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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Gun Safety Order; Brown Practices with Patriots; Doctors Help Baby Battle Rare Liver Condition. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 12, 2019 - 08:30   ET



GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Will do business with vendors who we trust and who we -- who share the same gun safety principles as we do. And there's enough latitude for us to be able to be able to do that.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And have you felt that you've had to do all of this because, frankly, the U.S. Senate won't take any action?

MURPHY: Yes, I mean, without question. The ultimate answer here is national, federal legislation. And, you know, we're sick of hoping and praying. And the statements from the administration or Leader McConnell ring more hollow by the day. So the fact of the matter is, states have to step up and pass a lot of legislation, which we've done a series of executive orders. We have formed a coalition of like- minded states called States for Gun Safety. We're doing all of that in the absence of any action in Washington.

CAMEROTA: Let's get to this letter that these 145 CEOs of some of the, you know, best known companies at the moment have just sent to the Senate. So this is from the CEOs of Airbnb, Twitter, Levi Strauss, Thrive Global, Bain Capital, and they sent this letter to Mitch McConnell, and -- as well as the whole Senate, I believe, and it says here, here's a portion, we urge the Senate to stand with the American public and take action on gun safety by passing a bill to require background checks on all gun sales and a strong red flag law that would allow courts to issue life-saving extreme risk protection orders.

What does it tell you that, you know, CEOs are having to step in where politicians haven't?

MURPHY: Again, I think -- first, it's a good sign. I think it's unfortunately, at the same time, a statement about the pathetic lack of any progress in Washington. You may -- you saw the business roundtable a couple of weeks ago change its sort of principles from shareholder only to the sort of broader sustainability stakeholder interests. I think this is another good example. That's where the world is headed. That's what we do in New Jersey. That's how we think about gun safety. That's how we think about the economy and society more broadly. And my guess is we'll see more of this particularly in the absence of activity -- any positive activity in Washington. CAMEROTA: This letter is also notable for some of the big CEOs that

didn't sign on. No Google. No FaceBook. No Apple. No Goldman Sachs. You have any idea why they wouldn't want to sign a letter like this?

MURPHY: I -- I have no insight. I haven't seen the letter. I have no insight. But I would just say, again, Alisyn, I think this notion of corporate responsibility broadening, particularly again, I can't emphasize this enough, in the absence of positive steps in Washington. How many more massacres, how many more day in and day out just drum beat of gun violence are we going to have to deal with and absorb as a society before it -- steps are taken constructively by this administration and by the Republican Senate? In New Jersey we're not waiting. We can't wait. We can't afford to wait.

CAMEROTA: You know, Governor, we only have a few seconds left, but does it feel to you as though something has shifted? This problem of gun violence and mass shootings has been so intractable it has felt for so long. You know, there's been this paralysis and this hopelessness. Does it feel to you like since this last spate of mass shootings that something has shifted?

MURPHY: It does, although we've had false (INAUDIBLE) before. I know it's shifted in New Jersey. I pray it has shifted in Washington. I'll believe it when I see it with the Republican Senate and this administration.

CAMEROTA: Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey, we really appreciate you explaining all of this to us. Thanks.

MURPHY: Thank you, Alisyn.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we're getting new details this morning about the rape allegations against NFL star Antonio Brown. Will the NFL take action before Sunday? Will he play on Sunday? That's next.



BERMAN: NFL star Antonio Brown took the practice field for the first time yesterday with his new team, the New England Patriots. A source tells CNN that Britney Taylor, his former personal trainer, who now accuses him of rape, will meet with the NFL next week.

Now, Brown denies the allegations against him. So what will the NFL do?

Joining us now to discuss, Laura Coats, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, and George Martin, former defensive end for the New York Giants and former president of the NFL Players Association.

Guys, I thought one of the biggest inflection points on this was going to be, would Brown practice yesterday? And he did. So, to me, it indicates he's going to play on Sunday.

So, George, my larger question to you is, what message does that send to the fans and to the country to have Antonio Brown on the field?

