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Interview with Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA); Jeffrey Epstein Autopsy Findings; Vaping May be Linked to Lung Disease. Aired 10:30- 11a ET

Aired August 15, 2019 - 10:30   ET


REP. CHRISSY HOULAHAN (D-PA): -- and also saying -- indicating that I and many others would be more than happy to go back to session. There's a train every hour from Philadelphia, and I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to going back and legislating on this. The people --


HOULAHAN: -- of our communities, red and blue, are demanding that.

HARLOW: But do you really think politically something is different this time? We have heard the president say Mitch McConnell's going to do something, Mitch McConnell says it's going to be front and center. Do you believe that something is fundamentally different in the Senate now?

HOULAHAN: Every time something like this happens, sadly, I have more optimism that something will happen. And every time, nothing happens. And so I'd like to say that I'm more optimistic, I'd like to --

HARLOW: Right.

HOULAHAN: -- take the president at his word, that something will happen. But I've seen this before.

HARLOW: Let's talk about the economy, which is -- we just don't know which way it's going to go. The market's up today, it was down 800 points yesterday. We've got concerns in the bond market, with the inverted yield curve. And we've got a $22 trillion national debt, a trillion-dollar deficit by the end of this fiscal year.

You are seen as a moderate, yet you still voted yes for the budget deal a few weeks ago. It raises spending by $320 billion over existing spending caps. Why do you and those who voted for that in both parties think that America can afford it right now?

HOULAHAN: Well, we were heading towards a precipice where we were definitely going to see another government shutdown if we didn't come to some sort of an agreement. And the agreement that we came to was palpable on both sides for a variety of different reasons.

From a Democratic perspective, it talked a lot about making sure that the opposite side of the Defense Department was also seeing funding as well. And so I think it was sort of a necessary evil, a step to make sure that we didn't head towards that same precipice that I was sworn into, which was a shut-down government.

HARLOW: But respectfully, Congresswoman, is it really a necessary evil or is it an abdication of duty, from members of both parties, to make the hard choices to leave an economy for our children that is sustainable? I mean, you also --

HOULAHAN: I -- yes.

HARLOW: -- could have both given and said, "All right, we'll give on cuts here." Basically, the only thing you guys agreed to is to spend more.

HOULAHAN: So I agree with you. I think there is a large majority of us -- I'm part of a very large group of -- a caucus called the New Dems, that caucuses on exactly this issue, which is fiscal responsibility --

HARLOW: Right.

HOULAHAN: -- this agreement doesn't talk about exactly where we're going to spend. In fact, yesterday, I hosted, in my town, my hometown, a Fix the Debt kind of seminar, with community and members, just to see, using a simulation, what sort of hard choices the Congress needs to make to make sure that we balance the budget. So I am exactly in your camp, that we need to be --


HOULAHAN: -- responsible, but we also need to create the headroom to be able to be responsible.

HARLOW: Yes. I just hope that members of both parties are willing to make those hard choices, right? Because otherwise we are leaving --

HOULAHAN: Absolutely.

HARLOW: -- our children an untenable situation.

HOULAHAN: Absolutely.

HARLOW: Let's move on here. You are part of a group of more moderate freshman members of Congress. Some news outlets have labeled you guys "the other Squad." I know you don't like that label, you think it's a little high schoolish. I hear you on that.

But I do wonder what your view is on the more progressive wing of the party, especially in the presidential race. I, just last hour, had Governor Steve Bullock of Montana on, and he said something that was striking. He said to me, "I do worry, we are on our way to losing this before we even begin," when I asked him about Senator Bernie Sanders or Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Do you believe that the most progressive candidates can win against Donald Trump in a general?

HOULAHAN: So, going back to, you know, the House itself, we are an enormously broad and diverse caucus. We all represent the communities that we come from. I have enormous respect for the more progressive members of my -- of my caucus. And we are also, as a House of Representatives, a diverse group.

