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Central Gulf Coast Bracing For Barry; President Trump Backs Down On Census Citizenship Question; U.K. Raises Threat Level For Tankers In Strait Of Hormuz. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 12, 2019 - 05:30   ET



[05:30:36] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), LOUISIANA: Look, there are three ways Louisiana floods -- storm surge, high rivers, and rain, and we're going to have all three.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: The Gulf on alert for Tropical Storm Barry. Heavy rain coupled with high water along the Mississippi presenting a problem never seen before.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president is abandoning the fight for a citizenship question on the census. Instead, he's going with an executive order suggested to him a year ago. We'll explain.

SANCHEZ: Plus, breaking overnight, new sex trafficking charges against R&B star R. Kelly.

ROMANS: And how many calories would you have to cut per day to stay healthy? Not as many as you might think.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

SANCHEZ: And, I'm Boris Sanchez. We are 31 minutes past the hour.

And we start in the Gulf Coast. They are bracing for Barry. It's now a tropical storm but there are hurricane warnings along the Louisiana Coast.

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


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

(END VIDEO CLIP) 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.

The mayor of New Orleans not issuing evacuation orders, though, at this point.


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


ROMAN: States of emergency have been declared in Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Charles, Jefferson, and Plaquemines Parish.

President Trump, yesterday, approved an emergency declaration for Louisiana to speed up federal help.

SANCHEZ: Tropical Storm Barry is moving very slowly, just about three miles an hour, and that pace is one reason 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 check in with meteorologist Derek Van Dam. He is live in the Weather Center.

Now, Derek, we got an update on this storm a short while ago. What are we hearing?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, well, here's that excessive high risk of flash flooding, from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, all the way to the southern coastline of Louisiana.

According to the 5:00 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, there has been no change to the strength of the storm. We still believe that this will make landfall late Friday night into early Saturday morning as a strong tropical storm or perhaps a low-end category one Atlantic hurricane equivalent.

We don't want to get lost in the minutia here, though, because we're not trying to point home the idea that this is a major wind problem. We believe that the rain and flood potential is the major overarching concern.

We have over five million Americans under a flash flood warning, including New Orleans and the Lake Charles area, as well as Baton Rouge, and that's because we have over 10 to 15 inches of rain in the forecast from Saturday to Sunday. On top of that, you factor in three to six feet of potential storm surge.

We already have a swollen Mississippi River. Its current level, 16 feet. Projected forecast crest at 19 feet by Saturday. Don't forget about the heavy rainfall in New Orleans and some of the levees protecting the city downriver along the Mississippi River actually are below that 20-foot threshold. So the potential here for flooding certainly exists.

Back to you guys.

ROMANS: All right, Derek, thanks for that. We know you'll stay on it for us.

President Trump apparently trying to pump up his base with some unprecedented action on two fronts -- one involving the census; the other immigration.

First, the census. The president will not defy a Supreme Court order to keep a citizenship question off the 2020 census.

Instead, he is taking executive action to get the information a different way. It's the idea census officials recommended to him a year ago. If adopted, it could have saved millions of dollars and an awful lot of time, not to mention 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.

[05:35:02] 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, so you've not heard the last of this. Jessica, thank you for that.

Let's bring in "Washington Post" congressional reporter Karoun Demirjian. She's a CNN political analyst. Good morning.

SANCHEZ: Good morning.


ROMANS: You know, is this between the census -- you know, the president not going to defy the Supreme Court but he's going to go back and find a way to get this information. Between that and his announcement of raids in these -- in these states and cities, is this a play to his base?

You know, you've got the Mueller testimony next week, you've got some energy in the Democratic field at the moment. You know, he's had some recent setbacks.

Is this a play to his base, do you think?

DEMIRJIAN: Well, I think the president has been very conscious of where his base is on any issue related to immigration and he has never completely backed down from the fights even when he's lost the battles. And so, it's his way, basically, of threading that needle.

It's very hard to go up against the Supreme Court -- your Supreme Court, really. This is like a court that has many nominees that President Trump put there. So many justices that President Trump nominated to that bench.

And so, he is kind of stuck to try to come up with a different solution but the fact that he isn't completely letting it go communicates to his base that look, I still think this is important and I'm still going to be on this side of these issues, which are, of course, extremely divisive in the country but do seem to motivate the people who are Trump's faithful supporters.

