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THE SITUATION ROOM

Impeachment Talk; Did Trump Order NOAA to Back Up His False Claim?; Interview With Sen. Angus King (I-ME); Trump Defends Ouster Of Tough Guy, John Bolton, Says He Made Big Mistakes As National Security Adviser; Trump Administration Moves To Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes Amid Outbreak Of Vaping-Related Illness And Deaths; Challenger Taking on Trump Ally Netanyahu in Closely-Watched Israeli Election Next Week; 9/11 Remembered. Aired on 6-7p ET

Aired September 11, 2019 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:01]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: banning flavored vaping. President Trump says he's moving toward a sweeping crackdown on tasty e-cigarettes that are so popular with teenagers, after a series of vaping-related illnesses and deaths. Why is the White House getting involved?

NOAA's snark. We're learning more about the administration's efforts to undermine weather officials and defend the president's false claims about the hurricane threat to Alabama. Did Mr. Trump know his acting chief of staff intervened?

Mr. Tough Guy, that's how President Trump is describing his ousted national security adviser, accusing John Bolton of making very big mistakes -- their feud escalating today on a day when America's security should be front and center.

And remembering 9/11. The nation pauses to mark 18 years since the nation was attacked, as it had never been before. Tonight, we honor the fallen and the heroes.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM..

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news tonight on the Trump administration moving toward a ban that would impact a very lucrative industry and potentially the health of many young Americans.

The president declaring he wants to get flavored e-cigarettes off the market. Vaping products have been linked to a growing outbreak of severe lung disease and at least six deaths.

Also breaking, a White House official confirms that acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney played a key role in defending the president's claim that Alabama was threatened by Hurricane Dorian. We're told Mulvaney directed the Commerce Department to fix the problem and disavow forecasters who contradicted Mr. Trump. I will get reaction from Senator Angus King. He's an independent on

the Intelligence and Armed Services committees. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, as the president made his big announcement on vaping, the ouster of John Bolton was still very much on his mind.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It certainly was, Wolf.

President Trump is still justifying his decision to fire John Bolton, saying the former national security adviser made some -- quote -- "big mistakes" before he was kicked out of the administration. The president trashed Bolton in front of the cameras, saying even North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un wanted nothing to do with him.

The president made these startling comments just as he was announcing his administration is considering a sweeping ban on flavored e- cigarettes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Vowing to tackle the epidemic of teen vaping, President Trump announced his administration is finalizing a new policy to crack down on flavored e-cigarettes, noting even the first lady is urging federal regulators to take action.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't allow people to get sick and we can't have our youth be so affected. And I'm hearing it. And that's how the first lady got involved.

ACOSTA: But the president had one other ban on his mind, as in his decision to fire his national security adviser, John Bolton.

TRUMP: John's known as a tough guy. He's so tough, he got us into Iraq. That's tough.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump fired off the first rounds of what's shaping up to be a war of words with Bolton.

TRUMP: And I told him, John, if too many people -- you're not getting along with people. I'm sure he will -- you know, do whatever he can do to, you know, what -- spin it his way.

ACOSTA: The president defended his decision to give Bolton the boot, in part over his handling of North Korea.

TRUMP: He made some very big mistakes when he talked about the Libyan model for Kim Jong-un.

ACOSTA: Insisting the now former national security adviser was wrong to suggest that dictator Kim Jong-un could be handled in the same way as Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, who was overthrown after giving up his nuclear ambitions. TRUMP: I don't blame Kim Jong-un for what he said after that, and he

wanted nothing to do with John Bolton.

ACOSTA: But a source close to the White House said Bolton was leery of Mr. Trump's dealings with dictators and is worried about what will happen if he sits down with Iran's leader, saying -- quote -- "John doesn't really like the idea of a meeting, because it's his view that Trump caves. He gives them way too much."

TRUMP: This could be one of the most unbelievable experiments ever, North Korea. And I also say the same with Iran. Iran can get back to business.

ACOSTA: The White House is still cleaning up after the president's mistaken claims that Hurricane Dorian posed a threat to Alabama. A White House official confirmed acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney spoke with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to have his department disavow a tweet from the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service that contradicted the president.

Mr. Trump told reporters he didn't instruct Mulvaney to do that.

