Return to Transcripts main page


Donald Trump Blasts NBA And NFL Players; North Korean Foreign Minister Lashes Out At Trump At UN; FLOTUS At Invictus Games; 6.1 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Mexico; Quake Survivors in Mexico Recount Hours Trapped in Rubble; Puerto Rico Dam Fails; Kurt Andersen in "Fantasyland": American delusion and Donald Trump. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 23, 2017 - 16:00   ET



ATHENA JONES, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana, well this -- the comments from the president last night using a vulgar terms to refer to these mostly African-American football players who had been taking any during the national anthem to protest what they see as racial injustice and racial inequality in America.

Those comments spark a fierce backlash on Twitter and off Twitter, not just by black athletes or by black people but across the racial spectrum. We're also hearing from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who without directly citing the president, referring to his remarks this way. I'll read you part of his statement. Goodell said, "Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL are great game and all of our players."

And again had the president's remarks calling these players signs of bees is an insult not just to the players but also to their mothers and you have a lot of folks on Twitter saying that I where was the president passion, the kind of passion we saw from the president last night. Where was that of? A weeks back when it came to those marches and protest by neo-Nazis and KKK members in Charlottesville. We did not see such a strong condemnation of those of folks exercising their free speech rights as were seen from the president referring to these black athletes.

And of course this is not as you mentioned is not just about NFL at this point. The president also striking back against the NBA, NBA players. I keep among them Steph Curry, who is a star guard for the Golden State Warriors. This after Curry during yesterday's media, this team's media day, said that he didn't want to come to the White House to be honor it is customary for the NBA champions, the Gold State -- in this case the Golden State Warriors to be invited to the White House to the honored Steph Curry and it's not just Steph Curry but other teammates as well, including the coach, have said that they did not necessarily want to come.

Then you have the president taking the Twitter this morning to -- to resend the invitation. And this is what I neither NBA star Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. This is how he is responding to President Trump saying on Twitter, "You bum. Stephen Curry already he aight going so therefore aight no invite. Going to the to the White House was a great honor until you showed."

So we have an increasingly tense rhetorical battle going on between the president and black athletes. This is something that the crowd at that Alabama rally last night really eat up. The president mentioned this kind of off-the-cuff, purpose of nothing but this is something that is getting a lot attention and you now have a lot of sports analyst who are predicting that we're going to see more protest and in the future NFL games including tomorrow rather than fewer protest in light of the president's comments. Ana?

CABRERA: All right, Athena Jones reporting in New Jersey. Thank you. In the last hour, the president in fact double down on his anthem comment on Twitter. He wrote, "If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in NFL or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our great American flag or country and should stand for the national anthem. If not, your fired. Find something else to do."

I want to talk more about this with Van Jones, CNN political commentator and former adviser to President Obama. Van, why do you think this is hitting such a nerve.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I think it's important for us to remember that we are still in the aftermath of these devastating storms when a president should be pulling the country together and we could be on the eve of war with North Korea when the president should be pulling the country together. And instead, he's going for cheap applause lines at campaign style rallies that -- it's like a really tough nerve. I think for after Americans.

I think if you are not United States you might say, "What the heck is this all about?" Owners in the big league sports are overwhelmingly white men. The players are overwhelmingly young and African-American. And so the idea that you going to come into this conflict side with the owners and basically tell the owners to go and discipline all the black guys. It lands very, very poorly. Does he consciously set out to do these things? I don't know but he's so tone deaf that it -- it lands very poorly.

The other thing is big picture. You do have three very important values at war here you have the value of free speech, which is important, you have the value of respecting the flag in America, which is important, and you have the value of the civil rights of African Americans who feel that the police have been less than respectful of the humanity of African Americans all too often.

And so you -- it's a very complex situation. You need you nuance (ph) instead you get a bulldozer responsible from the president of United States one-sided tone deaf and instead pulling the country together in the aftermath of tragedy and possibly on evil war were fighting all over the weekend.

