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Bahamas Faces Tropical Threat; CDC Narrows Investigation into Vaping; Felicity Huffman Sentenced Today; Liver Donor for Daughter. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired September 13, 2019 - 06:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A tropical storm is forecast to impact the islands tomorrow and it also poses a threat to Florida.

So CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has been tracking this storm.

What now, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Alisyn, really the hurricane hunters have been out there looking for a center and can't find anything significant yet. That's why this is not called Humberto yet. But I think it will be.

Certainly we have warm water out there. Not as warm as it could have been. I'll show you that map in a second. The circulation center is over the Bahamas now, but most of the convection is not around the center, so it's not getting stronger. That area there that I had circled, that's what got hit so very hard.

Now, there will be rain. There will be four inches of rain over that area that certainly doesn't need any rain because they don't even have roofs on their homes.

But this is the map that I wanted to show you. This is the anomaly of the water temperature. One, two or three degrees colder than normal because Dorian mixed it all up. So that's why these storms are going to have the slightly harder time than becoming that explosive development.

The U.S. model takes it over to Florida, but as a 30 mile per hour storm. The European model takes it out to sea, but as a much bigger storm. And then the Hurricane Center splits that right down the middle. Could be 50 or 60 miles per hour over the weekend for the Florida coast. We'll keep watching.

This is still very early in the process, John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Again, but even any rain on the Bahamas, not welcome at all and not needed.

MYERS: Exactly.

BERMAN: Chad Myers, great to have you with us. Thank you very much.

MYERS: Good to see you.

BERMAN: Hall of Fame horse trainer Bob Baffert disputing a report this morning that 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify should have been disqualified before the Kentucky Derby due to a failed drug test.

Coy Wire with the latest on that in the "Bleacher Report."



Last June, Justify became just the 13th horse to take home the Triple Crown. But a "New York Times" report says Justify failed a drug test after the Santa Anita Derby in California that should have disqualified him weeks before the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Bob Baffert claims trace amounts of the drug were found in test results undoubtedly because a naturally growing substance had contaminated the horse's feed. In a statement through his attorney he says, quote, I unequivocally reject any implication that scopolamine was ever intention administered to Justify or any of my horses.

He went on to say, Justify is one of the finest horses I've had the privilege of training and by any standard is one of the greatest of all time. I am proud to stand by his record, and my own.

The California Horse Racing Board told CNN the drug had been reclassified, meaning Baffert's team would only have received a fine for the positive test. But a racing official says Justify would still have been disqualified unless the board had presented evidence of environmental contamination. CNN has asked for that evidence.

The president of Churchill Downs and the Maryland Jockey Club, John, say that Justify passed the pre and post-race tests at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.


CAMEROTA: Sounds like we need more information, Coy. Thank you very much for giving us the update on that.

Meanwhile, here's an update. U.S. health officials say they have narrowed their focus into the vaping-related deaths of six people. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us next.



CAMEROTA: The CDC has narrowed its investigation into the vaping- linked lung disease that has killed at least six people in the U.S. There are also 380 confirmed and probable cases of people becoming very sick.

President Trump was asked by reporters about what he's told his own teenage son about this.


QUESTION: What exactly have you and the first lady told Barron about vaping?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We haven't told him anything except, don't vape! Don't vape! We don't like vaping. I don't like vaping.

QUESTION: Do you --


CAMEROTA: All right, joining us now is Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent.

So, Sanjay, obviously we talked about this yesterday. We talk about this a lot. What has changed today?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, obviously, the president talking about this, this message now coming out of the White House. For a while there it felt like maybe we were some of the only ones talking about this. But now, obviously, you're expecting, as a result of that meeting out of the White House, these changes to come out. This ban on flavorings of e-cigs. We're hearing that HHS is going to have a whole plan in terms of what they're going to do about this.

This has been an unregulated product. I mean you go out, you buy this with a credit card, you buy these -- these e-fluids and you don't really know what you're getting. And that's been the concern.