So I work aggressively, both to the left of me and to the right of me. I'm making sure that I am attentive to all of the needs of my community. I do come from one of those purple places.

And so I really don't -- I do bristle a little bit about the need to try and "other" us from each other, because we really all need to work together. I want to make sure that we're breaking down walls rather than creating cliques. And I do think that the presidential candidate that needs to come forward, needs to be a person who can listen to all sides of a conversation, and not just one end of the spectrum or the other.

HARLOW: OK. So I know you're not endorsing today, that's very clear. But you are from Pennsylvania, as is one of the candidates, Joe Biden. Are you in the Biden camp as of now?

HOULAHAN: I'm enormously respectful of Mr. Biden. He is a tremendously capable candidate. And I do believe that the success of the 2020 election for Democrats, comes right through Pennsylvania. And so the kind of candidate that I'm looking for, will be somebody who can win Pennsylvania. And he certainly is a son of Pennsylvania.

HARLOW: Is there anyone else in the party right now who can win Pennsylvania, Congresswoman?

HOULAHAN: I think there are a handful of candidates that I think are doing a good job of running a good, strong campaign, and listening to the community. I think one of the things that we want to make sure that we're focused on is we agree -- not just Democrats but Republicans and Independents -- on the issues that keep us together: health care, quality health care, jobs, education and back to safe communities. Those are the things that a winning candidate on both sides will be talking about.

[10:35:21] HARLOW: Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan, it's nice to have you on for the first time.

HOULAHAN: It's a pleasure to be here.

HARLOW: Come back. And, again, I'm just so sorry about what happened overnight in Philadelphia.

HOULAHAN: Thank you, I appreciate that very much --

HARLOW: Of course.

HOULAHAN: -- as does the community.

HARLOW: Of course. All right. So we do have new details this morning in the death of the

convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, including the broken bones his autopsy revealed. We'll have the latest on that investigation, next.


[10:40:18] HARLOW: This morning, representatives of Jeffrey Epstein are not disputing preliminary findings that the convicted sex trafficker committed suicide in a New York jail cell this weekend. This comes as "The Washington Post" is reporting his autopsy revealed multiple broken bones in his neck. Epstein's cause of death, still listed as "pending," but now all signs point to death by suicide. Brynn Gingras, following the case.

What more are you learning?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Poppy. Well, exactly like you said. Let's keep in mind that Jeffrey Epstein's representatives had their own pathologist sit in on the medical examiner's autopsy investigation. And that's what a source familiar with this matter told my colleague, Shimon Prokupecz, exactly what you said there.

That he, Dr. Michael Baden, doesn't sort of disagree with any of the preliminary findings, the fact that he likely died by suicide. But, again, this is just more information that we are getting, and more information that investigators are going to be looking at as they take a bigger picture of this investigation, which still has so many questions that need to be answered.

But I know you had Dr. Sanjay Gupta on with you, last half hour, and he provided some incredible context, as to what "The Washington Post" was reporting, which was the fact that preliminarily, they're being told by a source that Jeffrey Epstein had multiple broken bones in his neck, and also, in particular, the hyoid bone, which is a bone that is near the Adam's apple in men.

And, again, he gave great context. But I also talked to a forensic pathologist, Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky here, and he really echoed what Dr. Sanjay Gupta said, which is it's not very common to see the hyoid bone broken in suicides.

But it does happen, especially when the person is an older male, because bones do become more brittle, they are more fragile. He said, even in some cases, because that bone is so fragile, that they could see it in younger men as well.

So bottom line, it all points to the fact that this autopsy, it's not done. It's going to have to look at other factors, which the medical examiner said she is doing because it is still pending, which means they're going to have to look at the history of Jeffrey Epstein, they're going to have to look at video surveillance and make a final determination of exactly what was the cause and manner of Jeffrey Epstein's death. And that's what we are waiting for, as this investigation, of course,

Poppy, continues with investigators there at the jail, where Jeffrey Epstein was found dead, trying to get more answers to all these questions -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Brynn Gingras, thank you very much for that reporting.

