Return to Transcripts main page


After Jeffrey Epstein's Death, Prosecutors Examine His Inner Circle; Trump Administration Announces Rule That Could Limit Legal Immigration; Two New Anti-Ebola Drugs Show Promise. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 13, 2019 - 05:30   ET



[05:32:07] ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Jeffrey Epstein's high-profile inner circle is in prosecutor's sights. The financier went unchecked for hours the night of his suicide. One guard on duty was just filling in.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Give us your tired, your poor -- nah, maybe not. New criteria could mean more denials for immigrants who would rely on the U.S. government for assistance.

KOSIK: Toxic tap water. Residents of one New Jersey city may have been drinking water laced with lead for months or even years.

RIPLEY: If you thought you had to wait until fall for your pumpkin spice latte, nope --


RIPLEY: -- you don't have to wait much longer.

KOSIK: It's too early, Will. It's too early.

RIPLEY: Wow, that has multiple meanings at 5:32 in the morning here on EARLY START. Welcome back --

KOSIK: It does.

RIPLEY: -- I'm Will Ripley.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

And prosecutors seeking justice for Jeffrey Epstein's accusers are focusing on the accused sex trafficker's inner circle. Epstein's jail cell death has left prosecutors to pursue his well-connected associates. Some of them are accused of assisting him in abusing underage girls.

The federal prosecutor in Manhattan is suggesting he'll focus on the conspiracy charge. It accused Epstein of working with employees and associates to operate a huge sex trafficking ring.

On Monday, FBI agents were in the U.S. Virgin Islands searching the mansion on Epstein's private island.

Yesterday, Attorney General Bill Barr offered this warning to Epstein's associates.


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Let me assure that this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein. Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice and they will get it.


RIPLEY: Barr says he was appalled, angry to learn of the Manhattan federal detention center's, quote, "failure to adequately secure Epstein."

The apparent suicide is putting a spotlight on short-staffing and budget constraints in federal prisons. In Epstein's case, a source tells CNN at least one of the two employees on duty in his unit was not actually a regular guard -- he was just filling in.

Epstein was supposed to be checked on every 30 minutes around the clock, but a source now tells CNN's Athena Jones he was, in fact, not checked for hours before his death.



The list of questions surrounding Epstein's apparent suicide is growing longer. Justice officials have also uncovered broader problems at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, which for a long time was considered one of the best-run facilities in the entire Bureau of Prisons system.

It's not clear what else has been found but the person briefed on the matter said it goes beyond the 24 hours before Epstein's death. We know employees at MCC have complained about being overworked and having to work consecutive days of overtime. Justice officials now say the MCC has suffered a breakdown of protocols for a period that goes back years.

[05:35:05] And there's more news on the legal front. Epstein accusers are asking a federal judge to unwind the non-prosecution agreement Epstein reached with federal prosecutors in Florida over a decade ago in that previous sex abuse case. That would give authorities greater power to go after Epstein's alleged co- conspirators.

That 2007 deal granted immunity to Epstein's alleged co-conspirators and identified four women by name -- Alison, Will.


KOSIK: OK, Athena Jones -- Athena Jones, thanks very much.

One of the women accused in connection to Epstein is this British socialite, Ghislaine Maxwell. She's a wealthy jetsetter known for her personal connections and she's now a prime target for Epstein's alleged victims who are demanding accountability.

International correspondent Max Foster joins us now live from London. Good morning, Max.

So, what was her role in Epstein's world? And I know we've seen here in a lot of pictures, but have prosecutors had a chance to actually talk with her?

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she's -- you know, she's an intriguing figure. She seems to have vanished into thin air. Very famous here for being the daughter of Robert Maxwell, a media baron who died in mysterious circumstances back in 1991.

Ghislaine then moved to New York and set up a new life and that's becoming the center of the investigation, it seems, after Epstein's death.

So, she often appears in the background of images related to this investigation -- alongside Donald Trump at a Clinton wedding. And also, alongside Prince Andrew who was with Virginia Giuffre, who claims that she was directed by Epstein to have sex with the prince, something that the palace vehemently denies.

Now, in these documents that are being unsealed, there are many references to Maxwell and they aren't complimentary. They talk about her being one of the main women -- a primary dame (ph) for an assisted internationally trafficking Guiffre and numerous other young girls for sexual purposes.

