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New Book: Trump Bragged About Secret Nuke System to Journalist; Historic Western Fires to Blame for At Least 24 Deaths Including Woman & Grandson in Oregon. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired September 11, 2020 - 16:30   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In our world lead today, the president bragging about a secret, previously secret new nuclear weapons system in the new Bob Woodward book, telling the journalist, quote, I have built an earlier weapons system that nobody's ever had in this country before. We have stuff Putin and Xi have never heard about before. There's nobody. What we have is incredible.

Let's bring in former House Intelligence Committee chairman, Mike Rogers, and former DHS assistant secretary, Juliette Kayyem.

Juliette, let me start with you. Your reaction to the president bragging about this classified weapons system to a journalist knowing he's on the record. Woodward found out that it's true, there is a secret weapons system they were surprised that the president had told him about it.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yeah. I see this as impacting sort of three audiences. First is of course our enemies who now know that there is some new system. As you said, Woodward validated that there is some new system, which may be inconsistent with treaty obligations, legal obligations or even statements made between all the leaders.

The second is our allies. This is what is so frustrating about Donald Trump's mouth, among other things, which is our allies see this as well. Why the heck would they share anything with us at this stage? And to the extent that the threats that we face in particular, election interference, radicalization, the sort of borderless threat, it is -- it is a cue to them as well that we have talking from the top. And this has been consistent since day one.

And then the third -- the third audience I think that we should forget is us. We have a carelessness about this president amongst all other things that we can describe about him about intelligence. And I think that impacts whether we believe it, whether it's accurate, or whether he's just not boasting all the time to a reporter who he clearly just wanted to impress.

TAPPER: Chairman Rogers, I want you to listen to what Joe Biden had to say to me when I asked him about these revelations, in part. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You wonder why people in the intelligence community wondered from the beginning whether you can share data with him, because they don't trust him. They don't trust what he'll say or do. He seems to have no conception.

I mean, it's not -- he seems to have no conception what constitutes national security. No conception of anything other than what can you do to promote himself.


TAPPER: What do you think? Is that fair?


There are a couple of problems with this. One, that the president talked about it to a reporter, which was likely a very highly classified program, number one.


Number two, the reporter was able to confirm that it was real with another source. That's a whole other set of problems and I think kind of breeds -- breeds the very fact that there's problems over there.

And here's why we have secrets. So, you disclose when you want to deter your enemy. You keep classified when you want to maintain an advantage against an adversary or an enemy.

And I just don't think the president understands the value of either one of those propositions. And that's what concerns me the most.

And as a former intel guy, an FBI guy, what the counterintelligence folks will do, our adversary's intelligence services will start taking that bit of information and go back and try to figure out where does the program is housed. They'll go through a whole list of things like, OK, how do we learn more about this program and how do we target Americans to recruit to learn more about this?

It kind of -- it gives a piece of a puzzle that is -- that should not be disclosed. It's maddening to me.

TAPPER: I want to ask you, Juliette. So Nora Dannehy was a top aid in the office of U.S. Attorney John Durham who is doing this investigation that Bill Barr assigned to look into the Russia investigation, you know, holding Obama-era intel folks accountable. She's resigned from the probe, as first reported by the "Hartford Courant", which says that she resigned in part because the team, in her view, was being pushed to release a report before it's ready due to political pressure from Attorney General Barr.

I don't know much about Dannehy, but I know she's a highly respected career prosecutor. What do you think of all this?

KAYYEM: I think it's a story to the extent that Durham's story is going to be a story. So I got a text from a friend of mine who says she's sort of like Fiona Hill. You know, all these women sort of step forward to at least expose what is going on in these investigations. The week started with the Chief of Staff Mark Meadows talking about a pending case that he knew information.

