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Trump Challengers Mad As GOP Cancels Primaries In Three States; Op-Ed: Belichick's Prominent Use Of Antonio Brown On Sunday Left No Doubt Where His Moral Compass Points; Report: Vapes May Be Spiked With Illegal Synthetic Pot; WNBA & Ladies Of Hope Ministries Work To Improve The Lives Of Women Who Were Incarcerated. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 16, 2019 - 14:30   ET




JOE WALSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's what Donald Trump is doing. He's literally cancelling elections. And it's very easy to be pissed off at Trump but we're used to this with Trump. He is a would- be dictator. He'd like this to be Russia.

I've got to tell you, I'm blown away in my disappointment with the Republican Party, who is in cahoots with this president.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Does he -- do they have a point? We should note that both parties have done this in year's past.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That was right. That's what I was going to say.

Yes, he has a point but it isn't unprecedented. Go back to 1992 when George H.W. Bush had a primary challenger, Pat Buchanan, the party also cancelled primaries to help the president. It's happened in both Democratic and Republicans administrations when their incumbent is part of their party.

Having said that, this is a president who ran on a rigged system and fixing a rigged system. So it's a bad look to cancel primaries if you say that you want an open and fair system, in general, that includes the party in which you are leading.

It is also true, Brooke, that going back to that 1992 example, Pat Buchanan, obviously did not win. But it is an example through history of a real challenger to an incumbent causing that incumbent to become a one-term president.

George H.W. Bush lost in 1992 to Bill Clinton. If you go back to Jimmy Carter, he had a challenger by the name of Ted Kennedy. And Jimmy Carter ended up losing to the Republican Ronald Reagan. So there's a history, a pattern when an incumbent gets an actual challenger, them not surviving in the general election. This is a president, though, who has almost unprecedented support

among the Republican base so it's hard to see any of these three challengers really getting ahead.

But getting back to my original point, if you're going to say you're fighting against a rigged system and you don't allow people to be on the ballot and voters to vote within your own party, it's hard to make that argument.

BALDWIN: Dana B., thank you very much.

BASH: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: In the biggest labor strike in a decade, negotiations are underway right now after nearly 50,000 auto workers walk off the job. We'll take you there.

And as Antonio Brown's accuser tells her story to the NFL, I'll talk to the columnist who says there's no right or wrong for the Patriots, only wins.



BALDWIN: The woman accusing NFL star, Antonio Brown, of rape and sexual assault is meeting with the NFL today. Britney Taylor made the accusations in a civil suit filed just a couple days ago.

Taylor has known Brown since college. She worked as a trainer for the seven-time all pro. Brown denies the allegations claiming the two had a consensual relationship.

Today's high-stakes meeting with the investigators at the NFL coming a day after the controversial player made his debut for the Super Bowl champions. Brown caught several passes, including a touchdown for the New England Patriots.

But his future with the team and really the league is now up in the air as the NFL is now getting the accuser's side of the story.

Nancy Armour is a sports columnist for "USA Today" and Nancy writes, quote, "Bill Belichick's prominent use of Antonio Brown on Sunday left no doubt where his moral compass points, straight up, by way of his middle finger."

Nancy Armour.

Does Belichick just not care?

NANCY ARMOUR, SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: He's trying to do whatever it takes to win. If that means playing a player that others would, you know, have some concerns about the optics, he doesn't really care. We've seen this throughout his career that he's willing to do whatever it takes in order to have the Patriots win. BALDWIN: There was a report out before Sunday's game that Bob Kraft,

the owner of the team said they wouldn't have signed Brown, had they known about the lawsuit. If you take Kraft at his word, why do you think he played? Why wasn't he benched?

ARMOUR: And that is the million-dollar question. But this is the Patriots trying to have it both ways.

You have Robert Kraft saying I wouldn't have signed him, then you have Bill Belichick not only playing him but making him a dominant part of the Patriots' yesterday. If he was such a concern, you didn't have to play him yesterday. You could have deactivated him or not played him or not gone to him. But this is the Patriots trying to have it both ways.