BERMAN: Sanjay, it's been fascinating to me to watch the varied responses that you're getting from the industry here because Juul -- and you've done a tremendous amount of coverage on Juul, which is one of the major makers if not the primary seller of vaping products -- says it supports the banning of flavored e-cigarettes. And there's an article in "The Wall Street Journal" today about the positioning they're taking there.

What's going on?

GUPTA: Well, I mean, I think the handwriting is on the wall very clearly. I mean what's going to happen now is that these companies, they can apply for approval to sell these flavored e-cig fluids. The issue, though, is that the -- you know, they've been told pretty clearly that they're not going to get that approval. So they're going to clear these flavorings away. And I think that, you know, Juul's already been told that. They'd already been made -- making progress, but they recognize that this is getting very serious and that there are people who are not sure that vaping in and of itself is safe. You're hearing that from the CDC. You're hearing that from the American Medical Association. Even if it does help adult smokers stop smoking, the idea that it may not be safe and that, you know, what, 27 percent of high school students are now vaping, that's -- that's the concern.

CAMEROTA: But, Sanjay, what has the CDC zeroed in on? I mean is it the vaping or is it these other additives that should never have been put in to begin with, the part that's killing people?


GUPTA: It does -- it does look -- you know, the evidence does seem that it's some sort of other product, specifically a THC-containing product. And even more specifically, this compound known as vitamin e acetate. Vitamin E, you can take that buy a pill, you can rub it on your skin, it's fine. But apparently when you vaporize it, that could become a problem. It could be causing this reaction inside the lungs, a type of pneumonia called lipoid pneumonia.

They don't know for sure yet, though, right? And, you know, they're starting to analyze these cases and there may be other things that come out. I think the question they have is, is there some sort of inherent challenge with vaping? It's still a relatively new technology. You're breaking down molecules and then those molecules are sort of re-congealing inside your body. We really don't know what that does to the body.

BERMAN: Sanjay, thank you so much for your continue coverage on this. I know we'll be talking to you again very soon.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

BERMAN: Just hours from now, a Hollywood star will be the first parent sentenced in the college admissions scandal. The big question, is Felicity Huffman headed to prison? Next.



CAMEROTA: We're learning more about that deadly Labor Day boat fire that killed 34 people off the coast of California. A preliminary report by the NTSB shows that the diving boat did not have a crew member on watch as is required overnight. The NTSB chief says interviews show the crew members were asleep when the fire broke out. A salvage team finally raised the burning remains of the Conception yesterday after a week of weather delays.

BERMAN: All right, in just a few hours, we will learn if actress Felicity Huffman will serve time. She will be the first parent sentenced in the nationwide college admissions scandal in Boston.

CNN's Brynn Gingras live with the latest.

The sentence coming down. Is she going to prison, Brynn?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's the big question. We'll find out, John.

When she pleaded guilty back in May, if you remember, she cried in court. She apologized. Well, since then, she's told a judge that she asks herself often, why did she do this? Why did she abandon her moral compass? So we may actually hear more about that when the sentencing comes down.

The judge is also going to be considering 27 letters that were written in Felicity Huffman's favor, one by her husband, actor William H. Macy, other family members, and even her co-star from "Desperate Housewives," Eva Longoria.


GINGRAS (voice over): Today, Felicity Huffman will have one more chance to ask a judge to spare her prison time. The award-winning actress admitting and apologizing for her involvement in the nationwide college admissions scandal. In a letter sent to the judge prior to today's sentencing, Huffman wrote, I have a deep and abiding shame over what I have done. Shame and regret that I will carry for the rest of my life.

Huffman admits to paying the mastermind of the scandal, Rick Singer, $15,000 to alter her oldest daughter's test scores. In that same memo, she explains how she worked with Singer legitimately for a year on her daughter's college application process before saying "yes" to the cheating scheme.

