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President Trump Denied Truth to Americans about the Pandemic; Three Dead as Oregon Fires Force Thousands from Homes; Volunteer Slams Lebanese Government over New Port Fire; Europe's Largest Migrant Camp Devastated by Fire; Trump's Catering to Evangelicals Causes Ripple Effect. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired September 10, 2020 - 10:00   ET




DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.


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


JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Trump tells Woodward just how dangerous, highly contagious and airborne the coronavirus is.


JOE BIDEN (D-DE), FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's disgusting. He acknowledges it's in the air and he won't put on a



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight it's all on tape and we have it. They seem to show very different Donald Trumps in private and

public as almost 200,000 Americans lay dead from the coronavirus. You can judge his words for yourself.

Plus, apocalyptic scenes as fires burn out of control across 12 American states. We are on the ground for you.

And then we take you inside one of Europe's largest refugee camps after large parts of it burned to the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: It is 7:00 am in California, 5:00 pm in Lesbos in Greece, same time in Beirut in Lebanon.

This hour we are tracking a world of flames and ruin, it seems, across them all. All made worse by our own actions. We'll get you across all of this

this hour.

Before that, we want to start hearing from the American president in his own voice, in his own words, freely speaking his mind.

In a startling series of 18 interviews, Donald Trump spoke with extraordinary openness to the renowned journalist Bob Woodward, a man who

helped break open the Watergate scandal nearly 50 years ago.

Fast forward to 2020 and a global pandemic; more than 190,000 Americans are dead and this is what people are seeing today.


ANDERSON (voice-over): The headline from today's "Washington Post," Mr. Trump saying he wanted to play down the severity of the novel coronavirus

since the start.


He says to avoid panic. Let me take you through everything that we have here.


ANDERSON: In taped conversations for Woodward's new book, the president admitted back in early February that he knew how deadly COVID-19 was,

despite offering up a different picture to the Americans. Here is what he said to Woodward back then. Listen carefully.


WOODWARD: And so what was President Xi saying yesterday?

TRUMP: Well, we were talking mostly about the virus. And I think he's going to have it in good shape. But you know, it's a very tricky situation.


TRUMP: It goes through air, Bob.


TRUMP: 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

and 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.

I think the one thing nobody really knew about this virus was how contagious it was. It's so incredibly contagious and nobody knew that.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Nobody knew that.


ANDERSON: President Trump said that on March the 31st, even though as we have heard, he acknowledged to Bob Woodward that he did know back in early


So why did he downplay the coronavirus?

Why did the U.S. president seem to mislead Americans about its severity?

Here is what he told Woodward in mid-March; as the virus was spreading, states locked down and hospitals in hot spots like New York City were

starting to get overwhelmed.


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

WOODWARD: Yes, exactly --

TRUMP: -- young people too, plenty of young people.

So --


TRUMP: -- what's going on --

WOODWARD: -- give me a moment of talking to somebody, going through this with Fauci or somebody who kind of -- it caused a pivot in your mind

because it's clear, just from what's in -- on the public record, that you went through a pivot on this to, oh, y God, the gravity is almost

inexplicable and unexplainable.

TRUMP: Well, I think, Bob, Really, to be honest with you --

WOODWARD: Sure. I want you be.

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


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


ANDERSON: Well, the president isn't exactly one to avoid using panic as a political tool when he needs to. In fact, he's used panic and fear as

driving forces throughout his presidency, going all the way back to his "American Carnage" speech on Inauguration Day in 2017.

And he's turned it into his main campaign plank in a summer of racial injustice in the United States, police actions against people of color and

the protests that followed. Take a listen.


TRUMP: Your home will go down in value and crime rates will rapidly rise. The end result is you will totally destroy the beautiful suburbs. Suburbia

will be no longer. We must never allow mob rule. Rioting, looting, arson and violence, there is violence and danger in the streets of many Democrat-

run cities throughout America.


ANDERSON: Well, in the last hour or so, Mr. Trump tweeting out, asking, if what he said was so bad to Bob Woodward why did Woodward sit on the tapes

for so long and not get them out earlier to help save lives?

That echoes similar comments he made to FOX News last night, suggesting it's all about politics and the upcoming election.


TRUMP: Well, on the Bob Woodward book, on the book itself, he called -- he -- I didn't participate in his last one and he does hit jobs with

everybody. He even did it on Obama but constant hit jobs on Bush, I guess they did three books. They were all terrible. So I figured, you know, let's

just give it a little shot. I'll speak to him. It wasn't a big deal. I speak to him.


ANDERSON: Well, Bob Woodward says, no, it was not a political hit job and the president's words, he says, speak for themselves.


