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Did Official Mean Lady Liberty Welcomes Only Europeans?; Push for Gun Legislation; Tariffs On Hold; NFL Teams with Jay-Z. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired August 14, 2019 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:18] ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: You're tired, poor, homeless huddled masses are welcome, but only from Europe? Hear what a top immigration official has to say.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Democrats refusing to give up the fight for tougher gun laws as a new timeline after the Dayton massacre leaves key questions unanswered.

KOSIK: Holiday shopping is months away, but it's close enough for President Trump to pause his tariff battle with China.

RIPLEY: And the NFL and Jay-Z are teaming up on a social justice campaign.

Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Will Ripley, in for Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. I'm sitting in for Christine Romans. It's Wednesday, August 14th. It's 4:00 a.m. in New York.

And we begin with a top U.S. immigration official seeming to suggest European immigrants are the only ones welcome in the United States. This all began Tuesday morning.

I want you to listen to Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services taking some creative liberties with the iconic Statue of Liberty poem with this interview with NPR.


RACHEL MARTIN, NPR HOST, "MORNING EDITION": Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus' words etched on the Statue of Liberty-- give me your tired, your poor -- are also part of the American ethos?

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: They certainly are. Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.


RIPLEY: Those comments come a day after the White House reinterpreted an 1882 public charge rule to limit legal immigration by denying green cards to people who require public assistance.

Last night, CNN's Erin Burnett tried to get Cuccinelli to explain his unusual take on the Lady Liberty's poem.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": So obviously, the actual poem is quite different. I'm going to read it.

CUCCINELLI: Right. I was answering a question. I wasn't writing poetry, Erin. Don't change the facts.

BURNETT: I'm not changing the facts. I'm just saying --

CUCCINELLI: You're twisting this like everybody else on the left has done all day today.

BURNETT: No, no, no, no, no -- no, no, because I think it's important.

CUCCINELLI: Of course, that poem was referring back to people coming from Europe where they had class-based societies where people were considered wretched if they weren't in the right class.


RIPLEY: For the record, a Kato Institute study shows in some cases, U.S. citizens eat up more public resources than immigrants. That includes things like Medicare and Social Security.

KOSIK: There is new video this morning from the Dayton massacre, but the surveillance footage and detailed timeline that's been released by police don't answer two critical questions -- why did it happen, and how to stop something like it from happening again?

The new images show gunman Connor Betts starting his evening without his weapon, visiting Blind Bob's Bar with his sister and a friend, and later another bar by himself. Eventually, he returns to his car, passing a police vehicle, and he changes into body armor. He gets a backpack weighted down with an assault-style rifle.

RIPLEY: Then he goes back to Blind Bob's, and he opens fire. From multiple angles, we see the crowd scrambling for cover. Police respond immediately, killing the gunman. In just 32 seconds, Betts fired 41 shots and killed nine people, and he injured another 17. One of the dead his own sister. Police remain divided on whether he actually intended to kill her.


CHIEF RICHARD BIEHL, DAYTON, OHIO POLICE DEPARTMENT: A lot of us have been involved in this dialogue. I mean, it's -- you know, we all have been reviewing this evidence, including the homicide detectives who are deeply immersed in this.

We have radically different views in that regard. And if we can't agree on the interpretation of the evidence where some are saying absolutely not -- he was not intentional and some say no, he had to be -- I would say it's inconclusive.


RIPLEY: We still don't know the gunman's motive. But police say their investigation does show he was obsessed with violence.

PAUL: And with that in mind, where is Congress on efforts to do anything about the gun epidemic? President Trump claimed on Tuesday that many Republicans support his push for strengthening background checks.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am convinced that Mitch wants to do something. I've spoken to Mitch McConnell. He's a good man.

He wants to do something. He wants to do it, I think, very strongly. He wants to do background checks -- and I do, too -- and I think a lot of Republicans do.


KOSIK: That view seems to conflict with what sources say GOP lawmakers are telling the president in private which raises the question whether this could be a repeat of Parkland. After that massacre, Trump said he would support expanded background checks. Then nothing happened.

Congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly has more from Washington.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Will and Alison, it's been less than two weeks since two mass shootings left 31 people dead, and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill are trying to ramp up the pressure -- ramp up the pressure on the Republican-led Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and President Trump to do something legislatively.

[04:05:06] Their primary push at this point in time, try and get the United States Senate to come back to Washington from their 5-week recess and consider and vote on a House-passed bill to expand background checks.

Here's the rub. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear that won't happen, at least bringing lawmakers back from recess.

What he has said instead is that lawmakers -- he has tasked lawmakers -- three chairmen, specifically -- to work on bipartisan proposals over the course of the next couple of weeks and then considered whether there is something to debate in September.

