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Suspect's Father: He Plans to Go Out in "Blaze of Glory"; 13- Plus Million Watched Mueller Testify, Down from Comey Hearing; Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) Discusses Mueller's Testimony, Impeachment Vote, Obstruction of Justice; Juul Rep Tells 9th-Grade Class Vaping "Completely Safe". Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 25, 2019 - 14:30   ET



[14:31:05] ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: The father of one of the Canadian teens suspected in the killings of an American woman and her Australian boyfriend and a Canadian man says he fears the manhunt will end in a blaze of glory.


ALAN SCHMEGELSKY, FATHER OF MURDER SUSPECT BRYER SCHMEGELSKY: A normal child doesn't travel across the country killing people. A child in some very serious pain does.

Mounties are going to shoot first and ask questions later.

Basically, he's going to be dead today or tomorrow. I know that.

I'm so sorry all of this had to happen. I'm so sorry. I confess to you.


HILL: Those comments coming as nationwide warrants have been in Canada for the teen suspects. They've been on the run for more than a week. The manhunt for the two stretching from British Columbia, where the victims' bodies were found, to a small town in northern Manitoba where SWAT teams are now being deployed.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is following all of this for us.

SWAT teams being deployed. This is a vast area. Does that mean they have a better sense?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPODNENT: It's a vast area. Much of the focus is in Gillum right now, a tiny little "one road in, one road out" town. And 1200 residents, is what the town's Web site lists. It's relatively small.

CNN speaking to the deputy mayor there, saying people are exercising extra caution.

You see some of the pictures coming in here recently. You do see SWAT teams positioning in.

The reason why they are there, about 3,000 miles away from where the bodies were discovered days ago, is because that's where they found the suspect's burned-out vehicle. Investigators still don't know if they are still in Gillum.

We expect to hear from them in the next two hours or so, from the police. But they're treating as if they were potentially there.

This is a place, Erica, that is obviously difficult to move around. As you said, it's very rural, very remote. When you hear from people who live there, you walk out of your house, walk a couple steps and you're in the woods.

Now at least the weather makes it extremely difficult to hide there. But also even insects. That's a massive issue there as well.

It will be interesting to see what we hear from authorities in the next few hours.

Finally, of course, there's no shortage of heartbreak here. You heard from the suspect's father. But when you hear from the family of Chynna Deese, the North Carolina woman who died with her Australian boyfriend, who was also found dead. And then, this Lecter (ph), who we learned was the third victim here involved.

So we have families in three different countries --

HILL: Yes.

SANDOVAL: -- mourning the loss as police try to track down these two young men.

HILL: Quite a turn of events.

Polo, thank you.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: Robert Mueller warning Russia is attacking the United States, right now, in this moment. So why then would Republicans block election security bills?

[14:34:09] Plus, a Juul representative telling students vaping is totally safe. Telling kids that in a school? How does that happen? Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here with more on the e-cigarette makers and whether they're targeting teens.


HILL: One of the reasons Democrats were fighting so hard for Robert Mueller's testimony was to underscore the importance of his report with the American people. They wanted the American people to hear from Robert Mueller. But, turns out, the number of households that actually tuned in, well, that may be a disappointment for Democrats.

CNN chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, joining us now with the numbers.

They're just out. So a boom, a bust, somewhere in between?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPODNENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABILE SOURCES": I don't want to say a dud, but close to a dud. About 13 million viewers tuned in on the six broadcasting networks.

I think the networks did the right thing. So did cable news. This was an important event more than two years in the making.

You can get the sense of the fatigue the country is experiencing. And 13 million viewers. That's about twice as many as a typical day on cable news.

You compare that to James Comey and his explosive testimony two years ago, that had more than 20 million viewers. Brett Kavanaugh, the day Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford both testified during the day last fall, 20 million viewers.

[14:40:04] Mueller was not the big, huge ratings draw the Democrats probably wanted. This was not must-see-TV all day long. I think viewers could sense it was a bit of a rerun.

The reason why the hearings matter is because of the amplification. The comments from Mueller did lead the nightly news. We're talking about them today and into the weekend.

Mueller does matter. The hearings did matter. But they were not the dramatic ratings draw Democrats wanted.

HILL: Interesting stuff.

Brian Stelter, appreciate it. Thank you.

Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, of Texas, is one of the lawmakers who questioned Mueller. She joins us now.

Congresswoman, good to have you with us. We appreciate it.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Thank you, Erica. Good to be with you.

HILL: You voted against tabling last week's impeachment resolution that was brought to the House floor. After Mueller's testimony, did the needle move for you at all? Where are you today?

