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Source: CDC Reports Altered To Line Up With Trump's Messaging; Crowd Gathers For The Trump Rally With Few Masks, No Social Distancing; Trump To Visit California Monday Amid Historic Wildfires; Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) Discusses The California Wildfires, Pompeo Meeting With Taliban A Day After Anniversary Of 9/11, Trump's Troop Drawdown In Afghanistan; Now: Osaka & Azarenka Battle For U.S. Open Women's Title; Naomi Osaka Showcases Social Justice Masks At U.S. Open Final. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 12, 2020 - 16:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

We begin this hour with more serious signs the president is prioritizing his campaign over the coronavirus and your health. Not only is he holding a rally tonight amid several health alerts, his political appointees we're learning are accused of trying to change the warning in CDC reports to better line up with the president's messaging on the pandemic. This is according to a federal health official.

And it's not just any report, but the venerable morbidity and mortality weekly report. This is the CDC's primary publication for public health information and recommendations, which has been around in some form since the 1870s.

And check out the response from the Trump appointee accuses of pushing for changes in these reports. There's no denial, just conspiratorial acquisitions from Michael Caputo, a former member of the Trump campaign. Caputo says, quote: Our intention is to make sure that evidence, science-based data drives policy through this pandemic, not ulterior deep state motives in the bowels of CDC.

All of this happening after we learn the president has learned the truth all along about how deadly and dangerous this virus is, and has been downplaying the severity of it, as revealed in recorded conversations he had with journalist Bob Woodward.

And the president's discounting of safety warnings continues tonight. Look at this, this is the scene where he is going to be holding his 17th campaign rally since he told Woodward that the virus was deadly stuff on February 7th.

This is in Minden, Nevada, which is also under an air quality alert due to wildfires today. You can see no social distancing, not a lot of masks, the president's rally isn't for another six hours. And here's the latest polling from this important state in the

election. You can see there is no clear choice at this moment in the presidential race with Joe Biden at 46 percent, Donald Trump at 42 percent. That is within the margin of error.

Let's get to the ground in Minden, Nevada now, where we have CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez.

Boris, less than one week after the president was captured on tape, acknowledgingly or acknowledging just how deadly this virus is and that it's airborne, what is the campaign doing to keep the president's supporters safe?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Ana. Well, we've presented that question to the campaign and they gave us somewhat generic statement that they typically put out during these events, saying that they are taking temperatures of attendees at the gate. But they're also checking to see if folks have masks.

Of course, I've attended many of these events in recent weeks, and folks do not wear the masks once they actually get inside. And you could see behind me, I'll step out of the way, so we can paint a clearer picture of what we're seeing, the holding pen before going into the Minden Airport. There are not a lot of folks that are actually wearing masks right now, there's almost no social distancing. So, the campaign, despite their statement, not really doing much to keep these folks apart from what we understand inside the event, seats are scattered, not exactly six feet apart, but they are distant from each other.

We should point out, this event actually had to be moved from the Reno Airport, because officials felt it was not in compliance with a Nevada mandate, banning gatherings of 50 people or more. We dug further trying to find out how Douglas County officials allowed this to happen at the Minden Airport. They effectively told us they are not worried about coronavirus, they say there have only been eight cases here, and they're fine withholding this event. Clearly, there's no enforcement of that mandate in Douglas County right now.

The president facing criticism for holding events like these, notably from his Democratic rival Joe Biden. I want to show you a quote from Biden published earlier today. He writes, quote, Nevadans don't need more bluster from the president, and don't need his reckless rallies that ignore the realities of COVID-19 and endanger public health.

Very important note, Ana, it is also very hot out here. This is the Nevada Desert. We've already seen several folks basically becoming overheated and being taken out of the line. These folks are going to be waiting another seven hours in this heat with no social distancing as you just saw, Ana.

CABRERA: OK, Boris Sanchez, do stay safe and, you know, find somewhere to cool off yourself. Thank you.

[16:05:00] Now to that disturbing scene and reporting that multiple Trump appointees have been pushing the CDC to alter the language in its weekly coronavirus report to better align with the president.

Dr. Jonathan Reiner is with us. He's a CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine at George Washington University.

