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Tropical Storm Barry Has Gulf Coast on Alert; Census to Use Other Means to Gauge Citizenship; American Scientist Killed on Island of Crete; Russian Missile Defense System Arrives in Turkey. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired July 12, 2019 - 04:00   ET



[04:00:24] GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), LOUISIANA: Look, there are three ways Louisiana floods, storm surge, high rivers and rain. We're going to have all three.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The Gulf on alert for Tropical Storm Barry. Heavy rain and already very high water along the Mississippi present a problem we've never seen before.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And the president abandoning the fight for a citizenship question on the census. Instead he's ordering data compiled from existing federal records. We'll explain what that means.

ROMANS: Breaking overnight. New sex trafficking charges against R&B star, R. Kelly.

SANCHEZ: And how many calories do you have to cut per day to stay healthy. It's not as many as you'd think.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Boris Sanchez in for Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And it's not zero. You have to cut calories to stay healthy. That's the bottom line of that story.

Nice to see you this Friday morning.

SANCHEZ: Great to be with you, Christine.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It's Friday, July 12th. It's 4:00 a.m. in New York, 11:00 a.m. in Greece, 12:30 p.m. in Tehran. But we begin here in the U.S. with the Gulf Coast bracing for Barry, now a tropical storm, but there are hurricane warnings up along the Louisiana coast from intercoastal city to Grand Isle.

The Weather Service says Barry presents a problem never seen before, that combination of heavy rain from the storm itself on top of extremely high-water levels from record-flooding already this year along the Mississippi River.


EDWARDS: Look, there are three ways Louisiana floods, storm surge, high rivers and rain. We're going to have all three.


ROMANS: The Mississippi already so high around New Orleans. That heavy rain plus a storm surge could overwhelm its pumping system. The result would be a repeat of Wednesday's flash flood emergency. One resident who lived through Katrina is concerned.


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.


SANCHEZ: Already, states of emergency have been declared in New Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Charles, Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes. Buses have been pre-parked in Kenner, Gonzales and Lafayette in case residents need a quick evacuation. Meantime, President Trump yesterday approved an emergency declaration for Louisiana to try to speed up federal help.

CNN's Ryan Young is on the ground in Louisiana with more on the relative calm before the storm.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Boris and Christine, here in New Orleans, it's a watch-and-wait approach to see exactly what's going to happen next. You can see the water here in the Mississippi a lot higher than it normally is. And we know there's been a lot of flooding along the Mississippi this year. Right now, they're believing about 10 to 15 inches of water could be on the way in the next 48 hours.

And already the mayor and city officials have put plans into place. Look, officers on 12-hour shifts. We know 118 pumps are on standby, ready to pump water out of this area should it start to flood. But we've already seen bits of flooding throughout the week. So, people are telling us, they are coming out to this area to look because they've seen the water rise here at least five inches in the last few days.

It's that 48 hours of sustained rain that so many people are concerned about.


MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL, NEW ORLEANS: We are not issuing a voluntary or mandatory evacuation. Sheltering in place is our strategy.


YOUNG: As they wait to see what happens next, a lot of people are hoping the power of this storm will not sit over the city of New Orleans and create massive flooding -- Boris and Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Thank you for that, Ryan.

Tropical Storm Barry moving forward at only about three miles an hour. That slow movement sucking up moisture from the Gulf. It's one of the reasons the Weather Service has issued a rare high-risk outlook for excessive rainfall along the Louisiana coast. The warning has only been used two other times since 2007 for Hurricanes Florence and Harvey.

Let's go to meteorologist Derek Van Dam live in the Weather Center. So the speed here is a concern.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. It's going slower than a human can, you know, walk. We can walk faster, run faster than it is actually traveling at the moment. But we really are in unchartered territory here, Christine, because never before have we had a tropical system move towards the mouth of the Mississippi River. When the Mississippi River itself is at flood stage for the past several weeks if not months. A very saturated environment.

This is the latest from the National Hurricane Center. 50-mile-an- hour sustained winds near the center of circulation.

[04:05:05] We do have hurricane warnings right along the southern coast line of Louisiana. We have tropical storm warnings including Lake Pontchartrain and the greater New Orleans region. This is the exact track. It has shifted a little further to the west but it does put New Orleans in a very precarious position because of that easterly quadrant that it will be receiving and any shift in the rainfall patterns could see the heaviest of precipitation move into the greater New Orleans area.

And of course the heavy rainfall and the storm surge both combining with an already flooded Mississippi River is really a recipe for disaster or the potential for disaster.

Here's the rainfall totals. It is going to be a long weekend ahead for residents here across Louisiana -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: It could get tricky down there. Derek Van Dam, we appreciate you keeping an eye on it. Thanks so much.

To a story that is breaking overnight. R. Kelly has been arrested in Chicago and charged with sex trafficking in New York. The entertainer is also facing charges for child pornography and attempting to influence a case in Atlanta. The NYPD, Homeland Security and other agencies helping out in the arrest. The R&B star has been fighting sexual abuse allegations for nearly two decades. In February he was charged with aggravated sexual abuse involving four women, three of them minors. He pleaded not guilty and was released after posting bail.