GEORGE MARTIN, FORMER DEFENSIVE END, NEW YORK GIANTS: Well, I think we'd be presumptuous to think that he's going to play on Sunday just because he practiced yesterday. I think we're still a ways from that. And if you know the NFL like I do, you know that they are very proactive in cases like this. They don't wait for the courts to go and make a declaration. They will move on their own given the strength of the evidence that's before them. So --

BERMAN: What do you think they should do?

MARTIN: I think that they're going to -- they're always protecting the shield. So I think they're going to play it safe and I think that they may suspend him on the suspicion of those allegations until they can get it cleared up.

BERMAN: Now, Laura, you look at this from a prosecutor's eyes and from a lawyer's eyes and you do note that there are differences in the case of Antonio Brown than past cases the NFL has dealt with. Namely, the allegations against him are part of a civil lawsuit.


BERMAN: There are no criminal charges filed. And as far as we know, and we've been talking to Florida authorities, there were no criminal complaints ever made.


COATES: Right. I mean it's hard to look at it as a prosecutor because there's no criminal prosecution here. And the reason that is important here is, remember, this was a civil suit, meaning that the actual remedy is going to be monetary damages. She said at least $75,000 damage. That's just a threshold to get into federal court, not what she's ultimately seeking.

But there's not going to be like a criminal trial as far as we know now where it's beyond a reasonable doubt standard. Why that's important here is because unlike previous cases, for example, maybe an Adrian Peterson, other cases that have involved a criminal case, either followed by a civil suit or anything else, this is not that scenario. The sequence of events is different. It began with the civil suit.

And you have a different discussion about, one, due process, whether or not you're going to have the opportunity to be heard, whether the league may in fact say, based on that alone, we're going to let it play out because it's not a criminal charge. And we all know, because he will be able to play, he's not automatically now on that exempt list.

Now, you're right, whether that will hold through the weekend is going to remain to be seen, but you think Robert Kraft is actually making a statement here by saying, you can practice, I've had my own run-ins with the law, this is that time.

MARTIN: No, I think that irrespective of the differences between whether there's evidence or not, I think that the league's integrity is at stake here. And I don't think that they're going to allow a situation like this to cloud what is generally believed to be a pretty pristine NFL. So I think that they're going to take some actions, pre- meditated, and I think that he will not be allowed to play until this is cleared up.

BERMAN: How long do you think the NFL should be willing to let that go on?

MARTIN: You know, John, I think, under normal circumstances, if you had a clean record and this was something that came out of, you know, it would be something different. Antonio's had a lot of skeletons emerging from his rather cabinous (ph) closet of late and so, you know, I think that they're going to take that under consideration also. And, you know, to use a golf phrase, I mean, he's had a lot of mulligans so far. And I -- they're not endless. So I think he's getting to a point where they're going to have to --

BERMAN: So George brings up a lot of cases here, Laura. It is interesting, there have been different run-ins with the law. All different planet, different universe than the allegations being made against him now and charges have never been filed on anything. And, number two, what's happened lately is that Antonio Brown has been a real pain in the neck on the football side.

COATES: Right.

BERMAN: I mean he basically got himself out of a contract with the Raiders by being a jerk.

But does that need to factor in to the overall decision here? Or is this just a separate issue?

COATES: It's separate in the sense that, remember, we're talking about, what, frost-bitten feet, about a helmet issue, that's nothing like a sexual assault allegation or a rape charge. That's going to be on the field antics and locker room discussions.

This feels different because of the NFL's push with domestic violence in part, about their staging in terms of social justice issues of late where they're really concerned with the platform being used and seen as you're talking about protecting the shield and the integrity. It's beyond the game. That's really the calculus for them, not comparing those off-field antics to what's happening now, but more like the notion of, here is the PR nightmare. If the allegations are true, it's more than a nightmare. It is criminal behavior.

