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Tangled Web of Trump Officials in Whistleblower Fallout; What Strategy Can We Expect from White House on Impeachment; Trump Speaks to Press at White House; Health Officials Speak Out on Missing Warning Signs in Vaping Epidemic. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 30, 2019 - 14:30   ET



CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Atkinson then alerts Congress that this exists. And that's how we got to where we are.

A lot of these other players -- Bolton is gone but could be the key. John Bolton removed by Trump as ambassador to the United Nations has already said some things, particularly with North Korea, that he disagreed with what Trump and his administration's policy is. Bolton could be a guy who knows a lot and could be someone who wind up testifying on all this.

Mulvaney, we reported on a little bit of shaky ground in this White House.

Pompeo still the favorite son of Donald Trump. Figuratively, not literally.

A lot of these people are familiar. But I say Volker is someone you should keep an eye on. He's going to testify this week. He was the special envoy to the Ukraine. He allegedly helped Giuliani set up some of these meeting with Ukrainians as part of this pressure campaign.

This is a guy we don't know a lot. This is a guy that most people don't know that much about but may know a lot and shed a bunch of light on this, as you said, very fast-moving investigation.

Back to you -- Brooke?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Chris Cillizza, thank you very much.

CILLIZZA: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Presidents Clinton, Nixon and Trump, all three subjects of an impeachment inquiry, with each man facing the allegations in a different way. What sort of strategy can we expect from this White House, next?


[14:35:38] BALDWIN: With Democrats quickly ramping up their impeachment inquiry, a rattled President Trump is in full attack mode releasing a special Twitter storm today. In one tweet, he quoted a Baptist pastor warning of civil war:

It reads, in part, "If the Democrats are successful in removing a president from office (which they will never be) it will cause a civil-war-like fracture in this nation from which our country will never heal."

My next guest has already covered two impeachments during the last 45 years.

First, as a student journalist during Watergate and then with the "L.A. Times" with President Clinton.

Doyle McManus is a Washington columnist for the "L.A. Times." His latest piece is, "This Is My Third Impeachment, This Is What I Learned."

Doyle, good to have you on.


BALDWIN: Of the lessons you learn, facts drive the shift in public opinion. However, this is 2019, we're dealing with a president who lies constantly, with a megaphone of social media and FOX News. How do the facts breakthrough all the noise here?

MCMANUS: That is a good question in this era. But when you look at the previous impeachments, it's clear that a lot of the rhetoric you're hearing now will fall away if new facts come out from these investigations. That's why the investigations that are underway are so important.

BALDWIN: So as you point out with Nixon, Maryland Congressman Larry Hogan Sr became the first Republican to call for Nixon's impeachment. If the facts do appear and the noise goes away -- I appreciate your optimism. In that sense, do you see a Larry Hogan senior today? And who might that be?

MCMANUS: Actually, I do. Most of the commentary, so far -- what we're talking about here is, the important people to watch are the Republicans, not the Democrats.


MCMANUS: When impeachment investigation starts, everyone retreats to their partisan corners. That's what happened in Watergate and the Clinton impeachment. What the Republicans. Everyone's noticed how most Republicans have rushed to the president's defense.

To me, the interesting thing is there are at least a half dozen, probably more Republicans in the Senate who have been silent, who have not rushed to his defense. Some of them, including figures like Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio, have said this needs a serious investigation.

Those are Republicans who are, in effect, saying, I want to wait for the facts to come out. They're not towing the White House line.

BALDWIN: Play this forward with me. If the House impeaches Trump, and later the leader goes to the Senate for a trial -- take a listen to this.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It's a Senate rule related to impeachment that would take 67 votes to change. So I would have no choice but to take it up.


BALDWIN: Doyle, what would it even look like on the Senate side, having experiencing it yourself?

MCMANUS: Mitch McConnell, being the man of precedent and following the rules as he just implied, it sounds as if he would hold a trial. He did not say --


BALDWIN: Excuse me one second.

Let's listen to the president. He's just spoken at the White House.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much, everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, do you now know who the whistleblower is, sir?

TRUMP: We're trying to find out about the whistleblower. We have a whistleblower that reports things that were incorrect.

As you know, the statement I made to the president of Ukraine, a good man, a nice man, new, was perfect. It was perfect. But the whistleblower reported a totally different statement like the statement that was not even made.

I guess you could say statement with call. I made a call. The call was perfect. I made a call.

When the whistleblower reported it, he made it sound terrible. And then you have Adam Schiff who even worse made up my words, which I think is horrible. I've never even seen a thing like that.