That is not good enough for Democrats. Take a listen to what House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had to say.

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): And I think the American people need to be outraged by that refusal to bring a bill supported by over 90 percent of the American people to the floor for consideration. Not to bring it to the floor is an abdication of his responsibility.

MATTINGLY: Now, the real question is what could actually pass a Republican-led Senate and a Democrat-led House and be signed into law by President Trump?

Keep in mind, President Trump has an extremely close relationship with the very powerful NRA and the NRA has made clear their position -- kind of a general no to any new gun laws that would be considered gun control -- has not shifted.

I'm also told on Capitol Hill there is growing skepticism amongst Republican aides as to whether or not anything substantive can actually get done, whether it be background checks or whether it be something that has bipartisan support: red flag laws.

There are a lot of concerns when you get into the details and that's the biggest issue here, guys. The details of what could be considered will make or break whether or not anything happens and whether or not anything moves forward -- guys.


RIPLEY: Walmart says it has removed about 1,000 third-party items from its website just in the last week. All for violating company policy on glorifying violence. The retailer sells 75 million online products. And while it claims to review them regularly, it admits it has shifted its focus to gun-related items after the massacre at one of its store. Walmart is facing intense pressure now to remove firearms from its break and mortar locations.

KOSIK: Jeffrey Epstein's suicide has exposed dire and widespread staffing shortages at the Bureau of Prisons. That warning coming from bureau employees and lawmakers. According to the employees' union, its members are overworked, forced to work overtime, and sometimes reassigned to guard duty. The warden at the New York detention center where Epstein died is being temporarily transferred out, and two employees in Epstein's unit are being placed on administrative leave. It's not clear if they were the ones on duty and supposed to be monitoring Epstein at the time of this death.

RIPLEY: There were surveillance cameras with a view of the hallway outside of Epstein's cell. Now, whether they reveal anything or were operational, well, we just don't know right now. A board of prisons after-action team that investigates major incidents is expected to arrive at the Metropolitan Corrections Center in Manhattan later today.

KOSIK: A delay in the tariff battle with China. The White House announcing some of the tariffs on Chinese goods set to go into effect in September will now be pushed back until December. Items like cell phones, video games, and toys won't be affected until

December 15th. However, goods like athletic apparel and sports equipment will still be hit with a 10 percent tariff on September 1st.

Here's what President Trump said about the decision.


TRUMP: Just in case they might have an impact on people, what we've done is we've delayed it so that they won't be relevant for the Christmas shopping season.


KOSIK: It was the first time Trump has publicly said that consumers would be hurt by tariffs. He has repeatedly claimed that China pays the cost, not U.S. businesses or customers or consumers.

The news sent stocks surging. The Dow closed up 373 points, recovering much of the losses from Monday's sell-off. Asian markets rallied as well, fueling hopes for a trade deal between the two countries.

And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and top Chinese negotiator Liu are expected to pick up negotiations by phone within two weeks. The two sides are scheduled to meet in person in September.

RIPLEY: Speaking of China, it may be nearing a tipping point following weeks of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Overnight, the Chinese government condemned what it called horrific, violent crimes at Hong Kong's airport. There were hundreds of flights canceled, thousands of protesters in the airport. They were detaining people in the crowd. The Chinese government called all of that terrorist acts.

There's new video released by Chinese state media showing military-run armed police assembling near Hong Kong's border. This is ahead of what the government calls large-scale exercises. The video is sped up with music added to make it more dramatic and perhaps intimidating.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is live at the airport in Hong Kong.

So, Paula, flights there have resumed at least for now?

[04:10:06] PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Will. Yes, this is like a normal functioning airport once again. There are a couple of differences, though, there's checkpoints before you get into the airport. There are officials who are checking your passport, checking you have a boarding pass, and checking that you're here for legitimate reasons really.

We've seen more of a police presence than we have over recent days, maybe to allay fears of any passengers, as well. But it's interesting what you were saying, Will. The fact that China is becoming quite vocal about what is going on, condemning what has happened overnight, calling it horrific, violent terrorist acts.

Now, they're using this word "terrorist" and "terrorism" frequently over recent days when talking about these protests. Also saying that all of those who have been involved must be severely punished due to the law.

Now, we did hear from one senior Trump administration official who said that if China were to get involved in the Hong Kong protests, trying to quell them, it would probably be because they believe that Hong Kong authorities have lost control, unable themselves to try and keep the peace here. Also saying this administration official potentially could be because they are interfering in commercial activities in Hong Kong. This is the perfect example of them interfering in those activities.

And of course more videos are surfacing, as you say, of a build-up of military vehicles driving around just across the border and those personnel. Now of course, there is the other side of this, that it could be a message to Hong Kong protesters, as well, showing what could happen if they continue to protest -- Will.

