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NEW DAY

Hurricane Watch in Effect in New Orleans as Flash Floods Hit; ICE Plans to Raid Undocumented Families This Sunday; Iranian Gunboats Attempt to Seize British Tanker; Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) is Interviewed about Upcoming ICE Raids. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 11, 2019 - 07:00   ET

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


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Already a Herculean effort, and we look forward to seeing what happens on Friday.

[07:00:04] JOHN FEAL, 9/11 RESPONDER: And you guys are bad-assery.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The work -- the work continues --

CAMEROTA: You taught it to us.

BERMAN: -- tomorrow, John. All right. Thanks so much.

FEAL: Thank you.

BERMAN: NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our car was halfway underwater.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So there's about six inches of flooding in our car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A tropical system is churning in the Gulf of Mexico.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be prepared for this storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to "The New York Times," the Trump administration's goal: to send a strong message to those who are thinking about crossing the southern border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ICE has to do, in its own realm of authority, where they have to continue to enforce removal orders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on the Trump administration's competence so far, they're taking a real risk here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really amazing to see. As a leader, you just have to sometimes say, "I had discretion. I used it wrong." And he just didn't do it.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY, and we have an important weather alert this morning.

A hurricane is coming, and it's expected to make landfall this weekend. Hurricane watches now extend from just shy of the Texas border to the mouth of the Mississippi River. Tropical storm watches extend far into the north.

The system has already done damage. Look at this. That was some kind of a kid's playhouse in Weatherford, Texas. It's gone now.

Heavy flooding is hitting New Orleans. Parts of Bourbon Street -- look at that -- under water. Hundreds of flood gates have now been closed.

CAMEROTA: OK. There is also other breaking news to bring to you. This morning, nationwide ICE raids on thousands of undocumented immigrants are scheduled to start on Sunday. This is according to "The New York Times."

The Trump administration is going after migrant families in at least ten cities with deportation orders already in place. And agents might even detain immigrant who is happen to be on the scene, even if they were not the target. So we'll have more on that in a moment.

But let's begin with tropical storm system that is threatening Louisiana. Natasha Chen is live in New Orleans.

What's the situation there, Natasha?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, the concern is how high this Mississippi River is going to get. So the Flood Protection Authority is in the process of closing dozens of flood gates, including one here at the port of New Orleans where we are. That will be closed by 5 p.m. Eastern today.

They've been closing pedestrian gates, as well. Places like the Spanish Plaza, River Walk, the Hilton Hotel. These are really popular tourist spots. And we're seeing a lot of tourists in town, some of them saying they want to stick it out inside their hotel rooms, if that has to be the case. But we also saw some people getting in a car really early this morning, headed straight back for the airport. They just want to avoid the whole thing.

The worst, of course, yet to come on Saturday. And so the governor and the mayor of New Orleans have both declared states of emergency. City hall was closed yesterday and remains closed today. Now, you wouldn't be able to tell with this gorgeous sunrise behind

me, but yesterday around this time, this place was getting pummeled with rain. A lot of morning commute drivers dealing with that intense rainfall. We're going to continue to track and see if that type of event continues to happen in the next couple of days.

CAMEROTA: OK, Natasha. Please keep us updated throughout the morning. Thank you very much.

For the latest on the tropical system and where it's headed, let's bring in meteorologist Chad Myers.

What's the latest on the map, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: Still looks like scrambled eggs to me out there, a little tabasco on top.

This is not a developing storm right now, and that's the great news. Hurricane hunters are out there looking for wind, not finding the circulation yet to give it a name, which will eventually today be Barry.

But right now, winds are only 30 miles per hour. The forecast is for it to go to the west of New Orleans. But the cone does include New Orleans, and here's why. Two of the models now are right over New Orleans as we work our way into Saturday morning.

Here's the model for today. This is what the rain should look like for the day. There are more showers on land away from the storm than here in New Orleans. But all of the rainfall off-shore for now. And that will change.

This storm will rotate around, and the rain will get into southern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and even into Georgia. And some of that rain, guys, could be 15 inches deep. The new models, slightly farther to the east, including New Orleans.