Dr. Reiner, doctors regularly rely on studies and guidance from the CDC, but that's especially true, right, when it comes to an emerging virus that we're also trying to understand.

Amid this new reporting, do you trust information being put out by the CDC right now?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: This is very troubling, Ana.

The MMWR has been a staple of medicine and public health, as you said, for over a century. The CDC itself describes, you know, this weekly report as the voice of the CDC and they task it themselves with developing what they call timely reliable authoritative accurate and objective information and delivering that to the medical public and the public at large. The MMWR was the publication that in June of 1981 first reported five otherwise previously healthy gay men who reported pneumonia, it was the first report of AIDS.

And now what we're seeing is the administration trying to manage the message coming from them. They have been and they continue to try to release objective science relied upon by public health officials not only in this country but all over the world. And now, we see a political appointee, Mr. Caputo, trying to manage the message coming out of the CDC. That's not what we need right now. We need -- that's just the opposite of what we need.

CABRERA: And in our reporting, we don't know specifics at this point about what kind of information has been altered we have reached out to the CDC for comment. We have not heard back just yet. But take a look at these pictures we're seeing right now out of Minden, Nevada.

And when you see people there, no social distancing. Not very many masks. In fact, on this particular shot I'm looking, I'm struggling to try to find someone with a mask. Maybe there is someone in that crowd, maybe not.

What goes through your mind? Is this the impact of the mixed messaging?

REINER: Well, it's not mixed from the president. It's clear from the president. The president says we've turned the corner, despite the fact that every single day, more than 1,000 Americans die, every single day, about 40,000 Americans contract this virus. And that has not budged all summer long.

So, what the president wants to have these rallies to perpetuate this myth that we're done with this, except the virus doesn't listen to him, and the virus continues to kill about 1,000 Americans. If the new projections of 400,000 deaths by New Year's is correct, what that means is we'll start to double the number of daily deaths. So when the --



REINER: Go ahead, Ana.

CABRERA: When you say we're going to be doubling the number of daily deaths, I have this reaction that's hard to stop, because we're already at about 1,000 deaths a day, right? And then we have this new modeling, it could be double what we've seen right now.

According to the IMHE, from the University of Washington, they're saying 415,000 people will be dead by January. And they said, worst case scenario, we could see up to 10,000 deaths a day in December. Ten thousand deaths a day when we have about 1,000 now, and we're seeing that start to slowly come down a little bit, how do you get from here to there?

REINER: You get from here to there by doing what the president is doing, which is encouraging his supporters to come out, not to wear masks and basically call much of this a hoax. What the president should be doing is basically doing what Churchill really did, which was rallying the British public and telling them we're going to fight everywhere, we're going to fight on the beaches, in the streets.

This president should be saying, we're going to hunker down. We're going to get through the winter. We're going to protect each other, because a vaccine is coming. But until that point, we need to protect each other, and we're going to protect each other by social distancing and getting everyone in this country to wear a mask.

And if we need to, we'll shut down schools and go to distance learning for colleges. We're going to do what it takes to preserve life. That's the message our leaders should be giving, not we're turning a corner, we're opening up, not urging places like New York to open faster, it's the wrong message. It's not mixed, it's simply wrong.

CABRERA: We all need to be prepared.

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, it's always good to have you with us. Thank you so much for your expertise.

REINER: My pleasure.

CABRERA: President Trump today announcing plans to see for himself the enormous and deadly destruction on the U.S. West Coast. The wildfires about 100 of them are raging across California, Oregon and Washington state, not only in forests and canyons, but now in residential areas as well. Even entire towns have been destroyed.


Thousands of people have fled their homes this weekend, not knowing if anything will still be there when they return.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is northeast of Los Angeles right now.

Paul, show us the area around you, and has the danger completely passed where you are?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, no, you can hear the roar of helicopters, that's over here in this distance behind me, one canyon over, and this is a neighborhood with an evacuation warning. The smoke is so thick, we can hardly see that way, we know that a firefight is going on.

And about this air pollution, we should note that the entire West Coast is enduring unimaginably poor air quality as we've been talking about for a week. It is worse than the most polluted cities in Asia right now.