TRUMP: No, I never did that. I never did that. That's a whole hoax by the fake news media.

ACOSTA: The acting head of NOAA, which issued a statement backing away from that National Weather Service tweet, reassured forecasters they're not under attack.

[18:05:01]

NEIL JACOBS, ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION: No one's job is under threat, not mine, not yours. The weather service team has my full support and the support of the department.

ACOSTA: Earlier in the day, the president marked the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and discussed his recent decision to host the Taliban at Camp David, a summit he scrapped.

TRUMP: We had peace talks scheduled a few days ago. I called them off when I learned that they had killed a great American soldier from Puerto Rico and 11 other innocent people. They thought they would use this attack to show strength, but, actually, what they showed is unrelenting weakness.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, while the president is taking action on e-cigarettes, it's not clear where things are headed on new gun safety laws.

The president spoke with both Democratic and Republican senators about the potential for new gun control legislation earlier today. Mr. Trump is still not committed to the idea of universal background checks, despite polls showing such a system is supported by nearly all Americans. The president told reporters at the White House earlier today there

are some things that -- quote -- "will never happen" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jim, thank you, Jim Acosta at the White House.

Also tonight, the House Judiciary Committee is just hours away from a very key vote, setting ground rules for its impeachment investigation.

Our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, is joining us from Capitol Hill right now.

Manu, as Democrats head into that committee vote, are they on the same page when it comes to impeachment?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as more and more Democrats say that the House Judiciary Committee is currently conducting an impeachment inquiry, top Democratic leaders are not -- do not have the same message.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this week on multiple occasions, when I asked her whether or not she believes they are in an impeachment inquiry, she said it's simply a continuation of the investigation that already has been ongoing.

And, today, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said no when he was asked whether or not the committee is actually conducting an impeachment investigation. Now, he later issued a statement, saying he supports what the House Judiciary Committee is doing, but he would not call what was happening an actual impeachment inquiry.

And I just asked Hoyer again whether or not they're in an impeachment inquiry. He also would not say. He referred back to that statement.

But, overall, what Democrats are saying, Wolf, is that they do plan to move forward with this investigation and ultimately could still decide about whether or not to recommend articles of impeachment to remove the president.

But listening to Democrats over the last day, they're not on the same page.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: And he has said that it's an impeachment inquiry. Is he right?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): You know, I don't speak for my colleagues. What matters most to me is, do we meet the definition required to get grand jury material in court?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I want to see every Republican go on the record and knowingly vote against impeachment of this president, knowing his corruption, having it on the record, so that they can have that stain on their careers for the rest of their lives.

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): Doing the same thing we have been doing. We're trying to ferret out the truth. REP. HARLEY ROUDA (D-CA): There's an old adage about how to cook a

frog. If you throw it in boiling water, it jumps out. But if you put it in lukewarm water and turn on the heat, it will swim around until it gets cooked. And my sense is, the speaker is cooking the president.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: The speaker has endorsed what the House Judiciary Committee is doing, including the vote tomorrow to set the ground rules for how impeachment hearings could take place in the future.

That includes allowing the chairman of the committee, Jerry Nadler, to actually call hearings that he would call impeachment proceedings. And we could see that next week, Wolf, when Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager, is expected to testify about what was outlined in the Mueller report, those allegations that the president may have tried to thwart the investigation, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Manu, thank you, Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill.

Joining us now, Senator Angus King. He's an independent. He's a member of the Intelligence and Armed Services committees.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

What did you make of the president's decision today to once again trash his former national security adviser, John Bolton, in the Oval Office of all places, even going so far as to side with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, over him?

SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME): Well, it's an odd scene, Wolf, because you remember that John Bolton was hired by the president.

It's an odd situation where the president is dumping on the person that he brought into that very important position. I think, really, though, Wolf, we have got to look forward and see who's going to get this job in the future.

It was apparent to many of us from the beginning that the president and John Bolton were going to go in different directions. I don't think the president wants a war with Iran, for example. And I think John Bolton has been very hawkish about Iran for 10 or 15, 20 years.

He's been pushing in that direction. So I don't think this decision was surprising. What is a little bit surprising is this he said/she said or he said/he said that we're hearing from the president.