ROMANS: A 3,000-acre brush fire forcing residents from their homes on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Kahului Airport operating on emergency generators, diverting flights at one point, but we were told operations right now are back to normal. More than 600 people are in shelters. The Maui Humane Society is also evacuating its animals to Maui High School.

Now some people have been tweeting at Oprah Winfrey. It turns out she has a home in Maui and the road on her property can be used to help battle the fire. Not long ago Winfrey tweeted access to the road was given to county officials immediately. That was many hours ago. Hoping for the safety of all.

SANCHEZ: Turning now to D.C., President Trump trying to pump up his base with some unprecedented action on two fronts, one involving the census, the other immigration. First, on the census, the president being careful not to defy a Supreme Court order to keep a citizenship question off the 2020 census. Instead, he says he's taking executive action to get the information a different way. It's the idea that Census officials recommended over a year ago and if it had been adopted, it could have saved millions of dollars and a lot of time, not to mention a lot of gray hair at the Justice Department.

Jessica Schneider has more.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Boris, the president pulling back on his plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. After a week of insisting his administration would continue to fight in court to get it on the questionnaire, President Trump has now simply signed an executive order.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am hereby ordering every department and agency in the federal government to provide the Department of Commerce with all requested records regarding the number of citizens and non-citizens in our country.


SCHNEIDER: But the president, in backing down here, he's also hinting, though, at another possible political fight. He said that politicians may also soon use this citizenship data to try to draw voting districts in states by counting only voters as opposed to all residents. And, of course, that is a whole other issue that would draw a whole other set of court battles, so this might not actually be the end -- guys.

ROMANS: All right. Thank you so much for that.

Now turning to the immigration issue and the roundup of undocumented migrants. That's set to start on Sunday. It's the first time this sort of operation has been announced in advance. CNN has learned the raids are expected in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. Now New Orleans was also on this list but city officials say enforcement will be suspended. Obviously the region is dealing with a tropical storm at the moment. Many officials in affected cities are speaking out against these raids.


MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: This fearmongering and making immigrants scapegoats and really disrupting families who are just here trying to live their life. That's not who we are or should be.

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI, FLORIDA: They haven't told us what the parameters are. They haven't asked us to support what they're doing or given us any information on who they're targeting and how they're targeting them. So, frankly, we're in the dark.

ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON POLICE CHIEF: There's great fear amongst our immigrant community as to what's going to happen. I've had children come up to me at the forums saying what -- I'm afraid to go to school, I'm afraid to leave the house, I'm afraid to come home and find that my parents are gone.


SANCHEZ: The raids are expected to target about 2,000 undocumented immigrants and the fear is real. CNN spoke to an undocumented man in Minnesota. He says he and his family are going to stayed locking their home all weekend, even though Minnesota isn't even one of the states involved. The rest of the migrants do have legal options, so it's considered unlikely that all those targeted would be immediately deported.

ROMANS: All right. Details coming together for former special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony. He will appear before the House Judiciary Committee 9:00 a.m. Wednesday and the House Intel Committee at noon.

[04:10:06] Lawmakers say format is still being negotiated so, I mean, I think things could evolve, you could say here. One possible hitch here, the agreement for Mueller to testify against 22 members of each committee time to question the former special counsel. That's the exact number of members on the Intelligence panel but the Judiciary Committee has 41 members. That means junior lawmaker could get shut out.

Those lawmakers have aired their concerns directly with Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler who has told them he would try to accommodate them.

SANCHEZ: At least 35 passengers were injured Thursday on a very rough flight from Canada Air to Australia. The airline says the crew encountered severed turbulence about two hours past Hawaii. Flight 33 was carrying 269 passengers, 15 crew members. It was forced to turn around and land in Honolulu.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHARON THORNTON, PASSENGER: We were all sort of dozy and the cabin was pretty dark and it just seemed that the plane just sank and then flew up. The lady in front of us, I don't think had her seatbelt on. She hit the ceiling.


SANCHEZ: The injuries are believed to be minor fortunately. Medical personnel were on standby examine the passengers in Hawaii.

This sounds like a nightmare scenario.

ROMANS: Yes. Does it?

SANCHEZ: You're dozing off on a plane and suddenly --

ROMANS: I always keep my seatbelt on. Do you?

SANCHEZ: I do. Yes.

ROMANS: I mostly do.

SANCHEZ: Sometimes if you're going to go see if you want to (INAUDIBLE).

ROMANS: That's true.

All right, 11 minutes past the hour. An American scientist asphyxiated and found in a Nazi war bunker in Greece. Who killed Suzanne Eaton? CNN is live in Crete.


[04:16:12] SANCHEZ: Startling new details in the case of an American scientist who went missing on the Greek island of Crete. Police now say Suzanne Eaton's body was found in a Nazi war bunker.

CNN's Arwa Damon joins us live from Crete with the latest.

