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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

New Presidential Polls; Trump Administration Planning To Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes; Sources: NY Prosecutors Spoke To Michael Cohen In Recent Weeks; Patriots' Antonio Brown Accused Of Rape By Ex- Trainer; ProPublica: RNC Analytics Omitting How Voters Feel About Trump. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired September 11, 2019 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:30:00]

ALFONSO AGUILAR, FORMER CHIEF, U.S. OFFICE OF CITIZENSHIP: Even though the majority of Democratic voters are saying that the electability is the number one factor for them, if you look at the numbers, and you add Warren and Sanders' numbers, it's 35 percent.

They have 35 percent for the more leftist candidates who, from my perspective, are not very electable in a race against Donald Trump.

The thing that Hispanic voters, very interesting, Julian Castro is not top five. It shows that Hispanics are not going to support a candidate just because they're Hispanic, nor because they only talk about immigration.

They want to hear about other issues, health care, education, the economy. And Sanders and Biden are definitely talking about this.

WAJAHAT ALI, CONTRIBUTING OP-ED WRITER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": And that goes for all people of color.

(CROSSTALK)

AGUILAR: Yes.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yes, interesting.

What do you make? Do you still think Biden is the biggest threat to Trump?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, I'm struck, first of all, by how much bad news for Harris there is in this, because she's had some really high-profile good moments on the debate stage, which you would think would make her rise here and yet have not.

Warren obviously on the right trajectory. I think the concern, as you note, among black voters here for Warren or Sanders or anyone who wants to rise, is Barack Obama had this real watershed moment. He was very alluring candidate. And yet people thought, OK, well, he's untested. I'm not really sure. But there was a moment where people went, oh, my gosh, we can really

get there. I'm not sure I see a similar moment happening for a Warren or a Harris. It could. But how do you build that? It's a tough call.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The thing to point out, though, is that was actually a shift with black voters, right?

HAM: That's what I'm saying.

FINNEY: Black voters needed to see that he could win in Iowa among white voters. And I saw it with my own father, who didn't believe it until after that.

And that was a huge moment. So you're right. The question is, where's that moment going to come? And, again, perhaps it will come on a debate stage. And, again, it will come in this argument about who can stand up to Trump.

The other thing I would advise these candidates is, reframe what it is to take on Donald Trump in 2020 vs. 2016. It's not the same. We now have three years, almost four, right, of his presidency to prosecute a case against him, and between the lies, between his policies.

So make the argument and make your case, why are you the one that can get up on a stage against him and win?

TAPPER: And, Wajahat, an adviser to Biden tells CNN that Biden is expected at the debate tomorrow night to argue that Democrats choose a nominee that's able to offer -- quote -- "more than plans."

That seems to be a direct slap at Elizabeth Warren, who -- I have a plan for that, I have a plan for that.

How do you think that will go over?

ALI: Probably not so well, because people want plans. People are paying attention to health care. People are paying attention to immigration. People are paying attention to gun control. That's the number one issue, according to the latest polls, for them.

So you want to come out and have a plan. And that's what Elizabeth Warren has done. She has been very brilliant at communicating policy at a high level to average Americans.

She even went to West Virginia, red Trump country, won over some Trump voters taking on the opioid crisis and saying, I have a plan.

What Biden says in his posturing is this type of arrogance as, I'm just going to walk in on the coattails of Barack Hussein Obama. I'm Biden. You trust me. Give me the nomination.

And you're seeing that he's going to have to work for it, and he's going to have to earn it. But if you look at the shift, Warren's rising.

HAM: Well, I think they also don't know if you beat Trump with plans or if you beat him with rhetoric. That's an open question.

FINNEY: That's exactly right.

HAM: And I don't think anybody knows which way to go.

TAPPER: Which Democrat do you think is the most effective when it comes to rhetoric? I know you're a Trump supporter. But which Democratic do you see as like, ooh, that's a really good message?

AGUILAR: In the general election, it's certainly Joe Biden.

