Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Democratic Lawmaker In Texas Calls For Gun Safety Legislation; Booming Culture Of "Dupes" On TikTok Gaining Ground; Ex-Girlfriend Accuses Tiger Woods Of Sexual Harassment. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 08, 2023 - 07:30   ET




PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Texas Gov. Greg Abbot is attending a memorial for another mass shooting in his state. This one held last night for the community of Allen, Texas where a gunman killed eight people Saturday at an outlet mall.

And these are just some of the mass shootings that have taken place during Abbott's tenure as governor. While there have been calls for stricter gun laws after each shooting, Abbott has rejected those calls and instead has drawn attention to mental health. It's become a common refrain over the past few years.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT, (R) TEXAS: We all know that this is something that we must address as a nation but also as a state, and that is for all of us to do a better job to address mental health issues.

Too many Texans have lost their lives. The status quo in Texas is unacceptable.

We as a state and we as a society need to do a better job with mental health. Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge.

There has been a dramatic increase in the amount of anger and violence that's taking place in America. And what Texas is doing in a big-time way -- we are working to address that anger and violence by going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it.


MATTINGLY: Now, Gov. Abbott has expanded gun rights. He signed open- carry legislation. He's allowed for weapons to be carried on college campuses and in places of worship. He's issued executive orders bolstering and encouraging the reporting of potential threats.

In 2020, Abbott signed a law that allows Texans to carry handguns without a license or training as long as they aren't otherwise prohibited from carrying a gun.

So what about mental health -- that focal point of all his responses? According to a recent analysis by Forbes, Texas came in last in the nation for mental health care where more than one in five adults with mental illness is uninsured and where more than 40 percent of adults with a cognitive disability could not see a doctor due to costs.

Now, our next guest is a Texas state senator who has tried to pass a number of gun safety bills in recent months but has faced an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate and House. After Saturday's shooting, Jose Menendez tweeted, "I'm tired of only talking about these preventable tragedies. We can't wait anymore and need to do everything we possibly can to prevent and stop gun violence now."

He joins us live from San Antonio. Senator, thank you so much for your time.

You know, we played the kind of string of sound bites from Gov. Abbott. I guess we would start with the point that he's consistently raised and tried to bring up. When it comes to mental health do you feel like Gov. Abbott and the Republicans in the House and the Senate have done enough given that they focus on this every time one of these shootings happens?


JOSE MENENDEZ, (D) TEXAS STATE SENATE (via Webex by Cisco): Unfortunately, it appears that using mental health is just a shield in order to not address the issue of what's actually killing the people. That shooter at the Allen Outlet Mall -- he could have been as deranged as he wanted to have been, but without that AR-15 or some other firearm, he probably could not have inflicted the amount of damage and killed as many people as quickly as he did.

And so the issue -- the very real issue is that we have to take some common-sense approach to gun control legislation. And if -- and I agree we have to help people with mental health. We have to make our nation healthier. We're not doing enough. But we also have to do something about what's actually killing the people and that is these guns -- these high-powered guns. I mean, there's a reason we don't allow people to have grenades and bazookas. And these are weapons of war and I believe these AR-15 high-capacity rifles are also weapons that belong in the theater of war.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask what's it like to be a Democrat? You're the minority party in a state where Republicans hold a lot of power and particularly, on this issue. It doesn't seem like there's any pathway forward for even some of the proposals you laid out earlier this year, which are not dramatic gun confiscation -- kind of the pillared and/or demagogue version of some gun safety advocates' proposals.

What's it like to work in that environment given what you're talking about?

MENENDEZ: Very, very difficult. Many of us in the Senate and in the House -- the last count that I looked there was over 20 bills -- common-sense gun control bills. There are -- none of these are they're going to come and take your weapons. These are things under the orders like what we call extreme risk protective orders, also known as red flag laws where someone's deemed to be a danger to themselves or someone else, and through a due process that they would have their guns temporarily removed.

Safe gun and ammo storage -- what is so controversial about that -- requiring that your kid doesn't get a gun. We've had several things where toddlers have shot themselves recently.

