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Trump Deals with Democrats Again; Eight Dead After Irma Knocks Out A/C; Residents Await Basic Services in the Caribbean. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired September 14, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:14] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump working across the aisle for the second time in as many weeks. And this time, he and the Democrats giving new hopes to DREAMers in this country. But did it come at the expense of the border wall?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The power outages in the Florida Keys take a deadly turn. Eight nursing home residents die after their air conditioner was knocked out. Criminal investigation under way.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: And I'm Dave Briggs. It's Thursday, September 14, 4:00 a.m. in the East.

Romans, this might be President Trump's best ever reality show. It is as unpredictable and the cast of characters is ever more interesting.

ROMANS: He is making deals. He is now making deals but he's making deals that I think the GOP are surprised by.

BRIGGS: Yes, surprised to put it kindly. The base is not happy this morning.

We begin with another potential deal between President Trump and the Democrats, sending shock waves through the right part of the Republican Party and giving new hope to hundreds of thousands of the nation's DREAMers.

Democratic leaders Chuck and Nancy, Schumer and Pelosi, as you might know them, dining last night with the president, then claiming they agreed to work quickly on a plan to fix DACA, a program that protects young, undocumented immigrants from deportation.

ROMANS: Schumer and Pelosi also claim they have a tentative deal with the president to iron out a border security plan, a plan that does not include a border wall with Mexico. Republican leaders were absent from last night's dinner. It is not clear how they will react to the tentative agreement, or the fact that the president appears to be cozying up to the opposition for the second time now in two weeks.

BRIGGS: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders quickly shooting down a notion that the president is bailing on his promise to build a wall along the Mexican border wall. A spokesman for Senator Schumer backing Sanders up, tweeting the president made clear he would continue pushing the wall, just not as part of this agreement.

ROMANS: The president now faces heavy fire from the right. Iowa Congressman Steve King tweeted this: Unbelievable. Amnesty is a pardon for immigration law breakers coupled with the reward of the objective of their crime.

Even "Breitbart", with former White House strategist Steve Bannon at the helm, taking shots at the president. This headline, Amnesty Don was posted earlier Wednesday after Trump met with moderate members of the House from both parties.

Listen to President Trump on the topic of cooperating with Democrats.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we can do things in a bipartisan matter, that would be great. Now, it might not work out in which case, we'll try to do without. If you look at some of the greatest legislation ever passed, it was done on a bipartisan manner. And so, that's why we're going to give it a shot.


BRIGGS: The Trump administration announced last week it would give Congress six months to pass legislation preserving the key provisions of DACA program before it was terminated. More of the day's political headlines in a few minutes and there were many.

ROMANS: There were.

But let's get to the tragic fallout from Hurricane Irma this morning. The death of eight elderly residents at a Florida nursing home blamed on a blown out air-conditioning system. The victims ranging in age from 71 to 99 years old. They succumbed to the extreme heat and humidity.

BRIGGS: The rehabilitation center at Hollywood Hills shut down now with police investigating. The administration claims a transformer failed during the storm. More on that ahead.

CNN's Miguel Marquez begins our coverage from Hollywood, Florida.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Dave, in addition to the eight dead here, another 12 are in critical condition. So, that death toll could rise. In total, 158 patients have been moved out of the facility and right now, the state has shut it down.

The latest information coming out of officials is -- reads like a horror story. There was a call at 3:00 a.m. where one person went into cardiac arrest. Then, at 4:00 a.m., there was a second call with somebody having respiratory failure. Shortly after that, a third call.

Then, the fire department here in Hollywood started to look into the facility and realized that it was too hot and that several others were having issues as well.

One of the doctors who was a first responder from Memorial Hospital next door describes what he saw when he walked in that facility.

DR. RANDY KATZ, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY SERVICES, MEMORIAL REGIONAL HOSPITAL: The scene was chaotic when I arrived. We had 115, at least 115 patients we were trying to evacuate and bring them to safety. I've definitely seen mass casualties and things to this extent, but this is something unique.

MARQUEZ: Memorial Hospital makes very clear that it has no connection to the facilities that are in question but stepped in, treating it like a mass casualty situation where they brought dozens of their staffers in to the rehabilitation center to get those elderly patients out. The police department here in Hollywood, Florida, says it is talking to all the staff members and deeply investigating this facility -- Dave, Christine.


[04:05:11] ROMANS: All right. The rehabilitation center at Hollywood Hills says staff members set up mobile cooling units and fans. They continually checked on residents.

The nursing home releasing this statement: While our center did not lose power during the storm, it did lose one transformer that powers the air-conditioning unit. The center immediately contacted Florida Power and Light. It continued to follow up with them for status updates on when repairs would be made. The center did have a generator on standby in the event it would be needed to power light safety systems.

BRIGGS: It's not clear whether the generator broke or if it was unable to power the transformer. The nursing home has had safety violations and citations in the past, though, including two for not following generator regulations in 2014 and 2016. In both instances, the nursing home corrected the problems. Hopefully, nursing homes across the state are on this problem this morning.

