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Tropical Storm Warning Issued For Abaco And Grand Bahama Islands; New York Exposes $1 Billion In Wire Transfers By Sackler Family; Judge Sentences Actress Felicity Huffman To Two Weeks In Prison; NASCAR Shocks Gun Industry As It Blocks Some Firearm Ads; Former Trainer Accuses NFL Star Antonio Brown Of Rape; U.S. Vet Threatens To Kill Himself Over $139k Medical Debt; Twenty-Six-Year-Old Candidate Challenges 26-Year Incumbent; Thieves Steal Solid-Gold Toilet From Churchill's Birthplace. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired September 14, 2019 - 08:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actress Felicity Huffman reports to jail October 25th to serve a 14-day sentence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Essentially the judge saying this wasn't about college reputations being tarnished or the test-taking process being compromised. This was about privileged kids having a leg up on other college applicants.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A tropical storm is heading for the parts of the Bahamas ravaged by Dorian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the potential to stall the relief efforts that are ongoing across this area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people here have an incredible spirit, and for the ones who survived, they're not going to let this stop them.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Top of the hour now, good morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell.

AMARA WALKER, CNN HOST: And I'm Amara Walker. Thanks so much for being with us.

BLACKWELL: Right now in the Bahamas, we're bracing for a new tropical threat. Tropical Storm Humberto is approaching the northwestern Bahamas today. It will bring rain and wind to Abaco and Grand Bahama, areas that have seen so much devastation. Thousands of people are still missing and displaced by Hurricane Dorian.

WALKER: Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is tracking the storm from the CNN Weather Center. This is the last thing they need right now, Allison, what should they be preparing for?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Conditions that are going to deteriorate throughout the day as the storm does get closer to this region, you are going to start to notice those winds beginning to pick up -- 60 to 70-mile-per-hour wind gusts not out of the question. And a lot of those heavy rain bands starting to slide in too. The storm is moving northwest at just about 7 miles per hour. At some point in the next 24 hours it's going to take a sharp turn to the right, heading back away from the United States and over towards Bermuda.

The good news is, in the short term it's only expected to remain a tropical storm strength. We actually have Hurricane Dorian to thank in part for that because all of this water that was here that it churned up is now much colder than it normally would be limiting the current storm from being able to intensify as it moves through those much colder waters that are there.

Here's a look. We do still have tropical storm warnings in effect for portions of the Bahamas out there. You can see several of these islands right through here. This is the system and it's going to continue that trek to the northwest and there's a lot of those outer bands bringing very heavy rainfall to these areas.

But we're also watching on the other side of Florida too. This particular storm right here now being jumped up to a 30 percent chance of development over the next several days as it begins to head west towards Texas so we will keep a very close eye on that but Victor and Amara, it's mid-September so we've got even more storms in the Atlantic that we're also keeping an eye on over the next several days.

BLACKWELL: Peak of the season. Allison Chinchar. Thanks so much. Right now USAID is standing by in Abeco to help people still on those hard-hit islands. The agency handed out tarps and covered up structures damaged by Hurricane Dorian. Their teams will be waiting out this storm and have shelter supplies ready.

WALKER: But in the meantime, recovery efforts after Hurricane Dorian are on a hold while this new storm rolls through. CNN's Dianne Gallagher is in Nassau with more. And I know you've been mentioning this but the emotional toll that this has to take on the people there must be tremendous.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Really, it's triggering, it's traumatizing to have to be going through this, watching this storm path approach the exact same islands just two weeks later. While many of the people are sitting in shelters or if they've returned to what's left of their homes are now trying to board them up, put tarps over the damage that was left by Hurricane Dorian. Now, the government officials in the Bahamas have asked anybody who is in those structures to just go ahead and evacuate to shelters even those on Grand Bahama and Abaco Island.