And we talked to some people in this neighborhood. They're under evacuation warning. They haven't left yet. But it's been a long harrowing week as they describe. It's just horrific to even want to open your windows, you can't do it because the air is so bad.


MIKE DAY, MONROVIA RESIDENT: Thirty-plus years ago, I quit smoking, but I've started again in the last six days just from the air.

NEIL SMITH, MONROVIA RESIDENT: Yeah, I actually had a bunch of things by the front door. I said it looked pretty bad I was going toe get out of here. I'm a musician. I have a lot of guitars, a lot of recording equipment. I play with a band called Destiny Returns.

And so, I loaded up all the stuff in my truck, backed the truck to the gate in case I had to make an escape, and that was it, it's still sitting there.


VERCAMMEN: So, as we can hear those helicopters behind me, but we can't see them. We should also note that this firefight has come to this: fighting fire with fire. They've been lighting back fires on the northeast plank of this Bobcat Fire.

And this fire has grown to 30,000 acres, to show you how taxed the system is in California, the chief telling me, normally, this would require 1,500 firefighters maximum. Right now, they're down to 500. That's how spread out they are.

So, they're being very tactical and judicious with how they deploy resources. But these are trying times for all these firefighters. Twenty-nine of them, they estimate, are fighting fires right now in the West, Ana.

CABRERA: And already, 27 people have lost their lives in California and Oregon, including a 13-year-old boy.

Paul Vercammen, thank you for that update.

Wishing everyone there safety.

Coming up, journalist Bob Woodward has made his career tormenting presidents with unsparing scrutiny. So, why did President Trump think he could avoid that same fate when he agreed to 18 on-the-record interviews?



CABRERA: It may be the biggest question of the week -- why would the president ever agree to not just one, but 18 interviews with legendary journalist Bob Woodward?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did it out of curiosity, because I do have respect and I want to see, I wonder whether or not somebody like that can write good. I don't think he can, but let's see what happens.


CABRERA: CNN's Brian Todd takes a look back at Woodward's history with presidents.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): TODD (voice-over): President Trump was so confident he could get Bob Woodward to write a glowing narrative about him and went around his aides to talk to Woodward one-on-one. That's according to people familiar with the situation who spoke to CNN.

TRUMP: Bob Woodward is somebody that I respect just from hearing the name for many, many years, not knowing too much about his work, not caring about his work, but I thought it would be interesting to talk to him.

TODD: Trump spoke to Woodward 18 times after not speaking to him at all for Woodward's first book on Trump. Trump's swagger evident in one excerpt of Woodward's interviews, where Trump brags about a now not secret weapon.

TRUMP: But I have built a weapon. I have built a weapon system, weapons system that nobody's ever had in this country before.

TODD: In the wake of explosive excerpts of Woodward's book being made public, including the revelation that Trump initially downplayed the coronavirus pandemic to the American people, observers believe the president might have miscalculated.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: His ego got the best of him. He thought he could spin and charm Bob Woodward. Anybody who knows Bob knows that's an impossible task. TODD: Others who have occupied the Oval Office have had similar experiences. Bob Woodward has written best-selling books on nine presidents. In addition to Trump, Woodward says Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter granted him interviews. Aides to Obama and Bush sparred with Woodward after their publication, according to "Politico".

It's not clear if Ronald Reagan or George Bush Senior spoke to Woodward, but the elder Bush once told CNN he wouldn't read what Woodward wrote about his son if it was critical.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have some major differences with Bob Woodward. And there's no point in going into them, but I don't -- we're not on close terms at all.

TODD: Trump himself is quoted in Woodward's book as saying: I hope you treat me better than Bush, because you made him look like a stupid moron, which he was.

Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford are not believed to have spoken to Woodward.

Why do presidents agree to speak with the legendary journalist who's often unsparing to them?

Observers call it the Woodward mistake.

BRINKLEY: That ability he has to get presidents to talk and does it by saying I've talked to everybody else in the administration, but you is unnerving.

TODD: Veteran journalists say Woodward often speaks to scores of people inside administrations before asking a president for an interview. And his sources are impeccable.

We asked Susan Glasser, a former editor for Woodward at "The Washington Post", what makes a Washington insider decide whether to talk to Woodward or not?