But for you up there in New York, there's a severe potential for wind damage here. I don't want to kind of put this by the wayside. Later on tonight, you'll be hearing thunder and lightning; and maybe some trees could be down, as well.

We'll keep you up to date. Eight o'clock advisory coming up in 56 minutes.

BERMAN: All right. Chad, stand by. Please keep us posted on that.

In the meantime, we do have this breaking news from "The New York Times." Immigration raids, raids on undocumented migrants now, apparently, scheduled for Sunday. This in "The New York Times" published overnight.

[07:05:02] Joining us now to discuss, Sarah Isgur, CNN political analyst; Toluse Olorunnipa, CNN political analyst and a White House reporter for "The Washington Post"; and Bianna Golodryga, a CNN contributor. Let me read you two graphs from this "New York Times" story overnight.

"Nationwide raids to arrest thousands of undocumented families have been scheduled to begin Sunday." This is according to to two current and one former Homeland Security official.

And then, "The raids, which will be conducted by ICE over multiple days, will include 'collateral' deportations, according to the officials. In those deportations, the authorities might detain immigrants who happen to be on the scene, even though they were not the targets of the raids."

Now Bianna, we've been told for weeks that these raids were coming. The new information from "The Times" overnight is that it's Sunday, targeting some thousands of families, including children.

What do you see here?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What will be interesting to watch is how the Democrats respond to this. Remember, the president held off on the initial plan for the raids a few weeks ago, as you just mentioned.

Also, it will be interesting to see what happens locally on the ground. You've seen many mayors of many of these cities say that they will not be cooperating and talking to their police department saying not to cooperate with these ICE Officials.

So I think what's going to happen over the next 48 hours is going to be critical here.

CAMEROTA: Sarah, here's what's different than what we've been seeing at the border. These are people with deportation orders already. So in other words, they've been adjudicated. OK? So they are here unlawfully, as opposed to people who have been showing up and seeking asylum, which is legal. OK?

However, optically, I'm not sure what the difference is. Because we have seen for the past months that these deportation centers are full. They're full. They're beyond capacity. People are being kept in over-crowded cages in inhumane conditions. So I'm not sure, first of all, how the deportation centers are going to accommodate more people from these arrests, and just in terms of the public kind of trying to digest all this, optically what the difference is.

SARAH ISGUR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's right. And I think also what you said earlier: we have seen this reporting before; it's been delayed before. We'll see if this moves forward.

But again, what these 2020 Democrats do with this will be interesting. Because Donald Trump is getting to skip the primary, go straight to the general. And what we've seen in two polls that have just come out this week is that the majority of general election voters find immigration to be a top issue and tend to side that it's a -- it's a crisis that's happening here.

And you have Jeh Johnson from the Obama administration, their secretary of Homeland Security, advising Democrats not to move too far to the left on this issue.

But I think there's no question that this will remain a top issue going into the next debate and for those top-tier candidates to have to grapple with, how to talk to their primary voters about this without alienating general-election voters.

BERMAN: So interesting. Both Bianna and Sarah, one of the first things they bring up is the politics here. Is this a base play by the president? Is the timing, a week and a half before the CNN debate, does that play in here?

But there's the flip side, too, of the risks, Toluse, which is inside this article from "The New York Times." There's this quote: "Agents have expressed apprehensions about arresting babies and young children, officials have said."

There's still concern about how to pull this off. And there's still concern about people who might be affected.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. The optics of this have the threat of being really bad for the administration. We saw the family separations just about a year ago and how bad that was for the administration. You saw both Democrats and Republicans come out to condemn that.

Now you have the president sort of pushing forward with what could be a pretty harsh-looking deportation force going in to families, going into communities, going in and deporting people who haven't necessarily committed violent crimes while they were here, but they have the deportation orders. And that may include families that are also going to be separated, because maybe the children are here and they're American citizens; and the parents happen to be undocumented immigrants.

And if that happens and if that is shown publicly in local communities, it could really present bad optics for the president, showing himself to be someone who continues to separate families, who even though they have deportation orders aren't necessarily causing crime in the community, aren't necessarily violent criminals.

