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Epstein Indictment Raises New Questions about Acosta; Biden Opposes Medicare for All Plan. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 9, 2019 - 05:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: -- multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein raising new questions about a Trump cabinet official, the first of what could be many calls for the Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to resign. Came overnight from the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, "Secretary Acosta must step down. As U.S. Attorney, he engaged in an unconscionable agreement from Jeffrey Epstein kept secret from courageous young victims preventing them from seeking justice."

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: As U.S. Attorney in Florida in 2007, Acosta negotiated a plea deal that sentenced Epstein to 13 months in county jail while allowing him to work from his office six days a week, 12 hours a day. Epstein had been facing life in prison. Late last year Republican Senator Ben Sasse asked the Justice Department to investigate its treatment of Epstein. Sasse not commenting on Acosta's future but does say this about Epstein.


SENATOR BEN SASSE, (R) NEBRASKA: This guy victimized dozens, probably scores of little girls and the sentence he got was pathetic and every mom and dad in America, frankly not just moms and dads, but anybody with a heart should be heart broken by what happened to those girls.

Government ought to be doing a lot more of this. Going after bastards like this guy and it shouldn't-- This isn't a time for people to say oh, is a Republican or Democrat going to be implicated? Every American should stand on the side of those little girls.


BRIGGS: Amen. The indictment against Epstein contains some very troubling details. More on that from Miguel Marquez.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Dave, there are lurid sexual allegations again against multimillionaire investment banker Jeffrey Epstein who's been charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy, but New York prosecutors, they're looking for more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you believe you are a victim of this man, Jeffrey Epstein, we want to hear from you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MARQUEZ: Prosecutors allege over four years Epstein lured underage women, some as young as 14 years old, to massage him and engage in sexual acts in his Palm Beach Florida and New York homes. Epstein has pleaded not guilty to the charges. In addition to finding hundreds, possibly thousands of photos of nude and partially nude young women and girls, some of them locked in a safe, investigators found compact disks with handwritten labels including the following, young name, plus name, miscellaneous nudes one and girls, girl pics nude.

Now Epstein is already a registered sex offender after agreeing to a plea deal with Florida prosecutors in 2008. The Miami Herald in an investigation helped prompt the new charges found that Acosta signed off on a deal in 2008 essentially shutting down an FBI investigation giving immunity to any potential co-conspirators allowing the multimillionaire to pay restitution to his victims, register as a sex offender and plead guilty to two state charges.

Epstein is connected to the President. He was photographed with Trump in 1997 and 2000 at the President's Mar-a-Lago estate, also in Palm Beach, Florida. In a 2002 New York magazine, Epstein profile, Trump said of him, "I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."

Now just this past Sunday the president was asked if he had any comments on Epstein and/or the case and he said I don't know about it. Christine, Dave.

ROMANS: All right, Miguel, thank you for that. An attorney for the Trump organization has said Trump had no relationship with Epstein. Jeffrey Epstein also has connections to Bill Clinton. The Clinton spokesperson says, the former President took a total of four trips on Epstein's private jet in 2002 and 2003 including stops in connection with the work of the Clinton Foundation.

The spokesman says, Mr. Clinton has not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade and Clinton, "knows nothing" about Epstein's, "terrible crimes."

BRIGGS: At a plan to let you see drug prices on TV ads nixed by a federal judge was set to take effect today. But District Judge Amit Mehta of Washington D.C. vacated the Health and Human Services measure rolling the agency over stepped its authority. The judge says the responsibility of driving down drug prices lies with Congress putting prices in ads was the center piece of a White House effort to bring down drug prices. But experts say it could be misleading since most people with insurance pay far less.

ROMANS: Joe Biden says he opposes the Medicare for all plan being promoted by many of the Democratic rivals. The former Vice President is the only one of the four top polling Dems who does not support some form of single payer health insurance. Biden said that kind of system could not co-exist with the Affordable Care Act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think they think they have the right answer. But look, starting over would be I think a sin. They are saying they want to -- if you are satisfied with your employer-based health care, you've got to give it up. Look, we provide a Medicare option. That's exactly what Barack and I talked about in the beginning.

[05:35:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Couldn't get it through though?

BIDEN: No, we couldn't, yeah, but now, now things are changing.


BRIGGS: All right, let's bring in CNN White House Reporter Sarah Westwood live this morning in Washington. Good to see you Sarah.

ROMANS: Hi, Sarah.