SUSAN GLASSER, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORKER": Those who cooperate with Woodward generally do have a better chance to get their story out. But if someone made that argument to President Trump in getting him to cooperate with Woodward, there was a sort of fatal error, probably missing there, which is to say if you're the president, you know, you don't get to spin Woodward.


TODD (on camera): The observers we spoke to say one thing President Trump could have done, which Presidents Obama and George W. Bush did, was to have aides present during the interview, and to have them bolster the president's case outside the interview. It appears that President Trump did neither.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CABRERA: And, of course, Bob Woodward, along with Carl Bernstein, became journalism legends for their work reporting on the Watergate cover up in the 1970s, an effort by then President Richard Nixon to interfere with the Democratic Party during his reelection bid.

So, joining us now to discuss Woodward's reporting is the other half of that dynamic duo, Carl Bernstein.

Carl, always good to talk with you and get your insights.

When you have the president's own words on tape, of course, that was Nixon's undoing, the fact that President Trump even sat down with Woodward, is it as if Nixon had mailed you the tapes himself? Are they that damning?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They're worse than Nixon's Watergate tapes because what they reveal is a presidential felony on a scale we've never seen in this country before. We've never seen a president as Trump has done here, ignore the health and wellbeing of the American people, put his own re-election interests in front of his basic job, which is to protect the American people, and to protect the United States from enemies, foreign and domestic.

This is an enemy he was warned about and we hear it on tape in a way we've never heard such an event before. And what does the president of the United States do? He decides that, okay, thousands of lives are going to be lost here, and it's evident that those lives have been lost unnecessarily, because of his felonious negligence.

CABRERA: Why do you think it's a felony, when you call it a presidential felony? What makes you believe it's an actual crime?

BERNSTEIN: I say a presidential felony. It's not about what Title 18 of the U.S. Code says, the same way that Nixon's felonies were not described by Title 18 necessarily. They have to do with his dereliction of duty as the president of the United States.

We've never seen a dereliction of this kind where the lives of Americans were literally sacrificed because the president decided that other narrow interests, his own go in front of the health, well-being, welfare and public safety of the American people. That is felonious.

CABRERA: We just saw him leaving there for an event in Nevada where he's still willing to put other people's lives at risk, to come and cheer him on.

You know, the president made these comments to Woodward about the virus. And doctors say, if he had made those comments publicly, he would have saved lives. Woodward is also being criticized for sitting on these tapes.

Do you think Woodward should have made the president's comments public sooner?

BERNSTEIN: I think that if you look at the chronology of what happened, is that these comments were made in January. And then in May, bob was finally able to find out and triangulate the information about how Trump learned in January that he was briefed by his national security adviser and deputy national security adviser, as to how deadly this coronavirus might be and the fact that he was warned specifically by these two high ranking national security officials that it could be on the scale of the pandemic of 1917 and 1918.

Bob went back and did exactly what he should have done, which is to find out, what is Trump telling me and why is he telling me this? And, finally, he uncovered this meeting, which is so dramatic in terms of what the president was told. And the president did not tell Bob on the tape exactly what he was told and how he was told, that is what's so revealing and when you put the chronology together, it becomes apparent why it had to wait before it was revealed.

CABRERA: And the president claimed to Woodward, and he has continued to claim that he is downplaying the coronavirus because he doesn't want to cause a panic. And yet, that same logic just flies in the face of what he's been saying about mail in voting and threats of riots in the suburbs, and past warnings he's made about an invasion at the border. I have to ask you Carl, given your connection to a different president, Nixon, once said, people react to fear not love, they don't teach that in Sunday school, but it's true.

And President Trump has said something similar in an interview he did with "The Washington Post" as a candidate back in 2016.


He said, quote: Real power is -- I don't even want to use the word -- fear.

Carl, what do you think of the way President Trump has tried to use fear to his advantage and yet in this case opted not to with the coronavirus?

BERNSTEIN: It's evident through record of his presidency that scaring people of -- especially about imaginary dangers based on racism, based on foreign -- fear of foreigners -- they don't exist, these things that he has tried to scare Americans about. But what -- let's take a step back for a minute and look at what happened in January. The president, a week before the State of the Union Address learned about this virus.

