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President Trump Sends Racist Tweets on Progressive Democrat Congresswomen; ICE Begins Raids Targeting Undocumented Immigrants; Gulf States in Flood Danger; Power Restored in Manhattan After Massive Blackout; Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Testimony Delayed by One Week; Elie Honig Answer Legal Questions on Cross-Exam; Trump Will Win 2020 Elections if Very Liberal Candidate Win Democratic Priamry. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 14, 2019 - 17:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello on this Sunday. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. The president of the United States spent his morning on a racist rant. On twitter, of course, and on the same day his administration begins immigration raids on migrant families across the country.

Although he did not name names, President Trump targeted, "Progressive Democrat Congresswomen." an apparent reference to at least four women of color who came to Capitol Hill this year. He went on to say, they should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came."

Now, for the record, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was born in New York. Rashida Tlaib was born in Michigan. Ayanna Pressley was born in Ohio and yes, it's true that Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia but she came to the U.S. at age 12 and became a U.S. citizen when she was 17.

And in case he didn't make his point clearly enough, President Trump also wrote, "you can't leave fast enough" and suggested Nancy Pelosi would be happy to arrange it. For her part, Pelosi responded rejecting what she calls the president's xenophobic comments and went on to criticize the immigration raids that are happening today.

CNN's Boris Sanchez is at the White House tonight. Boris, there's little doubt who the president's tweet was referring to. Why target them?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Ana, President Trump is trying to exploit a rift in the Democratic Party. These four progressive members have been critical of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, specifically saying that she caved to the administration with the passage of this immigration funding bill last week.

Pelosi in turn has been frustrated with their use of social media, believing that they are often too critical of other Democrats, but the president's tweet appears to have backfired. These two sides now apparently refocused on their common enemy, and that's President Trump. Ilhan Omar posting this tweet -- she writes, "You are stoking white

nationalism because you are angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda." Then she goes on to quote Robert F. Kennedy, writing "America's answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired."

Now surrogates for President Trump have tried to argue that he didn't really say that they should go back to their countries but the president's intent here is obvious. He's using the language of white nationalists to try to stoke the support of people who are uncomfortable with immigration and the president is very comfortable doing that.

There's a long list of racist things that this president has said and yet his approval rating has continued to climb, Ana.

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez reporting at the White House for us. Thank you. I want to bring in opinion contributor Dean Obeidallah and "Time Magazine" contributor Jay Newton-Small.

And I have to say guys, as a woman of color, as a Latina, I can say I've heard these kinds of sentiments directed at me from being called a beaner by a Northern Idaho farmer who asked where I was from when I was covering a wildfire in my first job as a young reporter.

In fact, to the many hateful tweets and Facebook messages I receive today from anonymous critics, and Dean, I know you can relate, but this is coming from -- this message, these words are coming from the president of the United States.

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, CNN.COM OPINION CONTRIBUTOR: They absolutely are. And that, you know, for me, if I dealt with a grand (ph) of bigots because I am also like Rashida Tlaib, the son of a Palestinian immigrant and I am Muslim. And I've had this right-wing thing where they go, go back to your country and I joke, well, my country is New Jersey.

That's one thing you can do in a one on one situation or online. This is the president of the United States. He's the guy in the White House who's got a bully pulpit. And what he's doing is legitimizing and embolding (ph) the worst, worst element of our society.

Ana, we've had these conversations so many times the last few years where we go through Trump's bigotry and his racism. And I'm glad that you hear Boris and others now not afraid to use the term like white nationalism. To me its white supremacy on parade like Speaker Pelosi has said.

And you've got Trump -- has earned -- there's a reason why David Duke during he campaign said it is treason to your heritage not to support him. This is why Andrew Anglin in "Daily Stormer." The neo-Nazi website, over 100 articles praising him.

And when I wrote an article in May of 2017 before Charlottesville, denouncing Trump for coddling white supremacists, Andrew Anglin defended Donald Trump. And they came after me. They fabricated tweets that I am a terrorist. They had death threats and I had to sue them in federal court for defamation and for the death threats.

Donald Trump earned it with his policy and his rhetoric for re- tweeting white supremacists with the name white genocide to his anti- Muslim bigotry to even recently re-tweeting from the U.K. and it got almost no press here, Katie Hopkins.

