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NYT: Undocumented Immigrant Raids Start Sunday; Acosta Defends Secret Epstein Plea Agreement; Trump Invites Right-Wing Media to Social Media Summit. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 11, 2019 - 05:30   ET




[05:30:55] KENNETH 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.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Raids to sweep up undocumented immigrants just three days away, and there could be collateral damage.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: 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.


SANCHEZ: An explanation but no apology from Alexander Acosta for the 2008 Jeffrey Epstein Deal. A former state attorney said the Labor Secretary is trying to rewrite history.

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

Welcome back to "Early Start." I'm Christine Romans.

SANCHEZ: Always a pleasure to see you, Christine.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

SANCHEZ: I'm Boris Sanchez in for Dave Briggs.

We're 31 minutes past the hour. And we start with breaking news overnight. Nationwide raids to round up undocumented immigrants just three days away. The New York Times reporting the raids are scheduled to begin on Sunday. That's according to one former and two current Homeland Security officials.

The final details of the operation still remain in flux. The "Times" reports the raids will include so-called collateral deportations, meaning that immigrants who happen to be on the scene may be detained even though they weren't the original targets. On Wednesday a top immigration official suggested that these 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.


ROMANS: 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. But as has been the case on Capitol Hill now for decades, progress on immigration reform has been painfully slow at best. No comprehensive bill has even been introduced this Congress.

Turning to the storms tearing across the gulf coast right now. A hurricane watch is issued ahead of the first tropical system to hit the U.S. this year.

Yes, that system already wreaking havoc there, you can see knocking down this play house swing set in Weatherford, Texas. The National Hurricane Center predicting tropical storm Barry will form today and make landfall as a hurricane by Saturday along the Louisiana or the Upper Texas Coast.

SANCHEZ: Current watches don't include the New Orleans area which as you can see here was inundated for hours yesterday. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issuing a state of emergency.


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


SANCHEZ: Local media reports more than 200 flood gates are being closed, many of them around Mississippi River. Let's get to Meteorologist Derek Van Dam live in the Weather Center. Derek, this storm is really unusual and the timing feels a bit unusual, too. July, a hurricane making landfall, is that sort of weird?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, normally it would be about August to September when the peak of the hurricane season occurs, but now we're talking about our second named storm of the season and it's only the first half of July. We do not like to see this circulation pattern and the cloud cover and the radar, this early on a Thursday morning and this early in the month of July. That is indicative of some tropical formation, some organization and it is going to pull in an abundant amount of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. That's why we have flash flood watches for roughly 5 million Americans along -- some of the gulf coast state from Louisiana to Alabama.

[05:35:01] Now, that's on top of what New Orleans saw yesterday. Over a month's worth of rain in just a six-hour period. And as the system drifts and meanders slowly on shore within the next few days, it is going to bring in copious amounts of rainfall that will lead to flooding, 10 to 15 inches locally. And that is not boyd (ph) well for a city that rests very close to sea level.

In fact, some of our river gauges along the Mississippi River and New Orleans showing our storm surge potential into Saturday morning that could peak at 20 feet by the way. Some of the levies there only top 20 feet.

There is a storm surge threat for the Louisiana coast line of course this all depends on the exact timing of this. But you better fill up your gas tank today because you can see all of the oil rigs in the path of this storm.

ROMANS: Oh yes. And gas prices, oil prices already up because of those closures.

VAN DAM: I've seen a future too.



ROMANS: All right. Thank you, nice to see you Derek this morning.

No regrets, no apology. Labor Secretary Alex insisting he secured the best deal possible when he prosecuted financier Jeffrey Epstein on sex trafficking charges a decade ago. On Wednesday Acosta condemned what he called horrific crimes committed by Epstein. He says 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.


SANCHEZ: Epstein did go to jail. Sort of, he received a 13 month jail sentence but he was allowed on work release to leave jail, go to his Palm Beach office, 12 hours a day, six days a week. Acosta admitted that secret play deal he broker, now looks pretty lenient.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: The expectation was that it be served in jail. And so this work release was completely yes. And it would been on record as far back 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.


SANCHEZ: Now we have to point out, a registered sex offender, somebody who has been convicted of that kind of crime in the state of Florida is not supposed to be allowed out on work release in the first place so there's still a lot of questions out there about this non- prosecution.

ROMANS: Special treatment. Why special treatment?