Here's the thing, the aid workers are staying in those areas because they're hoping they can resume relief work immediately after the storm passes. In the meantime, they have search and rescue crews that are on standby, just in case things get worse than they are expecting there on those islands. There are still plenty of people who have stayed. Some people have even gone back. I was talking to our driver here Kendrick (ph) who told me that he knows people who evacuated here to Nassau and gone back to Abaco to their home because that's where they feel most comfortable right now.

It's difficult to be evacuated after surviving something like that and to watch this kind of bear down on those same areas. One man again, told me this was the cruelty of Mother Nature once again showing her face. So they're trying to grapple with that, while relief workers are trying to figure out sort of pattern how they're going to continue giving aid afterwards.


A lot of those supplies stuck here right now in the Nassau area until they can fly back to those islands. They're hoping that will be able to resume tomorrow. Again, though, those aid workers with USAID, some of the other organizations brought some additional supplies early anticipating this coming so they can get straight to work as soon as that storm passes, but Amara, Victor, the emotional toll is that long- term effect on the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama.

WALKER: That's so sad but we are wishing them the best. Dianne Gallagher, thank you for that.

BLACKWELL: The New York Attorney General has uncovered $1 billion in offshore wire transfers by the Sackler family. That family owns Purdue Pharma, the maker of oxycontin. And now the A.G.'s office is trying to determine how much money the Sacklers have stashed away and where that money is now.

WALKER: This discovery follows the company's multibillion dollar tentative deal to settle thousands of state and federal lawsuits for its role in the opioid epidemic. Polo Sandoval joining us now from New York with more. Polo.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amara and Victor, good morning. Yes, that timing is certainly interesting here. Keep in mind it was a few days ago that Purdue Pharma proposed that settlement between it and various cities, various states. Part of this ongoing legislation that alleges that the pharmaceutical companies, one of the driving factors here behind the nation's opioid epidemic and now this headline here, the New York State Attorney General releasing this new information suggesting that there was millions of dollars that was essentially attempted to conceal.

One such example here that I'll mention here for you is that Mortimer Sackler, he's a former board member of Purdue Pharma essentially transferred millions of dollars to various real estate companies here in New York that held multiple townhouses here. I'll read you directly what the attorney general is alleged because defendant Mortimer -- before we get to this response -- this is what the attorney general is actually saying, because defendant Mortimer placed these New York real estate holdings in the name of shell companies, their ownership would have been impossible to detect from publicly available records and without access to financial records. Another allegation is that Sackler attempted to transfer monies also

into Swiss bank accounts. Now to the response, Sackler simply saying this is not newsworthy that these were legal and he specifically writes, this is cynical attempt by a hostile A.G.'s office to generate defamatory headlines to try to torpedo a mutual beneficial settlement that is supposed - supported by so many other states and will result in billions of dollars going to communities. I should mention there is obviously - I do want to apologize for the interruption here in our studios in New York. But again, this is certainly significant here as the Sacklers continue with this litigation and of course the A.G. now trying to answer the question. How much money do they have and where it is.

BLACKWELL: Well, I thank you for your patience and cooperation through that test. Polo Sandoval for us there. You can never predict when it comes. They are important and we will accept that.

SANDOVAL: Saturday morning for you.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it is.

WALKER: You're such a pro though. He didn't skip a beat while that was blaring over the speakers.

BLACKWELL: Polo, thanks so much. All right get to the exists.

WALKER: Good job, Polo.

SANDOVAL: Thanks guys.

WALKER: Actress Felicity Huffman is going to prison for trying to buy her daughter's way into college. Her message to the judge before she was sentenced.

BLACKWELL: Plus, CNN is learning that the Justice Department and Congress, they're having a hard time coming to an agreement on gun background checks. So will the president pick a side? We'll discuss.

WALKER: Also, we could be nearing a major breakthrough for children living with a peanut allergy. What the FDA is recommending, ahead.



WALKER: Police in Seattle are looking for a male suspect after three people were shot overnight inside a train station. One person was killed.

BLACKWELL: Now police say this started as a fight in the street and then spilled into the downstairs lightrail station. The suspect ran off; he's still out there somewhere.