JACKSON LEE: First of all, let me say that I think the needle is going to move substantially as social media takes up all that was accomplished yesterday, all of the questioning from both committees as it is read and reread, as it is seen on social media, which I might say that many of the Millennials get their news that way and many other hardworking families.

So I am very convinced that we were successful yesterday. And even though the numbers were not as high as other news items in the past, I would clearly say that we're not finished yet. HILL: You're pointing --


JACKSON LEE: As it relates to --


HILL: Go ahead.

JACKSON LEE: As it relates to where I am, I think after knowing the Volumes I and II, after hearing over again, after hearing Mr. Mueller say yes to our line of questioning, dealing with obstruction, dealing with the Russian intrusion into the elections of 2016, even though acknowledging it did not find conspiracy. Indicating that the president could be indicted after he got out of office. Indicating that any other person that was charged with the obstruction items that we listed or that he listed in the table of contents would have been in essence indicted, if it had not been for the policy of the Department of Justice.

I think the needle has moved. I think the needle has moved the fact of the misconduct of the president.

The question is really this, Erica, what is the new norm that the American people will accept for the presidency of the United States. We wouldn't accept it in Clinton. We wouldn't accept it in George W. Bush. We wouldn't accept it in President Obama and previous presidents. Those are the presidents that had the privilege of serving with.

The question is, the new norm. I don't think this can be the new norm of service of the presidency of the United States. And so I believe this office has to be held accountable on its behavior. And the only tool to do so is the constitutional tool.

Now, I'm very clear, it's not a witch hunt. It's not personal. I'm not ready when we're not ready. I want to make sure that we have all of the "T"'s crossed and "I"'s dotted.

But it would be misrepresenting if I voted against it on the floor, even though it was a motion to take.

HILL: OK. So it sounds like, though, if you're talking about needles moving, and where opinions lie, I feel like you're being careful here, but you're now in support?

JACKSON LEE: Yes, I've never -- my earlier comments have always been that I'm not running away from impeachment.

HILL: Right.

JACKSON LEE: And so -- but I'm on the Judiciary Committee and there's a certain responsibility of those of us on the Judiciary.

HILL: Right. JACKSON LEE: But I've, over and over, said I'm not afraid of impeachment. Every time it's come up, I voted for it.


JACKSON LEE: But we continued our work. We continued investigating.

Look at it this way. We'll have all of this evidence if we open an impeachment inquiry tomorrow.


JACKSON LEE: That's a good thing.

HILL: If it were to open. What we're hearing from Speaker Pelosi -- you're talking about the needle moving and it sounds like part of that is the needle moving, you see in terms of public support, not necessarily among lawmakers. Speaker Pelosi has made it clear her position as of the morning is do what works for you. Is she missing an opportunity here to lead?

JACKSON LEE: I never have doubted Speaker Pelosi's leadership, her intellect. But I think she's right, members are going to mount up a -- I think large margin because of what they're seeing and what they're going to hear over and over again.

Some of them are going to look back on the hearings, look back on social media, they're going to be seeing transcripts, they're going to be listening to members, and they're going to move the needle themselves. But they're representative of their constituency. They have the responsibility to answer those questions.

[14:45:00] I can assure you, in my district, which is pretty multi- cultural and multi-political, if you will, in terms of different philosophies. Very strong progressive, but very strong persons who have different views. I listen to those views. People are asking, how long are we going to have this kind of behavior in the White House.

I think the problem comes, is that it doesn't restrain the president when something like this happens. It emboldens him. And he uses his Twitter account to insult, to suggest that he won, calls Democrats names.

And rather than try to be conciliatory, the week that he spent on the race question, my heart still churns and my stomach still churns. My heart is broken for the horrific use of race and calling members of Congress names and really putting them in jeopardy.

So if you embolden him, that is not a good thing for the nation, and it's not a good thing for our international allies who are watching us every day.

HILL: Let me ask you quickly, because we are just about out of time. In terms of emboldening the president, there have been moves at oversight that have been blocked by the president. In him becoming more emboldened, is Congress losing some of its power in the checks and balances? Is that a concern for you?

JACKSON LEE: You raise a very good question. It is a concern for me. As you know, the Article I, Article II, Article III branches, which is the legislature, which is Article I, that may have said something about founding fathers, the executive and judiciary were co-equal branches of government.

And to this date, we have worked together. We have certainly some discord. The Affordable Care Act went all the way to the Supreme Court, and it was decided that it was Constitutional.