[18:10:03]

It's -- I don't know -- I don't know what to say, unbecoming, I guess. If he wants to make that decision, that's fine. It's his call. The national security adviser is not confirmed by the Senate. It's entirely within the president's discretion.

I hope he gets somebody in that job who's going to collect the information throughout the government, give him good advice, and tell him not necessarily what he wants to hear, but what he needs to hear.

BLITZER: Yes, Bolton for years has been saying he wants regime change in Iran. The president doesn't necessarily support regime change in Iran.

He's ready to meet with President Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly in the coming days.

As you know...

KING: Well, Wolf...

BLITZER: Yes, go ahead.

KING: Wolf, I think the Iranians would be crazy to miss this opportunity.

It's clear that the president wants to meet. He's made that clear. Mike Pompeo has said it, without preconditions. There's a sort of a pause in the friction right now. This is an opportunity for the Iranians to get out of this maximum pressure situation and to try to reach some kind of deal with the United States that hopefully will go beyond the deal that the president abrogated last year.

I think the real question is, what's that deal going to look like? Is it truly going to be better than what we had before? But, like I said, I think the Iranians are missing an opportunity if they don't try to take advantage of this offer of talks.

BLITZER: Yes, the president, he really wants to meet with him, without any preconditions, as you correctly point out. It was Bolton who opposed any such meeting.

There's been a lot of turnover, as you know, in the president's national security team. Some very important positions are currently filled by acting officials. Does that have a negative effect on U.S. national security right now?

KING: Well, I think it does.

You have got vacant positions. You have got people in acting positions. There are people throughout the government in acting positions, that we're not following the constitutional process where people who require Senate confirmation, they're being made active. They don't get ever sent to the Senate.

But I think, you know, you're trying to complicate -- trying to deal with very, very, very complicated issues when you're not fully staffed. And, you know, I think one of the problems with the firing of John Bolton -- and I don't necessarily disagree with it. I wouldn't have hired him in the first place.

But one of the problems is, you're sending a message to your staff, to the national security folks, you know, don't tell me what I don't want to hear. And that's a dangerous message for a leader to send, because anybody makes mistakes. And if you don't have staff and people around you who are telling you

when you're going off in the wrong direction, those mistakes can be very serious. So that's what's bothering me about this back and forth that's going on this afternoon.

BLITZER: Very important point.

Senator, you have just returned from a visit to Saudi Arabia, where I understand you confronted the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, on the murder of "The Washington Post" journal Jamal Khashoggi.

We're showing our viewers a picture of you and your colleagues meeting with the Saudi leader.

What can you tell us about that session? How did he react?

KING: Well, I can tell you that it was a very direct session.

Todd Young, Senator Young from Indiana, and I were there. It was a long, substantiative meeting, well over an hour. He reacted -- you know, we didn't know how he was going to react. We knew we were going to confront him about this issue. He wasn't surprised.

He reacted in a way that he understands, Wolf, that he's got a problem. He understands that he's got a problem with the American people and that this matter has to be dealt with in a straightforward and transparent way.

They have started a trial process for a group of people that were allegedly involved in this murder, but they have left out al-Qahtani, one of the top aides, who's not in the trial who we believe we should be. And then, of course, the -- he's the head of state.

Whether he ordered it directly or not, he's responsible for what takes place on his watch. And I think he needs to come forward and say that publicly to try to get us beyond this issue, because the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States goes back 80 years.

And it's very important, not so much for oil anymore, but because of the tenseness, the complexity of the situation in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is a strong bulwark against Iran, which has expansionist desires in the whole region.

So Saudi Arabia is an important ally, but the crown prince knows he's got to come -- be straightforward about this Khashoggi business.

BLITZER: Well, you spent an hour with him, Senator King. You clearly looked him in the eye.

Do you believe he ordered the murder of Khashoggi?

[18:15:00]

KING: I don't know. I don't know, Wolf. There's no evidence that he did. But, you know, the issue is, if he was the head of the government, and -- how would he not know? On the other hand, this may have been one of those situations from

Thomas Becket, who will rid me of this meddlesome priest, where a leader makes a statement, and the followers -- in the case of Thomas Becket, it was the king's knights went off and killed the bishop.

Now, who knows? I don't know if we will ever know the answer. And I could not form a final opinion on that. But I can tell you, I put the question to him very directly.