[16:05:06] CABRERA: Just to play devil's advocate free speech goes both ways. So for those who are criticizing the president for saying that people should not exercise their freedom of speech by protesting in this way by kneeling during the anthem, could you argue president also should have a right to voice his disapproval of that.

JONES: Well, absolutely. The president has the right, but the question is, is it right? Is this how he want to spend his political capital? Is this the way they we're going to bring the country together? He's going for the cheap applause lines to try to keep his base happy and keep his base revved up, but that's actually comes at a real cost.

The other thing I think people don't understand when Colin Kaepernick first began his protest, he was just staying seated, he wasn't even responding. The kneeling, the taking a knee is actually an evolution to show more respect. In other words, he's not staying seated, he's not, somebody says, stomping on the flag, he's not doing any of that.

Taking a knee in sports is a sign of respect when someone's fallen, with someone's been injured. So he's saying is it injury to our democracy. He's showing respect both for civil rights and for the flag and the president seems have not gotten the memo.

CABRERA: That's interesting. I went back and looked at what Colin Kaepernick was saying when he decided to make this statement and this is when he had that back in August of 2016. He said, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."

Now I want to read tweet today from Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley because he is saying what a lot of people have been protecting our social media, "When will people learn that fear will won't make someone sit down and quite possibly will make more stand for what they believe in."

So Van, when the president is urging people, athletes, NFL games to leave these fans if they see people taking a knee. What do you expect to see on the field tomorrow at NFL stadiums?

JONES: Well, it's going to have to figure this out. On the one hand, you have people who are saying to boycott the NFL because Colin Kaepernick has not been hired. They feel he's been blackballed unfairly. Other talents are being ignored and the owners are punishing him for his political views.

On the other hand, you now have the president living (ph) people up saying that the people who express themselves are off limits in the fan should punish the league in that regard. The NFL is caught in the middle and what you would want is a president who can step forward on that you would expects Barack Obama or Bill Clinton or even a George W. Bush, and try to figure out a way to bring us together and to speak to all sides and find a way through. This president can only do one thing which to pick out one side and be as belligerent as possible showing no respect to the other.

Listen, that's great if you're a entertainer. But when you're trying to pull a country together in the aftermath of tragedy, possibly of eve of war, if you have a right to do it, but it's not right to do it. CABRERA: Van, do you think the president is using sports as a proxy for this racial divide in our country?

JONES: You know, there's a long history of that. You know, back when Johnson was the first black heavyweight champion. If you knock out a white guy there will be riots in the country. This is whole kind of substitution effect with sports and politics goes back to the Greeks.

And so I do think that when you leans in to sports he is in that traditional kind of using this as a way to talk about some other issues. But I tell you what, you know, I just want to say one thing about Steph Curry in particular. Steph Curry is an outstanding human being. He is a great father. He is well spoken. He has no scandals. He's not the kind of person the president of United States should be picking a fight with. And if anybody in America has a problem with you and his name is Steph Curry, that's the reason to look in the mirror. I don't have any idea why he want to be in a fight with Steph Curry.

CABRERA: Yes, why do you think he's picking his fight and why now, why go there at off?

JONES: I don't, you know, listen, I don't understand it. But I got tell you. Somebody who raising young boys having a Steph Curry out there gives them somebody look up to. His work ethic is unbelievable. Of course, you know, Lebron James is an incredible success story as well.

These are people we should be lifting up and celebrating and given him high-fives and pointing them out for the positive instead were some crazy food fight about whether somebody going to come to my, you know, birthday party or not. This is silly. It's beneath the president and it doesn't make any sense.

CABRERA: Van Jones thanks for your time. We appreciate your thoughts as always.

JONES: Thank you.

CABRERA: Now some breaking news on multiple fronts really regarding the U.S. and North Korea. A short time ago there was a big speech before the United Nations by North Korea's foreign minister. And he calls President Trump "mentally deranged and full of megalomania."

[16:10:04] And he told the assembly Trump insults make an attack on the U.S. mainland more inevitable. Now that speech comes the same day, U.S. Air Force bombers and fighter jets flew just the North Korean coast over international waters and what the U.S. Pacific command has said "In response to North Korea's nuclear test and the recent ballistic missile launches over Japan today."