In America we don't know it. In the U.K., she is an anti-Muslim bigot who has called for a holocaust against Muslims, a final solution. She's banned from South Africa for her racist words. She shares stage with the holocaust deniers. He literally just this week re-tweeted her again. His base, that subset knows who she is -- Americans don't know. And this Donald Trump is going to get worse between now and November 2020.

CABRERA: It's not lost on a lot of people that his wife though is an immigrant herself. What are the chances Melania Trump has had this kind of message, just kind of rhetoric directed at her?

[17:05:01] OBEIDALLAH: I have no doubt as there are people in this country who don't accept anyone with an accent. My father had an accent, lived here more of his life in the United States of America than in the Middle East. He's Palestinian.

Still, if you have an accent, you're subjected to that so I'm sure Melania is, but look, this is a tough time. I mean, Donald Trump to me, I had to sue white supremacists who love Donald Trump because they came after me for my name. Donald Trump to me is a white supremacist and if he's troubled by that, he can sue me the way I sued the white supremacists for defiling my reputation.

And if Donald Trump doesn't sue me for calling him a white supremacist, we can assume he is, and he is that. He's shown us who he is. And it's time -- I can't get his supporters to give up on him but for the rest of America, come on the other side here. Stand with us against Trump values. They're not American values.

CABRERA: And Jay, let me get to you because Trump's former campaign strategist, Steve Bannon, you may recall predicted that once the Mueller investigation was over the president would go "full animal." Listen to this.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Now that he sees himself as no longer being under the cloud of the Mueller investigation, what does going full animal look like?

STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: President Trump is a fighter. I don't need to tell you, Anderson. You know very well he's a fighter and I think he looks at this as a fight. And I think he's going to be very aggressive. I think he's going to start giving interviews and I think he's going to really try to push this. I do think this year is going to be very vitriolic and I think we'll just going to have to work through this. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Jay, who is to stop the president from continuing this vitriol over the next year and a half because all we're hearing from Republicans right now are crickets?

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, CONTRIBTOR, TIME MAGAZINE: Absolutely, Ana. And I think this is really, clearly his entire strategy for re-election. And I just also want to say on a personal note, I was born in the United States, but my parents, neither of them are American.

And so, I mean, I remember when I was covering the immigration debate back in 2005 and 2006, I used to joke with Senator John McCain campaign. You know, I'm an anchor baby. I gave my parents citizenship when they retired. And he used to laugh and say, oh, ha, ha, they're not people like you Jay.

And -- but the fact of the matter is, is what Donald Trump is saying here, is that by talking about these women who are immigrants, by talking about their past, or at least one of them is an immigrant. In fact, the other three are not even immigrants, they were born here.

But it's the sense of that the country is somehow not theirs, not ours, not us people of color but it's like it's only a country for white people, right? And that's the biggest fear that he's playing on. It's not just that these people at the border who are being arrested or who are being detained, these people who are coming in caravans.

It's also these people who are leaders, who are taking your positions, who are becoming your members of Congress and representing you. And that's really terrifying to a large part of this base that Donald Trump is trying to appeal to. And these are the people he really is trying to turn out, come Election Day 2020.

And this is unfortunately, I think what we're going to be seeing throughout the next year-plus, almost a year and a half is this kind of rhetoric. At the other hand though, I think the danger he runs is that he's going to unify Democrats because last week the Democrats were really split and now this week they are completely unified against him.

CABRERA: Dean, do you think this is going to lead to voter enthusiasm for Democrats?

OBEIDALLAH: I was at the Netroots convention the last three days and I was just yesterday with Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. And Ayanna Pressley was there too. I don't know her and (inaudible). I can tell you, the split at the top is not trickling down to the base.

I spoke to the most progressive members at Netroots to the left -- more of a progressive group. They were unified. Even those who did not like Joe Biden said vote (inaudible) matter who because Donald Trump is a threat to our values, not just to progressives as Americans.

So, I think every day Trump reminds us who he is, it is actually good for the Democrats and people in the middle who want him out because it animates us. It wants us to get more involved. No one is checking out and I saw this commission (ph). There is no split in the rank and file. Forget what's going on at the top. And I see the CNN article just got published literally about that minutes ago.

CABRERA: And Jay, do you have any doubt that it was Omar and Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley and AOC that the president was referring to in his tweets?

NEWTON-SMALL: Absolutely no doubt because that second tweet where he says Nancy Pelosi was love this. She would pay to get your plane ticket or whatever. I mean, that's implying clearly the split that they had had all week long with Nancy Pelosi. And it was those four members they were having a split. So, it's very clear to my mind that those are the members he's talking about.