We've seen previous administrations try to focus on deporting people who have committed additional crimes after getting here. It seems like President Trump is looking at deporting people who -- deporting families who haven't necessarily committed additional crimes but are, you know, adjudicated to have been deportation-worthy.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

OLORUNNIPA: So it will be very interesting to see how that plays out.

CAMEROTA: That brings us to the citizenship question for the census. President Trump has long wanted to do that. Though the Supreme Court shot it down, or at least sent it back to the drawing board. This morning he is tweeting about it. What's he saying?

BERMAN: Yes, the last thing he says -- he's got an event at the White House today. And he says at the conclusion of the event, "We will all go to the beautiful Rose Garden for a News Conference on the Census and Citizenship."

Now, we don't know at this point, and we're trying to find out. We're trying to do some reporting at the White House as we speak. Is this going to be an executive order to try to get a citizenship question on the census? How would that work legally? Might he just back off and say he's not going to try to get the question on the census right now but try to do it on a supplemental thing? We're not sure.

[07:10:18] But Bianna, one thing we are sure about is talking about this at all again seems to be a base play.

GOLODRYGA: And I don't think that him announcing this on Twitter suggests that he's backing off.

BERMAN: Right.

GOLODRYGA: Right? Usually, if there's something that he backs off on, he just stops talking about it. That's clearly not the case here. He can't let this go. He believes that he has Bill Barr on his side. He believes that he can potentially pull out an executive order, as well.

And obviously, we saw the -- the additional setback from the judge here in New York just this week, saying that they can't just arbitrarily switch attorneys and switch lawyers.

BERMAN: Now the Maryland judge said the same thing.

GOLODRYGA: Right. Without giving a plausible explanation, which obviously, could unleash a lot of embarrassing details that the administration doesn't want to set forward.

CAMEROTA: Sarah, are Republicans comfortable with that? An executive order going around the court system including the Supreme Court?

ISGUR: I think they would be. I think that, again, the polling that we've seen on this actually shows that -- I've seen one with 52 percent, one with 67 percent support some version of this question on the census. That being said, again, you want to look forward to that Democratic debate in a week and a half.

Joe Biden had protesters at his headquarters yesterday who were protesting deportations during the Obama administration and wanted him to apologize for that. So it's a very, very different issue within the Democratic primary voters than it is for Donald Trump's base and Republican voters going into this.

And so I think it's a really interesting question of what exactly the president's going to say here and where that lands for these Democrats, how they respond.

BERMAN: Typical fashion, the president announces he's making an announcement on Twitter. We will watch to see what he says very carefully. CAMEROTA: That's called a tease.

BERMAN: It's called a tease. And we might watch what the courts have to say about it, as well.

Another major development overnight, and that's Alexander Acosta, the labor secretary, gave a news conference to try to explain his role in this sweetheart plea deal from Jeffrey Epstein, sexual predator, more than a decade ago. Epstein's been charged again with sex trafficking and abusing minors.

Acosta basically said, "I got the best deal I could." He blamed the state of Florida for bungling the case beforehand. And the question this morning, Toluse, is did he do the job politically? Is Alexander Acosta safe in his job as labor secretary this morning?

OLORUNNIPA: It seems that way at this point. We know this is a very fickle president who can sour on his cabinet officials very quickly. But it seems like, at least at this point, Alexander Acosta is not on his way out the door.

But you can expect the news coverage of this continue, because there are a lot of holes in the argument that Acosta made yesterday. And those holes are beginning to be poked by the local officials down in south Florida, saying that they have a different recollection of what happened back in 2007 and 2008.

And some of the -- some of the arguments that he made don't really hold water about how things have changed over the last ten years and how victim shaming was all in vogue back then. And now it doesn't happen anymore.

It's not very clear that he really made an argument to explain himself and explain why he was able to give this sweetheart deal to Epstein and why the prosecutors now in the Southern District of New York -- you're looking at much of the same evidence -- are able to bring a much harder set of charges against him.

So you can expect the news coverage of that to continue. And as that continues, that could impact how his standing is with the president, who follows the news and follows the media very closely.