BLITZER: But you're on the Intelligence Committee. The U.S. intelligence community, as you know, the director of the CIA, they have all concluded that he was responsible for the murder of Khashoggi.

Do you disagree with that assessment?

KING: No. No, they concluded that based upon his control over the government of Saudi Arabia. In other words, they didn't -- there's no intelligence that I know of that links him directly to the action.

But what their conclusion was, that a sparrow doesn't fall in Saudi Arabia without the prince's knowledge and involvement. And I think, you know, that's really the issue.

So, you know, I think this is -- this is a very serious issue. And, as I say, I think he has to come forward and be straightforward about it, and at least, at least take responsibility as the head of state. It happened on his watch. He's the head of state.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Senator, with a high degree of confidence, the CIA concluded that he ordered the murder of Khashoggi. Do you agree with that intelligence assessment?

KING: I don't disagree with it.

I just -- like I say, that intelligence -- I'm aware of that intelligence assessment, and it was based upon the way the government of Saudi Arabia works. It wasn't based upon an intercepted communication or some evidence of his direct -- and I think that's a reasonable assumption.

But you asked me the question, do I believe, to a certainty, that he did it? And I couldn't -- I can't give you that certainty.

I think it's likely, for the same reasons that the CIA thought it was likely. He does not take that responsibility, but I think, as I say, at least he needs to take responsibility for the fact that it happened with him as the leader of the country.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a very important point. There's lots at stake in terms of U.S.-Saudi relations, as you well know and all of us know.

Senator King, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.

KING: Thank you, Wolf. Good to be with you.

BLITZER: I'm glad you went to Saudi Arabia.

Just ahead: President Trump says he fired John Bolton. Why does he feel the need to explain his decision and bash Bolton along the way?

And we will take a closer look at the epidemic of teen vaping and the health risks prompting the move to ban flavored e-cigarettes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:22:48]

BLITZER: Tonight, President Trump is delivering parting shots at his ousted national security adviser. He's again slamming John Bolton as a so-called tough guy who made some -- quote -- "very big mistakes."

Let's bring in our analysts and our experts to discuss.

Abby, you cover the White House for -- why do you think the president feels the need on this, the second day, to continue to slam him?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to my colleague Kaitlan Collins, they had a falling out, an actual argument in the Oval Office.

And so it's clear that they left on pretty bad terms. Bolton is also known to not really go away quietly. And I think the president seems to understand that. And he's pushing back early and pretty aggressively, in a way that I have not seen him do with virtually anyone else who's left the White House, at least not this immediately.

Usually, he tries to put a positive spin on things. This time around, I think he's trying to really push back on Bolton, and make it very clear that this was a disagreement about approaches and about ideology and that he's basically saying, I'm in charge here, and this is the direction I'm taking my foreign policy.

BLITZER: I think we can expect, David, a very firm, tough response from Bolton.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, Bolton has one advantage here that a lot of people who depart the administration don't have, or haven't had, which is that he knows what he thinks.

A lot of people disagree with him, maybe most people disagree with him, but he's not shy about expressing a more hawkish foreign policy view. So if he has disputes with the president on issues, on a strategy going forward for the United States, I don't think there's any reason to think he will hesitate to share with the world what he thought and why they disagreed so strongly.

On the other hand, he came into the administration late and could have easily known that it was going to end like this, with a dismissal on Twitter, with the president trying to get out in front of the narrative to make it look like Bolton was the one who was incompetent, rather than a strong, as you say, disagreement.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: I never understood why he brought him into the White House, Jackie, to begin with, given their very different positions on so many issues.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, right.

So the role of the national security adviser is to advise the president on big decisions when it comes to national security and foreign policy. And if the president doesn't trust that person's judgment, then what's the point of them being there?

[18:25:00]

And with Bolton, his views are so opposed to what the president's are, it really does beg the question. I mean, he had an op-ed that I think the title was, "We Need to Bomb Iran."

So, the idea that there was a surprise, that he was so hawkish and really wanted to bomb Iran, it's puzzling. It's like someone didn't do their homework.

BLITZER: And, Jeffrey, the president today blasted him once again for supporting the Iraq War, which the president says he opposed.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, and that was years ago, which everyone knew.