SANCHEZ: Right, exactly. Former Palm Beach State Attorney Barry Krischer accused Acosta of now trying to rewrite history. He says, "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. Attorney's Office produced a 53-page indictment that was abandoned after secret negotiations between Mr. Epstein's lawyer and Mr. Acosta.

ROMANS: That's a reference to meeting Acosta had with one of Epstein's attorneys. Acosta says it was after the agreement had been negotiated but according to the reporting in the Miami Herald, the deal was still being negotiated and worked on even though it was signed a month earlier. Acosta's role in the play facing heightened scrutiny now that Epstein has been charged in a new indictment alleging he's sexually abused dozens of young girls.

All right, some of right-wing media's stars are heading to the White House today. The White House, the people's house being used as a backdrop for a social media summit of some of the most notorious conspiracy theorists and trolls. Missing from the event will two legitimate social media websites, Facebook and Twitter. They did not receive invitations to this event. Instead the President has invited conservative think tanks and personalities who have pushed conspiracy theories lies and misinformation.

Le's talk about this, joining us now, CNN Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcy. You know, Oliver, what is so fascinating to me about this is that, we kind of forget this people's house.


ROMANS: The present time of the president of the United States is a most valuable commodity in the world. And he is using this time to sit down with trolls against the backdrop of this important background. Is he trolling the media? And trolling Facebook and Twitter?

DARCY: He might. I mean, a lot of people do say, the President is one of the biggest trolls out there. So this could be a troll. But I think he sees this as a legitimate issue and I think his White House sees claims of anticonservative bias a legitimate issue. And something they want to be --

ROMANS: So why not bring Facebook and Twitter there and talk about it?

DARCY: You know, it makes no sense. This seems to be a right wing grievance festival that's going to be happening today at the White House. We don't know exactly what the agenda is because the White House has decline to basically release any information on it. What we do know and what you said is that, he has invited these right-wing conspiracy theories, this right-wing trolls to come to the white house and serve as a backdrop as the president delivers I guess what it's suppose to be or we can expect to be anti-social media message.

ROMANS: And the players don't really know what the agenda is to, right?

DARCY: Right.

ROMANS: The people who have been invited?

DARCY: Right, so the president has actually invited some of the more conservative or traditional conservative.


DARCY: Individuals in Washington to this event, People from the Heritage Foundation, people from the clear month (ph) is doing. So I think they are the people who kind of want to prepare for something like that.

[05:40:03] ROMANS: Right.

DARCY: So I think they are the people who kind of want to prepare for something like that.

ROMANS: Right.


DARCY: And they haven't been able to, I guess --

SANCHEZ: Sort out with that.

DARCY: They don't know what to expect of them because the White House has offered zero guidance. They have no -- yes.

SANCHEZ: There's a line, though, between trying to prevent anti- conservative bias in social media --


SANCHEZ: -- as we've seen in reports before about Facebook for example. But let's take a look at some of the folks who are actually invited to this because some of them, it's trained to try take them seriously, right?

ROMANS: It's not the Heritage Foundation, right?

DARCY: No, not at all.

ROMANS: Right.

SANCHEZ: If you take a look at somebody like Carpe Donktum, an anonymous troll, somebody who's essentially a provocateur, Bill Mitchell, somebody who's propagated QAnon conspiracy theories --

ROMANS: Right.

SANCHEZ: -- on Twitter, James O'keefe, that journalist who published deceptively edited videos. The President is giving these people a platform. What message does that send to the country about whether we can take these people seriously or not?

DARCY: Well, one, it's really the clearest -- it's the clearest example yet of the President trying to legitimize fringe political allies.


ROMANS: Right.

DARCY: I think that's very clear. He's taking these people from the digital ecosystem that he operates in and that he will retweet people from, and he's bringing them into the real world at the White House. And the second point I'll make is that he's doing this while also trying to delegitimize, you know, conventional sources of information.

ROMANS: Right.

DARCY: This network, "The New York Times," "The Washington Post." He's bringing up these fringe actors who push conspiracy theories of lies that happen to benefit him and he's also trying to delegitimize legitimate sources of information, which I think is extremely dangerous and irresponsible --


DARCY: -- to say the least from the President.

SANCHEZ: As a follow-up, I get this question all the time. Should we be covering this? If it is a stunt by the White House --

ROMANS: That's the media question, right?

SANCHEZ: -- to try to elevate these people, should we be covering it and give him this platform?

DARCY: I'm not sure it should be covered as a serious event where an actual serious discussion will take place about --


DARCY: -- big tech and the issues facing technology companies, right? ROMANS: Which are legitimate issues that need to be discussed?

