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NFL STAR Antonio Brown Accused of Rape by Ex-Trainer; White House Sends Team of "Fact Finders" to Los Angeles on Homelessness; Boy Who Survived Dorian Returns to Hugs from Classmates; Trump Administration Planning to Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 11, 2019 - 14:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST; It is only week one and headlines for the NFL not so good. Star wide receiver, Antonio Brown, facing rape and sexual assault allegations after a federal lawsuit is filed in Florida late Tuesday.

Britney Taylor a woman who went to college with Brown. later worked as his trainer. alleges that Brown sexually assaulted her not once but twice, first in June of 2017 and raped her in May of 2018.

Brown's attorney says his client denies, quote, "each and every allegation in this lawsuit."

And his agent talked to ESPN just a short time ago.


DREW ROSENHAUS, AGENT FOR ANTONIO BROWN: Antonio and I both strongly believe that these allegations are very serious. In no way do we condone any type of illegal conduct, misbehavior. None of that happened here.


UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: OK. In light of all the turmoil surrounding Antonio Brown --

ROSENHAUS: I'll repeat this --



BALDWIN: Jason Carroll is CNN's national correspondent, and outside of the stadium there in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Jason, we know Brown just signed with the Pats after a drama-filled 48 hours. And we know Coach Bill Belichick talked about this earlier. What did he say?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He did. At first, we should point out, Brooke, Brown for his part, Antonio Brown, was actually out at practice today.

The Patriots are saying, look, taking this one day at a time. It's clear, at this point, that Brown's future with the team is uncertain. Simply because the Patriots again are waiting to see about this outcome of this investigation that the league is doing and they said they're taking these allegations very seriously.

But Bill Belichick, as you know, is a man of very little words and today no exception when we tried to press him more about these allegations his star wide receiver is facing.

Basically, here's what he had to say.

CARROLL: First of all, with Antonio Brown what has he said to you?

BILL BELICHICK, COACH, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: I'm done with that. OK? Anything else on Miami?


BELICHICK: Any other questions?

CARROLL: Can you explain being done with it? I'm trying to find out if he said anything to you about the allegations.

BELICHICK: I just answered that question.

CARROLL: I don't actually, you didn't.

BELICHICK: Actually, I did.



CARROLL: Let's talk about these serious allegations he's facing, Brooke. Britney Taylor saying that Antonio Brown sexually assaulted her in 2017. Raped her, allegedly, she said, in 2018.

She released a statement that says, in part, that she kept this to herself for a long period of time because she says of the shame she faced. She turned to her religion. She was finally able to come forward. She says, "Speaking out removes the shame I have felt for the past year, and places it on the person responsible for my rape."

Also you've heard from the Antonio Brown camp, and they are denying all of these allegations. Basically, you heard from his agent there who says this is a money grab. That's why he says this civil suit is being filed at this time.

We have a statement from Brown's attorney, which says, in part, "Mr. Brown denies each and every allegation in the lawsuit. He will pursue all legal remedies to not only clear his name but also protect other professional athletes against false accusations."

His attorney, Brooke, leaves open the possibility that he might countersue. So this might turn into a "he said/she said."

Meantime, you have Antonio Brown back out on the field but, again, his future with the Patriots very uncertain.

BALDWIN: All right. Jason, thank you very much, and for trying to get something out of Belichick there as well.

Antonio Brown's road to the Patriots hasn't exactly been the smoothest. Brown just signed with New England on Saturday after being released by the Oakland Raiders following what can only be described as a tumultuous off-season.

We even had to make a full screen fit it all in. Right? Helmet disputes, fines by the team, confrontations and aid apologies. What do they do now? Cut him, suspend him, cut him, or play him?

Nancy Armour is a sports columnist for "USA Today."

Nancy, you wrote an opinion piece, you called it, "Antonio Brown is becoming the worst thing to happen to the NFL's 100th season. Incredibly serious allegations not likely to go away soon."

What is the next move for the Patriots?

NANCY ARMOUR, SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: They're kind of a holding pattern, Brooke. There's not a lot they can do until the NFL investigation is complete.

One of the things I thought most telling, when Rosenhaus, his agent spoke today, already in touch with the NFLPA, players association, union. They would file a grievance if they suspend or Patriots try to cut Brown.