I mean, Bolton was a very famous neoconservative hawk, very supportive of the Iraq War. And just as you suggest, then why did he hire him in the first place? The idea of criticizing Bolton now for supporting the Iraq War, well, that's a reasonable position to take, but that's a longstanding fact about John Bolton.

And, you know, he just simply couldn't have hired -- he should have not hired him in the first place. I mean, the whole thing is very mysterious.

BLITZER: Well, he used to be a regular analyst on FOX News. And the president watches a lot of FOX News. He used to see him over the years. I assume that was one of the reasons he decided to bring him in.

TOOBIN: And I firmly support the idea of television analysts being appointed to very high positions in the government.

(LAUGHTER)

TOOBIN: Clearly, that's one area where Donald Trump and I agree, because the president seems to do most of his recruiting from FOX News, not so much from CNN and MSNBC, strangely enough.

But the fact that he has -- that people are on television is something that he -- that really appeals to him. BLITZER: Let me get your thoughts on this other issue, Jeffrey, and

then I want to move on to the -- our other experts over here.

The acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, clearly played a role in getting NOAA to disavow the National Weather Service tweet that contradicted the president, who insisted Alabama was in real threat, was endangered by the hurricane.

The president said today he was unaware of Mick Mulvaney's involvement. What do you believe?

TOOBIN: Yes, right, is my position on that.

Look, you know, the president can never be seen to be wrong. That's one of the guiding principles of this administration. It is one thing that the North Korean administration of Kim Jong-un and the dear leader of the United States have in common.

And there was this tremendous mobilization, from the secretary of commerce, from the White House to try to persuade that the people in Alabama who were doing their job trying to protect the people of Alabama did something wrong.

This is a shameful episode. It is a completely unnecessary controversy. But the fact that the White House was behind it has to be the least surprising fact of the day.

BLITZER: Abby?

PHILLIP: Yes, it does seem that this is just another example of White House aides, particularly Mulvaney, thinking that the easiest way out of a situation in which the president doesn't want to look bad is to make everyone else around him change their narrative to fit whatever he said.

Now, sometimes, the consequences of that are benign, but, in this case, there are real consequences. It means that a lot of people now have reason to question the things that are coming out of government agencies that are designed to keep people in this country safe, that are designed to provide accurate information to the public.

And they're doing it all because Mick Mulvaney and others in the White House want to just simply stop the president from being upset with White House aides and upset with the coverage that he's getting on television.

BLITZER: I don't know why the president couldn't have said: Well, originally, we thought Alabama was in danger.

It was no longer in danger when he said it was. But he doesn't like to do that, as we know.

KUCINICH: Right.

BLITZER: Everybody, stand by.

There's a lot more we need to discuss on all the breaking news right after this.

[18:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: We're back with our analysts, lots to discuss. Jackie, this is the 18th anniversary of 9/11. The national security adviser is now gone. There's an acting national security adviser. There's a whole bunch of acting national security- type serving right now at a time where potentially there could be some major national security threats. How big of a problem is this?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, 9/11 is one of those days that reminds us how vulnerable we truly can be in this country. So the fact that there is a lack of permanence in the upper echelons of the national security apparatus, yes, that's troubling.

And you would hope that Congress would confirm people and the president would appoint people to those jobs that were not only qualified but also that, you know, have the ability to stay there for more than ten minutes to have that continuity.

BLITZER: I never understood, Abby, maybe you did, why the president decided on the eve of the anniversary of 9/11 to invite the Taliban leadership to Camp David. The Taliban has never condemned what Al Qaeda did on 9/11.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really is puzzling. And it's puzzling that he brought it up again today of all days. I mean, you have to wonder if the president really did think it was a bad idea. I mean, clearly, a lot of people around him thought it was a terrible idea, including Bolton. And for that reason, the president has cited that as one of the many reasons why he and Bolton didn't see eye to eye.

It seems that President Trump is much more interested in just getting to some kind of deal than making sure that the conditions are right, making sure that something like inviting the Taliban on to U.S. soil [18:35:00] is something that he can have public support for.

So, you know, it's a little bit tone deaf, but it's not surprising that President Trump would kind of just barrel through without really thinking through all the consequences of that.

BLITZER: What about -- what do you think, Jeffrey? Why do you think he was willing to bring these guys over to Camp David?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think that Camp David and the anniversary are terrible ideas.

