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HALA GORANI TONIGHT

British Royal Navy Trains Weapons On Iranian Ships; Trump's Raids On Immigrants To Begin Sunday; American Scientist's Body Discovered In Crete; New Orleans Drenched As Tropical Storm Moves In; Epstein Wants Out Of Jail To Await Trial Under House Arrest; Vatican: Two Graves Exhumed, No Human Remains Found. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired July 11, 2019 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:21] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani.

Tonight, more drama on the high seas. Britain is accusing Iran of trying to seize an oil tanker and the Royal Navy had its guns drawn.

Also tonight, U.S. federal agents are preparing to go after undocumented immigrants in sweeping raids across America. A U.S. official tells us the

raids will start Sunday.

And as Jeffrey Epstein's lawyers propose a bail package that would let him stay in his mansion, I speak to the investigations editor at the "Miami

Herald" whose team chased this story for more than a decade.

We start with another tense standoff in the high seas of the Middle East. A U.K. Royal Navy frigate aimed weapons at three Iranian gun boats that

tried to impede a British tanker from moving through the Straits of Hormuz.

You can see here, the tanker eventually passed through the strait into the Gulf of Oman. The incident Wednesday further stoked tensions between the

two countries after last week's seizure of an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar. Britain says that ship was thought to be illegally carrying

crude oil to Syria. We've learned that the tanker's captain and first officer were arrested today.

There's a lot to break down here. Sam Kiley is following developments for us from Abu Dhabi. Nic Robertson is with me here in London.

Sam, let's start a little bit with what happened today. The Royal Navy training its guns on Iranian boats. This is a major escalation.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Hala. And it could have been a whole lot worse, had there been anybody putting their

finger to the trigger and pulling it, of course. But what happened today was that HMS Montrose was, in the words of MOD sources, unofficially

shadowing or escorting a British Petroleum, B.P., ship called "The British Heritage."

Not a good day to be called "British," particularly. And to be flagging it quite so much in this very tense area. Because of course, as you pointed

out in the introduction there, the Iranians are extremely angry over the seizure of the Grace 1, the ship that's being held off the coast of

Gibraltar, and had repeatedly threatened retaliation.

Retaliation was last threatened by President Rouhani. And very soon after that threat, three Iranian fast boats came up alongside The British

Heritage, which was already under escort from HMS Montrose, which then intervened, putting itself between the British supertanker and the Iranian

fast boats.

Issued verbal warnings, we understand, from MOD sources, and also, to back those verbal warnings up, trained belt-fed machine guns and a 30mm

automated cannon on the Iranian boats. And they did indeed back off.

Now, I should stress that the Iranians say this incident did not happen at all. And the United States has said that it -- out of the Pentagon, they

do have video of this, Hala, but they are still in talks with the British as to who is going to release it and whether they're going to release it.

And the reason for that, ultimately, is the British are still trying to de- escalate this issue and separate it entirely from the other ongoing issue that's affected shipping in the same area, which of course is the Iranian-

American argument over the Iran Nuclear Deal, which the Americans walked away from last May -- Hala.

GORANI: Sam, stand by.

Boris Johnson, who's, of course, the expected next prime minister of the U.K., one of our camera crews caught up with him in London today, asked

them about what's going on in the Straits of Hormuz. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE: It is very sad that Iran's continued disruptive behavior within the region makes it more

difficult for us to have the kind of relationship that I would like to have with Iran. Iran is --

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: Well, let me tell you. I think Iran is an amazing country. Iran has got a young population, a highly literate well-educated population. I

think he would love to engage economically with the West. To me, it's a great shame that we're not able to do that because of the political

difficulties that we have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Yes. Not in London. He's on the campaign trail, obviously, campaigning for that leadership position. But that was his reply. What do

we make of the U.K. position here?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, this will become the U.K. position if he becomes prime minister, won't it? So, you know, I

think evaluate Boris Johnson on what he's done already.

When he was foreign secretary, he kind of made matters worse with Iran over inadvertently, as he would say -- or making a mistake, as others would say

in Parliament, talking about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who's currently being held in a jail in Iran, and that didn't help her plight.

[14:05:06] So Boris Johnson already has a track record with Iran of escalating rather than de-escalating tensions. So this rhetoric, yes, it's

a great country, great people, we want to do business with it. But how do you get to that point and what position is he going -- what position is he

going to -- what positions is he ultimately going to take on (ph) this?

(CROSSTALK)

GORANI: Right. And --

ROBERTSON: And some of it kind of sounds a little bit like what we're hearing from the U.S. administration as well. Great people, great country,

sad about the leadership. But we could do great business (ph) with (ph) them (ph) --

(CROSSTALK)

GORANI: But that's not addressing today's --

ROBERTSON: -- economically.

GORANI: -- it was not addressing today's incident.

ROBERTSON: No.

GORANI: And, Sam, I want to ask you about today's incident as well, specifically. Because with each new layer added to this story, there seems

to be more and more escalation. Is -- are we at risk, real risk here, of open conflict?