WALKER: Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Huffman is heading to prison next month. After a tearful apology, a Boston judge handed her a 14- day sentence for her part in the college admissions scandal, cheating scandal that has rocked the university system.

BLACKWELL: Huffman pleaded guilty to paying the scheme's ringleader to boost her daughter's SAT scores. CNN's Miguel Marquez has the story.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Felicity Huffman hand in hand with her husband actor William H. Macy entering a federal court house in Boston to learn her fate. Huffman addressing the court through tears, she apologized to the judge, her daughters, and husband, saying she's ashamed of her behavior recounting how one of her daughters told her, "I don't know who you are anymore, mom."

She also said she was driving her daughter to the testing center. She thought to herself, turn around, just turn around, and to my eternal shame she says, "I didn't." Huffman concluded by saying she takes full responsibility. Prosecutors wanted her to spend a month in prison. Her lawyers wanted probation for a year.

In sentencing Huffman to 14 days in prison and a $30,000 fine, the judge saying despite Huffman taking responsibility, the outrage isn't the harm to the colleges. The outrage is a system that is already so distorted by money and privilege in the first place. In May the "Desperate Housewives" star pleaded guilty to one count of fraud for paying $15,000 to Rick Singer who got her daughter extra time on a college entrance exam and bribed the administrator at the location where she took it.

In a three-page letter to the judge explaining herself, Huffman wrote, "In my desperation to be a good mother, I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot. I see the irony in that statement now because what I've done is the opposite of fair." Huffman is the first parent sentenced in a sprawling federal investigation into the college admissions cheating dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues." Dozens of wealthy prominent and connected parents, coaches and administrators have been charged in the scheme masterminded by Rick Singer.

His front charity Key Worldwide Foundation purported to help disadvantaged kids in the U.S. and abroad.


Singer, who is cooperating with investigators, has since confessed to taking tens of millions of dollars for helping kids of wealthy parents cheat on college entrance exams and bribing coaches to falsely designate students as athletes paving the way for their admissions.




MARQUEZ: Also caught up in the scandal, "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin whose two daughters were admitted to the University of Southern California as competitive rowers even though they never participated in the sport. Prosecutors say she and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli paid Singer $500,000 and even sent photos of both of their daughters on rowing machines to bolster their false claims. Loughlin and Giannulli have both pleaded not guilty to fraud and money laundering. The charges carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Huffman has been ordered to report to prison on October 25th. It's not clear where she will do that time. She asked for California. It's not clear that she'll get it. The judge at the end of the sentencing said she thought it was the right sentence. She said to Huffman, "You can rebuild your life from here on out. You have paid your dues." Miguel Marquez, CNN, New York.

BLACKWELL: So something new from NASCAR, they're ditching some advertisements from multiple gun -- rather, firearm companies. Will the overlap between NASCAR fans and gun owners impact the business?

WALKER: Also, things get highly emotional and intense at Senator Bernie Sanders town hall when a U.S. vet threatens to commit suicide.


BERNIE SANDERS, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How are you going to pay off --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't. I can't, I'm going to kill myself.

SANDERS: Hold it. Stop it. You're not going to kill yourself.




WALKER: New this morning, CNN is learning that efforts between the Justice Department and Congress to find any kind of consensus on background checks is nearly coming to a halt.

BLACKWELL: Sources say that Attorney General Bill Barr is signaling the hopes for the President Trump-backed gun bill are dimming. Let's go to CNN's Sarah Westwood outside the White House. Sarah, what have you learning about what's happening. You know we've heard the president say, that yes, I'm behind background checking and no, I need to focus on mental health behind the scenes, inside the White House. What do you hear?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Victor, CNN has learned that the Department of Justice, in high levels to Capitol Hill has indicated that President Trump is unlikely to support a package of expanded background checks. That's despite the fact that privately Attorney General Bill Barr has been pushing the president to support that proposal and Ivanka Trump. Also his voice - her - her opinion that the president should support that kind of proposal. Now Republicans on Capitol Hill, they are waiting for the president to send any kind of signal, provide any kind of clarity, about what he supports in terms of gun legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he won't bring anything to the floor that he didn't know the president will sign, so Republicans giving President Trump remarkable latitude to chart the course on this and he's still not offering a lot of clarity and despite the fact that Capitol Hill is receiving these messages that potentially the president not interested right now in background checks. He said earlier this week after a meeting with senior advisers that he'd made progress on background checks. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a big meeting today on guns and a lot of progress was made I believe on the background checks but we're always protecting our Second Amendment.