What would an FDR? What would have a JFK done? If he had a State of the Union Address coming up, I would think the president of the United States would go before the Congress and tell the American people and the Congress what we are facing, what the danger is, what we must do as a people to come together to fight this.

He didn't do anything of the kind. This was not about calming anybody, this was about covering up, and that is what this president has done throughout his presidency, cover up the truth, cover up his actions, which have been either illegal or contemptible.

And that's the story of his presidency. It is a criminal presidency, with a criminal president. That is what we are learning, and the greatest criminality is what he has done here in terms of endangering and causing deaths.

Look what all of the public health officials that we listened to on all the networks say, even on Fox on occasion say about what the president has done in terms of his negligence here, people have died because of this. That's what this is so unique.

CABRERA: Carl Bernstein, I always have appreciation for your voice, thank you so much for coming on.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: A quick programming note, be sure to tune in tomorrow for a brand new episode of "RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE", looking back at the race of 1976 when a relatively, unknown name Jimmy Carter took on the incumbent president, Gerald Ford. That airs tomorrow night at 10:00 right here on CNN.

California's governor says the climate change debate is over. Just take a look at his state. Extreme temperatures, the site of some of the largest wildfires ever reported. We'll take you to California next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: More now on the horrific disaster happening right now on an enormous scale up and down the west coast of the U.S. Wildfires roaring through forests and towns. Some of them are on the way to being contained. Others are completely out of control.

Thousands of people have fled their homes ahead of the fires, some of which are the largest ever seen in California.

Here's California's Governor Gavin Newsom.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): The debate is over about climate change. Just come to the state of California. Observe it with your own eyes. It's not an intellectual debate. It's not even debatable any longer. What we are experiencing, the extreme droughts, the extreme atmospheric rivers, the extreme heat.


CABRERA: Joining us now, California Congressman John Garamendi.

Congressman, let me start by saying, all our prayers are with everyone in your state and all of those battling the fires --


CABRERA: -- and who are suffering and impacted right now.. We just learned that the president is planning to visit California on

Monday. He's going to be meeting with some of the people there who are battling the fires, fire officials and emergency responders.

In the past, the president has blamed forest management when wildfires erupted like this.

Do you feel you're getting enough support from the White House?

GARAMENDI: First, thank you for your thoughts about the losses we have here, both human as well as property losses.

Clearly, the White House doesn't understand or doesn't want to understand that these fires are a direct result of climate change. Governor Newsom said it absolutely correct.

Back in 1998, 22 years ago, I was part of a team at the federal government. I was deputy secretary of the Department of the Interior. In the runup to the Kyoto Conference, preparing Al Gore for that, we stated then exactly what is happening today. There would be more fires, bigger hurricanes. There would be sea-level rise.

All of these things we have known. It is happening. Each year, it gets worse. It gets hotter. The fires are raging more.

And now up and down areas of the west coast, which we're not accustomed to large fires, Oregon, Washington, it's happening. It is real.

The president's going to come out here. Hopefully, Governor Newsom will have a chance to say, Mr. President, you've got to get real on this issue. You've got to make this a real issue.

And by the way, the pandemics were also predicted back in 1998, that these illnesses would be coming our way as a result, in part, climate change.

CABRERA: We look at these images and it hits home of how devastating these fires have been to parts of Oregon, to California, to Washington, and even other states.

We do know the White House is helping to provide some 26,000 personnel. And 230 helicopters have been deployed to this region to help in the firefight.


You talked about prevention when it comes to climate change.


CABRERA: But as far as the response now in dealing with the emergency at hand, what else is needed?

GARAMENDI: What's needed is for people to be prepared to evacuate. When the winds and the temperature combine, there's virtually nothing you can do to stop a fire until the weather changes. You can do some backfiring. Some things are being done.

But mostly people need to prepare to get out of the way. That's part of what needs to be done.

Way back when, we were representing people always be prepared to leave. Have your go-bag ready. Make sure the necessary things are there, the documents, the family albums, the cat, the dog.

Always take the cell phone and take a video of your house, inside every closet. That's going to save you a lot of hassle when it comes time for insurance settlement.