Background checks. Make them universal. Make them mandatory. Get a mandatory health information for adolescents 16 years of age or older.

Raise the age. Why is it you can buy an AR-15 at 18 but you can't buy a handgun? How does that make any sense?

And then if there's a gun involving a crime that we would require some more information. Most of these crimes with these shooters -- one of these laws would have prevented them having access to these firearms.

No one is trying to take weapons from law-abiding responsible citizens. It is these people who should never have these weapons in the first place that we want to make sure they don't have.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask when you -- after one of these tragedies of which there have been far too many in your state and around the country -- seemingly, weekly; sometimes it feels like daily. What do you talk to your colleagues across the aisle about that we don't see? And I come at this from a place of --


MATTINGLY: Hopes and prayers have a lot of validity for me as a person of faith. I don't dismiss that. But what are the conversations like? Do you feel like when you talk behind the scenes that there's perhaps a path forward that we don't see publicly?

MENENDEZ: I hope so. We treat each other like human beings. We have coffee together. We'll break bread together. We will have conversations about our families. And we will empathize for any one of our colleagues who has a tragedy in their community, as we should.

But we -- I wish and my hope and prayer is that they can take more into consideration the real effects of doing nothing rather than the political cost of bucking the NRA or some other extreme gun group. You know, I think they should forget about the governor's statements about making the status of what a Second Amendment sanctuary state -- whatever that means.

We have got to actually think more about our constituents and how do we make Texas and our nation a safer place for all children. These little children who are having their lives cut down way too early, they don't have a political party or ideation. They don't have a bone to pick. They can't even vote. And yet, we're having to -- we're picking and choosing -- some of us are picking and choosing whether we defend the Second Amendment and try to blame all these issues on mental health.


And we're -- as Democrats, we're proposing common-sense gun solutions. We're not telling anyone that they have to all empty out their gun lockers. We're not doing any of that. This is just about trying to address the very real issue, trying to get our heads out of the sand, and trying to have a conversation.

Why can't we even have a debate about these bills? We should be debating these bills. We should be talking about this. I mean, if this were any other tragedy we would be having the conversation, and we need to be having it.

MATTINGLY: Yes, certainly need to be having it and I'd certainly like to watch that debate as well.

Texas State Sen. Jose Menendez, thanks so much for your time, sir -- appreciate it.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Such an important --

MENENDEZ: Thank you for the invitation.

HARLOW: Such an important conversation.

Well, President Biden holding a high-stakes meeting with congressional leaders tomorrow to try to reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling, or at least get somewhat on a similar page to avoid a catastrophic default. Some Republicans are promising to oppose any deal without major spending cuts. We'll be joined here at the table by Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy just ahead.

And the TikTok trend that helps you build up your wardrobe without hurting your wallet.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not ready for this. I found the best Louis Vuitton dupe and I'm so freaking excited.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not ready for this. I found the best Louis Vuitton dupe and I'm so freaking excited.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wear this literally all the time. She's very well-loved. This is going to run you though like $2,200. I think it's $2,250 to be exact. So here's what it looks like and then here's the Amazon dupe. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But first off, a quick disclaimer. TikTok,

please don't take down this video. These are dupes. They're just lookalikes. They are not replicas. They are not counterfeit. They're not fake.


HARLOW: I'm not sure I know the difference but someone is here to answer that for us. There was a time when no one would openly brag about having a knockoff purse or watch. That is changing, at least on TikTok. It seems like there is knockoff or a dupe for just about everything. Now some brands might be under pressure to reconsider price and strategy.

Our CNN Business reporter Nathaniel Meyersohn is here. I am so not convinced. Those are fakes. They are knockoffs. They are illegal. Convince me otherwise.

NATHANIEL MEYERSOHN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes, we're going to convince you otherwise.

So, dupes are cheaper versions of higher-end premium brands.

So here's an example. Lululemon leggings usually cost about 100 bucks. This is one you can find on Amazon -- similar leggings -- for $27.00.

Here we have some Ugg boots, usually about 150 bucks. These are $30.00-$40.00.