So I think he was trying to send a message that no action can be taken immediately, and nothing can be done unless there's an investigation already done.


BALDWIN: Do you think, do you have any idea, if the Steelers, the Raiders, the Pats knew anything about this ahead of time?

ARMOUR: That's a really good question. Rosenhaus was asked that and so was Bill Belichick. Neither would answer it, which given the -- you know, the history of both of these guys, whether it's Rosenhaus or Bill Belichick and the Patriots, they don't do anything without having a lot of forethought. I would be surprised that they didn't know about it.

Like I said, it was telling to me neither would answer that question.

BALDWIN: The league had big plans for the 100th season. Now Roger Goodell, the commissioner, needs to be ready to answer some of these tough questions. How is the league likely to respond?

ARMOUR: Well, they said they are going to investigate the allegations and the lawsuits, and when that is done, and Britney has said she would Cooperate with this investigation. So they can't do anything and won't do anything until that investigation is done which will be several weeks from now.

But anywhere Roger Goodell goes, anything, you know, any kind of display they try and make with the 100th anniversary this is hanging over them and not going away anytime soon.

BALDWIN: As it hangs and as they're investigating, Belichick just said that Brown is supposed to practice with the team. There's a game Sunday. Right? Against Miami. Does he play?

ARMOUR: That's a great question. I think unless the NFL comes out says they'll put him on the commissioner's exempt list, an option, I don't know they have any choice not to, any choice but to play him unless they would less him dress and just not use him.

But Bill Belichick has not really cared about propriety or image or anything like that in the past and I don't think he's going to change right now.

BALDWIN: Nancy Armour, thank you very much. Thank you.

This just into us here at CNN. Iconic oil man and energy executive, T. Boone Pickens, has died. A family spokesman says he was surrounded by friends and family and died of natural causes, according to the family spokesman.

Pickens is best known as an investor of oil and natural gas but gained fame for corporate raiding, making bids for Gulf Oil, Phillips Petroleum and Unocal.

And he made a name back in 2008 calling for a shift away from oil by increasing use of wind power and natural gas. Pickens is survived by five children and he was 91 years of age.

President Trump is planning a crackdown on homelessness, but the focus right now is just on California. A look at the situation on the streets as the White House team pays a visit.



BALDWIN: The Trump administration showing signs it may get involved in California's growing homeless crisis. The White House confirms it sent a team to Los Angeles on whether calling a fact-finding mission in the area of Skid Row.

The move comes in the midst ap long standing rocky relationship between Trump and Californian officials.

President criticized the state's homeless crisis in the past calling it, quote, "disgusting" and, quote, "a disgrace to the country."

CNN's Dan Simon joins us now from California. Dan, what are you hearing from local officials about this White House mission?

DAN SIMON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Brooke. First of all, what you see here on the streets behind me in San Francisco is a common sight, tents here in the middle of the sidewalk.

Brooke, I have to tell you, chronicling this homeless issue many months and we spent time with a person who's been documenting the issue, including images up on this Twitter feed.

What you see is disturbing. And he took us on a neighborhood tour. It's home to some of the biggest companies in the world.

Take a look.


ADAM MESNICK, RESTAURANT OWNER: What was once just a microcosm in a small area has spread tremendously.

SIMON (voice-over): We're on the streets of a San Francisco neighborhood called SOMA, short for south of market, home to tech giants lie Twitter, Uber, Google.

MESNICK: As we walk around, users are really everywhere.

SIMON: For a few years, Adam Mesnick, a local restaurant owner, has been documenting the city's homelessness problem.

SIMON (on camera): It doesn't feel like we're in America right now.

MESNICK: It's like third-world squalor.

SIMON (voice-over): His images depicted the grinding despair and sadness of a problem spiraling out of control not just in San Francisco but in California.


In Los Angeles, tents line entire city blocks. Numbers are staggering. Nearly 60,000 homeless in L.A. County. A 12 percent rise in just one year.

GAVIN NEWSOME, (D), CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: Everywhere I go, people are outraged. They're angry about what's happened or not happening on the streets. It's no longer a coastal issue. It is defining the state of California.