WOODWARD: This is the tragedy. A President of the United States has a duty to warn. The public will understand that. But if they get the feeling that

they're not getting the truth, then you're going down the path of deceit and cover-up.


ANDERSON: Well, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says the tapes are another example of the president's unfitness to hold office. He says

Mr. Trump put his personal priorities first, costing American lives in the process.


BIDEN: This caused people to die.

And what he doing the whole time?

He acknowledges you breathe it, it's in the air and he won't put on a mask. He's talking about, it's ridiculous to put on mask.

What 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.


BIDEN: He waved the white flag. He walked away. He didn't do a damn thing. Think about it. Think about what he did not do and it's almost criminal.


ANDERSON: Well, that's Joe Biden. Still, the president's supporters on his Coronavirus Task Force say none of this is a big deal. Here is Dr. Anthony

Fauci last night on FOX News.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: He really didn't say anything different than we discussed when we were with

him. So I may not be tuned into the right thing that they are talking about.

But I didn't really see any discrepancies between what he told us and what we told him and what he ultimately came out publicly and said.


ANDERSON: So what of it all?

Well, that's for you to decide. I promised you that we would lay it out clearly and directly for you from all the key players and we have. We have

more coverage of this for you in the rest of the show. So much more coverage of the Woodward tapes and what President Trump had to say about

race in America, as well as what he thinks of North Korea's Kim Jong-un, it's on the website:

Well, when speaking to the American public, Mr. Trump may have downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic but there's another crisis out there to

deal with, one that affects us all, in fact. He hasn't said much about that at all.

Historic catastrophic fires are burning across 12 Western U.S. states, nearly 100 of them. These scenes are horrifying. Seven people have lost

their lives, hundreds of homes have been reduced to ash and neighborhoods turned to nothing but rubble.

Just look at these scenes out of California, where the fires have turned the sky an eerie orange. So far, more than a million hectares have been

scorched in the state. That is 2.5 million acres.

In the state of Oregon, the governor there warning that the loss of human lives and properties could be the greatest in the state's history. She says

several towns have already been destroyed.

I want to get you to Oregon. CNN's Camila Bernal will join us now from Estacada.

Three people as I understand it have died in Oregon due to these wildfires, seven nationwide. Let's start with what we know about those who lost their

lives, if you will.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Becky, we know here in Oregon three people have lost their lives and the latest one was in Jackson

County, south of where I am.

But the reality is that the sheriff in Jackson County was saying this is likely not the last person that they find in these search and rescue

operations. And that's why they're telling people, if they're told to evacuate, they need to do so.

It's at least three in Oregon, at least three in California and at least one in Washington state. But authorities are saying there could be more.

And that is the danger of being out here.

And people who don't evacuate, the problem is that there are people who have nowhere to go. We just spoke to one woman who was telling us that they

just didn't have anywhere to go. And on top of that you have COVID.

So she was trying to do anything she could to get her animals out of this area, to get her family and her belongings but people are in a very

difficult situation when it comes to evacuating and COVID.

So it's a difficult thing to balance because it is two dangers in one, essentially. So authorities really warning people, if you can get out, you

need to get out because this is a life and death situation for so many of the residents in this area.

In addition to that people, people who evacuate are told they might not come back for days or maybe even weeks because the reality is that the

governor is saying that these flames are not contained.

When push comes to shove, that is the focus moving forward, making sure that people are safe, that firefighters are safe but also that this fire is

contained because, at the moment, Becky, it is not just not there.


That's the big point, isn't it?

We have been all week discussing the problems there in California. You are now in Oregon. Just describe what you are seeing around you. I can

certainly see what is behind you.

Just how close are you to these fires?

BERNAL: Well, look, we're very close. And the reality is that the smoke is thick. You can smell it and you can see it. Visibility is very low in some

areas, of course, it is just gray the way you're seeing here right now. Then you have seen the images of those orange, very eerie.


BERNAL: Very apocalyptical skies and this morning as we're driving to find the flames, we find ourselves essentially turning around because you don't

know how far those flames actually do go or you don't know where the wind is going to blow the flames.

So we saw properties on fire and, unfortunately, people who are going to return to their homes to find ashes. But of course, we are close enough to

be here and to see it but also having to turn around because it is unsafe.

ANDERSON: That's the story in Oregon.

As I pointed out -- thank you -- these fires in the United States affect us all because they are the manifestation of that other crisis. The climate

crisis, like the coronavirus pandemic, heavily politicized with the politics at times clouding action.

