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EARLY START

Dorian Set To Hit Florida As Category One Hurricane; Sackler Family Could Give Up Purdue Pharma; British Prime Minister Asking Queen To Suspend Parliament. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 28, 2019 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:30:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The storm will hit Puerto Rico today.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Billions of dollars in company ownership on the line. The family blamed for helping spark the opioid crisis now in settlement talks.

ROMANS: Outrage at the attorney general. You won't believe where he's hosting a $30,000 holiday party.

BRIGGS: And in the midst of a chicken sandwich war, one of the combatants is out of bullets. What Popeyes is telling its hungry customers this morning.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans, hungry at 5:30 Eastern time.

BRIGGS: Always.

ROMANS: Thirty minutes past the hour here.

A major update now on this Tropical Storm Dorian. It is gaining more strength, now expected to strengthen into a category two hurricane by the time it makes landfall in Florida, with winds as high as 100 miles per hour. Now, it is expected first to hit Puerto Rico near hurricane strength today.

Late last night, President Trump approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico to speed up delivery of resources. More on that in a moment.

BRIGGS: Dorian is now forecast to strengthen into a category one hurricane by Friday evening before it makes landfall across the East Coast of Florida early Labor Day morning. A very dangerous Labor Day weekend from Miami all the way to Savannah.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri live for us this morning in the CNN Weather Center. Pedram, good morning.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning, Dave.

You know, this is an interesting storm because in the past 24 or so hours we've seen the track shift quite a bit to the east here and, of course, now approaching areas around the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico within the next six to eight hours. This has the potential to get up to very close to a category one system here as it approaches Puerto Rico.

And you take a look at this track. The official track now -- some of the outer edges -- the eastern fringe of this track actually pushing even away from Puerto Rico. So even the high likelihood this will make landfall somewhere around eastern Puerto Rico, there still exists a narrow window this could skirt or dodge Puerto Rico in its entirety.

If that is the case, of course, that is excellent news for Puerto Rico. It is bad news for the East Coast of the United States. Of course, the less interaction with land, the less interaction with mountains allows the storm to maintain and strengthen beyond what is currently forecast.

But you notice the hurricane hunters' reconnaissance aircraft there. Ten-second sustained winds already up to 70 miles per hour at one point within the last couple of hours. So this is already getting close to hurricane force on approach towards Puerto Rico.

And, again, has the potential here to skirt the eastern coast of Puerto Rico and it's certainly going to impact portions of the Virgin Islands.

With it, rainfall potential up to seven to 10 inches, easily the wettest day. I checked back the last couple of years. The wettest day since September 2017 when Hurricane Maria made landfall. So it's going to bring in quite a bit of rainfall towards San Juan and areas towards northeastern Puerto Rico.

But look at this. Towards Friday afternoon we go. A category one develops.

Beyond that, from Saturday into Sunday morning, the potential for category two just north of the Bahamas. Certainly, the Bahamas could be in the path of this storm system as well.

And the beyond, say, Sunday morning into early Labor Day, Monday morning, this could be a category two -- landfall somewhere around the eastern coast of Florida or southern portions of Georgia.

Keep in mind, margin of error for storms five days out is over 200 miles and this storm has had the trend in recent days here of shifting to the east. So it still exists, the chance here, the storm skirts away from Florida and even away from the United States. We're going to watch this throughout this weekend.

ROMANS: Yes, we know you'll be watching every one of those updates. Thank you so much for that, Pedram.

President Trump's emergency declaration for Puerto Rico came after a push from Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, and also after President Trump vented about the storm. "Wow! Yet another big storm heading to Puerto Rico. Will it ever end? Congress approved $92 billion for Puerto Rico last year, an all- time record of its kind for 'anywhere.'"

As we reported, those numbers are misleading. More than half of the money is based on White House estimates of potential costs over the next 20 years.

BRIGGS: Dorian is still growing but is already wreaking havoc. Look at this flooding on the island of Martinique to the southeast.

In Puerto Rico, the government says 90 percent of preparations are done. Officials say they're more ready now than they were for Maria two years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. WANDA VAZQUEZ GARCED, PUERTO RICO (through translator): Puerto Rico has been through worse situations. I trust in the people of Puerto Rico.

We are ready. We are going forward. We are going to wait and see how this emergency unfolds and we are going to be better prepared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The government says Puerto Rico has a 41-day stockpile of gasoline, infrastructure supplies across the island, 300 generators with 100 more on standby, and police and National Guard troops set to provide security at shelters.

ROMANS: Among other preparations, Miami-Dade County is sending a 45- member search and rescue to Puerto Rico.

Airlines and cruise lines, they're modifying their schedules. So check with your carrier before traveling through the area.

