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Louisiana Braces for Flooding from Tropical Storm; Trump Retreats from Census Citizenship Question; Former Speaker Paul Ryan Slams Trump in New Book; CNN Poll of Polls: Biden Leads, Tight Race for 2nd in Dem Race. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 12, 2019 - 06:00   ET



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

[05:59:22] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be a major weather event.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're told to evacuate, don't question it. Leave. Get out, now.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are not backing down on our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population.

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: It's not just about citizenship on a questionnaire. It's about telling supporters before an election: we 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 12, 6 a.m. 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 CONTRIBUTOR: I know. I know. We go back so many years, John.

BERMAN: Great to have you here.

GOLODRYGA: Good to be here.

BERMAN: Got a lot going on this morning.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. BERMAN: At this moment millions of people on the Gulf Coast are bracing for an unprecedented life-threatening weather event. An alarming risk of major flooding. Louisiana's governor has this warning.


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.


BERMAN: The governor will join us next hour. These are the hurricane warnings now in effect all along the Louisiana coast. The tropical storm watches extend all the way east to the -- to the Mississippi/Alabama border. More than 10 million people could be affected here.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, it does look dire. And here's why this weekend is expected to deliver the kind of storm that hasn't been seen in the region in nearly seven decades.

The Mississippi River is about twice as high as it usually is this time of year, and Tropical Storm Barry is likely to create a major surge. Add the nearly 10 inches of rain the storm could bring, and well, you have a very real threat of catastrophic flooding.

CNN's Natasha Chen is tracking the latest developments live from New Orleans. It looks calm right now, but Natasha, that's about to change soon.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And Bianna, we got a little spurt of rain this morning just about 15 minutes ago. We're going to see a lot more of that in the next 24 hours.

And what you were just describing, as well as the governor describing those three ways that the state typically floods, we are already seeing, of course, the very high Mississippi River, about 8 to 10 feet higher than it typically is.

Neighbors tell us they are typically able to walk here all the way out to where we see trees and utility poles. But of course, all of that is water right now. It's come partway up the levee.

The good news is that here in New Orleans, we're not estimated to have this water top over the levee where we're standing right now.

The city of New Orleans, the mayor says the plan for city residents is to shelter in place. They have 118 pumps that are functioning, ready to go.

But still, she says, this is not a situation that you can just pump your way out of. That's how much water they're expecting to get. And therefore, the residents here in New Orleans are expected to shelter in place. Now that being said, there are a couple of the parishes where there

are mandatory evacuations happening, depending on where they are. Typically, in low lying areas. And a couple of other parishes where there are voluntary evacuations.

The president, of course, has approved an emergency declaration ahead of rainfall which, John, of course, is expected tomorrow.

BERMAN: All right. Natasha Chen, stand by for us in New Orleans. Because we just got some new data about one hour ago from the National Hurricane Center.

So let's go to meteorologist Chad Myers at the weather center, who is tracking this system. Chad, what do we know?

CHAD MYERS, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: John, it's a 50 mile-per-hour storm right now, up from 45 yesterday. Most of the convection still on the other side of the storm.

But the storm is going to move to the north, so this rain will get onto land sometime later today and into tomorrow.

Now, the water that's in the river right now came from the spring rains in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri months ago. That's why the water's already so high.

There's the track of the storm, to the west of New Orleans. That means most of the rain and the worst part of the storm will be over New Orleans and Baton Rouge; and that storm surge, three to six feet, may push this river that's already at 16 feet.

Those levees are 20. The forecast is for the forecast to go to 19. That's too close for comfort. Because many of these levees along especially to the east and down river of New Orleans, are not even 20 feet high. The ones around New Orleans are 20 feet high. But the amount of rainfall that's going to fall in the New Orleans basin could be 10 to 20 inches, especially west of the city.

Now Bianna, most of the rain that falls will not go into the Mississippi. It goes into other rivers. The Mississippi levees are so high the water actually can't run into it. So we'll keep watching that for you, too.

GOLODRYGA: The fact that this is a slow-moving storm is definitely what's making this so dangerous. Chad Myers, you're going to be covering this for us all day. Thank you.

MYERS: I will.

GOLODRYGA: We're going to turn now to politics. With President Trump backing down. Yes, you heard that right. Backing down from his demand to add the citizenship question to the census. But his new executive order pushes federal agencies to hand over records that will give the administration a citizenship count anyway.

CNN's Jennifer [SIC] Schneider is in Washington to explain what this all means.

