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EARLY START

Undocumented Immigrant Raids Start Sunday; Alexander Acosta Defends Secret Epstein Plea Deal; Iranian Gunboats Try to Seize British Tanker; U.K. Ambassador to the U.S. Resigns. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 11, 2019 - 04:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[04:00:18] KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: They're absolutely going to happen. There's approximately a million people in this country with removal orders.

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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Raids to sweep up undocumented immigrants are three days away, and there could be collateral damage.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, here comes Barry. Hurricane watches issued in the Gulf. The first tropical system to hit the U.S. this year expected to make landfall as a hurricane.

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ALEXANDER ACOSTA, LABOR SECRETARY: We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail.

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ROMANS: An explanation but no apology from Alex Acosta for the 2008 Jeffrey Epstein deal. A former state's attorney said the Labor secretary is rewriting history.

SANCHEZ: And it looks like the retaliation that Iran promised. Five armed boats tried to seize a British tanker in the Persian Gulf. They were unsuccessful.

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

ROMANS: Nice to have you in. Dave has got a couple of days off. I'm Christine Romans. It's Thursday, July 11th. 4:00 a.m. in New York, 12:30 p.m. in Tehran. It is 9:00 a.m., 9:01 to be exact in London.

Good morning, everyone.

Breaking overnight. Nationwide raids to round up undocumented immigrants. They are now just three days away. "The New York Times" reporting these raids are scheduled to begin Sunday. That's according to one former and two current Homeland Security officials. The final details of the operation remain influx. "The Times" reports the raids will include so-called collateral deportations. What is that? Well, that's detaining immigrants who happen to be on the scene even though they're not targets of these raids.

Officials tell the "Time" family members arrested together will be held in family detention centers when possible. On Wednesday a top immigration official suggested these raids were imminent.

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CUCCINELLI: They're absolutely going to happen. There's approximately a million people in this country with removal orders, and of course that isn't what ICE will go after in this. But that's the pool of people who have been all the way through the due process chain.

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SANCHEZ: You might recall President Trump threatened to execute the raids last month but ultimately delayed them to give Congress a chance to work out a deal on immigration. As has been the case on Capitol Hill for decades, progress on immigration reform has been painfully slow. No comprehensive bill has even been introduced this Congress.

ROMANS: Another harrowing image underscoring just the desperation of migrants who are making this dangerous journey to the southern border. Oh, this is just awful. A 10-year-old Guatemalan named Cristian surviving after he was left for dead with his father's body in Mexico. Photos obtained by CNN show the boy lying in the curve of his dead father's arm. 10 years old.

They had been brutally attacked while traveling across Veracruz. Young Christian was taken to a hospital in the city of Cuatla where he is getting psychological and medical care now. It's just weeks after that shot of a drowned little girl and her father horrified the nation.

SANCHEZ: Turning to the storms tearing across the Gulf Coast. Hurricane watches have been issued ahead of the first tropical system to hit the U.S. this year.

That system already wreaking havoc knocking down this playhouse in Weatherford, Texas. The National Hurricane Center predicting Tropical Storm Barry will form today and then make landfall as a hurricane by Saturday. Barry is expected to make landfall on the Louisiana or upper Texas coast.

ROMANS: Current watches do not include the New Orleans area which was inundated for hours yesterday. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a state of emergency.

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GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), LOUISIANA: Right now we believe that any over topping of the levies would be relatively short duration of about 12 hours. But that is still a very, very significant hazard and so we're asking everybody to take this very seriously.

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ROMANS: Local affiliates report more than 200 floodgates are being closed. Many around the Mississippi River. Residents already starting to lay down sandbags to prevent water damage.

Let's get to meteorologist Derek Van Dam. He is live in the Weather Center.

Where do we stand, Derek?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: -- from the National Hurricane Center to find out if the disturbance has finally developed. We do believe that's going to happen here within the next 45 minutes or so as we start to see some convection forming right around the center of this storm system.