CABRERA: Jay Newton-Small, Dean Obeidallah, great to have both of you with us. Thanks so much.

NEWTON-SMALL: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: In our next hour, presidential candidate Andrew Yang, the son of Taiwanese immigrants will weigh in on the president's racists tweet. Plus, ICE has begun raids to round up undocumented immigrants in major U.S. cities. We're live where activists are fighting back while also trying to calm fears. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."


CABRERA: ICE raids targeting around 2,000 immigrant families are under way right now according to a senior Trump administration official. They were scheduled to take place in these 10 U.S. cities. The raids in New Orleans, however, are postponed due to Tropical Storm Barry we understand. CNN's Rosa Flores is in Chicago now, and Rosa, you met with a woman who has been hiding out for more than two years?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Ana, we started following the story of an undocumented woman named Francisca Lino two years ago. And shortly thereafter, she took refuge in the church that you see behind me. Process that for a moment. This woman has not left the church for two years. And this weekend, she's on heightened alert because of these scheduled raids.


FLORES (voice-over): Francisca Lino has lived in Chicago for some 20 years. She is the mom of four U.S. citizens who she raised in the outskirts of town. But for the past two years, Lino has lived inside a church, away from her family and hoping to not be deported.

Lino, who is undocumented, said she gets in a panic thinking about getting pulled away and stashed in overcrowded detention facility she has seen on the news. She took sanctuary in this church, a place federal agents typically avoid raiding.

Do you have a plan if there's a raid in this church?


FLORES (voice-over): For more than a decade, a timespan covering administrations of both parties, Lino checked in with immigration officials twice a year and there was never any issue, until Donald Trump took office. CNN was there in 2017, the morning of her first check-in during the Trump era.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): That brings me a lot of fear.

FLORES (voice-over): It was an emotional affair for her entire family. First, an immigration agent told her she could stay for another year.

LINO (through translator): I feel very happy because I was given another year.

[17:15:00] FLORES (voice-over): And then --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, cameras away from the building.

FLORES (voice-over): Her joy turned to heartbreak when she was asked to return to the federal building in four months with her bags packed and a one-way ticket out of the country. Her daughter became physically ill.

FLORES (on camera): You were having a panic attack upstairs?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I couldn't breathe. I was choked up. I couldn't talk.

FLORES (voice-over): Lino said that's what hurts her the most, about being hunkered down these last couple of years, is not being able to simply hug her daughters outside of this church especially when they needed their mom. And that's something she may never do again on U.S. soil come this weekend.


(on camera) And Ana, something very special is going on this church right now. Francisca Lino, that woman that you saw we interviewed, she is actually spending some time with her family. A service in this church just wrapped up and this church is in the Puerto Rican community of Chicago. This entire community that attends this church vowed to protect her, Ana.

CABRERA: Rosa Flores reporting for us in Chicago. Powerful story. Thanks, Rosa.

The Trump administration pushing back hard insisting the primary targets of tonight's raids are dangerous criminals. CNN's Jake Tapper spoke with acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Who is going to be targeted because obviously,

I don't think there's anybody that really would object to dangerous criminals, MS-13 --



CUCCINELLI: That remains the priority for ICE. So clearly one of the priorities.

TAPPER: So when they go out today, that's who they're going to go after?

CUCCINELLI: It's still the priority, that what we keep saying --

TAPPER: Today it's their priority?

CUCCINELLI: Let me finish, Jake.


CUCCINELLI: What we keep saying is that will not be the exclusive limit of any operation, that that is the priority, and ICE is protecting Americans by removing those criminals from this country while you've got sanctuary cities and states who are protecting these criminals by not cooperating with ICE.


CABRERA: Joining us now, Lee Gelernt. He is the deputy director of the American Civil Liberty Unions national Immigrants' Rights Project. He is also the director of ACLU's Access to Courts Program. Lee, the ICE raids are under way we are told. Have you been in any direct communication with people who have been detained in today's raids?

LEE GELERNT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, ACLU IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS PROJECT: We are getting very little information about ongoing raids. We're trying to find out. We're talking to all the people on the ground, but we have not seen significant activity yet. So, you know, the administration may be saying it's ongoing. We're still trying to figure out exactly what's happening.

CABRERA: When you think about this from an enforcement perspective, does it make any sense to you that the president would make such a public statement about what the plan is and eliminate the element of surprise?

