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Tropical Storm Barry Will Test New Orleans Levee System; U.S. vice President Tours Detention Centers in Texas; Trump Confirms Immigration Raids Will Begin Sunday; U.S. Labor Secretary Resigns over Epstein Scandal; Mueller Hearings Delayed; Hong Kong Protests; U.K. and U.S. Discuss Persian Gulf Military Presence; Wimbledon 2019. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired July 13, 2019 - 04:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tropical storm Barry closing in on Louisiana, already pushing water over highways and putting millions of people at risk.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Also this hour, vice president Mike Pence sees for himself the conditions migrant adults and children face in two Customs and Border Protection facilities.

HOWELL (voice-over): And later, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta is out, yet another member of the Trump cabinet to quit amid scandal.

ALLEN (voice-over): These stories all ahead. Welcome to our viewers. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell. NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL: We're tracking this storm at 4:01 on the U.S. East Coast, right now about 10 million people along the U.S. Gulf Coast are already in the direct path of a tropical storm, that storm named Barry.

The storm just hours away from making landfall probably as a category 1 hurricane. Officials warn storm surge could be 6 feet or up to 2 meters. That is more than 36,000 customers who have lost power thus far.

ALLEN: That can't feel good right now with the storm bearing down. Water is already gushing, as you see, over coastal highways. Storm chaser Reed Timmer says some communities along the Gulf are cut off from the mainland. Louisiana's governor says the state has taken unprecedented action to protect New Orleans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN BEL EDWARDS (R-LA), GOVERNOR: For the first time in history, all floodgates on the Mississippi River -- I should say within the hurricane production system in the New Orleans area are sealed off with those floodgates being closed.




HOWELL: Let's go live to the region with Michael Thiel, who is the St. Tammany Parish fire protection and compliance officer in emergency management and he is joining us by phone.

Michael, thank you for your time. Give us a sense of what is happening right now and exactly where you are.

MICHAEL THIEL, ST. TAMMANY PARISH FIRE DISTRICT: Yes, sir, George, good morning. Right now we're waiting like everyone else, anticipation of the effects of Barry. Currently, believe it or not, the sky is clear but any minute we're expecting some of those rain bands to come across as Barry gets closer to landfall.

And depending upon where those heavy storms occur, you know, we're having to deal with large amounts of rain in a short period of time. I'm in Slidell, just north of New Orleans across Lake Pontchartrain.

Our area is outside of the flood protection barriers that we hear so much about. We are experiencing some of the tidal surge that you were speaking about earlier and we're expecting anywhere from 3 to 5 feet, which is not too catastrophic.

It does cause some trouble; there will be some street flooding. But the primary concern at this point is just where and when we get this heavier rainfall and whether or not the local lakes and rivers can accommodate that much water.

HOWELL: So let's talk about exactly what part of the storm you will be dealing with if we can see the radar loop just one more time because, if I'm correct, you will be dealing with the northeastern quadrant of that storm in Slidell, just northeast of New Orleans.

What do you tell people to do if they are planning to wait this storm out?

Because it looks like this will be a soaker.

THIEL: Absolutely. So most people who live in this area understand what they are dealing with, you know. But each storm is different and unique. The northeast quadrant of the storm tends to be the most severe typically.

Of course, Barry is a little bit different than your typical storm. But you know, we are concerned with some of these tornadoes that quickly spin up in the northeast quadrant. We also expect heavy rainfall over the next two days. And, again, you know, just how much is anyone's guess.

But that is the key feature here, the flash flooding, you know, and the potential for people to be caught up in that.

Most people have heeded the warnings. Those in low lying areas, especially south of us, have already evacuated. Our plans are in place. In our area we tend to be a little bit higher and have less direct impact from flooding again.

But that could change depending upon how much rain we get. You know, the estimates have been slowly coming down with this. But we're still not out of the woods yet and the next two days will tell us a whole lot more as we see the impact.

HOWELL: To your point, the next two days will certainly be important to monitor. But let's hope that that trend that you pointed out, you know, where the expectations of the amounts of water that will come down, hopefully that trend will continue to go down. Michael Thiel, thank you again and we'll stay in touch with you.

Of course we'll continue to follow what is happening there around New Orleans, the lower part of Louisiana and bring you the latest on this storm.

That last video we saw, Grand Isle, mass evacuation there. It's extremely vulnerable to storms.

Other news we're following: in an effort to defend the Trump administration's handling of the migrant crisis, the U.S. vice president visited two of the detention facilities on the southern border. First he toured a center that opened in May to help with the overflow of migrants. This one held families.