Jennifer [SIC], good morning.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianna, 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 stood in the Rose Garden to say that battle was over, but insisting his administration would still be able to get an accurate count of citizens.


TRUMP: Are you a citizen of the United States of America? "Sir, you can't ask that question." "Why?" "Because the court said you can't."

[06:05:08] SCHNEIDER (voice-over): President Trump retreating from his push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census after a week of insisting his administration would continue to fight the issue in spite of a Supreme Court ruling dealing a blow to the effort last month.

President Trump instead signing an executive order to avoid further legal setbacks.

TRUMP: I'm 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 that plan was originally recommended by the Census Bureau to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last year. In that memo, the bureau warned a census question "is very costly, harms the quality of the census count, and would use substantially less accurate citizenship data than are available from administrative sources."

A source close to the White House telling CNN the president's reversal was a, quote, "failing that could have been avoided." But the president refusing to acknowledge defeat.

TRUMP: We are not backing down on our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population.

We will leave no stone unturned.

SCHNEIDER: Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff tweeting, "They can spin it how they want, but make no mistake: the administration lost the census case."

Critics say the census push was just an attempt for Trump to score political points with his base before the 2020 election, like he did three years ago.

TRUMP: We're going to triple the number of ICE deportation offices. SCHNEIDER: This as ICE agents are preparing for nationwide raids

targeting undocumented immigrants starting Sunday. A senior immigration official tells CNN that the operation will target some 2,000 people with court orders of removal and is expected in at least nine cities and will last several days.

But some city officials say they have been left in the dark about the Trump administration's plan.

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI: As the federal government hasn't communicated with our government, they haven't told us what their 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, how they're targeting them.


SCHNEIDER: And mayors in cities across the country are also expressing concern, some even calling the operation part of the administration's political games, saying it also negatively affects public safety.

And adding to that dread is the fact that authorities could also pick up other migrants who happen to be on the scene, even if they actually weren't a target of that raid -- John and Bianna.

BERMAN: Collateral deportations they're calling that. All right. Jessica Schneider, thank you very much.

Joining us now Jennifer Rodgers, former federal prosecutor and a CNN legal analyst; Kirsten Powers, "USA Today" columnist and CNN political analyst; and Errol Louis, a CNN political commentator.

Friends, if I can start with the census. The attorney general, William Barr, said something in the Rose Garden which I have to say very much caught my attention. So listen to this.


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you, Mr. President. And congratulations on today's executive order.

I applaud the president for recognizing, in his executive order, that including a question on the census is not the only way to obtain this vital information.

Congratulations, again, Mr. President, on taking this effective action.


BERMAN: So when I first heard this, it sounded like the Barr summary of what actually happened, which is to say a misleading version of the facts. Right?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: But he's good at doing that. BERMAN: Right. I mean, this was a pure legal retreat.

However, Errol, if the goal wasn't necessarily to get the question on the census; if the bigger goal is to play to the base; if the bigger goal is maybe to distract before the Mueller hearings, maybe he did deserve congratulations.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Mission accomplished. That's right.

Look, the question was always intended to sort of stir up a reaction. It wasn't about the information itself. Because under very strict laws, you can go to prison if you disclose information that comes out of the census.

So it's never as if they were going to take data that came from census responses and convey it directly to ICE or the Justice Department or anybody else.

What it was really always about was the president playing to his base, making clear that undocumented immigrants are the enemy, that he was going to go after them politically, that he was going to make a lot of noise about it.

And so, you know, frankly, you know, the attorney general was correct to say, "Look, congratulations. You did what you intended to do. You got everybody talking about it. You put a lot of people in fear." There probably will be a reaction as far as people responding to the census. Because, you know, there's been all of this discussion about what could happen if you are undocumented and fill out the questionnaire. So yes.

GOLODRYGA: And all of this playing out --

LOUIS: Political win for the president.

GOLODRYGA: Yet this legal loss for the president, political win, playing out in the Rose Garden. And I do want to focus, Jennifer, on the political win versus the legal loss. Because as you note, there was no other option for this president right now when it goes -- when it comes to the courts, correct?

RODGERS: Yes. I mean, I think Chief Justice John Roberts made it fairly clear that he was not going to take this, you know, further degradation of the rule of law sitting quietly. So I think they did lose in the courts. They were going to lose in the courts.

The question is, in addition to what Errol was saying, how much is this going to hurt anyway? How much are we going to have an undercount, because people are now afraid of the census? And that really does matter. That matters to apportioning seats. That matters to apportioning resources.