But I would just like to offer a word of support for the idea of negotiating with the Taliban. You know, you can't make peace with your friends. You have to make peace with your enemies. And, you know, the Taliban are terrible people.

But, you know, is the alternative to keep American troops in Afghanistan forever? Is that something we want? I mean, you know, Richard Holbrooke, the adviser to Obama years ago, wanted to start negotiating with the Taliban. I mean, this is not a crazy idea in and of itself.

And I think, you know, the surrounding circumstances of Camp David and 9/11 have sort of colored this debate when, in fact, the idea of trying to reach some sort of agreement that brings some level of stability to Afghanistan is not in itself a terrible idea.

BLITZER: And you make a very important point. The U.S. Special Ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, for months and months, has been meeting fully authorized by the president with the Taliban to come up with a deal. And, David Swerdlick, I think they were getting closer and closer. My own sense is they were on the verge of some sort of deal. The president wanted to bring them to Camp David so he could potentially claim credit for nailing it all down.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They were getting closer to a deal. But I see two problems here, just going back to what Jeffrey said.

First of all, President Trump has a habit of rushing ahead to the finish line because he likes a big photo op before building all the building blocks of a peace deal that he needs.

And if you compare this to the situation with his negotiations with North Korea, I think you see something similar. He crossed over the 38th parallel, because it was a big splashy moment, even though the deal that he wants to build with North Korea wasn't in place.

He thinks Camp David, and he's of a certain age to remember Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat with Jimmy Carter and the famous handshake photo. He wants that, Wolf. And he's doing -- he's proposing something like a meeting with the Taliban on U.S. soil because that's what sells, that's what has a photo op, not the actual --

BLITZER: And remember, Abby, when President Jimmy Carter invited Menchaem Begin, the prime minister of Israel, and Anwar Sadat, the president of Egypt, at Camp David, this was after Anwar Sadat, the leader of Egypt, had gone to Jerusalem and addressed the Knesset and uttered the words, he wants to make peace with Israel. At that point, Jimmy Carter picked it up and they met at Camp David.

PHILLIP: This is exactly the kind of thing that John Bolton saw in President Trump repeatedly and felt like he needed to be a bulwark against that, that he felt that President Trump always wanted to get to the negotiating table, was willing to give too much, and not get enough in return.

So it's not an unfounded concern that people would have had that the president would have come into a room with these parties and would have given away the store, because he has seemed to be willing to do that in other cases.

And, you know, in the past, on North Korea, Mike Pompeo and others convinced him to walk away from a bad deal the last time that they met face-to-face for an actual negotiation. It's not clear that they would have been able to do that this time around. And I think that's one of the reasons why this relationship really broke irrevocably just days after that meeting with the Taliban was called off.

BLITZER: Your thought?

KUCINICH: You know, to your point, I mean, we don't even know that all the players were at the table at this point when it comes to Afghanistan and the Taliban. So rushing to the end, the president didn't want this to be a celebration. He wanted it to look like it was all coming together because of the stagecraft of it all, which, again, I mean, the stagecraft was part of the problem here because they were going to come on U.S. soil. So, yes, it's problematic and he wants that photo op and would do anything to get there.

BLITZER: Everybody, stick around. There's more we need to discuss on all the breaking news.

The president and the first lady, they are now warning of the very serious health risks from vaping, especially for teenagers. Will the new move to ban flavored eCigarettes save lives?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: Tonight, the vaping industry is bracing for a major crackdown. The Trump administration is moving toward a ban on flavored eCigarettes that are especially popular with teenagers. This comes after hundreds of cases of vaping-related illness and at least six deaths across the United States.

Let's bring in our Senior Medical Correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth, how significant is this announcement today from the White House?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is for sure a very significant announcement. Anti-smoking advocates tell me that they really think that this could make a big difference.

Basically, what the administration is saying, those candy flavored, fruity flavored, minty flavored eCigarettes that have been so popular among young people, that they will ban them.

[18:45:05]

There is one important note, after they ban them, companies such as Juul, which is the big player here, they're allowed to apply to the FDA to try to remarket them. Put them back on the market.

