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Trump Vows to Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes; Ten Democratic Candidates Qualify in Third Debate; Benny Gantz Tries to Take Down Bibi Netanyahu Once Again. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 12, 2019 - 04:30   ET





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.


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

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Ten Democrats, one stage. The third debate is tonight. We have what you need to watch for in Houston.

ROMANS: Breaking overnight, restrictions to dramatically limit asylum seekers at the southern border could take effect thanks to a ruling from the Supreme Court.

BRIGGS: And is 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.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 32 minutes past the hour here in New York.

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 coming weeks. Today's teens are smoking less tobacco. They're using fewer drugs. They're drinking less alcohol, oh, but vaping is the problem, a growing concern. Federal Health officials find that more a quarter, 28 percent, of all high school students use e-cigarettes. The number nearly doubled from 2017 to 2018.


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.

ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: So we simply have to remove these attractive flavored products from the marketplace.


BRIGGS: 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, excuse me. He vaped nicotine and marijuana. The habit nearly killed him. Now, doctors say he has lungs like a 70- year-old.


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.


BRIGGS: 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.

ROMANS: It's so interesting. The flavored products, the packaging looks like it's candy or something young and fun.


ROMANS: And then the idea that young people try the sweet-tasting candy-flavored kind, and that they'll be banned. But now they're hooked. They're hooked.


ROMANS: So they move on to the other.

BRIGGS: Look, it's a bold move. Applaud the president for this. The internet and late-night pointed out the hypocrisy here. The action on vaping, no action on gun violence. Here's Jimmy Kimmel.


JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE-NIGHT HOST: The people who vape are young people. So Trump now wants to ban them to protect children from being harmed or killed. And I think that's good. I'm fine with that. Hey, you know what else harms and kills children? Assault rifles do.


KIMMEL: Maybe if the NRA starts flavoring those, you'll ban them, too.


BRIGGS: You know, he's making jokes. But 38 people killed in mass shootings in the last month. So, such quick action on one and nothing on the other.

ROMANS: There's no first or Second Amendment right to smoking in this country, though.

All right. 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 will see Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren side-by-side on the same stage.

More now from CNN's Jeff Zeleny who's already 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. 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.

BRIGGS: Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

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.

ROMANS: A Florida jury has convicted a Chinese woman arrested earlier this year in a Mar-a-Lago security breach. Yujing Zhang was charged with trespassing in a restricted building and lying to federal officers about why she was there. A juror tells CNN that Zhang's decision to represent herself and then not put on a case hurt her. After lying to get into the president's private club, Zhang was found with a flash drive containing malware, a signal detector, other electronic devices and thousands of dollars in cash. She faces up to six years in prison when she is sentenced in November.

BRIGGS: A CNN exclusive now. Michael Cohen interviewed behind bars by prosecutors investigating the Trump organization. Trump's former personal attorney is serving a three-year sentence after pleading guilty to making hush money payments to two women before the 2016 election. Investigators with the New York D.A.'s office are exploring whether the president's real estate company falsified records in its description of its disbursements to Cohen. Mark Mukasey, attorney for the Trump Organization, was asked to comment about Cohen being questioned. He replied, "When you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas."

ROMANS: All right. An olive branch in the U.S.-China trade war. The president announced plans to push back a 5 percent tariff hike on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, pushing it back by two weeks. This is a goodwill gesture for China's 70th anniversary. It's a birthday present.


The same day China said they would waive tariffs on 16 U.S. products including shrimp, fish meal and cancer treatment drugs. I saw some of the relief on some Chinese tariffs but not for the politically sensitive categories like soybeans or meat. No relief for American farmers here.

Officials are casting Trump's announcement as a gift to President Xi who has been preparing for China's 70th anniversary for a long time. But after unrest in Hong Kong and the trade war there, there have been some questions about whether this major event would be dampened. Now Trump has signaled he's willing to make concessions that can allow Xi to save face politically and will likely look for something similar in return. Whether that can happen is not clear. U.S. and Chinese officials meet face-to-face in Washington next month for more trade talks.

BRIGGS: Is horse racing's biggest prize now tainted? 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 the banned performance enhancing substance.