ROMANS: President Trump and the first lady heading to hurricane- ravaged Florida today. They'll be making stops in Ft. Myers and Naples. About 3 million customers remain without power. Despite the widespread devastation, we are seeing signs of resilience and hope even in the areas hardest hit by Irma.

Here's CNN's Bill Weir with more from Key West.


BILL WEIR, CNN HOST, THE WONDER LIST: Christine, Dave, a very good morning to you from Key West. When we headed out from here from Key Largo a few days ago, on the sea spirit, we feared the worst. We'd heard rumors are dozens of bodies floating but the result is so much better than we could have anticipated. No one I met has any knowledge of a fatality due to Hurricane Irma despite those category four winds. The estimates of 90 percent damage or destruction to all the homes in

the Keys seems vastly overblown. A colleague of mine made the drive all the way down from Miami on U.S. 1 said maybe it's 30 percent or 40 percent.

But the water was back on for at least for two hours. They had a chance to bathe for the first time. The big power lines seemed to have survived, the big ones, while the local ones are down here.

And I finally got a chance to look at my photos. I've been taking some amazing pictures. We're going to get him on

Like Dub, everybody loves Dub who is the caretaker of the sea point condominium in Marathon Key and he would never leave. As soon as the storm blew over, he flew Old Glory.

This is the scene right here on the breakers, the sea wall in Key West. Look at all that, it's just dozens and dozens of wreck ships, Old Glory still flying there, though.

And this is the scene right next to one of the ship wrecks in the ship wreck capital. People were out frolicking, swimming, having beers, doing what you do in the Keys I suppose.

It is a huge mess. It will be very expensive, but the folks I talked, the locals, want America to know they're OK and they'll soon be open for business -- Christine, Dave.


BRIGGS: Bill Weir again capturing the spirit of the Keys.

The speed of the relief effort, though, is being questioned on the hurricane ravaged Caribbean islands. While leaders of Britain, France, and Poland are pledging to rebuild and make their communities whole, thousands of residents are in dire need of essentials like food, water, electricity more than a week after Irma barreled through, and barreled through as a cat 5 hurricane.

CNN's Cyril Vanier is live in St. Maarten with that part of the story.

Good morning to you. What is the devastation there?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Look, what strikes me is we're more than a week into this, a week of aftermath of hurricane. And, frankly, if you had told me when we landed here that we landed the day after the hurricane, I would have believed you, because that's the level of disarray, the level of destruction that I'm seeing.

I'm not seeing a week's worth -- that's what it appears like anyway -- a week's worth of reconstruction, sweeping up and getting the place ready and getting the aid needed to those people who need it. I think the reason for that, it's not to blame necessarily the authority, but I think the reason for that is just the sheer scale of the challenge of getting the aid to the people. The first order of business has to be getting clean drinking water to

people because they're going on their reserves, whatever they had before the storm, and a little water that the public water company here in St. Martin has been able to get to the neighborhoods. It's very slow, very incremental. That's got to be the first thing, because when those reserves are depleted, there's no plan B for those people.

It's pretty much the same thing as far as food is concerned, and as far as power is concerned. Those are the priorities, both for local government and for the Dutch efforts overseeing the second layer of authority and government that is working here. And, you know, yesterday, they put in very simple terms when the Dutch were talking about the local St. Martin government.

They said there is very little functioning government here because they were badly affected. They can't work out of their government house. They're working out of an emergency fire house.

[04:10:00] That just tells you the scale of what they've got to do and we are seven days in now.

BRIGGS: Heartbreaking. Finally, some attention and aid coming their way.

Cyril Vanier live for us in St. Martin, thank you.

ROMANS: You look at the folks in St. John and St. Thomas and U.S. Virgin Islands, and, you know, you've been hearing them say, we're going to die out here. I mean, that's how serious it is for some of them. They're very concerned. A lot of people there, no food in some cases, no water in some cases. They can't get in or out.

BRIGGS: And the image of not a leaf on a tree, brown everywhere.

ROMANS: I know.

All right. Ten minutes past the hour.

Could the wealthiest Americans see their taxes go up? The president suddenly says the rich might have to pay more. More next.


ROMANS: President Trump says the upcoming tax overhaul will not help the wealthy. In fact, rich people, their taxes may go up.


[04:15:01] TRUMP: The rich will not be gaining at all with this plan. We're looking for the middle class and we're looking for jobs. I think the wealthy will be pretty much where they are, pretty much where they are. We can do that, we'd like it. If they have to go higher, they'll go higher.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: If they have to go higher, they'll go higher. That contradicts what the administration has said for far. For example, appealing both the state and alternative minimum tax benefits wealthy Americans, as do tax cuts across the board.

Now, the White House has not put out a details tax plan yet. Speaker Paul Ryan promises a framework in two weeks.

But will the proposal be full reform? Really hard to get, or just tax cuts.

Senator Ted Cruz told CNN's Dana Bash he's open to either.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We could end up with something kind of like the Bush tax cuts light. Some modest reduction in rates, a little bit of simplification and that's it.