And Mr. Pence says migrants there were being treated well and were getting what he said was compassionate care.

HOWELL: Very different picture though at this facility here. Single adults held at this facility that the vice president visited, it was packed and --


HOWELL: -- the men there said that they weren't being treated like humans.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 45 days, no shower?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 45 days no shower?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 45 days. Ask everyone.

That's what I'm saying. We are not a terrorist. We are not a terrorist. Ask everyone.




HOWELL: Again, one of the men saying that they were not being treated like humans. The vice president Mike Pence told our colleague Pamela Brown that the situation within facilities will improve now that Democrats stopped stonewalling as he said on funding.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Remember, it was just a few short weeks ago that Congress finally acknowledged the crisis and gave us an additional $4.6 billion in humanitarian aid. We'll continue to improve, we'll continue to provide care at the standard the American people expect.

But Pamela, remember, for the last six months, Democrats in Congress said that it was a manufactured crisis. And it was all we could do to finally get the Democrats in Congress to agree to give us additional funding to deal with this crisis.


HOWELL: We'll have more of Pamela Brown's interview with the vice president a little later this hour.

ALLEN: U.S. immigration lawyer Karnig Dukmajian joining us now from London to talk about this.

And we appreciate your time. Thank you for being with us.

First of all, what is your takeaway from the vice president's visit there?

He says t there has been additional funding; however, he still blames Democrats for not helping stem the flow of migrants caught in these unbelievably crowded and sometimes filthy conditions.

KARNIG DUKMAJIAN, IMMIGRATION LAWYER: You know, it is important to note that the vice president acknowledged the terrible conditions in at least one of the detention centers. And while there has been an increase in migrants crossing the border, it is also important to note that the crisis is in part a result of the administration's own policy decisions.

So the decision to detain all border -- all those who cross the border, even those who are seeking asylum, and not releasing them, this is a policy change from the previous administration.

Of course, other policy changes, the fact that they are -- the administration is focusing on stricter enforcement while not balancing that out with other measures, such as increased immigration judges to help the backlog in the courts, increased aid to Central American countries to alleviate pressures in those countries, increasing refugee quotas which we know they decreased. So the crisis is real but it has been exacerbated by the administration's policy decisions.

ALLEN: And we heard the men behind that wire fence where the vice president was standing, saying they hadn't had access to showers or toothbrushes, that they were hungry.

One said, "This isn't human, I'm not a terrorist."

So the impact will be interesting what perhaps vice president Pence had from that situation right there and what he takes back to the White House about it.

DUKMAJIAN: Right. Exactly. The conditions are appalling. And I think most Americans would agree with that assessment. And we'll need to wait and see what kind of, you know -- what kind of changes that we can see. Although, you know, based on what has happened so far, I'm not sure that we can be too hopeful.

ALLEN: Right. Pivoting to another developing story that will happen this weekend and the ICE raids that are expected in major cities across the country, do these undocumented workers have constitutional rights?

Or do you expect that they will be taken in and deported?

DUKMAJIAN: Even undocumented immigrants have rights under the U.S. Constitution, the right to due process, the right to remain silent. So most of those apply to undocumented immigrants.

The immigrants that are going to be targeted this Sunday and the days following are those who have final orders of removal against them, so that means that immigration judges have signed orders to deport them. So I'd expect them to --


DUKMAJIAN: -- once they have been apprehended, for that process to begin swiftly. That said, they do have some options according -- well, according to their individual circumstances, of course. But they may have options for emergency motions to be filed on their behalf.

For example, there have been reports that many of those family units that are going to be targeted never actually received proper notice of their immigration court hearings, so they actually haven't been able to defend themselves or make asylum claims in court yet and that the deportation orders were made in absentia.

So there are some legal remedies that remain open for many of the family units that will be targeted this weekend.

ALLEN: And there is a lot of fear and uncertainty surrounding it for sure. We'll, of course, be covering it. Karnig Dukmajian, we appreciate your insights for us. Thank you.

DUKMAJIAN: Thank you for having me.

HOWELL: Up next, there is another shakeup in the Trump administration. How a decades-old plea deal forced him out.

ALLEN: Also ahead here, Hong Kong's chief executive says that the extradition bill that sent enormous crowds into the street is dead.

So why are protesters still marching against it?

We'll have a live report from Hong Kong coming up next.






ALLEN: At the Trump White House, another high ranking official has resigned.

