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EARLY START

Category One Dorian Sideswipes The Carolinas; Body Bags And Coolers Are Being Transported To The Bahamas; Former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe Dies At 95; Washington Post Reports Trump Personally Altered Hurricane Dorian Map. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 6, 2019 - 05:30   ET

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


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[05:30:38]

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Hurricane Dorian now closer than ever to the U.S. coastline, lashing the Carolinas and spawning at least two dozen tornadoes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN HAVANA-BASED CORRESPONDENT: This whole town is gone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Hundreds are missing as the death toll from Hurricane Dorian climbs in the Bahamas.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, Zimbabwe's hero-turned-tyrant, Robert Mugabe, has died.

ROMANS: Plus, "The Washington Post" says it has solved the SharpieGate mystery. Guess who altered the infamous weather map with a marker? Hmm.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Maybe we can move on -- doubtful. I'm Dave Briggs -- 5:31, everybody. Happy Friday.

Breaking this morning, Hurricane Dorian creeping slowly northeast just off the Carolina coast, trailing a path of destruction. In just the last few hours it has now weakened to a category one hurricane. At least five are dead in the United States.

Dorian's high winds and lightning strikes leaving more than 293,000 customers in North and South Carolina without power.

Let's get right to Allison Chinchar with the latest from the CNN Weather Center. Good morning, Allison.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And, good morning. Yes, we take a look at the current statistics. Winds are sustained at 90 miles per hour. Unfortunately for places like Morehead City, which didn't technically get a real landfall. but they've been in that eyewall now for quite a bit of time and are likely going to stay that until the storm continues off to the northeast at about 14 miles per hour.

Flooding is still expected to be the main concern. We've got flash flood warnings and flood watches out for at least a half a dozen states here as the flooding threat continues not just here in the Carolinas but eventually, this will slide up into the Northeast as well. The heaviest rain right now is located along these outer banks and portions just east of Greenville, North Carolina.

We have had some tornado warnings the last few days. In fact, over 20 reported tornadoes in just the last 48 hours. That threat is still possible going through the remainder of the morning today as those outer bands continue to push onto the shore.

Here's a look at the forecast radar. Notice by about 9:00-10:00 this morning the center of circulation is expected to be over Hatteras. This could potentially be our landfall point for Hurricane Dorian. But any shifts in that track, if it continues to move a little bit farther to east we may miss a landfall entirely, just getting some of those strong winds out here.

But notice even other places. Look at this. I mean, portions of Connecticut, portions of Massachusetts, even Maine likely going to get some rainfall from this storm, albeit they will be very far distance away. They're not likely to get quite the same impacts that the Carolinas, and Georgia, and Florida did.

Look at some of the numbers coming in out of some of these high rainfall totals. Areas in both North and South Carolina picking up over 10 inches of rain, Dave. And for some places, we're still going to see those numbers going up.

BRIGGS: Still a lot to come. Allison, thanks so much.

ROMANS: OK. One of the cities on that list, Charleston, is where CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam is live there for us this morning. What's the situation in the Carolinas, Derek?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning, Christine.

This is a city that is breathing a sigh of relief because they were spared the worst from Hurricane Dorian. At the peak of the storm there were over 110 road closures here, 50 traffic lights not working, and there were over 160 trees that were toppled as well.

What we've seen just from driving around is that the damage that was inflicted on the city was actually more wind-driven versus storm and flash flooding-driven.

This is an example just to my left. We're in the historic district downtown, of Charleston, and you can see one of the street lamps that was toppled over by the strong winds. Behind me, you can see some awnings that were ripped off the building in the business behind me.

And this is a very vulnerable city. We know the storm surge so we're thankful that it wasn't as big of a concern as what was originally predicted as this city continues to clean up the city streets from the debris that was left over. They were really spared the worst of Hurricane Dorian as it continues to move across the North Carolina region right now.

Back to you, Dave.

ROMANS: All right, a day or two of cleanup and then hopefully, back to business in Charleston. Thanks so much for that, Derek.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, a grim and sobering scene in the Bahamas. Officials raising the death toll from Hurricane Dorian to 30, but with thousands of people still missing they know that number will rise. Body bags, coolers, morticians now being transported to Abaco and other hard-hit areas.

[05:35:09]

Patrick Oppmann on the ground in the Bahamas with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OPPMANN: Dave and Christine, we are in the small town of High Rock on Grand Bahama Island -- or what I should say was the town of High Rock.

Look at the devastation here. This was the local town hospital -- the clinic -- and it's gone, beaten down to the ground by Hurricane Dorian's category five winds.