BASH: Would you be OK with that?

CRUZ: I'd vote for that. That would be an improvement from the status quo. That'd be good.


ROMANS: There's also no word if the tax plan would be revenue neutral. Speaker Ryan would not directly answer yesterday if that's the case.

But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told FOX News all tax cuts will be paid for, that is with the faster economic growth that would come.

BRIGGS: Yes, dynamic scoring, right? That's the heart of this.


BRIGGS: And that's difficult for them --

ROMANS: Something that a lot of budget experts say is magic math.

BRIGGS: Right. But back to the Bush tax cuts, to see if that is the case.

Taxes were not the only topic Senator Ted Cruz addressed with Dana Bash. Cruz also spoke out about an incident earlier this week when he was blowing up Twitter for all the wrong reasons. That's because his personal Twitter account liked a pornographic video. The Texas senator claiming a staffer accidentally hit the wrong button.


CRUZ: It wasn't malicious. It wasn't deliberate. It was a screw up.

BASH: Is the staffer being punished?

CRUZ: We have talked with the staffer. It's not going to happen again. It was a screw up.

BASH: Can you tell me the staffer's name?

CRUZ: I'm not going to out the fella. I mean, this -- we're, we have dealt with it internally, but I'm not going to throw someone under the bus.

BASH: Can you definitely say that it wasn't you?

CRUZ: It was not me and it's not going to happen again. The staff -- this was a screw up.


BRIGGS: Senator Cruz went on to say the staffer who liked the porn video feels, quote, terrible about what he did.

ROMANS: All right. Martin Shkreli is heading to jail. A judge revoking his bail over a Facebook post about Hillary Clinton. Remember this guy? He's a former pharmaceutical executive. He's best known for buying a company that owns an AIDS drug and then jacking up the price 5,000 percent.

After his conviction on other financial charges, he offered $5,000 for anyone who could grab a strand of Hillary Clinton's hair. A judge said the post, his Facebook post, posed a, quote, real danger. For his part, Shkreli said it was all satire.

The 34-year-old was convicted of fraud in August. Until Wednesday, he remained free on $5 million bail, that is until he wrote that Facebook post. Then the judge said, dude, you're going to jail. He' he's slated to be sentenced January 16th.

Pharma bro. They called him --

BRIGGS: Pharma bro.

ROMANS: Pharma bro.

BRIGGS: That's far more complimentary. If you want some good reading, check out what jurors said who were dismissed from the Shkreli case. Just Google it.


BRIGGS: Do yourself a favor.

The White House is irate with an ESPN host.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That's one of the more outrageous comments anyone could make and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: What Jemele Hill now says about her controversial tweets on the president.


[04:23:02] ROMANS: Welcome back.

The Justice Department is blocking senator investigators from interviewing two top officials who could provide testimony about the firing of James Comey. It is a latest signal the special prosecutor Robert Mueller could be looking into the circumstances surrounding the former FBI director's dismissal.

BRIGGS: Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and the committee's ranking Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, have reportedly asked senior FBI officials to sit down for an interview to discuss Comey's departure. And even though the committee has offered to limit the scope of questions about Comey, the Justice Department is not allowing the FBI officials to talk, citing Mueller's ongoing investigation.

ROMANS: And now, the CNN exclusive. Former national security adviser Susan Rice privately telling House investigators why she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials. She said she did it to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late last year.

BRIGGS: The crown prince is meeting with top transition officials preceded a separate effort by the UAE to facilitate backchannel talks between Russia and the incoming Trump White House.

But two sources insist opening up a back channel with Russia was not a topic of discussion. The revelation of Susan Rice's request had the president accusing her of committing a crime at so-called unmasking, requesting names of American in classified reports. It's a practice officials in both parties say is quite common.

ROMANS: The White House taking aim at an ESPN host who called President Trump a white supremacist. Jemele Hill also referring to the president as a bigot and a threat on Twitter this week, calling Mr. Trump, quote, the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime.

Here's the reaction from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.


SANDERS: That's one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN.


BRIGGS: In a Twitter post late last night, Hill says her comments were personal and she regrets it painted ESPN unfairly.

[04:25:05] The sports network has come under fire in past, accused of only cracking down on conservative employees. Former Major League pitcher Curt Schilling was fired for his posts last year. ESPN has distanced themselves from those Jemele Hill's remarks that we pointed here.

The Cleveland Indians continuing their historic run, winning their 21st consecutive game on Wednesday. A 5-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers and that represents the longest winning streak in American League's history.


BRIGGS: It's unreal. The last team to win 21 straight, the 1935 Chicago Cubs. The Indians go for 22 in a row when they host the Kansas City Royals.

What a remarkable run it's been for Cleveland. And if they were the New York Yankees or the Los Angeles Dodgers, boy, would the publicity be tenfold. Kudos for the folks in Cleveland.

ROMANS: All right. Eight hundred thousand DREAMers suddenly have a new lifeline. President Trump reaching a deal with Chuck and Nancy to pursue an extension of DACA. But will it cost the president his border wall?