out and do something for the community. And I like young people. God bless them. We need them.

BRUNHUBER: Mr. Felty plans to tutor his grandson at least once a week to start, and Mrs. Waller intends to meet with Lily two or three times weekly, for now.

FELTY: I might even get better at it as it goes along. What an opportunity, a big chance to maybe feel relevant and needed. WALLER: It would be nice if they would do this across the nation. It would be good for the tutors and the tutorees or whatever you call them.

BRUNHUBER: Kim Brunhuber, CNN, Atlanta.


CURNOW: Beautiful connections all the way around. Thanks so much to Kim for that story.

Stay with us for the latest on the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. and around the world. Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta host the "CNN GLOBAL TOWN HALL, CORONAVIRUS, FACTS AND FEARS." See it at eight on Thursday morning in New York. That's eight Friday morning in Hong Kong. Wherever you are, you can find it here on CNN.

So, thanks so much for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow live in Atlanta. "EARLY START" is up next.