BALDWIN: What do you make of how much they played him and the big Tom Brady embrace in front of the cameras, you point out in your column. What do you make of that?

ARMOUR: I think this is a message sent this is the Patriots way, and Patriots way is doing it their way. It could be a fact they don't know how long they're going to have him so they are going to get the most use out of him as they can. It's two-fold.

BALDWIN: Last question, what do you know about the NFL's meeting with Britney Taylor?

ARMOUR: They're talking to her. She said she will cooperate.

One of things, because there are no criminal charges filed here, the NFL needs to see if there's a sense if the claims have merit. And the only way to do that is talk with her authenticating claims she made, text messages she had in her lawsuit.

The NFL really didn't have a choice but allow him to play this week. After meeting with her, it could be a different story.


BALDWIN: Nancy Armour, thank you very much. Good to have you on.

ARMOUR: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Up next, thousands of vaping cartridges spiked with illegal drugs. We'll talk to an investigative reporter who looked into the dark side of the CBD craze.



BALDWIN: The escalating vaping crisis creating health scares across the country has taken a new turn. The Associated Press tested all these vaping products and found many did not contain CBD oil but they were spiked with illegal synthetic marijuana. Authorities in Wisconsin last week arrested two brothers accused of

running an illegal vaping operation. Investigators are testing dozens of cartridges and jars of THC oil found in the brothers' home.

Those arrests come as federal health officials are trying to track down the exact source of lung illnesses linked to vaping that have killed six people and made hundreds more sick.

Holbrook Mohr is a reporter with Associated Press. He's part of this investigating team that conducted this testing.

Holbrook, thank you for being here.

First of all, why would someone want to do this, to spike, you know -- to do the spiking? Just to be malicious?

HOLBROOK MOHR, REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: The best we can tell they do it for economic reasons. Synthetic marijuana is man-made, it's much cheaper to make that in a basement or lab than it is to grow hemp and extract the CBD from it.

BALDWIN: So you guys did this whole investigation. What was your biggest takeaway?

MOHR: Well, the investigation started when authorities in Mississippi raided some case stations and vape shops and tested the CBD products in there and they found fentanyl.

So we began to wonder, how big a problem is this. So we surveyed the 50 states and found in nine states, CBD products had been tested, mostly vapes but also edibles like gummies and contained K-2 or spice.

So based on what we learned from the survey of the states and online discussions boards like Redditt in which people talked about buying synthetic products or what they suspected to be synthetic products, we went out and bought products, tested 30 total and 10 of them were found to contain synthetic marijuana.

BALDWIN: The ones that contained the synthetic marijuana, were they just off the street or from a legit dispensary?

MOHR: These were purchased from a convenience store in Florida, and a CBD supply store in Maryland and a CBD wholesale store in Los Angeles, as well as a convenience store in South Carolina.

BALDWIN: Wow. And the people behind spiked vapes leave few clues as to who makes them or what's inside. So how is someone to know if they're getting a good product?

MOHR: They don't know. If you don't do your research, you're not going to know.

One of the brands that we tested, we purchased seven from three different states, and four of those were spiked with synthetic marijuana. So even if you were to use the same brand, you might not know from location to location or time of purchase if it's safe or not.

BALDWIN: I know it's the FDA that's in charge of regulating CBD, but if some vapes have this -- the drugs, the synthetic marijuana in them, then it's the DEA. Why can't law enforcement get a handle on this?

MOHR: The DEA tells us they're fighting this unprecedented battle against opioids. You have thousands of people dying and they have to -- they have to set their priorities. And that's what it is. It's, you know, drugs like fentanyl, methamphetamine, those type of things.

BALDWIN: Holbrook Mohr, I appreciate you coming on and you guys doing this investigation. Thank you very much. It's frightening.

MOHR: I appreciate you having me. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Sure thing.

More on our breaking news this afternoon. The U.S. has assessed the attack on Saudi oil facilities, they're assessing that it came from within Iran now we wait to hear from the White House.


Plus, even before this confirmation, the president said the U.S. is "locked and loaded," but then the White House tries to backtrack by asking you to believe that up is down and left is right. New analysis, next.