I think the Durham case is sufficiently known by the media at least and the public that's paying attention that it is tainted. But I think it goes back to the same theme that I'm sort of thinking a lot about because it's the anniversary of 9/11 which is sort of malfeasance when it comes to intelligence, whether it's not disclosing how bad COVID is or, you know, what kind of threats the United States faces from Russia or China during the election, and now about focusing on the Obama administration rather than Russia. It's sort of a malfeasance about intelligence at this stage.

TAPPER: And, Chairman Rogers, speaking of Russia, the U.S. Treasury is now sanctioning a Ukrainian lawmaker who has ties to Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. The U.S. Treasury Department saying that this Ukrainian is a Russian spy and this is somebody Giuliani met with just this year, is working with to push this anti-Biden material.

How concerning do you find this?

ROGERS: Well, as I have said many times, you can't swing a ring of sausages in Ukraine without hitting somebody who's affiliated with the Russian intelligence service. It is just an intelled-up all over that place. And it has been for years.

And so I'm suspect of anybody who naively goes to deal with anyone in Ukraine at any level with government or otherwise that wouldn't go in with their eyes wide open. So, yeah, it's concerning. And you can understand that people who are in business might not make that mistake. But people who have access to classified information and understand how it works should not make those kinds of mistakes.

TAPPER: All right. Chairman Mike Rogers, Juliette Kayyem, thank you so much to both of you. Appreciate it.

Massive wildfires forcing more than 11 percent of the population of an entire state to evacuate their homes. We're going to live on the scene with the latest on that fight, next.



TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you in our "Earth Matters" series. Unprecedented wildfires are burning in California, Oregon, and Washington state, and they are now to blame for at least 24 deaths.

One heartbreaking case in Lyons, Oregon, about an hour south of Portland, 71-year-old Peggy Mosso and her 13-year-old grandson Wyatt both died while trying to escape the flames. Wyatt was found holding his dog who also died in the fire.

About 500,000 people in Oregon, about 11 percent of that state's population have been ordered to evacuate their homes. At this hour, more than 20 wildfires are burning across California. Three of those fires are among the state's largest ever. Together they have scorched roughly 3 million acres.

Now, scientists have been warning for years that climate change could create extreme fire conditions such as this. In California alone, this past August was the warmest ever.

CNN has teams on the ground in both Oregon and California.

Let's start with CNN's Sara Sidner in Monrovia, California, just north of Los Angeles.

And, Sara, the images of the thick orange haze, it seems almost apocalyptic. Is that everywhere you go?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Almost everywhere you go. Not just here in California but you're seeing this smoke just hang over three states, California, Washington, and Oregon.

We are closest to the Bobcat Fire here in Monrovia. And I want to give you a look at what it looked like overnight. It exploded and put a lot of people in a place of fear because they are watching it come over that ridge fearful that their homes would be next to be destroyed.


We also should mention that this is the worst air quality in any major city in the world here in Los Angeles County.

I want to also take you to what is now the largest fire in California's history. They're calling it the August Complex Fire. It was started, by the way, by a bunch of lightning strikes that happened in Northern California. And it has been going strong now.

It has now burned more than 40 -- 470,000 acres there. And they are still battling that fire fiercely at this moment of time.

And then, in Oroville, which has experienced the most number of deaths so far, 10 people have died because of the fire there. There are 16 people missing. It's also where we saw Governor Gavin Newsom today, who talked about the cause of all this and looked at climate change.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): This perfect storm, the debate is over around climate change. Just come to the state California. Observe it with your own eyes. It's not an intellectual debates. It's not even debatable.


SIDNER: So, Jake, there are now 1,000 acres every 30 seconds being burned here in California -- Jake.

TAPPER: It's awful.

Sara Sidner, thank you so much.

CNN's Camila Bernal is in Clackamas County, Oregon

Camila, a half-million Oregons are ordered to evacuate. Where do they go?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Jake, before I even answer your question, we just got an update from the governor, Kate Brown, who said that dozens are missing. And so that is a big concern at the moment.