DARCY: Legitimate issues.


DARCY: Right. Right. And it's always a bummer when they seem to miss those legitimate issues and then they bring in these political acts.


DARCY: But I do think it should be covered from the viewpoint of the President is bringing conspiracy theorists, people who push the worst kinds of misinformation --


DARCY: -- and lies on the internet to the White House.


DARCY: He's rolling the red carpet out to these people and that is alarming, and I think that deserves all the coverage in the world.

SANCHEZ: Quick note before you ask a question, Christine. It's been more than 110 days since we've had a White House press briefing where we can ask legitimate questions at the White House press briefing.

DARCY: Right.

ROMANS: And our Jason Farkas who run CNN Business, you know, digital strategy and reliable -- you know, and the Reliable Sources show, this is what he wrote, you know, "retweets are not endorsements." Obviously, we all know that, right? But inviting trolls to the White House, that is. I mean is he endorsing this language and this behavior?

DARCY: I think the President has made clear time and time again that he endorses any sort of language, conspiracy theories, lies, misinformation. As long as it benefits him it's OK. If it's slight critical of him and it's even accurate information, it's fake news.

SANCHEZ: It's fake news, yes.

DARCY: And not real.

ROMANS: I'll say though, you know, Trump supporters, though -- I mean there are Trump supporters who don't take him seriously at that. They just love that he stirs the pot --

DARCY: Right.

ROMANS: -- and makes the political elite, like their heads pop off. They love that even though they don't necessarily believe those conspiracy theories. DARCY: Yes. They'll say that people who are outrage or snowflakes --


DARCY: -- and they're triggered by people like this being invited to the White House. But I'm very certain had the Obama administration done the same thing on the left hand --

SANCHEZ: Different story, yes.

DARCY: -- of the political spectrum, we would never hear the end of it.

SANCHEZ: A bit of different standard. Oliver Darcy, thank you so much for the time --

ROMANS: I don't see anyone melting here by the way.

SANCHEZ: -- for being with us this morning.

ROMANS: No one is melting. We're all still here perfectly 98.6 degrees.

SANCHEZ: Thanks again.

DARCY: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Take a look at this. This is not what car pooling is supposed to look like. There are kids in that pool and now their mom is facing charges. We'll explain next.


[05:47:57] SANCHEZ: Tensions again 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 of retaliation for the British seizure of an Iranian tanker off the Coast of Gibraltar. Frederik Pleitgen is monitoring the latest developments live from Moscow.

Fred, the revolutionary guard essentially saying, no, this never happened.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right, Boris. It's quite interesting because I got a statement from them just a couple of minutes ago and they were saying that in the past 24 hours there were no encounters with any foreign vessels, including those under British flags. The revolutionary guard denying this. Iran's foreign minister denying this as well.

Of course we know that the Brits and the U.S. as well have a very different version of events. They say that it happened last night that this tanker was in the northern part or going to the northern part of the Strait of Hormuz. That Iranian speed boats from the revolutionary guard gotten its way and tried to force it from international waters into Iranian waters. And that the British warship got between the tanker and the Iranian speed boats pointed its guns even at the Iranian speed boats and issued a verbal warning and that it was only then that the Iranians changed course and backed away. Of course this could be another major escalation between Iran and the U.S. and its allies in a place that's already extremely tense.

But the Iranians so far denying it. They had said before that there would be retaliation for that seizure that you were talking about of an Iranian tanker in the Mediterranean Sea that happened just a couple of days ago. And then of course, you have President Trump, once again, yesterday coming out and tweeting accusing the Iranians of allegedly secretly enriching uranium. The Iranians, of course, very much denying that, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Diplomacy via Twitter. Fred Pleitgen, thank you again.

A veteran state department intelligence analyst resigning in protest after the White House blocked about half of his written testimony to a congressional panel, including data on the climate crisis. White House officials allowed Rod Schoonover to speak to the panel in June. But department officials tell "The Wall Street Journal" the White House barred him from submitting evidence on possible national security effects of climate change. Those include humanitarian crises, competition for resources and political instability. The journal quotes a senior official accusing Schoonover of running around desperately trying to undermine his president.

[05:50:20] ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this Thursday morning. Look at markets around the world, higher, Asian markets closed up, European markets opened higher here on Wall Street leaning a little bit higher 77 points on the Dow, just a fraction of a percent.

