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Trump Tweets About-Face On Census Question; President Trump Promises Fourth Of July Show Of A Lifetime; U.N. Says Libya Migrant Attack May Be War Crime. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 4, 2019 - 05:30   ET



[05:31:06] MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN ANCHOR: An incredible reversal from the Justice Department. By way of tweet, the president demands a citizenship question on the census against orders from the Supreme Court.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: No military money for a border wall -- another blow to the White House efforts to fulfill a major campaign promise.

KOSINSKI: A salute to America tonight in D.C., but military brass are concerned about politicizing the military.


CLIP FROM DISNEY'S "The Little Mermaid."


BRIGGS: Disney with a major casting move. Who's going to play Ariel in the live-action version of "The Little Mermaid"?

KOSINSKI: Dave's been singing that song all morning.

BRIGGS: I have been singing.

And I've also been just watching the fireworks displays from across the country. This is a spectacular one just north of Orlando last night. I'm guessing this was the finale because they were cranking at that time. A lot of cities across the country had them on the third.

KOSINSKI: My gosh, that's a lot.

BRIGGS: A lot more tonight, of course, in New York and D.C., but some spectacular displays, including that one.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. Happy birthday, America.

Welcome back to EARLY START.


BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSINSKI: I bought a few fireworks and I'm not --

BRIGGS: You brought some fireworks?

KOSINSKI: -- you're not going to know when I'm going to set them off.

BRIGGS: On the roof deck or when are we doing that?

KOSINSKI: Yes, right here -- right here in the studio. I'm not going to tell you when I'm going to set them off.

BRIGGS: I'm looking forward to it.

KOSINSKI: It'll be a surprise.


KOSINSKI: It is 32 minutes past the hour.

BRIGGS: All right.

We start in the nation's capital with extraordinary proof of how disruptive one man's tweets can be when that man happens to be the President of the United States. The Justice Department reversing course, now looking for a way to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census despite a Supreme Court ruling that blocks it.

The about-face coming just one day after the administration said it would drop the fight and print the form. But then, Wednesday morning, President Trump shook up multiple government agencies, tweeting he was "absolutely moving forward" with adding the question.

He also called news reports about the census "fake" despite the fact that his own departments -- two of them -- said the question had been dropped.

Note that just a few weeks ago, President Trump said this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think that -- and I'm not totally involved in that -- that's really a legal matter.


KOSINSKI: Well, somehow, though, the president decided to get involved.

His tweet caught DOJ lawyers off guard. Two federal judges demanded to know more.

One government lawyer said, simply, "I do not have a deeper understanding of what that means at this juncture other than what the president has tweeted." Last week, the Supreme Court blocked the citizenship question, suggesting the government's reasons for adding it were merely a pretext.

A new setback for the White House in its bid to build a border wall. A federal appeals court blocking President Trump from redirecting $2.5 billion from the military budget to pay for it.

The Ninth Circuit says the spending power remains in the hands of Congress, rejecting the administration's claim that public interest justified the move.

This just hours after acting Homeland Security Sec. Kevin McAleenan ordered an investigation into offensive posts involving border patrol personnel. That decision, prompted by a closed Facebook group for current and former agents, was uncovered that featured jokes about migrant deaths.

And a new report from the inspector general at DHS just revealed troubling conditions inside migrant detention centers.

BRIGGS: None of this, though, seems to be fazing President Trump. He tweeted, quote, "Our border people are not hospital workers, doctors or nurses. Many of these illegal aliens are living far better now than where they came from and in far safer conditions."

[05:35:00] That remark got the attention of presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, maybe he ought to go sleep in one of those detention centers and then tell us about how great the conditions are.


BRIGGS: One insight on those conditions from newly-released drawings by some of the children inside those detention centers. The president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics received them from a social worker. They appear to depict children in cages.

And we've learned just Tuesday, 33 migrants, including a pregnant woman and children, were found inside a 100-degree semitrailer in Arizona. The trailer was filled with produce from Mexico -- the refrigeration not turned on.

KOSINSKI: The Biden and Harris campaigns trading new blows over busing to desegregate schools. Now, Kamala Harris appears to at least partly embrace the position she criticized Joe Biden for just last week.

Harris was asked again yesterday to clarify her position on mandatory busing for desegregation -- listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Busing is a tool among many that should be considered when they address the issue, which is a very current issue as well as a past issue, of desegregation in America's schools.