In addition to that, we need to manage our forests better. It's not a matter of bringing a rake. It's a matter of managing the forests. We've failed to do that over the last century.

We now have a program in place where the federal firefighting effort has not robbed the federal forest management effort. We have two different accounts now. That took a long time to put in place but it is there.

The president is coming out. One more thing the president needs to be aware of is that the state and local governments up and down the west coast and, indeed, the entire United States, are running out of money. Their revenues have simply dried up because of the pandemic.

We need the HEROES Bill. We need to get that money to the state and local government. Otherwise, there won't be the services necessary to do the evacuations, take care of people, and educate our children.

CABRERA: You sit on the Armed Services Committee. So I want to get some other news. The day after observing --


CABRERA: -- the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the U.S., Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today is meeting with members of the Taliban as the Afghan peace talks get under way. Some people would bristle at the timing.

But at the end of the day, is this what needs to happen to get peace after 40 years of war? Is this a step in the right direction?

GARAMENDI: Yes, it is. These talks are very, very important.

A very critical elements in the talks is that Afghanistan does not become ever again a haven for terrorists. That's where 9/11 began. And that's where it was put together. And from there, 9/11 did happen. That's part of what we need to do.

Also, there needs to be a reasonable settlement among the various warring powers in the area.

It's going to be difficult. Afghanistan has a 2,000-year history of fighting not only among themselves but with their neighbors. It's been the invasion route from Alexander the Great to the British Empire and now the United States.

Yes, these talks are extremely important. Hopefully, they will result in a reasonable settlement, one in which would allow the United States to not have a heavy footprint.

Going-forward, we need to continue to pay attention to Afghanistan. Because backsliding is a very real possibility.

CABRERA: When you talk about the U.S. footprint there, we learned this week the Trump administration is planning to drawdown troops in Afghanistan to about 4,500 by this fall. Some of the military leaders have said perhaps have everybody out by April.

Former Vice President Joe Biden was asked about the troop drawdown this week and he appeared to support this move. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The President announced today that he is going to be withdrawing further troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Do you agree with that move?

JOE BIDEN, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Yes, I do. As long as he has a plan to figure out he's going to deal with ISIS.


CABRERA: Do you agree with the troop drawdown in Afghanistan right now?

GARAMENDI: The end of that sentence was, "As long as." And that takes us back to what is the settlement, what is the future of Afghanistan. How are they going to put the government together? And will it ever become once again a haven for terrorists?

We'll see. That's what the negotiations are about.

The vice president is correct. Yes, it would be good to move our troops out of there. However, let's not have another 9/11 coming from Afghanistan.

So let's get those negotiations done correctly. Let's make sure the necessary implementations are in place.

And as Reagan said, trust and verify. Make sure there are mechanisms in place that will guarantee that Afghanistan will not again become a haven for terrorism.

CABRERA: Congressman John Garamendi, thank you for joining us tonight.

You and the west coast are in our thoughts.

GARAMENDI: Thank you for your thoughts.

[16:40:01] CABRERA: Up next, the final showdown at the U.S. Open between Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka. Azarenka landing her spot after defeating Serena Williams earlier this week. We'll take you take live to Flushing Meadows next.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: Happening right now, the U.S. Open women's final showdown between Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka.

The 22-year-old Osaka has been making headlines throughout the tournament with her masks displaying the name of a different black victim of alleged police or racial violence in the U.S. for each of her tournament matches.

CNN correspondent, Carolyn Manno, is joining us from Flushing Meadows, New York.

Carolyn, I understand the first set just wrapped up. Who's ahead right now?


Victoria Azarenka took the first set. Her maturity shining through. Naomi came out a little tight. Dropped the first two games. Right now, she's looking like she has to battle back here.


But there's a lot of tennis to be played because these two are very evenly matched. I expect it to be a battle that goes three sets.

Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka, feels a little bit like destiny to be meeting at this point. Azarenka, first time in a final in seven years. Looking for the double in the bubble. She won the Western and Southern Open a couple weeks ago and was supposed to meet Osaka.

For Osaka, this has been a mental grind on and off the court. This evening she came into Arthur Ashe Stadium wearing the name Tamir Rice, a black boy killed by a white police officer in 2014.