SANCHEZ: Right. Karoun, I want to play for you some sound. These are officials in these 10 cities across the country where these ICE raids are going to take place on Sunday. Listen to what they're saying about them.


MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: Just 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 the -- on who they're targeting and how they're targeting them. So, frankly, we're in the dark.

ART ACEVEDO, POLICE CHIEF, HOUSTON, TEXAS: There's great fear amongst our immigrant community as to what's going to happen. I've had children come up to me at forums (ph) 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: Now, I just want to point out they were originally 10 cities. New Orleans has been postponed because of Tropical Storm Barry, so no raids happening there.

There are two surprising things about this that you hear from these officials. First, the federal government hasn't really communicated much to them at all. But the fact that we know about this is surprising. These ICE raids typically aren't something that's publicized.

Karoun, how much is this just President Trump trying to send a message and make public that he is not backing down -- that he's forcing the issue of immigration front and center?

DEMIRJIAN: This goes, again, to the question of is this a political play to make to the people who -- you know, maybe your supporters are listening to you -- or is this a pragmatic sort of strategy that will actually effectively result in rounding up the maximum number of people.

And if it's the latter, it's not really following what would be considered to be the normal process of doing that --


DEMIRJIAN: -- which is that if you tell people when you're going to have -- conduct raids, there is an incentive for people to maybe not go to the place where you might raid that day if you know when it's going to happen.

And also, for years, there -- look, we've been talking about coordination between state-local level and federal government for a very long time. You can either have that debate based on the communities that have signed up to work with the federal government on these issues or communities that have been dubbed sanctuary cities because they say no.

But for a very long time, part of the entire process of doing these sorts of immigration internal policing domestically has really been reliant on there being a partnership or at least some sort of communication between the people who are on the ground and the federal officials who come in just for these more dramatic moments.

And that does not seem to exist, which means that it would suggest that it would be more haphazard and potentially less effective --


DEMIRJIAN: -- in its execution as a result.

SANCHEZ: And potentially, more dangerous, too.


DEMIRJIAN: And potentially, more dangerous as well -- of course, especially when you have the resistance now, as you can see, from some of the local police --

ROMANS: Yes. DEMIRJIAN: -- police outfits who are responsible for maintaining the order.

ROMANS: We don't know who they're going to be targeting.


ROMANS: We don't know if they're targeting people who are violent criminals with deportation orders. We don't know if they're targeting workers. We don't know what this interior enforcement is actually going to look like, so that's another big uncertainty here.


ROMANS: The president had his social media summit yesterday, which seemed to be a room packed with people who mostly agree with the president -- you know, things that they would -- that they craft or tweet or things that the president generally likes.

[05:40:00] And he said something that got a lot of attention at that -- at that summit. So remember, it's a friendly audience there in the room and this is what he said.


TRUMP: I certainly don't want to stifle free speech, but that's no longer free speech. See, I don't think that the mainstream media is free speech either because it's so crooked, it's so dishonest.

So, to me, free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad. To me, that's very dangerous speech.


ROMANS: Now, the president seems to not think it's free speech when it's something he doesn't like to read -- something that is critical of him. This is the man sworn to defend the Constitution and the right to free speech in this country.

Is it -- is it too much to make of it to say this is someone who is sworn to uphold free speech and he is its biggest -- it's biggest threat?

DEMIRJIAN: Well, look, the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press, so that example that he brought up about the media not being free speech is just flat-out wrong when we're talking about the Constitution.

Also, if the -- you know, it's interesting. It does not -- it doesn't comport with what an American president is supposed to do to start to qualify free speech. Free speech is pretty absolute in this country.

No, you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater. Yes, there is the question of when speech is incitement. But, generally speaking, you can express your opinion -- good, bad, even abhorrent or positive, and that is protected by the Constitution. And it's odd that we're having a conversation about dangerous speech

because of things that the president doesn't like listening to about himself. You could maybe have a debate in this country about dangerous speech when it comes to things like hate speech.


DEMIRJIAN: We talk about that quite a bit. But still, that falls more often than not under the protections of the First Amendment.