Let's focus on the numbers behind these colliding crises: 1.4 million hectares burned with major fires currently in 12 states in the United

States; 190,000 Americans dead from COVID-19. Two drastic numbers that didn't have to get to this point.

The U.S. is 54 days out from its general election, 54 days from deciding who will bring the country out of the coronavirus pandemic, 54 days from

deciding the future direction of its environmental crisis.

Former president Barack Obama reminding us of just that, tweeting, "Vote like your life depends on it because it does."


ANDERSON: Well, away from the states and this hour a raging inferno in Beirut. Not from climate change but from a politically or a political

climate intransigent to change.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Look at this. A massive plume of smoke towering over the Lebanese capital after a huge fire rages at the Beirut port yet

again. This a little bit more than a month after a massive blast there killed 170 people and injured thousands.


ANDERSON: You can imagine the utter rage in Beirut this hour, at seeing such scenes again. Here's some new footage we just got in of the attempts

to put this fire out.


ANDERSON (voice-over): These are army helicopters swooping overhead to try and douse the flames.


CNN's senior producer, Ghazi Balkiz is on the scene for us.

Just describe what is going on as we speak, Ghazi.

GHAZI BALKIZ, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Hi, Becky. What we know is that the fire started when some sort of vegetable oil ignited. We're not sure

exactly why that happened and then set on fire and then the fire has spread to some tires in a warehouse.

As you can see behind me, the warehouse -- the warehouse is in very close proximity to ground zero, just next to those silos over here, where the

blast on August 4th went through Beirut and killed hundreds of people.

As you can see, there's a lot of fire trucks still working on the fire. I must say that the fire is not as intense as it was a few hours ago. It's

been going on for three hours. We have seen some ambulances coming in and out but we haven't heard anything about casualties or anybody who was

wounded yet.

And as you mentioned, we can also see the helicopters up in the sky. They're picking up water and then some sort of foam mixture to put out the

fire. And we have also heard that the government has called upon anybody with big water tankers to come across to the port and help out in the --

putting out the fire effort.

So it's not out yet. We don't know why it started and it's an ongoing operation so far -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ghazi, I want to play some sound that CNN has obtained from a resident in Beirut. Have a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you afraid of this?

SHAHID PASHA, VOLUNTEER, TOPOS CHILE: This is a disaster. It's our (INAUDIBLE) politicians, what they are doing.

No, no, let me (INAUDIBLE), let me show the truth because we (INAUDIBLE). We are working in Beirut every day to warn people.

Where's the government?

Come on, somebody.

What has the government done?


Why is this an explosion one more time?

Why they are doing this?


PASHA: And no one cares about it. And I'm here every day.


ANDERSON: Well, this is a volunteer, a resident of Beirut who is angry and, quite frankly, traumatized by what is going on.

Is that anger felt widely across the city?

BALKIZ: Well, Becky, on my way down here I have heard all kinds of people who are saying all kinds of stuff we can't mention on TV. People are angry,

people are frustrated. When this first happened, there was a bit of panic. People didn't know what to expect because it's exactly the same location

where the blast happened.

But then that frustration and panic turned into anger. People are emotionally tired. They're physically and mentally tired. And all that's

turning into anger. I talked to some people here on this bridge.

And they said that they noticed not a single official, not a single political leader, has come down to take a look on what's -- take a look at

what's happening here. Not the ministries, not the officials, not a single political leader. People are very frustrated and they are angry -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ghazi, just before we go, just step away from the camera again if you will just so that we can get a real sense of what's going on behind

you because, as you pointed out, this is a fire which is not -- I'm saying not as bad as it was, I mean, clearly any fire in Beirut is going to

traumatize people.

We don't know why this fire started. This is three hours or so on, as Ghazi explained, from its outbreak. But you can just see there the extent of what

the damage that was caused by the explosion a month ago. And now the emergency trucks doing their best, what it seems, to try to douse a fire,

at which has been in that Beirut area today, started about three hours ago.

You know, apocalyptic scenes, I seem to be using that term a lot these days but it's (INAUDIBLE) we should be using here because that is exactly what

we're looking at.

Ghazi, appreciate it, thank you very, very much, indeed. Let us know at the moment when you hear more.

Well, up next --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was here in 2018 as well, 2019. I thought at that time that it couldn't really get much worse.

ANDERSON (voice-over): And it doesn't look like it's getting any better anytime soon. We'll look at what's next for the thousands of migrants

displaced by a fire at their camp in Greece.


ANDERSON: And President Trump's efforts in the Middle East had a side effect of further complicating regional politics. We will take a look at a

religious sect that is praising the changes.