Now, today's flights by those U.S. jets and bombers, is more significant because of this. It took them farther north of the demilitarized zone, the DMZ than any American military plane in the 21st century and to this mysterious seismic activity today, near North Korea's nuclear testing site. Now analyst have told us this maybe aftershock as a result of a nuclear test that happened earlier this month. CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, just joining us now.

So, Elise, let's begin with the foreign minister speech today just within the last couple of hours where he call the president mentally deranged earlier this week there the president. We heard threatened to totally destroying North Korea if it was forced to go there should it be provoked by a threat bigger -- larger threat against South Korea or allies. Do you think diplomacy will even work at this point?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I think it could work and I think that, you know, both sides are not leaving it off the table. You know, even all these insults that President Trump has been throwing it at Kim Jong-un this week, reported asked him, "President Trump, do you think still think diplomacy is possible?" And he said, "Why not."

I think the problem here is, you know, both sides are backing themselves into a kind of diplomatic corner if you will. You know, how does each one gets to the table and still save face. President Trump certainly is not one to back down from a fight and Kim Jong-un, this week unprecedented statement in his name, attacking President Trump. So it's clear that President Trump is getting in his head.

You know, this leader who is like one of the kings of brinksmanship around the world. I think it matters not to President Trump but at the same time, you know, President Trump is not used in, you know, someone of that of that -- I want to use the word stature because Kim Jong-un is clearly a dictator and a very erratically leader.

You have the world leader directly challenging him on the public stage and that is not sitting very well with this president. So, I think they're getting in each other's head is becoming very personal and it does, you know, raise concerns about Kim Jong-un and what will push him to the brink.

CABRERA: And it touches about the U.S. I mean were this country is a long ways from North Korea, but it matters even more to our allies where we go from here in this crisis, with the situation with North Korea. What happened that the reaction from allies given they have all come here to the U.S. for the U.N. General Assembly this week?

LABOTT: I mean I think when you look at what the North -- U.S. is actually doing, they're showing military resolve, they're working with South Korea, they're working with Japan. I think there is this pressure campaign in terms of sanctions. I think allies are generally satisfied with U.S. policy. They're not satisfied with the rhetoric. You know, there was an audible gaps in the U.N. security, in the UN General Assembly Hall when President Trump used that rocket man, you know, insult at Kim Jong-un.

This is not the kind of leadership that world leaders are looking for the United States in his very unstable situation with his very erratic leader, Kim Jong-un. They're looking for assurance, they're looking for strength. And this look like, you know, kind of a schoolboy fight and they expect that from Kim Jong-un. They don't expect it from the president of United States.

CABRERA: I play some of the comments that were made today at the U.N.


RI YONG HO, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DPRK: The absurd reality that the person like Trump, a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency, the person who is chastised even by American people as "Commander in Grief, Lyin King, President Evil" is holding the seat of the U.S. President, and the dangerous reality that the gambler who grew old using threats, frauds and all other schemes to acquire a patch of land holds the nuclear button; these are what constitute the gravest threat to the international peace and security today.


CABRERA: So that was the North Korean foreign speaking a the U.N. general assembly. Elise, who in the world stage might be able to step in and help resolve this?

LABOTT: I mean I think it's really about China and even China's influence is really limited here in terms of political influence on Kim Jong-un. You know, what the U.S. hopes is that China will start you its economic influence, and you saw this week China announcing some measures instructing its banks not to do business with North Korean financial institutions.

[16:15:07] I mean this could be very significant. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said this week that some of the sanctions are starting to work. There are no fuel shortages in North Korea. If China were to really put the squeeze on North Korea, they could become desperate. North Korea has never, you know, really kind of shown that kind of vulnerability and shown that sanctions will work, but ultimately, you know, it could.

But, again, I really think that in this charged atmosphere of rhetoric and insults, Kim Jong-un is never going to come to the table when Donald Trump is -- is throwing these personal insult. And Kim Jong-on who we never hear from is saying I'm personally offended. That's not a really good place to be in that North Korean leader's head.