BRIGGS: As Tropical Storm Dorian bears down on Puerto Rico, the Trump administration is taking $155 million out of the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund to use it for immigration enforcement. The Department of Homeland Security confirms a total of $271 million, including the FEMA money, will be repurposed for immigration.

[05:35:10] Last week, the administration announced it intends to hold migrant families indefinitely, despite a legal settlement limiting family detentions to 20 days.

ROMANS: All right.

Breaking overnight, a prominent family would give up ownership of Purdue Pharma under a proposed settlement stemming from the opioid epidemic. The Sackler family would also pay at least $3 billion of their own money. This is according to multiple reports.

Purdue widely blamed for sparking and spreading the opioid crisis, introducing OxyContin in 1996 with aggressive marketing persuading doctors to prescribe it widely.

BRIGGS: NBC first reported settlement talks, saying Purdue is offering $10 billion to $12 billion total. Purdue Pharma confirms to CNN it is trying to settle. Two thousand cities, counties, and tribal lands are suing the company -- a trial set to begin in October.

This follows a landmark decision in Oklahoma where a judge ordered pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for its role in the state's opioid crisis.

ROMANS: All right, 36 minutes past the hour.

Today is the deadline for Democrats to qualify for the next debate two weeks from tomorrow. Ten candidates have qualified and those campaigns are hoping to keep it that way.

At least one poll is coming out this morning. If businessman Tom Steyer tops two percent in one more DNC-approved poll, he'll be the 11th candidate to meet the criteria. And then, with 11, the debate will be split into two nights.

That has caused grumbling among some top-tier campaigns. One aide saying it's a disservice to primary voters, saying, quote, "They want to see Biden, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Buttigieg." They've been the consistent top-tier for months now.

BRIGGS: Former Vice President Joe Biden sat down Tuesday with several black journalists repeating his argument he is the most electable candidate, even as other candidates draw bigger crowds, like Elizabeth Warren, whose crowd size got the attention of President Trump on Twitter.

Biden will be on the trail today in South Carolina, but it's Warren getting buzz there.

She will hold a town hall next week in Orangeburg with Congressman Jim Clyburn on student debt relief. Not an endorsement but still a very important appearance. Clyburn is considered the biggest Democratic in the state with a lot of black voters, a demographic where Warren trails.

ROMANS: The attorney general, Bill Barr, is planning a holiday party for 200 people in December and he booked it at President Trump's Washington, D.C. hotel, fueling more questions about his independence.

"The Washington Post" obtained the party contract Barr signed. He will pay for the gathering himself, eventually writing a check to the hotel for more than $30,000.

According to the Justice Department, the attorney general chose the president's hotel because other hotels were booked. A DOJ official says ethics officials were consulted and that it is not the purpose of the party to curry favor with the boss.

BRIGGS: Breaking moments ago, an extraordinary move in the U.K. The British prime minister will ask Queen Elizabeth to temporarily suspend Parliament, part of an elaborate plan to tie the hands of lawmakers who want to prevent a no-deal Brexit at the end of October.

For the latest, we turn to Nic Robertson, live in London. Good morning, sir.

So this, in all likelihood, makes a no-deal Brexit even more likely. Good morning.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It does, Dave. Good morning.

The battle lines are being drawn even more deeply here. This is uncharted territory. The fact that the Queen was consulted while she was on vacation in Scotland is utterly extraordinary.

And what Boris Johnson has done here is to recognize that the opposition members of Parliament who met yesterday, who are trying to plot and plan a way to stop him taking Britain out of the European Union without a deal that many analysts say and even government officials say would be detrimental to the economy, he --

What he has done is recognize the strength of their argument, the strength of their case that if they can't get a vote of no confidence to bring down his government, they would find a legal mechanism to block his no-deal Brexit.

So what Boris Johnson has done here has swept all of that aside and cut down the amount of time that they will have to debate what legal mechanism Parliament can find to block his no-deal Brexit.

This is -- this is not utterly unexpected. It is out of the bounds of normal Parliamentary business.

What Boris Johnson says in his statement today is there will still be time to talk about Brexit and those issues once Parliament resets. But that time will literally be about a week or so immediately before the deadline on the 31st of October.

[05:40:03] Boris Johnson says that this is a way to bring fresh focus and fresh debate to his number one priority, which is Brexit. The battle lines are drawn. This is -- this is deep political maneuvering.

BRIGGS: All eyes now on the response from the Queen.

Nic Robertson live for us in London this morning. Thank you, sir.

ROMANS: All right.

Speaking of battle lines, President Trump renewing his attacks on the Fed, blaming the Fed for the U.S. manufacturing slump.

Here's the tweet. "The Federal Reserve loves watching our manufacturers struggle with their exports to the benefit of other parts of the world."