KILEY: There could have been an escalation, had there been an open fire order given by the Iranians or the British in that location. It could have

escalated very, very drastically.

But in this region, Hala, particularly here in the Emirates, notwithstanding their discomfort, rivalry, often detestation of what a lot

of the Iranians are doing around the Middle East and what they would call destabilizing practices, there's still -- in places like the Emirates -- a

very strong sense indeed that these sorts of incidents simply cannot be allowed to escalate, no matter how sour the relationships between the U.S.

and her allies might be.

TEXT: Iran and Its Proxies Lashing Out in the Past Month: Iran shoots down U.S. drone; Iran-backed Houthis fire missile at airport; Iran's

military believed to be behind attacks on two tankers in Gulf of Oman; Iran announces it will breach limits on uranium enrichment; Iranian boats

attempt to seize British tanker

KILEY: So this moment was yet another moment when the febrile atmosphere could have been ignited. But mercifully, on both sides, wisdom prevailed -

- Hala.

GORANI: Did these boats, Nic, belong to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard?

ROBERTSON: That's the working assumption because they're the ones that have been making the strongest assertions about -- as Qasem Soleimani, the

most senior commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, tweeted for the first time in English today, essentially saying that it's the United States

that's making problems, destabilizing the region. But the clear message for Britain in this is, "Step away from siding with the United States."

So at the moment, the threats have come from the IRGC and it does seem that they are the ones who would be the ones put into the position to perpetrate

what was (ph) --

(CROSSTALK)

GORANI: It's a dangerous game.

ROBERTSON: It's a hugely dangerous game. And nobody knows where it could end. And as Sam said, it's -- this is a moment where it's particularly

incendiary. We have both the Defense Ministry today thanking the Royal Navy for upholding international law, but saying -- calling for a de-

escalation. You have the prime minister's office here, urging restraint on the part of Iran and de-escalation too.

GORANI: thank you so much, Nic Robertson and Sam Kiley.

My next guest, Trita Parsi, is executive vice president of The Quincy Institute, which calls for diplomacy over conflict. He's also the author

of the book, "Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy." And Trita joins me from Washington.

Hassan Rouhani said, "The Brits are scared. They're hoopla (ph) is that they had to use their military." Here's what Hassan Rouhani had to say,

Trita.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): You are the initiator of insecurity and you will realize the consequences later. Now,

you are so hopeless that when one of your tankers wants to move in the region, you have to bring your frigates to escort it because you are

scared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: That's the Iranian president, escalating the war of words. What do you make of what -- of how Iran is acting these last few weeks?

TRITA PARSI, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, QUINCY INSTITUTE: Well, I think first of all, when it comes to that statement and the statements that we've

heard prior to that as well from both sides, I mean, this is extremely concerning.

This is not where we should be, and I think it's very important to understand that this did not start four weeks ago. This whole situation is

only here now because of the decision of the Trump administration to walk out of the nuclear deal and start punishing countries for adhering to that

deal, including the Europeans, who have now been so sanctioned by the United States that they cannot live up to their obligations under the

nuclear deal. Had that not happened, we would not be here today.

In fact, as part of the maximum pressure strategy that the Trump administration has been pursuing on the Iranians, in violation of the U.N.

Security Council resolution, they reportedly were the ones who asked the Brits to confiscate that Iranian tanker in the Mediterranean about a week

or so ago.

And if the reports --

GORANI: Yes.

PARSI: -- are correct that the IRGC were the ones who were trying to attack this British tanker, then most likely that is a retaliation for

that. So we have to go back and say, "How did this whole thing begin?" And whose interest does it really serve?

(CROSSTALK)

GORANI: But if that's -- if the trigger --

PARSI: To escalate (ph) (inaudible) --

(CROSSTALK)

GORANI: -- was the Americans walking away, then the resolution, according to what you just said, would be the Americans adhering once again to the

deal. And under President Trump, we know that to be highly unlikely. So what is the diplomatic off-ramp, if not that? What could defuse the

situation now?

[14:10:07] PARSI: Well, just because the Trump administration has shown itself to be so adamant about violating international law, I don't think

that is enough for everyone to kind of give up and say, "Well, that's going to have to be the way it is."

I think instead of, for instance, the French going to Tehran and trying to salvage the deal, the French and the others should come to Washington, D.C.

and have a much better conversation, a much firmer conversation than was had before when Boris Johnson, for instance, was the foreign secretary.

In order to make sure that the United States, even if it wants to change elements of the deal, even if it wants to broaden the scope of it, well,

the path to that is to first respect the existing deal and then build upon it rather than have this reckless creation of tension in the hope that that

someway, somehow will be creating a creative scenario in which a better deal will come about.

The most likely outcome of this is, unfortunately, a military confrontation, not a better deal.

GORANI: And Boris Johnson, if he becomes prime minister, you heard -- I believe you heard his reaction today to the escalation. How will things

change if he's prime minister?