Maxwell hasn't made a public statement since Epstein's been charged. She's previously denied being involved in any of this. She hasn't responded -- her lawyers haven't responded to CNN's request for more information.

But we know that the -- as you were hearing earlier from Barr, this investigation, including the conspiracy charge, continue.

But according to "Washington Post" sources, they're struggling to locate her. They think she may have moved abroad. "The New York Times" suggesting she's in the U.K. and "The Guardian" saying she does have addresses in both London and Salisbury. So the search is on.

KOSIK: All right. Max Foster live for us from London -- thanks.

RIPLEY: This morning, the White House is moving to dramatically reduce legal immigration levels. A controversial new rule increases the administration's ability to reject green cards for immigrants who they think are likely to depend on the U.S. government aid. Things like food stamps, housing assistance, Medicaid.

The new criteria is designed to skew the process in favor of highly- skilled, high-income immigrants -- the kind that President Trump has said repeatedly he prefers.

The administration is reinterpreting an 1882 law known as the Public Charge Rule. This would clamp down on legal immigration. It was intended to make sure that immigrants would not become a public burden.


KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: Throughout our history, self-reliance has been a core principle in America. The virtues of perseverance, hard work, and self-sufficiency laid the foundation of our nation and it defined generations of immigrants seeking opportunity in the United States.

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): I think that he ignores the fact that many, many immigrants -- legal immigrants -- have come here, experienced some of those tough times, received assistance, and then went on to do great things for our country. And I hope that people remind him of that fact.


KOSIK: This reinterpretation of the Public Charge Rule is set to take effect in mid-October. It's already facing legal challenges. It comes just a week after a gunman in El Paso targeted Latinos.

California congresswoman Norma Torres, who came to the U.S. from Guatemala at the age of five, is slamming it. She calls the rule " excuse to rid the country of people who look like me."

RIPLEY: Guatemala has a new president-elect this morning. President Trump is probably taking notice. That's because Alejandro Giammattei has been an outspoken critic of an immigration deal his predecessor signed with the United States just last month.

Let's go live to London now and bring in CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. So, Nick, this immigration negotiation is going to be quite a test for the new president in Guatemala.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean, you could look at it, possibly, the deal's already been done by the current president on his way out, Jimmy Morales.

That was signed in the White House despite the fact that the Guatemalan constitutional court ruled that the Guatemalan Congress should get a say as to whether or not deals like that can, in fact, be signed. That view is being reiterated by Giammattei since he's won that particular vote.

[05:40:08] What does this deal do? Well, in short, it's an ugly term but kind of turns Guatemala into a holding facility for migrants trying to go north through Mexico to the U.S. border. Most migrants hitting the U.S.-Mexico border are from Central America.

Now, this border would -- this deal would say when you're in Guatemala you have to apply for asylum there. And if you fail to get that, well, then you can apply for asylum in the United States from Guatemala.

It essentially makes Guatemala the kind of end of the journey for anybody's who's not Guatemalan or Mexican. And even then, they've got to get through Mexico and its heightened restrictions as well. So it does potentially raise a big stop sign in Guatemala.

The side of that, of course, is complicated as many said this is against international law, U.S. law, and possibly Guatemalan law as well.

But the Trump administration made it absolutely clear that if this is not necessarily upheld or put into action then there may be economic consequences for Guatemala -- tariffs against it, possibly taxes on the many remittances that Guatemalans working in the U.S. send home. And, 42 percent of Guatemalan exports go to the United States.

So, essentially, Giammattei's choice is economic ruin, possibly, for U.S. actions or the damage that having hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers in Guatemala applying for asylum might actually do. Generally, though, the message is to the huddled masses, the U.S. is no longer open for your pleas for asylum -- Will.

RIPLEY: Nick Paton Walsh, live in London. Thank you.

KOSIK: A new threat to some of the world's most endangered animals. The Trump administration is announcing some of the broadest changes in decades to the landmark Endangered Species Act.

The new rules will make it easier to remove species from the endangered list and weaken protections for animals, plants, and other species already threatened by human activity and the escalating climate crisis.