[10:43:01] Several states are now reporting cases of severe breathing problems because of vaping and e-cigarettes. What does that really do to your lungs, to your body, to your brain? Dr. Sanjay Gupta, with us, next, on that.


HARLOW: The number of people who are vaping with e-cigarettes is rising rapidly, but so is the number of severe lung disease cases that may be related to it. Minnesota is just the latest to see new cases, but there could be dozens of similar ones in nearby Wisconsin and Illinois as well. Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is back with me, following the health implications here.

You know, Sanjay, we've been talking about this for years. What is happening to these people, how many cases, and are they sure that it's actually tied to vaping?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, it's interesting, it's a bit of a medical investigation, Poppy, these patients, primarily young patients, showing up at hospitals and they have these symptoms, you know? Shortness of breath, cough, fever.

TEXT: Symptoms of Lung Disease Linked to Vaping: shortness of breath; fever; cough; vomiting; diarrhea; headache; dizziness; chest pain

GUPTA: Most likely when you see that, you think, "Well, this is probably a pneumonia of some sort, some sort of infection." You treat it with antibiotics. In this case, these patients did not get better. Some of them got worse, needing to be in the ICU, medical teams asking, "What is tying all these patients together?" And what they find is that they all had some history of vaping recently.

So that's the association there, and it's a pretty strong association. That -- but it's still under (ph) investigation because they don't know exactly what it is that's causing this sort of lung damage.

You mentioned where these cases are happening, and there's probably a clue in here as well, as you look at the map, these states, pretty geographically clustered.

TEXT: Cases of Lung Disease After Vaping: Minnesota, four cases; Wisconsin, 12 cases, 13 more under investigation; Illinois, six cases, five more under investigation


GUPTA: Could this be the same product, potentially, that's affecting patients in all these states? Again, mostly young patients. Perhaps, and that's another area that investigators are going to look into. But it's unfolding, real-time, Poppy. We haven't seen this sort of thing before because of the more recent phenomenon of vaping.

HARLOW: Well, obviously, there's just so little done before it was widely available on the mass market --

GUPTA: That's right.

HARLOW: -- with all of these flavors at the beginning that attracted children, et cetera --

GUPTA: That's right.

HARLOW: What do we know about -- about where vaping could have caused this? What do we know --

[10:50:06] GUPTA: Yes.

HARLOW: -- in terms of the other details on that front?

GUPTA: So, here's the thing. You're talking about the vaping device itself --


GUPTA: -- which uses -- these e-liquids get heated up by a coil. Could the e-liquid itself, could that be causing these problems in the lung? Could that actually cause lung irritation? That's the sort of traditional sort of vaping. Could it be something with the vaporizer itself.

Or, as you probably know, Poppy, although I've been -- we're all learning about this. It's called "dabbing," if you actually put something like marijuana inside the vaporizer instead of the nicotine that it's --


GUPTA: -- traditionally designed for. So could it be the dabbing? Could it be something else entirely, a synthetic? Those are the big question marks right now. We do know there's a very strong association with vaping. But was it the device, was it the nicotine, was it something else entirely --

HARLOW: Right.

GUPTA: -- that's something that they're going to have to try and figure out as well.

HARLOW: And there's no -- there's no history here for us to look back at, right? In terms of -- this is a first for them, I suppose.

GUPTA: It really -- I mean, we reported last year, you may remember --


GUPTA: -- it was an isolated case at that point, an 18-year-old girl, mild asthma, that's it, otherwise healthy. Vapes, and develops a profound lung problem. She needs to get a breathing tube in, she needs to have tubes in her chest, very frightening situation. She recovers, ultimately.

But that -- you know, you started, we've started to have some indicators, as you pointed out, that there might be a concern here. Now, we're starting to see these clusters of cases. And, you know, if we start to see more clusters around the country, obviously, it's a bigger and growing problem.