So, there is a possibility they could come back. The advocates say, boy, we hope that the administration makes it clear that the answer to all of those applications will be "no." All of this news is on the heels of some really awful news over the past couple of few weeks. The CDC says some 400 possible vaping-related illnesses across the country and also, in addition to that, six deaths. Most of these have been among really pretty healthy young people.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I understand, Elizabeth, you had the chance to speak to an 18-year-old whose vaping habit almost cost him his life.

COHEN: Right. We met with Adam Hergenreder in Illinois. He was a healthy 16-year-old, was doing great, was athletic. He started vaping, first vaping -- you know, regular vapes, and then marijuana vaping and, all of a sudden, at age 18 became desperately ill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADAM HERGENREDER, ILLINOIS TEEN: I had the shivers and I couldn't control it. So I would just roundly convulse, and it was really scary. I knew it wasn't a stroke, but it felt like that, because I couldn't control myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: Now, we've been hearing about these illnesses from so many people, Wolf. I mean, these are healthy young people who after vaping end up sometimes in the intensive care unit on ventilators, because they can't breathe on their own. And it's a bit of a mystery. What exactly is it in these vapes that is causing these illnesses and are they at all e-cigarettes, only in certain kinds?

That's what the CDC and others are trying to figure out now. There are so many different chemicals in e-cigarettes, which ones exactly are causing these problems? Wolf?

BLITZER: Very important announcement from the White House today.

Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much for that.

We have a lot more news right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:51:39]

BLITZER: We're following the lead-up to Israel's unprecedented repeat election six days from now.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fighting for political survival against challenger Benny Gantz.

CNN's Oren Liebermann has more on the heated election rematch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His victory speech on election night in April came too early, but next Tuesday, Benny Gantz has a chance to do what he couldn't do then, defeat Benjamin Netanyahu.

At Gantz's campaign event, his supporters chant "look who's coming, the next prime minister". After trying and failing to beat Netanyahu the first time, Gantz is vowing to pull out all the stops.

BENNY GANTZ, BLUE AND WHITE PARTY (through translator): We are continuing to work to approach the people. That's what is needed until the end and beyond.

LIEBERMANN: Even those who support Netanyahu realize Gantz is, on paper anyway, a formidable challenger.

BELLA ALKALAI, LIKUD VOTER (through translator): I'm realistic, even though I come from Bibi's camp and will vote for Bibi, I see the political map, and I know the center left will form the next government.

LIEBERMANN: But analysts say his campaign has lacked a message and argue Gantz often comes across as lackluster, leaving some here wondering if he really wants it.

CHEMI SHALEV, HA'ARETZ POLITICAL ANALYST: There might be a secret in his very inept campaign in the sense that it presents such a counter to Netanyahu.

LIEBERMANN: Gantz was a career soldier rising to become Israel's 20th chief of staff. He led the military under two wars in Gaza serving under the man who's now his rival.

Netanyahu has painted as Gantz as inexperience, passive, incapable of running the country and handling world leaders. He says Gantz is a leftist who form a government with the Arabs.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The choice is between a weak, left-wing government led by Gantz or a strong, right-wing government led by me.

LIEBERMANN: But in April, Gantz's Blue and White Party pulled in a million votes falling 15,000 votes short of Netanyahu's Likud Party.

When Netanyahu couldn't form a party for the first time in the country's history, he called new elections instead of giving Gantz the chance to lead the country. If Gantz wants that chance this time, he's going to have to fight for it.

Do you feel confident, I ask?

GANTZ: I feel excellent.

LIEBERMANN: For a soldier who made it to the top, this may be the fight of his life.

Oren Lieberman, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And just ahead, 9/11 remembered.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:58:42]

BLITZER: Finally tonight, we honor the 2,977 men, women and children who died on this day 18 years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(BELL TOLLS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: At the 9/11 Memorial in New York, we saw a ritual so familiar and still so moving. Victims' names read by family members, including sons and daughters saluting parents they've grown up without.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ronnie E. Gies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Andrew Clive Gilbert.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my father Edward Calderon, who will forever live in our hearts. We miss you and we love you dearly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: At the other sites of the attack, more solemn tributes, former President Bush laying a wreath at the Pentagon as President Trump had done earlier, and Vice President Pence in the field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a hijacked plane was brought down by brave passengers.

To all those who suffered and are still suffering, to all those who were heroes, you are, of course, in our thoughts on this day and on all of the September 11th anniversaries to come.

Thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

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