PARSI: I think if the tendency or the trend that we have seen, which is that as a result of Brexit and the very precarious situation that the U.K.

is in, that it will find itself having no choice but to move closer and closer to the U.S. position. Then that will definitely --

GORANI: Right.

PARSI: -- be a major problem in the sense that at least up until recently, the Europeans have tried to stand firm in salvaging this nuclear deal, and

make sure that we actually have de-escalation.

If the Brits break from that and actually adopt a Trump position on this, then that will definitely increase the tension, increase the likelihood of

a confrontation.

GORANI: Do the Iranians want -- what are they playing at here? What's their strategy? They can't possibly want a military confrontation that

they know will be disastrous for them, right?

PARSI: It would be extremely --

GORANI: So what is it that they're trying to achieve -- yes.

PARSI: -- I think it would be extremely foolish for them to want something like that. And I doubt that there's plenty of folks there that would want

that. However, I think they have come to the conclusion that the strategy that they pursued up until a month or so ago, which was to just hope and

wait patiently for the Trump administration to reach its end and absorb --

GORANI: Yes.

PARSI: -- the cost and the pain and everything else for now, in the hope that the deal could be salvaged and that they could go back to normalcy

after --

GORANI: But then --

PARSI: -- this administration.

GORANI: -- but then why --

PARSI: But that is --

GORANI: -- enrich uranium at a higher level every few weeks, and now it's a higher and higher level --

PARSI: Well, this is the --

GORANI: -- then why do that?

PARSI: The strategy changed four weeks ago because the Trump administration escalated further by trying to make sure that Iran could not

sell any oil at all. Up until a month ago, the Iranians were still selling -- not as much as they did before when the deal was still fully in effect,

but still around half of that.

And now the Trump administration has pushed to reduce their oil exports to zero, which essentially is economic warfare. And those are the words of

Donald Trump himself.

As Trump escalated the economic warfare, the Iranians have concluded that it is not a strategy that is successful for them, to be the only ones that

are actually adhering to the deal. Because the U.S. has left the deal. The Europeans are making positive --

GORANI: Yes.

PARSI: -- statements about the deal, but they're not trading as they were supposed to do because they're afraid of Trump's sanctions.

So is Iran supposed to be the only country that lives up to this deal? I think they reached a conclusion that that is not a winning strategy, and

they are now doing calibrated steps in order to pressure the other countries to come back into the deal, and pressure the United States to do

so as well.

I'm not sure it's going to succeed. But I think it's surprising that it took them this long, actually.

GORANI: Trita Parsi, thanks very much. Always appreciate --

PARSI: Thank you for having me.

GORANI: -- having you on the program.

To the U.S. now, fears are rising in cities across the country. The Trump administration is getting ready to carry out some massive raids on

undocumented families. CNN has learned that these raids, which were put on hold by the president last month, will start taking place this Sunday, in

three days.

Thousands will be arrested. And "The New York Times" is quoting Homeland Security sources as saying, "Even migrants who happen to be on the scene

could be arrested." Those would be called "collateral deportations." Those targeted have previously been ordered deported.

Let's get more on this. CNN's Nick Valencia is in El Paso, Texas.

So talk to us, Nick, about these planned raids. What -- how will they take place? Where will they take place? Who could be affected?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: According to an ICE official, Hala, these are still in the preliminary stages. So we know at least at this

point, it's going to be in 10 major U.S. cities. Places like Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco.

And as you noted, this is similar to what we heard in June. Those ICE raids that were announced and then abruptly called off in an unprecedented

announcement by President Trump.

But now according to an ICE official, they will happen on Sunday. It will take multiple days and it is targeted interior enforcement. This is what

they're calling it. Two thousand undocumented immigrants that recently crossed the southern border but are under current orders of removal.

[14:15:01] The problem, though, that immigration attorneys have is this notion of collateral arrest. And that even though this enforcement is

specific, that there are going to be collateral arrests, undocumented migrants who are there at sites of raids, who may not be the target of

enforcement but will be caught up and arrested as well.

Immigration attorneys estimate that this could be, you know, hundreds more, thousands more, potentially, than the 2,000 number that's been given to us

by the ICE official -- Hala.

GORANI: And Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, was told about these planned raids, and this is what she

had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Families belong together. Every person in America has rights. These families are hardworking members of

our communities and our country. This brutal action will terrorize children and tear families apart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: So she does bring up the point of families being potentially torn apart, which is, you know, possibly going to be one of the tragic

consequences of these sweeping raids.

VALENCIA: Well, certainly, we're expecting to see dramatic images, no doubt about it. You know, they're going to be showing up to people's

houses, Hala, to, you know, take them into custody. And there is a lot of concern, some people calling it heartless, that these aren't necessary

raids.

You know, there is a lot of concern as well around the public perception surrounding Border Patrol and the migrant conditions. I mean, this is

another problem that the Trump administration is dealing with.

And there's a lot of concern as well about agent safety. These plans are out there. Perhaps these undocumented immigrants that are being targeted

aren't even at the addresses that ICE thinks that they are. This strikes a lot of -- you know, a lot of people that are looking at this situation as

more muscular posturing by the Trump administration, sending a very clear and direct message to undocumented immigrants that they're not welcomed in

this country -- Hala.

GORANI: And I want to show our viewers (ph), Nick, these pictures now. And a warning that they're graphic. And then I'll get -- I have to ask you

a question off the back (ph).

It's important we show them, though --

VALENCIA: Yes.

GORANI: -- because it does illustrate the horrifying manner in which some people die, juts how dangerous the trip to the U.S. can be for Central

American migrants.

A Guatemalan man who hired a smuggler to get him to the U.S. was attacked and killed in Mexico. After being killed by a drug cartel, his son's

throat was slashed. He was left for dead. He is now recovering in hospital. And this is yet another tragedy involving migrants trying to

reach the United States.

I guess my question to you is, do these stories make it into -- I mean, are they heard, are they -- are Americans aware of the conditions in which some

of these migrants live? How dangerous it is for them to make the trip to the United States? Is this -- is there a level of awareness surrounding

that?

VALENCIA: There is, but it doesn't seem to be resonating as one would thing. You know, these are very graphic images. These are images that

shock the conscience and really, you know, are vile and disgusting. And show examples, as you mentioned, about the perilous journey that these

migrants take.

You know, we heard testimony yesterday from a mother who was an asylum- seeker whose daughter died after prolonged detention. She says she doesn't want to go back to her country because as perilous as the journey was, it's

worse in her own home country.

You know, we're the only American media outlet, Hala, to pick up these images. They resonated in Spanish language media, they were featured

prominently on Univision, which broke this news about the migrant and her father. But so far, they haven't been picked up.

And you remember a couple of weeks ago, we saw that viral image that really illustrated the perilous journey of Oscar, a central American father, and

his two-year-old daughter Valeria who drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande.

These images, in this reporter's opinion, are just as graphic if not worse. And yet --

GORANI: Yes.

VALENCIA: -- they're not resonating the way that last picture did -- Hala.

GORANI: Thank you. Nick Valencia in El Paso.

So we just highlighted the journey taken by migrants desperate to reach the United States for a better, safer life, it's never easy. But even when

they do make it to the border, it's a case of "Get in line." Here's CNN's Ed Lavandera.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For three months, little Marvin (ph) has spent most of his days in Juarez, Mexico in this makeshift

classroom. Volunteers created this school to give migrant children a sense of normalcy.

But today is Marvin's (ph) last day.

LUCERA (PH) DE (PH) ALVA (PH), VOLUNTEER: Today, they're leaving to Guatemala.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Lucera (ph) de (ph) Alva (ph) is a children's book author and has spent most of the last year volunteering to help thousands

of migrants who've shown up in this border town. She says Marvin's (ph) family has been waiting for three months to request asylum in the United

States, but his mother is giving up and returning to Guatemala.

LAVANDERA: And that's because the wait is very long? It takes a long time?

DE (PH) ALVA (PH): Well, she's almost there but she doesn't want to risk it.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): In January, the Trump administration rolled out the Migrant Protection Protocols, often called the "Remain in Mexico"

policy. It forces migrants to wait in Mexican border towns until their number is called to cross the border and request asylum.

Juarez government officials say right now, more than 5,500 people in the border city are on the waitlist to simply request asylum. The wait time is

about four months. They have to wait even longer to get a court date in the U.S.

[14:20:11] As they wait, De (ph) Alva (ph) says thousands of people are crammed into the 14 migrant shelters that have opened along the U.S.-Mexico

border since February. And they're feeling the stress.

Like 20-year-old Ebert (ph) Ramirez (ph), who came from Honduras and has been waiting four months to request asylum. He says he rarely leaves the

walls of the shelter because he fears the city around him.

LAVANDERA: He says right now, he's getting his strength from his family that send him messages to keep waiting, to keep waiting. But he's not much

-- he's not sure how much longer that will last and how much more patience he will have.

Have you heard of people saying, "I don't want to wait in line any more"? "I'm going to sneak in illegally --

DE (PH) ALVA (PH): Yes.

LAVANDERA: -- and try to avoid being caught?

DE (PH) ALVA (PH): A lot of them.

LAVANDERA: A lot of them?

DE (PH) ALVA (PH): Yes. They just get desperate.

LAVANDERA: Many migrants facing months and months of waiting, here in Juarez, say they're taking matters into their own hands. They're too

desperate. So they'll come to this part of the border, they'll jump over and dart across to the U.S. side, turning themselves in to immigration

officials.

Because of that, the Mexican government has deployed army soldiers along this stretch of the border and in other places, to deter those migrants

from doing just that.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): U.S. immigration officials say the Trump administration's strategy is slowing the flow of migrants. Border Patrol

says apprehensions dropped 28 percent from May to June.

KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Our strategy is working. The president's engagement with Mexico, the deal to enforce

immigration security on their southern border, to partner with us on tackling transnational criminal organizations. That's clearly having an

impact on the flow.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): But critics say forcing migrants to wait in dangerous Mexican border towns is inhumane.

MARISA LIMON, HOPE BORDER INSTITUTE: We're seeing upticks in the cases of kidnapping, of assault. You know, these are people that are easily

targeted, especially, you know, Central American migrants. It's very difficult and we're putting them at risk knowingly.

LAVANDERA: The Trump administration is expanding this Remain in Mexico policy. It has started forcing migrants to wait in the border city of

Nuevo Laredo, which is considered one of the most violent cities in the world because of drug cartel violence.

But the Trump administration insists that all of this is being done for humanitarian reasons and to help ease the burden of processing migrants

arriving at the U.S. southern border. Ed Lavandera, CNN, El Paso, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Still to come tonight, can police investigating the death of an American scientist in Crete find abandoned -- find clues in an abandoned

military bunker. Our Arwa Damon will take us inside.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: When an American scientists disappeared in Greece last week, her family feared she might have died of heat exhaustion while jogging. The

real story appears to be a lot more sinister.

[14:25:03] The body of Suzanne Eaton was found deep in this tunnel, once used as a military bunker during World War II. She'd been stabbed and

asphyxiated, dumped face-down and covered by a large wooden pallet. Now, police are trying to figure out exactly what happened.

Arwa Damon is on Crete and she went inside that tunnel. Arwa, what did you find?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, it's quite eerie and we're outside it right now. And this is not an area that's easy

to access at all. But take a look at what we were able to see earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON: That right there, that is one of the cave-like entrances into this fortified tunnel system where Suzanne's body was found. And you can tell

that the forensics teams have been through here, obviously, as well. Now, this area is not that far off the main road. But it's not that easy to

find either. You have to take a couple of dirt roads, a pathway and then it's hidden in the middle of this olive grove.

The chief of police told us that it was two locals who came across Suzanne's body, deep inside this tunnel system, about six days after she

was first reported to be missing. And they were just exploring.

This was all fortified and dug out by the Nazis, who used it quite extensively. And it goes on for quite some distance. And it's like being

inside a labyrinth. This isn't the sort of place that a random person would know about. And one of the main theories is that whoever carried out

this hideous crime already knew that this entire underground system existed.

The chief of police had told us that when those two locals found Suzanne's body -- and then the forensic teams came on-site, they also were able to

determine that she had suffered from some small stab wounds. But that was not the cause of death. The cause of death was determined to be

asphyxiation. And now there is a massive homicide investigation that is under way.

Now, we actually came and walked through here earlier. So we can take you straight through and show you this area over here.

Just around the corner here is an area that fits the description of where the police chief told us that Suzanne's body was found. They believe that

it was dropped from one of those upper openings, and then deliberately concealed, presumably so that no one would find it.

The police chief told us that in the four years that he's been here, he has never even seen anything remotely like this. And the locals we've been

talking to, they're shocked. They're horrified. This island is a popular tourist destination. This kind of violence, it just isn't meant to happen

here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON: And, Hala, Suzanne's family has released a bunch of tributes to her memory, her son, her sister, other siblings, friends, really remembering

what they describe as a formidable inspirational woman, professionally and on a personal level. Someone who really reached for the ultimate goals,

whether it was through her scientific discoveries or just the way she interacted with friends, family and those around her -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. Arwa, thanks very much. We'll stay on the case with Arwa, there, reporting on Crete.

Still to come tonight, New Orleans is bracing for Tropical Storm Barry. The region is already trying to deal with widespread flooding. Just look

at this staircase inside a hotel. Well, it's now a raging waterfall. We'll take you live to the Gulf Coast.

And later, a convicted sex offender facing new charges of crimes against children? Well, now he wants out of jail to await trial in his $77 million

mansion. The latest of Jeffrey Epstein, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:30:58] GORANI: A powerful weather system in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico has intensified to become tropical storm Barry. Many residents are already

waterlogged. Heavy rain flooded parts of New Orleans on Wednesday. And Barry could make landfall Saturday. The storm is moving slowly. Rain

could be relentless for the next 48 hours. And the fact that it's moving slowly is not great because of flooding already in that part of the U.S.

Look at these pictures from Wednesday, a staircase in one building turned into a waterfall. Residents are being urged to shelter in place and to

check on elderly neighbors in particular.

And FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is moving meals, water, and other shelter items to the area. Louisiana's governor has declared a

state of emergency and urged everyone to have a plan for family and pets as well.

Natasha Chen joins me now. She's live in New Orleans. Tell us about how residents are preparing for this.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, residents are being told in the city of New Orleans to shelter in place. The mayor says that

they have functioning pumps throughout the city, but this is not a situation they can pump their way out of. So she is telling people to be

prepared to shelter in place. We've also seen people with their sandbags out.

I just want to point out we are standing on a levee right now where you can see downtown New Orleans behind us. The problem here has to do with the

high levels of flooding that we've already seen this season. Usually, this time of year, we're told by neighbors, that you're supposed to be able to

walk almost all the way out to the buoy there. These are utility poles that typically you can walk out to. You can walk out to those trees.

So you can tell how high this river is. We are well over 250 consecutive days now with the Mississippi river at flood stage. The longest in

history. So now add a tropical storm to that, potentially a category one hurricane, and you've got some major flooding issues. The Louisiana

governor says that this state floods in three ways typically due to storm surge, due to high rivers and due to rain. And they are going to get all

three this weekend.

It's hard to tell right now because it's so sunny. But yesterday, there was torrential downpour. We are expecting more of that severe weather

coming tomorrow.

And I also want to point out down the levee that way. That's one of the floodgates that was closed within the last couple of hours. We saw the

flood protection level with their crews out closing these gates. They're closing dozens of them along the river just to try and prepare for this

situation. They're also closing pedestrian gates downtown by the Riverwalk, by the Spanish Plaza, places that tourists often go to.

And we did see a lot of tourists coming into town yesterday. There is a big sorority convention. And we are hearing that a lot of them are trying

to stay and have some fun indoors, but we did see a few people headed straight back for the airport trying to avoid the entire weather system,

Hala.

GORANI: All right. Natasha Chen on the ground in New Orleans.

[14:35:03] Now, he's admitted to being a child sex offender, and now, he faces new accusations of sex trafficking. Dozens of girls as young as 14.

However, Jeffrey Epstein believes he should be let out of jail to await trial at his luxury mansion in Manhattan. Epstein's lawyers asked a judge

to grant him a home confinement under electronic surveillance saying he is, "No longer a danger to anyone." Prosecutors have said they do not want

Epstein released on bail.

The multimillionaire is well known in New York's elite social circles and has a long list of rich and powerful friends.

Let's bring in Brynn Gingras for more on this. And, Brynn, so Jeffrey Epstein's lawyers are saying, what, that they could use this mansion as

collateral and, therefore, he wouldn't be a flight risk? Although we know he owns lots of properties outside of the United States.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, the court filing, Hala, that was filed just this afternoon is pretty remarkable.

Now, let's back up for just a minute. Remember, he is behind bars right now waiting for his bail hearing on Monday. The federal judge who's

overseeing this case, he's charged with two charges of sex trafficking, said that he wants these filings before Monday's hearing to basically get a

sense what both sides are going to be asking for when it comes to confinement of Epstein before this case continues forward.

So his lawyers are essentially saying he should be let out while this case moves forward if it ever does make it to a trial. They said, that, yes, he

should stay in his $77 million Manhattan home, that they would actually keep a log, report daily of who goes in and only his attorneys will be

allowed inside that home. They put up the mortgage of that home as a surety. They've also put up the mortgages of not only his home, his

brother's home and also a good friend of his' home to ensure the fact that he will stay within the country.

They said he will ground his private jets. Remember, he has two of them. He won't look for another passports or try to obtain another passport. I

mean, just remarkable. It just kind of gives you more of a sense of the wealth of this man.

And that's really the argument that the government has been saying is that he has extreme wealth. He has a lot of cash on hand as well. He is a

flight risk. He should stay behind bars. He's gotten away with it for far too long and they want to see him locked up until this trial -- until this

goes to trial possibly.

GORANI: And how long would that possibly be, if they deny bail and he remains locked up in prison? How long could it take to get to trial if it

goes to trial?

GINGRAS: I mean, you just never know. You're dealing with the Southern District of New York, one of the most powerful, really, groups who handle

these kind of federal cases. I mean, it's a big reason why they took this on because they are known for how well they can prosecute these cases.

So you never know. A lot of cases, of course, at the federal level do end in some sort of plea agreement. Maybe that will be the case. But maybe it

will be a lot more this time than it was, of course, several years ago that we saw against Jeffrey Epstein. But maybe it will go to trial. Of course,

we know he has so much money. He has a high-profile defense team yet again. We'll see where this case goes for sure.

GORANI: Brynn Gingras, thanks very much.

The Miami Herald's excellent investigative journalism is what led to the renewed scrutiny of Jeffrey Epstein. All these years, after he received

that sweetheart plea deal in Florida. The paper senior editor for investigation says he believes Epstein has some useful information in his

pocket, should he choose to share it with prosecutors.

And Casey Frank joins us now. Thanks very much for being with us, and congratulations, again, on the excellent journalism that has served the --

CASEY FRANK, SENIOR EDITOR FOR INVESTIGATIONS, MIAMI HERALD: Thank you.

GORANI: -- information of which has been utilized by the prosecutors in New York.

First of all, reaction to this bail request by Jeffrey Epstein's lawyers. What do you make of it?

FRANK: I guess my reaction is, I understand the concept of home confinement. On the other hand, a lot of the problems that Mr. Epstein has

had are caused rather have happened in his home. And I imagine they'll take that into consideration, even though this is a very high amount of

money.

GORANI: Now, you -- we heard from the current labor secretary, Alex Acosta, who at the time was the lead prosecutor in the case that led to

this sweetheart deal for Jeffrey Epstein where he served barely any time in jail.

He tried to distance himself from the idea that it was him who was behind the decision not to notify victims of this plea deal. What did you make of

that?

FRANK: Well, what I made of that is that a lot of people let down these young women who were molested. Not just Mr. Acosta, but the state

attorney's office in Palm Beach County as well.

However, having said that, I don't -- I am unaware of any reason why -- what the state attorney's office did or didn't do would affect the

performance of the U.S. Attorney's office in Southern Florida. The U.S. attorney in Southern Florida has the FBI at its disposal and has far more

fire power investigatively than the -- than the state attorney in Palm Beach County.

[14:40:26] GORANI: And the Miami Herald editorial board wrote an opinion piece called, "Alex Acosta may keep his job but he failed to make the case

for why he should." Part of it says, "He took responsibility for practically nothing that happened while he was in charge.

His career prosecutors did all the wheeling and dealing with Epstein's attorneys, he said, but didn't the buck stop with him? He had no clue

Epstein would be able to leave jail six days a week. One prosecutor tried and tried and tried to contact the victims about the deal even though

Acosta said his office was not required to do so by law."

So it seems as though Alex Acosta, all these years later, is still not taking responsibility. But your reporting, and your newspaper's reporting,

and Julie K. Brown's reporting, indicated that he was part of this decision-making process.

FRANK: Oh, he certainly was part of the decision-making process and we know that because we've looked at the e-mails that were exchanged between

the defense team and Mr. Acosta's staff, including e-mails that were exchanged after their meeting. The meeting between Mr. Acosta and Mr.

Epstein's lead attorney at a Marriott Hotel in West Palm Beach after which the attorney for Mr. Epstein said, "Thank you very much for agreeing to

keep this matter secret from the victims in the case."

And those e-mails, as they went forward, continued to reflect the fact that the -- that the defense team was making further and further demands. And

the prosecution team was getting backed farther and farther into a corner. It is -- it is evident from those e-mails that really the attorneys for Mr.

Epstein dictate the terms of this plea agreement.

GORANI: Do we know why all these years later he got such a good deal and why prosecutors cooperated so readily with the defense attorneys?

FRANK: Well, Mr. Acosta said yesterday that cases like this are very difficult to prosecute. And I've never been a prosecutor, but I believe

that that's the case. On the other hand, he had 36 -- 36 victims or alleged victims, and those victims were subjected to some very brutal

interrogation in depositions by Mr. Epstein's high-powered legal team, stripping away their credibility, I guess you would say, and their desire

to go to court and testify against Mr. Epstein.

At the same time, the Epstein legal team hired private investigators who set about trying to dig up dirt on members of the Acosta legal team.

Concurrent to that, the Epstein people were also trying to pull strings in Washington to bring pressure to bear from above on the U.S. attorney to go

along with what turned out to be a very lenient deal.

GORANI: You said -- one of the things you said is he might have information that would interest prosecutors. What kind of information do

you think Epstein could share with investigators that could be of interest and namely, people are wondering if there are names, if there are people,

if in order to get a better deal, he could just give up some names of people who benefited from this sex trafficking?

FRANK: Well, it's hard to say because Mr. Epstein, while he has many influential friends in academia, in business circles, in legal circles, in

society, he knows the current president, or knew him well, and the previous -- or the past president, Mr. Clinton --

GORANI: Yes.

FRANK: -- he does -- he is not dealing from a position of strength and that it's hard to see the U.S. Attorney's office giving him much of a

break, based on the reputation that he now has after Julie Brown's reporting and all the other reporting that's gone on into Mr. Epstein's

behavior.

But he does know a lot of people. A lot of people may have known what he was up to or had some inkling, and at the very least, they could be -- they

could end up being witnesses in a very unpleasant legal procedure.

[14:45:12] Besides that, this was a very sophisticated operation. He had - - he had recruiters, he had pay masters, he had -- he had various people who were actively involved in running what was essentially a sexual pyramid

scheme, and those people are -- could be in very serious jeopardy. And I'll be very interested to see in the coming days if some of them don't

face charges in the very near future.

GORANI: All right. Thank you very much, Casey Frank, and congratulations, again, to you and the team and Julie Brown for this amazing reporting. I

can't imagine what it must have felt like when you heard the news of the case being brought forward in New York.

Casey Frank is the paper's senior editor for investigations. Thanks again.

Still to come tonight, Vatican officials opened two tombs hoping to crack a decades-old cold case. Instead, they discovered a twist in the tale which

has left them even more bewildered, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK))

GORANI: Now to a decades-old mystery at the Vatican that has become a centuries old puzzle. The Vatican has announced that no remains were found

inside two exhumed graves in the search for a teenage girl who disappeared in 1983. It was thought the graves also contained the remains of two 19th

century princesses.

Delia Gallagher reports on this very Roman riddle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A mysterious tip- off has led investigators to a cemetery inside the Vatican to search for the remains of a 15-year-old girl, Emanuela Orlandi, who disappeared in

1983 in one of Italy's most notorious unsolved crimes.

Look where the angel indicates was the anonymous tip sent to Emanuela's family last summer which brought investigators to these two tombs under the

statue of an angel holding a sign, rest in peace.

Emanuela was the daughter of a Vatican employee who lived with her family inside the Vatican and vanished after a music lesson on June 22nd, 1983.

Her brother, Pietro, has devoted his life to trying to find her and understand who would have wanted to abduct her and why.

There have been many hypotheses throughout the years, he says, from mafia extortion to sexual exploitation. He says that by agreeing to open up

these tombs, the Vatican is finally admitting after 36 years that someone inside may have been involved.

But when workers pulled back the heavy marble slabs of the tombs, a surprise was in store. There was nothing inside. Not the remains of

Emanuela, not even the remains of the two German princesses that were said to be buried there.

[14:50:11] The Vatican says they will now examine documentation of construction work that took place at the cemetery in the 1800s and again in

the 60s and 70s that may have resulted in the relocation of the princesses' remains.

Emanuela's brother says he is relieved, but now has even more questions.

PIETRO ORLANDI, BROTHER OF TEEN WHO WENT MISSING IN 1983 (through translator): I thought that today we could finally make a step forward,

even if painful. Instead, we're at starting point. But we do have now the Vatican cooperation, and I hope we will keep on being concrete.

GALLAGHER: A day that was supposed to bring answers for the family of a missing 15-year-old girl has now turned up two empty tombs and only

deepened the mystery at the Vatican.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: More to come, including this sound we haven't heard for a while here in a moment.

(BELL CHIMING)

London's world famous clock which has kept time for 160 years gets some much-needed pampering. We'll go inside, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: It is one of the most famous clock towers in the world. It is the most famous clock tower in the world. And almost certainly the most famous

name, Big Ben. I've stood in its shadows many times reporting on Brexit, and it's survived wars, changing governments, monarchs, and London's

swinging 60s.

So it is now being restored, in case you haven't visited London and weren't aware. And with more on that, here's Nick Glass.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK GLASS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The great clock tower to the right is sheathed in scaffolding. For the moment, it could

pass for a launch pad for a space rocket. Without its usual silhouette, that's lost some of its romanticism. The gothic revival architecture is

under a shroud.

You have to remember what it was like before that river setting that so appealed to a young French man called Claude Monet. Monet wasn't so

interested in precise dimensions. More in capturing the light. Of course, we all know it simply by its nickname Big Ben, although strictly speaking,

that's the name of the great bell inside what's now officially called the Elizabeth Tower.

Just two years ago, we could still clearly see all the clock faces and hear all the bells.

(BELL CHIMING)

This was the last time that they were properly struck before restoration work began.

(BELL CHIMING)

Big Ben and its great hammer. A close quarters giving off tremendous ear- jangling reverberations. For 160 years, a time keeper for Londoners and beyond. And perhaps most famously in Second World War, heard on the BBC

World service, a reminder that Britain was fighting on.

[14:55:03] A masterpiece of mid-Victorian engineering cogs and wheels, and weights and springs. The Great Clock of Westminster, the most

sophisticated clock of its time, a mechanism driving four clock faces.

Note the pile of Victorian and Edwardian pennies, whenever the top loses or gains a second or two, they remove or add a penny to adjust the swing of

the pendulum.

The mechanism was fixed in place way back in 1859.

PAUL ROBERSON, CLOCKMAKER, PALACE OF WESTMINSTER: We've never had a whole lot plot in one go, so we're fairly confident and we won't have any major

problems. It will fall apart. And we'll check all over it and put it all back together for them.

GLASS: The great clock, 11 tons of it, has since been dismantled and removed from site for servicing.

Up here in the belfry, all five bells are remaining in (INAUDIBLE). The four chiming quarter bells -- and the great one-hour bell itself, Big Ben.

The reasons are obvious. Big Ben is nine feet wide and over seven feet high. And weighs about the same as a pair of African elephants, some 13

tons.

The most visible part of the restoration so far is on one clock face. The so-called north dial. Twenty-three feet across, the lattice of cast iron

has been glassed cleaned and re-glazed. Some 300 bespoke pieces of opal colored glass.

The clock face is also reverted to its original color scheme, gold leaf, and a paint of Prussian blue. Nothing much has stopped the clock over the

years. The occasional mechanical gremlin, the odd flurry of snow, and on one occasion, a flock of roosting starlings.

And, of course it's had its dramatic moments in the movies. The actor Robert Powell hanging on for dear life in the spy thriller "The Thirty Nine

Steps" in 1978. The minute hand reached a quarter to 12, the clock tower would have been blown up by dazedly secret agents.

At midday, in reality, Big Ben was silent again as it largely has been for the last two years. Restoration should be complete by 2021. So far,

everything has been ticking along very nicely, thank you, if rather quietly.

Nick Glass, CNN, with Big Ben.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END