GELERNT: Right. You know, I think part of what's going on is terrorizing the immigrant communities and putting fear in them and speaking to who he wants to speak to and say we're going to be tough. But being tough doesn't mean going after families.

I think you heard in your lead-in, our priority is hardened criminals, the national security threats, but the truth is they are admitting they're going after families in this set of raids, 2,000 families, Central American families, and that's consistent with what we've seen throughout the administration.

First they took babies away from mothers and fathers from Central America. Now, they're making them wait in Mexico in the most dangerous conditions just to apply for asylum. It's been an ongoing attack against Central American families. We can -- the administration can talk all they want about hardened criminals and national security threats, but we actually see who they're going after.

CABRERA: I spoke with Ron Vitiello, he's the former acting ICE director. I talked to him just yesterday. He talked about who they were targeting in this raid and he defended the Trump's raids this weekend. Listen to this.


RONALD VITIELLO, FORMER ACTING ICE DIRECTOR: Many of the people who were, you know, applied for asylum or wanted to go to an immigration hearing did not go. They refused to go when the court noticed them. ICE subsequently noticed them again, and again they refused to go. And now they've been ordered by the judge in absentia and become targets for the fugitive operations team.


CABRERA: So Lee, we just heard Vitiello say that these people had their day in court. A lot of them chose not to show up and so that's why they were ordered to be deported. I know you take issue with this.

GELERNT: We absolutely do and we have a lawsuit now brought by our state affiliates out of Los Angeles and New York which documents the defective notice system. What you hear is, oh, they've gotten all this notice, and they've just chosen not to come out. But when you look at the notice system often it's sent to the wrong address or the hearing date is wrong or numerous other defectives so, we're all were saying give them due process.

Make sure they got the notice. Bring them before a judge. Ask -- have the judge ask them why didn't you show up? Did you get notice? Let them explain why they didn't show up or also, do they need asylum, but just to sweep them all out of the country without finding out why they didn't show up violates basic principles of fairness and the Constitution.

[17:20:01] CABRERA: So when you hear him say 90 percent aren't showing up, we know that usually is the exact opposite based on statistics from the past --

GELERNT: Exactly.

CABRERA: -- in which 90 percent who are released and then are set to come to these hearings, they do show up.

GELERNT: Right. So you're making two important points. The first is we know that asylum seekers do show up. At the end of the Obama administration, they created a system to monitor people to come in. It was 97 percent effective.

The second point is, even when they don't show up, it's frequently not their fault because the notice system is defective. So, all we're asking is for basic due process.

CABRERA: Do you know of the families who received these notices and actually tangibly got them because they weren't sent to the wrong address, what do they do with them typically?

GELERNT: Well, if they can understand them and they're very complicated and all the information is correct, they show up.

CABRERA: They just (inaudible) line.

GELERNT: You know, I mean --

CABRERA: Because they don't have necessarily legal representation, a lot of these families.

GELERNT: Well, that's absolutely right. The notices are very complicated, but they try their best to understand them and show up. I mean, keep in mind that people were applying for asylum want to have a regular status. It is very tiring and difficult not to have a regular status.

So, you want to have your hearing. You want to show that you're eligible for asylum and normalize your status, but now we're going through -- well, you know, you've covered family separation for a long time. We're going to see a different type of family separation potentially now. We're going to see U.S. citizen kids abandoned like in your lead-in.

U.S. citizen kids now remaining in America who have never been to their home country and their parents are going to be shipped away. And not only that, but just the terror of these kids living with, am I going to come home from school one day and my parents are not going to be there. That kind of stress on children is not healthy.

CABRERA: I think this is an important point to make here. There's an analysis that was done by the Migration Policy Institute and it found former President Obama deported more undocumented immigrants than Trump has so far.

According to this analysis, George W. Bush deported twice as many immigrants as the Obama administration and Clinton deported about 2 million more immigrants than Bush. So what makes this administration so different in your mind?

GELERNT: Well, I think, you know, I don't know those statistics. They may have been over the eight-year period. But what I think is different is the way this administration is going about who they are specifically targeting, and that they're talking families, Central American families and they're doing it in such an inhumane way.

We never in prior administrations saw them take babies and toddlers from their parents. So it's the way they're going about it and who they are specifically targeting.

CABRERA: One of the things that I can't forget that we learned on Friday is that 18 children, toddlers and infants under the age of 2, we learned were held for 20 days to up to six months including nine children under the age of 1 under the initial family separation policy. And we know that 30 of them, according to Elijah Cummings still are separated, 30 children --

GELERNT: Right. And there are still ongoing separations and we'll be back in court likely very soon because we're still seeing separations notwithstanding the court injunction.