HARLOW: Of course it is. I'm glad you're on it, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Thank you very, very much.

GUPTA: You got it, Poppy. Thank you.

HARLOW: There's a lot of other news going on today. Here's "What to Watch."

TEXT: What to Watch... 3:30 p.m. Eastern, Hearing for friend of Dayton shooter; 6:00 p.m. Eastern, Rep. Rashida Tlaib hosts Congress conversation; 7:00 p.m. Eastern, Trump re-election rally at SNHU in Manchester, NH


HARLOW: All right. Up next for us, from an online bookstore to a giant in online retail, Amazon turns 25 this summer. And its path to becoming one of the most powerful companies in the world is fascinating.

I sat down with top executives at the company, lawmakers and regulators for our upcoming special, "THE AGE OF AMAZON." A peek at that, next.


[10:57:01] HARLOW: All right. This just in to CNN, we have learned that the Israeli government will indeed ban two sitting members of Congress, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, from entering the country. They were scheduled to visit just a few days from now. Just this morning, the president said Israel would show great weakness by letting them in. We'll have more, coming up in the next hour.

All right. So this week, we heard Senator Bernie Sanders attack "The Washington Post" because it's owned by Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos. President Trump has done the same repeatedly, both unsubstantiated (ph) claims.

Well, this summer, Amazon turns 25. And it's been a remarkable transformation from a bookstore that Bezos started out of his garage, into one of the most powerful companies in the world. Now, the tech giant has also faced increasing scrutiny as it has grown. So we take a deep look at the rise of Amazon, for our CNN documentary

report. I sat down with Amazon's top executives, spoke to business leaders like Jamie Diamond and Warren Buffett, as well as the regulators and lawmakers investigating Amazon. Here's a look.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your claim to fame?

BEZOS: I'm the founder of

HARLOW (voice-over): What began as an online bookstore --

BEZOS: Millenia from now, people are going to look back and say, "Wow."

HARLOW (voice-over): -- has become a virtual empire.

JEFF WILKE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, AMAZON WORLDWIDE CONSUMER (?): Amazon, really, is arguably the most successful company in the history of business.

HARLOW: Wow, that's saying a lot.

BEZOS (?): This is the beginning of e-commerce.

HARLOW: You guys didn't even know if this thing was going to work.

WILKE (?): We had a pretty good instinct.

BEZOS: If you make the best service online, people will come.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is (ph) a company that wants to control the infrastructure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): As computers continue to get cheaper, we will layer innovation on top of that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's plausible that Amazon will know you better than you know yourself.


HARLOW (voice-over): It's in our homes --

HARLOW: Should people trust that it won't be used against them in some way that they don't authorize?


HARLOW (voice-over): -- at our fingertips --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amazon Web Services took over the web, basically in a decade.

HARLOW: Does having that much power give you pause?

ANDY JASSY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, AMAZON WEB SERVICES (?): That's a significant responsibility. We're aware of that.

HARLOW (voice-over): -- and now, it fuels our economy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amazon is America's second trillion-dollar company now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The company is now worth almost as much as the entire economy of Australia.

HARLOW: Is Amazon too big?

JASSY (?): I don't think Amazon's too big.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amazon has got to pay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they have monopoly power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amazon's become an invasive species.

HARLOW: Do you think that Amazon should be broken up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, a hundred percent.

HARLOW (voice-over): A journey --


HARLOW (voice-over): -- and a leader unlike any other.

BEZOS (?): This is Blue Moon.

[10:59:59] BEZOS: I ask people at Amazon to (ph) wake up every morning, afraid. Wake up terrified. Be afraid of our customers. Those are the people we have to pay attention to.

TEXT: CNN Special Report: "THE AGE OF AMAZON," tomorrow, 9:00 p.m. Eastern


HARLOW: You can watch the.