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Puerto Rico Braces For Direct Hit From Tropical Storm Dorian; Reports Say Sackler Family Would Give Up Ownership Of Purdue Pharma; Lori Loughlin Fights Charges In College Admissions Scandal. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 28, 2019 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: -- and say that we got this done.

Immigration is the centerpiece of how he believes he'll be reelected. I think he worries less about the Jim Mattises of the world coming out and saying he's destroying the post-World War II international order. I think the president believes his core supporters will focus much more on this immigration issue.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And one last point, by the way.

If the people of conscience who are principal inside the White House are refusing to do it because it's illegal or unworkable, on some level to the campaign it doesn't matter.

I got a press release from them last night saying the wall's already being built. There's already miles of wall. I mean, they're just claiming that new wall is being built even though it's a refurbishing of a previously existing wall, so I don't know if they even have to build it. The campaign's already claiming that they are.

Thank you all very much for following along with us with all of this breaking news.

OK, we have more breaking news. It's very busy morning because on the heels of the Oklahoma opioid ruling, another major drugmaker could pay billions to settle thousands of lawsuits now. We have all the details in a live report, next.


[07:35:27] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The breaking news -- what will be Hurricane Dorian is bearing down on Puerto Rico. The storm strengthened overnight and the track is changing in a dangerous way. Forecasters now believe it will intensify to a category two storm or stronger as it takes aim at Florida over the next several days.

Chad Myers with us --


BERMAN: -- with the forecast -- Chad. MYERS: Yes, I think it's important to know, John, and notice that this thing could be all the way from Charleston to almost Miami-Dade. That's the way we're going to take a look at this 120 hours from now.

But let's focus right now on St. Croix and on Puerto Rico. That's where the storm is going now.

The storm, I believe, is getting its act together. The intensity is going up, the wind field is now going up. A hurricane hunter aircraft in it right now.

But you can see it from radar. That means it's close enough that we have to start worrying about winds and about waves because when you can't see it on radar, it's out in the ocean. You only can see it on satellite.

This is close enough to watch the eye as it starts to get closer to St. Croix, probably 75 miles from St. Croix right now. But the winds are going to start to pick up, the rain is going to start to come down.

The eastern half of Puerto Rico that was hit so hard by Maria will likely get six to eight inches of rain and winds somewhere in the ballpark of 70 miles per hour. Now, that's not Maria but that is certainly enough when your place is already where it was after Maria, trying to get it all back together.

Here you go from South Florida. One model maybe taking it back out to sea. I'll take that one if I can get it.

John, Alisyn, back to you.

CAMEROTA: Let's hope for that model. Chad, thank you very much for keeping us updated.

Also breaking news overnight. Reports say that the family that owns Purdue Pharma would give up control and pay billions of dollars as part of a proposed settlement on thousands of opioid lawsuits.

CNN's Alexandra Field is here with the details. Tell us about this news.


We're talking about $3 billion worth of Sackler family money, according to "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," and NBC News. NBC also reporting this could be part of a much larger settlement to the tune, potentially, of $10 billion to $12 billion.

This is money that would go to resolve claims against Purdue that it has fueled the opioid epidemic in this country. It's named in thousands of state and federal lawsuits. It's also fighting off a potential trial in the fall -- a federal trial that is set to take place in October that includes some 2,000 claims from various cities and counties, all of which want to see Purdue and other pharmaceutical companies held responsible for their role in the opioid crisis. Certainly, Purdue has tried to fend off these kinds of allegations in the past.

ProPublica has obtained some video of a deposition from Dr. Richard Sackler back in 2015. Listen to this.


ATTORNEY FOR THE STATE OF KENTUCKY: Do you know how much the Sackler family has made off the sale of OxyContin?


ATTORNEY FOR THE STATE OF KENTUCKY: But fair to say it's over a billion dollars?

SACKLER: It would be fair to say that, yes.

ATTORNEY FOR THE STATE OF KENTUCKY: Do you know if it's over $10 billion?

SACKLER: I don't think so.

ATTORNEY FOR THE STATE OF KENTUCKY: Do you know if it's over $5 billion?

SACKLER: I don't know.



FIELD: So that lawsuit was resolved through a settlement.