SIMON: No matter when locale, you hear about the same problems. Skyrocketing rents, not enough shelter beds or mental health services and rampant drug use, exacerbated by the nation's opioid addiction.

(on camera): Jessica, how many times a day would you say are you shooting up?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On a good day -- actually, no. On a good day, less times probably than on a bad day.

SIMON (voice-over): Back in San Francisco, these images shot directly next to one of the most well-known courthouses, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Fresh data revealing the homeless population spiked 30 percent since 2017.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This city has so much wealth. Yet, we see so much poverty and suffering and death on our streets. We have the means to be able to help people but don't have the political will.

SIMON: The San Francisco mayor, London Breed, elected last year, made tackling homelessness her signature issue. She's added more than 400 beds, helped 1,600 people exit homelessness, and cracked down on tent encampments. But resident, tourists and workers alike continue to see the problems daily.

LONDON BREED, (D), SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: You see it more because it's in areas where a lot of people walk, a lot of people catch public transportation. You see it more, because it's in the center of the city. It's downtown. It's in Union Plaza, in mid-market. You see it a lot more because it's right in your face.

SIMON: Indicative of the times, she's had to install a dedicated team to clean up human waste.

Adam Mesnick, who helps many people he encounters with food, a few bucks or just conversation, says he's embarrassed to have his out of town relatives come for a visit.

MESNICK: It's one thing on television, one thing in the movies. But this is real life. And real-life San Francisco, the streets are really, really tough. Really tough right now.


SIMON: And, Brooke, you asked how local leaders feel about what the president has been saying. I have to tell you, one issue in terms of defining the problem, they're in agreement, because everyone agrees the problems on the streets, it just simply is appalling and the problem is getting worse.

For every person they get into supportive housing, another three wind up on the street. A catch 22 and it feels like an unsolvable problem.

Everybody tells you it comes down to housing. It's just too expensive to live here. Get this. One median apartment, medians, $3,500 just to get a roof over your head. You haven't got a meal or any food or clothing.

It's just a terrible problem. So the price for real estate has to come down -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Yes, well, California talking about it, the White House should talk about it. And I'm glad you're talking about it.

Dan Simons, thank you so much for that story. Appreciate it. Back to more of our breaking news this afternoon. The president

making news on a variety of topics today, including what he plans to do about the vaping crisis in our country and what he really thinks of John Bolton.

Plus, one of the smallest survivors of Hurricane Dorian joins me with his mom. The story behind this precious preschool group hug and what it meant to a family dealing with disaster.



BALDWIN: In the wake of a natural disaster, it's hard to know what to say to the people who went through it, to console someone who lost everything, to ask them what they saw, what they experienced. Well, leave it to a group of preschoolers to show us how it's done.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mekhi, we miss you!



BALDWIN: I'm melting.

This is 3-year-old Mekhi Simmons, overcome with emotion as his classmates welcome him back to school after surviving Hurricane Dorian. He was visiting family in the Bahamas when the hurricane hit.

So little Mekhi and his mom, Takara, join me now.

And so, Takara, hi.


BALDWIN: Mekhi doesn't have an earpiece but tell him hi.

CAGEN (ph): Tell them, hi, Mekhi.


BALDWIN: Oh, my god. Cute quotient off the chain. I'm going to try to keep it together here.

But the hug moment. The hug moment. You were taking that video. What did that mean for you?

CAGEN (ph): That moment was a really special moment for me.

Hold on, Mekhi, they're talking to us. That was really special to me because you know the kids just came and

jumped up and came to Mekhi and they wanted to hug him and make him feel so supported.

After everything he went through, you know, as a mom, that really warmed my heart bought I'm like, this is my son and after knowing what he went through, such a traumatic experience. Those kids showing him so much love and emotion that really touched me. It touched my heart.


BALDWIN: And I don't know if Mekhi is still with us or moving and grooving to something else, obviously, way more --


CAGEN (ph): Come on. Come on.

BALDWIN: Can we try to pull him back up and do this on live TV. Can you just ask him, why, what they meant for him when his little friends were hugging him?

CAGEN (ph): Mekhi, come on. Sit in your chair.

They asked you, how did you feel when your friends hugged you? How did you feel?

SIMMONS: It felt good.

