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Limited Liberty?; Push for Gun Legislation; Tariffs On Hold; NFL Teams with Jay-Z; Flight Resume After Chaos at Hong Kong Airport; A$AP Rocky Verdict Coming in Hours. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 14, 2019 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:42] WILL RIPLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Your tired, poor, homeless, huddled masses are welcome, but only from Europe. Hear what a top U.S. immigration official has to say.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Democrats refusing to give up the fight for tougher gun laws as a new time line of the Dayton massacre leaves key questions unanswered.

RIPLEY: Holiday shopping thankfully still months away even though the pumpkin spice lattes are like weeks away. But it's close enough for President Trump to pause his tariff battle with China.

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

Good morning and welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik.

RIPLEY: I'm Will Ripley. Thirty-one minutes past the hour here in New York.

And we begin with a top U.S. immigration official seeming to suggest that European immigrants are somehow the only ones welcome in the United States. This all began on Tuesday morning. Listen to Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, taking liberties with the iconic statue of liberty poem in 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.


KOSIK: Those comments came 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 on CNN's Erin Burnett, she tried to get Cuccinelli to explain his unusual take on 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.


KOSIK: OK, for the record, a Cato Institute study shows in some cases U.S. citizens eat up more public resources than immigrants. That includes Medicare and Social Security.

RIPLEY: There is new video from the Dayton massacre. But the surveillance footage and detailed timeline released by police, they really don't answer two crucial questions -- why did it happen and how to stop something like it from happening again. The new images show gunman Connor Betts beginning his evening without his weapon, visiting Blind Bob's Bar with his sister and a friend, and then later, another bar by himself.

Eventually, he returns to his car, passing a police vehicle, by the way, and that's when he changes into the body armor, and he gets a backpack weighed down with an assault-style rifle.

KOSIK: He returns to Blind Bob's and opens fire. From multiple angles, we see the crowd scramble for cover. Police respond immediately killing the gunman. In just 32 seconds, Betts fired 41 shots, killing nine people, injuring another 17.

One of the dead, his own sister. Police remain divided on whether he 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.


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

RIPLEY: So, with all that in mind, here's a simple question -- where is Congress on efforts to do anything about America's 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.


RIPLEY: That seems to conflict with what sources say GOP lawmakers are actually telling the president in private which raises the question whether this could be a repeat of Parkland.

[04:35:03] Remember after that massacre, Trump said he would support expanded background checks, then absolutely nothing happened.

CNN 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.

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 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 all of them regularly, it admits it's shifted its focus lately to gun-related items after the massacre at one of its store. Walmart is facing intense pressure right now, pressure to remove firearms from its brick 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 his death.

RIPLEY: There were cameras with a view of the hallway outside Epstein's cell. But whether they reveal anything or were even operational, well, that's not known. Aboard a prison's after action, the kind of 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.

The delay means a tariff hike right before Christmas, but long after holiday items have been imported into the U.S. 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 but not U.S. businesses 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, they rallied, as well, fueling hopes for a trade deal between the two countries. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and top officials are expected to pick up negotiations by phone within two weeks. The two sides are scheduled to meet in person in September.

RIPLEY: The trade war with the U.S. is just one issue that China has to deal with now. China may be nearing a tipping point after this -- weeks of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Overnight, we heard from the Chinese government condemning what it called horrific, violent crimes at Hong Kong's airport. Hundreds of flights canceled. Some people detained by the crowds and tied up. China calling those terrorist acts.

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

So, the question is whether this is all propaganda or whether the mainland is actually getting ready for some kind of intervention here.

Let's go to CNN's Paula Hancocks live at the airport in Hong Kong where at least the good news this hour, the flights have resumed.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Will. This is a normal functioning airport once again. Now, there are a couple of differences. There's a checkpoint as you come into the airport, officials are making sure you have a passport and a boarding pass if and you are here for the right reasons. They don't want too many protesters if any coming in. There's also more of a police presence here. Now, we don't know if

that's actually to allay any fears that passengers may have, as well, just that they are being seen within the airport. But as you say, we are hearing a lot more from Beijing at this point condemning words about the violence overnight between the police and the protesters, squarely putting the blame for that on the protesters.