ANDERSON: Well, as the ashes settle on what was the Moria refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece, the question remains, where will thousands of migrants

sleep tonight?

France and Germany say they're working on a plan to bring refugees from the island of Lesbos to other countries in Europe. And the Greek minister told

me yesterday that about half of the 13,000 migrants were moved out of the camp in the hours following the disaster.


NOTIS MITARACHI, GREEK MIGRATION MINISTER: More than half are still in Moria. Only a part of Moria has been affected. The rest of the camp is

still operating. We're putting emergency now beds in the surroundings of Moria and also some of the people will sleep in a vessel which is arriving

in the port very soon.

We would anticipate that most of the people would be housed one way or another very soon.


ANDERSON: And we have since learned that more than 400 unaccompanied children have already been taken off the island. Wednesday's fire putting

even further spotlight on the crisis. Melissa Bell joins us now live there.

And you heard the Greek migration minister telling me that half of them were moved off the island yesterday, 24 hours on.

What is the situation on the ground, Melissa?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Desperate scenes all around the roads in and out of what was the Moria camp. People trying to do what they can to

make themselves comfortable. They have set themselves up on mattresses and a lot of the families, people who had not very much, the conditions inside

Moria were absolutely dreadful before this began.

And what we have heard from NGOs, this is a direct consequence of what happened of the failure of Europe's migration policy.

They didn't have very much inside the camp. Now they have even less.


BELL (voice-over): They found refuge among the dead. Dozens of families who fed the fire in the Moria camp are now living in this cemetery. Among

them, 15-year-old Mariam (ph) and her sister, Mata (ph), who took videos as they ran.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went to the house and everybody was run and we take the (INAUDIBLE) papers all the wise and we run, too. What we lost

everything, like clothes and medicine -- my medicine, some other.

BELL (voice-over): An estimated 13,000 people had been living in Moria. Those who knew the camp say conditions inside were poor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was here in 2018 as well as 2019. I thought at that time that it couldn't really get much worse. I'm here now in 2020 and I was

wrong. It's worse and we're talking about children who potentially never have known anything but war. And now their futures are once again being

ripped away from them.

BELL (voice-over): For now it is their very immediate future that is of most concern. In Moria, they had food and water. Here in the cemetery, they

have nothing at all.


BELL: In that cemetery, Becky, up and down these roads, these are the scenes. Thousands of refugees, of migrants who have lined the roads, doing

what they can do survive. Some of them haven't had any food or drink.

And there's a great deal of debate about how this fire began. We have heard from the Greek authorities, we have heard from a number of people with the

NGOs, they do believe it could have been migrants angry at the confinement measures put in place because of those 35 cases of COVID-19.

And then their inability to get in and out of the camp without a piece of paper that said they could, the sense they were in prison that allowed them

to vent their anger.

But they also say this is not possible. They believe it was locals involved.

To give you an idea of the tension on this island, the roadblocks that make the roads completely cut off are manned partly by the police. But partly

also by locals.

ANDERSON: Melissa, what more do we know about these 400 unaccompanied minors?

I mean, we certainly put that question to the Greek minister yesterday.

What more have you heard?

Where are they?

BELL: Well, we're hearing they're being made a priority and we understand there are some ships coming in, to find immediate accommodation for those

who don't have any.

And the French and the Germans promise they're doing everything they can, working with as many other European countries as possible to try to get as

many of these people out of here and to safety as they can.

I mean, the conditions that they have been living in, some of them, of course, unaccompanied children and some of them mothers with their babies,

are absolutely appalling.

What we have heard is they have been here for many months; in some cases, for many years, living in an overcrowded camp and doing what they can to

survive out in the wilderness along the streets outside of the camp.


BELL: And a great deal of sadness and they tell us about the sense they have, the tensions. They say for years when we went into the town to try to

get to something to eat, we were shouted at by the locals, sometimes abused by them. We're not animals, they tell us, we're humans.

ANDERSON: Men, women and children living in perpetual limbo. Thank you, Melissa.

So how does the E.U. plan to support Greece in this crisis?

I will be putting that question to the European commissioner for home affairs. She joins me live next hour.

And --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think our existence here supports America in its -- and it supports the Christian community, particularly in its willingness to

stand with the Jewish people.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Well, fulfilling their faith, they say. Many evangelical Christians in the Middle East find themselves delighted with

Donald Trump's political moves in Israel.


Well, we get to meet them and put that question to them after this.





TRUMP: We're moving the capital of Israel to Jerusalem. It's the evangelical -- you know, it's amazing. The evangelicals are more excited

about that than the Jewish people. It's really -- right, it's incredible. But we did, we did that. And Golan Heights, don't forget Golan Heights.