As for the talks now surrounding the possibility of another settlement, this is what Purdue is saying.

They put out a statement saying, "While Purdue Pharma is prepared to defend itself vigorously in the opioid litigation, the company has made clear that it sees little good coming from years of wasteful litigation and appeals. The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now."

And, Alisyn and John, obviously, these talks about a possible settlement would have been going on for some time at this time, but these details are breaking on the heels of this really landmark decision in Oklahoma where a judge sided with the state and decided that Johnson & Johnson was at fault in Oklahoma for fueling the crisis there.


CAMEROTA: It does feel like things are accelerating.

BERMAN: Yes, the ground has definitely shifted on these issues for these companies and these families.

FIELD: Pharmaceutical companies definitely taking note of that ruling.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Alexandra, thank you very much.

All right.

Former "FULL HOUSE" star Lori Loughlin fighting charges in the college admissions scandal. Will her legal strategy to fight the charges rather than plead guilty keep her out of prison? Our legal experts here, next.


[07:43:52] CAMEROTA: Former "FULL HOUSE" star Lori Loughlin and her husband vowing to fight the charges against them in the nationwide college admissions scandal.

The couple appeared in Boston federal court yesterday. They're accused of paying a half-million dollars in bribes to get their daughters into the University of Southern California. They face decades in prison if convicted.

So joining us now with whether this is a wise strategy, CNN legal analysts Areva Martin and Joey Jackson. Great to see both of you.

Joey, as we understand it, Lori Loughlin and her husband face something like 20 to 40 years for all of the charges in this admissions scandal. Whereas, Felicity Huffman -- the other actress -- she pleaded guilty already. She's facing four months in prison.

If Lori Loughlin were your client would you have had her take a plea deal?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There's no question. But just backing up a bit just for clarity -- Alisyn, good morning to you -- and that's this.

Look, usually you have these draconian measures of sentencing. There are two charges, one relating to the conspiracy fraud; the other charge relating to the money laundering by giving to this fake charity. They both carry 20 years.

Now remember, that would be concurrent sentencing. In English, that means that you do 20-20 -- they're both the same.

[07:45:01] CAMEROTA: That's cold comfort for Lori Loughlin, Joey.

JACKSON: No, no, no -- but, here's more -- here's more. The news gets better for her before I go back to the original point, quickly, and that is that you have these federal sentencing guidelines.

And although the actual offense is draconian, but the time you calculate who the person is, their prior history, no other criminal offenses, the nature of this offense, it gets you down into the number of years range. So it's nothing like that.

CAMEROTA: So what's she looking at? So -- but, OK, with your experience, you think she would be looking at how much time?

JACKSON: I'm thinking it's three to five years, ultimately, at the end of the day.

CAMEROTA: OK, OK, cold comfort.

JACKSON: Having said that, I would say that listen, the federal government -- generally, when they're investigating they do their investigation and then they arrest you. And so there's a lot of goods that they have in this case.

I think that it's often the play to take a plea when the getting is good. The more you push forward, the higher the stakes get. The more you hold the government to their burden of proof, the less it's possible that you can enter a plea deal that is outable, acceptable, and as you say, less of a comfort to anyone.

CAMEROTA: Hey, Areva, they -- what we understand from her team is that the argument they'll make is that Lori Loughlin and her husband thought they were making legitimate donations to the school, like charitable donations or legitimate donations.

What do you think of their defense, and would -- should she have taken a plea deal?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Yes, that's going to be a difficult argument to make, Alisyn, given what we hear about the government's evidence at this point. There are a couple of things that they did that fly in the face of this defense of ignorance.

One, there are these Photoshopped photographs of their two daughters who were pretending to be members of this crew team, and we now know that they were never members of any kind of professional or amateur or any kind of crew team.

And then there are these phone calls. Apparently, there are recorded phone calls between Lori and Rick Sanger, who was the head of this whole conspiracy, as well as between Lori's husband and Rick Singer, where they're talking about how they're going to lie to the IRS and how they're going to cover up these payments that were being made.

So I think they're going to have a difficult time making this argument that they didn't know that they were actually involved in the scheme to bribe coaches at USC to get their daughters admitted.