Here's the latest from the National Hurricane Center. Tropical storm by this evening, hurricane force at least category 1 by Friday evening. Landfall Saturday morning right along the coastal areas of Louisiana.

[04:05:07] As you mentioned earlier, west of the Mississippi River mouth, that's where we have hurricane watches. Tropical storm watches in effect east of the mouth of the Mississippi.

Now this storm is moving into some warm water. This is like jet fuel for hurricane development. When you see low 90s along the Gulf of Mexico coast line, that gives the opportunity for the storm system to rapidly intensify. And that potential definitely exists. We compared different computer models here. Bottom line what you need to know about this graphic is that both the American and the European model believe a landfalling hurricane on Saturday morning sometime between 8:00 a.m. and noon.

And the big story here is going to not only be the potential for storm surge but the flooding. We expect a copious amount of water moving in from the Gulf of Mexico that could exceed 10 to 15 inches locally in areas that have already been hit hard with flooding earlier this year. That is going to make the flood potential very high for places in and around the Louisiana coast line.

Christine, Boris, back to you.

SANCHEZ: We will certainly keep an eye on it.

Derek Van Dam, thank you very much.

Turning now to an ongoing controversy. No regrets and no apology. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta insisting that he secured the best possible deal when he prosecuted financier Jeffrey Epstein on sex trafficking charges a decade ago. On Wednesday Acosta condemned what he called horrific crimes by Epstein. He claims he decided to intervene in what would have been a state case because he thought Epstein was going to escape jail time altogether. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: A state grand jury brought that single completely unacceptable charge. We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail.

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ROMANS: He did go to jail. He received a 13-month jail sentence, but some of these workarounds were unbelievable. He was allowed to work six days a week, 12 hours a day at his Palm Beach office, basically just sleeping in jail. Acosta admitting the secret plea deal he helped broker looks pretty lenient now.

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ACOSTA: The expectation was that it would be served in jail and so this work release was complete B.S. And I've been on record as far as 2011 saying that it was not what was bargained for and it was not what we expected but this was a state court plea and because it was a state court plea the terms of confinement were under the jurisdiction of the state of Florida.

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ROMANS: Those comments not sitting well with former Palm Beach state attorney Barry Krischer. He accuses of Acosta of attempting to rewrite history and says, "Federal prosecutors do not take a backseat to state prosecutors. That's not how the system works in the real world. The U.S. Attorney's Office produced a 53-page indictment that was abandoned after secret negotiations between Mr. Epstein's lawyers and Mr. Acosta."

SANCHEZ: Now that's in reference to a meeting that Acosta had with one of Epstein's attorneys. Now he says that was after the agreement had been negotiated. But according to the "Miami Herald," that deal was still being negotiated even though it was signed a month earlier.

One of Epstein's accusers is now speaking out. Jennifer Araoz says she was attacked in the millionaire's New York City town house some 18 years ago.

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JENNIFER ARAOZ, EPSTEIN ACCUSER: I was terrified and I was telling him to stop, please stop, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And did he?

ARAOZ: No, he did not stop. He had no intentions of stopping and that's what he wanted, that's what he got. I just thought like, you know, it's my fault. Like I was like obligated. Like that's just what you're supposed to do so I really did not know better.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: Acosta's role in the plea facing renewed scrutiny now that Epstein has been charged in a new indictment alleging that he sexually abused dozens of young girls.

ROMANS: All right. A critical component of President Trump's plan to force down drug prices in the U.S. is dead. The White House tells "Axios" it has called off a proposal to overhaul rebates collected by pharmacy benefit managers. Those are the middlemen between insurance plans and drug companies. Benefit managers negotiate discounted prices but keep some of the rebate money for themselves. The administration's plan would have banned that arrangement for Medicare and Medicaid.

SANCHEZ: Yes, the White House backing away from the idea, saying that it's encouraged by bipartisan talks to bring down drug prices. This is all bad news for big pharma, which blames those middlemen for high drug prices. The administration is now going to focus on another idea the big pharma dislikes, and that's setting some Medicare prices based on prices that other countries pay for care.