Golan Heights. So we've done a lot.


ANDERSON: Well, that's just one instance of President Trump touting his relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. One of his many moves made in

Israel as you will be well aware, most of which have been controversial. And they have played to his support base, evangelical Christians.

While the president's decisions in the Middle East may sit well with evangelicals back home, it has also caused much divisiveness in the region.

To help us understand all of this, Oren Liebermann.

Why is Israel such a key part of many evangelicals' thinking, Oren?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Because, when you look back at the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, a lot of the Old Testament and much

of the New Testament, is based on places that are in the West Bank -- Joseph's tomb, Rachel's tomb, the cave of the patriarchs, even the Old City

of Jerusalem itself is in East Jerusalem.


LIEBERMANN: And this they see as part of fulfilling the Biblical prophecy, to make sure all of this is the in the land of Israel. It's worth

remembering that the evangelical Christian base isn't just part of president Donald Trump's base.

One of the most loyal parts, perhaps. It is also a place that's very pro Benjamin Netanyahu.


LIEBERMANN (voice-over): There is prophecy in these grapes for those who are looking. On the hills of the Mount of Blessing in the West Bank,

Christian evangelicals volunteer, doing what they see as the Lord's work.

TOMMY WALLER, HAYOVEL: The Jewish people returning to the place that Abraham spoke and these mountains have a lot of historical content.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Tommy Waller (ph) is the founder of HaYovel, "The Jubilee" in English, a term associated with the return of the Messiah. His

organization brings Christian volunteers from all over the world to work on vineyards in Jewish settlements.

When he founded it in 2006, he worked quietly with his team. Now they no longer avoid publicity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just broke 100 tons for harvest. In 2020 --

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Firm in their belief that all of this land, despite being occupied territory under international law, is part of the

Biblical land of Israel. Their volunteers work only in settlements, not within Israel's recognized borders.

WALLER: I think our existence here supports America in its -- in its -- and it supports the Christian community particularly in its willingness to

stand with the Jewish people, especially the Jewish people here.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): At Tura Winery, a settlement of Rechelim, these grapes will be aged, bottled and served. Owner Vered Ben Sa'adon says that

the work of HaYovel is both crucial and meaningful.

VERED BEN SA'ADON, TURA WINERY: Jeremiah the prophet said 2,000 years ago (speaking Hebrew.)

To many it means that one day we shall come back to the land, produce wine, plant vineyards and we are going to be a part of it.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): HaYovel claims its work was never meant to be political but in the West Bank nearly every move is political, especially

if its origin is religious. Its beliefs are firmly conservative. They are supporters of Donald Trump and even more so of Israel's right wing.

They back settlements which are condemned under international law and considered obstacles to peace. To them, a state of Palestine, a two-state

solution, even the Trump administration's plan for peace, these are not options. Even Palestinian recognition of Israel more than 25 years ago is

dismissed out of hand.

WALLER: Understanding that there's a possibility of a -- of a state here that wants to see Israel not exist is not an answer for us. And it can't be

an answer for us because we have to see Israel and the Jewish people protected.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Just as time will turn these grapes into wine, those here, settler and volunteers alike, believe it will turn all of this

into the land of Israel.


ANDERSON: Oren, while watching your report, it did strike me, just how are volunteers getting into a country that at present is under such severe

COVID lockdowns?

LIEBERMANN: Well, they dealt with the government, both on the American end and more so on the Israeli end, according to the founder there, Tommy

Waller. It took quite a bit of communication and they got exceptions.

They did have to quarantine when they arrived here for two weeks as is mandatory for everyone arriving from overseas. I myself had to quarantine.

But they had the right corrections and that's part of their support in this Israeli government.

They got in to bring in a group of 60 or 70 volunteers. Smaller than their normal group but just the fact they were able to get speaks to the support

they have in the government to make that happen and get them the exceptions and the permits necessary to enter a country that is effectively on

lockdown to the outside world and may be on a more complete lockdown when it comes to the interior, the citizens here, quite soon.

ANDERSON: Oren Liebermann is back in Jerusalem, Oren, thank you.

Meanwhile the Palestinians lobbying for a resolution condemning Donald Trump's latest Middle East move, the White House-brokered peace agreement

between Israel and the UAE.

They made their case at an Arab League meeting on Wednesday but the outcome not exactly what the Palestinians had hoped for. Next hour, we will break

down what you need to know from that meeting.

Well, just ahead this hour, on CNN's "WORLD SPORT," some of the hottest bats in Major League Baseball. The Atlanta Braves were this close to a

modern-day scoring record. More on that in a moment.