And what we're hearing from Lori's close associates and friends is that they don't think they did anything wrong, they don't understand why they've been charged, and that they didn't even understand the gravity of the charges that were brought against them.

And there's even some reports that there's some remorse that they didn't take the original plea deal that some of the other defendants in this case took and that they may be having second thoughts about that.

But I totally agree with Joey about the plea deal. And look, Joey, three to five years is a long way from a mansion in Bel Air and the celebrity lifestyle and the comforts that Lori and her husband have enjoyed for many years.

CAMEROTA: There's so much media interest, obviously, in this entire case.

"People" magazine has a cover story out this week of Lori and her daughters there. According to that source in "People" magazine, here is how she's feeling.

Quote, "She's embarrassed and hurt, and she knows that her reputation has been ruined for life. But she also believes the allegations against her are not true."

I'm also guessing from this Instagram photo, Joey, of her daughter, Olivia Jade, that they're not happy with the coverage. That is her daughter giving a hand gesture that I'm familiar with, being from New Jersey. I don't know if you are.

JACKSON: I never saw it.

CAMEROTA: Never saw it, OK. It's the middle finger and it's -- she tagged "The Daily Mail", "People" magazine, and every other media outlet, she's saying.

So obviously -- look, this is traumatic for everybody involved. But, Joey, are you saying that it is too late for her -- if she's having second thoughts, as Areva says, as "People" magazine says, is it too late now today to take a plea deal?

JACKSON: So, it's never too late and obviously -- look, she has the right to hold the government to their proof in the event there are these phone conversations, as Areva mentions in her excellent analysis.

However, you can always argue that that was what Rick Singer was saying. I said only "uh-huh" to what he was talking about. In addition to that -- listen, 'people give donations all the time. I don't know about your fake charity or not your fake charity.'

So what am I saying? She has a right to move forward, she has a right to her defense. Having said that, will it work, will it resonate? I don't think so.

So to this point, it's always the case you can walk into the government and say look, let's talk about what we can do that would be beneficial for the government. You get your conviction, my client pays her pound of flesh without going to jail for some extended period of time, and we all walk out of this.

But the other quick issue is the whole conflict issue, which is horrific and I think they should not have waived that.


So, Areva, we only have five seconds left. Would you tell her today to take a plea deal?

MARTIN: Absolutely, take the plea deal -- move forward. Try to get back your life.

She wants to act. She wants to be in the entertainment business and the longer this case draws out, the less likely it is that she'll ever return to her career as an actress.

CAMEROTA: Areva, Joey, thank you very much for all of your expert legal advice -- John.

JACKSON: Thanks, Alisyn.

BERMAN: On a related note, an about-face by the College Board. They have ditched its plan to assign an adversity score to every student who takes the SAT.

[07:50:05] The idea of an overall disadvantage number for every test- taker faced strong opposition from parents and educators. So the College Board, instead, unveiled a new admissions tool called Landscape. It will arrive at two socioeconomic ratings, one for the high school and one for the neighborhood where the student lives.

As I said, this is all related. This is all an effort to make getting into college more fair and even the playing field from people, perhaps, like Lori Loughlin and others who might take a different path.

We hear a lot about how the nation feels about the 2020 Democratic candidates, but what about their home states? The surprising results from the people who know the candidates best. Our reality check is next.


CAMEROTA: It is said familiarity breeds contempt.

BERMAN: That's what you tell me every morning.

CAMEROTA: Well, I feel that you're feeling that this morning --


CAMEROTA: -- also.

Is that true with the presidential candidates, not just co-anchors? Well, we look at how they poll in their own states.

[07:55:05] BERMAN: And the results, perhaps, not what you would think. John Avlon has the reality check -- John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, guys. So look, the primaries are on and the polling has just begun. But while caucusgoers in Iowa like to meet a candidate many times before they make up their mind, there's already an assessment for the candidates available from the voters who know them best. I'm talking about the major candidates' approval ratings in their home states and the results might surprise you.

For example, Elizabeth Warren is surging in national polls. She's attracting impressive crowds and speaks to real enthusiasm for her progressive policy-driven campaign. But in Massachusetts, where she's been a senator since 2012, Warren's favorability rating was just 49 percent in a local poll from last October.