BALDWIN: As the 2020 field narrow, nearly every Democratic candidate has released a plan to reform the criminal justice system. And it's one we heard most about at the most recent debate.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): We have a criminal justice system that is so bias we have more African-Americans under supervision today --


BOOKER: -- than all the slaves in 1850..

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): My plan is about making sure that in America's criminal justice system we de-incarcerate women and children, end solitary confinement and work on keeping families in intact.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you finish your term in prison, you should not only be able to vote but have access Pell grants, have access to housing, have access to be able to move along the way.


BIDEN: I've made out a detailed plan along those lines. (END VIDEO CLIP)


BALDWIN: I recently spoke to several amazing women who are working to improve the lives of women who have been incarcerated. WNBA has teamed up with an organization called Ladies of Hope Ministries. And its Founder, Topeka K. Sams, turned her own story of incarceration into action. Watch this.


BALDWIN: Topeka, tell me a bit about your story of incarceration and what you've tried to do to help on the other side.

TOPEKA K. SAMS, FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LADIES OF HOPE MINISTRIES: Right. For sure. Growing up in New York, born and raised in Long Island, two parent home, franchise business owners, had every opportunity in the world.

Decided to do to college in Baltimore and end up getting caught up. You get away from the sheltered life into a different life. And ended updating guys selling drugs, selling drugs myself, which eventually landed me in prison on a federal charge.

When I was there, even having visits every week, access to phone calls, being able to call friends and family and realizing most of the women there did not. And when they came home they wouldn't have resources to come home to.

The conditions of confinement were inhumane. People were getting beaten, raped, didn't have access to proper hygiene products. Children were being ripped away from their parents. Mothers are being kidnapped off the street for charges being criminalized for poverty and addiction.

God placed it on my heart to start the Ladies of Hope Ministries. And when I came home, I created an organization that helps to impact thousands of women across the country.

BALDWIN: I want to come back on what you're doing to help.

Tina, how -- like I know the WNBA has been powerful on social issues, Black Lives Matter, social injustice, gun violence. Why women and why mass incarceration? Why is this important to you?

TINA THOMPSON, WNBA BASKETBALL PLAYER: I think it's important not only to myself but my teammates. It's important we have the platform and we're able to advocate what we believe in and we're able to reflect that in our Unity Day.

And it's great to have Keia Clarke to back up and remind us when you take your jerseys off after those two hours in practice, in a game, you are an individual in society and we are impacted as well as African-American women. KEIA CLARKE, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, NEW YORK LIBERTY: I joke with

Topeka before we started today. She rattled off 10 or 15 things we could do. What are the action items that as an organization, as a team that could help the situation --


BALDWIN: Like what?

CLARKE: Going out in the schools and talking to the youth.

I was surprised by how many parents stood up during that event and talked about how they wanted their young daughters to hear these stories. They needed young women to understand where their lives could end up if they don't kind of listen to not just what their parents are saying but what others are saying who have been negatively impacted by situations like this.

BALDWIN: You talked about how it touched your heart and you are walking the walk now. How are you working to help women coming out on the other side?

SAMS: Our work is epic. We say ending poverty and incarceration of women and girls. Because of that, in order to end mass incarceration you have to end poverty.

The way you do that, you have to make sure people have their basic needs met. It's a human right to have sustainable housing, food in your stomach. So we created Hope House, a house for women and girls to live. We created The Angel Food Project, which is a partnership with whole foods, and other markets in the city.

And then in order to empower women to use their voice we created Faces of Women in Prison, where it's a speakers' bureau where we feel women should not just retell their stories without being paid. Here's another part where that's public speaking and that's a career someone can get into that will help to change legislation.

We do legislative advocacy. We correct women with jobs. We are partners with Caviar, Square, Instacart. We help women find jobs. We're hiring women who can go into these corporations and have jobs and not worry about what happened in their past but utilize all their skill sets to transition their life into something they can be proud of.

We're doing incredible work because we are moved from that lived experience.


BALDWIN: Thank you, ladies.

If you'd like to learn more about Ladies of Hope Ministries and how you can help, go to

[15:00:06] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.