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Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (D) Discusses Mass Shootings, Mitch McConnell Not Bringing Gun Bills On The Floor, Attending Senate Democratic Caucus; Special Election In North Carolina That Could Be 2020 Bellwether; As Deaths Rise, Major Medical Groups Say Stop Vaping; CNN Sits Down With Justice Neil Gorsuch In Rare Interview. Aired 2:30- 3p ET

Aired September 10, 2019 - 14:30   ET



NAN WHALEY, (D), MAYOR OF DAYTON, OHIO: How universal background checks are the most popular thing, I think, in any politics in the entire land with nine out of 10 Americans agreeing on background checks, and say, hey, get this done, get it off the table, because people in Dayton and people across country are hungry for something to be done.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Senate Democrats want it. But, again, you know, you have to reverse engineer this. They are waiting for Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell apparently waiting for a directive from President Trump. Do you have any clarity as to where the White House stands on any of these issues?

WHALEY: Unfortunately, I don't. The mayors did -- we did meet in the afternoon with White House leaders to discuss common-sense gun legislation. Frankly, they were all over the map, and weren't really interested in something very simple that the majority of Americans agree on, which is background checks.


BALDWIN: What did they say about background checks?

WHALEY: Not much. They didn't say, we won't do this. They listened to us as we talked about how important it was. They talked about a whole host of other issues as well.

This issue we don't disagree has lots of different facets, but the baseline is background checks. You can't really do red flag laws until you have background checks. It's the base of all other sorts of efforts to make sure we have real common-sense gun legislation that works.

BALDWIN: OK. Since standing in Dayton talking to you a couple weeks ago, I have since been in another town talking to another mayor who helped bury seven of their own in Odessa and Midlands, Texas.

My question, has the nation become resigned to the fact that this is America? And what would you say to those people who do feel that way. WHALEY: Well, I've talked to a lot of gun advocates that have come

since gun legislation, that have been working on this issue a very long time. Those new to it feel like it's very hashed and no illusions how difficult this will be. But for folks that have been working on this for a very long time, they say this feels different, that there's an exasperation by the American public that, that is a difference maker.

When you have the number-one item being sold is, you know, backpacks that are bullet-proof for your children, it changes the conversation about how it can happen anywhere, and that nobody is safe. That, I think, is the movement we're seeing hopefully something can

get done here in Washington.

BALDWIN: And then just lastly, Mayor Whaley, on I mentioned this a second ago, how yesterday the president awarded that Medal of Valor to the police officers. And it's my understanding that you were not invited and would like to have been invited.

Can you tell me, just set the record straight, what was shared with you and what was the story from the White House?

WHALEY: Well, we certainly are so proud of these officers and the great work they've done.

BALDWIN: Of course.

WHALEY: And so grateful they received this highest award they can receive from the United States.

Yes. So I was in town for D.C. doing this gun legislation. Told the White House we would be happy to attend. Certainly very, very proud of these officers, and our community. And we were told that our presence wasn't requested at that on Monday and that's fine as long as they --


BALDWIN: Told an explanation?

WHALEY: No. No explanation.

BALDWIN: Mayor of the town, all of those people died, and those officers heroes, and you weren't.

OK. Mayor Nan Whaley, keep pressing for answers.

Thank you very much --

WHALEY: Thank you.

BALDWIN: -- in Washington, D.C.

WHALEY: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: North Carolina special election could serve as a test for 2020. We'll talk about what to watch for this evening and what it might mean for the Trump campaign.

And we have just learned about a sixth death possibly related to vaping. Health officials in the U.S. are scrambling to figure out why.



BALDWIN: Right now, voters in North Carolina's ninth district are heading to polls in a high-stakes election seen as referendum on President Trump. Essentially a do-over of a 2018 House race voided after accusations of ballot fraud by a Republican operative.

This time, it's Democrat Dan McCready versus Republican Dan Bishop. President Trump won the district by 12 points back in 2016. With polls showing a close race and President Trump's approval ratings now at a new national poll, dipping to 38 percent, down six points since July, the president headed to North Carolina last night for a campaign rally in hopes of saving this ruby red seat.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The radical Democrats want to dismantle, demolish and destroy everything that you gained. And they will do it and it won't take that long.

Your way of life is under assault by these people.

And with your support tomorrow, we take the first steps to firing Speaker Pelosi and winning back the House in 2020.