And then very popular with bags, this is about a $2,200 Bottega bag. Here on -- she found this on Amazon -- $33.00.

HARLOW: OK, that is the Bottega Veneta style but it doesn't, I guess, have a tag on it. But the Louis Vuitton one we just saw clearly had their print on it. How is that not a copy?

MEYERSOHN: So -- OK, so the big difference between knockoffs and dupes is that knockoffs are usually counterfeits or they're -- it's stealing intellectual property, or they're trying to be deceptive. Dupes are -- kind of the whole point of is -- the whole point of it is you're bragging about saving money on a real -- on a real brand.

So the rise -- so -- and this is being driven by TikTok and the rise of social media. So dupes have about 3.5 billion views on TikTok. Google search -- you look at Google trends over the past few years -- really started to jump. So it's -- it is -- it is knockoffs for the digital age.

HARLOW: Can I see the next tab, popular dupes?

MEYERSOHN: Yes, the popular dupes. OK --


MEYERSOHN: -- so the Cloud -- we have the Cloud couch. Obviously, Lululemon very popular. This one is super popular -- the Dyson hair styler. Perfumes.


MEYERSOHN: Also, perfumes.

HARLOW: What are the luxury companies doing about this?

MEYERSOHN: So, Lululemon is addressing this head-on. There are about 180 million views of #lululemondupe. So they said why don't you come bring in the fake --

HARLOW: Dupes.

MEYERSOHN: -- fake dupes. You can swap them in for free and you can get these very popular Align High Rise Pants.

HARLOW: Wait -- you buy a fake one for 20 bucks, bring it in and get $100.00 ones?

MEYERSOHN: They think that if you try on the real ones you're not going to go back.

HARLOW: But you get them for free?

MEYERSOHN: You get them for free. And they're going to be doing events in Shanghai and London.

HARLOW: OK. Nathaniel Meyersohn, thank you -- appreciate it -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: We're going to get you there, Poppy. We're -- you're going to -- I'm getting -- I'm going to get you into the store.

HARLOW: I'm not there. See there -- knockoffs like on Canal Street in New York City. I definitely went there in college and bought a lot of them.


HARLOW: I don't see the difference but I'm fascinated by the trend.

MATTINGLY: He literally just explained it all to you.

HARLOW: They have a new name.

MEYERSOHN: You've got to get on TikTok.

HARLOW: I am not on TikTok -- fine, OK -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: All right, moving on.

All right, new court documents show that Tiger Woods' ex-girlfriend is accusing him of sexual harassment. We'll break down what she is alleging coming up next.

HARLOW: And law enforcement is working this morning to identify eight people killed when a driver plowed into a crowd of migrants outside of a shelter in Brownsville, Texas.




New court documents show that Tiger Woods' former girlfriend is now accusing him of sexual harassment. Erica Herman had a six-year relationship with him. She's now accusing him of pursuing a sexual relationship with her while she was working at his South Florida restaurant. She says he then gave her an ultimatum -- sign a non- disclosure agreement or be fired.

Tiger Woods has not responded to CNN's request for comment.

Joining us now is attorney Nancy Erika Smith. She represented former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson in her 2016 lawsuit against Roger Ailes. Good morning. It's good to have you.


HARLOW: Appreciate it.

So Herman's attorney, Benjamin Hobas notes in this court filing here, "A boss imposing different work conditions on this employee because of their sexual relationship is sexual harassment."

Where do you think this goes?

SMITH: Well, I think hopefully, this goes that she's allowed to discuss her own life and have access to the courts, which is a constitutional right that we all have. The Speak Out Act prohibits pre-dispute NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) for sexual harassment and sexual assault.

So we don't know what her specific allegations are because she's afraid to say them publicly because he would sue her in secret arbitration.

HARLOW: And that rule -- getting rid of that secret arbitration being mandated is largely because of the work of former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson and what she got done in Congress. Obviously, you represented her.



HARLOW: But it makes -- it has made a significant difference already.