By the time it was all settled, Justify had become the 13th winner of the prestigious Triple Crown and 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." It says they'll have a further response today. But problematic to say the least.

Bob Baffert, Hall of Fame trainer, was the trainer of this -- of Justify and the owners of the horse a royalty in the sport.

ROMANS: All right. Forty-one minutes past the hour. No shortage of politicians have tried to take down Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Is his latest challenger the man to do it? We've got that story from Jerusalem, next.



ROMANS: It is nothing new in Israel for a decorated military hero to go into politics. The latest to try his luck is Benny Gantz up against the expertise and guile of the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Can Gantz pull it off?

CNN's Oren Liebermann reports from Jerusalem.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His victory speech on election night in April came too early. But next Tuesday, Benny Gantz has a second chance to do what he couldn't do then, defeat Benjamin Netanyahu. At Gantz's campaign events, his supporters chant, "look who is coming, the next prime minister." After trying and failing to beat Netanyahu the first time, Gantz is vowing to pull out all the stops.

BENNY GANTZ, BLUE AND WHITE PARTY (through translator): We're continuing to work to approach the people. That's what is needed until the end and beyond.

LIEBERMANN: Even those who support Netanyahu realizes Gantz is, on paper anyway, a formidable challenger.

BELLA ALKALAI, LIKUD VOTER (through translator): I'm realistic. Even though I come from Bibi's camp and I will vote for Bibi, I see the political map and I know the center left will form the next government.

LIEBERMANN: But analysts say his campaign has lacked a message and argued Gantz often comes across as lackluster. Leaving some here wondering if he really wants it.

CHEMI SHALEV, HA'ARETZ POLITICAL ANALYST: There might be a secret in his very inept campaign, in the sense that it presents such a counter to Netanyahu.

LIEBERMANN: Gantz was a career soldier, rising to become Israel's 20th chief of staff. He led the military through two wars in Gaza, serving under the man who's now his rival. Netanyahu has painted Gantz as inexperienced, passive, incapable of running the country and handling world leaders. He says Gantz is a leftist who will form a government with the Arabs.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The choice is between a weak left-wing government, led by Gantz, or a strong right-wing government led by me.

LIEBERMANN: But in April, Gantz's Blue and White Party pulled in a million votes falling less than 15,000 votes short of Netanyahu's Likud Party. When Netanyahu couldn't form a government for the first time in the country's history, he called new elections, instead of giving Gantz the chance to lead the country. If Gantz wants that chance this time he's going to have to fight for it.

"Do you feel confident?" I asked.

GANTZ (through translator): I feel excellent.

LIEBERMANN: For a soldier who made it to the top, this may be the fight of his life.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.


ROMANS: We'll be right back.



ROMANS: A staggering 2500 people now registered as unaccounted for in the first concrete estimate of the missing in the hurricane-ravaged Bahamas. But emergency officials in the Bahamas say it's important to note the list has not yet been checked by government records of who is staying in shelters and who has been evacuated. They say once they cross-reference all these lists, they may be able inform family members and reunite Dorian survivors with loved ones.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, escaped husband-and-wife murder suspects, Blane and Susan Barksdale captured in Arizona. The couple overpowered guards and escaped in Utah while being extradited from upstate New York to Arizona last month. They're charged in the murder of a 72- year-old Arizona man whose body has not been found. His home was set on fire back in April. And investigators say they believe it was set to cover up the killing. More details on their capture in a news conference later today.

ROMANS: Uber and Lyft vowing to fight a new California law aimed at giving more protections to workers in the gig economy. The law is intended to reclassify hundreds of thousands of independent contractors as employees. That means they're entitled to a minimum wage, overtime, and other benefits. It's viewed as a serious threat to Uber and Lyft, which together are already losing billions of dollars a year.


Already, Uber is saying key parts of the new law don't apply to its drivers. Meantime, Lyft telling its drivers they may soon have to drive specific shifts in specific areas for only one platform.

BRIGGS: Democrats livid in North Carolina after state Republicans vote to override a budget veto while Democrats were at a September 11th remembrance event.