ROMANS: And many countries pay much less than the price in the United States.

All right. Tensions are spiking with Iran. Five armed Iranian gunboats trying unsuccessfully to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday. It was likely an attempt at retaliation for the British seizure of an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar.

[04:10:06] Frederik Pleitgen monitoring the latest developments. He is in Moscow for us.

Get us up to speed here on this, Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christine. Yes, additional tensions in an area that's so important. That key shipping waterway, at the Strait of Hormuz is apparently where this happened. We're getting some information from the British military. They say all this happened last night when this tanker tried to go through the Strait of Hormuz, apparently some Iranian gunboats, three of them, got in the way of a tanker and tried to make the tanker go into Iranian waters.

Now that's when this British warship put itself between the Iranian boats and the tanker, and then pointed its guns at the Iranian boats and gave them a verbal warning. And apparently that's when the Iranian boats then changed course and went away.

Now of course, as you said, all those comes only a couple of days after the Brits seized an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar. The Iranians had said that there would be retribution for that seizing. But the Iranians coming out earlier today and saying that they were not behind these latest attempts to -- this alleged attempt to seize that tanker. Both the Foreign minister and the Revolutionary Guard coming out and denying all this.

And of course, Christine, all of this as tension between the U.S. and Iran continues to boil. President Trump just last night saying there would be additional sanctions against the Iranians, accusing them of secretly enriching uranium. And in the meantime, you have the Iranian Foreign minister and National Security adviser John Bolton, at each other's necks on Twitter in a big feud there as well -- Christine.

ROMANS: Yes. When you see this kind of international diplomacy playing out on Twitter, you know, interesting.

All right. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Yes.

ROMANS: So much for that, Fred Pleitgen.

President Trump may get what he wants from the Federal Reserve, a rate cut, but not for a good reason. Jerome Powell, J. Powell, told lawmakers Wednesday, two major forces have the potential to drag down the U.S. economy.

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JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Based on incoming data and other developments, it appears that uncertainties around trade tensions and concerns about the strength of the global economy continue to weigh on the U.S. economic outlook.

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ROMANS: All right. Other concerns, the federal debt ceiling and Brexit. Powell's appearance before lawmakers was the first of two as President Trump pressures the Fed to cut interest rates to juice this economy. Powell said this about the Fed's position.

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POWELL: The Fed needs to stand here and try to keep inflation symmetrically at 2 percent. We don't want to get on that road of declining it. To the extent that inflation continues to decline and expectations decline, that will show up in lower interest rates which will give the Central Bank even less fire power to react.

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ROMANS: The president's attacks on the Fed and the Fed chief personally have been withering and relentless. Powell was asked if Trump fired him, would be leave? He said he intends to serve his full term. Powell will testify before the Senate Banking Committee later today.

SANCHEZ: Still plenty of news ahead. The U.K. ambassador to the U.S. resigns over leaked cable slamming the president. But how does this affect the role ambassadors will play for at least the next 18 months and possibly beyond? We'll take you live to London.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [04:17:45] SANCHEZ: The British ambassador to the U.S. has resigned after leaked cables showed Sir Kim Darroch calling President Trump inept, insecure and worse. Now diplomats everywhere are rethinking how they can possibly do their jobs in a world where whatever they say or write privately could eventually become public.

CNN's Max Foster joins us now live from London.

Max, you know, the British Foreign Office essentially said that they pay their ambassadors to be candid but can they, moving forward, after this?

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's the big question I think everyone's grappling with right now. Just -- not just in London, in capitals around the world really. The focus currently at London on this investigation into who leaked this is being led by the Cabinet Office, also in consultation with the police. And until they close this down, you can imagine that ambassadors, U.K. ambassadors around the world are going to think twice about whether or not to be critical of Donald Trump in their cables. That's already arguably a win for Donald Trump. But it's also going to dilute all the intel coming back --

SANCHEZ: It looks like we just lost Max Foster there. Do we have him back? There he is. Hey, Max.

FOSTER: Hello.