HOWELL: This time it is the U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who has announced Friday that he is leaving his job. This after taking heat for the way that he handled a sex crimes case involving financier Jeffrey Epstein. CNN's Kaitlan Collins has more.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The day at the White House began with an exit.

TRUMP: Alex called me this morning and he wanted to see me.

COLLINS: As Labor Secretary Alex Acosta announced he will resign amid intense scrutiny over the role he played in Jeffrey Epstein's plea deal 11 years ago that helped him avoid federal charges.

ALEXANDER ACOSTA, U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: I do not think it is right and fair for this administration's Labor Department to have Epstein as the focus.

COLLINS: With Acosta by his side, President Trump insisted the decision was Acosta's.

TRUMP: This was him, not me, because I'm with him.

COLLINS: But the writing was on the wall Thursday night, when CNN first reported Trump had grown skeptical that Acosta's press conference would calm the waters.

ACOSTA: Today's world treats victims very, very differently.

COLLINS: Sources said the president went from praising Acosta privately to questioning why the victims were never notified about the plea deal.

Yet, today, he insisted otherwise.

TRUMP: I thought Alex did a great job.

COLLINS: For Trump, Acosta's resignation comes as a relief amid renewed scrutiny over his own relationship with Epstein, though, today, he said it wasn't a distraction.

TRUMP: Well, Alex believed that. I'm willing to live with anything.

COLLINS: The departure leaves the president with another acting secretary in his Cabinet.

TRUMP: We have -- as everybody knows, we have Pat Pizzella, who right now is a deputy and he will be acting for a period of time.

COLLINS: The acting labor secretary will be in good company because the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and multiple other federal agencies are all run by acting heads.

While experts say permanent Cabinet secretaries provide more stability, the president prefers it his way, without the confirmation hearings.

TRUMP: I sort of like acting. Gives me more flexibility.

COLLINS: Critics have also noted that outgoing Labor Secretary Acosta was the only Hispanic in the president's Cabinet, a detail Trump noted today.

TRUMP: He was a great student at Harvard. He's Hispanic, which I -- which I so admire, because maybe it was a little tougher for him and maybe not.

COLLINS: Now, of course, with Alex Acosta's departure, there is going to be a renewed focus on just how many officials in the president's cabinet and throughout the government are in an acting capacity, something that will certainly be highlighted next week when the president holds his next cabinet meeting here at the White House -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


HOWELL: And there is a new date for a highly anticipated hearing set for Capitol Hill. It is the former special counsel Robert Mueller, now set to testify July 24th, a week later than originally planned.

ALLEN: House Democrats say the delay will allow him more time to speak. They are eager to hear what he has to say about Russian election interference and obstruction of justice possibly committed by President Trump.

HOWELL: And let's get some perspective from Inderjeet Parmar in London, a professor at City University.

Good to have you.


HOWELL: And so a lot of people want to know what Robert Mueller will have to say when he testifies. But it is also important to point out he has written about all of this in his final report. So the question is the value here.

How significant will this be for people who, I guess if they didn't read the book, will now get to see the movie?


PARMAR: Well, it will have the theatrical quality of a Hollywood blockbuster no doubt. And get very large audience ratings. But at the heart of it is a very, very serious matter. The report that Robert Mueller issued showed that there was very definite attempts by President Trump to obstruct justice.

When the denials came later on after the report from the Trump administration about various other things, either that he was exonerated, Robert Mueller made a statement at the end of May, saying that he was unable or prevented from charging in any way a sitting president and that he all but suggested impeachment proceedings should begin.

So I think that the big question will be in front of Congress, it will be to ask Mueller when and why did he decide not to prosecute a sitting president for obstruction of justice?

And why did he basically push the ball --


PARMAR: -- towards the Congress on this question.

HOWELL: Let's talk more precisely about those questions and the delay. This essentially gives lawmakers, as you say, longer time, a longer session to ask more questions of the former special counsel.

The question here though, given who he is, his expertise, his ability to sit there and testify, do you expect lawmakers to really get much more out of him than what he has already written?

PARMAR: Well, I think what they really want is we know that most people have not read the original Mueller report. What they read are interpretations of it and the spin in regard to, you know, political partisanship. I think they are hoping that there will be something more there.

There is also political theater, a lot of people want their few minutes in the sort of -- in the limelight.

But as I say, at the heart of this, I mean, Robert Mueller if you like is a kind of -- is the embodiment of the FBI, which is about political stability at home and the intelligence services, which is about America's global role. People suspect that President Trump -- they fear President Trump is

damaging both. And I think that what they want really is something more definitive, which might add fuel to the impeachment process or impeachment drive, which many Democrats are demanding at this particular time in order to try to effectively bring this matter to a close early.