Now, by comparison, the Republican governor of the Bay State, Charlie Baker, came in with a 71 percent.

And the neighboring state of Vermont, home to Bernie Sanders, doesn't do a lot of in-state polling but Sanders has been elected to the Senate three times there with an average of nearly 68 percent of the vote.

Now, how about Joe Biden? Well, the former V.P. hasn't served as a senator from Delaware since 2009. But at the end of his Senate career, he polled at a 65 percent job approval rating in-state. But interestingly, in his birth state of Pennsylvania, next door, where Biden leads the Democratic pack and President Trump, his in-state favorability rating in a recent poll is just 46 percent -- tough crowd.

And while we're in the mid-Atlantic, let's look at Cory Booker. Among New Jersey voters, Booker had a 50 percent job approval and 30 percent disapproval in a Rutgers poll from last fall.

And rounding out the top tier of senators are Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar. So, Quinnipiac surveyed California voters in July and found the freshman Sen. Harris is just a 46 percent approval rating, with 21 percent saying they hadn't yet formed an opinion about her.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar has a strong 61 percent in- state favorability rating, putting her at the top of the Senate crop this cycle.

How about the two candidates from Texas? Well, a Lone Star poll of voters from February found that Beto O'Rourke had a 44 percent approval rating. It's not great but it's almost double Julian Castro's 23 percent.

Montana's Steve Bullock is the only governor still on the race and he's got a strong 54 percent job approval rating in that red state.

Finally, let's look at Donald Trump's New York, which can also claim two Democratic candidates. Trump has just a 35 percent favorability rating in his home state. Sad, as he might say.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand edges him out with 41 percent. But Trump can take some comfort from the fact that he's still more popular than Mayor de Blasio statewide, who clocks in at just 26 percent.

So what are the key takeaways? Among the top-tier candidates for whom we have recent in-state polling that meets CNN's standards, only Amy Klobuchar, Steve Bullock, and Cory Booker are at or above 50 percent among their home-state voters.

It's fair to say that this broad crop of Democratic candidates are not particularly popular at home, but it might not matter. After all, Donald Trump got elected within the negative favorability ratings.

Iowa, still more than five months away, folks. A lot can and will change. But if you're looking to get to know the candidates better it's worth knowing what the voters think about them at home.

And that's your reality check.

BERMAN: You know, it's interesting -- you brought up Klobuchar and Steve Bullock. In the Suffolk poll out just this morning, not a single national respondent checked either box for those candidates. So they're at zero humans nationally, but high approval ratings in their home state.

AVLON: Which should count for something.

CAMEROTA: Indeed. Thank you very much, John.

BERMAN: All right.

Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM WITH MAX FOSTER" is next.

For our U.S. viewers, a brand new 8:00 a.m. update on the path of what will be Hurricane Dorian. We'll give you that new forecast. NEW DAY continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: Good morning, and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, August 28th. It's 8:00 a.m. in the East.

And we do begin with breaking news. The 8:00 a.m. update to what will be Hurricane Dorian -- a direct hit is expected. In fact, two direct hits on the United States.

You can see it right there. First up is Puerto Rico. The National Hurricane Center just releasing this.

The forecast track has changed. Dorian is now expected to make landfall over Vieques. That's right off the coast of Puerto Rico, and the eastern side of Puerto Rico, which was so badly affected by Hurricane Maria two years ago, and that could happen later today.

CAMEROTA: Then it is expected to strengthen into a category two or stronger hurricane. It will take aim at millions of Americans along the East Coast from Miami to South Carolina now. Dorian is a wild card, so we will speak live with the director of the National Hurricane Center in just moments about why this one is so hard to predict.

We're also following a new poll -- it is just being released at this moment -- that could have a major impact on the next Democratic debate. So we are pouring through the numbers right now. We will break them down for you very shortly.

But we do want to begin with the latest on Dorian, so we'll go live to Puerto Rico in a moment.

But first, let's bring in CNN meteorologist Chad Myers with the brand new update. What does it tell us, Chad?

MYERS: It is now, Alisyn, telling us it's 60 miles from St. Croix, heading to, like you said, to Vieques. Also, to the eastern side.