We are only about an hour from Freeport but it is another world. The destruction here is just a different level. There are people that say that the Abacos received the worst of the damage but if you just venture a little bit further -- places that people have not gone in Grand Bahama Island -- you see damage that's every bit as bad and perhaps even worse.

This whole town is gone. There are about 300 people who live there and every house, every car, every structure has some damage and many, if not most, are totally destroyed.

This was a police station. Hurricane Dorian knocked down the concrete wall, took off the roof, and next door, the one-cell jail for this town is wide open. If anybody was inside they're not there anymore.

The question now is will towns like this recover and rebuild or simply cease to exist?

Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, Patrick. Thanks so much for that. Breaking overnight, Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe, has died at the age of 95. His passing was announced by the office of the current president.

Mugabe was an icon of the African Liberation Movement of the 1970s and 80s but his complicated legacy includes his transformation into an authoritarian strongman in later years.

Our international correspondent Farai Sevenzo joins us live from Nairobi, Kenya.

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, absolutely right. He was a man of many complications.

At the age of 95, Zimbabweans were expecting that someone who lives that long is bound to die at some stage. But, of course, over the last two years, the last days of his life were spent not in Zimbabwe but in Singapore where he had been undergoing treatment for all manner of ailments.

And, of course, he was overthrown by his own army in November 2017 after 37 years in power.

It's complicated, his legacy, for many reasons. One, he raised the literacy level of the entire country to astronomical figures and everybody acknowledges that.

CNN spoke to the leader of the opposition, Nelson Chamisa, a couple of hours ago, and he admitted that a giant had fallen in the history of African liberation struggles.

But to bring it back into context, Robert Mugabe, despite his great strides in education, his great freedoms and his standing up for people without any rights, including South Africa, his companionship with people like (INAUDIBLE) of Mozambique, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, people are still wondering what has he left behind for Zimbabwe.

The economy is still in its doldrums. It's slipping back into the days of high inflation where Zimbabweans were trading in $20 trillion notes - a billion-dollar industry which could only buy you a packet of tomatoes.

At the moment, Zimbabwe is reflecting on the death of their founding father with massive cues for fuel, with zero potential for many people to buy anything. And, of course, with the very divided politics and with the army still on the streets of Harare are shooting at protesters.

And people are complaining bitterly every day that maybe Mugabe's days were better, Christine.

ROMANS: Sky-high unemployment. Just a tough situation.

All right, Farai, thank you so much for that report.

Thirty-nine minutes past the hour.

In the U.S., more retailers are positioning themselves now in the gun violence debate. In a major shift, Walgreens, CVS, and Wegmans are asking their customers to leave their guns at home in states where open-carry is legal. Walmart and Kroger made similar announcements earlier this week.

Retailers facing pressure from customers and their employees to prevent gun violence, especially after the shooting at a Walmart in El Paso. Twenty-two killed in that shooting.

Wegmans said the policy is intended to keep customers and employees safer and to help them feel more comfortable in its stores. Here's what the company says. "The sight of someone with a gun can be alarming and we don't want anyone to feel that way at Wegmans."

Here's the issue. After El Paso, Walmart reported multiple incidents of people trying to make a statement about their Second Amendment rights, coming into the stores and carrying their guns openly, brandishing their firearms. And that caused concern among customers and in at least one case, a stampede.

[05:40:11]

All of the retailers will still allow law enforcement officers to openly carry firearms in their stores.

It's a real turning point, I think, for companies in this debate. And they're getting a lot of pressure from their -- from their employees who are like look, you know, we need to have a gun-free zone --

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: -- at least openly and in open-carry.

BRIGGS: Will they lead Congress to some action? They're back Monday. We'll see.

Ahead, a new revelation about the altered weather map President Trump showed off in the Oval Office.

ROMANS: Plus, the NFL's 100th season opener not exactly one for the ages. Andy Scholes is here with the "Bleacher Report," next.

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BRIGGS: An American Airlines mechanic is charged with attempting to sabotage a plane moments before takeoff. Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani will appear in federal court today after his arrest Thursday.

[05:45:08]

He's accused of disabling the navigation system on a flight with 150 people on board just before it was scheduled to take off from Miami International Airport back in July. According to court records, he told investigators he was upset over stalled contract negotiations between the union and American Airlines and that delays had affected him financially.

ROMANS: An American woman charged with human trafficking in the Philippines.

Filipino investigators say 43-year-old Jennifer Talbot tried to smuggle a 6-day-old baby girl out of the country by hiding her in a shoulder bag. Talbot was able to pass through the immigration counter at Manila airport but was intercepted at the boarding gate by airline personnel when they asked for identification for the baby. She was trying to board a Delta flight to the United States.