So, you know, it may have had the harm that it intended anyway, in addition to the political win for the president. BERMAN: And I don't think it can be separated from the other major

story from the administration over the last few days, which are the immigration raids, which we understand are set to take place on Sunday. Interesting they've announced them. On Sunday in at least nine cities. And we put the list up of the cities there.

And it's created fear. It has created fear in the immigrant community. And I want you to listen to the police chief in Houston talk about what he's seeing.


ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON POLICE CHIEF: There's great fear in and amongst our immigrant community as to what's going to happen. I've had children come up to me at a forum, 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."


BERMAN: Kirsten, you've been writing about this for years. This is something that I know worries you.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, this is -- this is incredibly inhumane. And it was inhumane when Barack Obama did it. I mean, I see a lot of Republicans bring it up, saying, "Well, Barack Obama deported all these people." And yes, he did. And that's why the Hispanic community called him the deporter in chief and were very critical of her [SIC]. I mean, of him.

And I think that the problem with this is these are, you know, largely speaking, hard-working people who have come to this country, usually fleeing very bad circumstances and trying to make a better life. And they're being treated as criminals. And you know, creating fear for children, for families.

I mean, they're talking about deporting families. Right? They are talking about going in and grabbing anybody that's around a person who they're targeting.

And I think it's worth talking about who they're targeting, as well. Because they're talking about people who have court orders against them to leave the country.

But in a lot of cases, these are people -- they don't have court orders because they've murdered somebody. They have court orders, because they didn't show up when they were supposed to show up in court.

And what immigrant communities have found when -- like the think tanks, basically, who do the studies on these things have found is that when people come into this country and you give them a lawyer or you give them an advocate, 90 percent of them show up for their court hearings.

GOLODRYGA: Right. POWERS: So when people don't show up for their court hearings, it's usually because they don't know that they were supposed to show up for their court hearing.

So we're going to go in and, like, break down people's doors, basically, and drag them out of the country, because they didn't know that they were supposed to show up for a court hearing? I mean, what kind of country are we?

GOLODRYGA: And Errol, we're talking about potentially separating families. Some of these children are U.S. citizens, given that they were born in the United States. These detention facilities are not equipped, as we know and as we've been covering extensively, for even more people.

What can Democrats do? We've heard from them. We've heard from Nancy Pelosi, saying that this is inhumane, that people should be reaching out to their religious leaders for help, as well, to see if they can get involved. What else can Democrats be doing?

LOUIS: It's unclear what anybody can do that won't play into the larger drama. Because what's going to happen is, in these nine cities, they might get one or two raids. And if there are cameras around, that'll become a big national story. That raids happened all over the country.

Two thousand is very small compared to the estimate million or so who have these removal orders in place. So it's not as if they're actually trying to do something serious about changing the problem.

What they're going to do, though, is generate a lot of press. The Democrats will, in fact, I think, get what they can out of it politically, especially the presidential candidates. They will scream. They will yell. They will offer to shelter people. They will make a big sort of dramatic show of opening up their church basements and other places where they can try and hide people. But it just plays into the same drama.

And unfortunately, you know, we'll have an issue that is going to be the same on Monday as it was on Saturday.

GOLODRYGA: Another drama.

BERMAN: Yes. Any legal dramas here, Jen, on Sunday if these cities don't cooperate? What happens?

RODGERS: Well, that's kind of unclear, actually. I mean, usually, the federal government notifies states and local authorities when they're coming in to do something like this. They have not really done that except to the extent that we've seen it publicly, because they're concerned about this interference, and you know, we have the whole sanctuary cities controversy.

So it's not exactly clear what happens legally. If you literally tried to, you know, hide someone or barricade someone, then you could possibly be arrested for interfering with a legal order. But short of that, I don't think there are any legal consequences. The issue is more a political one.

BERMAN: Anda gain, yes, it is a political one, because maybe that's what this is all about. Just like the census, this may be about showing the fight.

GOLODRYGA: Another fight.

BERMAN: Yes, exactly.

GOLODRYGA: I woke up to tweets from the president going after Paul Ryan. I'm thinking, are these old tweets?

But no. This is in large part in response to a new book, a telltale book that's come out about the Trump administration. And Paul Ryan finally opening up about his true feelings about the president.

[06:15:10] And let's get to one of these first comments that he gave. We have a full screen up here, where he said, "I told myself I've got to have a relationship with this guy to help him get his mind right," Ryan recalls. "Because I'm telling you, he didn't know anything about government. I wanted to scold him all the time."