CABRERA: All right, Elise Labott, thank you so much. I want to take us to Toronto now. This is the first lady speaking just moments ago with the (INAUDIBLE).


MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: But I know you won't need it in these games. Take that fighting spirit that I know you have, and bring home the gold. God bless you, god bless your families, and god bless United States of America.


CABRERA: Again that was Melania Trump there in Toronto where she leading the U.S. delegation in the Invictus Games which is a sporting event that Prince Harry has organized involving wounded warriors. And so eventually there she is invited the prince as well to visit the White House here in the U.S.

Still ahead here in the newsroom, a 6.1 earthquake rocked the Mexico today. These are some live images. You see the amount of destruction there dealing with the rescue efforts continue from the earthquake that struck earlier this week 7.1 earthquake. This is now today's third earthquake.

And in must the last couple of weeks, I want to talk with the deputy spokesman to the president of Mexico about how his country is handling the crisis, when we come back. You're live in the CNN Newsroom.


[16:21:24] CABRERA: We're following a breaking news at Mexico at this hour. Another earthquake has hit the county. It happened this morning, southern Mexico enduring a 6.1 magnitude earthquake and that makes the third quake in just two weeks.

This was centered in Oaxaca State. That's about 275 miles southeast of Mexico City and that puts it roughly between Tuesday 7.1 magnitude quake in Mexico City and that 8.1 magnitude quake that struck September 8 off the southern Pacific coast.

Joining us now is the starting at now is Vicente Rodriguez. He is the deputy spokesperson to the president of Mexico. Thank you so much Mr. Rodriguez for being here. What is the assessment of the damage and injuries as a result of today's earthquake?

VICENTE RODRIGUEZ, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON TO THE PRESIDENT OF MEXICO: Thank you, Ana. Well, September has been a very difficult month for Mexico not just the earthquakes but it is started (INAUDIBLE) of tropical storm in Mexico history for instance. Six people died there. Then from September 7 earthquake which -- with Oaxaca and Chiapas mainly afterwards last Tuesday earthquake in Mexico City.

As of now we have death toll at around 405 persons. The people have died we got in the both earthquakes. Most of them in Mexico City and then Oaxaca, Morales and Puebla maybe. That's the figures up until now. We have -- in Chiapas and Oaxaca around 100,000 houses were damaged.


RODRIGUEZ: And around 30% of them will have to be demolished. And figures in Mexico City are (INAUDIBLE) around 38 buildings have collapsed, damaged buildings is around 400 nowadays (ph). We don't know up until now how many of them should be demolished too.

CABRERA: We are looking at images of the distraction there n Mexico City and what you described with a 100,000 homes damaged in one area. 38 buildings collapse in Mexico City alone, and now more than 400 people you say who are confirmed dead from the three different earthquake that happened over the last couple of weeks. Do you still believe there may be survivors trapped in some of these building that have come down?

RODRIGUEZ: The rescuers are still working (INAUDIBLE) of the damaged buildings in Mexico City and there was (INAUDIBLE) until the last efforts evolve. He hope that there are survivors still, each day probability (INAUDIBLE) but I hope good faith until last effort we done.

CABRERA: We sure hope that there are many more rescues to be made. I know the Mexican Navy had said 115 people at least have been rescued from the rubble in Mexico City. Vicente Rodriguez, thank you for the update. Thank you for spending time with us and just now our best wishes are there with you and the people of your country.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you very much. Let me tell you that is Mexico is alive. I will CD is spending, each working, people will return to normality everyday.

[16:25:06] It is quite different from what happened in 1985 where around 3,000 buildings were damaged. The figure is far different then the death toll rise up until 10,000 people. Figures are well different. We are much more protect (ph) now and we are willing to come to normality as soon as possible because that's what how the CDI (ph) county needs.

CABRERA: Well, I'm glad to hear your optimism. Thank you again for your time and we do wish the very best in the recovery effort.