And it's strange to be having this conversation based on what the president finds distasteful to the coverage of himself. That's not really the epicenter of where this discussion should be given the fact that the Constitution exists and protects these things very, very clearly.

SANCHEZ: Yes, not to mention odd that he would host trolls and conspiracy theorists at the White House and give them that platform.

Karoun Demirjian of "The Washington Post". Thank you so much for the time.

DEMIRJIAN: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Now to a story we've been following overnight.

R. Kelly arrested in Chicago. He's been charged with sex trafficking in New York. The entertainer also facing charges for child pornography and attempting to influence a case in Atlanta. The NYPD, Homeland Security, and other agencies assisting in his 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. He 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 was operating on emergency generators and diverting flights at one point but operations are now back to normal.

The late-day sky flowing with fire and smoke. More than 600 people are in shelters.

The Maui Humane Society is evacuating its animals to Maui High School.

Oprah Winfrey, who has a home in Maui -- the private road on her property has now been opened to help fight the fire.

SANCHEZ: New warnings overnight for British tankers in a critical shipping route in the Persian Gulf. We have a live report, next.


[05:47:15] SANCHEZ: New overnight, the U.K. raising the security level for British tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranians tried to seize a British ship in that critical shipping route just hours earlier.

CNN's Nic Robertson is live in London with the latest. Nic, the U.K. clearly concerned that Iran is going to stay aggressive and maybe try to do this again.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Sure. What they've done is raise the threat level to level three, the highest level state -- which essentially states that they believe that an attack on a British-flagged vessel at the moment is critical. Therefore, they believe that it could happen.

And they say they base this on a variety of open source intelligence, experience of past behavior and recent events, international partnerships before making a decision to raise it in this way. So they're looking at a lot of information.

We know that the commander of the Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain, very close by to the Straits of Hormuz, has said that he is aware of what the Iranian Revolutionary Guard tried to do -- trying to interdict that British vessel, the British Heritage -- the tanker ship which -- and it took the intervention of the British naval vessel, the HMS Montrose, to train its guns on the IRGC small fast boats to secure the safe passage of the British -- of the -- of the British merchant ship. It is now in safe waters.

The State Department, as well, condemns the actions of the -- Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Both the prime minister's office here, the Ministry of Defense, and the Foreign Office in the U.K. condemn it. They're urging Iran to deescalate at this time. But at the moment, Iran seems to be in no mood for that.

They are demanding the release of the Grace 1 tanker that was taken into custody by British naval marines -- by British marine force, along with the Gibraltar authorities. The captain and the first officer of that ship are now being charged with essentially sanctions- busting -- taking that Iranian oil on board that supertanker, trying to take it to a refinery in Syria.

In the meantime, however, the State Department does seem to be leaving the door open to diplomacy with the Iranians a little. They have decided for now, at least, not to put sanctions on Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes, a show of restraint even as the Revolutionary Guard declines to admit that anything happened. They're still apparently in denial.

Nic Robertson reporting from London. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on "CNN Business" this Friday morning.

The Fed may have to change its tune on inflation and potential rate cuts after a key report on consumer prices was stronger than expected.

The government said overall prices rose one-tenth in June. So-called core prices, which exclude food and energy, rose three-tenths of a percent. Prices rose for housing, clothing, home furnishings, medical care, and auto insurance, among other things.

Investors still expect a small rate cut from the Fed later this month, but calls for a larger move have quieted a bit after this CPI report.

[05:50:00] Let's take a look at global markets right now. You can see the Asian markets closed a little bit higher. Europe opened mixed.

And on Wall Street, leaning higher here after record highs for the Dow and the S&P 500. The Dow up 228 points, topping 27,000 for the first time in history. The S&P 500 beat the record it set last week, rising above 3,000. The Nasdaq fell just a bit.

But the market is strong. Look at stocks since President Trump's inauguration. This is a number the president clearly likes to tout.


ROMANS: The Dow is up 36 percent. The S&P 500 up 32 percent. The Nasdaq --

Tech stocks have just been on fire. On the tech front, there are now two trillion-dollar companies in the stock market, Amazon and Microsoft.

Big tech stocks have soared this year despite concerns about the possibility of more regulation in the U.S. and trade tensions with China.