HOWELL: And the question remains whether this delay works in Democrats' favor or works against them as far as keeping this focus in play.

I also want to switch to ask a question here about the resignation of the Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. President Trump, you heard in the interview just a moment ago, made it clear that this was Acosta's decision to resign, not because Mr. Trump told reporters -- he said, rather, this was him, not because -- not me, I'm with him, he said.

What are your thoughts about this resignation, the latest departure from the White House?

PARMAR: Well, there are two things. One is the potential damage to the Trump administration was increasing. And as more focus and sort of -- a focus on what actually happened in regard to Jeffrey Epstein back in 2007, when it became much more clear that President Trump himself or before he was president had praised Epstein in a variety of ways, suggesting he knew about the kinds of things that he was up to, I think that it basically draws great level of focus on the corrupt character of many of the appointments of the Trump administration itself.

And so what we see is a whole series of firestorms around the presidency. And I think that it links back to Mueller. There is a kind of mistrust and a fear that President Trump is, if you like, kind of -- is taking America down in flames.

If you look at some of the commentary in "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" recently, there is a feeling that the rich and the powerful are getting away with large numbers of things and that there is a kind of pre-revolutionary character to America.

Marie Antoinette and Rasputin are being called into play and people in "The Washington Post." If you're right about this era, this is the end of an era and the beginning of a real conflagration of American power at home.

And I think that is the way in which these particular issues are being seen much more widely now. And that is damaging American power at home and abroad as well. So I think that is the kind of really big question. So you have the micro level behaviors but the macro level effects of it are potentially devastating.

HOWELL: Inderjeet Parmar, live in London, thank you.

PARMAR: Thank you.

ALLEN: After allegations of inhumane treatment at migrant detention centers, the U.S. vice president sees for himself. Then sat down with CNN. We'll have that interview coming up.





ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell with the headlines.


ALLEN: Between the two facilities there appear to be clear discrepancies on how migrants were treated.

HOWELL: CNN's Pamela Brown sat down with the vice president to discuss how the Trump administration is handling what is happening on the border.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You went to two different facilities today and there seemed to be a big difference between the first one, where the families were being housed, and the one here, where there are single adult migrants.

When I went in there, one of them said to me, I'm talking about the second facility, this isn't human, the way we're treated. There was a horrible smell, I'm sure you smelled it. You were in there as well.

They were sleeping on concrete because there is not enough room for cots we're told. It was hot. Some of them claim that they were hungry.

Is that acceptable to you?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, it is not. And it is the reason why we demanded that Congress provide $4.6 billion in additional support to Customs and Border Protection.

Look, for the last six months, Democrats in Congress have been saying that this is a manufactured crisis. But as you saw firsthand today, here at McAllen station, where our cells are overflowing and how that temporary --


PENCE: -- facility that you just saw had to be established.

And then the first facility that we saw, where nearly 1,000 families with children are being detained, ought to be a very clear message to every American that the time for action is now and the time for Congress to act, to end the flow of families that are coming north from Central America to our border, is now.

BROWN: Should there be a different level of care for the families versus the adult migrants, single adult migrants?

PENCE: I think it is all the same standard of care --

BROWN: But what we saw today was very different for the families versus the single --

PENCE: -- well, what you saw today was a very clean facility, where people were being detained indoors and then you saw a temporary facility that was constructed because this facility is overcrowded. And we can't keep people in a cell beyond what the rules and regulations allow for.

But everyone even in that temporary facility, Pamela, is getting three meals a day, they are getting health care, they're getting hygiene. And the Customs and Border Protection is doing their level best in an overcrowded environment and a difficult environment to address this issue.

But Congress has got to act to make it possible for us to reduce the numbers of people coming into our country illegally. And that will require us to change the loopholes, reform our asylum laws. And my hope is today --


PENCE: -- I hope two things today, Pamela. I hope first and foremost, that we put to the lie this slander against Customs and Border Protection. People saying that families and children are being held in concentration camps is an outrage.

And the Nazis killed people. Our Customs and Border Protection, as you heard today, are saving lives every day. And you saw the profound, compassionate care for those families and children in the detention facility today.

But the other thing is, I hope we also move past this rhetoric about a manufactured crisis. I mean, the president wanted me to come down here today to look in on how families are treated but also to be able to show the American people that this system is overwhelmed, it is overcrowded and Congress has got to step up to end this crisis of illegal immigration at our southern border.