Now those who have been rescued count themselves lucky including one group who was stuck with only enough room to lay down while they waited for 17 hours to be saved. These stories are incredible. And CNN Ed Lavandera visited some of the survivors in the hospital. Watch this.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At 1:14, Tuesday afternoon, Martin Mendez, a locksmith, was replacing broken locks in an accounting office on the fourth floor of this building at Alvaro Obregon 286 when the world around him started to rumble.

When the earthquake struck, what did you hear?

MARTIN MENDEZ, EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR (through translator): So the building moved back and forth two or three times. Then it started jumping up and down like a horse.

LAVANDERA: When the shaking stopped, Martin found himself trapped with three women he'd never met before who worked in the office he was visiting.

Could you move?

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) LAVANDERA: He said he could only move like a worm. He said they started getting very nervous because they were running out of air. He thought they were going to suffocate.

What came next would test every shred of perseverance they could muster.

Diana Pacheco says they had no time to react and could hear the floors above crashing down.

What was it like when the earthquake struck?


DIANA PACHECO, EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR (through translator): It all happened so fast, she says, we didn't have time to get out. In five or six seconds, the building collapsed.

LAVANDERA: Diana says she reached for her phone and started sending these text messages to her husband.

Love, the roof has fallen. We're trapped. I love you. I love you so much. We're on the fourth floor near the emergency exit. There are four of us.

And then you can see a series of phone calls that wouldn't connect.

That was enough to alert rescue workers that there were indeed people still alive inside this building, but the rescuers couldn't hear them.

Diana says the sounds were horrible. She recorded this incredible video of the space where she was trapped. Massive sheets of concrete around them, they used cell phone lights to see the dust billowing around them. There was no escape, no way out.

Martin and Diana and the two others talked to each other, soothing each other's fears, waiting for rescue workers to reach them. Martin's leg was broken. He sat there in excruciating pain.

What was going through your mind?

MENDEZ (through translator): I was talking to God and hoping that the rescuers would hear us.

LAVANDERA: As we talked, Martin opens his phone and shares with us a picture he took of himself while he was trapped. He hadn't seen it. The emotions overwhelm him.

I imagine that you believed there's no way you were getting out alive?

MENDEZ (through translator): Yes, I did. I always believed I was going to get out alive, he says.

LAVANDERA: Finally, after 17 hours, rescue workers pulled all four of them out alive.

All these scratches came when he was pulled out.

Diana Pacheco and Martin Mendez are now recovering in the same hospital on the same floor but haven't been able to see each other since they were rescued. They were brought together in an unexpected moment of horror and survived.

And I teach him a phrase in English that he and his friends can share.

We made it. We made it. In English, we say, we made it.

MENDEZ: We made it.

LAVANDERA: We made it. Ed Lavandera, CNN, Mexico City.


CABRERA: And we are so glad he made. Coming up. A breach is imminent in Puerto Rico facing a new emergencies there as residents near this dam are told to get out now. We will take you there live.


[16:34:12] CABRERA: Update to our breaking news now. We are now hearing from New York Giant owner John Mara and Steve Tisch, they are responding to Trump NFL comments saying players who protest the national anthem should be fired.

Now this is the statement they just sent out. "Comments like we heard last night from the president are inappropriate, offensive and divisive. We are proud of our players, the vast majority of whom use their NFL platform to make a positive difference in our society."

We are continuing to follow this story. The backlash continues, the president doubling down on those comment also on Twitter today. Much more on this in the hours ahead here in the CNN Newsroom.

Meantime, we have more breaking news out of Puerto Rico, fresh on the heels of the devastation of Hurricane Maria. The island's governor is now saying we need to work together to save lives. At least 10 people are known dad so far as the rescue and recovery efforts continue.

[16:35:03] And as the U.S. territory of course try to pick up pieces and now new fears for some of the folks were living near the Guajataca River where they are now fleeing was being called an imminent dam break. The dam and the river are located in the Northwest part of the island U.S. territory.