CABRERA: Well, we'll be in touch. Please keep us posted and thank you very much for being here.

GELERNT: Thanks for having me.

CABRERA: Flooding is now the main concern in the Gulf Coast as Barry slowly moves north -- 11 million people face this threat and we just got an update on its path from the National Weather Service. We'll bring that to you, next. Stay with us. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."


CABRERA: The natural disaster emergency hanging over the entire state of Louisiana is far from over today. The hurricane and tropical storm winds are no longer pushing over telephone poles or damaging homes, but forecasters say something potentially more dangerous is still coming. Meteorologist Karen Maginnis is in the CNN Severe Weather Center. And Karen, you just got an update, a new data from the National Hurricane Center. Fill us in.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. The National Hurricane Center has sent out their last advisory regarding what used to be hurricane and then tropical storm and now Depression Barry. Barry has never been your typical hurricane. Never looked like a typical hurricane. Never acted like a typical hurricane.

And even in its dying days, we're still not looking at a typical scenario. We are still looking at the potential for flash flooding. So what is Barry doing right now? It has supporting winds of 35 miles per hour, some higher gusts.

If you remember 24 hours ago, we were looking at this system ready to slam into the coast of Louisiana. Who saw the most rainfall? Mississippi and Alabama. Now, coastal areas of Louisiana did pick up some rainfall, but some of the most significant totals we saw were around Daphne Island -- also into some of these other coastal areas, Biloxi and Mobile.

But now, we're looking at the center of circulation situated over northwestern Arkansas. Where is it going to be tomorrow? Well, it, the remnants, are going to gradually make its way toward the north. So, for Memphis, for Little Rock, for Jackson, Mississippi, for Shreveport, you could see some pretty good rainfall totals, 2 to 4 inches possible.

But the computer models were all over the place saying we could see as much as 25 inches. The most that we have seen so far has been about 10 inches, but still along the Mississippi River, we could expect the potential for some serious flooding. So, Ana, the danger is not over even though it is now Tropical Depression Barry.

CABRERA: OK, so viewers, stay with us because we'll bring you the very latest information as we get it. Karen Maginnis, thank you for that update. Let's get out to Baton Rouge. Louisiana now and CNN's Randi Kaye, there on and the banks of the Mississippi River, which is at major flood stage already. Randi, we just heard about all this rain headed that way in the coming days. Can the river take that much?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, honestly, it looks like it might be able to. We've been out here for a while now, several hours. And if you just look at the water here where we are, we are just at the edge of the city of Baton Rouge, and this is the levee actually that helps protect the city.

And the water is still coming up, but you can see there are parts here. There's the railing there, it's deep into the water. We're told by the locals that that's not usually the case. And if you look at out on the distance, besides all the people who seem to be having a nice time here in the weather while we get a bit of a break from the rain, there's red lettering out there.

You can see that one woman who is walking on it actually and that lettering says Baton Rouge. And we've been watching, Ana, and the water has actually gone down just a little bit on that lettering, which is interesting because that tells us a little bit about what the Mississippi River is doing.

[17:30:04] The rain, of course, is just starting again. We've been seeing these constant bands come through. We get a little bit of a break and then it starts over again. It's not too hard, but the water is going to collect here and that's the big concern.

We know that they were looking at the drainage system here. They were trying to keep the debris out because they are very concerned about the Mississippi here. It is expected to crest at 43 feet, normal is 30 feet. So, it's certainly concerning. There is also the Amite River there, very concerned about -- that's supposed to crest at 39 feet. That's not far from here.

But again, the city of Baton Rouge itself did OK because of these levee systems here right in the city, which has served it well. But they are still concerned a little about tornadoes and funnel clouds that they've seen spotted in this area, at least reported funnel clouds.

But the good news is despite the rain and despite the continued ugly weather here, the power is going back on for thousands of people, about 3,000 have had their power restored in their homes. About 12,000 or so still without power, but we are continuing to sit here at the banks of the Mississippi and we'll continue to watch this for you as the evening continues, Ana.

CABRERA: And it is important for people not to get lulled into a false sense of security because there could still be danger lurking. Randi Kaye, thank you for that update. It does sound like a bit of good news --

KAYE: Absolutely.

CABRERA: -- at least for the moment.