BROWN: The first facility we went to with the families, was that really a fair representation of how most of the migrant families have been treated under CBP care?

PENCE: You are at the epicenter here in the Rio Grande Valley of this crisis of illegal immigration; 60 percent of those being detained coming across our southern border are coming through this sector. So I think what we saw today was a very fair representation of how families are being treated.

(CROSSTALK) BROWN: -- this was one of them --

PENCE: I understand America's in trouble --

BROWN: -- made to handle the overcrowding.

PENCE: Americans are troubled by what they have read in the newspapers --


BROWN: All you have to do is look at pictures like this.

When you look at that, what do you see?

PENCE: Well, I can't account for that. What I can account for is that --

BROWN: But you're the vice president.

How can you not account for this?

PENCE: It is a facility that you saw today represents the level and the standard of care that we are working to bring to all those caught up in this crisis.

But remember it was just a few short weeks ago that Congress finally acknowledged the crisis and gave us an additional $4.6 billion in humanitarian aid.

Now we're going to continue to improve, we'll continue to provide care at the standard the American people expect. But Pamela, remember for the last six months, Democrats in Congress said it was a manufactured crisis. And it was all we could do to finally get the Democrats in Congress to agree to give us additional funding to deal with this crisis.

And so we'll continue to provide the level of care the American people expect and we'll do it with compassion and with the generosity. But ultimately we have got to demand that Congress take the next step, reform these asylum laws, close the loopholes and end this unprecedented migration.

BROWN: DHS IG says that some children under this administration's watch didn't have access to showers or hot meals.

Does the administration take any responsibility for that?

Democrats are not in the White House.

Where does the buck stop?

PENCE: Yes. We read those reports and I know that they are being --

(CROSSTALK) PENCE: -- thoroughly investigated. I know that we're also -- there were also lawyers who were here who presented what ultimately became unsubstantiated allegations. But make no mistake --


PENCE: -- about it, any allegation of people not receiving the standard of care that the American people anticipate is thoroughly investigated. The recent allegations of abuse are being thoroughly investigated.

But what you saw today I hope is an encouragement to millions of Americans that, even before Congress funded a temporary facility, we built that temporary facility to house families who are caught up in this crisis of illegal immigration.

And you saw not just three meals a day, children with snacks, there were diapers, hygiene products, changing tables, children sitting in a comfortable, air conditioned environment, watching television.

This is how the American people expect us to treat people who are caught up in this crisis. And we're going to continue to work to make that a reality.


HOWELL: Many critics point to policy changes that led to what we're seeing at the border but, again, of course, we're hearing from the vice president about what he saw in those facilities. The Trump administration has agreed to let a pediatrician conduct an independent investigation into health conditions for migrant children at these facilities.

ALLEN: And that doctor toured detention centers last summer and had described children being kept in cage-like conditions.

HOWELL: Still ahead, protests in Hong Kong, this time with a message to tourists and shoppers from Mainland China. What the demonstrators want them to know as CNN NEWSROOM continues.




HOWELL: Pro democracy protesters are kicking off a weekend of demonstrations in Hong Kong, right now they're coming together in a border town close to Mainland China, trying to raise awareness of Hong Kong's political situation with tourists.


ALLEN: Throughout June and well into July, enormous crowds of people have marched over a now shelved attempt to pass a law that would allow extradition to China. Matt Rivers is in Hong Kong covering this for us yet again, and they are still taking to the streets.

What is it like there today, Matt?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a much smaller --


ALLEN: Why did he have to freeze up at that moment?

All right. We'll re-establish contact with Matt and get back to that.

HOWELL: Still ahead, the U.S. president Donald Trump is warning Iran to be careful, this as tensions between the two nations are running high.

ALLEN: His threat comes as the United Kingdom is sending its own warning to Tehran, this one in the form of a new warship in the Persian Gulf. As Nic Robertson reports, the move comes as the threat level for British ships has been raised.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The threat level going to its highest level for British shipping in the Gulf, going to critical level 3. This means that the vessels will have to take additional security, procedures and perhaps change their routing.

At the same time the British Royal Navy is sending in a destroyer, the H.M.S. Duncan. This vessel will replace the frigate, the H.M.S. Montrose, which was the vessel that aimed its guns at those Iranian fastboats that tried interdict a British flagged tanker in the Gulf earlier in the week.

So this is a switchout, according to the British MOD of these two vessels. Of course, everyone watching to see how long that switchover takes.