The nation's premier wildlife conservation law is credited with bringing back the bald eagle and grizzly bears, among other species, from near extinction.

RIPLEY: The executive editor of "The Washington Post" claims Bernie Sanders is spreading a conspiracy theory. Twice on Monday, the Vermont senator suggested the newspaper's coverage is linked to its owner's business interests.

Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, also owns the "Post" and Sanders believes he is not receiving fair coverage because of his frequent criticism of Amazon.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you look at "The Washington Post", which is owned by the wealthiest guy in this country -- a guy named Jeff Bezos -- Amazon made $10 billion in profit last year. You know how much they paid in taxes? You got it, zero.

And you wonder why "The Washington Post" is not one of my great supporters. I wonder why?


RIPLEY: Marty Baron, of the "Post" -- he was quick to respond.

He says, quote, "Senator Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians of every ideology, who complain about their coverage. Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest."

I guess you know you're doing something right if everybody's ticked off at you.

KOSIK: I think --

RIPLEY: We know -- we know a thing or two about that here at CNN.

KOSIK: Oh, yes -- we do, unfortunately.

We've all had that feeling. You know, needing to clear our throats.

RIPLEY: Right.

KOSIK: Well, one man was having a real tough time clearing his throat. A stunning x-ray shows us why.


[05:47:29] RIPLEY: Breaking news from Hong Kong. Take a look at these live pictures.

Day two now that protesters have, once again, effectively shut down the airport. We've just learned check-in has been suspended. There is the potential for further flight disruptions.

Thousands of people, once again, streaming in, trying to stop flights from taking off and travelers from leaving town.

Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam says riot activities have pushed Hong Kong to the brink of no return.

Many are asking what's the endgame for these protesters. They say they want more independence from China, but as far as their specific demands -- well, they keep evolving.

There are also concerns that the Chinese government could intervene at some point if Hong Kong were to ask for that intervention.

Two new Ebola treatments are showing promise in the fight against an outbreak of the deadly disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is the second-largest outbreak ever, killing at least 1,800 people.

CNN's David McKenzie is live in Johannesburg. So, David, these are two drugs developed here in the U.S. How big of a difference could they make?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they really could be a game changer, Will. And for many years, Ebola -- this terrifying disease which even in this outbreak has killed 70 percent of people who get it -- what the doctors could always just give to these patients is palliative care. Basically, try and isolate them to stop the spread of the disease and then just give them basic things that couldn't actually help them.

There have been some drugs over the last years developed, but these two drugs could really change the game. They are basically developed by making synthetic antibodies that are given intravenously.

They found in this randomized trial, Will, that started in November in the Congo, that if they come early they can save 90 percent of the patients. So think of that human cost that Ebola has had over the years and what this could mean.

It also could mean, obviously, stopping the outbreak from spreading further if you can cure people and convince them to come into treatment centers.

One thing we found when we were in the Congo is there's so much mistrust because of the fear factor. If people get the word that now if they get to these treatment centers soon they can survive and be cured and thrive, this might really change the game when it comes to treating Ebola.

But they still have to do the fundamentals. Tracing the contacts and stopping people from moving into other parts of the Congo and infecting further.

[05:50:00] So this isn't the end of the road but a major positive story -- Will.

RIPLEY: Certainly an encouraging developing. David McKenzie live in Johannesburg, thank you.

KOSIK: OK, let's get a check on "CNN Business" this morning.

And, Morgan Stanley has a warning for its clients. The trade war with China will likely make the global economic slowdown worse.

We saw that fear on Wall Street play out Monday. The Dow dropping 391 points, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq losing a little more than one percent.

The mood not getting much better around the world. And futures, they're barely moving this morning, although they are down.

This escalation between the U.S. and China -- the trade war -- Morgan Stanley calling it precarious, warning that the next round of tariffs has the potential to cut into muscle.

President Trump unexpectedly announcing he would put a 10 percent tariff on another $300 billion in Chinese goods, going into effect on September first. That wave of tariffs would hit a wide range of good, including iPhones, auto parts, T.V.s, and it would harm consumer demand. Despite the president's claims that China pays for those tariffs, studies show that U.S. families and consumers -- they are the ones who pay the higher cost. Economists at the New York Fed studied the tariffs last year and they found the total cost to consumers was about $831 per household. The bill could rise from there with Trump's new tariffs next month.