Now, we did hear from one senior U.S. Trump administration official saying that if China does decide to intervene in Hong Kong and in trying to quell protests, it will probably be because they believe the Hong Kong authorities have lost control and do not have control of the situation. The administration official also saying it could be because they believe that the protesters are intervening too much and disrupting too much the commercial activity in Hong Kong.

This is exactly what they have been doing over the past couple of days here in the airport. And we also know that the U.S. Navy was going to have a port call at a Hong Kong port which has happened many times in the past. That has now been denied by China while these protests are going on -- Will.

RIPLEY: All right. As we've seen, the things could change quickly in the coming hours, which is why you're out there. Paula Hancocks, we appreciate it. Live at the Hong Kong International Airport where I'm supposed to be landing if my flight actually makes it --

KOSIK: Safe travels --

RIPLEY: Taking off in a few hours. We'll see.

KOSIK: Well, let's hope the airport stays clear there.


KOSIK: All right. A week after his daughter was reduced to tears, a father picked up in those Mississippi ICE raids has finally been tracked down.



[04:48:21] 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.


KOSIK: Nearly a week after this tearful video plea from 11-year-old Magdalena, her father has finally been tracked down. And the family was able to speak to him.

Andres Gomes Jorge was one of 680 people detained in workplace rapes around Jackson, Mississippi. Magdalena and her mother had no idea where he was after the ICE raid. He was thought to be in Louisiana. RIPLEY: But the family learned yesterday he's actually being held at

a Mississippi detention center. 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 not clear if charges will be brought against owners and management, you know, the people who actually hired all these undocumented workers at the Mississippi plants that authorities raided.

KOSIK: The FBI is investigating shooting incidents targeting two buildings in San Antonio with connections to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. 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 and cars pulled up and began firing.

There is no question the suspects knew which floors the ICE offices were on. No one was hurt, and authorities have not linked the San Antonio shootings to the Mississippi ICE raids.

RIPLEY: A flight attendant for Israel's El-Al airlines has died months after contracting the measles. Forty-three-year-old Rotem Amitai flew from New York to Tel Aviv just days before she got sick and slipped into a coma back in March. Israeli health officials say it's not clear if she was infected on a flight in New York or in Israel.

Measles deaths are rare in Israel and the United States, but both countries are experiencing outbreaks right now. There have been 4,300 reported measles cases in Israel since March of 2018. And here in the U.S., the measles outbreak continues to grow. The CDC says there have been more than 1,100 confirmed cases in 30 states this year.

KOSIK: OK, switching gears, want to get your hands on the latest smart sunglasses? It's going to cost you a pretty hefty price. CNN Business has the details next.


[04:51:28] RIPLEY: In Sweden, just hours from now, a verdict is expected in A$AP Rocky's assault trial. The American rapper was tried in Stockholm earlier this month and he was allowed to return home to the U.S. to await this verdict.

CNN's Hadas Gold is in London following this.

And it's not so simple if he's found guilty of just not going back to Sweden because Sweden has extradition agreements with pretty much every Western country, including the U.S.

HADAS GOLD, CNN REPORTER, EUROPEAN POLITICS, MEDIA & BUSINESS: That's true. However, the fact that he was allowed to return to the United States to wait that verdict gives us potentially some clues that he may not be facing jail time. The prosecutors had asked the judge for a six-month sentence. He could actually be facing up to two years in prison according to

Swedish law. He could also be facing fines based off of his daily income. But like I said, the fact that he was allowed to go home does give us some indication he may not be facing jail time.

Now, obviously, this was an incident that turned into an international diplomatic incident because of President Trump's involvement. He said in several tweets a few weeks ago that after receiving phone calls from rapper Kanye West, that he was advocating on behalf of A$AP Rocky, he lashed to the Swedish prime minister, saying he couldn't believe that he wasn't getting more involved.

And the Swedish came back and said, listen, our prosecutors are completely independent from the political system. In fact, President Trump even asked his special envoy for hostage affairs to send letters and interact with Swedish officials to advocate on behalf of A$AP Rocky.