GOLODRYGA: But let's be clear: prosecutors ten years ago went after perpetrators of child rape. Right? They went after pedophiles. He was making it seem as if this was so many decades ago, and times were so different. I believe he was trying to conflate the #MeToo movement with what Epstein has been charged with. Not to take away the significance from the #MeToo movement, but you're talking about child rape and pedophilia.

So you can't suggest that, oh, ten years ago things were so entirely different. They weren't.

The one question I do have is whether or not the president's affiliation with Epstein will help or hurt Acosta's ultimate fate.

CAMEROTA: And --

BERMAN: And very -- sorry.

CAMEROTA: Even if you believe his rationale -- and things have changed, certainly, in the past 10 years -- even if you accept that, why did you conduct it all in secret? Why did you leave your office and travel miles away to have a secret meeting with the lawyer of Jeffrey Epstein? Why did you never tell the victims? And that's illegal. And so that -- that doesn't -- his rationale doesn't wash because of the strange things, decisions that he made during that.

GOLODRYGA: He was very defensive, I think, for all the wrong reasons.

BERMAN: And Sarah, just just quickly, you never heard an "I'm sorry" there, correct?

ISGUR: No. I thought that if I were advising Alex Acosta, I would tell him to look at Pete Buttigieg's answer on the South Bend shootings. Look at someone who was able to own up to a mistake.

These women, these dozens of children were let down by the system, I think by the state system and the federal system. And we did not hear an apology for that.

BERMAN: All right. Sarah, Toluse, Bianna, thank you very much.

[07:15:04] This morning, new tensions in the Persian Gulf involving Iran. Five armed Iranian gun boats tried unsuccessfully to seize a British oil tanker.

Our Barbara Starr live at the pentagon with all the details here. Barbara, what happened?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.

This happening yesterday as a British oil tanker tried to move through the Strait of Hormuz. We are told that it was approached by several Iranian small, armed boats who tried to make that British commercial tanker go into Iranian waters, essentially seize it and take it into Iran.

What happened next, however, is a U.K. Royal Navy frigate that was escorting the tanker came up alongside very quickly, trained its cannon on the Iranian boats, and issued a verbal warning to back off. I might mention that cannon on that British warship is especially designed to drive off small boats.

So this morning, the British government saying the Iranians were trying to impede the progress of the tanker through the Strait of Hormuz. But the U.S. adamant that the Iranians were attempting to seize this British tanker. Tehran saying no such incident ever happened.

The U.S. letting it be known that there was a U.S. military aircraft overhead at the time of the incident, and it was recording video of what happened. We'll see if that video becomes public -- Alisyn. CAMEROTA: And Barbara, we will ask a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee what she knows about this, coming up. Thank you very much for your reporting.

So ICE raids targeting undocumented families are set to begin this weekend. We're getting our first reaction from Congress. A Democratic senator is going to join us from Capitol Hill.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:20:41] CAMEROTA: Breaking news, "The New York Times" reports this morning, quote, "Nationwide raids to arrest thousands of members of undocumented families have been scheduled to begin Sunday." This is according to two current and one former Homeland Security official.

Joining us now to talk about this and so much more news this morning, we have Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): Good morning.

CAMEROTA: She serves on both the Judiciary and the Armed Services Committees. So you are so helpful to us, Senator, this morning, because there's a lot happening. So good morning.

HIRONO: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: And let's start with this announcement. So undocumented migrants -- or immigrants here in the country with deportation orders, the administration has said they will begin arresting them this weekend. And then, I guess my question is where will they be put?

I mean, the president has told us for months now that these detention centers are completely overrun. They are overwhelmed. They can't handle a single person more. So where will these people go?

HIRONO: That is a good question. But first and foremost, this is, again, the president sowing fear. Here's terrorizing these communities where the immigrants live, because these are not going to be targeted arrests. He's going to spread a wide net, sowing fear in multiple cities across the country.

So it's all part of his plan to continue to -- to do everything he can to -- to portray these people as the other, and that they deserve all of our cruelty and hatred. So --

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, to your point, "The New York Times" says, "In those deportations, the authorities might detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene" --

HIRONO: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- "even though they were not targets of the raids."