Will the Navy keep both vessels in the region for a period of time?

But what we're hearing from the foreign office, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt being very clear, saying that this is a time for cooler heads.


JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: None of us are looking for a conflict. And we all have a responsibility to protect shipping. So this is a time for cool heads. I'm being briefed on an hourly basis as to what is going on.

And we want to do everything we can to make sure that we don't have an unintended escalation, which could be very dangerous for the world.


ROBERTSON: Iranian officials deny completely that they interfered with that British tanker earlier in the week. They are demanding the release of the Grace 1. That's a supertanker that's currently being held by Gibraltarian authorities. The Gibraltarians says it had 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil on board. They're charging or at least arresting the captain and the first officer, accusing them essentially of breaking sanctions and trying to get the oil to Syria.

The Gibraltarians saying in a statement on Friday that this is all about where the oil was going, not about where the oil came from.

And the Iranians are saying to the British that they're now entering or starting a dangerous game with no indication of an end. President Trump also is warning the Iranians of the dangers of what they're doing.


TRUMP: Iran better be careful. They're treading on very dangerous territory.

Iran, if you're listening, you'd better be careful.


ROBERTSON: And the British prime minister's office here in London saying that there are currently ongoing discussions between the United Kingdom and the United States about increasing security in the Persian Gulf. At the moment, there appears to be no off-ramp in the escalating tension there -- Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


ALLEN: We turn to sports next because, George, it is finals day for the women at Wimbledon and Serena will chase a record. We're live at the home of the world's oldest tennis tournament for you next.

HOWELL: So fun to watch.






ALLEN: It is finals weekend at Wimbledon. And Serena Williams will be going for a record equaling 24th grand slam title when she faces former World number 1 Simona Halep on Saturday.

"WORLD SPORT's" Christina Macfarlane joining us from Wimbledon. She has a great gig there. Wow, what a final this could be. Serena Williams going for her eighth Wimbledon title and this would be historic. CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I have to say coming into this fortnight, there was a big question mark over Serena Williams because she hasn't had that much tournament play and she has been injured. She only played in five tournaments, she withdrew from three.

But something has happened over the past fortnight. She's beginning to feel and look like the champion that has won seven Wimbledon titles here. She has really grown in confidence throughout the competition.

We saw she was playing mixed doubles with Andy Murray earlier in the tournament and that has given her a lot more time on grass to find her feet. And she's beginning to look very calm out there on court, which is really dangerous for her opponent.

In her last round, she dispatched her opponent in just 59 minutes and while Simona Halep will be no pushover, the real challenge will be keeping her emotions intact. She is going for the all-time record, 24 grand slams.

I was speaking to her coach here yesterday and he told me make no mistake, this is what it is all about for Serena Williams, the reason she came back from a troubled childbirth to take up tennis again and the thing that keeps her motivated still at 37 years of age.

So if she can keep her emotions intact, we may well see that record here on Centre Court.

ALLEN: And she does have the momentum. And Simona Halep, as far as being someone who can take her on, she's only beaten Serena once but she's been solid in this tournament.

What do you expect from her?


MACFARLANE: Well, I suppose on paper, yes, it doesn't look great for Simona Halep, she's only beaten Serena once in the 10 times they've played each other. She's got only one grand slam to Serena's 23.

Keys for Simona will be to run her around, to extend the rallies, to essentially tire her opponent out because Serena has got so much skill on the court, she's got so many weapons. She's hit 45 aces alone in this tournament so far.

But let's not forget that there is a lot on the line for Simona Halep as well. This will be emotional for her too. She has something of a reputation of being a bit of a choker in the past, a bit inconsistent. She was the world number one earlier this year, she has won one grand slam and she will certainly want to prove the doubters wrong by showing that she is not a one-hit wonder here.

So a lot on the line for both ladies today. It will be fascinating to watch.

ALLEN: Yes, I'm taping it and I cannot look at my phone until after I see who won. All right. Christina, have fun. We'll talk with you again. Thank you.

HOWELL: What a great assignment there.

So if Formula 1 racing is not exciting enough for you, imagine an aerial version of it, that is the vision of an Australian startup working on the world's first multicopter racer. It is called an air speeder.

ALLEN: The company says that the racers will be able to whip through deserts, down cliffs, over water, around islands. They are testing a remote controlled version with hopes of trying out the full-size piloted version later this year.

HOWELL: Would you watch that?

ALLEN: I don't know. We'll see.

All right. The day's top stories are just ahead. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. CNN's coverage of tropical storm Barry continues after this.