So, I think of busing as being in the toolbox of what is available and what can be used for the goal of desegregating America's schools. I believe that any tool that is in the toolbox should be considered by a school district.


KOSINSKI: Note that Harris just described busing as a choice for schools systems. Contrast that to her breakthrough moment at the debate, criticizing Biden for his opposition to federally-mandated busing in the 1970s.


HARRIS: Do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in American then?


HARRIS: Do you agree?

BIDEN: I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education. That's what I opposed.

HARRIS: I was part of the second class to integrate Berkeley, California public schools almost two decades after Brown v. Board of Education.

BIDEN: Because your city council made that decision. It was a local decision.

HARRIS: So that's where the federal government must step in.


BRIGGS: Now, their campaigns are going at it on Twitter, with Biden's communications director tweeting, "It's disappointing that Sen. Harris chose to distort Vice President Biden's position on busing, particularly now that she is tying herself in knots trying not to answer the very question she posed to him."

Harris' press secretary using a Biden quote from 1975, slamming back. "He called busing an 'asinine concept.' C'mon, y'all are better than this.'"

KOSINSKI: And this reply from the Biden camp.

"If we are cherry-picking quotes on Twitter, what about this one from this January? Senator Harris said, 'You're not going to hear me criticize Joe Biden. I think he's a great guy.'" Expect this to come up during a big CNN exclusive. Former Vice President Biden sits down with Chris Cuomo. See it starting tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. only on CNN.

BRIGGS: Looking forward to that.

KOSINSKI: Yes, that's going to be good.

BRIGGS: All right.

Perhaps emboldened by her strong polling following the debate, Sen. Harris is launching a new scathing line of attack against President Trump.


HARRIS: And I've prosecuted the big banks when the preyed on homeowners. I've prosecuted the pharmaceutical companies when they preyed on seniors. I have prosecuted transnational criminal organizations when they prey on women and children.

I know predators and we have a predator living in the White House. Donald Trump has predatory nature and predatory instincts.

And the thing about predators you should know is that they prey on the vulnerable. They prey on those who they do not believe are strong. And the thing about predators you must, most importantly, know, predators are cowards.


BRIGGS: Harris says she's prepared to successfully prosecute the case against four more years of Donald Trump. CNN has reached out but no reaction, so far, from the White House nor the Trump campaign.

KOSINSKI: President Trump says his July Fourth military extravaganza and speech in Washington will be, quote, "The show of a lifetime." But the cost, optics, and tone of his salute to America have critics wondering if it really will be nonpartisan as promised or the president will go off-script and make it a Trump rally.

Some top military brass are concerned. One retired four-star Marine general telling "The New York Times," "Leave tanks for Red Square."

CNN's Kaitlin Collins reports from the White House.


KAITLIN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Dave and Michelle, we are now just hours away from this grand extravaganza that the president has planned for the Fourth of July celebration, something that we should note past presidents have not typically attended her in the nation's capital.

We also have military officials telling CNN behind the scenes that there have been top officials at the Pentagon who have been reluctant to parade out the military equipment that you're going to see during this event because they don't want the president to politicize the military.

[05:40:05] Of course, the other thing that people are paying close attention to is how much this is all going to cost and so far, the Department of Defense has not revealed just what kind of a price tag they're expecting on this.

But we do know that "The Washington Post" is reporting they're going to divert at least $2.5 million from the National Park Service -- that's money they get from entrance fees and what-not -- and they're going to use that to help cover just a fraction of what this event is going to cost -- Dave and Michelle.


KOSINSKI: Right -- no one's saying what the total price tag is going to be. Thanks, Kaitlin.

And one note about tonight's salute to America. CNN will carry the event live. The White House has explicitly said this is not a campaign rally but we want you, the viewers, to see it and decide for yourself.

BRIGGS: One thing the White House cannot control is the weather outside, and rain could put a damper on tonight's event in Washington while millions across the eastern U.S. are braving sweltering heat.

Meteorologist Karen Maginnis with your forecast.


KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is going to be a typical July Fourth holiday forecast for just about everyone -- sticky, hot, muggy, oppressive, and can't rule out some thunderstorms. Washington, D.C., about a 60 percent chance.