Arwa, have investigators given any indication as to why her body was discovered there?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a couple of reasons for that. And let me first just show you where we are. We're just outside of the entrance to that complex fortified Nazi era tunnel system. And you can see there is evidence that the forensics teams were here.

Now this location is not far from the main road, but if you didn't know that it existed, you wouldn't chance upon it. And that's why one of the public theories is that whomever was behind this horrific murder somehow had local knowledge.

The entrance -- one of the entrances is just up this way. We were inside there yesterday and it's a labyrinth. What the police chief has told us is that they believe that Suzanne's body was dropped from one of the holes that is on the top of this hill inside this tunnel complex. Only found because two locals happened to be exploring it. And we were also told that her body had small nonlethal stab wounds on it but that they ruled the cause of death was asphyxiation.

There's a massive homicide investigation underway. This has really shaken this entire island because this kind of violence just doesn't happen here. And we were up at the institute where Suzanne was attending a conference. And people there are still so jarred by what took place. Everyone wanting to know who was behind this and why.

SANCHEZ: Really a startling story. Arwa Damon, thank you for walking us through the scene.

ROMANS: All right, 18 minutes past the hour. Trade talks between the U.S. and China have resumed. And the president took to Twitter to complain that China has not yet resumed buying American agriculture products. Despite his earlier claims that China would start that after the G-20. According to people familiar with the talks, though, the Chinese side has said, no, they made no firm commitments about buying American wheat or soy beans.

At the G-20 Trump agreed to hold off on new tariffs on Chinese products and ease some restrictions on Huawei. But without new ag purchases it is not clear what the U.S. is getting in return for that stall in its escalation.

Here's the president's economic adviser Larry Kudlow.


LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: I know that our side expects China very soon to start purchasing American agriculture commodities, crops, goods and services.


ROMANS: China stopped buying soybeans last summer in retaliation for Trump's tariffs. By the end of 2018 soybeans sitting in storage hit record levels. Earlier this week the Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Steven Mnuchin spoke with the Chinese Vice Premiere Liu He. It is believed they will travel to Beijing in the next several weeks.

SANCHEZ: President Trump trying to see if Xi Jinping is going to make good on that promise at the G-20.


SANCHEZ: Is it going to happen?

ROMANS: I don't know. We'll have to see.

SANCHEZ: Reunited but does it feel so good? Another blockbuster NBA trade puts Russell Westbrook and James Hardin back together. But did Houston give up too much? We'll explain.


[04:24:30] SANCHEZ: This just in to CNN. The first shipment of the S-400 missile system has arrived in Turkey purchased from, you guess it, Russia.

Let's go live to CNN's Matthew Chance in Moscow.

Matthew, this is kind of surprising. Turkey was warned by the U.S. and NATO to not go ahead with this purchase but they did anyway.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, they've always said in fairness to Ankara that they would go ahead with this. This was a commercial deal they said that was intended to protect the national interests of Turkey.

[04:25:01] The S-400 is one of the most sophisticated surface-to-air missile systems in the world and the Turks say that they need it. But obviously there are big concerns in the U.S. about what the implications are because Turkey is a major NATO ally of the United States. They could, for instance, get the Russians through the deployment of this system some sensitive data about the most high-tech weaponry that the U.S. has been planning to sell to Turkey as well.

And so there are practical concerns. But it opens a much broader question as well about Turkey's diplomatic path, the fact it is getting increasingly close to autocratic regimes like Russia, like Vladimir Putin, and questioning its commitment, that all-important NATO-Western military alliance. There are concerns that, you know, this could lead to a diplomatic spat, possibly a trade spat between Washington and the Turks, and that could further deepen these splits in that important key Western alliance.

Meanwhile, here in Russia the Kremlin is standing back and watching this drama unfold. They're saying this is just a commercial deal. They're fulfilling their obligations under their contract but they're standing back and watching a wedge being driven in that important Western institution of the NATO military alliance. And that's one of their main foreign objectives, remember -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Right, Matthew. We'll see what President Trump says. We'll be refreshing Twitter this morning. Thank you so much.

ROMANS: All right. Cutting just 300 calories from your daily diet could significantly benefit your heart. That's only a modest 12 percent drop in average calories according to the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology Journal. Study participants on a calorie restricted diet saw a decrease in blood pressure and bad cholesterol. You too can achieve these results with intermittent fasting or by simply skipping that slice of cheesecake for dessert. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. every year. That's one in every four deaths.

SANCHEZ: And two more NBA superstars are on the move. ESPN reporting the Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to a blockbuster deal with Houston sending Russell Westbrook to the Rockets for Chris Paul, two protected first round picks and two draft pick swaps. The move now reuniting Westbrook with his old Thunder teammate, James Hardin, two former MVPs there.

Paul's future in Oklahoma City is uncertain. He likely will wind up being dealt again. After trading Westbrook and Paul George, OKC now has 15 first round picks through 2026. They're trying to collect every draft pick they possibly can at this point.


ROMANS: All right, 27 minutes past the hour. Tropical Storm Barry bearing down on the Gulf. Set to become a hurricane. A problem never encountered before with water already so high along the Mississippi River.