WESTWOOD: And meanwhile democratic presidential candidate, Beto O'Rourke is riling up conservatives with a comment he made at the primary debate this week in which he said that he would want to institute a mandatory buyback program for AK-47s and AR-15s which is a popular rifle in America so Republicans and Democrats saying that comment from Beto O'Rourke could make it more difficult to reach some kind of consensus on gun reform. That's what lawmakers been working towards for more than a month. Vice President Mike Pence didn't mention O'Rourke by name but he did respond to O'Rourke's comments at the GOP retreat in Baltimore yesterday. Take a listen.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When they weren't talking about higher taxes, they were talking about gun control. And not just gun control, you had leading candidates for the highest office in the land talking about taking firearms away from law-abiding citizens. Well, the American people deserve to know this president, this vice president, and these House Republicans will always stand for the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.


WESTWOOD: Now, the president has received advice from some of his aids not to support expanded background check proposals. They've showed the president polling that anything that could be perceived as gun control would not play well among the president's supporters. There's still a menu of options that the White House is considering.

President Trump was briefed on those this week. That includes alerting authorities when someone fails a background check, it includes red flag laws and mental health proposals but it seems that for nw the momentum behind this sweeping background check bill just isn't there, Amara and Victor.

BLACKWELL: Sarah Westwood for us at the White House. Thank you Sarah.

WALKER: All right, joining me now is Seung Min Kim, a CNN political analyst and White House reporter for "The Washington Post."

Good morning Seung Min. Let me just start broad here. Because I mean polls have shown consistently over and over that Americans overwhelmingly support background checks - expanded background checks - 9 out of 10 - 8 of 10 times. What is it going to take then for the White House or for Congress to reflect the will of the people?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The issue of gun control, the issue of expanded background checks has just been such a struggle on Capitol Hill for many, many years. A lot of experts I've talked to who've studied this issue say public opinion moves at a much faster clip when it comes to the issue of guns than it does on Capitol Hill. A lot of that is due to the makeup of the Senate. We had - we had the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 at the elementary school at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Remember, a couple months later, there was a major debate in the Senate on expanded background checks. It was actually controlled by Democrats. And extended background check bill still failed to advance in the Senate because you had a lot of Democrats or several Democrats who come from these red states, these rural states where a lot of their voters still - where gun access and gun rights are still very much important to them and while a broad - as you point out a broad majority - a way far majority of the American public do support expanded background checks, there are - the people who support Second Amendment rights are very passionate. They go out and vote.

They call their representatives in Congress and say do not support any sort of measure that restricts our gun rights and that's one of many reasons why it's been so difficult to advance in Washington for some time.

WALKER: Yes and they see those background checks as a slippery slope, right, for more restrictive gun laws. What's going on inside the White House right now with President Trump, right after the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, he vowed action on background checks. And now, it sounds like he's slowly backtracking on that, softening his position. What kind of advice is he getting from his inner circle? Obviously, there is a re-election hope from the president. Is this just bad politics?

KIM: So what we're reporting at the "Washington Post" is that the White House is actually trying to do a public rollout of some sort of package on reducing gun violence sometime next week. At the same time, the president still remains very conflicted and getting a lot of conflicting advice from both his inner circle at the White House and from his close allies and senators working on gun policy from Capitol Hill and that's kind of where the problem is right now because he has shown a public desire to show that he is doing something to expand - to get behind some sort of measure that will expand background checks for certain gun sales but there's a lot.

