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NYT: Immigration Raids Start Sunday; Hurricane Watches Issued For Gulf Coast; Acosta Defends Epstein Episode; Iran Tries to Seize British Tanker; U.S. Women's Soccer Team Honored at ESPYS. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired July 11, 2019 - 05:00   ET



[05:00:00] KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP & IMMIGRATION SERVICES: They're absolutely going to happen. There's approximately a million people in this country with removal orders.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: 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.


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


ROMANS: An explanation but no apology from Alex Acosta for the 2018 Jeffrey Epstein deal. A former state attorney says this labor secretary is trying to rewrite history.

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

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Boris Sanchez, in for Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Nice to see you this morning.

SANCHEZ: Great to be with you, Christine.

ROMANS: A couple of days with Boris.

And I'm Christine Romans. It's Thursday, July 11th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East. And breaking overnight: nationwide raids to round up undocumented immigrants just three days away now. The raids are scheduled to begin Sunday. That's according to one former and two current homeland security officials.

The final details of the operation in flux. "The Times" reports the raids will include so-called collateral deportations, detaining immigrants who happen to be on the scene even though they were not the original targets. Officials tell "The Times", family members arrested together will be held in family detention centers when possible.

On Wednesday, a top immigration official suggested the raids were imminent.


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.


BRIGGS: You might recall President Trump threatened to execute the raids last month, but after a call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he 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 ever been introduced this Congress.

Turning now to storms tearing across the Gulf Coast. Hurricane watches have been issued ahead of the first storm to hit the U.S. this year.

The 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 along the Louisiana or Upper Texas coast.

ROMANS: Now, current watches do not include the New Orleans area. But it has been inundated. You see this yesterday? Hours yesterday.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a state of emergency.


GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): Right now, we believe that any overtopping of levies will be relatively short duration of about 12 hours, but that is a very, very significant hazard. And so, we're asking everyone to take this very seriously.


ROMANS: Local media reports more than 200 floodgates are closed, being closed. Many around the Mississippi River. Let's get to meteorologist Derek Van Dam live in the weather center --


DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, the 5 a.m. National Hurricane Center update just came in to the CNN weather center. What we're finding is that this is still a tropical disturbance, not quite a storm just yet. But we still expect that to form and organize within the next 12 to 24 hours due to the favorable conditions across the Gulf of Mexico.

Here's the official track again coming in to us. This is the first time I'm actually seeing it. So, it has shifted a little to the east. That doesn't bode well to New Orleans. We'll explain that.

But we anticipate hurricane conditions making landfall Saturday morning somewhere along the Louisiana coastline. We have hurricane watches west of the Mississippi River mouth. Tropical storm watches to the east.

There are the warm water temperatures in the low 90s right near the gulf of Mexico coast line. And you can see the difference in the computer models. Both of them making landfall again early Saturday morning between 8:00 and noon, but the American model showing it a little further towards the east, which would be a, quote, unquote, worst case scenario for New Orleans if it was all to materialize.

We still expect three to six feet of potential storm surge on top of the rain that has already fallen in and around New Orleans. This could lead to extreme flooding, especially along the Mississippi River. You can see some of the rainfall totals we're anticipating, locally 10 to 15 inches.

Here's a summary of what we're anticipating. This is not only a coastal threat, Christine and Boris, this is going to be an inland flood threat as the system moves across the Gulf Coast states.

SANCHEZ: We'll certainly keep an eye on it going into the weekend.

Derek Van Dam, thank you.

[05:05:01] Now continuing with a controversy we've been covering over the last few days -- no regrets and no apology. The Labor Secretary Alex Acosta insisting that he secured the best possible deal when he prosecuted financier Jeffrey Epstein on sex trafficking charges years ago. On Wednesday, Acosta condemned what he called horrific crimes committed by Epstein. He claims he decided to intervene in a state case because he thought Epstein was going to escape jail time.



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.


ROMANS: Epstein received a 13-month jail sentence and was allowed out on work release at his Palm Beach office six days a week, 12 hours a day. Acosta admitting that secret plea deal he helped brokered looks lenient today.


ACOSTA: The expectation was that it would be served in jail. And so this, work release was completely B.S. I've been on the record as far back as 2011 saying 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.