BALDWIN: And CNN's Ryan Nobles is covering this critical election in North Carolina for us.

Set the stage for me and explain why this election may serve as a signal to 2020.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, this was already a historic election in North Carolina because they had never called for a do-over in a race like this before but has potential to be historic, again, depending how results go tonight.

As you mentioned, it's a ruby red state that voted President Trump by 12 points in the 2016 election and it hasn't been in anything but Republican hands since the '60s. Democrats feel they have a real opportunity here.


Dan McCready, the Democrat in the race has been running essentially for almost two years. He has nearly 100 percent name I.D. in the distract that starts where we are in Charlotte and down the southern border on South Carolina and ends up other side of the state. Predominantly rural district, a place where Donald Trump should run strong.

Many, both Republicans and Democrats, are wondering if Republicans aren't able to hold on to this seat, what does that tell them about voter enthusiasm, particularly Democratic voter enthusiasm as we head into the 2020 election.

Of course, keep in mind, Brooke, North Carolina is a state Democrats have won in the past in presidential elections. Barack Obama was able to win here. So Democrats feel that even if they're able to come close, even if McCready were to lose by one or two points, that potentially could be a good sign heading into the election in 2020 -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Just take a step back. Remind us how North Carolina got here and how what's happened reflected on the state Republican Party?

NOBLES: Yes. Brooke, I think a lot of people almost forgot about that at least from a national perspective about the huge scandal that took place in this district after the 2018 election.

I was here during the fallout of that race where there was a Republican operative who was accused of fraudulently obtaining absentee ballots on behalf of Republicans, Mark Harris, at that time. This led to an extensive investigation and ultimately concluded perhaps there were enough ballots involved in the race to tip the scales.

Dan McCready only lost by less than 1,000 votes and there are still definitely some wounds that Republicans are forced to cover's as a result of that.

Now, Harris decided not to run, decided for health reasons. They found a new candidate in Dan Bishop and hoping they'll be able to put that behind them.

But there are a lot of people with raw feelings from what the here less than a year ago and we could see it reflected here tonight.

BALDWIN: We'll have special coverage on CNN this evening.

Ryan Nobles, in Charlotte. Ryan, thank you very much.

Health officials are struggling to be solve a deadly mystery. Why are people who vape dying so quickly? New warnings as sixth death is reported in the United States.

And in a rare interview, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch talks to CNN about his time on the bench and what's happening behind the scenes.


[14:47:29] BALDWIN: A sixth person has died from a lung illness possibly linked to vaping. The latest incident is in Kansas, which joins five our states reporting at least one death that could be linked to vaping.

The CDC says at least 450 cases of severe lung illness across 33 states. Now the American Medical Association is urging people to stop using e-cigarettes immediately.

Elizabeth Cohen is our senior medical correspondent here at CNN.

Elizabeth, are health officials any closer to figuring out what is causing these folks to be so sick?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Brooke? They're not exactly sure and that sort of gets to the bakes of this issue. So many chemicals in e-cigarettes. They were put on the market, critics say, without fully tested. We're not really sure what's in there. And that really is part of the problem.

In addition, you have cigarette -- vaping cigarettes that have gone on the market, really on the black market, and we're really not sure what's in those.

There's one chemical, Brooke, that has come up as a particular kesh Kevin and that is, in New York, when they tested vaping devices they found vitamin-E acetate, an oil. You should not be inhaling an oil. That's at least one that we know might be causing problems.

BALDWIN: What more is the AMA, American Medical Association, saying?

COHEN: They're saying, don't vape, and also saying to the FDA it is time, high time, that we ban the use of these flavored e-cigarettes. These flavored, you inhale them and they taste like fruit or desserts or sweet things. And obviously appeal to children. The marketing appeals to children. And the AMA is saying, stop this.

So, you know, it's interesting, because Michigan recently became the first state to say, all right, we're banning flavored e-cigarettes. New York may go the same way. Be interesting to see if other states follow suit, or if the FDA maybe does it for the entire country.

BALDWIN: Every morning, you know, I wake up, reading on and there's more vaping-related story, sickness, you know, including today. Can you tell me about those?

COHEN: Yes. Today, three more possible cases of vaping-related illness. These are three young people all under 21 in Houston. All perfectly healthy. All of sudden, they feel horrible, horrible enough to be taken to the hospital. They were short of breath, even sitting around doing nothing. Looks like they're OK and released from the hospital.