We have certain officials at the White House who aren't advocating for this option. You have a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill, particularly who hail from these rural western states where gun rights are very important saying this is not something that we particularly want to do.

But at the same time, the president has been speaking regularly with three key Senators, that's Senator Joe Manchins, a Democrat from West Virginia; Chris Murphy, Democrat from Connecticut and Pat Toomey who is a Republican from Pennsylvania. All three are very big advocates of expanded background checks.

They've had several phone calls with the president. They've gone over the nitty gritty of the current system. Their legislation, why this policy is good - a good policy, good politics in their view and they're trying to make their case that if the president gets behind some sort of expanded background checks bill, a lot of the party would go along with them.

But I will remind you that while a lot of the conversation does revolve - background checks legislation for now, like we said earlier, it did not pass or it did not advance in a Democratically-led Senate and at that time there were only four Republican senators who supported this type of legislation at all. Now the Senate is controlled by Republicans.


KIM: Senator - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, he really cares about hanging on to control, hanging on to GOP control of the Senate. And if it couldn't advance in a Democratic Senate, I don't see how it advances in a Republican Senate.

WALKER: Exactly. We'll leave it there. Seung Min Kim, appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: According to CNN affiliate WTEN, a judge in New York has utilized the state's new red flag law. This gives the court the power to temporarily remove firearms from a person's possession.

Well, WTEN says the judge took a pistol and several long guns from a man who was arrested last week. Police say shortly after his arraignment, he made a comment about harming himself. That's when authorities filed an extreme risk protection order and officials say his guns will be returned after one year.

Well, first it was Wal-Mart, then Walgreens, CVS and Kroger, now NASCAR is stunning the gun industry. The organization rejected advertisement from multiple gun companies earlier this summer.

WALKER: It is yet another example of corporate America taking a stance. Sending the American people and elected officials a message on guns in America. CNN's Sara Murray has more.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: NASCAR is shocking some gun companies, as it appears to reject some ads that were supposed to advertise certain firearms. Now, this is a kerfuffle that started happening a few months ago. There were a few gun companies that were approached by an advertising vendor, that said look, NASCAR would really like some ads from you, why don't you submit them? Well a couple months later, they heard from this advertising vendor

which said, "NASCAR is having a gradual shift on its gun approach. They don't want ads depicting assault-style rifles, things like AK- 47s, things like AR-15s but they're happy to take ads for less controversial accessories, maybe concealed carry classes.

Well this set the gun companies up in arms; they were livid. They said NASCAR is alienating their fan base. They pointed to the overlap between NASCAR fans as well as gun owners. And we've seen this trend of companies reevaluating their stance on whether they are willing to advertise guns


MURRAY: --whether they are willing to sell guns, how they want to partner with organizations like the NRA.

But things are still a little murky when it comes to NASCAR, in part, because they won't publicly clarify their position. The gun companies have pressed for more information about the gradual shift.

I have reached out to NASCAR multiple times to say what does this mean about your approach to Second Amendment issues, to your willingness to partner with firearms companies and so far NASCAR hasn't responded.

It is worth pointing out, though, that the NRA has taken notice of this story. They put up a blog post online, making it clear that they are none too pleased about what they see as a not so gradual shift. Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


BLACKWELL: One of the NFL's top wide receivers is being sued for alleged sexual assault and rape. But he's still getting ready to debut with the New England Patriots tomorrow. Should Antonio Brown be benched, as the NFL investigates these claims?

And is President Trump changing his tune on vaping? Last night he tweeted that he likes it as an alternative to smoking. But he still doesn't want his 13 year old son Barron to do it.


TRUMP: We haven't told him anything, expect don't vape. Don't vape. We don't like vaping. I don't like that vaping.