But it's a PR nightmare in the sense that, how do you reconcile the NFL saying we're taking a very strong stance against domestic violence and we're not going to -- all pander to a player and then say, this is civil. It's sexual assault and rape. (INAUDIBLE) different standard of proof, we'll act differently. That's going to be a hard one.

But, again, there's not a criminal prosecution that we know of. It doesn't mean it's not in the future, but it's not here yet.

BERMAN: George, sometimes what you hear people say is, well, slippery slope -- it's a slippery slope argument.


BERMAN: If someone makes these allegations without, you know, definitive proof against somebody, are you just going to suspend everybody, because that's what that would be if he was on the exempt list.

MARTIN: Right.

BERMAN: What do you say to that type of argument?

MARTIN: Well, I think -- let's look at in two contexts, OK? Number one, we've taken a global look at it from the National Football League. Let's look at it at a micro level when we look at the Bill Belichick philosophy and the Patriots philosophy. I mean you are either part of the solution or you're part of the problem. Thus far, Antonio's proven that he is proverbially part of the problem.

So I think they're not going to risk their continuity, their momentum and their reputation on something like this. And I think they're going to err on the side of caution.

BERMAN: We will see. It's Thursday. The game is on Sunday. Once he practiced yesterday, I think that means he's going to be on the field, but we will see.

George, you know a lot more about this than I do.

Laura, great to have you with us.

COATES: You're going to question a New York Giant right now? A defensive end? OK.

BERMAN: That's a great point. All the Giants have ever done is beat me. So --

COATES: I didn't do it.

MARTIN: Thanks.

BERMAN: All right, here is what to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 10:45 a.m. ET, Pelosi speaks in Washington.

7:10 p.m. ET, Trump speaks in Baltimore.

8:00 p.m. ET, Democrats debate in Houston.



BERMAN: All right, a generous gift helps save a baby girl battling a rare lung condition. Our friend Bakari Sellers tells us his incredible, personal story, next.


BERMAN: We have a story that hits close to home this morning. Our friend, CNN commentator Bakari Sellers, has been going through what we calls the hardest year of his life. As he puts it, watching his daughter dying slowly every day.

Sadie, seen here with her twin brother Stokely, was born in January with a rare liver condition called biliary atresia. She needed a transplant and waited almost three months on the transplant list before finding a donor. But it happened. Less than two weeks ago she had the surgery and the eight-month-old is now on the road to recovery.

This morning, Bakari Seller joins us and Dr. Alisha Mavis, a pediatric liver transplant specialist at Duke Children's Hospital, joins us as well.


Thank you both so much for being with us.

Bakari, let's start with the good. Tell me how Sadie's doing this morning.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: She's doing well. She kept me up all last night. We're still at the Duke Hospital. She is coming back to life and showing us those glimmers in her eyes. We're just happy to be at Duke. We're happy to have the care that we got. We're just very thankful at this time. And we're very thankful to the donor's family who saved our daughter's life and many other lives as well. We have no idea who it is, but our prayers go out to that family as well.

So we're -- we're in a place of gratitude and thanks. And we're looking forward to see how we can help other families who are going through something very similar.

BERMAN: And, Bakari, I've watched you handling this over the last few months, and I've been blown away by your strength. Just explain how this has weighed on you and this donor process, what it's been like for you.

SELLERS: Well, Ellen is the strongest. My by far the strongest woman. But it's tough. Sadie is a strong girl. And we're just very thankful. And thankful for Jeff and everyone at CNN for -- and my law firm. And it's just been a community effort.

My hope is that other families, those 90 days were hell, to be honest with you. But my wife is extremely strong. And she raised a strong daughter. And so now we're just paving the way for Sadie to be the next president of the United States. That's all we're trying to do over here, John.

BERMAN: Look, Sadie's got a remarkable father as well as a remarkable mother. And she's lucky to have you, Bakari.

I know among the things that you tried as you waited three months is you tried to see if you could be a donor, if you were a match. And all the blood and everything worked out, but it couldn't work. Why?