We have been Nick Valencia joining us from San Juan. So, Nick, how urgent is this situation and where are those people 70,000 or so people who live near that dam supposed to go after this territory has been hit so hard by the hurricane?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An extremely dangerous situation there for two townships. Nearly 70,000 people affected after this damn. Guajataca dam had been compromise. They're busting people out moving them to shelters, others are evacuating themselves. It's one of the many issues that this island still dealing with. Earlier I spoke to the governor one on one about the island and its recovery.


VALENCIA: What's been like watching all of these from the sky during the tour around your island?

RICARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR: Well, it's been tough, you know. The devastation is vast. We're going to have to rebuild, but our people are resilient. And I'm banking on their spirit on their will to recognize that these are tough times that we're in an emergency but we're going to stabilize it, rebuild and come back strongly that ever.

VALENCIA: Any message for those back home trying to get in touch with their family members. We know communications just been so desperate.

ROSSELLO: I understand the urgency. I understand the anxiety. Myself, I couldn't reach my parents for two days. But this was something that we had anticipated a category 5 hurricane is no slouch. It essentially wiped out all of the telecommunications. We're trying to establish them. We're trying to use outnet means so that you can communicate with your loves, and we won't rest until all of those love ones in (INAUDIBLE) or anywhere Puerto Rico can find a way to communicate with those over here.


VALENCIA: Ana, the infrastructure here has just been decimated. They're dealing with so much here and now the potential of a gasoline shortage earlier at that press conference, the governor trying to stress the residents and the local media that there is not a shortage of gas but some residents here they're waiting a long lines try to get some. Ana?

CABRERA: Yes, no gas and n power still for so many there. Nick Valencia in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Think you. We'll back in just a moment.


[16:41:29] CARBERA: Welcome back. I'm Ana Cabrera. You're in the CNN Newsroom. A provocative new book explores the America's grip on reality from pilgrim to fake news from the founding fathers to alternative facts. And I sat down with Kurt Andersen. He's the author Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History.

We talked about President Trump and how Americans handle facts versus feeling. Here's our conversation. Watch.


CABRERA: In your book, you explore this idea of truth being in the eye of the beholder. People believing what they want to believe and idea that facts are somehow subjective. What would be the epitous (ph) ? KURT ANDERSEN, AMERICAN NOVELIST: One of my arguments is that that has always been part of the American character. And has good effects as well, but during the last 50 years it kind of got out of control. Starting in the late 60s as much good as happened in the 60s, there are also some things and it's really what I am talking about penicillin happen where suddenly everybody was licensed in America to do their own thing, create their own reality, believe their own truth and -- and we never sort of put that that genie back in the bottle after the 60s and it happened out of the left and out of the counterculture and like hippies and all that, but it also happened in the cultural right in religion.

CARBERA: You write in your cover story of the Atlantic from this month, "Being American means we can believe anything we want, that our beliefs are equal or superior to anyone else's, experts be damned. Once people commit to that approach, the world turns inside out, and no cause-and-effect connection is fixed. The credible becomes incredible and the incredible credible."

Explain why you see this is a deeply rooted American thing?

ANDERSEN: Because, again at the beginning, n the 1600s, 1700s, we were the antiestablishment country. We were living in England. Damn those torturing people. We can have our own somewhat extreme religion and theocracy here in -- in New England, and that mistrust of experts really, again, goes to the heart of what made people curtains Puritans and American partisans (INAUDIBLE) which is I don't need you priests, I don't you Vatican. I can read the Bible and now it suddenly being translated and I can figure out what that means.

So, that anti-expert to something (ph) anti-intellectual, anti-elite, it takes various forms and has taken various forms over the years and centuries, but that's, again, a deep part of us. And once a kind of antiestablishment impulse was really seriously ratified in the 1960s and I', exploded that -- that made this deep American instinct to mistrust experts and reject the elite, turn into this. What we see now is all the mainstream media is terrible.

We got to this place where well if I disagree with that or my pre- existing opinions or beliefs are somehow contradicted by factual reality, observable empirical facts, I'll choose not to believe that. I'm entitled to my own facts.

