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Can Alex Acosta Survive?; Obamacare in Danger?; Delta Flight Makes Emergency Landing; Here Come the Champions; Trump Tweets Likely a Fatal Blow to U.K. Ambassador. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 10, 2019 - 04:00   ET



[04:03:18] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're talking about a long time ago. And again, it was a decision made I think not by him but by a lot of people.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Can Alex Acosta survive? The embattled labor secretary has the president's support in private, but allies of the president aren't sure.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Obamacare could be in serious jeopardy. Two judges suggest they may back a Texas ruling that says the law cannot exist without the individual mandate.

ROMANS: OK, something you do not want to see. Scary moment on a plane from Atlanta to Baltimore forced to make an emergency landing due to engine trouble.

BRIGGS: And it is a beautiful day for a parade. The U.S. women's national soccer team honored in the Canyon of Heroes right here in New York City later this morning.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. You're heading down there. You're covering the parade.

BRIGGS: I cannot wait.

ROMANS: Lucky. All right.

BRIGGS: Deserving group.

Yes, absolutely.

It is Wednesday, July 10th, 4:00 a.m. in New York and 9:00 a.m. in London.

Let's begin here -- a reprieve for Labor Secretary Alex Acosta at least for now. He's under scrutiny for a sweetheart plea deal he made with Jeffrey Epstein when the well-connected financier faced sex abuse charges in 2008. Sources tell us President Trump is saying privately he has confidence in Acosta.

BRIGGS: The president is downplaying his role in the plea deal which as U.S. attorney he oversaw.


TRUMP: For 2-1/2 years, he's been just an excellent secretary of labor.

[04:05:02] He's done a fantastic job. But you're talking about a long time ago. And again, it was a decision made I think not by him but by a lot of people.


BRIGGS: But CNN has learned that confidence could vanish in a flash depending on the news coverage, of course. The president's longtime confidante Chris Ruddy told Don Lemon Acosta's future is not so bright.


CHRIS RUDDY, CEO & PRESIDENT, NEWSMAX MEDIA: I think the plea agreement he did is indefensible. I think that he's not going to stay for long. I haven't spoken to the president about it, but I do think -- and we're reporting on Newsmax actually tonight, our White House correspondent says he will be out in the next couple of weeks.


BRIGGS: In the next couple of weeks. Acosta ratcheting up his defense of the Epstein deal, saying he is pleased that New York prosecutors are moving forward with the case based on new evidence. That is not enough for the "Miami Herald" editorial board which is calling for Acosta's resignation.

"The Herald" broke of story of Epstein's light punishment, 13 months in county jail and the freedom to work at his office 12 hours a day, six days a week. Not clear yet what if any role Congress will play in investigating the 2008 plea deal which is now under intense scrutiny.

ROMANS: As for Epstein, the president is trying to distance himself in the wake of a new indictment in New York, charging him with running a child sex ring. This is the same Jeffrey Epstein Mr. Trump once described as a terrific guy. Now, not so much.


TRUMP: Well, I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him. People in Palm Beach knew him. He was a fixture in Palm Beach. I had a falling out with him a long time ago. I don't think I've spoken to him for 15 years. I wasn't a fan.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: "The New York Times," though, has reporting this morning suggesting closer ties between the president and Epstein. A 1992 party at Mar-a-Lago billed as a calendar girl competition. A Florida businessman who organized it tells the "Times" 30 people attended this party, 28 girls, Mr. Trump, and Mr. Epstein. That's the entire party.

ROMANS: All right. There are signs this may be the beginning of the end for Obamacare. Two Republican-appointed judges strongly suggesting they back a Texas legal challenge that could doom the law. Chief Justice John Roberts famously upheld the Affordable Care Act, remember, in 2012, declaring the individual mandate legal as a tax. Since Congress eliminated the tax for you not buying insurance, conservatives believed the whole law now is unconstitutional. Such a ruling could wipe out coverage for millions of Americans. This would have a dramatic effect on a presidential race that is already focused heavily on health care.

BRIGGS: Two of the three judges on the appellate panel in New Orleans appear to be siding with a lower court judge who ruled last year the entire law should be struck down.


JUDGE JENNIFER WALKER ELROD, APPOINTED BY PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH IN 2007: If you no longer have the tax, why isn't it unconstitutional?

SAMUEL SIEGEL, DEPUTY SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR CALIFORNIA: Because it is possible to still understand this as a precatory provision that doesn't create any rights or obligation.


BRIGGS: President Trump has repeatedly said people with pre-existing conditions would be covered even if Obamacare is struck down. He's failed to offer any kind of replacement plan.

ROMANS: All right. To immigration now, Mexico's migration crackdown appears to be having an effect. U.S. authorities report a 28 percent decline in southern border arrests in June. Border crossings typically rise in the spring and drop in the summer.