It's a decision she says has damaged her relationship with her daughter. Quote, when my daughter looked at me and asked with tears streaming down her face why didn't you believe in me, I could only say, I'm sorry, I was frightened and stupid.

The actress is the second person to be sentenced in the scandal that broke in March, resulting in the arrests of more than 50 people, including college coaches, administrators, and wealthy parents. More than a dozen of the parents struck plea deals with the federal government on a single fraud charge. In June, former Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer received no prison time for his role in the scheme after the judge in that case determined there were no victims since he didn't pocket any money exchanged.

The prosecution believes Huffman should spend a month behind bars and pay a $20,000 fine, setting a tone that the privileged aren't above the law. U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling wrote in a filing, quote, home confinement would be a penological joke, conjuring images of defendants padding around impressive homes waiting for the end of curfew; probation with community service is too lenient and too easily co-opted for its 'PR' value; and a fine is meaningless for defendants wealthy enough to commit this crime in the first place.

Huffman's attorneys are asking for one year probation, community service, a fine, and no prison time.

Today's sentencing may also have future implications on those who are fighting the charges, like actress Lori Loughlin, who is accused of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to get her two daughters admitted to USC as crew recruits.


GINGRAS: Now, before sentencing, the probation debate also sends in a report, and in this case, that report is favorable to Huffman, essentially saying there are no victims in her case. So we'll see how that also factors in to today's decision by the judge.


CAMEROTA: OK, Brynn, keep us posted. Thank you very much.

So there's a race against time this morning to save the daughter of someone you know from our show. The three-year-old's life depends on finding a liver donor.

CNN's Wajahat Ali shares his very personal story, next.



CAMEROTA: We have another story this morning that hits very close to home for us. Earlier this year, CNN contributor Wajahat Ali learned that his now three-year-old daughter, Nusayba, has stage four liver cancer. Two weeks ago they found a donor, but then elation turned to heartbreak. The surgery was scheduled for this week, but it was canceled because the surgeon found a complication at the last second with the donor. So now doctors are searching for another donor.

And Wajahat Ali joins me now.

I'm so sorry your family's going through this ordeal.

WAJAHAT ALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, thank you so much for at least giving this story some attention. And we're so lucky and blessed that the CNN family has decided to, you know, promote the fact that Nusayba, our warrior princess, is in search of a living donor. And the one good news I want to say is this, you know, the call came out this week. Jake Tapper was great, his team was great, that promoted it. John promoted it yesterday. And so many people from around the world have messaged me. I mean complete strangers who said, we're rooting for your little girl. We've signed up to be donors. We're hoping for the best. So, I mean, you know, in this political climate, this is -- you know, most people have the capacity for goodness and decency. And I just want people to kind of reflect on that for a moment.

CAMEROTA: I really appreciate that reminder. I mean I think that we all feel that way, that at the -- our lowest moments, humanity does surround us and lift us up. And it is so important to remember that. But there are so many highs and lows when you're going through a medical ordeal like this, particularly of a child. And so you have great hope that this week she had found a donor, and then what happened? What was the complication?

ALI: This anonymous donor, who had never met my daughter, who was an acquaintance of mine, out of state, said, I signed up. Her entire family was ready to go. And we found out at the last second the doctor said, I see a complication, it's too high risk, I have to cancel it. And it was a gut punch.


But, of course, you sit back with perspective and you say, you know, it's a long-term game, maybe there's a blessing in this, but you start from scratch. And Georgetown said, we need someone o blood type, 18 to 55. We're -- they still have the surgery scheduled for next week. So if anyone --

CAMEROTA: So they're confident that they will be able to find someone with "o" blood type, 18 to 55, by next week?

ALI: Yes, by next week. And the liver grows back. Like, you know, so that's definitely -- the beauty of this is, people don't realize that you can be a living donor. You can save people's lives. And specifically with the liver, if you're an adult, they take a piece of the liver, within four to six weeks, you're back on your feet, the liver grows back. But that small piece of liver that they take away saves the life of a baby.