Now, the manufacturing sector is struggling but the problem is the trade war with China and the slowing global economy, not the Fed. Rising tariffs have made materials more expensive and the sector is shrinking for the first time nearly a decade. Remember, the president's manufacturing and his trade strategy is to help manufacturing, but it's shrinking because of his trade strategy.

Trump's latest attack on the central bank came after this scathing op- ed from former New York Fed president, Bill Dudley.

In it, Dudley suggests the Fed should not enable Trump's trade war and should ignore his calls for a rate cut, writing, "This manufactured disaster-in-the-making presents the Federal Reserve with a dilemma: Should it mitigate the damage by providing offsetting stimulus" -- that's cutting rates -- "or should the Fed refuse to play along?"

The timing of Dudley's column is interesting with the new round of tariffs scheduled to kick in on Sunday.

And the Fed, by the way -- a spokeswoman for the Fed rejected Dudley's opinion, telling "The New York Times" the political considerations play absolutely no role in the Fed's policy decisions.

The White House declined to comment on Bill Dudley's suggestions that the -- basically, the Fed should let the economy fall off a cliff to prevent Trump from being reelected so that the Fed could maintain its independence and pick up the pieces after.

BRIGGS: Well, is it their job to minimize the damage of the president's trade war?

ROMANS: If the president's trade war then damages employment growth and the inflation picture in the U.S., then you can move two steps forward.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: But the Fed's job is to be a shock absorber on the car that is the American economy. But when the driver of the car, the president, is steering it into a ditch --

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: -- what's the Fed supposed to do?

BRIGGS: Confrontation of our times, oddly, between the president and the Fed.

Ahead, an important recall for parents with kids just heading back to school.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:46:38] ROMANS: All right.

Breaking overnight, the family of a Minor League pitching prospect killed in a triple homicide. The wife, child, and mother-in-law of Blake Bivens, a pitcher in the Tampa Bay Rays organization -- they were killed in Virginia.

Police say they arrested Bivens' 18-year-old brother-in-law and charged him with first-degree murder.

Bivens' team, the AA Montgomery Biscuits, postponed their scheduled double-header last night.

The Tampa Bay Rays saying, in part, "Our hearts are broken for Blake. We are grieving with him and will support him any way we can."

BRIGGS: One of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation is on hold. A federal judge blocking Missouri from banning most abortions after eight weeks. His ruling coming less than 24 hours before the new law was set to take effect.

The decision marks a significant win for the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, which operates the state's only abortion clinic in St. Louis.

Missouri's attorney general says he is, quote, "deciding on the next steps."

ROMANS: It was not the day in court they deserved, but 16 Jeffrey Epstein accusers finally had a chance to pour out their anger publicly. A Manhattan judge giving them the opportunity they were denied when the convicted predator took his own life behind bars.

One by one, the victims called Epstein a coward as they relived their horrifying encounters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHAUNTAE DAVIES, EPSTEIN ALLEGED VICTIM: It was both empowering and infuriating to know that the person who I needed to hear those words is not here to hear them. It makes me sick to my stomach that there's perpetrators out there that obviously helped him in many ways for a very long time and they're still out there with no punishment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Epstein's alleged victims are asking prosecutors to continue their investigation.

Attorney General Bill Barr has said potential co-conspirators should not rest easy.

BRIGGS: A stolen police cruiser was going 97 miles an hour when it hit a minivan in Dayton, Ohio, killing two 6-year-old girls.

Police say the father of the suspect, Raymond Andrew Walters, was trying to take him to a hospital for mental health issues Monday, but when the suspect realized where they were going he began attacking his father and took off in his truck.

Minutes later, after crashing into a tree, he took control of a responding officer's cruiser. The officer tased Walters twice but that didn't stop the suspect from taking off.

Walters had been on active parole.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF FRANK ROBINSON, RIVERSIDE POLICE DEPARTMENT, DAYTON, OHIO: His behavior at the scene, prior drug history, and other information leads us to believe that methamphetamine may be a factor -- may be. We need to confirm that but there certainly is strong suspicion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: A third child is in critical condition.

Police say they expect to pursue murder charges.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on "CNN Business" this morning.

Uncertainty about the U.S.-China trade war still clouding markets. You can see a mixed response around the world on trading overnight and this morning.

On Wall Street, futures barely moving here. You know, stocks fell back from Monday's gains yesterday as investors worried about recession warning signs still flashing in the bond market.

The Dow closed down 121 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell slightly. There are just three trading days left in the month and stocks are being moved higher and lower with every recession and trade headline.

But consumers are still fueling this economy. Consumer confidence data for August showed shoppers are far more confident than many economists thought. The strong labor market helping shoppers set aside their worries about the trade war right now between the U.S. and China.