But there's been plenty of our young people were perfectly healthy that ended up in the intensive care unit on ventilators breathing for them because they couldn't breathe on their own.

These are very dramatic and severe illnesses.


BALDWIN: All right. Elizabeth, thank you very much.

COHEN: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Coming up next here on CNN, are white supremacists hiding a fugitive couple facing murder charges? A new twist in this manhunt.

And more on our breaking news. Another abrupt exit from the White House. President Trump says he fired national security adviser, John Bolton. John Bolton, though, he has a different story.



BALDWIN: Authorities now believe a fugitive couple facing murder charges may be getting help from white supremacists. Blane and Susan Barksdale have been on the run since August when they overpowered guards in a transport van in Arizona.

This couple is charged with killing a Vietnam veteran in April. U.S. Marshals put Blane Barksdale on the 15 most-wanted fugitives list. And investigators say he is associated with Aryan Brotherhood gangs. Now suspect members of that white supremacist group could be assisting this couple.

In a rare interview, CNN sits down with Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. For the first time, we're hearing from the justice who is sending a clear message to anyone who might believe it's up to him or any other justice to fix politics.


NEIL GORSUCH, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I say this country is owned by we, the people. We wrote a Constitution. We've put down what we wanted to put in it. We can amend it when we wish. And it is not up to nine people to tell 330 million Americans how to live.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: But what if some of those people, for instance, in the same-sex marriage debate said, look, there were some states that were never going to allow same-sex marriage. We needed the court to step in.

GORSUCH: Well, I'd say to you, you can make arguments for any case you have, of any kind, about the original meaning of the Constitution. It is not a justice's job to do whatever he or she thinks would be good. Do you really want me to rule the country?

DE VOGUE: In your book, you address this and you say, "Under originalism, individuals don't have to worry about judges changing their rights willy-nilly."

GORSUCH: Exactly. If you want to change the Constitution, you can do it.

DE VOGUE: What is your response to people who say that takes time --

GORSUCH: I say --

DE VOGUE: -- that take as nation-wide consensus?

GORSUCH: I say get involved. This is supposed to be a republic of we, the people. You're supposed to be able to control your fate.

Is it supposed to be hard to make change? Of course it is. Do we want social consensus and the best ideas? Of course, we do. It is a raucous republic. And a battle of ideas is what our founders had in mind.


BALDWIN: That was CNN Supreme Court Reporter, Ariane De Vogue, with a big interview and Justice Gorsuch also responded directly to President Trump putting him on the spot.

What did he say?

DE VOGUE: You're right, it as a wide-ranging conversation. And I really pushed him on President Trump's attacks on judges, because you remember last fall Chief Justice John Roberts, he had to issue a rare statement defending the judiciary and to some of the president's attacks on Twitter.

And Neil Gorsuch talked very eloquently about the role of judges and the rule of law but declined to call the president out by name.

I also asked him about the president's -- some of the president's statements on the campaign trail. Take a listen.


GORSUCH: The rule of law in this country is strong, strong and stable. I'd say to anybody who questions what a wonderful inheritance we have in our courts and the rule of law in this country, go spend six weeks in a court in another country of your choice. Come back and tell me what you think about our courts.

DE VOGUE: I want to go back to the president, because he praised you during 2017 at a campaign rally. And he said something like, Neil Gorsuch, he'll save people's Second Amendment rights. But do comments like that, does that blur -- for the public, blur the lines between politics and the law?

GORSUCH: I'm not going to get involved in politics, or political campaign rallies. That's not my business. My business is to make sure that your rights, all of them, are enforced.


DE VOGUE: Interesting about this is the timing. He's written a new book, but all of this comes just on the eve of the next Supreme Court term, which starts in October, and it's a blockbuster term. The Supreme Court will look at LGBT rights, immigration, the Second Amendment, maybe even abortion and health care.

It's interesting to hear extensive thoughts about his judicial philosophy heading as they head into this big term -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: So rare to get that window into the mind of a Supreme Court justice.

I appreciate the interview. I'm sure we can find more clips on and we'll talk more starting in October.

Ariane, thank you very much for sharing that.

DE VOGUE: Thank you.


BALDWIN: We continue on. Hour two. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We're staying on this breaking news this afternoon. President Trump's National Security Adviser, John Bolton, is out.