BRIGGS: So all of this talk about, you know, bussing in the 1970s, this is the issue voters care about and are asking about on the trail. Joe Biden protecting Obamacare, the only one who takes that stance is his stance on health care, the reason he is the leader in all the polls?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Dave, this is a really strategic move on the part of the former Vice President because, for one, it does help him distinguish himself as a moderate in a field of candidates who are running to the left is progressives.

He's also insulating himself against potential criticisms of inconsistency because as a former vice president for the eight years of the Obama administration he's very closely associated with Obamacare. He may bear some responsibility for its implementation so people could question why he would be abandoning that policy if he were to come out in favor of Medicare for all.

And also this allows him to draw a really direct contrast with President Trump and perhaps that's the most important reason. Because President Trump is calling Obamacare a failure and saying he wants to replace it. And a Democrat who's running on Medicare for all would essentially be agreeing with President Trump --

ROMANS: Right.

WESTWOOD: That Obamacare is broken. Biden is able to say, directly to President Trump that he does not think Obamacare is broken. That's a much more direct confrontation on President Trump's health care.


ROMANS: The difference between President Trump and the Democrats is the Democrats say what they want to replace it with. President Trump and his administration have not said what they wanted to replace it with. They just want to replace it and a plan was coming in two months, about two months ago we heard in, has not happened yet. So Biden is against Medicare for all. But Elizabeth Warren, Senator Warren is one of those Democrats who is for it. And it seems to be working for her at least in the fundraising. She raised $19 million in the quarter. Those are $28 on average donations, 80% new donors, which means they can go back to them. What does that tell you about the energy, I guess, that Elizabeth Warren's many, many plans for that is generating?

WESTWOOD: Well, this is really an incredible validation for Elizabeth Warren, right? She raised just $6 million in the first quarter. There were some doubts about her strategy to abandon high dollar fundraising, the traditional big donor circuit that she really issued. Her finance director resigned in March, also in partly in protest of that move by Elizabeth Warren. So there were some doubts that she was going to be able to raise enough money to stay in the top tier with focusing only on small dollar donors. That was Senator Bernie Sanders' niche and that's really her top rival for the progressive mantle in this primary. So the fact that she was able to out raise him, essentially beat him at his own game really could establish her as a progressive alternative to Bernie Sanders. Also the specificity of the plans that she is releasing has really endeared her to Democrats who are hungry for someone, who is more policy oriented. That could be a really strong contrast to President Trump who was famously as you just mentioned, Christine, not big on detail.

BRIGGS: No, very famously. They are. Let's turn to the story of this man, Jeffrey Epstein, well-connected financier with some disturbing allegations outlined earlier by Miguel Marquez. And now the question going forward is, can the Labor Secretary, Alex Acosta, survive? He is the one who gave a -- or at least signed off on a sweetheart deal for Epstein back in 2008 which, according to a Florida judge, broke the law because it did not inform 30 child victims of this plea deal. Can Acosta survive? Because Nancy Pelosi seems to be the only one right now calling for him to step down?

WESTWOOD: That's right, Dave. Right now the pressure on Secretary Acosta to resign is not all that high. The six Senate Democrats who crossed party lines and voted for his confirmation have not yet come out and started to call for his resignation. That's given him some insulation. Senate Republicans also not so far coming out and demanding his resignation but really the pressure could only ratchet up from here especially as more detail of that extremely lenient plea agreement could come to light over the course of this new Epstein case. But I think what you are seeing in Washington a real reluctant to politicize Epstein case. Have you ever seen Washington so slow to politicize anything just because there's so much uncertainty surrounding what the larger implications the Epstein case could be?

BRIGGS: Right. It seems like everyone may be involved here. And maybe that explain the silence.

ROMANS: We know there were maybe big names involved who were sort of granted immunity into that first deal. If that that deal --

BRIGGS: And on both sides of the political spectrum, yeah.

ROMANS: Yeah, and if that deal is illegal, then what could come out of there? Let's -- let Alex Costa speak in his own words because he was asked by one senator --

BRIGGS: Tim Kaine.

ROMANS: Tim Kaine. One senator in his confirmation hearing about his ties to Epstein and that sweetheart deal of essentially soliciting childhood prostitution is what he was convicted of. Listen.


[05:40:01] ALEXANDER ACOSTA, THEN LABOR SECRETARY NOMINEE: Based on the evidence, the professionals within a prosecutor's office decide that a plea that guarantees that someone goes to jail, that guarantees that someone register generally and that guarantees other outcomes is a good thing.