Three major luxury brands are facing scrutiny from China over a controversial t-shirt. Coach and Givenchy have both apologized to Chinese consumers for t-shirts that appear to undermine China's "One China" policy just a day after Versace was forced to do the same.

Both designs neglected to identify Hong Kong as part of China while appearing to imply that Taiwan is an independent country.

Coach and Givenchy responded to the controversy online. Coach said it respects and supports China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, adding the shirt had already been pulled from all channels globally.

There are subscription clubs for just about everything, right? Well, how about one for your kids' sneakers? Just in time for back-to- school shopping, Nike has launched the Nike Adventure Club, a sneaker subscription for kids ages two through 10.

Nike hopes the program will attract time-strapped parents in the suburbs and rural areas who don't live near a shoe store. The kids' sneaker club allows Nike to test out the subscription market and potentially apply it to its adult shoppers. There is already a waitlist to join the service.

RIPLEY: So it's like a "Wine of the Month" club --

KOSIK: Kind of.

RIPLEY: -- for sneakers?

KOSIK: Kind of, yes. I love it.

We'll be right back.


[05:57:08] KOSIK: Potentially toxic tap water in New Jersey. The city of Newark is handing out bottled water from four city centers. Police -- people, rather, may have been drinking tap water contaminated with lead for months or even years. The EPA is advising the city to take the action.

A recent New Jersey health department report says Newark exceeds every other large municipality in the state in the number of children younger than six with elevated lead levels in their blood.

RIPLEY: Just over a year after the heartbreaking death of their daughter, Olympic skier Bode Miller and his wife, Morgan, say they're expecting twin boys.


RIPLEY: The couple's 1-year-old daughter, Emmy, drowned in a pool when Morgan was pregnant with their now-10-month-old son. The Millers have dedicated themselves to child drowning prevention and awareness.

In an Instagram post, Morgan says Bode always wanted twin boys born on his birthday, October 12th. They're expected to arrive in November, but Morgan says close enough. She says they knew Emmy had their hands -- had here hands in this miracle.

KOSIK: Oh, congratulations to them.

All right, it took eight days -- eight days to solve this mystery of a man's missing dentures and guess where they were? Oh, this x-ray shows the dentures were stuck in his throat.


KOSIK: According to a British medical journal, the 72-year-old's false teeth became lodged in his throat during surgery when the operating team failed to take them out. He finally came back to the hospital after having trouble breathing and eating solid food.

RIPLEY: So they're now calling to take the dentures out --


RIPLEY: -- before they have the anesthesia.

KOSIK: I think so.

RIPLEY: All right, we need to get this story in --

KOSIK: This is important.

RIPLEY: -- because L.J. says so.

It's never too early for a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte or is it? I would argue it is too early.

KOSIK: Soon, the Christmas decorations are going to come out in September.

RIPLEY: I know, right?

It's -- "Business Insider" is reporting that the coffee chain is returning its famous fall beverage to the menu in two weeks, on August 27th, the earliest that Starbucks has ever brought back the drink of the season.

But get this, Dunkin' Donuts, they're doing it a week earlier. They're rolling out their pumpkin drink on August 21st. It's like more than a month before autumn.

KOSIK: We're still in summer. We're still in summer. Still going to the beach, except for you. Let's go to the beach. RIPLEY: Are you ready to start your Christmas shopping.

KOSIK: Excuse me?

RIPLEY: Your Christmas shopping.

KOSIK: I'll drink the latte and leave it at that.

RIPLEY: I mean, you know, pumpkin spice.

KOSIK: All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Alison Kosik.

RIPLEY: I'm Will Ripley. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Epstein was supposed to be checked on every 30 minutes. He was left alone for hours.

BARR: This case will continue on. Any co-conspirators should not rest easy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We ought to be all very concerned the victims of his crimes will not see full justice and won't have their day in court.

CUCCINELLI: The virtues of self-sufficiency laid the foundation of our nation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: U.S. Immigration Services will factor in whether the immigrant receives public assistance. The government will consider those negative factors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He sets out a chilling effect. It certainly is not the way America should run.


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.