Obviously, this coming out of Tim Alberta's new book "American Carnage." For the first time, Errol, Paul Ryan is not holding back.

LOUIS: Yes, well, right. He certainly held his tongue when he had an opportunity to change things that he apparently is complaining about in this book.

Like so many Republicans, mainstream Republicans, this is somebody who was on the presidential ticket just a few years prior to encountering Donald Trump. Paul Ryan sort of walked away from his duty.

You know, he seems to have -- you know, look, I'm sure he got a nice advance for the book. It'll be tell-all. We'll dish on it. It'll be very interesting to read about.

But it's really kind of almost like a poster -- he's like a poster child for all of the Republicans who walked away from everything they said they cared about throughout their career. Excellence in government; and you know, government restraint; and you know, sort of personal decorum; and all of these different things. All out the window when he sits face-to-face with Donald Trump. Psychologically, it'll be fascinating to read.

BERMAN: All right. You know what, guys? Stand by. I'm not done with this discussion yet. Because Errol raises some really good points. I want to talk much more about what Paul Ryan said. Because there's another fascinating, you know, I think inflammatory comment he made about the president. And then there's the president's response.

Also this morning, there's new movement in the 2020 race. A new candidate rises to second. Another one with a surprising slip. What's behind the shakeup? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [06:21:23] BERMAN: This morning former House Speaker Paul Ryan is sharing his true feelings about President Trump in this new book.

The speaker said, "We've gotten so numbed by it all. Not in government but where we live our lives. We have a responsibility to try and rebuild. Don't call a woman a 'horse face.' Don't cheat on your wife. Don't cheat on anything. Be a good person. Set a good example."

Back with us, Jennifer Rodgers, Kirsten Powers, and Errol Louis.

Kirsten, before the break, Errol Louis made the case on Paul Ryan. Well, where were you for two years when you were speaker? If you felt this way, why you didn't stand up -- why didn't you stand up to the president?

In this book by Tim Alberta, the speaker -- former speaker makes the case, "Well, you don't know how much I stopped here. I saved the country from so much. I kept the president in line." Is that a compelling defense?

POWERS: What did he save the country from? I mean, I don't -- I don't really see that. I mean, I would be interested to know what he thinks he saved the country from.

And I think what a lot of Republicans did was they decided -- they looked at Donald Trump, and they thought, "OK, I don't really like him. There's a lot of things about him that bother me, but I can get what I want."

So you know, if you're Paul Ryan, you're looking at it and you're like, "Oh, my whole life all I've wanted to do is reform the tax code." Or whatever your issue is. "And I'm going to get that from Donald Trump, and I'm going to compromise on every other value."

And so I think if that's -- if that's what he did, he just should own it. He shouldn't act like "I was fighting so hard" when, in fact, I think a lot of them, I honestly think that's what Bill Barr is doing right now. I think Bill Barr looks at Trump and just thinks, "I just basically have free reign of this place. Like, I can do whatever I want, because Donald Trump doesn't really know what he's doing."

BERMAN: As long as you say congratulations.

POWERS: Exactly. "And as long as I make him feel good about himself, I can kind of do all the reforms at the Justice Department that I want to do. And Donald Trump is just going to basically let me do them."

GOLODRYGA: But Errol, reading these quotes from Paul Ryan frustrates me, because I -- I remember where reporters asked him, point blank, to respond to all of the comments the president made; and he would take his sip of water and say, "I don't read the tweets. I've had a very busy morning."

LOUIS: Right. Didn't see it. Right. GOLODRYGA: He clearly saw and read everything. I'm curious now, given the president's attacks, will anybody, any Republican now come to Paul Ryan's defense?

LOUIS: Oh, no. I can't even imagine it. Because -- because among other things, Paul Ryan kind of walked out. You know, he saw the handwriting on the wall. He saw he wasn't going to maintain his majority. He saw he wasn't going to change Donald Trump; and he got his tax cut. He got the main thing that he wanted. And out the door he went.

So look, we understand that this is a business that attracts people who are very practical, shall we say. Some would call them opportunists. That is going to be, I think, the way it continues to play out. And it's in nobody's interest to come to the defense of, you know, a wealthier lobbyist, Paul Ryan.

GOLODRYGA: Someone -- someone the president this morning tweeted and saying -- called a failed V.P. candidate and with an atrocious record. So --

BERMAN: Yes. "A long-running lame duck failure," which is a hard second line in the chyron right there.