ROMANS: A good thing. In the federal prosecutors this week, noting that Epstein himself has downplayed and himself said, this is sweetheart deal. He said, basically I'm not a sexual predator, I'm an offender. It's the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel. Sex with children, stealing a bagel.

WESTWOOD: Right. And the White House really is going to be ultimate arbiter of whether Acosta stays or goes. And the White House has put itself in a position to address this. A position that they didn't necessarily have to be in because a few months ago when scrutiny of this deal started coming to light because of that fantastic investigation by the Miami Herald, White House Press Secretary at the time, Sarah Sanders, said the White House was reviewing the case.

Now the White House could have ignored it, the White House could have issued a blanket statement of support for Secretary Acosta. But instead they said they were looking into it and they still haven't responded as to how that review will play out. Whether they did determine, whether there was impropriety on the part of Acosta but now the White House has put itself in the position to have to answer for their opinion of Acosta's behavior in that instance and they haven't done so, so far.

BRIGGS: And for their often lax vetting procedures again and again and again, we have talked about that. But don't have time to go down that road.

ROMANS: Nice to see you, Sarah. Thank you.

BRIGGS: Sarah thanks.

WESTWOOD: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, a drama in the courtroom as the family of Kevin Spacey's accuser takes the stand.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this is going way too far. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, I'll decide that. You answer the questions, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I think if I had way too many questions that have gone way too far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, listen to me, you keep this up and I'm going to hold you in contempt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I asked you a question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, are you not hearing me sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am. I'm sorry. Look, my sorry. My son --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to me, this is not about that at this moment. It's about what you know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it has turned into that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You -- Listen, you're real close.


ROMANS: Now the judge says he may dismiss the case against the Oscar Winner. Spacey's accuser invoked the Fifth Amendment Monday after initially testified he did not delete anything from the cell phone essential to the case. The prosecution said, it obtained data from the phone which is shared with the defense and return the phone to the man's family but the phone is now missing. Police (ph) investigator on the case testified the data had been altered on that phone.

BRIGGS: Ahead, Iran already speeding up uranium enrichment. Now Tehran caught in the lie over a seized ship in Gibraltar. A live report next.


[05:47:00] BRIGGS: For more than a year the gulf between Washington and Tehran over the Iran nuclear deal has been widening. European leaders have been caught in the middle trying to bridge the gap and preserve the increasingly shaky agreement now Europe's efforts to hold it together. It seemed stretched to the very breaking point.

International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson is in Gibraltar where the British have detained an Iranian oil tanker suspected a violating sanctions. Nic, this should not help relations between the Europeans and Iran?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's a point of escalation actually right now. What we heard about the Gibraltar authorities late last night obviously backed by the British government is they've investigated the cargo on board this super tanker. They said that it is crude oil that is filled up to the top with crude oil which reaffirms what they said all along. But they believed it was on the way to a Syrian oil refinery under E.U. sanctions. So this kind of dismisses what Iran has been saying, that the ship wasn't going to an Iranian oil refinery. While a tanker full of crude coming in to the Mediterranean doesn't have many options or places to go. So that again is a point of escalation. We've also heard from one of the senior advisors to the supreme leader in Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei That advisor saying that the British detention of this vessel cannot go unanswered. So tensions on this front rising, tensions on the nuclear deal rising.

Now Iran has sort of tipped the scales on two points of that deal and threatened to break a third point. The French now, President Macron talked with President Trump on Monday, the French sending one of their senior diplomats to Tehran to try to tamp down these great tensions at the moment. But of course the G-20 in Osaka just 10 days ago, President Macron actually spoke face-to-face with President Trump about trying this sort of initiatives. So this does seem to be the French initiative here to deescalate tensions does seem to be gaining some traction. But whether or not it can actually achieve anything given Iran's absolutely, if you will, intransigent position it seems on breaking the terms of the nuclear deal, it's hard to see what progress the French may make in the short order at least.

BRIGGS: Right. And those are hanging on by a thread. Nic Robertson, live force in Gibraltar. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, let's go check on CNN business this Tuesday morning. A case for raising the federal minimum wage, the Congressional Budget Office, the CBO says raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour by the year 2025 would give 17 million people a raise but 1.3 million would lose their job. That's of course because when you raise wages it can cut into corporate profitability and stem hiring in some spots. Wage growth remained at 3.1% for June.

Now that's good news for workers. But investor worry those higher costs could cut into profits. That 3.1% still beats inflation. Many think wages though should be growing faster this late in the business cycle as employers have to compete to attract workers.

In the absence of federal action, cities and states, even companies have been raising their minimum wage at least 19 states up their minimum on around New Year's Day this year. Many of the increases reached that $15 an hour level.