You know, stocks finished higher Wednesday after the Fed Chief Jerome Powell strongly hinted at a potential rate cut later this month. The NASDAQ, a new record above 8200. The Dow closed up 77, and the S&P crossed the 3,000 mark. Wow and then closed just below there. Stocks are performing really well this year. The Dow is up 15 percent, the S&P 500 up 19 percent, the NASDAQ up 23 percent.

All right, should people trust that? Would you trust a robot with your finances? At JPMorgan Chase thinks you might. JPMorgan launching a new robo-advisor as it makes another play for the millennial online investor. The bank announced it will offer digital investment portfolios as part of its You Invest service which debuted last year.

The bank targeting this demographic because, look, millennials are in the process of building wealth. They're just the beginning of this. They could use more of the bank services down the line. Some of banks online efforts have not panned out though Finn, its mobile only banking app for millennials, it lasted about a year after that one debuted.

We'll be right back.


[05:56:00] SANCHEZ: A charity golf tournament at the President's Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami has been canceled. It was scheduled for this weekend but the charity that was supposed to benefit from the event pulled out after the Washington Post called and informed them that Miami area strip club was sponsoring the tournament. And that golfers who signed up the play were being offered "caddy girls" of their choice. The director of the Miami All Stars charity says he had no idea that a strip club was involved. The Doral Golf Club is not commenting.

ROMANS: All right, if you're enjoying a glass of your favorite fruit juice this morning, listen up. A new study says one small sugary drink of soda or juice everyday increases your risk of cancer. That includes pure fruit juice. Researchers studied over a 100,000 French adults and founded 18 percent overall increased in cancer risk and a 22 percent increased risk of breast cancer.

Note that this is just one study. It does not show the drinks caused cancer. A recent study also linked sugary beverage consumption to a greater risk of premature death.

SANCHEZ: Police say an Illinois mom took the term carpooling literally and now she's facing charges. It takes some police arresting 49-year-old, Jennifer Yeager. Someone reported a driver with an inflatable pool on top of the car with two girls inside.

Police say that Yeager inflated the pool at a friend's house and had her daughters ride home inside the pool on top of the car to weigh it down. She now faces charges including child endangerment and reckless conduct. She was released after posting bond.

ROMANS: Yes. That's a real head scratcher there.


ROMANS: All right, a case of car versus cactus on the outskirts of Tucson. The cactus won. The Pima County Sheriff's Office says a man in the sports car crossed the median Wednesday and slammed into a cactus.

The trunk of the cactus wound up impaled through the passenger's side of the front window. The driver was the only one in the car. He escaped serious injury but is being detained for further investigation. Deputies say they observed signs of impairment other than the cactus.

SANCHEZ: Yes, cactus through the windshield being a small hint, yes.

Take a look at this dash for cash on I-285 in Dunwoodey, Georgia. Drivers were slamming their brakes, leaving their cars in the middle of the interstate when at least $175,000 came flying out of the back door of an armored car. This is the kind of stuff I dream about. Police were able to recover a few hundred dollars at the scene. They're letting folks know on Facebook that they technically committed a crime if they scooped up any of money. They're asking everyone to do the right thing. And get this by last night, five good Samaritans had turned in a combined $4400. You're great with numbers Christine, $175,000, 4400, something doesn't line up there.

ROMANS: I don't know, that's got lost in the woods. I recommend 401(k) planning, not just dreaming about finding money.

SANCHEZ: Great investment advice as always.

ROMANS: The ESPY winners for the best sports team are a no brainer.


SANDRA BULLOCK, ACTRESS: All those in favor of equal pay say aye. The women's national soccer team!


ROMANS: Awesome. Forward Alex Morgan also won for best female athlete. Their ESPY win caps a whirlwind day. Earlier they were honored with a ticker tape parade in New York City which was great. What a great day for them. All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

SANCHEZ: And I'm Boris Sanchez. "New Day" starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Walloped by wet weather. The worst is yet to come.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gulf coast bracing for a hurricane.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have formally declared a state of emergency. We will be affected and we must be prepared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to get a hold of sand and the sand bags out.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They came in illegally and we're bringing them out legally.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The New York Times reporting nationwide raids targeting undocumented immigrants will begin Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're absolutely going to happen. There is approximately a million people in this country with removal orders.

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


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is "New Day". It is Thursday, July 11th, 6:00 here in New York. And New York weather looks beautiful. But Louisiana is under a state of emergency this morning. Hurricane watches just went into effect with the first tropical.