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EARLY START

White House Calls for a Ban on Nearly All Flavored E- Cigarettes; Democrats Prepare for Critical Third Debate; Did Boris Johnson Give a Bogus Excuse for Suspending Parliament? Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 12, 2019 - 04:00   ET

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


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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't allow people to get sick, and we can't have our youth be so affected.

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DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president vowing to get flavored e- cigarettes off the market to curb a growing epidemic among America's youth.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Ten Democrats, one stage. The third debate is tonight. We have what to watch for in Houston.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, restrictions to dramatically limit asylum seekers at the southern border can take effect. Thanks to a ruling from the Supreme Court.

ROMANS: And was there a cover-up at last year's Triple Crown? A bombshell report says Justify failed a drug test before winning horse racing's biggest prize.

And this, a tribute tonight in Lower Manhattan where Twin Towers once stood. Two columns of light to remember what happened 18 years ago here in Manhattan. A beautiful, beautiful, somber sight.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning. Good morning to all of you. I'm Dave Briggs. Thursday, September 12th, 4:00 a.m. on the East, 1:00 a.m. on the West Coast.

We start with the White House taking a big step to curb the widening vaping epidemic among young people. The Trump administration moving to ban flavored e-cigarettes with specifics expected in the coming weeks. Today's teens are smoking less tobacco, using fewer drugs and drinking less alcohol but vaping is a growing concern. Federal Health officials find that more a quarter, 28 percent, of all high school students use e-cigarettes. Staggering number, nearly doubled from 2017 to 2018.

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TRUMP: 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. We have to find out the extent of the problem. It's so new. It's so new. But we're going to find out.

ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: The kids are getting access to these products in spite of our best enforcement, at retail enforcement, at controlling locations, so we simply have to remove these attractive flavored products from the marketplace.

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ROMANS: The CDC says there have been six deaths and more than 450 vaping-related illnesses across the country. One of those is 18-year- old Adam Hergenreder. He vaped nicotine and marijuana. The habit nearly killed him. Now, doctors say he has the lungs of a 70-year- old.

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ADAM HERGENREDER, VAPING ILLNESS PATIENT: I had the shivers and it -- and I couldn't control it. So I would just randomly convulse and it was really scary. I knew it wasn't a stroke but it felt like that because I couldn't control myself.

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ROMANS: This week, the FDA warned leading e-cigarette making Juul against marketing its product as a safe alternative to smoking.

More now from senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave, Christine, the White House is calling for a ban on nearly all flavored e- cigarettes. These are the flavors that have started this epidemic among young people -- candy-like flavors, sweet flavors, fruity flavors, mint. That's what started kids vaping and the White House says that they want to stop this.

Some important notes here. Companies can still sell tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes. Some people have found that tobacco-flavored e- cigarettes helped them quit regular cigarettes. They say that it's been very useful. Another important note is that after this ban is in effect, companies such as Juul, which is, of course, the big player here, they can then apply to the FDA to start selling these exact same flavored e- cigarettes again.

Some people are concerned about this. Anti-smoking advocates say that they hope the Trump administration makes it clear that the answer to those applications will be no -- Dave, Christine.

BRIGGS: Elizabeth, thanks. On tap tonight, debate number three for the Democrats. And this time

around, it's a one-night event. Here are the 10 candidates who qualified. For many of them, it could be the final opportunity to break through. And for the first time we'll see Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, side-by-side on the same stage.

More now from Jeff Zeleny in Houston.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, the third Democratic presidential debate is tonight in Houston. Of course, in Miami, there were two debate nights. In Detroit, also two debate nights. But tonight, here in Houston, 10 Democratic candidates qualified for this debate. And it will mean for the first time, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren are on stage together.

They are, of course, the two leading candidates at the moment, Bernie Sanders, as well, in the thick of this race. And there are other -- seven other candidates who are trying to make their case that there's still time for them to jump into this race. We are going to see a lot of contrast between, of course, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.

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There are basically two lanes now, a progressive lane and a pragmatic lane. Joe Biden of course trying to make the argument about electability, that he is the strongest candidate to take on President Trump. But there's also a sign that Elizabeth Warren has been rising throughout the summer. So the Biden campaign has been telegraphing that he is going to essentially raise some questions about Senator Warren's plans. How can she pay for these plans, other things?

So look for Medical-for-All to be front and center in this debate. But also look for some of these other candidates who need to make a moment, try and have their say, as well. Senator Cory Booker, Senator Amy Klobuchar, also Mayor Pete Buttigieg, trying to show that he is indeed a top-tier candidate. But don't forget the rest of the candidates. They're trying to make their case, as well -- Dave and Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Jeff Zeleny, for us in Houston, thanks for that.

Breaking overnight, the Supreme Court clearing the way for the Trump administration to severely restrict asylum seekers at the Mexico border. The new rule dramatically limits the ability of Central Americans to claim asylum if they have not sought protection from another country on their way to the U.S. The move essentially bars people traveling through Mexico from claiming asylum. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader-Ginsburg dissented. The ACLU says it will continue to challenge the rule.