CABRERA: It seeing things the way you want to say --

ANDERSEN: Exactly. I'm a psychologist --

CABRERA: Healing it versus just understanding it.

ANDERSEN: The feeling is -- some of the question, I mean, because of course, many -- many religious feelings are felt, there is no evidence for lots of religions, it's fine.

[16:45:05] When you're talking about religious belief, but as soon as that gets over into -- into how we feel with climate change or -- or whether there really are five million illegal voters in the 2016 election, provable (ph) facts. Once right, I'm going to believe what I want to believe because I want to believe it gets into those realms, those non-religious realms that were in trouble.


CABRERA: So much more to our conversation. Up next Kurt Andersen thought on President Trump and why he calls our president the poster boy with the history of American character. Stay with us.


[16:51:17] CABRERA: So back with more of my conversation with Kurt Andersen the author of author Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History. And Andersen explain how President Donald Trump unexpected to became the poster boy for his deep, long history of American character. Watch.


ANDERSEN: It's strange. This is book started writing 2013-2014 when Donald Trump was still just a guy on produced celebrity apprentice.

CABRERA: He wasn't running for president.

ANDERSEN: He wasn't running for president. And then I was halfway down the announcer present. And then I finish the book, just as he is about to be nominated. And suddenly this history that I have written and all of its various threads about the effect of show business, blurring the difference between truth and reality and -- and believe whatever you want just because you want to, all that.

Here is the great embodiment of all of my historical threat suddenly getting on it for president, and then suddenly the elected president, and he became in this kind of uncanny ways. Surprisingly to me that the poster boy for this - this deep long history of -- of the American characters.

CABRERA: Do you think he was cognisant of it? Do you think he sees it intentionally?

ANDERSEN: That's a good question. I think he has really an amazing instincts. I think he understood it. Maybe America is ready for me now. So, I -- my hunch is that on some level, whether or not he could articulate or not, he did (INAUDIBLE). He did exploit it.

CABRERA: He shakes up the idea of what is real and he shakes up, you know, who do we -- who are we to believe, right?

ANDERSEN: Yes. Which is -- which is to me the most dangerous part of what I can fantasyland and the most dangerous part of President Trump not so much, we can disagree about how to deal with immigration or how to ideal climate change, let's disagree, but let's not say there is no climate change or let's not say five million illegals voted against me, let's not have those -- those falsehoods depicted as -- as facts as he does again and again and again. And as you say sort of undermines the whole nature of what is true, who do you believe, you can believe anybody. That exists enough already as a result of this history I have written this book about and now we have a president who is taking that and -- and making it even more true.

CABRERA: Going back to your book title Fantasyland. Is it all bad? I mean we talked about the American dream.

ANDERSEN: Sure. Sure. We do.

CABRERA: You can be you believe you can be.

ANDERSEN: No, it's not all. It hasn't been all that. And -- and we wouldn't get, I don't know, Steve Jobs if we didn't have that, I can build it and I have this reality distortion field as people always said about Steve Jobs were for. I can make amazing things happen. I can do the impossible in a convenient way. That -- that is a strength of America and the American character.

But as with so many things carried too far, blossoming out of control. It becomes a problem.




[16:59:07] JEFFREY JAMES HIGGINS, FORMER SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT, DEA: Afghanistan had 70% of the lands dedicated to poppy production in the world. It also produced over 90 percent of the world's heroin. So, most of the heroin in the world was coming out of Afghanistan. It was also supporting the Taliban.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After war in 2001, the Taliban wanted to return to power and recreate the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

HIGGINS: They wanted to institute Sharia Law again which is a fundamental Islam and kick the Americans out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Taliban would infiltrate the local communities and they would threaten everybody and say it's our way or we're going to kill your family.

HIGGINS: There's also a symbiotic relationship between the Taliban and the drug traffickers. The Taliban is making it more difficult for police to target the traffickers. In return, the drug traffickers are financially supporting the Taliban and logistically supporting the Taliban.


CABRERA: Declassified. It airs tonight at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.