SMITH: It has because NDAs allowed Roger Ailes, and Weinstein, and Epstein, and Cosby, and O'Reilly to harass again and again and again. And some of these women weren't even allowed to have a copy of their own NDA. So -- and I represented some Weinstein victims.

So it totally allows abuse of women to continue over and over and over again.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask you -- what was so fascinating about that law is just how fast the invocation of it started to kind of come into the mainstream, right?


MATTINGLY: I've covered Congress for a long time and sometimes laws take years if not longer to actually see it. People immediately started utilizing it. Has that utilization actually had tangible effects over the course of a trial or of an effort like this?

SMITH: It's absolutely had tangible effects. It's harder for corporations to keep abusers now that they can't silence women. Silencing women allowed abuse to continue, continue, continue and now it can't.

And I think the Speak Out Act happened so quickly because we worked so hard on another law that Gretchen helped is the ending forced arbitration in sexual harassment and sexual assault cases. So we -- which is another silencing.

Arbitration is secret and you're not allowed to go to court and you don't get a jury. And most of the arbitrators are former judges -- white men. So it's not a jury of your peers. And it's a fixed system that hurts victims. And Cornell has studied it and showed it.

So I think fighting to end forced arbitration paved the way to the Speak Out Act to end NDAs.

MATTINGLY: Yes, it's really fascinating.

The former president obviously decided not to testify. It's E. Jean Carroll's battery and defamation trial against the former president. He says he won't testify even after he was accused of raping the former magazine columnist and then defaming her by denying that claim by saying she wasn't his type. We should note that the former president has denied all of the charges here.

What stands out to you about what you've seen throughout the course of this trial so far?

SMITH: I -- what stands out is his deposition and his defense of the Hollywood -- "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" tape where he says famous and powerful men can assault women with impunity.

HARLOW: Let's let --

MATTINGLY: Play that, yes.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, historically, that's true with stars.

ATTORNEY FOR E. JEAN CARROLL: It's true with stars that they can grab women by the (bleep)?

TRUMP: Well, that's what -- that's -- if you look over the last million years I guess that's been largely true -- not always but largely true, unfortunately or fortunately.

ATTORNEY FOR E. JEAN CARROLL: And you consider yourself to be a star?

TRUMP: I think you can say that, yeah.


SMITH: Most notable is he says fortunately or unfortunately. So it's actually possible in his mind that it's fortunate that powerful men can assault women with impunity. It's actually an incredible admission in front of a jury.

Also, his deposition makes it impossible for him to testify. It's no surprise. He contradicts himself regularly and he shows the two elements that really rapists have in common -- misogyny. Twenty-six women are not his type, meaning they're not attractive enough to rape or assault. That's an incredibly sexist comment.

And power and domination -- you can see in the deposition repeatedly how he tries to control the deposition by abusing Ms. Carroll's lawyer and saying you're not my type either, and you're a disgrace.

I've been a lawyer for 42 years. Nobody's ever talked to me and I've taken depositions of powerful sexual assaulters. Nobody talks like that. It's like an admission of the characteristics of a man who assaults women in addition to admitting it on tape and saying it might be fortunate that he can.

MATTINGLY: That's going to be interesting to watch as that all plays out.

Nancy Erika Smith, thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it.

SMITH: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.


ROLAND GUTIERREZ, (D), TEXAS STATE SENATE: I just don't understand these Republicans that want to just pray and do absolutely nothing. Our country and our state is burning down because we have these guns in the hands of people that shouldn't have them. It's a chaos that is wholly created by the Republican Party and the NRA. We can stop it and we can stop it now but we don't have anybody with the political will to do it.


HARLOW: Well, good morning. It is the top of the hour. We are very glad that you're here with us this morning. We do begin with new details emerging about the gunman who killed eight people Saturday at a Texas outlet mall. Investigators are looking into his far-right social media posts and a patch he was wearing during the massacre.

MATTINGLY: And there was another tragedy in Texas that is currently under investigation. Eight people are dead after an SUV slammed into them near a shelter for migrants. We have surveillance video of the deadly wreck.

HARLOW: And the Republican governor of Texas is about to speak as his state braces for Title 42 to expire.

This hour of CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.