Adam Schiff, representative, congressman, made up what I said. He actually took words and made it up. The reason is, when he saw my call to the president of Ukraine, it was so good that he couldn't quote from it. There was nothing done wrong it. It was perfect.

[14:40:10] So Schiff said I can't let this happen. So Schiff said, let me make up -- so Adam Schiff made up the phony call, and he read it to Congress, and he read it to the people of the United States. And it's a disgrace. This whole thing is a disgrace.

There's been tremendous corruption and we're seeking it. It's called drain the swamp. There's been corruption on the other side. There's been corruption like you've never seen.

The new president of Ukraine ran on the basis of no corruption. That's how he got elected. I believe that he really means it.

But there was a lot of corruption having to do with the 2016 election against us. And we want to get to the bottom of it. And it's very important that we do.

Thank you very much.


BALDWIN: OK, so the president speaking at the White House. Like we always do, when he speaks, just a couple quick facts. One, what is contained in the whistleblower complaint at this point is pretty identical to what we've learned through the president's own White House, his own admissions and own transcript of that call. His own director of National Intelligence calls it creditable and unprecedented.

It was not a perfect call since he pressed a foreign power to investigate a political rival and his own administration felt it was sensitive enough to hide it in a highly secure server.

Doyle, let me come back to you.

You were making the point, we listened to Mitch McConnell, you were saying if this goes to the Senate for a trial, you follow the precedent, follow the rules. What were you going to say?

MCMANUS: The Senate trial doesn't take much time. The Senate trial of Bill Clinton took less than two weeks. Mitch McConnell can get this wrapped up quickly.

And then presuming the president is acquitted, as we imagine he would be, given the facts that we now have, then he'll simply say this was a witch hunt, it went too far, it failed. That's where we'll be.

There are so many twists and turns in the road here and there, and so many new facts that may come out, including from the testimony of the whistleblower, who may turn out to be credible or not. We don't know where we're going to be at the end of the year.

BALDWIN: I want to end with this quote from you, another lesson you learned. "While impeachment is painful, the country will survive." You write, "In 1999, at the end of Clinton's trial, I watched Senators cross the aisle to hug each other elated that their institution had survived. In 1974, Ford invited the House Democratic leader who spearheaded impeachment, Congressman Nip O'Neill, to his swearing-in as president."

Do you see, Doyle -- in 2019, a different set of circumstances. Do you see Mitch McConnell giving a pat to Adam Schiff?

MCMANUS: No, not to Adam Schiff. Maybe not even to his Democratic friends in the Senate.

But our Constitution is pretty robust. We're following the constitutional processes. And once it's over, actually, there will be people in both parties who just want to get back to business. I think we'll get through this.

BALDWIN: We'll survive this, so says Doyle McManus.

Thank you so much. Great to have you on.

MCMANUS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: The secretary of state has been slapped with a subpoena. Is the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, next?


BALDWIN: Now to a CNN special report on the vaping epidemic sweeping the country. There are over 800 cases of a mystery lung illness related to vaping in the U.S. At least 13 people have died.

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is investigating.

What is at the root of all of this in the first part in a three-part series?

Sanjay, what did you find?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, there's two separate things that are going on, with regard to vaping right now. People are paying attention obviously to the concern about these mysterious lung injuries that are occurring in hundreds of people. People died as a result of that.

But today, Brooke, we wanted to talk about the impact on youth and the concern about youth nicotine addiction. Where did vaping start in this country and how did we get to where we are now?


GUPTA (voice-over): Last week, lawmakers had some tough questions for the FDA.

REP. JOE KENNEDY (D-MA): There was clearly a massive regulatory failure that allowed for this to happen, was there not?

DR. NED SHARPLESS, ACTING FDA COMMISSIONER: Speaking about the epidemic of youths using E-cigarettes, in retrospect, the FDA should have acted sooner. We should have begun regulating these devices sooner. GUPTA (on camera): Could we have predicted this problem?


GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Michael Siegel have been researching tobacco for 34 years. Most of his attention lately: vaping.

(on camera): How many people do you think are vaping in the United States right now?

SIEGEL: The estimate right now is there's approximately 10 million.

GUPTA: How many of those people do you think are former smokers?

SIEGEL: Of the adults, I think the overall majority are ex-smokers or smokers who are duel using.


JAMES HILGREEN, REPLACED SMOKING WITH VAPING: After 20 years, I was smoking a pack and a half a day and I could not walk upstairs without losing my breath. I was coughing up phlegm in the morning and throughout the day.