Just the confidence that she's shown, Ana, in making this proclamation to the entire world before this tournament began that she was going to make seven masks. And each one of those masks was going to bear the name of a victim whose deaths have sparked outcries global for social justice.

Then to be able to follow through in a major like this, the first major back since the pandemic, and prove to everyone what it means to her. It's a lot of emotional pressure off the court.

She's found her voice. She's shy. She's soft spoken. This has been a turning point for her in her career. And just showing the world that she cares deeply about these issues and that she wants to be part of a broader conversation.

CABRERA: Absolutely. It has been impactful.

Carolyn Manno, thank you for sharing that update. We will keep our viewers up to date on the tournament as well.

Coming up, the challenges of being Latino in Hollywood. I go one on one with actor, John Leguizamo.

Stay with us. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: With issues of race at the forefront of the conversation right now, actor, John Leguizamo, is opening up about the challenges of being a Latino in Hollywood and why the new movie he directed is so important to him.

"Critical Thinking" tells the true story of a Cuban-American teacher and his championship-winning chess team at a highs school in Miami.

I sat down with the actor in my work as a contributor for "AMANPOUR AND COMPANY," which airs on CNN International and PBS. Here's part of our conversation.


CABRERA: What has been your experience in Hollywood being a Latino?

JOHN LEGUIZAMO, ACTOR & COMEDIAN: Well, you know it's been positive and bad. A little bit of both.

I know when I started out, with all my white friends -- we were all in the same acting classes at NYU -- they were going to five auditions a day. And I was going to one every five months.

And always for something incredibly negative and demeaning. That's why I started to write my own plays, because I was sick of having to play a dark side of humanity because I'm Latin. And that was not my experience of the people I saw.

And in Hollywood, I pitch this movie. It's impossible in Hollywood -- we're 20 percent of the population if you include undocumented immigrants, and we're 25 percent of the U.S. box office, but less than 4 percent of the faces in front of the camera.


LEGUIZAMO: Well, I think it's because executives aren't us. The gatekeepers are not Latin. If -- we need executives who are Latin and see the value of our stories, who appreciate us.

Because where there are no gatekeepers, we win, like in music. J. Balance (ph) is the number-one star on Spotify. He beat Drake. Why? Because you can measure that. Camilla Cabella is top 10. Malooma (ph) is top 10. Cardi B. Why? You can measure those scans.

And in baseball, we crush. Why? You have stats.

And the politics. AOC crushed because, what? You can count those votes.

And we put four big seats in New York City to Latinas. Why? You can measure that.

But when it's a gatekeeper who we have to rely on his opinion or his taste, we lose. Because he doesn't see the value of our stories.

They don't see the value of "Critical Thinking." They would tell me, John, Latin people don't want to see Latin people. I'm going, what?

CABRERA: Where are they getting that?

LEGUIZAMO: I was like, pull out your demographic, brother. Show me some stats.


LEGUIZAMO: There were none. It's just their wisdom. And --


LEGUIZAMO: this weekend.

Well, you know, they passed it off using facts on you. I mean, you assume it was research. But that can't be research.


CABRERA: We have this just into CNN. Vice President Mike Pence will no longer attend a fundraiser hosted by QAnon supporters.

The campaign attributing this change of plans to simply scheduling conflict or adjustment, not the host's support of baseless conspiracy theories.

The vice president had been criticized for this upcoming event. Pence is now expected to hold rallies in Montana and Wisconsin instead.

Plus, we are tracking the formation of another tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico. This is Tropical Storm Sally developing, the 18th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

And Sally is expected to strengthen steadily throughout the weekend and is forecast to become a hurricane by Monday night prior to making landfall around the Louisiana/Mississippi border Tuesday morning. We'll keep you posted.


Up next, we're going to take you live to Nevada, the site of President Trump's latest rally. And you can see the crowds already gathering. It comes less than one week after the release of those tapes in which

the president acknowledging just how deadly the coronavirus is. These comments were back in February. But he didn't tell the public what he told Bob Woodward in private.

What the campaign is doing or not doing to keep his supporters safe today.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.