But the decline from May to June was larger than in previous years. It was still the fourth month in a row with border arrests above 100,000. More than doubling the total from June of 2018.

The acting homeland security secretary telling Chris Cuomo the strategy at the border is having an impact.


KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I think we can attribute it to the partnership with Mexico and our efforts to tackle the criminal organizations doing the smuggling. We can't stand pat. We're working further in the region. I've been in Central America twice in the last two weeks, working with the governments of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras on the source of the immigration and on the criminal organizations that are exploiting and incentivizing people to enter the cycle.


ROMANS: OK. The drop in border crossings has provided a small reprieve for U.S. border stations. Officials say they've been brought back from the breaking point, allowing agents to improve care and improve processing times for children and families.

BRIGGS: Airbus is poised to overtake Boeing as the world's largest plane manufacturer. Boeing is reporting no new orders of its MAX aircraft for the third straight month. The fleet has been barred from flying for nearly four months after two deadly crashes killed 346 people. European rival Airbus has already shipped 389 planes through June and is on track to deliver a record number of jets this year.

Boeing's slump is having a ripple affect across the aerospace industry.

[04:10:02] Suppliers have been forced to cut output and idle staff while airlines have had to cancel thousands of flights. Analysts don't expect regulators to clear the MAX to fly again before the end of September. Boeing is still working on fixes to its aircraft's flight control systems.

ROMANS: All right. In a tweet storm, President Trump urged people to support Home Depot and warned two can play that game on business boycotts. The hashtag #boycotthomedepot began trending in response to reports that its co-founder Bernie Marcus plans to back Trump's reelection campaign.

Trump tweeted Tuesday night that they don't want people to shop at those great stores because they contributed to your favorite president, me, exclamation point. These people are vicious and totally crazed. More and more the radical left is using commerce to hurt their enemy. They don't care who gets hurt, but also don't understand that two can play that game.

Marcus retired from Home Depot way back in 2002. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, he donated $7 million to Trump during the 2016 election. In a statement to "USA Today", Home Depot said Marcus, he isn't speaking on behalf of the company. It does not endorse presidential candidates as parts of its practice.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, actor Rip Torn has died.


RIP TORN, ACTOR: I was doing a Bob Hope special at the time, and I was so screwed up I let it affect my work. I -- I made Elke Sommer cry in the middle of a dance rehearsal. I'm not proud of that.


BRIGGS: Born Elmore Torn, the Oscar and Tony nominee won an Emmy for this role as Artie on HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show." He had nearly 200 credits in a career that spanned seven decades. After his success on "The Larry Sanders Show," Torn's career picked up steam leading to a memorable turn in "The Men in Black" franchise.


TORN: Containment may be a moot point, old friend. The exodus continues. Just like the party's over, the last one to leave gets stuck with the check.


BRIGGS: Torn's publicist says he passed away peacefully at his home in Connecticut with his family by his side. Rip Torn was 88.

In a matter of hours, there will be a ticker tape parade for the U.S. women's soccer team down New York's Canyon of Heroes. The team won its second straight World Cup, fourth overall, wrapping up a dominant few weeks with a win over the Netherlands Sunday. It's not clear whether the team will get an invite to the White House even though the president promised one win or lose.

Megan Rapinoe has been an outspoken critic of the president. She had this message for him last night on Anderson Cooper.


MEGAN RAPINOE, USWNT CO-CAPTAIN: I think that I would say that your message is excluding people. You're excluding me. You're excluding people that look like me. You're excluding people of color. You're excluding, you know, Americans that maybe support you.

I think that we need to have a reckoning with the message that you have and what you're saying about make America great again. I think that you're harkening back to an era that was not great for everyone.


BRIGGS: The ticker tape parade begins at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time. I will be part of CNN's live coverage. Keep it here all morning. They seem to have a parade every other year at one point for the Yankees and the Giants, but it's been a while really since they did. The last parade here was the women's soccer team. So, it's pretty unusual.

ROMANS: Oh my gosh. The Canyon of Heroes always really fun.

BRIGGS: A special situation.

ROMANS: All right. Thirteen minutes past the hour.

A mea culpa from a man who called police to report a supposed trespasser.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there's a trespasser in my building.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Dad, don't. Please go --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to your son.


ROMANS: It turned out that wasn't a trespasser at all. Next, you can hear from both men in this new viral video.


[04:18:24] BRIGGS: Harvard's head fencing coach has been fired. Peter Brand's termination comes months after he was accused of selling his Needham, Massachusetts, home for nearly twice what it was worth to a man whose son was actively trying to apply to the school. Harvard athletic director Bob Scalise says the school is committed to upholding the integrity of its athletics program.

Brand's lawyer denies any wrongdoing and calls the firing an egregious disservice to a loyal employee. Last month the federal grand jury was investigating the sale of Brand's home. It's not clear where the investigation stands this morning.