BLACKWELL: New England Patriots star receiver Antonio Brown appears to set to make his debut tomorrow with the team, despite being accused of rape and sexual assault. Brown is being sued by his former trainer Britney Taylor. Taylor says that Brown sexually assaulted her twice in June 2017 and raped her in May 2008. Brown denies the accusations.

Now the NFL is investigating the claims. Question, should the Patriots bench Brown in the meantime? Let's talk about that with CNN Sports Analyst Christine Brennan. She's also a sports columnist for "USA Today".

Christine good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: Let's start here with the title - the headline of your op- ed this week. "NFL must do the right thing and bench Antonio Brown." Why?

BRENNAN: I think it was a matter of optics. Obviously, the NFL didn't take my advice and that's OK. But the NFL controls, Victor, what it puts out on the field. It's not a court of law. It controls what the public sees.

And it absolutely had within its rights - Roger Goodell, the Commissioner, to put Antonio Brown on the Commissioner's exempt list. What is the Commissioner's exempt list? It's basically paid leave. You get paid and you get out of the way. You can just stash somebody there for the time being as you investigate.

The reason why I thought that was a good idea is that the NFL has been all about women over the last five years. Literally five years and a week since the Ray Rice punch - the elevator punch. And it was definitely a watershed moment for the league and the country and talking about domestic violence.

This isn't that. This is something different. But when the NFL talks about how important women are to the league. 45 percent of the fan base is women and girls according to the league. It just seemed to me the logical way to do this is to just put him there for the time being and start to look into this.

Obviously, the NFL has chosen another route. Here we are talking about it. Antonio Brown is going to overshadow the entire NFL weekend in my humble opinion.

BLACKWELL: And this exempt list was - post Ray Rice, when we saw that video, created to give the NFL a mechanism to get through this period from accusation to a decision. So then are they any better off now than they were five years ago?

BRENNAN: That's a great question. It certainly - it's - I will say it's doubtful. I do hear, Victor, from people in the NFL - really good wonderful leaders within the NFL, who let me know about things like domestic violence hotlines that the NFL is funding, about initiatives about - for women that the NFL is funding. So they're doing things. But this kind of moment overshadows that. And does it overshadow it forever? Probably not. But it certainly makes you wonder in question.

And when you've got the Patriots snapping up Antonio Brown after the ridiculousness going on with the Raiders, Patriot's, of course, you've got Roger - Robert Kraft who was involved with the allegations of soliciting prostitution just a few months ago.

And then spoke from - scene from the heart about wanting to make sure he did right by women and showed how much they care about women and how much he was going to pay attention to the issues that so involved MeToo and women. And then the Patriots, of course, sign the signed Brown so quickly. So there's a lot of mixed messages going on right now.

BLACKWELL: So this is a civil suit. There's - this is not a criminal investigation, there's no police report, there's no - already independent investigation that the NFL can lean on. So they're going to do their own investigation, interview Britney Taylor, interview Antonio Brown.

How well or maybe ill-equipped is the NFL for launching this type of investigation from start, from scratch without having that that criminal element - the criminal investigation to lean on?

BRENNAN: After the Ray Rice controversy of five years ago, Roger Goodell commissioned. of all people Robert Mueller, to look into that and same Robert Mueller who's been in the news for other things. And Mueller basically told the NFL that they had to conduct their own investigations.

So the NFL ramped up and geared up for that by hiring people - sex crimes people and others that know experts, who know what's going on, that's what they can do. It is true that it's only been a few days.

And when you don't have Britney Taylor available to speak this week, apparently next week she'll talk. She wants to help. And of course, keep in mind, she has put her name on this. This is not an anonymous lawsuit. This is someone who has actually attached their name to it.

So the NFL will investigate. And they do have the authority now to do that and they can they can - they've got the wherewithal to put that together.


BRENNAN: I think they will be able to get to some conclusion relatively quickly.


BRENNAN: My take, though is, in this the 100th season of the NFL do you want a Antonio Brown hijacking this weekend? And they had a mechanism to not do that, and just again, put him on that commissioner's exempt list--


BRENNAN: --with no guilt, just a paid leave situation. I think that shows that they obviously wanted to make sure that want to look into this.