The lights are back on in New York City. Good news for New Yorkers after a partial blackout trapped people in subways and elevators, shut down Broadway shows, even J. Lo's concert at Madison Square Garden. The scramble to find out what happened, next. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."


CABRERA: Questions are swirling about that massive power outage that plunged major sections of Manhattan into darkness for at least five hours this weekend. But don't expect specific answers to come quickly. The investigation into what triggered this weekend's power outage for some 72,000 customers could take months.

New Yorkers are regaining their footing today. The blackout hitting just moments after celebrity singer Jennifer Lopez started her show at Madison Square Garden. And here's how J. Lo reacted.


JENNIFER LOPEZ, SINGER: We're going to reschedule this show. There's the alarm going off telling everybody in the announcements to evacuate. I am, obviously, heartbroken and devastated. Here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- citywide power outage. We're going to interrupt this event.

LOPEZ: I'm very sad.


CABRERA: And have actually has rescheduled that show for Monday. Let's get right out to Alexandra Field. You just heard from officials, Alexandra. What are they saying?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Ana. Look, Con Ed is saying that they regret the disruption, and disruption it was -- five hours in the dark. The power outage affecting some 40 blocks in Manhattan on the West Side, but they are saying it will take months to figure out exactly what went wrong as they take a look at what malfunctioned.

They say they are ensuring that there are redundancies in the system to prevent something like this from happening again especially in the next few days with the temperature expected to tick upward. What we know is that there was a problem at a substation in midtown west. It affected five other substations which plunged so many people into the darkness. Con Edison says they can rule out a few causes, though. Listen to this.


TIMOTHY CAWLEY, PRESIDENT, CON EDISON: We have no indication at all that this was involved in cyber in any way or a physical attack. In terms of loading or demand on the system, it was a warm evening last night, but in terms of the peak demands that Manhattan exhibits on the hottest weekdays, the demand last night was very low.


FIELD: Mayor Bill de Blasio is back in New York City. He was away for a campaign stop in Iowa. He came back praising emergency responders. He's also praising New Yorkers for showing their strength and resilience. Hundreds of additional police officers, firefighters, traffic controllers did hit the streets.

They were sent to the affected neighborhoods during those five hours in the dark in order to help keep the peace frankly, Ana. The amazing part of all of this, no injuries related to the blackouts that we know of so far and no hospitalizations, Ana.

CABRERA: Thank goodness it all ended up OK, but still a mystery remains. Alexandra Field, thanks for that.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's public testimony is now delayed by a week. If he reveals anything new, will it be enough to move the needle on impeachment for Democrats? You are live in the "CNN Newsroom."


CABRERA: President Trump's labor secretary, Alex Acosta, is out over his handling of Jeffrey Epstein's case when he was a federal prosecutor in Miami. Acosta has now endured backlash for the plea deal his office cut with Epstein more than a decade ago, a deal widely criticized as too lenient.

This time, Epstein faces new charges of running a sex trafficking ring. He's also accused of sexually assaulting underage girls, charges that if convicted could send him to prison for the rest of his life.

And that brings us to our weekly segment, "Cross-Exam" with Elie Honig. He's here to answer your questions about legal news. Elie is a former federal and state prosecutor, now, a CNN legal analyst. So, one viewer asks, Elie, how might we learn about Jeffrey Epstein's associates who participated in the alleged sex trafficking operation?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right, Ana. So, this case already has had massive fallout and I think there's going to be more to come. So the first way we're going to learn about who else might have been involved is as the case against Epstein proceeds through the Southern District of New York, we'll see court filings but we're not going to see specific names. We're going to see generic labels. In the indictment for example, we

saw reference to employee 1, employee 2, employee 3. This is how prosecutors handle it when you're naming somebody who is not the defendant, most famously in the Michael Cohen case, individual 1. Sometimes it's obvious who the person is, sometimes it's not.

The other way we're going to learn is if this case goes to trial. If that happens, we're going to learn everything. That's where names get named. Now, will Epstein go to trial? We don't know. The vast majority of federal cases plead guilty, over 95 percent.

But I don't think the Southern District is going to have much of an appetite to make him any kind of plea offer especially after what happened in Florida. Also, I do think we will see additional indictments. This was a major trafficking network. There is no way Epstein ran it alone. As those people get charged, we'll learn who they were.

And the last thing to note, and this is important, the Southern District of New York is staffing this case through the public corruption unit. At the announcement last week, the U.S. attorney said don't attach any significant to that. All due respect to my former office, yes, attach significance to that. It is very unusual.

