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Sources: Trump Confident in Alex Acosta; Beginning of the End for Obamacare; Trump Tweets Likely a Fatal Blow to UK Ambassador. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 10, 2019 - 05:30   ET




[05:30:17] DONALD TRUMP (R), 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 survives? The embattled Labor Secretary has the President's support, but allies of the President aren't sure for how long.

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: Some scary moments on a flight from Atlanta to Baltimore, forced to make an emergency landing due to engine trouble.

BRIGGS: And it's a beautiful day for a parade. The U.S. Women's National Team honored in the Canyon of Heroes right here in New York City in just a couple of hours. I can't wait for that. Welcome back to "Early Start," I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. 30 minutes past the hour. Nice to see you all this morning. A reprieve for the Labor Secretary, Alex Acosta, at least for now, he's under close 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. Publicly, the President is down playing Acosta's role in the plea deal which his U.S. attorney he oversaw.


TRUMP: For 2.5 years he's been just an excellent secretary of labor. 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 a lot of people.


ROMANS: But CNN has learned that confidence could vanish in a flash depending on the news coverage. The President's longtime confidant Chris Ruddy told Don Lemon Acosta's future 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: Acosta for his part ratcheting up his defense of the Epstein plea deal saying he's pleased that New York prosecutors are moving forward with a 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 the story of Epstein light punishment. 13 months in jail and the freedom to work at his office 12 hours a day, six days a week. It's 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 that 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. Today, not so much.


TRUMP: Well, I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him. I mean, 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 in 15 years. I wasn't a fan.


ROMANS: And the New York Times also has new 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 that party tells the Times 30 people were there, 28 women plus Trump and Epstein.

BRIGGS: There are signs this may be the beginning of the end for Obamacare. Two Republican-appointed appellate judges strongly suggesting they agree with a lower court judge who ruled last year the entire law should be struck down. Chief Justice John Roberts famously upheld the Affordable Care Act in 2012, declaring the individual mandate legal as a tax. Since Congress limited the tax for not buying insurance, conservatives believe the whole law is unconstitutional.


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 position, that doesn't create any rights or obligation.


BRIGGS: Wiping out Obamacare could end coverage for millions of Americans and have a dramatic effect on the presidential race already focused heavily on health care. President Trump has repeatedly said people with pre-existing conditions would be covered even if Obamacare is struck down. But he has failed to offer any type of replacement plan.

ROMANS: All right, let's bring in CNN Politics Digital Director Zach Wolf live in Washington. Good morning, how are you?


ROMANS: All right. Obamacare. Ten years on, this is still this fight. But for millions of people, millions of people this is their health care. What is the risk for this administration siding with essentially gutting the law when we know from the midterms that this is something that drove Democrats to the polls?

[05:35:09] BRIGGS: Yeah.

WOLF: That's right. And it's interesting the administration actually signed on to agree with the judge after he originally, you know, ruled it unconstitutional. They sort of smelled blood in the water and jumped on board.

Now the functional end result of, you know, undoing Obamacare essentially 10 years on would be that millions of Americans could lose their health care that's now provided either, you know, through Medicaid or through the private health insurance markets that were created.

So it would basically create this chaos in the United States. And you have to wonder if John Roberts who has several times sort of saved Obamacare's bacon, if he would allow this to happen. But regardless, it's remarkable that it's, you know, 10 years later and we're still having these court battles about a law that is basically been woven into the fabric of society.

BRIGGS: Now the important part is the tens of millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. But politically, boy, this plays right into the 2020 Democrats' hands. But we want to move on to this Alex Acosta story, the President's Labor Secretary.

Now why I emphasize labor is labor department actually oversees human trafficking. It appears that Alex Acosta overlooked human trafficking when he gave the sweetheart deal with Jeffrey Epstein back in 2007 and 2008. Can he possibly survive all of this? WOLF: Well, I mean, you heard the President there. He feels very badly for the man. I think President Trump has enough scandals going around his administration that are caused by him, however, and he may want to sort of distance himself from his labor secretary. And also, I mean, this is an opportunity, you know, for absolutely no reason, other reason would we be airing pictures of him and Jeffrey Epstein other than his labor secretary was the guy gave him the sweetheart deal in 2008.


WOLF: And Trump had nothing to do with that.

ROMANS: Right.

WOLF: But, you know, here we are in the situation where Trump is now, you know, mentioned in the same breath as Epstein. And I don't think Trump is going to like that.

ROMANS: But he doesn't like to be told what to do, though.


ROMANS: When everyone's saying one thing, the President zags. You know, when the media is zigging, he zags.

BRIGGS: But this will only increase scrutiny on the relationship between Epstein and Trump. And when you have a party with 28 women and two men and you were one of the men, that scrutiny is only going to get more intense as we got.