I think, in terms of the primary, I think Warren is doing a very good job. That's the point of the primary. You have to energize your base. You have to talk about ideas.

I think Biden looks pretty weak. It kind of reminds me of Jeb Bush three years ago. Just -- if the only argument you have in your favor is electability, you're coming across as a very weak candidate.

TAPPER: And we all remember Barack Obama was not electable, Donald Trump was not electable, and so on.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Thanks, everyone.

Six deaths and hundreds others suffering from mysterious illnesses related to vaping.

One teenager's near-death experience, as President Trump vows to take action -- next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:38:25]

TAPPER: Big news in our health lead.

The Trump administration is preparing to ban most flavored e- cigarettes, an announcement that the president made in the Oval Office today during a meeting on the growing vaping crisis in the United States.

The president seems to be focusing on the use of flavored e-cigarettes by children. And state and federal health officials try to also figure out what's behind six confirmed deaths and 450 reports of lung illnesses linked to vaping?

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has a story of one 16-year-old's whose vaping almost cost him his life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ADAM HERGENREDER, VAPING ILLNESS PATIENT: My lungs were that of a 7- year-old's. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Adam Hergenreder started vaping when he was 16. A year-and-a-half later, he landed in the intensive care unit, his doctor said, because of vaping.

A. HERGENREDER: I had the shivers, and I couldn't control it. So I would just randomly converge. And it was really scary. I knew it was my stroke, but it felt like that because I couldn't control myself.

COHEN: Initially, Adam thought it was the stomach flu. But after days of nausea and vomiting, he ended up at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Illinois.

POLLY HERGENREDER, MOTHER OF ADAM: To know that my son's lungs, 18 years old, healthy, an athlete, typical 18-year-old boy, to be laying in a bed and not being able to breathe, and it's every parent's nightmare.

COHEN: Adam first started vaping nicotine, and then went on to marijuana.

A. HERGENREDER: So I first started vaping just to fit in, because everyone else was doing it.

COHEN: By the time he got to the hospital, he was severely ill.

DR. STEPHEN AMESBURY, ADVOCATE CONDELL MEDICAL CENTER: If his mom had not brought him to the hospital within the next two to three days, his briefing could have worsened to the point that he could have died if he didn't seek medical care.

[16:40:05]

COHEN: Adam is one of more than 450 possible cases of vaping-related illnesses around the country, according to the CDC, but Adam is also one of the lucky ones.

There have been six deaths in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Oregon, and Kansas. And the biggest mystery? No one knows exactly what ingredients in e-cigarettes are causing the problems.

AMESBURY: You can see the hazy white opacity throughout his lungs on both sides. So, although we don't know for sure the exact nature of what's causing the opacity, it's assumed they're related to his vaping.

COHEN: Until they figure it out, public health officials say don't vape.

In a statement, the American Medical Association saying they urge the public to avoid the use of e-cigarette products. And Adam will continue to speak out, in hopes that others will learn from him.

A. HERGENREDER: If one person stops, hopefully, everyone else stops.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COHEN: While nearly all of these flavored vaping products will be banned, according to the Trump administration, companies like Juul will be able to apply to re-market them, to market them again.

Advocates against smoking say they really hope the answer to those applications will be no -- Jake.

TAPPER: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much.

The New England Patriots today dealing with a lot more than their next opponent. Their newest star is now facing rape allegations. And head coach Bill Belichick just talked about it.

Stay with us.

[16:45:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Breaking News now. Sources telling CNN that in recent weeks, prosecutors with the New York District Attorney's Office have interviewed Michael Cohen, President Trump's former fixer and personal attorney. The investigation is looking into whether the Trump Organization broke any state laws by falsifying business records.

CNN's Kara Scannell joins me now live with this exclusive reporting. Kara, what are you learning?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jake, that's right. So investigators with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office last month -- early last month went to Otisville, the federal prison camp where Michael Cohen is serving a three-year prison sentence and interviewed him there because they're investigating whether the Trump Organization violated any state laws relating to those hush-money payments to women.