ROMANS: All right. But former Palm Beach State Attorney Barry Krischer accuses Acosta of trying to rewrite history. He says this: Federal prosecutors do not take a back seat to state prosecutors. That's not how the system works in the real world. The U.S. attorneys office produced a 53-page indictment that was abandoned after secret negotiations between Mr. Epstein's lawyers and Mr. Acosta.

SANCHEZ: That secret negotiations were a reference to a meeting that Acosta had with one of Mr. Epstein's attorneys. He said it was after the agreement had been negotiated. But according to the "Miami Herald", the deal was still being negotiated even though it was signed a month earlier. Their reporting indicates that Epstein's attorneys continued pushing back on a deal that was already established. Acosta's role in the plea is now facing heightened scrutiny after Epstein was 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 is now 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 companies and benefit managers to negotiate discounted prices but keep some of the rebate money itself.

And administration's plan hey would have banned that arrangements 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. They blame the middlemen for high prices. The administration will now focused on another idea the big pharma dislikes, and that's setting some Medicare prices based on what other countries pay for their care.

ROMANS: All right. To Iran now, tensions there spiking with Iran. Five armed Iranian gun boats trying unsuccessfully to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday. It was likely an attempt at revenge for a British seizure of an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar. Fred Pleitgen monitoring the latest developments live from Moscow.

Already a tricky situation and now this.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right, Christine. Tricky situation, and it continues to get more tense and it continues to get more complex as well in that really important shipping lane. Now, we're getting information from the Brits that apparently all of this happened late last night when this tanker was trying to go through the northern end of the Strait of Hormuz. They say three boats from Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps came to the ship, tried to got in the ship's way and tried to force the ship into Iranian waters.

Now, the Brits say that their warship got between the speed boats and tanker and even pointed the guns at the Iranian speed boats and gave them a verbal warning and that's when those speedboats then turned away.

Now, of course, we know all this coming in extremely tense situation with the Brits having seized an Iranian tanker just a couple of days ago, Iran's leadership saying there would be retaliation, but the Iranians saying this incident was not them. They say they didn't try to seize a tanker.

I just got some new information from you now from the Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps. They claim, this is a statement they just put out a couple of minutes ago, they claimed: During the past 24 hours, there have been no encounters with foreign vessels, including the British one.

So, all of that, of course, contributes to that additional uncertainty there in that key region. And, of course, all of this as the U.S. remains in that standoff with Iran, about Iran's nuclear -- about the nuclear deal. President Trump coming out yesterday and accusing Iranians of allegedly secretly enriching uranium. The Iranians saying that is absolutely not the case, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Fred Pleitgen for us, thank you so much, in Moscow this morning.

SANCHEZ: Just in to CNN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg rolling out new details from his plan to improve the lives of black Americans.

[05:10:05] The Douglass plan, named after former slave and statesman Frederick Douglass, would make public college tuition free for low income students. It would also increase resources for historically black colleges and universities. The goal here is to triple the number of black entrepreneurs in America in ten years and reduce the incarceration rate by some 50 percent. A recent CNN poll found that Buttigieg's support among black voters nationally is at zero percent.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump may get what he wants from the Federal Reserve -- a rate cut but not for a good reason. Jerome Powell told lawmakers Wednesday, two major forces have the potential to drag down the U.S. economy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.


ROMANS: Uncertainty in the cross currents, he says. Other concerns, the federal debt ceiling and Brexit, political uncertainties.

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 Fed's decision.


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. To the extent 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.


ROMANS: The president's attacks on the Fed and Fed chief personally had been withering. Powell was asked if Trump fired him, would he leave? The Fed chair said he intends to serve his full term. It is not "Celebrity Apprentice." Jay Powell will testify again before the Senate Banking Committee later today.

I would encourage anyone who wants to know how the Fed works, listen to the testimony. The American economy is strong, job market is strong. But he's looking forward to things that they'll be concerned about.

SANCHEZ: It may be a good idea for President Trump to watch it. He may pick up a couple of things there.

An American scientist who vanished in Greece was apparently asphyxiated. What police is now saying about her disappearance.