GUPTA (voice-over): While many vapors are duel users, meaning they also smoke, 41-year-old James Hilgreen is one of the three million vapors who completely replaced his smoking habit with vaping.

HILGREEN: And that will be four years actually at the end of this year where I made a resolution to quit smoking all together.

GUPTA: One study found that nearly 20 percent of people who vaped to stop smoking were still of cigarettes a year later. That's twice as effective as other nicotine cessation strategies.

HILGREEN: Throughout that process I felt better and better and I was being able to exercise more, I feel better.

GUPTA: The story of vaping is also the story of smokers who starting in the mid-2000s turned to E-cigarettes to help kick their habit.

But more recently, that story has taken an ugly turn because as former smokers like James have to turned to vapes, so have kids. The numbers will boggle your mind. In 2017, 11.7 percent of high school students vaped. In 2018, it jumped to 20.8 percent. Now 27.5 percent of high school students admit to using E-cigarettes.

The CDC estimates over three million high school students are currently vaping.

(on camera): How did we get here?

DR. ANNE SCHUCHAT, CDC PRINCIPAL DEPUTY DIRECTOR: We know that often the first product a teen uses is a favored one. There have been flavors that are really targeted at young people, candy, fruit and so forth.

GUPTA (voice-over): It's why states like New York, Michigan, Rhode Island are now banning the sale of flavored products. The Trump administration has proposed a similar ban just a few weeks ago.

HILGREEN: When people don't like flavors, adults don't like flavors, I think that's pretty crazy to say.

SIEGEL: A lot of adult ex-smokers who have quit smoking using these flavored products are almost certainly going to go back to smoking.

GUPTA (on camera): Why?

SIEGEL: Because it's such a strong addiction.

GUPTA: They still have the tobacco-flavored E-cigarettes. Why would they go back to smoking?

SIEGEL: I think the reason is because the whole point of switching to vaping was to get away from the tobacco flavor.

GUPTA: It wasn't to reduce the harm of tobacco?

SIEGEL: Well, it was, but I think what's really sustaining it and appealing to them is the flavors.

GUPTA: On one hand, there may be evidence that it helps adults who are smoking stop smoking. One the other hand, it is very attractive to young people and may create more vapors and subsequently more smokers.

Ultimately, if that's the balance, how does an organization like the CDC decide what they're going to recommend?

SCHUCHAT: We don't think the cessation of smoking in adults should be at the expense of teenagers. We really, right now, are focused on protecting youth from a life of nicotine addiction.

GUPTA (voice-over): And there's a deeper concern. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 31 percent of teen E- cigarette users go on to smoke regular cigarettes within six months.

I decided to ask my own kids and their friends about it.

(on camera): What makes a teenager continue to vape despite all that they've heard?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's like being able to, like, rebel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think maybe it starts off them like getting it in order to fit in. I think it's about getting Juul.

GUPTA (voice-over): For them, it's mostly Juul.

ASHLEY GOULD, JUUL CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER: We were completely surprised by the youth usage of the product. We're taking measures now and will take increasing measures to prevent that use on a going- forward basis.

GUPTA: In 2018, the vaping story took a turn again. Altria, the parent company to Phillip Morris USA, bought a 35 percent stake in Juul, and the new CEO of Juul comes from the world of tobacco.

SIEGEL: They're going to make money if people smoke. They're going to make money if people quit. So I think that's part of the problem.

GUPTA: It's a conflict, a huge one, and one that many in the vaping community are taking notice of, steadily distancing themselves from Juul and blaming them and them alone for the dramatic rise in youth nicotine addiction.

SIEGEL: I think there's a fundamental difference between Juul and all other E-cigarettes. It's a completely different nicotine form. That nicotine form is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.

I think Juul, to me, represents the far greater hazard than just using a regular E-cigarette.


GUPTA: Brooke, we reached out to Juul. They said they could not sit down for an interview at this time. But they have agreed to this ban on flavorings and they also will suspend their advertising online and in print in the United States.

Brooke, I want to make this point. There are two separate issues going on here. These mystery lung illnesses, something we're going to talk about tomorrow. But the story, really the history of this impact of vaping on the next generation is what we wanted to address today -- Brooke?


BALDWIN: Interesting to hear from those teenagers.

Sanjay, thank you very much. We'll see you tomorrow for more.

Meantime, our special coverage continues as the impeachment inquiry against the president escalates on Capitol Hill. Why the president's attacks on this whistleblower may expose him legally and why his allies think he doesn't understand the gravity of the situation.



BALDWIN: An update now on a story we've reported Friday.