ROMANS: Yeah. The story also -- There's so many questions, how did Epstein make his money, you know, I only know of a couple of investors who worked with him. You know, does he industrial clients these days? You know, how close was the president to him? And why did they have the falling out? You know, the President said they had a falling out 15 years ago, why did they have that falling out.

BRIGGS: Yeah, a lot of questions. Zack, I want to ask you about your column, the only thing better than your scruff by the way is your column here on Ross Perot. The 1992 run, you say why it was so important. Tell us, for those that don't remember, why was that run so important? And could there be a Ross Perot in 2020?

WOLF: It's hard to imagine because people who are sort of like Ross Perot, like Donald Trump, they are going into the party system and taking over parties. Michael Bloomberg, if he had run for president, he would have done it as a Democrat. Howard Schultz thought about running as an independent.

You know, we don't -- the story isn't over, but it certainly looks like he's not going to run. So people, these billionaires, very rich men and women, they don't want to run outside the party system. Ross Perot was the last person who did that and showed that you could get a lot of people to vote for you. 20 million people almost voted for him. But at the end of the day, he poured all of these millions of dollars in he didn't win. So he kind of also showed that you can't become president outside of the party system.

ROMANS: I mean, he was really, I mean, for today's electorate, too, I mean, he was talking about the unease among working people with about globalization. And he nailed it in '92. That's why he got so many votes and that you could argue that's what elected this president in 2016.

BRIGGS: Sure. Tom Steyer, the billionaire is running, but as a Democrat. Some feel Justin Amash, former Republican Congressman could be a spoiler at least in the State of Michigan but we shall see, a lot of time ahead.

Zach Wolf, good to see you, sir. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right.

WOLF: Thanks.

BRIGGS: All right. Just in to CNN, Senator Kamala Harris teaming with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to help people with criminal records fairly obtained housing. The Democrats introducing a bill today to reform eviction and screening policies to allow people with a criminal past to apply for federal housing assistance. Harris is not the first 2020 contender to pair up with the progressive idol. Senator Bernie Sanders joined with AOC campaigned for progressive candidates in 2018 and Senator Elizabeth Warren partnered with her on a number of efforts.

ROMANS: All right. Steep decline in border crossings as Mexico's migration crackdown appears to be working. A U.S. authority is reporting a 28% decline in southern border arrests in June. Now border crossings typically, of course, rise in the spring and they drop in summer. But the decline from May to June was larger than in previous years. The acting Homeland Security Secretary telling Chris Cuomo the strategy at the border is working.


[05:40:18] 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 migration and on the criminal organizations that are exploiting and incentivizing people to enter the cycle.


ROMANS: So the drop in border crossings has provided a small reprieve for U.S. border stations. Officials say they have been brought back from the breaking point and agents are improving care and processing times for children and families.

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 made Elke summer 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 his role as Artie on HBO's the "Larry Sanders Show." He had nearly 200 credits and a career that spanned seven decades. After that 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. It's like the party's over and the last one to leave gets stuck with the check.


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

ROMANS: All right, 41 minutes past the hour. Can the British ambassador do his job after leaked cables showing him slamming this president? Perspective from other European ambassadors, next.


[05:46:16] ROMANS: A ticker-tape parade this morning for the U.S. Women's soccer team in New York's Canyon of Heroes. The team won its second straight World Cup, wrapping up a dominant few weeks with the win over the Netherlands Sunday. It is still not clear whether the team will get an invite to the White House even though President Trump promised one win or lose. Megan Rapinoe has been an outspoken critic of the President and had this message for him last night.


MEGAN RAPINE, 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 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.


ROMANS: The ticker-tape parade begins at 9:30 Eastern. Dave Briggs is part CNN's live coverage starting next hour.

President Trump's tweet slamming the British ambassador to the U.S. reverberating worldwide. The President saying he would no longer deal with Kim Darroch after leaked cable showed Darroch calling Trump inept, insecure and incompetent. Ambassadors across the board are sympathetic to Darroch but they're 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 in London.

And I guess this is what Ambassadors do, right? They give very frank assessments in their cables back home to their home capitals. That's what they're hired for. The leaking however is what seems to be the problem here.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Christine. Nevertheless, the future of Ambassador Kim Darroch right is one of the issues at the heart of the leadership contest currently underway here in the United Kingdom. The two candidates to replace Theresa May as British Prime Minister in two weeks' time, the current foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and the perceived Trump favorite, the former London mayor, Boris Johnson. Hunt has been very critical of President Trump, very outspoken about the president's tweets, criticizing Darroch. He came out and said the tweets were disrespectful.

We haven't really heard from Boris Johnson on the topic specifically. It came up in last night's debate. Hunt said he would keep Darroch in post until Darroch's retirement in December. Boris Johnson didn't answer the question. Let's watch the exchange.


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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will he still have his job come January?

JOHNSON: Whoever leaked that deserves to be eviscerated.

JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH MINISTER CANDIDATE: Boris, just answer the question. Go on --

JOHNSON: -- on whether --

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

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Okay, let's go back --


MCLAUGHLIN: And while top E.U. diplomats there in D.C. tell CNN privately that it will be very difficult for Darroch to continue to be effective in the post, Theresa May nevertheless standing by the ambassador. We expect to hear from her in prime ministers' questions later today.

ROMANS: All right, Erin, thank you so much for that in London this morning. Thanks.

Let's have a look at markets around the world. You can see that Asian markets closed mixed and London markets have opened just slightly lower. On Wall Street, a little softness this morning, I mean not big moves, but some indecision here because the Dow has recorded three straight down days.

[05:50:01] Investors are nervous, and they're awaiting some testimony, two days of testimony from the Fed Chief, Jerome Powell. The Dow closed down 23 points, the S&P 500 and NASDAQ, they small gains snapping at, just a two-day losing streak. Here's your leading indicator this morning. We're at the halfway mark of the year. So some perspective, the S&P 500 had its best first-half performance since 1997. Raising questions about what a strong start may mean for the second half of the year, especially if the Fed doesn't deliver on that big red cat, so many in the markets are beating on. We'll be right back.


[05:55:06] ROMANS: Harvard's head fencing coach has been fired. Peter Brand's termination months after he was accused of selling his Needham, Massachusetts home for nearly twice what it was worth to a man whose son was trying to apply to Harvard. Harvard Athletic Director Bob Scalise says the school is committed to upholding the integrity of is athletics program. Brand's lawyer denies any wrongdoing and calls the firing an egregious disservice to a loyal employee. Last month a federal grand jury was investigating the sale of Brand's home. It's not clear where that investigation stands this morning.

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 the flight. Flight 1425 from Atlanta to Baltimore, and one of the aircraft's engines had a problem.


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


ROMANS: The flight landed without incident, thankfully. Passengers transferred to another flight.

A flood warning for the Mississippi River including the New Orleans area, potential for major storm surge later this week, the second storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season likely to form over the next couple of days. Heaving rain and flooding possible in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Shell and Chevron are already starting to evacuating personnel. Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is in the Weather Center for us. ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Christine and Dave, all eyes are on this tropical disturbance as it continues to push out over the open Gulf of Mexico. As it does, it's expected to intensify. And it has about a 90% chance of developing into a tropical depression in just the next 48 hours. If it continues to strengthen, this could become Tropical Storm Barry.

Right now most of the models have it tipping further south into the Gulf of Mexico before turning back toward the U.S. likely making landfall somewhere between Houston and Mobile over the next five to seven days.

The main concern is going to be the incredible amount of rainfall. When you look at places like Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and even portions of Texas, you're talking wide spread amounts of around four to 10 inches of rain. But some areas could pick up in excess of a foot. The concern is that for a lot of these areas the ground is already saturated. Take a look at this, the Mississippi River at New Orleans is expected to dip back up into moderate flood stage as we head into Saturday.

ROMANS: All right. Thank you for that, Allison.

A St. Louis woman finally has her wallet back 75 years after it was stolen. An Illinois congregation found about a dozen wallets as it converted a high school building into a church. The pastor posted pictures on Facebook along with names from some of the IDs. A St. Louis TV station recognized 89-year-old Betty Sisom's name and helped reunite her with her wallet. It had pictures including one of her brother who was fighting in World War II at the time.

All right, soon there will be new home for Friends binge watchers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go pivot [laughter]. Pivot. Pivot. Pivot. Pivot [laughter] pivot. Pivot! Shut up. Shut up. Shut up!


ROMANS: Oh "Friends" pivoting from Netflix to Warner Media Streaming Service, now officially called HBO Max run by our parent company, Warner Media.

Last year streamers watched 32 billion minutes of "Friends" on Netflix. Second only to "The Office" with 52 billion minutes. Just a few weeks ago, Netflix lost the streaming rights to "The Office." Universal television auctioned the rights to NBCUniversal's Streaming Service.

Just put that little song in your head for the rest of the day, right? Thanks for joining us, I'm Christine Romans. "New Day" starts right now.


TRUMP: I feel very badly for Secretary Acosta. I've known him as somebody that has done such a good job.

NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No, surprise, he knew about when he nominated for the candidate.

RUDDY: The plea agreement is indefensible. He's not going to stay for long.

CROWD: We are the champions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fresh off their historic fourth World Cup win, the U.S. women's national team will take a victory lap.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: What is your message to the President?

RAPINOE: I would say that your message is excluding people. You're excluding me. You need to do better for everyone.

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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, this is new day. It's Wednesday, July 10th, it's 6:00 here in New York. And new overnight, a key ally of President Trump says Labor Secretary Alex Acosta's days could be numbered, telling CNN he could be out in a couple of weeks.

This all stems from new developments surrounding the sex trafficking plea deal Acosta struck in 2008 with millionaire Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein is facing new charges.