BRIGGS: President Trump is said to be considering Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a second full time job, replacing John Bolton as National Security adviser. It's not clear just how serious the president is about Pompeo serving dual roles. Sources say the country's top diplomat has given the president a list of other potential replacements for Bolton. The move is not without precedent. Henry Kissinger was already President Nixon's National Security adviser when he was appointed secretary of State back in 1973.

ROMANS: The House Judiciary Committee votes today to define the parameters of its impeachment investigation into President Trump. The resolution is expected to lay out the ground rules for potential impeachment hearings. It's a largely procedural vote but it does represent a step forward for the panel's impeachment investigation. 130 House Democrats are now calling for an impeachment inquiry. Senator -- or Speaker, rather, Nancy Pelosi is not quite there yet. But a fellow Democrat from California thinks he knows what she's up to.

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REP. HARLEY ROUDA (D-CA): There's an old adage about how to cook a frog, if you throw it in boiling water, it jumps out. But if you put it in lukewarm water and turn on the heat, it will swim around until it gets cooked. And my sense is, the speaker is cooking the president.

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ROMANS: Democratic aides on the Judiciary Committee tell CNN the goal is to decide on recommending Articles of Impeachment by the end of the year.

BRIGGS: Weeks after berating Baltimore as a rodent-infested mess, President Trump is heading there today for a House Republican retreat. The president's comments in July angered many in the city, especially this tweet about Congressman Elijah Cummings' district which includes much of Baltimore and some of its suburbs. Mr. Trump declaring, quote, "No human being would want to live there."

He also mocked a burglary attempt at Cummings' home. Cummings chairs the House Oversight Committee which is investigating the president on several fronts. Cummings tells CNN he hopes the president has a, quote, "pleasant visit."

ROMANS: All right. Eight minutes past the hour. President Trump renewed his attack on the Federal Reserve. The president demanding subzero interest rates in a booming economy. The Fed already cut rates for the first time since the Great Recession to help stave off the possibility of a recession. But many in Wall Street believe the Fed will cut rates again next week. Negative rates would be an extreme step. And they haven't worked for European and Japanese central banks. Critics of the idea say it hurts banks and it doesn't work, it doesn't stimulate growth.

Just last month, the president told reporters he didn't want to see negative rates. But now he's supporting these zero or negative rates and he's talking about this as a way to refinance the country's debt. That debt has ballooned under his administration because of tax cuts and huge amounts of spending. It's expected to hit $1 trillion -- the deficit rather -- next year.

Bringing negative rates for the U.S. would harm savers, in particular. Think about senior citizens who put their money in a bank and rely on the interest. We're talking about putting your money in the bank and you pay bank. Think of that. You pay the bank to hold the money. Really just a remarkable set of developments. Trump and his economic advisers say the economy is strong. Negative rates contradict that optimism.

BRIGGS: Wow.

A stunning report suggests 2018 Triple Crown winner, Justify, should have been disqualified for drug use. According to the "New York Times," Justify failed a drug test that would have made the horse ineligible for the Kentucky derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown. The "Times" reports the California Racing Board took more than a month to confirm the results. Then they decided in secret to drop the case and lighten the penalty for any horse with that banned performance enhancing substance. By the time it was all settled, Justify had become the 13th winner of the prestigious Triple Crown.

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His owners sold the breeding rights for $60 million. In a statement to CNN, the head of the California Horse Racing Board says, "We take seriously the integrity of horse racing in California and are committed to implementing the highest standards of safety and accountability for all horses, jockeys and participants." Says they'll have a further response today. But that sport right now is a mess.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: You know about the 30 horses that died at the very track where Justify failed that drug test. A lot of explaining to do.

ROMANS: All right. Ten minutes past the hour. Antonio Brown back on the field, following rape allegations. Now police are looking into whether this accusation is the only one.

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BRIGGS: All right. The latest now on Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown. Prosecutors in Miami-Dade County plan to reach out to other law enforcement agencies regarding sexual assault allegations against the star wide receiver. They want to know about any prior reports suggesting similar behavior. Antonio Brown's former trainer Britney Taylor accuses him of sexual assault and rape in a civil lawsuit. Brown through his attorney denies all the allegations and claims their relationship was consensual.

Meantime, Antonio Brown practiced Wednesday for the first time with his new team, the New England Patriots. The head coach, Bill Belichick, not willing to discuss his newest player's situation.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you tell us at all about what Antonio Brown has said to you?

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

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you explain what you mean by you're done with it? I mean, we're trying to find out if he said anything to you about his position and about the allegations.

BELICHICK: Yes. I just answered that question.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Well, actually you didn't.

BELICHICK: Actually, I did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Hmm. A source tells CNN Britney Taylor plans to meet with NFL officials next week as part of their investigation.

ROMANS: Purdue Pharma has reached a preliminary agreement to settle more than 2,000 lawsuits linked to the opioid crisis but some attorneys general are opposing this deal. They insist the fight is not over. The Sackler family owns Purdue. They are offering $3 billion, a portion of future revenue from drug sales and another $1.5 billion pending the sale of an international company.