And then she also gave an update on those evacuation orders. She says about 40,000 are mandatory evacuations and that half-a-million, more than 10 percent of the population here in the state, are under evacuation orders or evacuation zones. So it doesn't mean that everybody is out.

But, to answer your question, there are different scenarios here, some of them staying in their cars. I spoke to a man yesterday that rented a U-Haul and told me, "This is where I'm going to stay."

Others are having to go to these shelters and evacuation centers that are open and people are there, but so many are worried about getting COVID-19 and being exposed to the virus if they go to a shelter. And then, of course, the most safe option is to go to a friend's or a family member's home.

But, again, so many people are just not in this scenario and the ability to do that.

I do want to show you what things look like on the ground here, because the governor in this press conference also updating us and saying that Oregon as a state has the worst air quality in the world. And you're seeing that right now.

You cannot even see this highway, the end of this highway. We have been driving down here and saw the flames as they got closer to the homes. Today, it's just that thick cloud of smoke. And they're saying this smoke is not going away. They say it is likely going to be here for a couple of days.

We may get some periods of clean air, but they say this is going to stay -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, thank you so much.

More than one million new voters up for grabs since 2016 in a key 2020 battleground state. We're going to hear from some of them next.


[16:53:05] TAPPER: In our 2020 lead: Voting is already under way in the critical battleground state of North Carolina.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny took the pulse of some voters in the Tar Heel State after the revelations in Bob Woodward's book about President Trump.


JAMIE OSWALD, UNDECIDED VOTER: I want to vote for somebody other than Donald Trump, but I don't want to vote for Biden. It's hard.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet Jamie Oswald, a hairdresser and undecided voter. She grew up in a Republican family and likes President Trump's economic record, but not much else.

OSWALD: If he could just not talk. The stuff that he says, it's just, like, embarrassing.

ZELENY (on camera): If he could just not talk. That's saying something about a president of the United States.


OSWALD: It is. It's saying a lot.

ZELENY (voice-over): Yet, so far, she's not sold on Joe Biden.

OSWALD: I think he's been in office for so long, and he really hasn't done a whole lot.

ZELENY: Oswald says she's never voted, but will this year, inspired by the pandemic that left her unemployed for more than two months.

She's one of 1.3 million new voters in North Carolina since 2016, when Trump narrowly won the state by 173,000 votes. Now it's a battleground. He's visited three times in the last three weeks. Voting here is already under way, a sign that coronavirus is influencing the election, including how people cast their ballots.

BAKARR KANU, DEMOCRATIC VOTER: It's very important for everybody to go out this time, because there's a lot at stake.

ZELENY: Bakarr Kanu, a professor, received his absentee ballot in the mail this week. He dismisses any talk of fraud, saying Trump is trying to intimidate voters.

Yet the president's supporters here are already echoing his questions about the election's legitimacy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And mail-in ballots, I wouldn't trust it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will definitely go in person.

ZELENY: At the end of a challenging week for the president, where his own words to Bob Woodward became a new flash point, Trump's supporters are unwavering.

Sarah Reidy-Jones, who leads a women's Republican group, believes in Trump now more than four years ago, in part because of judicial appointments.


SARAH REIDY-JONES, PRESIDENT, UPTOWN CHARLOTTE REPUBLICAN WOMEN: Four years ago, President Trump wasn't my first, second, third, fourth choice.

We're saying, get beyond that rhetoric and go with what -- that record of accomplishment.

ZELENY: That record does not sit well with bar owner Blake Stewart, who believes the president's leadership on coronavirus has been appalling.

BLAKE STEWART, DEMOCRATIC VOTER: He had the opportunity to grab this bull by the horns. Instead, he let it run us all over.

ZELENY: His business is still closed. For that, he blames Trump, not the state's Democratic governor. He planted this voter registration sign outside, hoping to find new voters to help block the president's path to reelection.

There's little question Trump supporters here are fired up. But there are also signs he's awakening the other side. His presidency motivated Angela Levine to become politically active for the first time and work against him.