REP. DEB BUTLER (D-NC): You shall not do this to democracy in North Carolina, Mr. Speaker. How dare you subject this body to trickery, deceptive practices, hijacking the process?


BRIGGS: Democratic Governor Roy Cooper says Republicans called for a surprise vote while he and House members were honoring first responders. According to the "Raleigh News and Observer," the Democratic leader said the committee's Republican chair said there would be no votes. But Republican leaders deny giving any such assurance. The House is allowed to vote as long as 61 of the 120 members are present. There were 64 present Wednesday morning.

ROMANS: A New Jersey couple is suing a fertility clinic claiming the wrong sperm was used during an invitro procedure to conceive their daughter. It wasn't until two years after her birth that they discovered only one of them, the mother, was the child's biological parent. Both parents are Caucasian and their attorney says the little girl began developing Asian features. The suit seeks damages from the RWJBarnabas Health Institute for Reproductive Medicine. There's been no comment from the fertility clinic.

BRIGGS: This photo does not seem like a good idea. But two influential travel bloggers are defending it despite criticism for an Instagram post that some consider reckless and irresponsible. That's Kody Workman dangling Kelly Castille hundreds of feet in the air off a cliff in Peru. The couple previously came under fire in April for a similar picture in Bali. Their Peru post did get 14,000 likes along with many critical comments. Workman and Castille deny encouraging their followers to put themselves in danger.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Stocks around the world mostly higher as President Trump delayed some tariffs on Chinese good. Major markets in Hong Kong closed lower but everything else looks up. Paris is down but London and Frankfurt are higher here.

Now Wall Street futures are pointing slightly higher here. The president's olive branch after China waived import tariffs on more than a dozen U.S. goods starting next week but not -- but not on U.S. agriculture. That's really important. New this morning, a spokesperson for China said we welcome the goodwill gestures from the U.S. side. The Dow marked its sixth day of gains, the first winning streak since early June. The S&P and the Nasdaq closed higher, as well.

Another retailer is positioning itself for the gun violence debate. Grocery store chain Publix is telling its customers leave your guns at home in state where's open carry is legal. Walmart, Kroger, Walgreens, CVS, Wegman's, all of them saying the same thing. In a statement the chains say, "Publix respectfully requests that only law enforcement officials openly carry firearms in our stores."

Retailers are facing pressure from customers and employees to prevent gun violence especially after the shooting at a Walmart in El Paso killed 22.

All right, Groupon struggling on Wall Street and "The Wall Street Journal" reports it may be looking for a merger amid pressure from investors. People familiar with the company say Groupon is looking at the online review Web site Yelp. A merger could create an online marketplace where retailers could offer deals and customers could read reviews, make reservations or purchase goods or services. Groupon and Yelp declined to comment to "The Journal."

BRIGGS: Democratic debate number three on tap tonight in Houston. While you were sleeping, late-night hosts were doing their own debate prep.


SETH MEYERS, LATE-NIGHT HOST: The third Democratic primary debate is tomorrow night and I'm going to be gaffe-free this time, said Joe Biden naked from the waist down.

STEPHEN COLBERT, LATE-NIGHT HOST: We just found out that they will have no seven-second delay. So the DNC warned the candidates to refrain from swearing on the debate stage. Biden better watch his malarkeys and his Jiminy Christmases, although the swearing rule might be meant for another candidate. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, yes, this is (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You know the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) he's been saying. Members of the press, what the (EXPLETIVE DELETED)? But we do know this is (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up.


COLBERT: And if you think that's bad, you should see his new campaign slogan, Beto (EXPLETIVE DELETED) O'Rourke, (EXPLETIVE DELETED) leadership for a brighter (EXPLETIVE DELETED) future, ass (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


BRIGGS: That would be bold. Someone at some point breaks that rule in this debate stage.

ROMANS: We don't need a seven-second delay on our broadcast. You are -- you have the cleanest mouth ever.

BRIGGS: I keep it clean, my friend. Yes. I'm very clean.

Thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great rest of your day. You do have a very clean mouth, though. Me not so much.

ROMANS: I try.

BRIGGS: For our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.


TRUMP: We can't allow people to get sick, and we can't have our youth --