ROMANS: All right. That is definitely not what you want to see at 30,000 feet. A Delta flight forced to make an emergency landing in Raleigh, North Carolina, due to engine problems Monday. Delta says there were 148 customers aboard Flight 1425 from Atlanta to Baltimore. Just one of the aircraft's engines had a problem. This passenger says he just can't stop thinking about it.


TYLER KRUEGER, PASSENGER: Can't get that bang and pop out of my head. It was very, very scary. Smoke started rolling into the cabin. Everything started vibrating on the ceiling.


ROMANS: Oh, man. The flight landed without incident. Passengers were transferred to an alternate flight.

BRIGGS: The father who called police to report a black man at his building on the 4th of July and offering his side of the story. In a video that's gone viral, Christopher Cukor called 911 over his young son's objections.


[04:20:01] UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Daddy, don't. Please go --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to your son.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Daddy, and go -- it's the better -- I agree with him, daddy. It's the better. Please don't. Please. I don't like this. I don't like this. Daddy? I don't like this. Let's go.


BRIGGS: Cukor identified himself as the man in that video which was shared by Wesly Michel. Michel told Cukor he was simply waiting for a friend.

ROMANS: Cukor was calling the police on a black man just waiting for a friend at this building. Cukor says now he reacted based on his past history saying his own father was killed when he confronted a trespasser outside his home, so he called the police on the man waiting to go into the building. Michel responds this way --


WESLY MICHEL, POLICE CALLED WHEN HE VISITED A FRIEND: I can understand that he's been traumatized. It's very, very difficult to try to communicate based on his past experiences. It's very important that people take those experiences and they learn from them but not to impose those ideas and those -- that sensitivity amongst people you don't know.


ROMANS: Cukor was invited to come on Don Lemon's show last night. He politely declined. But he gave the statement that says: Bad actors are different colors. I now realize that Wesly was reacting based on his unique history, as well.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, can the British ambassador do his job effectively after leaked cables show him slamming the president? Perspective from other European ambassadors, next.


[04:26:29] ROMANS: All right. President Trump's tweets slamming the British ambassador to the U.S. reverberating worldwide. The president saying he would no longer deal with Kim Darroch after leaked cables showed Darroch calling Trump inept, insecure and incompetent. Ambassadors across the board are sympathetic to Darroch, but skeptical he can still do his job effectively. The rift also becoming an issue among prime minister hopefuls in the U.K.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin is live for us in London.

And, you know, it's such a confounding job for these diplomats around the world. Their job, of course, is to send unvarnished assessments of leaders and what's happening where they're posted back home. This man, Kim Darroch, did, and now it's causing a lot of problems.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Christine. And a key question here in the U.K. at this point is will Ambassador Kim Darroch remain in his post, or will he go? That is the question that's likely going to be facing the next British prime minister. That leadership contest is well underway between a foreign former secretary, Boris Johnson, seen as a Trump favorite, and the current foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

Hunt has been very outspoken about President Trump's tweets with respect to Darroch. These tweets labeling him as very stupid and whacky. Hunt saying that that was disrespectful and wrong of the president to tweet that. It was a topic that unsurprisingly came up in a debate last night.

Hunt saying that he -- if it is the -- if he is the next British prime minister, that Darroch will remain in that top post until he retires end of December.

Boris Johnson, however, refused to be drawn on that question specifically. Watch the exchange.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE: It is vital that our civil service is not politicized by ministers leaking what they say.

MODERATOR: Will he still have his job come January --

JOHNSON: Whoever leaked that deserves to be eviscerated.

JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE: Boris, just answer the question --


HUNT: I will keep him until he's due to retire. And I think we'd like to know if you would.

JOHNSON: Well, I'm not going to be so presumptuous as to --

MODERATOR: Thank you, OK --



MCLAUGHLIN: Now, while other top E.U. diplomats there in Washington privately tell CNN that it would be very difficult for Darroch to be continuing to be effective in that position, Theresa May has said that she's standing by her ambassador, that he will remain in post. We do expect to hear from Theresa May for the first time later today in what's known as prime minister's questions. It will be interesting to see if she addresses President Trump's tweets during that time. Many here saying that with only two weeks left for her in her premiership, she has nothing to lose -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Erin for us in London this morning -- thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. Back here, seven wins in a row for the American League Major League Baseball all stars. They defeated the National League 4-3 in Cleveland last night. Indians pitcher Shane Bieber electrifying the hometown crowd by striking out the side in the fifth inning. That enough to earn the 24-year-old right-hander MVP honors.

C.C. Sabathia, the former Indian, also honored. The Yankees veteran pitcher is retiring at the end of the season. He was sent to the mound with one out remaining in the game to say good-bye.

Also, there a moment of silence for Tyler Skaggs, the Los Angeles angels pitcher who was found dead in his Texas hotel room just over a week ago. There's Mike Trout who wore the number 45 of Skaggs. Also salute to Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco.