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Tropical Storm Barry Gaining Strength in Gulf of Mexico; House Oversight Committee Releases Findings on Detention Facilities; Interview with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Immigration Raids; Climate Gentrification Forces Some Miami Residents to Move; President Trump Abandons Adding Citizenship Question to 2020 Census; Ex-House Speaker Paul Ryan Slams President Trump in New Book. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired July 12, 2019 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:44] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. It is Friday, 9:00 a.m. here on the East Coast. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. Jim Sciutto has the day off.

And look at that, right now, millions are bracing along the Gulf Coast for a storm that could bring unprecedented and life-threatening flooding. At this moment Barry is a tropical storm, but it could reach hurricane levels when it makes landfall early tomorrow morning, bringing with it a dangerous mix of heavy rain and massive storm surge.

Adding to the fears this morning the Mississippi River, those levels already twice as high as normal right now because of all of the rain we've had across the Midwest for months now.

Natasha Chen joins us live in New Orleans again this morning atop one of the levees that will soon be tested.

So the fear here, Natasha, that Chad was telling us about yesterday was that, you know, the water levels would reach 20 feet or more, and that's how high the levees are. Now that has been downgraded a little bit, but still 19 feet.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And we can show you what that looks like here. This is the levee we're talking about. That's where the water level is at the moment, but already this is about eight to 10 feet higher than where the river is typically this time of year. In fact, you can see where that large tree is right to the left of it is the top of a fire hydrant. So you can tell how far out people are typically going to be walking in this park area. They typically have concerts here, neighbors tell me.

So as this storm comes in we're expecting this of course to rise. And then this right here, we're not expecting the water to top over the levee and that's good news. However, the wind gusts are picking up. There are going to be heavier winds as the worst comes in tomorrow morning, and so some of that water may splash over.

Now the people who live here tell me that they're not terribly concerned depending on where they live, whether it's low-lying or not, but I did speak to someone who survived Hurricane Katrina yesterday. I asked him how people like him think about warnings like this as they consider what they've experienced in the past.


TONY BAKER, LIVED THROUGH HURRICANE KATRINA: This brings some unique elements. We've never had the river this high. You know, a storm come in, the levies are saturated. I think after the Katrina situation, we had Gustav and they did a much better job of getting people up and getting people out, securing the city. And I think that was a lesson learned. I'm concerned, however, that they've gotten complacent.


CHEN: Officials do have buses at the ready for people to leave at the last minute if necessary. There are about two or three parishes now under mandatory evacuation, Poppy. And they definitely have closed floodgates and have all the pumps ready to go.

HARLOW: OK. I'm glad to hear that.

Natasha, thank you very much for the reporting.

Right now storm surges, those swollen rivers that we talked about, really heavy rain that keeps going and going could cause what they're bracing for is unprecedented flooding across Louisiana.

Our meteorologist Chad Myers is with us. So let's talk about Barry and landfall and whether this thing becomes a hurricane or not, does that really diminish the risk of this excessive flooding?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No, it's just going to be as big of a rain event whether it actually has a 75-mile-per-hour wind or not, Poppy.

HARLOW: Right.

MYERS: And that's the rub here. It's in the Gulf of Mexico, it's gathering moisture in its bottom section here. But remember as the low moves to the north eventually everyone will be in this bottom section, and it will eventually actually rotate to the right and to the east right over Baton Rouge and into New Orleans proper.

We're finally seeing a little bit of rainfall coming through New Orleans. This is just a precursor of all the rain still to come. This is what the radar should look like for the rest of the day. So see scattered showers right now, but the heaviest rain coming in, here's 4:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. That's when we expect close to landfall, and then finally moving up right over Baton Rouge and then toward the west.

And Baton Rouge is really -- I'm more concerned about Baton Rouge than I am about New Orleans at this point because they are right in the middle of this 20-inch rainfall ban. Now why I'm still concerned about New Orleans is because you just talked about this, Poppy. Want to make this big. This will be my last graphic anyway. So what they did yesterday was they took this peak that went here and then down and they lowered it to 19, and that was their forecast.

[09:05:04] But if you look at where we are right now, here's the forecast, and here's where we are. So they're already -- the water is already above what that lowered forecast was. And yesterday at 10:00 they made the forecast change. We'll see at 10:00 today whether they change it back.

HARLOW: OK. Keep us posted. I mean, it's so concerning when you think about half of the city there in terms of New Orleans below sea level. And I know they have much better infrastructure after Katrina but still a lot of concern.

MYERS: Yes, you bet.

HARLOW: Chad, thank you so much.

MYERS: All right.

HARLOW: Breaking news this morning, we are learning really troubling details and statistics about migrant children detained in facilities at the southern border. A report just released by the House Oversight Committee, this is ahead of their 10:00 a.m. hearing, and listen to this. What it shows us is at least 18 infants and toddlers under 2 years old were separated from their parents, kept apart for 20 days to six months. And that is just the start of it.

Our Jessica Schneider has the details from Washington.

Jess, what else can you tell us?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, the House Oversight Committee releasing this really eye-opening and stark report delving more into those family separations that sparked a lot of chaos last summer. And that starkest revelation might be the fact that 18 infants and toddlers all under 2 years old were separated from their parents in the spring and summer of last year. And not only were they separated at such a young age, but they were kept apart from their parents for between 20 days and six months.

Now nine of those infants were actually under 1-year-old and the report also details how a 4-month-old boy from Romania was the youngest child who was separated last year. Now the findings also show that many of these children were moved around to multiple government facilities.

Now this report, it was just released minutes ago and it comes one hour before we're expecting a major face-off between House Democrats and officials from DHS and the Department of Homeland -- Health and Human Services actually. And that's all an oversight committee hearing. And also appearing at this hearing will be Democratic Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib. They'll be testifying about the conditions they saw at border facilities when they visited last week.

Of course Ocasio-Cortez accused officials down there of making detained migrants drink out of the toilets which border officials have denied. And it also comes days after we saw new photos detailing the incredibly cramped and unsanitary conditions these migrants are forced into.

So, Poppy, the revelations here keep coming whether we're seeing them through this report from the inspector general that we saw just a few days ago or we're seeing it detailed in the descriptions in this House Oversight report. But, of course, we'll get a lot more of this at 10:00 a.m. where there'll be a hearing in the House Oversight Committee -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Jess, thank you so much. Of course we're going to watch that hearing very, very closely and bring you some of it here as well.

Also this morning nine major U.S. cities right now on high alert as ICE officials prepare to move forward with sweeping raids starting this Sunday. Thousands of undocumented migrants could be targeted. Atlanta is one of those cities. So joining me this morning is Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Thank you so much for being with me, Mayor. I know your city is preparing for this, and I think for many people watching they don't actually know what this would feel like to be one of the people targeted here, so let's hear from one.

Our Diane Gallagher, a reporter on this beat, just spoke with an undocumented mother from Veracruz, Mexico. She has been in the U.S. for 15 years. She obviously has children. Here is her concern.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I am a mother, and I would not want them to separate me from my children. I have no problem with this country or state. I have no problem, and he wants to separate me from my kids. I would like for him to hear this and that this touches his heart because he is a father, he has children and I'm sure he wouldn't want to be separated from his children.


HARLOW: Mayor, that is her message to the president directly. This as we've just learned from that House Oversight Committee report that at least 18 infants to toddlers were separated from their parents for between 20 days to six months. So what is your message to all of those in Atlanta right now fearful this weekend?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GEORGIA: It's heartbreaking. And my message as mayor and as a mother is to our immigrant communities that they aren't alone. Atlanta is not complicit in what's happening on the federal level. Our officers don't enforce immigration orders. We've closed our city detention center to ICE because we did not want to be complicit in family separations.

But I think more importantly, I think each of us really needs to think about what this feels like for these families and it's not just creating anxiety in our immigrant communities, it's creating anxiety in all of our families. [09:10:04] The last time I was here to talk about this, after I left,

my 8-year-old son asked me was he born in America. And when I reassured him that he was, he then asked me if his 11-year-old brother was American.


BOTTOMS: And what I realized is that this is wearing on our children as well because they have compassion and they have concern for others in the same way we would hope that the president of the United States would.

HARLOW: And Mayor, just to be clear, the woman we just heard from, yes, she is undocumented. But her three children were born here in the United States. Her husband works here on a visa, and she's terrified about being torn away from them. I guess I would ask what your advice is to those like her in your city if ICE comes to their door this Sunday. What should they do?

BOTTOMS: We're sending out messaging that -- to our immigrant community and we're also disseminating that messaging in Spanish, that they do have rights, they are entitled to due process including not opening their door. We are having a big event this weekend for the census related to our immigrant community and I've been personally concerned that we are putting them in harm's way. And so what we are trying to do is that we get this messaging out and that opportunity -- any opportunity that we have that there is due process, there are numbers that you can call.

There are lawyers standing by to provide assistance, and I think most importantly stay vigilant. And it is -- it's difficult as a leader because we are all scrambling, mayors across the nation. How do we address this? How do we reassure our communities when we really are dealing with the unknown with an unpredictable president who notifies us via Twitter.

HARLOW: So I just heard from John Sandweg, a former ICE official. He'll join us next hour. But he's done these raids, and one thing that he said, mayor, is they're very good at this. Meaning, if someone doesn't open their door or answer their door, oftentimes ICE officials will simply wait outside until they come out. And the argument for the administration is, you know, our aim is to get people here who -- out of the country who are undocumented. You know, they say that they're targeting those criminals, et cetera, first.

I guess I would ask you, is it worth it if it gets one undocumented criminal off of the streets in Atlanta?

BOTTOMS: This is baffling to me because we already have a humanitarian crisis happening in real time, in our detention center, as it relates to children who have been separated from their parents. So the notion that we would voluntarily compound that situation is nothing short of baffling. And what I would say is it creates anxiety in our communities that's not necessary. So you will now have people who won't show up for work, who will not show up for doctor's appointments, people who by and large have not committed any crimes. Our immigrant communities and people who have come to this country

seeking a better life aren't responsible for the crime that we have in our cities and in our country. It's just not true. And so to the extent that the population thinks that this is going to address some issue, there is no issue that we are addressing.

HARLOW: So briefly before we go, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, congresswoman who is on the House Oversight Committee who's holding this hearing on the separated children from their parents at 10:00 a.m. today, she suggested this week to the journalists -- she spoke to David Remnick of "The New Yorker," and he asked, would you get rid of the Department of Homeland Security, and she said I think so. And she called, quote, "to undo a lot of the egregious mistakes of the Bush administration."

Is that a smart move? Do you support completely getting rid of the Department of Homeland Security?

BOTTOMS: No, I don't. What I support is that we elect a president who has compassion and concern for the country. I don't support getting rid of the Department of Homeland Security. I think you're -- I don't think that addresses the core issue that we have.

HARLOW: OK, Mayor, I so appreciate your time. I know it's been an incredibly busy Friday heading into this weekend. Thank you for being with me.

BOTTOMS: Thank you.

HARLOW: Still to come, President Trump unloads on former speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. What prompted the president's late-night tweetstorm?

And new federal sex crime charges for singer R. Kelly. He was arrested overnight in Chicago again. We'll have the latest.

Plus in Miami climate gentrification.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are being pushed out from their homes, from their businesses.


HARLOW: Low-income communities priced out of so-called safe neighborhoods in the rush to move to higher ground.


[09:15:00] POPPY HARLOW, ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All right, the Justice Department has made it official, telling district judges that the president did decide to essentially give up on his attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

He is continuing to fight, though, he says by taking executive action to get the data that he wants from all federal agencies in Washington. But here's the rub, guys, if you're paying attention, this is exactly the process that the Commerce Department said last year they were already planning to do.

Jeff Mason is here, White House correspondent with "Reuters" and CNN political analyst Rachael Bade, congressional reporter for "The Washington Post". So, guys, I guess I would start with this, Jeff, the president is saying I am fighting, I'm not giving up, I am, you know, ordering all these agencies to give me all of this other data so I can know who's a citizen and who is not -- who's not a citizen in this country. Is there anything new about that?

[09:20:00] JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: Well, yes, what's new is that he's fighting in a way that's not going to get what he wanted, which was an actual question on the census. But it's a message to his base from the Rose Garden of the White House, so, using that bully pulpit to say that I'm still at this. I'm still going to try and get the information that we were going to try to get on this census in the first place.

So, it is new in signaling both to his base and to the rest of the world and including people who opposed this effort at all, that he is going to try and get that data and force U.S. government agencies to produce that data and give it in a usable way. But it is nonetheless an abandonment of his original effort and opponents see that as a victory.

HARLOW: So politically, though, Rachael, what matters more for this president and winning in 2020? Getting the Supreme Court to side with him and getting the census -- the citizenship question on the census or looking consistently to his base like he is fighting like heck for them on this.

RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, clearly, he would prefer the former, right? He wants that question on the census and he didn't get that. But the second best option in the president's eyes and then his allies is that he looks like he's fighting for his base, and this has been his mantra the whole time, you know, when it came to the border wall.

For two years, he said I'm fighting for the border wall and I'm going to shut the government down, and he was willing to do that, and the base, they liked that, they applauded it and you know, eventually he did his own emergency declaration to do just that. It was the same thing with the Muslim ban, the travel ban, I mean, these are the things that the courts were skeptical of, and they revised it, they revised their wording and they kept fighting for it and eventually got a version of it in.

And so, I think for the president, you know, when it comes to 2020 in his re-election campaign, they just want to be able to say, look, we made these promises in 2016 and we're doing everything we can to keep it. And so, that's what he's doing --

HARLOW: Yes --

BADE: Right now.

HARLOW: And perhaps, you know, he needs the chance to put more justices on the court, right? That's what the argument would be. We didn't get a win through the court, and so, you know, give me a chance to put more on there. Guys, I've got to talk about Paul Ryan.

BADE: Yes --

HARLOW: So, there's this new book coming out, "American Carnage", and "Vanity Fair" did a piece on it, this morning we've got some excerpts, and apparently Paul Ryan claims in an interview that he really, Jeff Mason, tempered the president. Let me read you this, "I told myself I've got to have a relationship with this guy to get his mind right, because I'm telling you he didn't know anything about government.

I wanted to scold him all the time. Those of us around him really helped stop him from making bad decisions all the time." Jeff, is this a little bit of revisionist history here? I mean, did Paul Ryan temper the president all the time?

MASON: Well, I mean, it's certainly an insider's look. I mean, there are probably things that we don't know about conversations between Paul Ryan and President Trump that the former speaker of the house is hinting at there. And if he says --


MASON: He tempered him, you know, maybe there are things that he tempered him on that we weren't privy to hear in the public or in the press. But I thought it was interesting to see President Trump's reaction last night. He certainly --

HARLOW: Yes --

MASON: Came right down on his former colleague, and it's also interested me in a way. You know, if the president didn't view that as criticism, which it clearly is, you know, the president could easily have said, you're right, I didn't know anything about government when I came in, and that's why people elected me.

And Paul Ryan is certainly hinting at that or saying that, that was not only the case, but a real problem.

HARLOW: I wonder, Rachael, if this actually just helps both of their brands? Because --

BADE: Yes --

HARLOW: The Trump base and the Trump brand like despises you know, what Paul Ryan represents in terms of the establishment. And the Paul Ryan folks are like, still stunned that President Trump is a Republican.

BADE: That's right. And you know, I covered Ryan for years when he was speaker, so to hear him unload like that in an interview, it's something that we've all known and talked to people who were close to him, that he actually felt that he felt that Trump needed to be tempered, and he disagreed with a lot of his policies and his tactics.

But Ryan never said this as speaker, and that was where, you know, a lot of Republicans who admired him and followed his career for years, they wanted to see him push back on the president publicly. But again, this is just -- it's really interesting to see him actually say this --


BADE: And we all --

HARLOW: Why do you think he's doing it now?

BADE: Maybe he's -- I mean, a lot of people have speculated about what is Ryan going to do in his career --

HARLOW: Yes --

BADE: Right now, he's laying low with his family, back in Wisconsin. You know, some people thought maybe someday he would try to run for president. I mean, I personally don't think he can, though, because if he was going to be that guy, that Republican, he was going to re- claim the Republican Party away from Trump someday, 5, 10 years down the road.

People are going to say, you should have stood up to him publicly, you didn't. And what he did was he sort of tried to be friends with Trump and try to talk to him, to cajole him one way --

[09:25:00] HARLOW: Yes --

BADE: Or another, but now you're seeing his real frustration come out, and that in of itself is really interesting.

HARLOW: Well, it makes me want to read the book, so there's that. Jeff Mason --

BADE: Yes --

HARLOW: Rachael Bade, thank you both very much --

BADE: Thank you --

HARLOW: Have a good weekend. New Orleans levy is facing potentially their biggest test since Hurricane Katrina. The city is bracing for life-threatening floods and a dangerous storm surge as Barry barrels closer.


HARLOW: All right, some breaking news for you. There has just been an earthquake, another one in Ridgecrest.