Investigators are not releasing a possible motive.

BRIGGS: The Tenaja fire threatening lives and homes in Riverside County, California.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FIREFIGHTER: Water!

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BRIGGS: It has now burned over 2,000 acres and is only 10 percent contained. Two structures have already sustained damage and more than 1,200 homes have been evacuated.

The heavy smoke also raising health concerns. Classes are canceled today in the entire Murrieta Valley school district as police continue going door-to-door ordering people to leave.

The cause of the fire is not known.

ROMANS: "The Washington Post" reporting that it was President Trump who personally altered a Hurricane Dorian weather map with a Sharpie to make it look like Alabama had been in danger.

The White House has been trying to clean up this mess by attacking the media and releasing alternative hurricane maps. Administration officials even crafting a 225-word statement defending the president's fabrications, but their boss cannot seem to move on from this.

Here's Kaitlin Collins.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAITLIN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine and Dave, we are now on day six of the president refusing to drop his false claim that Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian, a claim that he made on Sunday but is continuing to make now, even in the face of several meteorologists saying that the president was not accurate when he made that claim.

The president is going to great lengths to claim he was right, even having his Homeland Security adviser -- this person, Rear Admiral Peter Brown -- issue a statement defending the president's remarks from last Sunday when he made that claim where, in this statement that is pretty extraordinary for the White House to issue, Brown said that the president was briefed in an update on Hurricane Dorian on Sunday and that that briefing included, quote, "The possibility of tropical storm-force winds in southeastern Alabama.

Of course, all of the models of that time on Sunday show otherwise, yet the president is continuing to make this claim and clearly seems to be sensitive to this idea that his claim could be wrong.

So wrong, in fact, that my colleagues, Jeff Zeleny and Jake Tapper, are reporting that on -- the president, on Thursday afternoon, summoned the Fox News White House reporter to the Oval Office after he had been criticized on air for making the claim about Alabama, that the president told the Fox News reporters he was correct.

He even, according to an internal e-mail that my colleagues saw, said he just wanted some acknowledgment that his claim about Alabama was correct, even if at the point that the president had tweeted it on Sunday it was no longer the case.

Clearly, we are seeing the president not wanting to drop this despite several people saying that the president should essentially just move on from it. Instead, he is doubling down on this, Christine and Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, Kaitlin.

BRIGGS: Tripling, quadrupling down.

ROMANS: Six days, seven days now of this.

BRIGGS: It's not much ado about nothing. It's indicative of everything.

ROMANS: It's also a hurricane. I mean, the president says things that are wrong a lot, but this is about a hurricane.

BRIGGS: All right.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: The NFL is back with the Bears and Packers kicking off the league's 100th season at Soldier Field.

Andy Scholes is here with the "Bleacher Report." Andy --

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: -- it was --

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, ugly.

BRIGGS: -- ugly. The bluebirds (ph) were out in Chicago and I get it.

SCHOLES: I feel bad for those Bears fans. They're enduring more pain. They made their field goal last night though, which is a good sign.

BRIGGS: Eddy Pineiro.

SCHOLES: That was their only points in the game --

BRIGGS: Yes.

SCHOLES: -- and it's never a good sign for any fans, anywhere whenever there are more punts than points.

Seventeen punts in the game last night; just 13 points between the Packers and the Bears. Was it an old-school defensive battle that would have made Vince Lombardi proud or was it just really bad offense?

The Packers, yes, had negative-12 yards after the first quarter -- negative-12. But, you know, Aaron Rodgers, he was able to right that ship. He found Jimmy Graham for an 8-yeard score in the second quarter. That, right there, your only touchdown in the game.

Packers would win this one 10 to three. Bears fans not very happy with their quarterback, Mitch Trubisky, after this one.

Chicago head coach Matt Nagy, he said scoring just three points unacceptable.

[05:50:02]

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MATT NAGY, HEAD COACH, CHICAGO BEARS: Three points is ridiculous. Every fan that showed up from Chicago today that was a Chicago Bears fan should -- they should be upset and -- because that's not who we are. That's -- we're better than that. And like I said, it starts with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: All right.

Serene Williams is back in the finals at the U.S. Open. She had to battle early against Elina Svitolina to win the first two games of the match and then she just got rolling. Serena would go on to win 6-3-6- 1.

Serena now one win away from her 24th Grand Slam title, which would tie Margaret Court for the most of all time.

She's going to be taking on 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu from Canada in the final tomorrow. Now, these two met a month ago in the finals at the Canadian Open where Serena had to retire with a back injury. That is when Andreescu went over to console Serena in what was a very touching moment.