And this president has every single day chipped away at it, every single day, tried to block people from voting, every single day, has tried to alter our immigration laws, human rights laws by executive order. And has taken no qualms, no sensitivity to what he is doing in shredding the Constitution.

I'm frightened because this Constitution, this government has lasted for a period of time that's been admired by the world and other governments. We are a role model of stability.

I don't think we should ignore the question of whether we'll allow one person, one man to turn upside down the order that we have, and the respect we have, and the democracy we have. The democracy is for all people.

HILL: Congresswoman --

JACKSON LEE: He's extinguishing it. And I think we have to be concerned about that. That's why we should hold him accountable.

HILL: Congresswoman, definitely appreciate you joining us today. Thank you.

JACKSON LEE: Great to be with you. Thank you.

HILL: The makers of Juul E-cigarettes walking into a ninth-grade classroom telling kids vaping is totally safe? See what happened when teenagers testified.

Plus, new CNN "KFILE" reporting on the president's pick to be the Treasury spokeswoman, including smears about former President Obama.


[14:52:24] HILL: Vaping, totally safe, that's what one teen says he was told in his classroom by a rep from Juul, the maker of E- cigarettes. Right now, Juul's top executives are set to respond in a House subcommittee hearing.

CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is here.

Sanjay, I have to say, I saw the headline on this story this morning, I said, I have to have misread this. What happened here?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Everyone, I think, was floored by that. These hearings are passionate hearings. They're not getting as much attention as anything else going on in Washington.

This was supposed to be about marketing, about the health claims, about the fact that big tobacco is putting billions of dollars into these vaping devices.

But all of a sudden, in the middle of these hearings, you hear this exchange with these high schoolers talking specifically about their experience with Juul.

Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: The presenter called Juul totally safe more than once?


UNIDENTIFIED CONGERSSMAN: What impact did those, quote, unquote, "totally safe" comments have on your classmates, some of whom started vaping?

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: For the classmates that were already vaping, it was a sigh of relief because now they're able to vap without any concern.


HILL: Wow.

GUPTA: Normalizing this sort of thing, saying it's totally safe.

We reached out to Juul on this, and asked them, what's the deal. They released this statement to us. They did concede there was this short- lived education, youth prevention program. It was ended in September of 2018. It was to educate youth on the dangers of nicotine addiction. It was clearly misconstrued.

It sounds like someone went into this classroom with some sort of agenda.

HILL: Right.

GUPTA: But that's what those high schoolers clearly walked away with.

That's part of the issue now.

HILL: Yes.

GUPTA: It's totally safe, this is not a problem, that's what they took away from it.

HILL: Juul was accused of an arms race when it came to nicotine addictions. That was, what, upping the amount of nicotine in their products? GUPTA: There was a certain amount of nicotine in these E-cigarettes.

Juul is not the first e-cigarette manufacturer out there. While there wasn't regulation around this, there was a certain amount of nicotine in these pods. They kept upping the amount of nicotine.

So all of a sudden, if you're taking a pod, which anyone who knows about these devices understands what a pod is, what you put into the device, it's basically a pack of cigarettes.

How do you contextualize that? Do I do an entire pod? Do I do half a pod? Do I do two pods?

HILL: Right.

GUPTA: There was no sort of understanding about it for a lot of people.

HILL: It's not a dosing mechanism.


HILL: Put this in perspective for us. How widespread at this point, end of July of 2019, is vaping?

[14:55:05] GUPTA: Talk to any middle school student, any high school student in America today, they're going to know about this, anybody.

And parents who don't know about this, are going to need to know about it because it's become that widespread.

There are numbers we can attach to this. As you look at these numbers, keep in mind, these are people who admit to vaping. The number is probably much higher, 3.6 million middle school and high school students. A year earlier, Erica, 2.1 million.

HILL: Huge jump.

GUPTA: We don't know the 2019 numbers yet, obviously. If you continue to see that trajectory, that's part of the problem.

And a step further, what they really think is the problem is how many of these kids are transitioning to combustible cigarettes. They try the vaping and go onto the actual traditional cigarettes. That's a real concern. Some say it's as high as 20, 21 percent.

HILL: My 7th grader tells me where he sees all the kids vaping just across the street from the school. So you're right, it's there.

GUPTA: Check it out. Keep an eye on him on that 7th grader.


HILL: I will.


HILL: I know you do. He knows he will bear the wrath of Dr. Gupta.

Sanjay, thank you.

GUPTA: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: The search for more suspects after New York cops get doused with water. And the president is now weighing in.

Plus, a doctored seal appears behind the president at an event, a conservative event. And now someone's fired. Those details just ahead.