CAGEN (ph): Yes, it felt good. Come on. Oh, my gosh. Mekhi, the people are talking to you. Come on. See? Look. Remember they're speaking with you. Are you OK? You're good.


CAGEN (ph): What did your friends do when you came class.

SIMMONS: They hugged me.

CAGEN (ph): They hugged you up?

SIMMONS: They hugged me up.

CAGEN (ph): All of your friends.

BALDWIN: Well --

CAGEN (ph): That was good. Right?

BALDWIN: You grew up in the Bahamas. You go there as often as you can to see family. You were there Labor Day weekend thinking maybe a nice time and obviously Dorian hit and I know you lived through some storms before. Tell us --


CAGEN (ph): Correct. Yes, that's right.

BALDWIN: Thank you, Mekhi. I'm melting inside.

Can you just talk about -- surviving through this and how you managed to comfort Mekhi through such a terrifying or deal?

CAGEN (ph): Yes. Dorian was absolutely horrifying. A very terrifying storm. You know, as a mom, even as an adult it was really scary for me and I had my 3-year-old there, who's never seen anything so destructive as that storm. And I'm like, you know, I have to try and comfort him as a mom and because he's thinking that the storm is literally, like, a monster. That was the problem. He thought the storm was like a monster. I'm trying to hold him.

He's saying, mommy, I'm so scared. I'm keeping him under my arm and keep him near me. I never knew when I would have to get up and run with my child. I couldn't sleep well because I had no idea when Mekhi and I would have to evacuate. Really scary for me.

BALDWIN: I see what looks like a Batman T-shirt. That tells me he likes superheroes.

CAGEN (ph): Yes.

BALDWIN: It's my understanding --

CAGEN (ph): Loves superheroes.

BALDWIN: When it was happening, he had to put on a life vest. And it felt like.

CAGEN (ph): Yes. Put on a life vest.

BALDWIN: Tell me about that. He wanted to go help people?

CAGEN (ph): Yes. Mekhi loves superheroes, especially Spider-Man and put on a life vest. Right? You put on a life vest?

MEKHI: To save the children.

CAGEN (ph): To save the children. Right. He put on a life vest to save the children.

BALDWIN: To save the children.

CAGEN (ph): Yes. That's what he wanted to do. That his first thing. The first thing that came to his mind. He knew what happened. He knew what was going on. I spoke to him. Mekhi is a very smart kid and understood something terrible was going on and that people needed help. His first instinct, I have to be a superhero. I've got to save the children.

BALDWIN: I want to end with that.

And I'm so grateful to you and thank Mekhi. Obviously, there's way more important things happening in that studio than little me. I appreciate it. Glad you're OK. Glad you're family's OK, seriously.

Thank you very much.

CAGEN (ph): Thank you. Thank you.

Thank Mekhi.

CAGEN (ph): Yes. OK, bye.

Say bye, Mekhi, bye.

Thank you.


BALDWIN: We'll continue on. You are watching CNN. Top of the hour.

President Trump is making move togs curve what the first lady called the growing epidemic of teen vaping. Moments ago, the president said his administration will propose banning some flavored e-cigarettes.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Vaping has become a very big business, as I understand it, like a giant business in a very short period of time. But we can't allow people to get sick and we can't have our youth be so affected. But people are dying with vaping. So we're looking at it very closely.

And if nothing else, this is a conference that's going to let people know about it, because people are going to watch what we're saying and parents are going to be a lot tougher with respect to their children.


BALDWIN: There have been at least six deaths, and hundreds of cases of lung illnesses possibly linked to vaping. Several top medical groups are calling on people to stop using any and all e-cigarettes until the FDA can figure out why and how this outbreak is happening.

Elizabeth Cohen is our senior medical correspondent here at CNN.

Elizabeth, the White House says the FDA will put out guidelines for this proposed ban. What will the entail?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Basically, they said look, we're going to ban all flavored e-cigarettes, except for tobacco flavor. So the candy-ish and fruity flavors, those will be banned. It will take a couple of weeks maybe a little longer to put this in process but that what's going to happen.

There's another step in this that anti-tobacco advocates are a little concerned about. That is they made it clear, after they're taken off the market, companies like Juul can apply to put them back on the market.