This case ordinarily would be staffed out of the human trafficking unit, which I used to supervise in the organized crime unit. The fact that public corruption is on it tells me that there is at least one current or past public official involved in this case, somehow or other.

CABRERA: OK, so that's significant. You mentioned we talked about how there was this deal before, a plea deal and so Epstein faced charges, he cut the plea deal. That brings up the question of double jeopardy. So, a viewer asked, could the new Epstein indictment be thrown out on double jeopardy or other grounds because of the agreement he reached years ago in Florida?

HONIG: This is exactly what Epstein's lawyers are going to argue in court. They've already started to make these arguments. Double jeopardy is not going to work. He was never prosecuted federally in Florida. That case went to the state.

Now he's being charged federally. We just got a Supreme Court decision two weeks ago that says that is not double jeopardy. Someone can be charged in the state, then federal. No problem. But they are going to argue is that the plea deal that they got, the sweetheart deal from Acosta covers them because the Southern District of Florida signed that and so they're going to argue that the Southern District of New York, a different component of DOJ is also bound by it.

[17:44:58] But the Southern District of New York has already anticipated this. And if you look at their first brief, they cite a case that happened to be mine, a mafia murder case that I tried and then argued on appeal where this guy got a sweetheart deal from a different district. We then took a look at it, charged it correctly, convicted him and the

Court of Appeals here in New York, the 2nd Circuit said that's OK. The sweetheart plea deal that he got before does not bind another federal district.

CABRERA: So there is precedent. Another topic now, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's testimony we know now is delayed until July 24th. Another viewer asks this. Is speaker Pelosi right when she says there should be more solid evidence before starting an impeachment inquiry?

HONIG: Legally, no. And we know that because the House impeached Bill Clinton in 1998 based solely on Ken Starr's report and evidence underlying it. They did not call any firsthand witnesses. They did not go out and find other evidence beyond the report.

But, of course, Speaker Pelosi is doing her job here and thinking politically. But she's using a little bit of circular reasoning because she's saying we should not open an impeachment inquiry unless we are prepared to impeach.

But how do you get more evidence? She says we need more evidence. How do you get more evidence if you're not willing to open an impeachment inquiry in the first place? Of course, Robert Mueller's testimony got pushed back a week, but it's still coming soon and that is going to be a pivotal moment in this whole saga.

CABRERA: And I have a feeling it's going to be a big part of our discussion next weekend now that we have another week to think of our questions for Robert Mueller.


CABRERA: Your three questions for the week?

HONIG: So first of all, is this delay in Mueller's testimony just a delay? And the deal is they pushed it back one week and in exchange that we get a little more time to question him in Congress, or is it the start of something else? Are we going to see continued slippage? Are we going to see last-minute objections from the White House or DOJ trying to derail this altogether?

Number two, the Affordable Care Act was argued last week in the Court of Appeals. Is it going to get overturned in the Court of Appeals? If it does, it's going to the Supreme Court. It's going to be a close call. And third of all, will Jeffrey Epstein be locked up pending trial? That argument is tomorrow in front of Judge Berman.

I know Judge Berman. I had cases in front of him. He's very fair. He's tough on bail. I do not think the Judge Berman lets him out. I think Epstein remains locked up pending trial.

CABRERA: Elie Honig, always a pleasure. Thank you.

HONIG: Thanks Ana.

CABRERA: You can submit your questions on any legal news to Elie by heading over to

Now, conditions inside migrant detention centers remain under scrutiny by activists and lawmakers. Just ahead, a new independent investigator who will be allowed inside to see how children are being treated at the border. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom." Don't go anywhere.


CABRERA: Four-hundred seventy eight days if you're counting. That's how long from right now until Election Day 2020. And even though the president has been cheering about his very high approval rating among Republicans -- did it again today on twitter -- nationwide among all voters, the poll numbers are looking as good for Trump's re-election.

So, what would it take for President Trump to win another four years? One road to re-election has to do really with the president and more with who the Democrats put him up against. Our CNN senior political writer and analyst Harry Enten is here with us.

Now, Harry, there's just reason I showed the pictures of Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. They are three of the Democratic candidates who you put in the category of very liberal and you say they would actually increase President Trump's chances if they're the nominee. Explain.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER: Yes. So basically I looked at the congressional voting records of the top four candidates, Joe Biden, Harris, Sanders, Warren. And what we essentially see is that Biden looks very much like the Democrats who helped the Democrats win back the House in 2018, right? More middle of the road.