[04:55:07] Now, A$AP Rocky has alleged that he was only acting in self-defense in this brawl that occurred on the streets of Sweden. Like I said, he was allowed to go home. We are expecting that verdict in a few hours, around 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time is when we'll hear the verdict, shortly after we'll hear from the judge and the attorneys in the case.

RIPLEY: Something tells me President Trump might be tweeting about it, as well. Maybe me learned his lesson after messing things up the last time.

Hadas Gold, live in London, thank you.

KOSIK: The San Francisco School Board voting to keep a controversial mural at George Washington High School, but it will stay covered up. The 1935 work of art depicts enslaved Africans working in cotton fields on George Washington's estate. It also shows white settlers stepping over a body of a dead Native American.

In a 4-3 vote last night, the board decided to cover the mural rather than painting over it. Actor Danny Glover, a George Washington alum, is against the decision. He compares covering the mural to book- burning, saying it eliminates, quote, the opportunity for enhanced historic introspection.

RIPLEY: No more burgers, no more burritos, or no more all-beef franks at one university in London. Can you imagine if an American university tried to do that? People would riot.

KOSIK: And California would be OK.

RIPLEY: But at Goldsmiths University, they are banning all beef products from food outlets on its South London campus. And the reason is something that we've been talking a lot about, the fight against global warming, and particularly the environmental impact of beef.

Students will be charged an extra 12 cents if they want bottled water and single-use plastic cups to encourage them to bring their own containers and whatnot. The university's top official says declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words. And as Nick Paton Walsh told us, beef production along accounts for about 6 percent of global green greenhouse gas emissions.

KOSIK: Baby steps.


KOSIK: All right. Moments before takeoff, this is not what a nervous flyer wants to see. You're looking at passengers literally on Delta flight that we're talking about, Delta Flight 100. Somewhere in all that mist they're sitting. They grew anxious Sunday when their Jacksonville to JFK flight experienced heavy fog conditions inside the cabin. The extreme condensation lasting 30 minutes as the plane sat on the tarmac.


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.


KOSIK: Ha, ha, ha, I don't think it's very funny.

RIPLEY: I'd be like, OK, but tell me what's actually happening, please.

KOSIK: I know, right? Local affiliate WCBS reached out to Delta for an explanation. They were told the incident was related to humidity and did not have to be reported to the FAA.

RIPLEY: The NFL and Jay-Z's Rock Nation are teaming up for an entertainment and social justice nature. The league is announcing this 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.

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

KOSIK: All right. Let's check CNN Business this morning.

It's a media reunion for CBS and Viacom. The two companies announcing Tuesday they're merging to become Viacom CBS. The long-awaited deal between the two puts some of the biggest brands including Showtime, MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, and Comedy Central under one corporate banner.

CBS and Viacom used to be one but split in 2016, the deal comes during a volatile period in the media industry. Multiple other companies have done similar deals in an attempt to combat challenges from digital rivals. The merger creates a company with more than $28 billion in revenue.

OK. Snapchat not giving up on its smart sunglasses, announcing spectacles three, the latest version of its video recording sunglasses with new 3D effects. It also comes with an eye-popping price tag of 380 bucks. More than double the cost of its previous version.

So, here's the thing, this isn't the first time Snapchat has tried these smart glasses. After the hype of its first spectacles kind of fizzled out, the company had to take a nearly $40 million write-down for excess inventory. So, this time spectacles three are a limited edition product. Snap said it will produce less of them, that it has in the past.

The glasses are available for preorder now. So get your glasses. Although are you on Snapchat? I'm not.

RIPLEY: These are not smart glasses.

KOSIK: It can make you look smart.

RIPLEY: I was going to say. Looks can be deceiving.

Anyway, for our international viewers, we want to say thank for joining us. Have a great rest of your day.

And for our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.


KOSIK: Your tired, poor, homeless, huddled masses are welcome but only from Europe. Hear what a top immigration official has to say.

RIPLEY: Democrats refusing to give up the fight for tougher gun laws as a new timeline of the Dayton massacre shows 26 people shot in just 32 seconds.