Purdue makes the painkiller Oxycontin, the drug at the center of the opioid crisis. The Sackler family says it supports a global resolution that directs resources to patients, families and communities. There's been more incentive for Purdue to settle since Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $572 million in just Oklahoma for its role in the opioid crisis.

BRIGGS: Oklahoma legendary U.S. oilman T. Boone Pickens has died. Pickens rose to prominence in the 1980s as a so-called corporate raider, launching takeover bids for big oil companies including Gulf and Phillips Petroleum. He accused company executives of looking out only for themselves and ignoring rank-and-file shareholders.

Later in his career, Pickens championed renewable energy, including wind power, and was active in efforts to help the U.S. lessen its dependence on foreign oil. He officially retired last year due to poor health. T. Boone Pickens was 91.

I had many encounters with T. Boone Pickens.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: Who really built an Oklahoma state football program.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: Massive donations to that university.

ROMANS: I talked to him a lot about natural gas and he was -- he was one of these guys who was a disrupter before the disrupters of today. BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: You know, he was always somebody who was sort of changing the way you -- your conventional wisdom.

BRIGGS: Had a lot of impact.

ROMANS: About the economy.

All right. She was stripped of a swimming title because of how her swimsuit fit. Now, officials in Alaska are changing course.

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ROMANS: Did Boris Johnson like to the Queen to preserve his option for a no-deal Brexit? That accusation being floated by many after Scotland's highest court -- civil court ruled the prime minister's decision to suspend Parliament was illegal.

To explain that and the latest twist in the Brexit saga, we're joined by CNN's Max Foster, live in London.

Good morning.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christine. Yes, so you've had these cases brought to a couple of courts which basically claimed that Boris Johnson gave the wronged advice to the Queen when she suspended Parliament. We're in that suspension at the moment.

Now the top court in England and Wales found he didn't do anything wrong. But the Scottish court has claimed he has done something wrong here because he was only trying to stymie Parliament. There's an undemocratic rule in a related case as well this week in Northern Ireland. But because they've come up with different judgments, this is all going to end up at the Supreme Court next weekend. That will really have the final say.

And it's interesting today to see "The Daily Mirror" has actually come out and called it for what effectively many people are saying. That Boris Johnson lied to the Queen, which is obviously a pretty tricky spot to be in.

They're probably taking a leap too far at this point because partly because the judgement hasn't been made yet. But there's a difference, isn't there, between whether or not he misled the Queen or whether he misled the Queen deliberately. But what it will mean potentially is that if the Supreme Court finds against Boris Johnson and goes along the same lines as the Scottish court, that Parliament will have to be reopened next week, which is extraordinary again.

ROMANS: It's extraordinary every day, Max.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: It really is. All right. Thank you so much for that. We'll talk soon.

BRIGGS: A staggering 2500 people are now registered as unaccounted for in the first concrete estimate of the missing in the hurricane- ravaged Bahamas.

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But emergency officials in the Bahamas say it's important to note that the list has not yet been checked by government records of who is staying in shelters or who have been evacuated. They say once they cross-reference their data sets, they will be able inform family members and reunite Dorian survivors with loved ones.

ROMANS: Officials in Alaska are reversing a decision to disqualify a female high school swimmer because of the way her team-issued swimsuit fit. Breckynn Willis of Anchorage competed in four events last Friday. She won one heat but then a race official DQ'd her, disqualified her because her suit shifted and showed too much of her backside.

Now, there is a rule that a swimmer can be DQ'd for an improperly- fitting suit. The Anchorage School District lobbied to have the disqualification overturned, calling it heavy-handed and unnecessary, and it worked much to the delight of Breckynn's coach.

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LAUREN LANGFORD, SWIMMING COACH, WEST HIGH SCHOOL, ANCHORAGE, ALASKA: This is a huge victory. This is so much better than we thought. This is so much better.

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ROMANS: The Alaska School Activities Association says it overturned the disqualification because officials did not notify the coach about the issue before the race. The school district wants the rule eliminated altogether calling it ambiguous.

BRIGGS: The New York Mets commemorating the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center by wearing 9/11-themed cleats during last night's game against Arizona. They were paid for by rookie slugger Pete Alonso, who was 6 years old on America's darkest day. The Mets scored nine runs on 11 hits to beat the Diamondbacks 9-0. Alonso says he originally wanted everyone to wear 9/11-themed hats with first responder logos.

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PETE ALONSO, NEW YORK METS FIRST BASEMAN: Unfortunately, there's a lot of red tape with Major League Baseball and they kind of shot that idea down. And I think it's kind of sad that guys weren't allowed to -- I mean, since that day, that the first game back -- I mean, they kind of shut it down every single year since. I think that's really unfortunate so a way to kind of get around that was the cleats.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: That's not a good look for Major League Baseball but that is a fantastic gesture by a young slugger.

ROMANS: Yes.

All right, 27 minutes past the hour. More than a quarter of high school students are vaping. Flavored e-cigarettes are helping drive this epidemic. Now, the White House wants to put a stop to it.

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