One question that investigators are focusing on is whether the Trump Organization had falsified any business records which could violate the state law. So they went last month soon after they subpoenaed the Trump Organization and American media, the publisher of the National Enquirer, and interviewed Michael Cohen about this.

Now, Cohen is one of many people that these state investigators will want to interview. Their investigation is in the early stages. And it began after federal prosecutors had closed their investigation in July and that's the investigation that Michael Cohen had pleaded guilty to where he implicated the President and this hush money payment scheme and why he's serving this three-year prison sentence.

So this investigation again is in the early stages. A lawyer for the Trump Organization couldn't be reached for comment today but he previously called this a political hit job and it just shows that even as one investigation of surrounding the Trump and family in the Trump Organization comes to an end, that others continue to pop up. So there's a lot of legal issues still swirling around the president his business and his family, Jake. TAPPER: All right, Kara Scannell, thank you so much. I appreciate

that reporting. In our "SPORTS LEAD" today, one of the NFL's top wide receivers Antonio Brown is being sued in federal court for sexual assault and rape. His former trainer Britney Taylor is accusing him of multiple instances of sexual assault.

The shocking news coming right after Brown signed with the New England Patriots. CNN's Jason Carroll has a story for us. And we must warn you some of the details you are about to hear are rather graphic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL BELICHICK, GENERAL MANAGER, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: When we know more, we'll say more.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Embattled New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown showed up for practice today. His future with the Patriots uncertain after allegations he sexually assaulted and raped his former trainer.

Can you tell us at all what Antonio Brown has said to you?

BELICHICK: Yes, I mean, I'm done with that. Any other questions?

CARROLL: According to a civil lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court, Brown's former trainer Britney Taylor alleges he sexually assaulted her first in 2017 when she says he exposed himself to her and then forcibly kissed her. Then weeks later, she alleges Brown masturbated behind her while she watched a video at his home.

The suit goes on to say that in 2018, Brown pinned her down on a bed and as she struggled, he lifted her dress and told her you know you want this. Miss Taylor pleaded with him shouting no and stop but Brown refused and proceeded with great violence to penetrate her. The next day according to the suit Taylor tried to confront Brown. He replied, you make me feel like a real rapist.

Taylor releasing a statement saying in part, "Speaking out removes the shame that I have felt for the past year and places it on the person responsible for my rape. I will cooperate with the NFL and any other agencies." Today, Brown's agent denying the charges saying his client will be cleared.

DREW ROSENHAUS, AGENT OF ANTONIO BROWN: Antonio and I have been unfortunately anticipating this possibility.

CARROLL: Brown's attorney saying the two had a consensual relationship adding Brown will pursue all legal remedies to not only clear his name but to also protect other professional athletes against false accusations.

The civil lawsuit is coming at a tumultuous time for Brown. Just days ago, the Patriots signed Brown hours after the Oakland Raiders dropped him amid weeks of public drama between Brown and Raiders' management. Belichick refusing to say if his new wide receiver would play Sunday.

[16:50:21]

BELICHICK: We're taking it one day at a time just like we always do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: And Jake, that civil suit was filed in Florida, and the Miami-Dade District Attorney's Office has come out with a statement today basically saying they're going to be checking into other law enforcement agencies to see if they've been contacted about Brown. And if so, they say that they would be very interested in those reports. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Jason Carroll in Massachusetts, thanks so much. The unusual move by the Republican National Committee that could hurt Republicans running for Congress in 2020. That story is next.

[16:55:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to politics. Our new -- a new report in ProPublica details the very close connections between the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign. And one detail in this profile of Brad Parscale, the Trump Campaign Manager, that could be incredibly critical for Republicans facing re-election in 2020.

ProPublica reporting that the RNC is not going to provide data about how voters in certain congressional districts and state's view of President Trump. Data that used to be widely distributed but isn't now over concerns by the Trump campaign that those candidates could start to distance themselves from President Trump.