BLACKWELL: Yes. BRENNAN: But they also have to be very careful.


BLACKWELL: It's also - it's up down to Coach Belichick to determine if he will play or not. Coach says that he will do what's best for the team. We'll see what that is tomorrow. Christine Brennan always good to have you on.

BRENNAN: Victor, thank you very much.

WALKER: New, young progressive candidates are posing challenges to longtime incumbents. Coming up, we're going to talk to a 26-year-old candidate - 26 - who's challenging a Congressman who's held office for 26 years - the same time he's been alive.


WALKER: Senator Bernie Sanders is wrapping up a two-day campaign swing through Nevada. Yesterday during a town hall the discussion turned very emotional and tense when a U.S. veteran told Sanders he was going to kill himself, because he can't pay off his medical debts.


"JOHN", U.S. VETERAN: Now, they're saying that I didn't resign or do something or--


SANDERS: How are you going to pay off--

"JOHN": I can't. I can't. I'm going to kill myself

SANDERS: Hold it, John. Stop it. You're not going to kill yourself.

"JOHN": I can't deal with this. I Huntington's disease. Do you know how hard it is? No, you probably don't, do you? I can't drive. I can barely take care of myself.

SANDERS: All right, let's talk later at the end of the meeting. OK?

"JOHN": Thank you.




WALKER: It's hard heartbreaking. Senator Sanders and his wife did talk to the distraught veteran one-on-one after that meeting and he told Sanders he owes about $140,000 in medical bills, but that his military insurance is no longer accepted.

BLACKWELL: The 2020 election is seeing a wave of candidates hoping to unseat longtime incumbents. My next guest Robert Emmons Jr. is running against Representative Bobby Ross of Chicago who has been in office for 26 years. He was elected the same year that Emmons was born.

Robert Emmons Jr., good morning to you.

ROBERT EMMONS JR. (D), ILLINOIS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Good morning. Thank you so much for having us, Amara and Victor. We really appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: All right. So let me ask you - first let me just say that public service is honorable. It's great that you want to serve your community and Congress. The first question, why? Why are you running?

EMMONS JR.: Absolutely. Well, first of all, I just want to let the viewers know that my name is Robert Emmons Jr. I'm a social innovator, non-profit leader and gun violence prevention advocate. I was raised in Mays Landing, New Jersey and I grew up on the south side of Chicago.

I'm running for U.S. Congress to make this the final generation to be faced with every day gun violence. And we need to address gun violence at his root causes. Like root causes like systemic poverty and not having access to health care, like we just heard, so that's why we're running for U.S. Congress for so many things.

BLACKWELL: So primarily you are a gun control or gun safety advocate. Congressman Rush voted for in the House passed the background check bill. He's a co-sponsor of the assault weapons ban bill, co-sponsored the bill to limit magazine capacity, introduced the licensing bill. He has a F-rating from the NRA. What - on the issue of gun safety what would you do that Congressman Rush is not already doing? Are there ideological differences?

EMMONS JR.: Thank you so much for that question. Our campaign is about ending everyday gun violence, gun violence that we experience in my hometown of Auburn Gresham.

So in order to actually end everyday gun violence we got to address it as root causes. Like I said, systemic poverty, access to - not having access to affordable health care and also environmental justice, environmental racism.

Right now the sitting incumbent Bobby Rush, he said the Green New Deal is a smashing grab that he's glad is out of his Committee on Energy and Commerce, while he's taking money from the fossil fuel industry and other corporate PACs.

We can't trust an incumbent to deliver on solutions of ending everyday gun violence at his new causes if you're taking money from the fossil fuel industry, while we in the first District of Illinois have some of the highest levels of asthma - and any other place in the country to deliver on these solutions. So that's one of the ideological differences between me and the incumbent.