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: Hi, Boris. Yes, so Simon McDonald who is -- who runs effectively the Foreign Office, head civil servant there, he said yesterday the basis on which we have worked all our careers suddenly feels as if it's being challenged.

We've been there before. We had the WikiLeaks dump of U.S. cables back in 2010 but this might have a slightly different impact when you consider the prime ministers are about to change. Boris Johnson is the likely replacement for Theresa May. And he hasn't backed Darroch. The only senior politician not to back Darroch. Instead he's focused much more retaining the strong relationship with the U.S.

So the question is, when he comes into power, does he appoint someone who is going to flatter, is outwardly positive about Donald Trump? If he does that, might he get the trade deal he wants with the U.S. but it could also undermine the independence of the way that ambassadors have been appointed traditionally and there's a lot of concern about that.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Fascinating. Max Foster reporting from London. Thanks so much.

Staying in Europe. Police in Greece say that American scientist Suzanne Eaton who went missing earlier this month was asphyxiated.

[04:20:05] A homicide investigation is now underway. Eden was attending a conference at the Orthodox Academy on the island of Crete when she is believed to have disappeared during a run back on July 2nd. According to Dresden University in Germany where she worked police have taken comprehensive measures to ensure that the responsible party or parties will be brought to justice.

Well, this is not what carpooling is supposed to look like. There are kids in there. Now their mom is facing charges. We'll explain next.

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[04:25:31] SANCHEZ: A charity golf tournament at President Trump's National Doral Golf Club in Miami has been canceled. It was scheduled for this weekend. But the nonprofit group at the heart of the event pulled out after the "Washington Post" called and informed them that a Miami area strip club was sponsoring the tournament and that golfers who signed up to play there were being offered, quote, "caddy girls" of their choice. The director of the Miami All-Stars Charity says he had no idea a strip club was involved. The Doral Golf Club is not commenting on the story.

ROMANS: All right. Police an Illinois mother took the term carpooling literally and now she is facing charges. Dixon police arresting 49-year-old Jennifer Yeager after they received a complaint about someone driving with an inflatable pool on top of their car with two girls inside. An investigation concluded that Yeager inflated the pool at a friend's house and had her daughters ride inside of the empty pool to hold it down on their ride home. Yeager faces a number of charges including children endangerment and reckless conduct. She was released after posting bond.

SANCHEZ: That could have gone horribly wrong.

Given their world domination for the fourth time, the ESPY winners for Best Sports Team are a no brainer. Actress Sandra Bullock doing the honors.

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SANDRA BULLOCK, ESPY AWARD PRESENTER: All those in favor of equal pay say aye? The women's national soccer team.

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SANCHEZ: Forward Alex Morgan also won for Best Female Athlete. Their ESPY wins -- that win caps a whirlwind day for the team. They were honored with a ticker tape parade in New York City earlier in the day before flying to L.A. for the ESPYs. Following the parade, team captain Megan Rapinoe had this message.

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MEGAN RAPINOE, CO-CAPTION, U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM: We have to be better. We have to love more, hate less. We've got to listen more and talk less. There's been so much contention in these last years. I've been a victim of that. I've been a perpetrator of that, but it's time to come together. This conversation is at the next step.

New York City, you're the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) best.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Making the most of the moment in more than one way there. The team won the World Cup Sunday by dominating the Netherlands. They will reunite next month to face Ireland at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

ROMANS: What a day for them.

SANCHEZ: Congratulations again to them.

ROMANS: So they woke up in New York, had the ticker tape parade, did all of those interviews, had such a great time. Got on a plane, went to L.A. and won the ESPYs.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Yes.

ROMANS: And continued to party.

SANCHEZ: And now rest and recovery until next month's game against Ireland.

ROMANS: They deserve it. They deserve it.

All right. A lot of breaking news overnight. Raids to sweep up undocumented immigrants, they begin on Sunday. A hurricane is barreling -- forming and barreling towards the coast. And Iran tries to seize a British tanker in the Persian Gulf. That plus much more next.

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