As we look up and down the Eastern Seaboard, Atlanta is going to be hot -- lots of 90s. The world's largest 10K happens in the morning hours. But we're looking at 60,000 that don't really care that it's going to be that muggy. They just want the t-shirt.

New York City, that looks pretty good. It doesn't look like very much of a chance of rainfall.

And, Boston, it looks like a good forecast. It's going to be a little steamy there, about 84 degrees.

We see the most organized area of thunderstorms right across the Central Plains. That's where we could see an isolated to severe thunderstorm.

Atlanta will feel like 97. Chicago will feel like 94.

And if you're going to Washington, D.C., you'll have to dodge the raindrops. Most of the fireworks from there are going to be Mother Nature's variety. It will feel like 97.

Back to you guys.


BRIGGS: OK. Nashville, one of my favorite fireworks displays. Ninety-six there, though, tonight.

KOSINSKI: You know, in D.C., they're worried about the crowd size and Republican groups scrambling to make sure those numbers are big. But if it's going to --


KOSINSKI: -- rain, that would be --

BRIGGS: This White House concerned about crowd size? How amusing.

KOSINSKI: -- that could be a reason to say --

BRIGGS: Where have we heard that before?

All right, never has 10 miles seemed to close. That's the distance between the Jersey shore and the spot off Cape May where researchers expect an 800-lb. great white shark to spend the holiday weekend. Dear God.

The research group, OCEARCH, has even posted a helpful Twitter feed to help nervous beachgoers keep track of the shark, nicknamed "Miss May".

OCEARCH, which tags and tracks sea creatures, says Miss May is likely just passing through on her way north.

I hope my young daughter is not up. She would not swim in the ocean last night for fear of a great white shark in Connecticut.

KOSINSKI: That is scary.

BRIGGS: That is freaky -- all right.

KOSINSKI: Well, gas prices are up for the July Fourth holiday. For reasons you're paying more, next.


[05:47:27] KOSINSKI: United Nations officials say an attack on a migrant detention center in Libya that killed more than 40 people may amount to a war crime.

CNN's Becky Anderson is live in Abu Dhabi.

And, Becky, I know this has garnered condemnation from around the world -- a horrific attack. The militants in Libya -- the Libyan National Army is denying responsibility. Is there any indication as to who is responsible for this?


As you rightly point out, the U.N. special representative to Libya describing this attack as a war crime. It's unclear at this stage whether the Tajoura detention center was the actual target. There are, for example, Michelle, weapons depots nearby.

But what is clear is that more 40 people have been killed and the death toll could rise.

Now, who are these migrants and why are they there? Well, they're mostly from Sub-Saharan African -- men, women, and children who have left their homes and families to seek out a better life across the Med in Europe. Libya is their transit point, of course.

Italy is the -- in the past, the destination of choice. But under a new hardline migrant policy, Italy is now refusing to accept these vessels and is sending them back. And so, these migrants are ending up in these squalid centers that are run by the Libyan government, the U.N. has repeatedly said should be closed down.

Now, human rights staff, they say, have documented severe overcrowding, torture, ill-treatment, forced labor, rape, and acute malnutrition, amongst other human rights violations.

This is, Michelle, the second time this center has been hit. The U.N. calling for a full, independent investigation into why this happened.

As you rightly point out, no claim of responsibility as of yet. The U.N.-backed government in Tripoli blaming Khalifa Haftar, the renegade general. In turn, he is saying that his forces are being blamed to basically give them a bad rap, as it were.

But what is clear is that those victims have nothing to do with this bloody battle in Libya. And yet, it is these migrants who are losing their lives, Michelle.

KOSINSKI: Yes. Becky, as always, thanks for that great analysis.

BRIGGS: All right, 5:49 and a check on "CNN Business".

[05:50:00] The U.S. trade deficit is growing despite a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods that took effect in the first half of May. Now, Vietnam, Taiwan, Bangladesh, and South Korea are coming out as winners of the U.S.-China trade war.

New data from the Census Bureau shows the trade deficit jumped 8.4 percent in May and the U.S. imported 12 percent fewer goods from China during the first five months of the year. Imports from Vietnam, Taiwan, Bangladesh, and South Korea all increased.

American importers are buying less from China -- instead, turning to other Asian countries to avoid President Trump's tariffs. Those tariffs have made products in China more expensive for importers. It's unclear, though, whether companies are permanently shifting production outside of China or simply rerouting goods for minimal processing. Last week, President Trump and President Xi agreed to a temporary trade truce and said talks would resume.