BLACKWELL: All right-- EMMONS JR.: --We're thankful to be a part of the progressive wave of challenges that are fighting for the Green New Deal and Medicare-for- all and public access to education.

BLACKWELL: OK. Let me ask you about your - one of your priorities on your website quote, "Get AR-15s and other weapons of war off our streets."

EMMONS JR.: Absolutely.

BLACKWELL: That's on your website. Here's what former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke's said about the style of long gun during the debate on Thursday night. Let's watch and listen.


BETO O'ROURKE (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: --hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.


O'ROURKE: We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.



BLACKWELL: And this would be a mandatory buyback, essentially a paid confiscation. Do you support a confiscation of AR-15s to get them off the streets, as you say?

EMMONS JR.: I support the Second Amendment rights to bear arms with limits. But we also, as Americans, have responsibility to arm ourselves with forward thinking and comprehension and love and community for one - and looking out for one another. So I do support taking weapons of war off our streets and I also support ending senseless wars to begin with. We got to invest--

BLACKWELL: But let me ask you this specific - let me ask you this specific.

EMMONS JR.: Go for it. Absolutely.

BLACKWELL: --do you support the "hell yes", do you support confiscating weapons?

EMMONS JR.: I support banning weapons of war off our streets like AR- 15.

BLACKWELL: Yes, that's a different question, though. Specific question, a ban would essentially ban additional sales. Would you support policies to go to homes and take the guns?

EMMONS JR.: Absolutely. We need to take the weapons of war--

BLACKWELL: So that's a yes.

EMMONS JR.: --off our streets. Absolutely.

BLACKWELL: Last thing. You've done some work with the Obama Foundation. You are running for the Illinois first, then state senator ran in 2000 against Bobby Rush and lost by 30 points. Have you had this conversation with him about the experience of that race or did you take anything from that race. I know you were just - you were young back in 2000, but have you had the conversation?


EMMONS JR.: I have not had that conversation with the President. But I know as we go around the district talking about health care and gun violence prevention and access to education for every single person. That we stand on the shoulders of giants and that we aren't the first generation to talk about these policies and cultural shifts.

But I know that if we elect progressive challenges to Congress we will be the last generation to have to talk about these issues.

BLACKWELL: All right.

EMMONS JR.: That's why I'm excited to announce to you that we are endorsed in joining the slate of progressive challengers around the country by brand new Congress, the organization that nominated AOC to Congress. I can't wait to fight with her in Congress in 2021.

BLACKWELL: Thank you. Thank you, Robert Emmons Jr.

EMMONS JR.: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Good to have you this morning.

EMMONS JR.: Thank you it's good to have - thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: All right.

WALKER: All right. Coming up why the solid gold toilet is causing a big stink at the home of Britain's best known prime ministers. Gold toilet?


WALKER: Welcome back everyone. The FDA could be close to approving the first ever peanut allergy drug for children.

BLACKWELL: An Advisory Committee just approved the treatment Friday. Now the drug would reduce the severity and incidence of allergic reactions in children ages 4 to 17. The FDA will make its final decision in January.

WALKER: And a throne fit for a prime minister is now missing from its palatial home.

[08:55:00] BLACKWELL: Police in the U.K. are hunting thieves who stole this solid gold toilet from Winston Churchill's birthplace.


BLACKWELL: Fully functioning 18 karat gold toilet made by an Italian artist was on display at the Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

WALKER: Police say the offender's broke in overnight and tore out the toilet, causing significant damage and flooding.

BLACKWELL: We just learned that 66-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the thefts.

WALKER: I would feel awkward sitting on a gold throne doing your business.

BLACKWELL: I could get used to it.

WALKER: You'll get used to it.

BLACKWELL: Get used to it.

WALKER: I would rather wear pieces of that.

BLACKWELL: I just guessed - that's true. I just really want to learn more about this man who's been arrested. We'll learn.

Thanks for starting your morning with us. We're back here at 10:00 Eastern for "CNN NEWSROOM."

WALKER: "SMERCONISH" is up after a quick break.