[05:16:48] ROMANS: Police in Greece say American scientist Suzanne Eaton, who went missing earlier this month, was asphyxiated. A homicide investigation is now underway. Eaton 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 the responsible parties will be brought to justice.

SANCHEZ: If you're addicted to the Internet, the cure could be behavioral therapy, according to a study of 143 men published in the journal Jama Psychiatry. Nearly 70 percent of men entered remission after receiving short term cognitive behavioral therapy. The therapy focused on education about Internet addiction and relapse prevention techniques.

The prevalence of Internet addiction is estimated to be 6 percent worldwide but it is much higher in industrialized nations.

ROMANS: All right. Police say an Illinois mother took the term carpooling literally and now she's facing charges. Dixon police arresting 49-year-old Jennifer Yeager as someone reported a driver with an inflatable pool on top of the car with two little girls inside. Police say Yeager inflated the pool at a friend's house and had her daughters ride in the pool to hold it down on the way home, on top of the car. Yeager faces charges including child endangerment and reckless conduct. She was released after posting bond.

It's one of those I just can't believe it.

SANCHEZ: Yes, using your kids as weights essentially. Strong candidate for mother of the year for sure.

A whirlwind day for the women's U.S. soccer team. The World Cup champions feeling the love from coast to coast. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report", next.


[05:23:29] ROMANS: All right. That whirlwind day for the U.S. women's national team capped off with them being awarded the Team of the Year at the ESPYS last night.

SANCHEZ: Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Good morning, Andy.


You know, all the players for the U.S. Women National Team must be exhausted, right? You know, they've been celebrating their World Cup title since Sunday. They enjoyed a ticker take parade in New York yesterday morning. The fans and players chanting "equal pay" together throughout the day. And after the festivities were over in New York, the team jumping on a plane to Los Angeles. And at the ESPYS, the squad was named the Team of the Year.

During the acceptance speech, Carli Lloyd joked about their whirlwind day.


CARLI LLOYD, 2-TIME WORLD CUP CHAMPION: We literally just got off a plane a couple of hours ago, got hair and makeup in the plane and we look pretty fabulous, I think. So -- it's been an incredible journey. Super proud of all of these 22 fabulous ladies.

So, props to all of you, but thank you so much and here's to the next World Cup in another four years. Thank you.


SCHOLES: Yes, that wasn't the only hardware the team brought home last night.

Alex Morgan also winning the Best Female Athlete of the Year.


ALEX MORGAN, CO-CAPTAIN, USWNT: Sorry, but this is probably the second best trophy, we won this week.

But when the World Cup is behind us, it is the professional league that we need to continually lift up and grow.

Investment in women and girls should not only occur on the playing fields but in more storytelling of bad ass, amazing women who continue to show that we are more than just athletes.


[05:25:12] SCHOLES: And the emotional moment of the night from the ESPYS was the presentation of the Jimmy V Perseverance Award. This year it was given to high school football coach, Rob Mendez.

Mendez was born without arms or legs due to a rare disease. And despite his disability, Mendez taught himself the game of football using video games. He worked 12 years as an assistant at 12 different high schools before landing a head job for the jayvee squad at Prospect High in Saratoga, California. In his first season, Mendez led his team to an 8-2 record, reaching the league title game.


ROB MENDEZ, JIMMY V PERSEVERANCE AWARD WINNER: Look at me and see how much passion I've put into coaching and how far it's gotten me. When you dedicate yourself to something and open your mind to different possibilities and focus on what you can do instead of what you can't do, you really can go places in this world. I made it this far and who says I can't go further?

That's my message tonight. Who says I can't? Nobody! Yeah!


SCHOLES: So, guys, if you needed any motivation --

SANCHEZ: Geez, Andy Scholes --

ROMANS: Another Andy Scholes tissue box report, thank you.

SANCHEZ: A heavy dose of motivation and inspiration this morning. Andy Scholes, thank you so much.

We have a lot of news to cover that broke overnight. Raids to sweep up undocumented immigrants beginning on Sunday. A hurricane that's forming and barreling towards the Gulf Coast, and Iran trying to seize a British tanker in the Persian Gulf. All of that plus much more right after this.