ANGELA LEVINE, DEMOCRATIC ACTIVIST: I became a much more informed voter. That's why I got this blue wave tattoo. This is to remind me never to assume someone else is going to do all the hard work.


ZELENY: Now, there is no question that North Carolina is changing, particularly those 1.3 million new registered voters just since 2016.

Jake, if you're wondering how seriously the Trump campaign is taking this, not only did President Trump come three times in the last three weeks. This week alone, Don Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka also came here to North Carolina to campaign.

Of course, Barack Obama won the state in 2008. Since then, it's gone red. But, certainly, it is up for grabs. And Joe Biden, I'm told, will be coming here in the coming weeks -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

In our health lead today, more signs that closing schools during this pandemic can have serious impacts on children. One study out of China found an increase in depression and suicide.

Joining me now, clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at Georgetown University Andrea Bonior.

Dr. Bonior, good to see you, as always.

So, a lot of families are finishing up their first week of school right now. Many of them had to do so virtually, my family, your family among them.

Is it normal to hate this?



And that's why empathy goes so far. I think we have to acknowledge the difficulty of this. It feels lonely. It feels cumbersome. It feels tedious. And so acknowledging that to start off is the only way we're going to be able to manage this, because, if we pretend that it's supposed to be all great, that's not going to help anyone.

TAPPER: So, a lot of kids are, frankly, angry about what's happening. They don't understand why. Why can't they play with their friends? Why do they have to stay in the house?

How do you explain this to them, especially younger kids, to help them better deal with it?

BONIOR: Yes, I think it's really about focusing not on what we can't do, but saying we are helping others by staying home. We are keeping teachers safe by not opening schools. We are doing our part to keep our neighbors healthy by not going around and having big parties.

And that's the type of thing that children can relate to, more so than just, here's what we're not doing. But I think helping them label the feelings is so important, encouraging them to say, this is hard. I am mad. I do feel sad.

That helps them understand that actually talking about their feelings can be healing, which is a life lesson that's pretty important during this time.

TAPPER: And what are some ways you advise parents to help make their kids feel like normal, social children?

BONIOR: Yes, it's all about is much routine and controllability and predictability as you can build in.

So, maybe you're going to have a virtual lunch with the same kids a few times a week. Maybe you're going to have a ritual at the end of a Friday, where the family makes a special dinner. Maybe you're going to have a Zoom call or a book club with a couple of your friends that is ritualized, it's going to happen, we can predict it, we can control it.

Or you're going to help -- think outside the box for other ways for your kids to get that social time. The point is to build something in, so that it actually becomes part of the routine, rather than always feeling like you have to start from scratch, because starting from scratch is just so mentally taxing.

TAPPER: So, obviously, we have seen these studies and heard anecdotally about increases in suicidal ideation, depression, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, et cetera, by kids during this horrific time.

Between those obvious horrible signs that need to be acted on and more normal reactions to what's going on, crying, anger, et cetera, what are some warning signs in between that parents and caretakers should be aware of?

BONIOR: Yes, sometimes, it really is a matter of degree.

But if your child is really expressing a lot of hopelessness, or some significant changes in sleeping or eating, or if they seem even more isolated, there's no attempt, there's no effort, there's no motivation to get in contact with friends, those are all really concerning signs that should be talked about.

Expressing feelings is good, but also too sometimes kids get quieter. And when they stop talking about what's going on, that's when you see some problems.

Also, too, listening to teachers. If your kid fell off the grid, that's important to know.

TAPPER: All right. Andrea Bonior, thank you so much, as always, and best of luck to you and your three kids as you deal with this pandemic.

BONIOR: Thanks.

TAPPER: Be sure to tune into CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" on Sunday. We're going to be talking about the coronavirus, the 2020 election, so much more. That's 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern on Sunday.

Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. You can tweet the show @THELEADCNN.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now.