Markets are closed today for Independence Day. Stocks remained resilient Wednesday with all three major averages closing at record highs.

The Dow closed up 179 points at 26,966, marking its first record since October. The third-straight record day for the S&P 500, which ended the day at 2,996. The Nasdaq closed at its first record level since May third. Markets will reopen Friday.

Well, if you're hitting the road to watch the fireworks, you're going to pay more at the pump. Gas prices have jumped a nickel or more ahead of the holiday weekend. The national average now $2.75.

There are a few factors driving up prices.

Iran's attacks on two oil tankers raised concerns that the flow of oil in the region could be restricted, OPEC extending oil production cuts that had been aimed at propping up prices, and there are simply more drivers on the road. AAA estimates the number of Americans traveling this holiday will reach an all-time high of nearly 49 million.

Lastly, if affordable burritos are on your holiday menu, well, listen to this. Taco Bell has a supply problem, announcing some of its restaurants are experiencing a tortilla shortage. The tortillas are used for quesadillas and burritos.

The chain encouraging customers to order items that are not made with tortillas while it works to replenish the supply.

KOSINSKI: That's just blasphemy.

BRIGGS: We'll be right back.


[05:56:39] BRIGGS: All right, 5:56 Eastern time.

And, Boeing plans to pay out $100 million to families who lost loved ones in two deadly 737 MAX crashes in the past year. The company says it will give the money to local nonprofits and community organizations to distribute to relatives of the 346 people who died. It will be used for living expenses and to support the education of the victims' children.

The announcement was not well-received by family members who sued Boeing. An attorney for dozens of those families calls the offer "disingenuous and vague."

KOSINSKI: Well, sorry, everyone, but 45,000 barrels of whiskey are up in flames. Kentucky firefighters are battling a massive fire at a Jim Beam warehouse. The fire started Tuesday night but all the alcohol and the debris is keeping the blaze alive. The fire is not expected to affect product availability, though, for Jim Beam customers. BRIGGS: Meghan McCain may be leaving "THE VIEW". Two sources tell CNN McCain is feeling dejected and sabotaged by her colleagues at ABC and doesn't think it's worth it anymore. A senior ABC employee says she is, quote, "miserable."

According to a friend, McCain is particularly concerned about leaks that seem intended to hurt her and believes ABC should be doing more to defend her.

One executive with ties to the show believes leaks of her departure could be a contract negotiation strategy.


CLIP FROM DISNEY'S "The Little Mermaid."


KOSINSKI: A big splash from Disney. Singer Halle Bailey has been cast as Ariel -- Oriel -- Ariel --

BRIGGS: Ariel.

KOSINSKI: -- Ariel in Disney's upcoming live-action remake of the animated classic.

Bailey is one of half of the musical sisters Chloe and Halle. She took to Twitter to say it was a dream come true. She's the first woman of color to be cast in the role of a previously white Disney princess.

Director Rob Marshall said, "It was abundantly clear Halle possesses a rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance -- plus, a glorious singing voice."

BRIGGS: All right.

KOSINSKI: She's got it all.

BRIGGS: Fantastic -- I can't wait for that one.

KOSINSKI: Thanks for joining us. I'm Michelle Kosinski. And have a great Fourth of July.

BRIGGS: Yes, please do. I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

We leave you with a spectacular display in Buckeye Nation -- Columbus, Ohio, celebrating one day early.

Happy birthday, America. Enjoy your holiday, everyone.

KOSINSKI: Try not to blow anything up.


COLLINS: Trump insisting he's not dropping his effort to add a citizenship question to the census.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He continues to think he can force his various departments to bend to his will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the Department of Justice appears to be trying to provide some wiggle room for the Trump administration.

TRUMP: We're going to have a great Fourth of July. It'll be like no other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's great to celebrate America's birthday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wants there to be a huge turnout. He wants this to be a mega event.

BUTTIGIEG: Trying to enlist people in uniform to decorate his political agenda diminishes the military.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is a special holiday edition of NEW DAY. Happy Fourth of July, everybody.

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: Happy Fourth of July.

CAMEROTA: I see you representing.

AVLON: Independence Day -- love it.

CAMEROTA: Love it, too. Great to have you here.

So, John Berman is off. John Avlon joins me. It's 6:00 a.m. in the East.