RIPLEY: Paula, I'm supposed to be catching a flight back there later today. Am I going to land?

HANCOCKS: At this point you are, as long as you come quickly. I think they have the airport situation under control.

RIPLEY: Paula Hancocks, live at the Hong Kong International Airport -- thank you.

A week after his daughter was reduced to tears, a father picked up in those Mississippi ICE raids, he's finally been tracked down.



[04:16:40] MAGDALENA GOMEZ GREGORIA, FATHER DETAINED BY ICE: My dad didn't do nothing. He's not a criminal. Government, please put your heart and let my parent be free with everybody else.


RIPLEY: You know, for a lot of people it's hard not to feel like you've been punched in the gut when you look at that clip from 11- year-old Magdalena. Her father who she was crying out for has finally been tracked down and the family was able to speak to him.

Andres Gomez Jorge was one of 680 people detained in workplace raids around Jackson, Mississippi. Magdalena and her mother -- they had no idea for days where he was after the ICE raid. They thought he might be in Louisiana.

KOSIK: But the family learned yesterday he's actually being held at a Mississippi detention center. Gomez Jorge is expected to appear before a judge later this week. CNN has learned he does not have a prior criminal conviction, even though the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection told CNN on Sunday that he had committed a crime.

It's still unclear if charges will be brought against owners and management who hired undocumented workers at the Mississippi plants that authorities have raided.

KOSIK: The FBI is investigating shooting incidents targeting two buildings in San Antonio, buildings with connections to Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE. Shots were fired early Tuesday morning into one building housing ICE offices and another nearby where an ICE contractor was located. The FBI says an unknown number of people in cars pulled up and started firing.

There's no question the suspects knew exactly which floors the ICE offices were on. Federal employees were inside one of the facilities when shots were fired. Nobody was hurt. Authorities have not linked the San Antonio shootings to the Mississippi ICE raids.

KOSIK: The distribution of water to Newark residents at risk of lead contamination is hitting a snag. Officials discovered the bottles were past their sell by date of May, 2019. The New Jersey Health Department says the date is a guideline and the water is safe to drink. The EPA ordered the city to give out the bottled water after it was determined that water filters were no longer working properly. It's not clear when lead began leaching into the Newark supply. This is a critical question, though, as lead contamination in water can damage a child's health.

Boeing's next model jet could be in jeopardy as the company grapples with the grounding of the 737 MAX.


[04:23:55] KOSIK: Boeing's 737 MAX crisis could derail the company's plans to develop a new midsize plane expected to be called the Boeing 797. The global grounding of the 737 MAX fleet following two crashes that killed 346 people has cost the company billions of dollars. Several industry experts say (AUDIO GAP) it's hanging by a thread. Last week, Boeing's CEO told investors a dedicated team continues to work on the 797. If Boeing does move forward, it hopes to have the 797 in the air by 2025.

RIPLEY: OK. So, even if you don't mind planes, you're not afraid to fly, this is not what you need to see moments before takeoff.

OK. These are passengers on Delta Flight 100. Somewhere in all that mist, can you imagine how anxious you'd feel?

This happened on Sunday night. Their Jacksonville to JFK flight had heavy fog conditions inside the cabin.

KOSIK: That's heavy.

RIPLEY: The extreme condensation lasted 30 minutes as the plane was sitting on the tarmac.


[04:25:04] AMANDA GONCALVES, PASSENGER ON DELTA FLIGHT: The flight attendants didn't really make an announcement. They just said that they were practicing for their Halloween haunted house and kind of make a joke of it.


RIPLEY: And a lot of the passengers weren't laughing, understandably, wondering what the heck was going on. Local affiliate WCBS did reach out to Delta for an explanation. They were told the incident is somehow related to humidity and it didn't even have to be reported to the FAA. Apparently, it just happens.

KOSIK: Where's the beef? Let's not talk about that. We're switching to a different story.

The NFL and Jay-Z's Rock Nation are teaming up for an entertainment and social justice venture. The league is announcing the long-term partnership, Rock Nation, will consult on the selection of talent for music and entertainment events including the Super Bowl halftime show. And they will be heavily involved in the NFL's social justice campaign, the Inspire Change Initiative.

It's also worth noting Jay-Z has been a real vocal supporter of Colin Kaepernick, who has essentially been iced out of the NFL for taking a knee during the national anthem.

A top immigration official revises the poem on the statue of Liberty. He says people are welcome here only if the huddled masses can stands on their own two feet. Asked about it on CNN, Ken Cuccinelli went a step further.


CUCCINELLI: Well, of course that poem was referring back to people coming from Europe where they had class-based societies, where people were considered wretched if they weren't in the right class.