OK, speaking of Amazon, adapt or be left behind. In a world of advanced robotics and artificial intelligence, American workers need more training to stay relevant.

Amazon is about to see how that works out. It is spending $700 million to retrain 100,000 of its U.S. employees. Called "Upscaling 2025," workers can use this training to transfer between positions that without it, they might not have been qualified for.

Robotics and artificial intelligence are rapidly advancing and honestly, more capable of replacing more human jobs. Amazon is also fighting for employees in a very tight labor market. The plan could help attract and retain them.

We'll be right back.


[05:55:51] SANCHEZ: At least two people are dead in an assisted living facility in Springfield, Virginia. Health officials are blaming what they call an outbreak of a respiratory illness. Eighteen residents were taken to the hospital and several dozen others

have symptoms ranging from a cough to pneumonia. Investigators are working to identify the cause of the outbreak.

The Greenspring Retirement Community has been closed to new residents and current residents are being quarantined.

ROMANS: A new video this morning of an incredible Coast Guard operation to stop drug traffickers.


COAST GUARDSMAN: Alto tu barco! Alto tu barco!


ROMANS: "Stop your boat," he's yelling. The boat is actually one of the infamously illusive narco-submarines built by the cartels to haul huge amounts of drugs.

On June 18th, a Coast Guard cutter on patrol found a narco-sub hundreds of miles off the Colombian and Ecuadorian coast. Three guardsmen slip onto that sub, pound on the hatch, and a suspected trafficker pops out with his hands up.

Officials say the operation netted $569 million worth of cocaine and marijuana, more than $230 million on this boat alone.

SANCHEZ: And that video gets your heart racing, doesn't it?

Not exactly a routine traffic stop in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Officers pulled over Stephen Jennings for expired tags on June 26th and they found a bunch of weird stuff in his car.

First, they found a gun. Then they discovered an open bottle of deluxe bourbon whiskey and a rattlesnake in a terrarium in the back seat.

The fun was only just beginning. Officers then noticed a canister containing radioactive powdered uranium.


SANCHEZ: Jennings is facing a slew of charges, none of them apparently involving the uranium. It seems like almost everything you need for a good road trip except you probably need some beef jerky in there.

ROMANS: Yes. Whiskey and a rattlesnake, not a road trip I want to be taking there.

All right, cutting just 300 calories from your daily diet could significantly help your heart. That's just a modest 12 percent drop in average calories according to "The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology" journal. Now, study participants on a calorie restriction diet saw a decrease in blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Now, you, too, can achieve these results either by 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.

All right. She captured the hearts of millions.




ROMANS: She's Disney's Moana. She's so beloved, 25-year-old Kensli Davis in Atlanta, wanted the character's image on her birthday cake. So her mom called the local baker and ordered the Moana cake. The woman on the other end of the phone heard "marijuana" and delivered a cannabis-themed caked instead.

No worries. Kensli said she and her mother laughed hysterically. Even without any case of the munchies, the cake was delish.

SANCHEZ: Yes, "My Little Pony" is a bit confusing there.

Well, sorry, Knicks fans, you lost again. ESPN reporting the Oklahoma City Thunder will trade Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul -- two protected first-round picks and two draft pick swaps.

The move reuniting Westbrook with his old Thunder teammate James Harden, a pair of former MVPs.

After trading Westbrook and Paul, OKC now has 15 first-round draft picks through 2026, starting all over again with a fresh rebuild.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks for joining us. Have a great rest of your day, everybody, and a great weekend. I'm Christine.

SANCHEZ: And I'm Boris Sanchez. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Flash flooding and mandatory evacuations as Gulf Coast residents brace for a strong storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be a major weather event.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): If you are told to evacuate, don't question it, leave -- get out, now.

TRUMP: We are not backing down on our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not just about citizenship on a questionnaire. It's about telling supporters before an election, we've won. You have somebody who represents you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president has the right to do it. This is data that we have a right to know.


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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, July 12th, 6:00 here in New York.

Alisyn is off and Bianna Golodryga joins me this morning. It's like a reunion 10 years in the making.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: I know, I know. We go back so many years, John.

BERMAN: Great to have you here.

GOLODRYGA: Good to be here.

BERMAN: We've got a lot going on.