The 18-year age gap between the two, it's the largest at any Grand Slam Final in the open air, which dates back to 1968.

All right, finally, just when you thought the Antonio Brown saga was over, another wild turn. Raiders general manager Mike Mayock says Brown is now not practicing with the team.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE MAYOCK, GENERAL MANAGER, OAKLAND RAIDERS: Antonio Brown's not in the building today. He won't be practicing.

I don't have any more information for you right now. And when I have some and it becomes appropriate, you guys will all get it, I promise you. But that's it for today.

JON GRUDEN, HEAD COACH, OAKLAND RAIDERS: I'm emotional about it. I hope you -- I hope you understand why.

I think a lot of this guy. I think Antonio is a great receiver. And I think -- deep down, I think he's a really good guy, so I'm frustrated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Now, the latest episode of this drama stems from Mayock sending Brown a letter detailing fines from when he missed training camp unexcused. Well, Brown posted that letter to social media and according to the NFL Network, Mayock was frustrated that he did that and confronted Brown. That's when the two had a heated exchange in front of the team.

The Raiders have not announced any suspension.

But, guys, Brown apparently unfollowed both the Raiders and Derek Carr on Instagram.

BRIGGS: Yes.

SCHOLES: And these days, those are fighting words. So, I mean --

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: Yes, that's how we do it now.

SCHOLES: -- some people think that Brown's never going to step on the field for the Raiders, which would just be a shocking development.

BRIGGS: It looks like they want out from under that $29 million guaranteed dollars left and if they can find it, adios, A.B.

SCHOLES: I mean, unbelievable the turns this is taking.

BRIGGS: Yes, drama.

ROMANS: All right, nice to see you.

BRIGGS: Thanks, Buddy.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: All right. Up next, could one of pop music's biggest stars really be calling it quits? We'll be right back.

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[05:57:03]

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN -- (coughs) -- sorry about that. I could not breathe for a second. Let's get a check on "CNN Business" this morning.

Taking a look at all the markets around the world, you can see that London, Paris, and Frankfurt are mixed here but, you know, closing higher in Asia.

And futures all are up a little bit this morning. Look, this was the best day in three weeks on renewed trade hopes for stocks. The Dow closed up 379 (sic) points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also finished higher.

Escalating tensions between the U.S. and China have weighed on markets throughout the summer. New talks on the agenda for early October are spurring some optimism.

Investors are also gearing up for the August jobs report later today. Economists expect the report to show some weakness thanks to the summer lull and the trade war.

All right, two years ago, President Trump told "The New York Times," "I'm the one that saved coal. I'm the one that created jobs. You know, West Virginia is doing fantastically now."

But the president of the coal miners union, Cecil Roberts, is painting a harsher reality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CECIL ROBERTS, PRESIDENT, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA: Coal is not back. Nobody saved the coal industry. We're going to continue to lose coal mining jobs just like we lost steelworker jobs -- just like we lost autoworker jobs -- not because we can't compete, because of bad public policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Roberts said Trump cutting some -- back some of the Obama-era regulations that limited coal-fired power plant emissions kept the coal industry in existence but plants are still closing dramatically and the market keeps shrinking.

All right. Facebook is moving from likes to love. Facebook's matchmaking service, called "Dating," launched in the U.S. yesterday.

The feature allows anyone 18 or older with a Facebook account to set up a profile from within the mobile app. There's no swiping involved. Users just have to tap to like a person's profile.

BRIGGS: Legendary rapper Nicki Minaj shocking fans by announcing her retirement from music.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICKI MINAJ, RAPPER: Singing "Super Bass."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The 10-time Grammy nominee revealing her plan on Twitter Thursday, saying, quote, "I've decided to retire and have my family."

Minaj recently told listeners of her Queen Radio show that she and her boyfriend, Kenneth Petty, plan to get married.

ROMANS: You think --

BRIGGS: Well, she can have her cake and eat it, too.

ROMANS: Yes. Lots of people have careers and families.

BRIGGS: Huh? Come on, Nicki Minaj.

ROMANS: But -- Minaj -- whatever she wants to do. It's up to her.

BRIGGS: Not hanging it up (ph).

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: You good? I'm good.

I'm Dave Briggs. Have a great weekend, everybody. Here's "NEW DAY."

ROMANS: I'm sorry, I just lost my voice. I just lost my voice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hurricane Dorian's power has arrived in North Carolina with wind, rain, and tornadoes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was outside when I heard the roar and saw things start churning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Abaco Islands forever scarred now by mass destruction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure it will never be the same again. The people are strong here.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that Alabama was in the original forecast. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president is still defending.

END