All right. The other big political news overnight, which is this new "Wall Street Journal"/NBC News poll came out, which shows a changed race for president on the Democratic side.

Change in the sense -- Joe Biden still in front by a fairly large amount, although slipping a little bit. But Elizabeth Warren in "The Wall Street Journal" poll has now risen to second place. And Bernie Sanders you can see slipping.

And this poll not terribly different with the CNN poll of polls out this morning. We'll put this up just to show you, because it's a fairly stable race, at least for the last week or two.

You can see Joe Biden again comfortably in front. And then the story here is this race for second place between Senator Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. And this is different than it was a month ago, a month and a half ago, because Bernie Sanders was in clear second place there.

[06:25:07] And part of the rise of Elizabeth Warren, Jennifer, is policy. No question about it. She's come out and proposed a lot of things. And she's out with a new immigration plan, which you've taken a look at, some of the legal sides of it. So talk about the policy before we break down the polls here a little bit.

She wants to decriminalize what is now illegal immigration. And she wants to open up some prosecution of mistreatment of undocumented immigrants. Both those avenues, you think, pose some problems.

RODGERS: I do. You know, I think there are good law enforcement reasons for the crime of illegal -- illegally entering the country. I've seen that used to good effect during my time as a prosecutor. So I'm concerned about decriminalizing just coming into the country, right, without any legal process at all.

And the other thing is, you know, when she talks about having a task force at the Department of Justice to possibly prosecute people in this administration for separating children and all that. So that is a big problem for me, you know, this kind of dog whistle of "Let's prosecute our political enemies." You know, it's the same as, basically, "Lock her up" when President Trump and his supporters do it. So I don't like that.

You know, the way for that to happen, the path for that is for the inspector general to do an investigation. If there are crimes that have been committed in the course of all of this family separation, detention stuff, then that should happen as a result of a referral there.

I don't like a presidential candidate out there saying, "Let's do criminal prosecutions against our political opponents."

GOLODRYGA: Of course, the question, how this will all play in a general election. But Kirstin, how worried by this new poll data should Bernie Sanders be, given that we're talking about Elizabeth Warren and not him?

POWERS: Yes, I mean, I think he should be worried, if you look at -- I think -- I think she is somebody a lot of -- OK. Let's just back up.

The main thing Democrats are interested in is beating Donald Trump, right? So they're looking always -- they're being much more strategic than typically.

Typically, voters actually aren't that strategic. They don't -- they don't actually make that their No. 1 priority. They are interested in "Do you agree with me on the important issues?" And I think this time around, they're like, "I just want somebody who I think can win."

Bernie Sanders is a socialist. And I think a lot of Democrats, even people who like him, say that's just a nonstarter in this country, whether you think it's good or bad.

Elizabeth Warren kind of gives them a middle ground. You know, she's somebody who identifies as a capitalist and says she believes in the capitalist system; but she also has a lot of the policies that Bernie Sanders has that really resonate with the base.

And I think that she also is just an incredibly substantive and is really -- you know, I was hearing a lot from people who were seeing her out on the trail before, you know, maybe six months ago or three months ago. And they were saying, you know, as soon as that debate happens, she's going to -- she's going to shoot up. Because she's just -- people are electrified by her.

GOLODRYGA: And she's certainly got a plan for just about everything, right?

BERMAN: Errol, one other thing we saw in these polls and also a new FOX News South Carolina poll, is Vice President Biden is still doing perfectly well with the African-American vote.


BERMAN: It hasn't collapsed after the last debate. What does that tell you?

LOUIS: That's right. Well, I keep harkening back to the template of 2007-2008 when Hillary Clinton was leading Barack Obama with black voters right up to the day that he won in Iowa, at which point everything flipped. Everything changed.

So if black voters are in love with Joe Biden, and they like him a lot, they're going to do some shopping just like everybody else. And it will start to get really intense as we get closer and closer to when the votes are actually cast. Because a big part of this, as has been said, is about who can actually win? Can you win primaries? Can you line up the support to actually beat Donald Trump? It's going to count for a whole lot.

GOLODRYGA: And perhaps that apology about his comments about segregationists last week in South Carolina helped, as well.

LOUIS: No doubt.

GOLODRYGA: All right. Errol, Kirsten, Jennifer, thank you so much. Good to see you.

Well, breaking overnight, R. Kelly, remember him? More bad news for him. He is in custody. So what he was doing the moment before police arrested him. We'll have that for you, coming up next.