We just won't know, senator, until it happens exactly what it looks like and exactly how it goes down. But you know what Republicans will say. These are people with deportation orders. Meaning they've been adjudicated through the system.

HIRONO: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And they are supposed to be deported. This isn't just people showing up with an asylum claim, which is different.

And so won't they say that, "If you're not going to enforce the law, then you Democrats are for open borders. And you're not for law and order," because there are deportation orders in place for these folks.

HIRONO: I hardly think that this is a picture of law and order, where you go in and terrorize entire neighborhoods and communities with these kinds of raids.

So, yes, a lot of these people do have, supposedly, deportation orders. But, you know, we also know of cases of people who had deportation orders and who were appealing their deportation orders. So they're in different positions during the entire process.

But, nonetheless, the bottom line is the president has no problems doing everything he can to terrorize undocumented people saying, well,

they shouldn't come, because it's illegal. No, it is not illegal to seek asylum.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Yes, understood. Absolutely.

Meanwhile, Vice President Pence is going to McAllen, Texas, tomorrow for a site visit to see what's going on there. And he and Senator Lindsey Graham, I believe, have invited you and everyone on your committee. But you -- are you going -- are you going to go?

HIRONO: I am not.

CAMEROTA: And why not?

HIRONO: I've been to McAllen -- Because I don't want to participate in what is basically the Trump show, Trump/Pence show. What do you think they're going to see?

You have a president saying everything is just fine. These facilities, these detention centers are just being run great. Yes, that's what they're going to see.

But we know from all of the reports that things are not great. Things are not great. And so I want to see, you know, I'd love to be able to go to these facilities unannounced, but believe me, when any of us visit, they will make sure that we see what they want us to see; and that's not real.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about what's happening in the Strait of Hormuz right now. As our Barbara Starr just reported, there was this British Heritage tanker. And it was sailing out of the Persian Gulf. It was crossing into the Strait of Hormuz when it was approached by Iranian boats.

The Iranians ordered the tanker to change course and stop in nearby Iranian territorial waters. This is according to the officials.

A U.S. aircraft was overhead and recorded video of this incident, though CNN has not yet seen the footage.

So what do you know about this conflict and these tensions that are happening between British ships and Iranian ships in the Strait of Hormuz?

HIRONO: We've created an environment where miscalculation can happen. There is no question that, in my mind and not just my mind, but it all started when the president's, just on its own, withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal. And so -- and also put in some major sanctions that was to elicit a response from Iran, and sure enough, they're responding.

[07:25:19] So the tensions are high, and this was, once again, of the president's making. And we don't exactly get to look at our allies to say, "Everyone, let's come together and ease the tensions. Let's diplomatically resolve the situation."

And -- and instead, what's happening is, as I said, an environment where miscalculations can happen. The last thing we need is another war in the Middle East, a war with no end.

CAMEROTA: OK. I want to ask you about what the president just announced he'll be doing this morning. He's going to be in the Rose Garden making some sort of announcement about the census.

HIRONO: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And we assume about a citizenship question --

HIRONO: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- on the census that various judges, including the Supreme Court, have already struck down or sent back, at least, for them to provide a better rationale.

He has -- Our reporting is that the president is going to announce some sort of executive action on this. Your response?

HIRONO: This is a president who doesn't think that the rule of law applies to him. So what that the Supreme Court has already said, "You know what, administration? Your rationale for this census has very little or nothing to do with the Voting Rights Act, but it has everything to do with trying to suppress the -- the votes by, basically, minority populations." And so he's going to keep doing it. And it will lead to yet another court challenge.

Just about every action that this administration takes, including most, I would say, of his executive orders to get around the law, results in legal challenges.

This is the kind of chaos and the kind of -- that's sowed by this president. And so there will be another court challenge. And of course, I completely disagree with him doing an executive order to get around what the Supreme Court has -- has opined on.

CAMEROTA: Senator Mazie Hirono, thank you very much --

HIRONO: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: -- for dealing with all of our breaking news this morning -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Happening now, a state of emergency in Louisiana. A hurricane expected to make landfall this weekend. The director of the National Hurricane Center joins us next.

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[07:30:00]