You look at Harris, you look at Sanders, you look at Warren, they are well to the left of that. And to me, we can go back to history and what we see traditionally speaking, is that more liberal candidates struggle.

That is, the further you are from the ideological center, the harder time you have of winning. That doesn't mean that Warren, Harris, and Sanders can't win. It just lessens the chance of them winning.

CABRERA: Let's take a look another poll. This is a brand new one from NBC News-Wall Street Journal. It shows a hypothetical election match- up between the president and Joe Biden -- Biden polling much higher than Trump in that hypothetical. And that same poll shows Sanders, Warren and Harris also beating Trump although not as decisively.

Joe Biden polling especially strongly NBC says because of independents, white voters and people in the suburbs. How much weight would you put on this, again, given how far out we are?

ENTEN: Look, yes. We are a long ways away. I wish Election Day were around the corner just because I love elections so much, but I would say this. Polls are going to shift a lot from now until the election, but I think the polling now tells us a few things that are important.

Number one, Trump is not running ahead of his overall approval rating. That's what the NBC News poll shows, that's what the average of all polls show. Number two, I think what's important there is as exactly what I just described.

That is it's not that the other candidates besides Joe Biden can't win a general election. It's just that they tend to do it a little bit worse. And that's exactly what we'd expect given history and given that they are further from the ideological center.

CABRERA: Seeing also what's interesting, if you look at that poll and you compare it to a similar one back in August of 2011, Trump was actually faring worse than Barack Obama was at this point in his re- election bid. What's your take on that?

ENTEN: Well, number one, that we're still a long ways away, but here's the thing about Donald Trump's approval rating and this horse race polls against Democratic candidates that so much stem from Obama. What you saw -- say Obama versus Romney was -- it kind of went like this, right?

It was wavy. It fluctuated. Where Trump, we've seen his approval rating just stay the same over and over and over again. If you look at his approval rating right now among voters, it's right around 43, 44 percent. Look back six months ago, same thing. Look back a year ago, same thing.

Obama's approval rating tended to move around. And to me, that's why these general election polls right now may tell us a little bit more than they might in a traditional year because President Trump's approval rating simply hasn't moved. People have determined how they feel about him and that seems to be the guiding course throughout the past few years.

CABRERA: How do you see Trump's racist tweets this morning fitting in to all of these, his re-election strategy?

ENTEN: You know, I have to be hones with you. I get where -- why he's doing it. You know, he's done this all along so it kind of makes sense. But in terms of a good political strategy, I think it's a piss- poor one. And I'll tell you why.

If you look at why -- the reason why people approve of him overwhelmingly, we've asked this, CNN has asked this before. They say we agree with him on the issues, it's not personal character. If you look at the reason why people disapprove of the president of the United States, the majority say they disagree with him not because of the issues, because they disagree with him on his personal characteristics, and a tweet like that this morning plays right into that.

CABRERA: He's not going to get any new supporters you're saying.

ENTEN: Exactly right. Look, he's got 90 percent of the Republican base, but 90 percent of the Republican base is not enough to win a general election in the United States.

[17:55:01] We saw that in 2018 when Republicans won, say 90 percent of Republican identifiers, they won the vast majority of those who approved of Donald Trump's job performance, but they lost the vast majority of Democrats, independents and those who disapproved of the job that the president has been doing and that lost them the 2018 elections.

CABRERA: Harry Enten, you rock. Thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

CABRERA: You just spit the words that nobody else --

ENTEN: You know what, I talk a little fast but I hope that they come up smooth enough.

CABRERA: Indeed, they do.

ENTEN: Thank you.

CABRERA: I wish I had the same gift of gab. Thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

CABRERA: All right. Our new CNN Original Series, you don't want to miss it. "The Movies," it continues tonight. And this week is the '90s. Get behind the scenes from the movies you love tonight at 9:00 here on CNN. We'll be right back.


CABRERA: You're live in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being here with us. Across America, the threat of deportation rates targeting undocumented immigrant families hangs over nine major U.S. cities tonight. Is it just a coincidence then that President Trump used his twitter feed today to launch a series of racist tweets aimed at congresswomen of color?

President Trump didn't call out Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley or Ilhan Omar by name, but his targets seem obvious and so is the racist language. He says these lawmakers should, "go back to the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came." And he adds, "you can't leave fast enough."

For the record, three of these lawmakers were born in the U.S., all of them are U.S. citizens and duly --