SELLERS: I was a little too big and Dr. Mavis here kept telling me, she kept saying that I was -- I would ask every appointment. She was like, Bakari, what do you want us to do, just push it in there. I mean you're a little -- you're a little too big, Bakari. She was getting bigger and we were getting hopeful. But, you know, that's the process. But I told Dr. Mavis and everyone over here at Duke that I was going to stay on the list because I want to make sure that I can be -- God blessed me with an opportunity to be a living donor. And I don't want to let that go to waste. So that's something that we'll do. And when Sadie's on the road, when she's recovered from this surgery, I'll be there.

BERMAN: Dr. Mavis, 120,000 people waiting for an organ transplant right now. There is so much need out there. So what's the message you want to send?

DR. ALISHA MAVIS, PEDIATRIC LIVER TRANSPLANT SPECIALIST, DUKE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: I mean, the message really is that everyone needs to be enrolled as an organ donor and everyone needs to tell their family members that they want to be an organ donor because it comes down to the family after they pass. And so we have so many patients waiting.

The other opportunity is, we can do living donors. So we gladly accept altruistic, living donors to where someone calls our program and says, I would like to be worked up as a donor for someone I don't know and may never know, but I would glad -- be glad to donate. And we have some patients -- or some donors that do that here at Duke and we are truly grateful and appreciative of them. But we would love to have more.

BERMAN: I think it's an important point. You can be a living donor. Because as Bakari has told me, it grows back. It grows back. You can donate part of your liver and it all works out.


BERMAN: Bakari, you've had tremendous help from the Duke Medical Center and Dr. Mavis. Science has been with you every step of the way. But I know I think you also got help beyond that. Your father-in-law, Ellen's father, Dr. Rucker passed away the very same day, within the very same time period that this organ became available. Talk to me about that.

SELLERS: Well, the words don't really encompass everything that we've been through. But Dr. Mavis actually called my wife that day as she was going through the hardest day of her life and we have an awesome transplant coordinator, Morgan, and she's become like a part of our family as well. Everybody here is now a part of the Sellers family, whether or not they want to be or not. And Dr. Mavis, I think, was taken aback by the blessing. I don't think -- she knows the blessing she was bestowing upon us, but at that moment, I can honestly say, she was probably unaware that she was picking up the phone at one of our darkest moments and bringing us so much light.

BERMAN: Hey, Bakari, we have another friend, Wajahat Ali, a CNN commentator, whose daughter is battling stage four cancer and needs a liver transplant and had one fall through. So, please, if you're watching and you have, you know, type 0 blood, there are a hundred ways to go on and find out how you -- how you can reach all of them. But what's your advice on Waj, Bakari, on how to deal with this process?


SELLERS: Well, I know Waj is at Georgetown. So right now we're just focused on everyone who has that type blood, I believe it's o, to reach out to Georgetown Medical Center. You know, bombard their phone lines. It's nothing like going through this process. And Dr. Mavis did an awesome job of giving us hope every time we left the office. And sometimes me and my wife would be asking ourselves that question, when was hope going to run out? And I know Waj is thinking that same thing.

So just be extremely strong from you -- for your family. Be extremely strong for your children. And it's -- it's -- this is -- there's nothing like not being able to help your child. And so that's why we -- we're fortunate enough to be at Duke University in their liver transplant center. Waj is at a great transplant center at Georgetown. And so I would encourage everyone watching to reach out to both Duke and Georgetown and call the lines and see what you can do to help save a life.

BERMAN: Bakari, thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

Dr. Mavis, thank you on behalf of Bakari's large family for everything you've done to help him and for the work that you do.

And to everyone else out there, get on the donor list. We can all be part of this. We can all help people like Bakari and Waj, who are in such need right now.

And give Sadie a hug for us, Bakari. Appreciate it.

SELLERS: Thank you.

MAVIS: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, we are following a lot of news today. There is a big Democratic debate. There's a key vote on investigating the president. CNN is all over it. Stay with us.