We're hoping that someone steps up. They have a whole bunch of applicants. And they're -- they're going to tell us hopefully by next week.

And the thing is, with cancer, you know, cancer is a remorseless, relentless beast. It plays for all the marbles. It's an SOB. It's a disruptive son of a gun. And you're always on just a balancing, you know, like a -- like you just on a small, little line. You know, it's -- you have to compartmentalize life. And I have to have my phone on at all times because the call might come at any moment and --

CAMEROTA: I hope your ringer is turned on right now.

ALI: Yes, well, the ringer is turned off for you guys, but --

CAMEROTA: No, I want it on right now!

ALI: But, you know, we're hoping for the best because she -- you know, my daughter just turned three and it's stage four cancer. So she --

CAMEROTA: And how is -- just explain to us, how is she doing? What's her life like every day now?

ALI: She's just a -- I mean she's so brave. She's so bold. She's so sweet and kind.

She has an NG (ph) tube in her nose. She, you know, I shaved my head for her because she lost all of her hair. She had to go through the most intense, grueling eight chemos. She's responded really well. She loves her bobate (ph). She loves her dipping dots (ph). I push her on the slide.

But the reason why there's also an urgency is because if we don't do this by the end of next week, she has to do chemo again. And the chemo just batters a person. It fells like adults. So you can imagine my two-year-old daughter. And she's so brave, Alisyn, that I sit there and forget that this is a three-year-old baby.

And so we hope to do it by next week because if it doesn't happen and she does chemo again, that pushes it back next month. God knows what happens. So we're grateful, we're hopeful, we take it day by day, and with cancer, anyone who's been through cancer, every day has its new challenges. Every day has its unique victories. You take it day by day, step by step.

CAMEROTA: I know that you were heartened yesterday by Bakari Sellers' own story, one of our other contributors, about the ordeal that he just went through with his baby daughter who needed a transplant and it worked out with them.

ALI: Our brother, Bakari, I mean, that was amazing, the fact that his eight-month-old daughter, Sadie, got a liver transplant. And he says that Sadie has to become president. So I'm here to announce formally the ticket of Sadie and Nusayba for 2060, president and VP. May they outlive us all.

CAMEROTA: What do you want our viewers to do? How can they help?

ALI: First and foremost, every single person in this country should have affordable health care. I think it's a sin that people like me who are privileged enough to have health care through my wife, I at least have a chance. Everyone should have a chance.

Number two, if you are paying attention, think about being a living donor. I again want to stress that a small piece of your liver can save a life. People always think, oh, I'm a donor, and when I die, you know, I put it on my driver's license. You could be a living donor. You will recover in four to six weeks. The liver grows back. Try to give blood. You know, try to give marrow, plasma. And all of these small things help.

And if you can, please donate money to research and development. My daughter has a hepatoblastoma. It affects one percent of kids. One in 2 million shot. Several years ago, death sentence. But now they know that they can treat it and she has a shot.

CAMEROTA: If people are "o" blood type, where can they find more about your case?

ALI: I have pinned it on Twitter and it's one of the rare times that Twitter is the cesspool of humanity, the id (ph) of humanity has actually been used as a source of good. And, again, it's good to reflect on people's innate decency and kindness. A person says, I hate everything you say on Twitter, I hate everything you say on CNN, I hate all your politics, but let it be known, me and my mom are praying for you.

CAMEROTA: Miracles do happen.

ALI: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Wajahat Ali, thank you very much for your personal story.

ALI: Thank you guys so much. Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: And you can see that phone number, if people can write it down, 202-444-1360 to help.


ALI: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: NEW DAY continues right now.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A house divided cannot stand.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They do not have to buy in.

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You just said that. Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An honest, tough discussion on guns, criminal justice, and war. Those are the issues that people are trying to dance around.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We're not going to allow it to be used against fellow Americans anymore.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Costs are going to go up for wealthy individuals, but for hard-working families, costs are going to go down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw, really for the first time, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders a bit on the defensive.