[05:50:08] Let's take a look at markets around the world right now. You can see a mixed performance in Asia. Europe opened slightly. Frankfurt down more than 1%. Here Wall Street leaning a little bit lower here as well, about half a percent move for the Dow industrials.

The Dow closed lower amid worries about whether the Fed will really step in there and cut interest rates. The Dow closed 116 points lower. The S&P 500, the NASDAQ also down. The markets are expecting an interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve. That's why the S&P is up, like 18% this year. But a strong jobs report indicates Wall Street might be ahead of itself. The Fed is due to decide on rates at the end of the month.

We'll be right back.


[05:55:10] BRIGGS: Well, the happiest place on earth turned downright ugly over the holiday weekend. A violent brawl among family members at Disneyland. Children can be heard crying throughout the whole ordeal. The video shows a man repeatedly hitting a woman after she spat on his face. Another woman got involved on a motorized scooter. She actually stands up before she fell or was pushed to the ground, tough to tell. The agitator was finally brought down about three minutes later. Police say the family was uncooperative and refused to provide any information on what sparked the flight.

ROMANS: A Florida High School principal could not say the holocaust was a factual historic event and now he is been reassigned. A parent has reached out to William Latson last year with the question about how the Boca Raton High School handles the holocaust and its curriculum.

And Latson responded by writing back to this parent, "I can't say the holocaust is a factual historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee." Okay. The school district called Latson's email is not just offensive but completely out of step with the education efforts. In a statement Latson says he regrets that the words he used did not reflect his commitment to educating students about the atrocities of the holocaust.

BRIGGS: A 1-year-old daughter of an Indiana police officer died Sunday when she slipped out of her grandfather's hands and fell in the 11th story of a royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Salvatore Anello of Valparaiso, Indiana tells police he was holding his granddaughter outside of a window while the ship was docked in Puerto Rico. Salvatore is under investigation. The girl's father has been identified by south bend police as Officer Alan Wiegand. He and his daughter were traveling with two siblings and two sets of granddaughters were on the Freedom of the Seas which had not yet departed San Juan for its first up in Sint Marteen.

ROMANS: It's awful.

All right, strong ratings for the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team World Cup Victory Sunday. Despite the midday time slot, about 14 million people watched it on TV in the U.S. That beat last year's men's World Cup Final between France and Croatia. That averaged 4.8 million.

CROWD: We are the champions.

ROMANS: Team U.S.A. arrived back home last night, spoke about the equal pay issue. Over the past three years the women's team has made more revenue then the man despite being paid less. That's the men's world cup last year made $6 billion dollars in revenue while the women's tournament is expected to generate 130 million.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALEX MORGAN, WOMEN'S WORLD CUP CHAMPION: It's so evident more today than ever that we do need to use our voice for what we believe in and for the opinions that have.

MEGAN RAPINOE, WOMEN'S WORLD CUP CHAMPION: We understand what kind of stage we're on. We're very aware of the attention that we had the platform that we have. We knew that this will be a huge summer for us in many different ways. And this is just the first step in a very big summer that we to have.


ROMANS: You can find Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe on the new "Sports Illustrated" cover complete with Rapinoe in her classic pose.

All right, a gender reveal goes badly wrong. A video shows, a car burst into flames on the gold coast while he was performing a burnout to announce the gender of a friend's baby, panicked onlookers running to free the drivers from the flaming car. The incident was last April but police release it in a bid to deter other from similar actions.

BRIGGS: History in Cleveland. Rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr. setting an all-time record with 29 homers in each of the first two rounds of last night's major league baseball home run derby, but it was the Mets rookie Pete Alonso who took home the top prize, a 1 million bucks which he plans to donate part of his winning to the wounded warrior project and the tunnel to towers charity benefiting first responders a lot more homers tonight in the Major League All-Star Game tonight in Cleveland

ROMANS: Super fun to watch. All right, that's it for us on Tuesday morning. Thanks for joining us. Have a great rest of your day. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Here is New Day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Multimillionaire financier, Jeffrey Epstein, a registered sex offender pleading not guilty to two sex trafficking charges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a man who is now looking at spending the rest of his natural life in jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The alleged behavior shocks the conscience.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The one thing you cannot say about Joe is that he's a racist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to have a problem with black voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can go back and pick everybody's record apart. No one knows the context of the moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: $19.1 million in the second quarter for Elizabeth Warren.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is vaulting into the very top tier of the candidates that are out there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is "New Day" with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.