[05:50:08] A top Lowe's executive is apologizing after saying this about a power drill in a corporate video to employees Monday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE MCFARLAND, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF STORES, LOWE'S: And the thing is compact. It fits anywhere -- small hands, right? So those customers that really had the affinity towards Makita, some of our Hispanic pros with smaller hands, this is perfect for them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: "Hispanic pros with smaller hands."

Joe McFarland, Lowe's executive vice president of stores -- well, he apologized after employees called his comments offensive.

McFarland said this. "I am sorry for a careless and ignorant comment I made during an associate broadcast yesterday." He said he takes full responsibility for those comments.

And, Lowe's did not say whether he would face any kind of consequences.

All right, are you too lazy or too cheap to pay $2,500 for, you know, Peloton, the at-home exercise bike craze?

Well, OK, you can buy the stock instead. Peloton gearing up to go public. The indoor fitness startup filed paperwork for an IPO Tuesday -- finally -- we've been looking for this for some time, right --

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: -- looking to raise $500 million.

What we found out about its business, right -- Peloton made $915 million this year, doubling last year's revenue. Peloton says it has over 1.4 million members, which includes anyone with a Peloton account -- about 511,000 active bike users.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:55:56] BRIGGS: North Carolina is suing eight e-cigarette companies for unlawfully targeting children in their ads. It's the latest effort by the state to combat youth vaping.

Back in May, North Carolina's attorney general filed a similar lawsuit against Juul, the leading e-cigarette manufacturer, claiming the company marketed its products to teens.

ROMANS: Millions of Contigo kids' water bottles are being recalled because of a choking risk. The silicone spout on the bottle can detach on 13, 14, and 20-ounce bottles and pose a choking hazard.

The company says there have been nearly two dozen incidents where a spout was discovered in a child's mouth. No injuries reported.

These bottles were sold nationwide and online between April 2018 and June 2019.

BRIGGS: OK, this is freaky. A clown mask, a gun, and 50 bullets. That's what police in New York say an ex-convict was carrying when he was arrested for sneaking into a government building.

Rahmeek Younger was released from prison in April after serving time on a weapons charge.

Police say he was carrying a loaded 22-caliber semiautomatic weapon when another visitor in the Brooklyn building spotted the gun in his bag and alerted an officer to call 911.

No explanation yet for the rather unusual cargo.

Leslie Jones, one of "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE's" most popular cast members, is leaving the show after five seasons. She was known for her frequent appearances on "Weekend Update," taking on a slew of hot- button topics -- most recently, Alabama's abortion ban legislation.

She's leaving to focus on other opportunities, like an upcoming Netflix stand-up special.

ROMANS: All right.

A true bond of brothers displayed by two Marine veterans in the mountains of Utah. John Nelson and Jonathan Blank served together in Afghanistan 10 years ago where Blank lost both of his legs in an explosion.

On an emotional journal to the Utah mountaintop, Nelson carried Blank on his back for more than 14 miles of steep terrain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN BLANK, MARINE CORPS VETERAN WHO LOST HIS LEGS: We shed a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get to where we were and it was all worth it.

JOHN NELSON, MARINE CORPS VETERAN: I got legs, I got legs. I couldn't imagine if I -- (crying).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: On Veterans Day, Blank and Nelson are planning to hike Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in California, more than 14,000 feet. Good luck to them.

BRIGGS: Extraordinary sacrifice and service.

All right, if you love your fried chicken crispy and quick, you won't love hearing this. Popeyes has sold out of its popular new chicken sandwich nationwide.

The fast-food chain says due to extraordinary demand, they sold out in just two weeks. They projected inventory would last until the end of September. Popeyes says it's working to bring the crowd-pleaser back as soon as possible.

Customers have been flocking to Popeyes after a Twitter feud between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A over who has the best chicken sandwich.

And, apparently, we are in need of comfort food because KFC sold out of their "Beyond Chicken" at one location --

ROMANS: That's right.

BRIGGS: -- in less than five hours. People were lined up at 8:00 a.m. for fried chicken.

ROMANS: Which one's the best? All of them. I love all of them.

BRIGGS: (INAUDIBLE). ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, August 28th. It's 6:00 here in New York.

And the breaking news, bracing for a direct hit. In fact, not one, but two direct hits. Puerto Rico, then Florida. You need to pay attention here because there has been an important and dangerous shift in the forecast for what will be Hurricane Dorian.

This is the current situation. Overnight, the storm got stronger. It is now headed straight for Puerto Rico. Impact is expected in just a few hours right through the eastern side of the island, which has been among the slowest to recover from Hurricane Maria two years ago.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Obviously, this is the last thing they need.

Then, all eyes will be on Florida. Everyone from Miami to Savannah, Georgia needs to be on alert this morning as Dorian is forecast to gain strength to a category two storm before it makes landfall in the.

END