This afternoon the RNC confirmed to CNN the ProPublica report that they don't share that information calling it proprietary. President Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale called the ProPublica report stupid today on a call with reporters.

But let's talk about -- we don't have to talk about the part that has to do with Brad that he -- I think he found us stupid or at least unfortunate. It is interesting, Mary Katharine, that they are not going to let -- let's say you're a congressman running in a district that's marginal, and you want to know is Trump popular in my district or not. They're not going to let you know.

HAM: Yes. So there's a couple of issues in the story. One ethical where it's like -- it's sort of like oh, well, this is old swamp meet the new swamp, right?

TAPPER: Right.

HAM: It's a different kind of person that was brought in very unconventional for an unconventional campaign. Two, efficacy. He was very effective. And like that's the thing that -- one of the things I took away from this is that he does get a lot of credit.

And it may not be that he's a digital genius, but he did the thing he had to do which was marry the RNC to this slapdash Trump operation and did a thing that nobody thought could be done. So he deserves some money and some credit for that.

But then you get to this which is the opposite. They're not going to be married this time so you will not have the victories in a place like Ohio where the senator outperformed the president because he won't have the information that you should have to know how he should position himself or how he should appeal to voters.

So now you have the question of repetition. Can he do this again which I think is an open question, and will he transfer it to other GOP candidates? And the answer seems to be according to this, new.

TAPPER: What's better for the Republican Party, to share that information?

AGUILAR: This is basic political strategy. If you want to win elections, you need to know the facts. So if you want to win over the House, you want to know if Trump is popular in a congressional district.

It doesn't mean that the Republican candidate needs to blast Trump, criticized Trump, but it's good to have that information. At the end, it's going to help Trump. So for the life of me, I just don't understand it.

FINNEY: But for Trump, right, it's an -- it's an interesting insight into this is a part of the way they try to maintain control over Republicans and why we always keep talking about you know, Republicans being afraid of the Trump base. Also if you don't have the data, you don't know what you're up against.

TAPPER: But I mean, it's just common sense. And we saw Democrats do this when Obama was running for what was on the ticket in 2012. Some Democrats had to distance themselves from Barack Obama, say they disagreed with him, criticize him, not appear with him, not invite him. And Obama, I assume, well, you tell me, didn't care because he wanted to keep them in the House.

FINNEY: He wanted them to win.

ALI: Yes. And it's lateral thinking. In order to win, you have to destroy your own party. And so it's a call back to the first story, right? In order to placate Trump, the truth isn't truth and everything will be in service of Trump, truth, facts, the weather, maps, and even the Republican Party.

TAPPER: So, Waj, as long as we have you here, I do want to tell our viewers -- you may have noticed one of our panelists Wajahat Ali now has a shaved head. He did this because his three-year-old daughter Nusayba is battling stage four cancer. And Waj and his family are desperately searching for a liver donor, specifically one with O blood type.

And Waj, you and I have tweeted links where people can apply to become a donor to save your daughter's life. Jake Tapper might be easier to spell. J-A-K-E T-A-P-P-E-R. But you're on there too. And you have the information pin and I have the information pin on our Twitter accounts.

ALI: Yes, my three-year-old daughter Nusayba. We named here after a warrior princess. She's bravely enduring the struggle. Thanks to everyone, thanks to you, Jake, for taking the time out of your show. Thanks to everyone at the CNN family, the hosts, producers, the makeup stylists.

And I just want to say one final thing. We discuss politics, it's a heated time. But this people's outreach and people just messaging me, and people you know, trying to be donors, it just reveals most of us inherently are decent people wanting to do good. So it restores our faith in the collective humanity, and thanks to everyone for helping my family.

TAPPER: I saw a nice tweet from somebody saying would she be OK with a conservative liver?

ALI: Livers are bipartisan.

TAPPER: Livers are bipartisan. So best of luck and I hope somebody watching looks into this and agrees to donate. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @JAKETAPPER, tweet the show @THELEADCNN.